everyday is halloween
me, anna and a couple of friends took off for the haunted house saturday night. the previous saturday night we brought nick to the haunted house, but it proved to scary for nick, and so we didn't enter any of the mazes. anna asked me if i would take her back, and also have me ask our two friends. so i did. our friends said yes. we met at a local restaurant, the old spaghetti factory, of which your town probably has a version because pasta is cheap and the decor is a bit flowzy and it is large and loud enough to drown out the noises of your small children. the old spaghetti factory is, you guessed it, a family friendly kind of place.
we got to the eatery a few minutes early. the place is usually pretty crowded on the weekends. this night it was jammed with teens gussied up for homecoming dinner. fucking bananas. our friends were already inside waiting for us with a table in the bar. no waiting for service.
this is my third year at the western themed haunted attraction. last year i took my friend p. the year before i brought my father. this year the haunt, heartstoppers, is located at an old teen dance club called the mineshaft. perfect, right! anyhow, anna and i used to go to the mineshaft 30 years ago. we didn't know each other then but we were kids and there were not a lot of places for sacramento kids to go in the early to mid-80s. anna went to dance to duran duran et al. and i went to hang with my friends and look at all the girls. i can't dance and was too bashful to even try working up the nerve to ask a girl to dance anyway.
so but then it is thirty years later. the place is perfect for a western-themed haunt. four mazes. two in the basement where the dance floor was. one upstairs. one outside where the old miniature golf course used to live. call me a cornball but i love the ambiance of the place. the decor. a player piano with blood-spattered keys. a blackened christmas-like tree decorated with jack o'lanterns, skeletons and skulls. a big TV screen that broadcast an ancient western, not a horror movie, but an exploitation western with a cast of only little people. i don't know what the fuck movie that was.
now, our friends, both women [i was the only dude in our group], were novices to public spectacles of fright. i'm not sure if anna had ever been to a professional haunt either. who cares! the place was packed. the lines were crazy long. even with those long lines the wait felt pretty short. besides standing line waiting to get the shit scared out of you only heightened the tension. it was magic.
the mazes were good to pretty damn good. the one called malice in underland used the old miniature golf course. it was the first maze of the evening. we got grouped with a twenty-something couple. the couple led. but when we got to the portion that had two rows of children dressed in white bunny suits and masks, each of the bunnies carried a weapon like a baseball bat, the girl in front stopped, looked at me, and said, you go first!
okay. i did. i led our group thru the gauntlet of bat-wielding crazed bunny-kids. only to land in the red queen's lair. she asked if we had seen alice. she was perched on her throne surrounded by lopped-off heads. she held one of those heads. the red queen hurled the head at us! it was like a sponge and drenched two of our companions with water.
i forgot to tell you about the vaginal birth canal. see, to get to the start of the malice in underland maze we had to squeeze thru a very tight opening made of some kind of black fabric. the haunt had used this opening before for a couple of other mazes. i knew what to expect. but anna and friends had no idea. when you are in this black fabric you are tightly squeezed. you can't see. and it feels like it is long so a tinge of claustrophobia develops. it feels like forever getting thru this thing. anna called it the birth canal.
the other freaky maze was the second one in the basement called the tomb of shadows. a maze black as pitch. you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. you feel your way thru it. we saw several people back out of the maze. they couldn't do it. one teen had a full-blown panic attack. he was hyperventilating as the staff and his companions ushered him outside. you ask, was it that scary? yes, being lost in the dark can be that scary. last year i lost my friend, p. in that maze. i remember hearing my name way off in the distance. i was on the surface of the moon. i got turned around several times. i was lost. panic almost set in as i realized i was all alone.
but not this year. we held hands. we got turned around a couple of times. bashed into a couple of walls too. anna pointed out that the maze had some lighting above our heads. we followed those faint lights. when we could. because the lights were not always above. and the haunt had speakers with voices whispering to you. what did they say? i don't know. because i was doing my best not to panic.
then great relief when we saw light literally at the end of the tunnel. an exit sign and some stairs leading up and out. we had bragging rights because we made it.
then so we laughed our way to the parking lot. we hugged our friends goodbye. we survived. we got into our car and drove our way back to the living, and to nick, who was staying at grandma's house while anna and i celebrated the scary season with a night of the living dead.