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Nothing Is Scarier in literature.


Wait for it...

General

  • This is actually fairly common in Gothic Romanticism. Ann Radcliffe wrote what amounted to a treatise on horror writing. Essentially, "terror" is the feeling that precedes an event, while "horror" is the revulsion felt during/after said event. The former is, by far, more difficult to pull off. Scaring the audience without a visible threat is no small feat, but, as the other examples show, it tends to be much, much more effective. Her The Mysteries of Udolpho spends its time terrifying Emily, the main character. At one point she freezes because of some unseen thing lurking in the shadows, only to be relieved when it turns out to be a suitor . Radcliffe gets bonus points for including a bit of Fridge Horror when the reader realizes that this takes place in the character's room; the real "terror" isn't the possibility of something supernatural but that someone is in her room without her knowing it.
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Specific Works

  • Thomas Cromwell invokes this in Bring Up the Bodies when interrogating Mark Smeaton, whom he's accusing of adultery with Anne Boleyn and needs more names from. He chides Wriothesley for mentioning the rack and in fact declines to use actual torture in favor of letting Mark's own imagination destroy him. Nighttime, an oblique comment that they'll "write down what you say but not necessarily what we do," and putting him into a lightless closet full of sharp and strangely-shaped objectsnote  leave Smeaton barely coherent the next morning.
  • Done twofold in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
    • Scrooge is warned that the first spirit will come at one o'clock that night, the second at one o'clock the next night, and the last on the final chime of midnight. After seeing the first spirit, he waits for the second, unaware that the spirit is in fact waiting for him.
      Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was by no means prepared for nothing; and, consequently, when the Bell struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling.
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    • Then, of course, there was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who is always shrouded in a cloak and never speaks.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Magician's Nephew (the prequel) makes some use of this trope with the deadened world of Charn, in which there's absolutely no life whatsoever until Digory and Polly find the evil Empress Jadis, leaving them to wonder what happened and what purpose all the empty and silent structures they pass along the way served. Though Jadis pretty well explains all this to them later and what she tells them is pretty terrible, her description is not quite as creepy as the place was when they didn't know. Also, as Digory tells Polly later when Jadis escapes into their world and is at large making trouble, "When there's a wasp in the room, I like to know where it is." In other words, running into Jadis again, dangerous and menacing as she is, is nowhere near so bad as not running into her and knowing that she's still at large being dangerous and menacing to all of London.
      • The nothingness on Charn is not helped at all by the warning next to the bell, which seems to invoke this trope: The gist of it is that something bad will happen if you ring the bell, and nothing will happen if you don't... but the latter will scare you more than the former.
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    • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a group of invisible people force Lucy to go into the house of a powerful and terrifying magician, to find his book of spells and use it to make the people visible again. Lucy finds the book and completes her task safely, but the walk through the house to find the thing is terrifying, especially since the magician himself is invisible and can walk soundlessly. There's also the part where she finds the book, which is set on a podium in the middle of the room. To read it, Lucy has to stand with her back to the doorway. She feels incredibly vulnerable because of this, and wishes very much that there was a door to close. After she casts the spell, she learns that the magician is good. The walk out of the house is far less scary.
  • Coraline:
    • The protagonist encounters this when facing down the cocoon with something unseen inside. She gets through it by realizing that, logically, nothing can be worse than the moment of staring at it, terrified.
    • In a previous scene, she was walking down a hallway, hearing tapping sounds from a nearby room, which is either water dripping from the tap, or the Other Mother drumming her fingers on the table. She kept walking without looking.
    • In another scene, the Other Mother disappears immediately after shaking hands with Coraline to agree to the game. Coraline's creeped out by this— she prefers the Other Mother to have a definitive location, because if she's nowhere, then she could be anywhere. And of course, it's always easier to be afraid of something you cannot see.
  • The Curious Sofa by Edward Gorey. Heroine Alice has spent the book happily indulging in every kind of sexual hi-jinks, but the titular sofa fills her with "a shudder of nameless apprehension". When it's turned on, our POV in the accompanying illustrations slowly pans away from the sofa to an empty corner of the room, and the following are the last lines of the book:
    As soon as everybody had crowded into the room, Sir Egbert fastened shut the door, and started up the machinery inside the sofa. When Alice saw what was about to happen, she began to scream uncontrollably...
  • Discworld:
  • The Fifth Wave: The motive of The Others is seemingly just Kill All Humans. They wipe out all power grids, send tsunamis and a modified flu to kill off 99% of the population, but nobody seems to know why.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has plenty of this because of the lull in the action. The Big Bad doesn't make a single appearance except in flashbacks, and Draco keeps sneaking around and is clearly up to something big. This builds up to some of the franchise's most intense and terrifying scenes in the final few chapters.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort invokes this after his takeover of the Ministry of Magic and infiltration of Hogwarts - he at first doesn't make it clear he's taken over the Ministry. If he had, say, proclaimed himself Minister right away, people obviously would have realized right away that the Ministry had fallen, been quicker to take precautions and protect themselves and each other, and been more active in resisting him. Instead, he placed a Ministry official under the Imperious curse, had him be the official Minister, acting as a puppet for Voldemort, while Voldemort himself remained in hiding with only his most trusted followers, carrying out his Evil Plan in private. The result? Most people, even those not in the Order realize something is going on, especially as anti-Muggle supremacy spreads, but no one is sure what, and thanks to the fact that anyone could be working for Voldemort, this leads to a whole lot of suspicion, distrust, fear, panic, and no one being sure what to do. Sure enough, once Voldemort officially declares war on Hogwarts, most of the wizarding world springs into action to stop him.
  • Both played straight and played with in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which starts out creepy and just gets worse from there. From the moment Charlie Marlow begins speaking (to the unnamed narrator who frames the story) he makes clear that he has learned something that destroyed his innocence, but for the longest time he won't say precisely what it was. Then, as he launches into his tale about journeying to the Congo, he alternates between building more suspense on the one hand and outright describing horrible things on the other (Fresleven's slaying, for example); the genius of it is that even the horrible things, which at worst are merely gruesome, become terrifying in the context of what is revealed later. Very early, Marlow speaks of the Congo as a "snake" that bewitched him, compelling him to take up a job on a steamer there...for reasons even he couldn't fully understand. Once he gets there, it's not too long before he starts to hear about and even see some pretty horrible things - but he tries to ignore them at first, and even though he now knows what is happening, he still doesn't know why. The greatest riddle is put before him when he tries to peer into the impenetrable African jungle, noting that it looks like nothing he's ever seen in Europe, and reflecting that the immense vegetation, the humidity and the steam are together creating an atmosphere of tantalizing mystery that he simply must know about. "What was in there?" he asks himself - and also disturbingly slips into anthropomorphization when he wonders, "Would we handle [it], or would it handle us?" What Marlow eventually learns, of course, is that it's not the jungle itself that is creepy; it's what happens to "civilized" men when they go into the jungle.
  • This trope is the heart of William Gibson's short story "Hinterlands", which concerns an interdimensional "highway" and its effects on the astronauts who travel it. The Fear, as it's called in the story, visits those who even think too much about what's on the other side. The astronauts who actually go there all come back insane or dead by their own hands.
  • In The Hobbit it's flat-out stated that the scariest thing Bilbo had to do in his whole adventure was walk down the lightless tunnel to Smaug's lair. Not the dragon himself, not the giant spiders from Mirkwood, not the Goblins, Trolls or Wolves from the Misty Mountains, just the tunnel and the crippling fear of not knowing if a dragon was sleeping at the end of it.
  • Mentioned fairly explicitly in the H. G. Wells story The Invisible Man when the invisible man finally reveals himself:
    They were prepared for scars, disfigurements, tangible horrors, but nothing!
  • In the works of Stephen King:
    • The short story "The Reaper's Image", one of his first published stories, focuses on something seemingly innocuous: a mirror with a black smudge that sometimes appears in the corner. The smudge doesn't appear for most people. But the few people who do see it, for some reason, become terrified and flee the room. Once they do — and once they are out of sight of any other human being — they are never seen again.
    • The short story "The Jaunt" has teleportation. It is virtually instantaneous for physical things. However, if someone is not put to sleep, the mental time taken seems endless. All people see is a featureless whiteness. Eventually "the mind turns on itself."
    • In his nonfiction book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre, he explains it like this: "So you build up suspense with noise and some scary lighting, and then they open the door and there's a 10 foot tall cockroach standing there. And the audience screams, but after a few minutes everyone's settled down again because everyone is saying, 'At least it wasn't a 100 foot tall cockroach...' and when you show them a 100 foot tall cockroach, they say to themselves, 'At least it wasn't a 1000 foot tall cockroach...'. So what you do is hold off on showing them the 10 foot tall cockroach as long as possible."
    • This trope is heavily used, played straight, played with and subverted in the opening chapter of It. Little Georgie Denbrough is nearly mad with fear during the seemingly endless minute he's searching for the box of paraffin at the top of the cellar stairs, imagining that something hairy and clawed crouched down there will grab and eat him at any second. But nothing bad happens to him; there's no monster, he gets the box and his fear sloughs off once he closes the cellar door. Then later, when he's sailing the boat he and Bill made and it's sucked down the stormdrain, he sees the clown Pennywise inside. As he sticks his hand into the drain to get the boat (and his balloon), he's not expecting anything bad to happennote , because all his senses are telling him "it's OK, everything is all right." Then Pennywise seizes his arm, he turns his head, sees the clown's face change into what Pennywise really looks like...and King refuses to tell the readers exactly what it is that Georgie sees in his final moments, only that it "was terrible enough to make his worst imaginings of the thing in the cellar look like sweet dreams; what he saw destroyed his sanity in one clawing stroke."
    • Apt Pupil from Different Seasons ends on a single sentence saying that Todd went on a mass shooting spree for five hours before being taken down by the police. Nothing is described in any sort of detail.
  • Fundamental to Lamplight, which features an invasion of un-named beings who can never be physically seen - only their shadows are visible.
  • In The Little Sister, the series takes an unusual turn when the conclusion has Marlowe investigating an isolated estate on a private road. The lack of traffic or people makes it eerily quiet as it is, but then even Marlowe himself suddenly announces something seems off.
    [The living room] was curtained and quite dark, but it had the feel of great size. The darkness was heavy in it and my nose twitched at a lingering odor that said somebody had been there not too long ago. I stopped breathing and listened. Tigers could be in the darkness watching me. Or guys with large guns, standing flat-footed, breathing softly with their mouths open. Or nothing and nobody and too much imagination in the wrong place.
  • One of H. P. Lovecraft's signature styles, where he describes the monster(s) only partially... and allows the readers' minds to assemble them from that description, if any is given.
    • He's probably at his scariest when he tells you absolutely nothing about what's happening; see "The Music of Erich Zann" for an example.
    • At other times, on the other hand, he gives meticulous, almost clinically scientific descriptions of what the creatures are like. But in At the Mountains of Madness he combines the two ways of storytelling, and describes the creatures to the most minute detail when they are in hibernating state and assumed dead, but at no point does the narrator see them move or do anything - he only sees the results of the massacre that took place once they woke up on the autopsy table. Also, whatever it was that Danforth saw that psychologically scarred him. We never even get any real hints beyond the idea that it may either be a mirage, a hallucination brought on by extreme stress, or something so terrible that even the Elder-Things feared it. It also doesn't help that Danforth's ramblings (the only clues he ever shares about what it was) mention several unrelated creatures such as Yog-Sothoth and the Colour out of Space.
  • In The Man in the High Castle, it's never explained exactly what Nazi Germany is doing in Africa, as none of the characters who know like to think about it. But with references to a "big, empty ruin", Human Resources, vast construction of some kind, the reinstatement of African slavery, and one description of "the billion chemical heaps that are now not even corpses", it must go beyond just a Final Solution.
  • The famous short story "The Monkey's Paw" wields this trope to terrifying effect. The couple's first wish gets them the money they wanted, but it comes in the form of compensation for their son's death. The horror summoned by the second wish is never revealed, because the old man uses the third wish to send it back just before it opens the door.
  • A literal example, which crosses with The Nothing After Death and Cessation of Existence: The Neverending Story (and its movie adaptation) has an Eldritch Abomination called The Nothing, which is a sudden erasing of existing things. The Nothing itself isn't ever described in the book. In fact, it's implied that it cannot be described by any other word than "nothing"... One character tries to describe a lake being claimed by the Nothing and fails. The lake did not become a hole or a dried-up lake, because then there would be a hole or a dried lake bed. No, the only thing that was left was simply nothing. Later, when Atreyu takes a look at the Nothing from afar, he can't even glance at it head-on, and his eyes hurt just from seeing it, because his brain can't comprehend it. It isn't blackness, it isn't even empty space, because blackness can be comprehended and empty space is something that can be occupied. The Nothing is quite simply something that isn't. And it's disturbing! (Or just confusing...)
  • In Out of the Dark, the Shongairi find the silence more disturbing than facing the destruction humans can cause in direct combat.
  • Made mundane in The Pearl, where the "Pearl of the World" found by the pearl-diver Kino eventually attracts the attention of two hired "trackers"; they are never identified as or associated with anyone.
  • In the works of Edgar Allan Poe:
    • In "The Raven", the narrator answers the tapping at his chamber door to find "darkness there, and nothing more."
    • The prisoner who recounts his captivity in a dungeon of the Spanish Inquisition in "The Pit and the Pendulum" discovers a deep pit in the middle of his prison chamber. Despite having already endured various tortures, a look down into the pit horrifies him more than anything—but he doesn't tell what he saw in the pit.
  • The book version of The Princess Bride has a Zoo of Death instead of the Pit of Despair. It has multiple levels of basement, and as you go down the enemies get scarier. One level has absolutely nothing in it. Just a long, black tunnel with the exit door at the other end. For Inigo and Fezzik this is doggone scary. Something should be happening! This is the level of the Enemies of Fear. The idea is that you panic, run for the opposite door and let the extremely venomous spider under the handle kill you. The thing is, Fezzik gets so panicked that he smashes the door off its hinges, and Inigo steps on the spider as it tries to escape.
  • Seven words from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: "Ellen...I am coming up the stairs..."
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire children experience this trope when they are shoved down a dark, empty elevator shaft. The following two pages are filled entirely in black, after which the author writes that he couldn't possibly describe what their screaming sounded like.
  • The first half of Tailchaser's Song builds up the Clawguard this way. It's known that cats, kittens included, are going missing all over. In many places, entire clans of cats are found torn to pieces as if a bear mawled everyone to death. This isn't solely affecting cats either, as a mother fox mentions something was hunting her children. Initially, the only known clues about the Clawguard are that they smell odd, are large, and have red claws. Halfway through the story, they attack Tailchaser and his group while they're trying to sleep, where the Clawguard proceed to drag them underground to their master Hearteater.
  • Tortall Universe: In Trickster's Choice, the first part of the Balitang family's trip to their estates are marked by dozens of raka villagers watching them silently from the sides of the paths, the adjourning boats and so on. When the watchers suddenly vanish, Aly guesses that something's wrong, and when she realises that all the animals have stopped making sounds, she knows there's something wrong. They get attacked shortly afterwards.

Nothing at all

General

  • This is a main theme of the works of the Kyoto School of Buddhist Existentialism. According to them, every type of fear is based on the feeling that there is nothing and that this feeling of nothingness causes fear. One of the strongest sensation of "nothingness" is the idea of death. To live free, people have to confront their fears of nothingness.
  • The last man on Earth sat in a room. There was a knock upon the door. This is known as the shortest horror story ever. However, another author was able to modify this story to make it scarier:
    The last man on Earth sat in a room. There was a lock upon the door.

Specific Works

  • A rare in-universe example is from Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, when Dragon threatens to eat the protagonist for trespassing.
    Dragon: I am frightened of nothing.
    Fat Charlie: Nothing?
    Dragon: Nothing.
    Fat Charlie: Are you extremely frightened of nothing?
    Dragon: Absolutely terrified of it.
    Fat Charlie: I have nothing in my pockets. Would you like to see it?
    Dragon: No, I most definitely would not.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's classic short story —And He Built a Crooked House—, Quintus Teal the crazy architect and the Baileys are trapped inside their house which Teal designed and which has features of Bizarrchitecture and Alien Geometries. They lift the blinds of one of the windows - and they see nothing. Nothing at all.
  • In Bird Box, there is something outside whose appearance drives people into insanity. A mother and her two children flee to a safe place but to do so they have to cross a river while completely blindfolded. Much of the book is spent in complete darkness with the protagonist having to rely on her other senses and not knowing if something is out there or not.
  • Of all the places for this trope to originate, it may have come from A Christmas Carol. After the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present give Scrooge long conversations about what's wrong with him, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come never says a thing. Adaptations with a narrator tend to emphasize this by removing or reducing the narrator's part for the length of time that the third spirit is on.
  • Gentleman Bastard: Ships passing through the Ghostwind Isles have to endure an Ominous Fog where they lose track of time and a voice whispers in the crew's minds, addressing each one by name and trying to lure them into the water. Jean thinks he sees a thin humanoid outline high in the mist, but nothing else reveals itself to anyone who stays on the ship.
  • An in-universe example in The Guns of the South. Nate Caudell witnesses a black mulatto slave on the run from her master, one of the AWB men. Later in the story the slave hangs herself which he learns about from a letter from Mollie. Nate wonders what could have driven the slave to escape and later kill herself. He is so shaken by the possibilities of the latter he tears up the letter from Mollie.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, what did young Tom Riddle do to his peers in the cave that traumatised them so badly?
  • House of Leaves was built on this. The house and the Minotaur are terrifying because you can't possibly know when they'll strike. Tom nearly goes insane from this, which gets all better when he smokes a few joints. But the same sensation drives Halloway to suicide and traumatizes everyone who was in the house, including Karen who never actually went into the mysterious parts of the house and Johnny, who didn't even know whether it existed.
    • It could be said they go to an even greater extreme on this, really. The climax of the book, where the house makes its most "aggressive" attempt on its inhabitants, isn't the end. Unlike the standard horror movie, where the family stands outside the smoldering ruins of the haunted house, minus one or two members, and the hero grimly says "It's over" (until the sequel), the family flees to another state and the house remains where it is. The story continues, and one of the characters returns simply because he can't stop picking at it in his mind. Even after that return, the book goes on in Truant's narrative, then terminates...several times. When it finally ends, the reader is left unsure of where they are and if the story is truly over, or even if it ended and the narrative kept going on. It's a truly labyrinthine and truly disconcerting effect.
  • In the Imperial Radch series, Ghaon's solar system is surrounded by an invisible, undetectable, inexplicable phenomenon called the Crawl. All the characters or readers know is that any ship that tries to bypass it with Gate travel, open communications within it, or stray from very secret safe paths through will be destroyed — or left floating, dead and derelict, with no signs of distress.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, this is a huge part of what makes Sauron such a legendary and terrifying villain. Throughout the entire three-book epic, he never appears in person, except as a glowing disembodied eye atop his tower in Mordor, if you count that. Except for the story of his creation of the Rings of Power, we never learn a single thing about his history, his motivations, his interactions with the world, or even what he looks like now except that he is impossibly old, impossibly powerful, and always watching. It goes a long way towards establishing him as a (seemingly) invincible force of pure evil on a scale far above even the world of elves, one that cannot be bargained with, reasoned with, or even properly understood, only surrendered to, and the atmosphere of sheer existential dread he conjures up in the characters - if not the readers - doesn't pass until the very end.
    • When in Moria, the Company comes across a fork in the road, with one of three passageways all leading in the same direction they could choose from. The passage on the left led downwards while the passage on the right leads upward and the passage in the middle stays level, but is narrower than the other two. Gandalf does not recognize the fork at all, having had travelled only in the opposite direction through Moria before. They retire to the nearby guardroom to rest as Gandalf contemplated the path to take. Finally, he says, "I do not like the feel of the middle way; and I do not like the smell of the left-hand way: there is foul air down there, or I am no guide." Gandalf goes with the right passageway that leads upwards. One figures the left passageway probably was home to Orcs or something because of the odor, but what awaited errant travellers in that middle passageway that caused Gandalf to have such an intuition, such consternation? It's even worse in the movie adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring: When the drums start beating, there's a cut to the three paths...and torchlight appears in the middle.
  • H. P. Lovecraft, while he is primarily remembered for his descriptions of Alien Geometries and Cosmic Horror, used descriptions of casual landscapes or events were just as equally unsettling and creepy.
    • We're talking about a man here who in "Cool Air" managed to make a description of an ordinary rental apartment in the middle of a hot summer day, with the narrator in the company of the landlady and two burly mechanics suspenseful and creepy.
  • This ironic and somewhat disturbing poem by Archibald MacLeish (see also The End of the World as We Know It trope):
    Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
    The armless ambidextrian was lighting
    A match between his great and second toe,
    And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
    The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
    Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
    In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb—-
    Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:
    And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
    Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
    There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
    There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
    There in the sudden blackness the black pall
    Of nothing, nothing, nothing —- nothing at all.
  • The stories of stations wiped out by the Dark Ones from Metro 2033. Patrols go to the end of their routes and vanish. Guards are slaughtered without firing a single shot. The stations are wiped out to a man, with no corpses left behind, just lots of blood...
  • "The Nothing Equation" by Tom Godwin (better known for his other short story with "Equation" in the title) is about a man who's sent out to an observation bubble in space, far away from any space station or planet. The people who've manned the bubble previously have all gone insane and/or committed suicide, afraid of what's outside the bubble. The protagonist, however, is quite certain that there's nothing out there. He's right, there's nothing. A whole lot of nothing.
  • The short story "Peekaboo" by Bill Pronzini embodies this trope. The only character in the story is a career criminal pretending to be a reclusive writer hiding out in a rented house a good distance away from the closest town. One night he thinks he hears an intruder in the house and decides to investigate while armed. While he's searching his suddenly creepy hideout, he can't help but reminisce on the games of Peekaboo he used to play when he was a kid, as well as the old rumors of occult worship and paranormal activities surrounding the house. He's a nervous wreck by the end of the story, and when he finally reaches the basement after finding nothing in the rest of the house he giggles in relief. There's nothing there after all, it's just him, all alone, hiding under the stairs. Peekaboo
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the heroes are traveling through the Labyrinth when they hear breathing and footsteps. They escape from the maze and seal the door before they find out what the creature is.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle Master Trilogy, we hear of a king of Hed chased into his home by — something. But it didn't come through the last door. He waited, and waited, until he longed for it to break in. Then he opened the door — and found no sign of it.
  • In Seeker Bears, Lusa comes across a forest with dead trees everywhere. But she realizes that the scariest part about the dead forest...was the silence.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: When Daenerys visits the House of the Undying, she is told to take the first door on the right in each room to navigate the house. At some point she comes across a long corridor with only doors to the left. Then the lights begin to go out and she hears something approach... At which point she figures out that the last door to the left is the first door to the right, escaping whatever that was.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In Aftermath: Empire's End, it is revealed that Palpatine claimed to have sensed a powerful signal through the Force from the Unknown Regions, one that not even Darth Vader could sense. He had theories about it, but it's never revealed what it is exactly. But whatever it could be, it tempted Palpatine so much that he tried to map out the Unknown Regions (an area of the galaxy on the map but largely unexplored), sending probes so he could create hyperspace routes for his Contingency Plan (a backup plan in the event of his death). But as for the Dark Side presence lurking out there, nothing is revealed about it — though it could very well be Supreme Leader Snoke, the leader of the First Order in the sequel trilogy, considering that the Imperials who escaped to the Unknown Regions after the Battle of Jakku eventually formed the First Order, and that Starkiller Base's origin point is located somewhere in the Unknown Regions. However, groups like the Acolytes of the Beyond also sensed this signal. Grand Admiral Thrawn might also know what's lurking out there, based on his knowledge of the Unknown Regions.
  • The vug under the rug from Dr. Seuss' There's a Wocket in My Pocket. It is never shown, hiding under a rug in a dark room, and the only detail the reader knows about it is that it's the only creature the narrator is afraid of. This character, along with the red under the bed, was scary enough to be scrapped from the 1996 reprint.
  • In "The White People" by Arthur Machen, we never do find out what the horrible eponymous beings are. Though they are implied to be either fairies or members of a pagan tribe of witches.

There all along!

  • Blindsight: After frantically fumbling around while weird things happen all around them, the protagonist finally realizes that alien...things have been on their ship for quite some time, concealing themselves in plain sight by using a loophole in human visual processing. It's actually pretty ninja.
  • In the second book of the Codex Alera series, Amara is resting in an abandoned barn with legionares after a battle. She wakes up, kicks away a rat, goes outside and finds Bernard and Doroga. They discuss tactics and Doroga explains more about the Vord and their ability to turn people into super-zombies via parasites. Nine pages later, Bernard complains that the Vord have scared away every animal within a half-mile, including the rats.


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