I crunch a dead leaf under my boot while a cold wind blows hair across my cheek. Any logical person wouldn’t be outside in late October with no jacket, but I had left mine in Arden’s car this morning, and she has yet to arrive – just like my other friends. It isn’t my fault I’m early; I have been looking forward to the Horror House all year. Not only is it the main haunted attraction in our small town, it’s only open the night of Halloween, so if we missed going tonight we would have to wait an entire year, and I am not about to do that.
I spot Grayson and Lily parking near the entrance and hope one of them has an extra jacket or anything I can use to cover the goosebumps scattered along my arms. Lily hops out of the old truck, grabs Grayson’s hand, and half walks, half skips over to where I’m standing.
“Amy! I’m super excited for this haunted house but I am lowkey super terrified,” she says looking at my bare arms, “Girl, why do you not have a coat on? It’s like 50 degrees, and it’s not even that late yet.”
“Yeah, I know. I left my jacket in Arden’s car this morning when we were studying for the AP Government test,” I explain as Arden’s red Volvo pulled into the nearest parking spot. She quickly adjusted her lipstick in the mirror and grabbed my gray peacoat from her passenger seat.
“Sorry, I’m late. I didn’t get the memo to get here ten minutes early,” Arden jokes as she joins us and hands the jacket to me. I slip it on as I examine the people standing outside. The crowd in front of Horror House is growing along with my excitement.
“Does anyone know where Greg is?” Lily asks the group.
“Um, hold on,” Arden says looking at her phone, “he texted me thirteen minutes ago and said he was leaving work. He should be here soon.” I check my phone: 7:56. Greg had four minutes to get here or we are going in without him, I decide. The line is becoming so long, it expands outside. Groups of five went through the Horror House which was very convenient for us, but also meant the wait was rather lengthy.
“I do not understand why we are paying $15 for people to scare us. Shouldn’t they be paying me?” Grayson questions. Lily giggles and kisses his cheek. Finally I see Greg’s car flying down the parking lot and screeching to a stop in a parking spot.
“Sorry, I got held up at work,” he yells across several cars, slamming his door shut behind him. He jogs to meet us at the end of the line with his Walmart name tag bouncing off his shirt.
“Hey, maybe you can woo the chick at the ticket desk with that name tag and get us in free,” Arden smirks. Greg glances down at his chest.
“Ah, dang. I forgot to take it off,” I shake my head at the dork as we slowly begin to move up the line. Thankfully we finally move inside of the building; it is pitch dark outside and becoming even more chilly, and frankly, even more spooky. I’m not sure whether my nerves were finally getting to me or it was just the effect of being inside the Horror House, but my palms were becoming clammy and my mouth felt abnormally dry.
“I still do not think this is a good idea, “ Grayson cautions, “Yes, I’m cheap and do not want to pay the $15, but it just feels weird in here, ya know?” He is noticing it, too.
“Guys, just chill. It’s just like watching a scary movie, which if you all remember we all survived the showing of Halloween last weekend. We’ll be fine,” Greg says.
“Ow!” Lily winces. The man standing in front of her had stepped back on the toes exposed in her brown sandals.
“Watch what you’re doing!” he says, turning around glaring at Lily. Grayson puts his arm on her shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, it just scared me; my nerves are already on edge, not to mention my exceedingly low pain tolerance.”
We have finally reached the ticket booth. Grayson has somehow complained about the price three times between pulling his wallet out and handing wadded cash to woman behind the desk, so I decide to just tune him out. I am so excited; I have been hearing of how amazing Horror House is all month, and I am about to experience it for myself! Once everyone has given their money, the woman tells us to walk into the room to our left and wait for further instruction. I follow Greg into the dark room. The room was rather small and black with spider webs thrown around on the walls like confetti. Glancing at the exit, I read the sign hanging above the door we would soon enter: If you leave the Horror House alive, you’re lucky. Wow, super spooky, I think.
We’re all waiting patiently when a tall man opens the door and walks into the room. He clearly wasn’t actually a part of the theme, dressed in khakis and a Horror House t-shirt.
“Are you all excited?” the stranger beams. We all nod and Greg even gives a little “whoo”. “Okay, here is how the Horror House works. There are four rooms with each room having its own unique design and theme. You cannot come back once you go through this door, but you may travel at whatever pace you desire. Are you all ready?”
“Yes, let’s go!” Greg answers. The man opens the door and we follow Greg into a great abyss. The first room seemed quite simple…at first. It opens into a small hallway lined with strobe lights. We all walked quietly, slowly with the creepy music playing from speakers. A horrific scream came from another room. Lily grabs my arm and whimpers.
“Calm down, Lily. That’s not even a part of our room,” Greg says. So far, the first room was almost boring. A few cast members dressed in costumes had jumped out at us and caused Lily to yell. One even grabs Grayson’s feet and elicit a shout from him, but nothing truly terrifying. We reach the end of room one.
“See, guys? No one has peed himself and we’re already finished with the first room,” Greg says to make Lily feel better. Grayson opens the second door, and we all follow in behind him. The second room is completely black. We all slowly walk into the room when a small light comes on and show a man hanging from the ceiling.
“Oh my gosh!” Lily cries, “that’s the guy that stepped on my foot in line, I swear!” We all observed the man hanging; he had blood dripping down his body and onto the ground.
“Lily, you’re just super paranoid,” Grayson reassures her, “Let’s just keep going. We’re almost halfway through.” Lily keeps glancing back up at the man, but eventually follows us through the rest of the room. Another light lit up and displays a bloody man with an axe in his side and several cast members jumped out from behind curtains, but still nothing too extravagantly scary. We approach the end of the second room and there stands a man next to five separate doors.
“Congratulations on making it through the first two rooms. Now, you all must each walk through one of the five doors leading to the third room,” The man instructs.
“No, I don’t want to go through a door alone!” Lily cries, grabbing onto Grayson’s arm.
“Don’t worry,” the man says, “they all lead to the same room. It’s just for the effect of the room.”
Lily slowly agrees and we each open one of the five doors leading into room three. I shut the door slowly behind me and begin walking into the dimly lit hallway. I hear a loud scream and jump. My heart is pounding; it wasn’t as scary with the group, but now I am completely alone. I feel my way along the hallway cautiously, finally seeing the opening into the third room. I run through the door to the third room to find my friends. I spot Arden across the room and rush to her. We are both unaware of the man standing in between the doors until he speaks.
“You have now successfully entered room three. You all must continue through room three now. Your friends are already in room four.” Without another word, the man hurriedly turns and exits the room. Wait, I think, shouldn’t there be five doors leading into room three, not two? Before I can finish my thought, we hear a chainsaw coming toward us. Without saying a word, we both run away from the sound. Arden is much more fit and is several feet in front of me when I trip over something lying in the floor. Bracing my fall, I push my hands on the ground, feeling a warm substance. The blaring sound of the chainsaw suddenly dies, so I reach for my phone to shine a flashlight on my surroundings. As I reach in my backpocket, I hear Arden running back towards me.
“Amy, are you okay? What happened?” she says in between gasping for breaths, “I can’t see you. Where are you?”
“Hold on, I’m turning on my flashlight. I tripped over something in the floor; I don’t know what it was.” I shine my flashlight in the direction of Arden’s voice and see her small frame approaching me.
“Oh my gosh,” she stammers, her face turning pale, “Amy, what’s all over your hands?”
I shine the flashlight on my trembling hand and identify what the warm liquid on the ground had been: blood. My heart begins pounding out of my chest as I slowly shine the light along the trail of blood I had fallen into. Standing up, I steadily began walking, shining the flashlight on the ground. The light ran across a pair of black tennis shoes attached to torn, bloody jeans. I reach the owner of the blood on the floor. Out of the corner of my eye, I see something reflective on the chest of the victim. My hand move the phone instinctively up the beaten body until I reach the object that caught my eye.
My stomach drops; it’s Greg’s Walmart name tag.