I usually don't like horror attractions. It's not that I'm scared, I just don't care for it. I don't get the idea of being scared for fun. My friend on the other hand loved that kinda stuff, so it was no surprise that I was dragged along to these kinds of things. It's all good though, because I'd drag him along for things he wasn't crazy about either. It's one of those unspoken friend agreements. Yet, this time I never expected to end up in a police station over it.
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“I told you what happened already.” My agitated tone was not lost on the officer.
“I understand, but...in light of what you're saying, you can understand why we'd want to make sure everything you're saying isn't...”
“I was going to say 'inconsistent', but you obviously know how it all sounds.”
“Yes, I do. It sounds absolutely crazy, but it's what happened.”
“Well, you gave us the short version. Tell us exactly everything that happened that night.”
“You're not going to believe me.”
I looked to the side, contemplating my story with a sigh.
“We're not going to judge. We just want to hear all the details. Start from the very beginning.”
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166Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ6bKsGmWtNc
It was a chilly October night, only days away from actual Halloween night. My friend had gone on and on about this haunted house attraction he'd seen in town.
“The House Of Nightly Frights,” he recited to me in a feigned ominous tone.
“Sounds lame.” Paul was used to my rebuttals, so he didn't even bother rolling his eyes.
“C'mon Jim, it'll be a gas!”
“Would you stop saying stuff like that?'
“What's wrong with old sayings? It makes things more interesting, in fact it's almost a whootananny!!”
The silent standoff began. I knew he was waiting for me to realize that I made him go along with me to a sci-fi convention earlier that year. Never mind the fact that sci-fi is a subgenre of horror, but I understood. His hesitation at the sci-fi events were from the “real nerds” that seemed to hog the spotlight.
“Alright.” I waved the metaphorical white flag of my hand.
I decided later that the event was also a good reason to wear my costume. My mom insisted on hand-making me a Grim Reaper costume to save some money. Reluctantly I agreed, but was very pleased at how well it turned out. The edge of the robe and hood had frays and looked worn, which really sold it. The only catch was that she pestered me to make it worth her time by wearing it at any opportunity. Honestly, I didn't mind though. It turned out really cool.
Before I knew it, we were at the fall carnival with all the stands of popcorn, rides, and all the tooth-rotting prizes you could imagine. The carnival was set up in a large clearing in the woods just on the outskirts of our humble town of Sullen Oaks. Lights were hung on wires strewn all about, but were scarce in one particular place.
In the very back of the carnival stood the ominous House of Nightly Frights. A dilapidated mansion stood sentinel at the start of the attraction, and it was only the beginning. It was positioned right on the treeline, making it nearly impossible to tell how far back it went. You could barely see anything through the trees, but you could tell it was deepset and veered off to the right.
“This thing is massive!” Paul's eyes reverted to a kid at a candy shop.
“Yeah....” My mind wandered off, not sure what to think of such a huge attraction. Normally a haunted house was just that, but this seemed out of my depth.
“Come one, come all!” We heard the theatrical beckoning of a short man in a butler's costume. “Dare to traverse the House of Nightly Frights, and earn the ultimate reward!”
Paul and I exchanged a look of acknowledging something cheesy, but also grinned because it was going to be interesting at the least. We approached him and gave him our tickets, hardly registering his phrases intending to intrigue us.
“Prepare yourself for the fright of your life!”
“Let us know what you'd like on your tombstone! Mwahahaha!”
It was all schlock, and we walked through the front door with a small amount of trepidation but a larger amount of excitement. There was always something exciting about the unknown. I'm sure my parents wouldn't agree, but to a teenager the unknown was always alluring. If only we'd known later what we were about to face...
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We entered the mansion just as front door boomed shut behind us. There was a small group gathered nearby, and a costumed man peeked his head out of the door, conversing with the butler. He soon closed the door and inserted a key to lock it. We may not have thought much of it, but he actually shook the door to ensure that it was locked. This got out our attention, and he addressed it before anyone could even ask.
“Not to worry, everyone! We just want to make sure no one chickens out!!”
“Really?” Someone challenged him.
“It's to make sure other groups don't get mixed up with ours! The train is only designed to carry twenty people, and we have just that. Now let's continue!”
I remember one of my parents mentioning that locking doors to places like this was a fire hazard, or was that just escape rooms...?
Either way, the dreadfully curious part of me pushed the thought into the back of my mind.
“What train?” Someone asked.
“Follow me, everyone! And no matter what you do, don't break away from the group! You may end up part of the attraction, hahahaha!!”
So our first encounters in the mansion were with a clawed hag and a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Although it was cheap jump scares, they were good at surprising us. We both screamed and hollered as we dodged left and right to escape their grasp, accompanied by the many shrieks of our group members. We all seemed to be enjoying it, as some laughter broke up the screams. The lights flashed on and off, disorienting us along the way. As instructed though, we stuck with the group until we came to the exit door.
“Hurry! Hurry on through to the train! The conductor will greet you there. Good luck!”
With a cheesy maniacal laugh, he ushered us through the door. We entered into a dimly lit corridor with seats and windows to resemble a train. A conductor stood eerily still at the back until we all made it through.
“Passengers, let me welcome you to the ghost train!” He bellowed, his voice echoing harshly off the walls. “Your objective is simple, to sit and enjoy the ride. As you may have been told though, we can only hold twenty victims....I mean passengers.” He chuckled and motioned to the seats.
“Wait, don't you mean forty?” Paul chimed in. There were twenty seats, but there was plenty of room for two to occupy each seat.
“Ahhh, a good question, young man!” He smiled widely, showing a set of crooked, yellow teeth. “You see, everyone is assigned to one seat. As I mentioned, this is a ghost train.....you must leave room for the spirits to ride as well!
I remember hearing about rides like this. There was some sort of illusion or trick where you'd see things that weren't there. As I looked around the train again, I realized that the windows were actually mirrors. Paul must have had the same thought, as he thumbed toward the mirrors.
“Everyone, please! Take your seats now! Just remember....be respectful of the dead that dwell within. Or else...you just might regret it!”
He laughed again as he entered a side door of the train, which closed and locked behind him. We all took our seats, Paul positioning himself across from me. There was a loud hum of machinery, and we soon felt the train car begin to rumble. It felt like we were moving, but it seemed off. It was probably a stage mounted on machinery that rocked back and forth to maintain the illusion of motion.
“All aboard, hahahahaha!” The conductor's voice boomed through the speakers, and we all leaned back over our seats to see the entrance doors opening. The only thing we saw was a black void, and the doors remained open for five seconds before they abruptly closed.
“The spirits are entering...” Paul called to me in a dark whisper.
“Put a sock in it.” I said, looking around for any sign of the ghostly illusion. This was when I noticed something odd. I looked around and counted again just to be sure.
Not all the seats were occupied...
“Paul,” I called back.
“What, man? I'm trying to see some ghosts.”
“Two people from our group are missing, look!”
I pointed to the seats in the back which were completely unoccupied.
“Probably just a miscount,” he waved it off. “Or a stunt to scare us.”
“Yeah....maybe....” I couldn't shake the unexplainable feeling of foreboding.
It was at this point that I looked to the mirror to my left, and jumped at the sight of a skeleton sitting beside me on the right. As if in response, the skeleton waved. Although I knew what to expect, I turned away to see an unoccupied seat. It was clear that I could only see the hologram in the mirror.
“Dude, are you seeing this?!!” Paul yelled over.
I turned to face his mirror, and saw that a shrouded ghost was reflected in his mirror. When I looked at just the right angle, I could see my ghost and his in my mirror's reflection too.
“How do you think they do that?” I asked.
“I don't know, but it's wicked!” Paul said, moving his hand around to see if he could “touch” the ghost in the reflection. We both did this, and watched out hands pass right through the ghastly illusion. Looking through the reflection to other seats, I could see a zombie, a vampire, and other arrays of ghouls and spirits. Everyone was now talking excitedly, conversing about the spirits. There was one teenager though, who didn't seem to be enjoying himself.
“This is stupid,” he said aloud. “Oooo, a hologram how scary!” He flung his hand back and forth through the vampire that was shown through his mirror. I got an uneasy feeling and kept watching him through the nearby mirror.
“Do you like getting slapped around, Drac! Hahahaha! Blah-bleh-blah, hahahaha!!” His laughter didn't last very long. The vampire suddenly got a scowl on his face, and I swear he met eyes with me for a moment, then smiled malevolently with his sharp, pointed fangs. In one swift movement, the vampire reared back and sunk his fangs into the boy's neck. I lowered my gaze just in time to see the boy clutch his neck and scream out in pain.
Blood began seeping through the boy's fingers and pouring out over his shirt. Everyone simultaneously spun around to witness the boy slump over in his seat. In moments, he was covered in blood and stopped moving.
“Whoaa....that looked soooo real!” Paul exclaimed, and got up from his chair to get a closer look. “The blood looks real, too!” Remembering the vampire's grin, something deep within me told me this was no gimmick.
“Paul....I don't think...”
“Oh, don't tell me you believe this is real!”
“Two people disappeared from our group! Now this?!”
“Hey, someone check on that kid!” A passenger called out.
“It's fake!” Someone else yelled.
“That bite mark looks very real...” Paul remarked, his assurance waning.
“Check his pulse!” I shouted. It was the only way to know for sure. “Hey, can someone check his pulse??!” I wanted to do it myself, but I was too frightened to find out.
Everyone else didn't seem so confident as they glanced around the room, expecting someone else to do it. Finally, a woman stood up and came over to the bloodied boy. With a nervous glance, she knelt down and held her fingers to his throat. She winced as she checked it, and waited for fifteen seconds. With every second that went by, her eyes seemed to widen a bit more. Then with a yelp, she yanked her hand away and fell back into a sitting position with her hands clutched to her chest.
“Miss?” I said quietly. She said nothing. “Is he really.....?”
She slowly lifted her head to meet my gaze, and shook her head up and down without a sound. The air felt like it was sucked out of the room.
“Oh, you've really done it now!” The conductor's voice boomed over the intercom. Everyone jumped. “You have angered the spirits! Now your only goal is to survive!”
“Someone help! This kid is dead!” A passenger yelled, which was only met with silence. He looked around in frustration. “Hey, I really mean it, someone....”
His last words were choked off in a horrendous gurgle with blood spurting from his neck. Everyone screamed as he fell to the floor. I looked into the mirror to witness a shrouded ghost floating where the dying man once stood. It held a serrated piece of broken glass covered in blood. I took a step back just as the ghost turned its hooded void of a gaze to a nearby passenger and began to stabbing them repeatedly.
The next moment was a blur of chaos and screams of pure terror permeating the air.
We were all going to die.....ns22.214.171.124da2