On this Halloween day, I thought I would treat you guys to a short story I wrote a while back that is a bit Halloween themed. I’m not saying it is perfect, and in all honesty, I haven’t looked at it in a year. So, if you care to read on, here it is!
Greenville’s Haunted Warehouse
I was shocked that it had been Ann, my best friend’s lame girlfriend, who suggested we go to the county’s top rated haunted house.
Greenville’s Haunted Warehouse was a giant empty building split into fifteen different themed rooms. The rooms formed a giant maze, creating the possibility for you to get lost among the scares until you found your way out. It was rumored that once you went in, no one helped you get out. What was even cooler was that they only let one group in at a time, allowing an experience pure of screams giving away future scares. If you wanted to make sure you got in, you were supposed to make a reservation.
Ann told us at lunch that week that she had made reservations for us. It was weird because she was never part of our group that went on our weekend adventures to haunted houses; she could hardly handle watching Zombieland, and that movie wasn’t even scary. Yet because it was ‘her idea’ she thought she deserved to come with. I told Bruce that she was his girlfriend and therefore his responsibility. No one was going to mess up my hunt for fear.
Our weekend ritual was simple. We would meet up for dinner before heading out. As this was our first outing of the year, I couldn’t eat my burger fast enough. Ann on the other hand was picking at her food. Even though we were the only two girls in the group, I related more with the guys. It was just a minor speed bump in my night. During our meal, all we could talk about were the rumors we had heard about our destination.
“I heard some kid got trapped in there overnight,” Bruce said.
“Well I heard that some kid started acting with the actors because he had gotten lost,” Ann said. It wasn’t a surprise that her rumor had nothing to do with how scary it was.
Once we had arrived and paid for our tickets, we were directed to a waiting room. It had a row of six chairs with a mock reception counter and was relatively small, which led us to believe that there was an endless supply of scares behind the door.
As people were standing around, waiting for our turn to go in, I noticed there were medical charts and pamphlets littering the floor. It appeared to be a cramped version of a doctor’s waiting room. Upon glancing at the medical records on the counter, I realized it was supposed to be a mental institution’s waiting room. Then I noticed that the names on the waiting list were our names. I started to let the anticipatory adrenaline take control.
As much as waiting in line made us impatient, it made the experience so much better. The anxiety we got while hearing screams from the other side of the wall gave us the shivers and freaked us out before we even stepped foot in the actual haunted parts. It all got into our heads and drove us crazy. Our blood started pumping faster and faster and we began to become vulnerable to paranoia.
Slowly, the line crept forward, increasing the fear in all of us. The anticipation was driving us mad. Some jumped up and down in excitement and others rocked back and forth trying to hide the fear boiling inside. I was a jumper.
A nurse came in through a door that appeared nonexistent and grabbed the clipboard that had our names on it. Finally, it was our turn to enter. This was the part where the weak were separated from the brave. I loved how guys reacted when they saw how unafraid I was. I wasn’t like all the other girls, I was fearless and strong. I jumped to go first, almost taking out a few friends in the process. Slowly the others formed the standard line; brave few in front, easily frightened in the middle, and the in-betweeners at the end. To me, the first spot was the only spot: I wanted to receive the full brunt force of the fear tactics. However, if I was forced from the front, the back was easily second best. If the place was good enough, there were a handful of good scares that only happened from behind. The back was not as eventful as the front, but better than the middle where nothing happened. Mainly, the kids in the middle, like Ann, just screamed when they heard others scream; they were never subjected to the original source of the terror. Some people hated these types because they created an uncomfortable sort of responsibility to keep them “safe.” I wasn’t one to complain that these kids would come along because they didn’t want my spot and that was all I cared about.
The nurse led us into a very small closet-like room. Considering there were ten of us, it got pretty crowded by the time we all squeezed in. She shut the entrance leaving us in an enclosed space. It was naturally dark and had graffiti in glow-in-the-dark paint on the walls. The paint was a reddish color that displayed phrases like “help us” and “run while you can.” We stood there waiting for something to happen.
“Omigod, someone needs to do something to get us out of here,” Ann said.
I darted my eyes at Bruce for the second time already; she was whimpering and near tears when we were in the waiting room. I may have been pissed she was with us, but at least in comparison, I looked a lot more brave. Unlike Ann, I wasn’t concerned about being trapped in the room because I had been to enough of these things to know that eventually someone would release us from the cell-like room or one of the sides would open. If it were to be the latter, I was crossing my fingers that I would still be in front. I bounced up and down with anticipation. A creepy half dead man opened the side furthest from me.
When I finally got into the room, Ann was already in a full panic. From what I gathered, someone had startled her. I looked around the room and noticed it was without a doubt a replica from the Saw movies. My heart began to race as the scene from the movie played in my head. The hostages found themselves in a narrow room with circular chambers leading to tunnels. Bombs were on the ceiling forcing them to seek shelter in the locked chambers. Everything matched exactly, except there were no keys for us to escape. In the corner of the room sitting on a metal chair was a limp body with the pig’s mask. The second door slammed with no help behind us. “Want to play a game?” asked the familiar voice. People started freaking out while I searched for where our next room was. It wasn’t that the room wasn’t scary or anything. I mean anyone who had seen the Saw movies would be panicking at least a little. But I had pretty much seen it all. Not much scared me, which was why I searched for the best.
When the door magically sprung open, I made every attempt to get in front of the line. I wanted to prove how brave I was.
We found ourselves entering a third room. This room resumed the theme from the waiting area. An off-white paint and dim lighting set an eerie mood. There were “patients” cuffed to rusty old beds that lined a long hall of a room. They were all crying or moaning out indistinguishable words. Ann resumed her whimpering as one tried to touch her. The room was massive enough to take us a couple of minutes to make it down the wing of beds, avoiding the reaches from the patients in the process. I frantically searched the room in hopes that something startling would happen. I decided that there were no major scares, that is, nothing popped out at us or tried to escalate our fear. It was just some creepy people moaning and reaching for us.
As I turned my back to the front of the room, I saw a glimpse of a figure out of the corner of my eye. At first I got excited, thinking this could finally be a scare. When I directed my focus the figure was gone. I shrugged it off as we made our way out of the room.
This time we were led to a hallway with two rooms at either end. I eagerly waited what I hoped to be an escalation to the scare factor due to the maze. Bruce suggested that we choose the room on the right end of the hallway. The basic bedroom door opened to a room filled with dolls. It was decorated as a child’s room; a bed, dresser, desk, and rocking chair were in their appropriate places. The dolls on the other hand were sitting in every place possible and all were staring at us as we entered. I was hoping a doll’s head would spin around or start talking to us, but the only strange thing that I noticed was a weird brushing feeling on my leg. When I looked to see what it was, nothing was there. I just assumed I had run into one of the dolls as they littered every inch of the room. We stood uncomfortably as the dolls watched for a couple minutes before we decided it was a dead end. No one was in the room and no one showed up to take us somewhere else.
The room that was on our left was clearly the correct choice. Entering the black-lit rainbow room showed us it was yet another hallway that directed us towards yet another room. Among the obnoxious coloring were clowns. Clowns were always a good way to go if you were in the haunted house making business. Most people find the demon-esque clowns very unsettling and made for a classic scare.
I led our group through the hallway. Ann was mumbling something about killer clown nightmares and I laughed to myself. This room couldn’t give me a nightmare even if I tried imagining terrifying scenarios.
We were almost out of the hallway when once again I found myself distracted by a figure out of the corner of my eye. This time when I turned my head to look, I noticed a sliver of something shiny. My mind immediately thought of killer. I was confused because it didn’t fit with the clowns, aside from Ann’s comment. It was probably just an actor who was trying to get to their spot in a different room.
As I turned to continue on my way, a creepy laugh accompanied by a jack-in-the-box clown emerged from the darkness. Ann screamed as she saw me slightly jump in surprise. If it wasn’t for that clown, I would had lost all hope for any true scares to come.
Yet room after room, I slowly realized that the clown was the most terrifying part of the warehouse. The anticipation of being scared was more terrifying than the actual scares themselves. I even took a back seat to the front and trailed hoping the idea of people following me would liven things up. After the doll room, I kept feeling grabs at my legs, but no one else was experiencing it. I didn’t want to show how much that worried me so I tried to ignore it. Other than that, it appeared that the one jack-in-the-box clown was as scary as it got. As for the maze aspect, it could hardly be considered that. There were a couple rooms that had multiple exits, but one led to a dead end room, like the dolls, and the other was the way out, like the clowns. Instead of being an addition to the entire effect, it just made the effort more tiring to find our way out.
By the time we reached the last room, the entire place was just ridiculous. Even Ann wasn’t scared. It was a well-lit living room with a giant steel door marked “Exit.” The room was decorated like it was in the house of an 80-year-old couple from the sixties. I walked around the entire area searching for something that would try to scare us. There was an old man sitting in a rocking chair, rocking, with a twisted look on his face. I went near him in hopes he would do something that would scare me. But like the rest of the place, he just kept on being only slightly off-putting. The worst part was that we were in that room for a solid ten minutes. Nothing even happened. I couldn’t believe that this was one of the best in the county. It was a complete waste of time. As we stood, waiting for the door to open, Ann turned around and jumped.
“What was that?” she said, her voice squeaking from the high inflection.
We all turned to see what she was looking at and saw the figure I had been seeing all night. I instantly realized that the figure must have been the one that was grabbing my legs.
As if part of a horror movie, the lights flickered and went out.
We stood in the darkness for mere seconds before Bruce shouted “Run!”
I heard pounding on the door, but no one was coming. I turned to where I thought the door to the maze was and saw brief glints of cell phone screens scattering in all directions. I whipped my phone out of my pocket and started running in the direction of the other lights. Once I got to the hallway, they had all vanished. The dark paralyzed my sense of direction. I didn’t know which way to go. Suddenly, I was thankful for the pitiful maze. I heard footsteps behind me and I rushed in what I thought was the right direction. Somehow, I found myself in the clown room. My phone started to slip out of my hands. My breathing quickened and it felt like my heart was racing itself to the finish line. The footsteps grew louder. I looked behind me to catch a glint of silver peaking out from the darkness. I ran faster.
Turn after turn, the maze had gotten more intricate. I found myself in the doll room that strangely now had several exits. In the faint glow of my phone, I couldn’t tell which door we had originally come through. The more I tried to concentrate, the more I could only focus on the person chasing after me. In the silence of the room, I could hear my heart beating faster and faster as I tried to hear any indication that I wasn’t alone. A slight creak came outside the door nearest me. I ran across the room to what I hoped was the right door to get me out.
On the other side of the door was an unfamiliar room. I didn’t recognize what little I could see and my heart sank. I quickly scanned the sides of the room and found that this room had several doors too. I tried to yell for my friends but only a hoarse whisper came out. I tried again but my body refused to make a sound. If I couldn’t find my way out, then there was no way they had made it out. My sense of direction was completely destroyed. I couldn’t think which direction would lead to the waiting room.
The door I picked led to the Saw room.
I looked around, making sure I inspected every element of the room. I thought I remembered which door we entered through, but I was in one of the tunnels and the room was perfectly symmetrical. At least I had a fifty-fifty shot at making it out. As I was crawling out of the tunnel, I had the worst feeling. I couldn’t hear anything but every inch of my body was telling me that there was someone behind me. My hair was on end and a shiver crept up my spine. A pebble clanked at the back end of the tunnel and I ran to one side of the room. The door wouldn’t open. I glanced at the tunnel; no one had emerged. Yet. I bolted to the opposite side of the room. That door wouldn’t open either. All the tunnels were locked shut besides the one I had entered from. I was trapped. Scuffles were echoing out of the tunnel. I tried the door again but my hand refused to grip the handle. The dragging of metal on the concrete tunnel made its way into the room.
“H-help! Let me o-out!” My fist banged against the door. I dropped my phone and I heard the distinct sound of several parts hitting cement. Shoes slammed on the floor. I was going to die. My body crumpled to the floor as I shielded my head with my shaking hands. The footsteps got closer.
All of a sudden, there was pressure at my back. The door was opening. Instantly all the lights went on. Giggling emerged from behind me.
I looked up to see a man near the center of the room. With a knife.
“You should’ve seen yourself!” Ann said with a big grin on her face.
“What the fuck is going on?” I whispered. I whipped my head to look at Ann.
“You tell her Bruce, she likes you.”
“Basically there are two different parts of this place. One is where you go through it as a haunted maze. The other is where you can set up your friends and have the shit scared out of them. So, we elected to scare you.”
My eyes darted to Bruce.
“Are you f—”
“But we thought you would be okay with it! I mean, you are always looking to be scared and you never seem to find what you are looking for.”
He had no idea that if they had walked in only seconds later they would have seen me crying and pleading for my life. I hated that they were so close to seeing how vulnerable I was.
The actor with the knife, which was fake, led us back to the front of the building.
“So where are we going next week?” Bruce asked as we piled back into the van.
“I don’t know that I can make it,” I said.
There was always one house my mom wouldn’t let me go trick-or-treating at as a child. She said its scary reputation wasn’t appropriate for little girls like me. When I was seven-years-old she decided it was okay for me to go, as the usual intensity of the decorations was absent. The house seemed plain, just some hay bales and a scarecrow on the front porch. I was excited she finally let me go there, even if it wasn’t scary like normal. I was putting the candy in my pillowcase when the scarecrow came alive and jumped out at me. The candy fell out of my hand and I ran to a safe distance away before I burst into tears. My mom told me that was why she never let me go there. It was too scary for little girls. Some of the neighborhood boys saw me and laughed at me for being a scaredy-cat.
I went back to that house every year since. Now I wasn’t sure I would be back again.