BLOOD-CURDLING: expressing terror or horror

blood curdling

You usually hear the term blood-curdling associated with the word “scream.”   A blood-curdling scream is the kind of  scream that one hears when a horrible thing has happened.  Like a child watching her pet dog being hit by a car.  Or a person falling from a high place toward certain injury or even death.  Or a driver seeing a tractor-trailer crossing the median and heading straight for his car.

The term is  a hyphenated combination of  two words which indicate that one’s blood is boiling out of fear.  When blood boils it is as if it turns from a liquid to a semi-solid, blocking the vessels and leading to death itself.   When milk curdles, for instance, it turns to lumps of cheese-like substance. It not only is no longer liquid.  It smells awful and tastes even worse.  That is to say…a horrible thing has happened to it.

Blood-curdling need not be literal in order for it to be authentic.  It is more of a feeling, both on the part of the screamer and the person who hears the scream.  When I have heard such a scream (many times) my heart has frozen, and my body is filled with fear and horror.

It was significant, then, to read an article online today, reporting on the murder by the Taliban of 145 people, mostly children, in Pakistan.  One of the opening lines said,

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, called it ‘blood-curdling’ with no possible justification.” *

It was a powerful sentence, and it caused me to stop and reflect upon it for a moment.  Granted, there were thousands of screams in Pakistan, but Ban Ki-Moon did not hear them directly.   Rather, the very thought of what had transpired at that seemingly-innocent school for children in Pakistan caused him to feel the very same thing in his body that he would have felt if he were there on the spot.   I suspect he is not the only person throughout the world who felt the same thing.

Acts of terrorism are filled with horror.   We read about them every day in a variety of places on this fragile globe we call Earth.  But when the act is one of wanton brutality and madness such as was experienced in this Pakistani community, it carries an additional level of disbelief and terror. We in America might as well have been there.  We have been conditioned by the media following such places as Columbine and Newtown, Connecticut. We know that what we are seeing and reading about is not a movie or a piece of stage drama.   Real  children are dead and real parents are grieving in loud,uncontrollable screams…blood-curdling screams.

We are living in a horrible time when such things occur with regularity.  There is no calm, objective way to experience them…or even the reports of them.



Image Credit:  Yahoo


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