Halloween Tradition: The Haunted House (We have all lost our minds.)
I have only gone to one haunted house attraction in my whole 29 years of life. (Well, two if you want to be exact. But the first was at my elementary school during the Halloween fair and wasn’t very scary, even if I was just a kid. It’s rather hard to be afraid of the mad scientist wandering around the sheet maze when he’s the boy that sits next to you for 6 hours a day.) But, my friend Jamie wanted to go and I caved like a house of cards for the pure reason that she was offering to pay and I wouldn’t have to drive. (She had just gotten married and wanted to go before she got around to having kids. Kind of a bucket list type of thing.) Of course, she wanted to go to one of the biggest haunted houses in Saint Louis, The Darkness in Soulard.
For most of the year and during the day the Soulard area hosts a busy farmers market. But when October rolls around and night falls, the old warehouse is the scene of one of the most popular haunted houses in the area. I’m a big, giant chicken but I let myself be talked into going anyway. Jamie had a friend who offered to drive. This was the only way either of us was going to get into the city. I hate driving in the city and I hate driving in the city at night even more and especially to a place that was going to be crowded and where I had no clue where I was going. So, Amy drove. We printed off our tickets from her computer before leaving, so we got to skip the ticket line and queue up for the haunted house right off the bat.
Now, I’m a bit of an oddball. I like being creeped-out and I enjoy a good ghost story. (I can watch Ghost Hunters and tell spooky stories all night long and be fine.) I do not like being startled or harassed. So, of course, standing in line talking with Jamie and Amy I was a perfect mark for the ghouls working the waiting crowd. The zombie guy merely had to stand next to me and wait for me to notice him. Jamie and Amy thought this was hilarious. I did not. So, we shuffled our way inside, under the big animatronic monster, and off into the twisting inside of The Darkness. Now, two things. I hate not being able to see anything and I loathe not having a stable floor under my feet. Several areas had floors on springs, so they tilted every which way when you walked over them. In one room they had a small swing-set with a zombie kid leering over everybody’s heads that I refused to look at even when Jamie was so kind as to actually point her out. (Because Jamie is a brat.) I still didn’t look at the zombie kid. Little snot seemed to be having way too much fun.
The worst part about a haunted house is things jumping out at you and people lunging at you and shouting, usually with some sort of fake weapon, and you just want to run, run for your life, but you’re in an enclosed space and there are people all around you, some screaming like you are and others laughing (the buttheads). But everything in you is just insisting you run, run as fast as you can, and you just can’t because you’re being blocked, herded forward, and even though you know logically that it’s just for fun, that it’s all fake and you’re perfectly safe, there is that wild fight or flight instinct to just run, run now. Of course, Jamie comes out the other end and is all like “that was fun” because she is a CRAZY PERSON.
The latter half of The Darkness is this 3D neon painted clown world, Terror Visions, that was rather neat until something you thought was part of the wall moved and then it was less neat because it was all black light and even darker than the actual haunted house part of it. The very last thing was this spinning tunnel that I had to close my eyes and bump along the guardrail to get out of while Amy nudged me along. Then we came to the gift shop and light and everyone was all smiles because, again, CRAZY PERSONS. Then we stumbled down the stairs and outside into the night and I vowed to never do anything like that again, oh my god, what was I thinking in the first place!
So, of course, this means I plan to do it again this year. Because I’m a CRAZY PERSON. Actually, I want to go to the corn maze and hayride in Eureka. I figure it might be less, I don’t know, intense than an enclosed space like The Darkness was. Or I’m insane. I can’t tell anymore. Now, all I need is another CRAZY PERSON to go with me. Who’s game?
Creepy fact: The warehouse The Darkness now inhabits was once a baby carriage factory, the Welsh Baby Carriage Factory. Ironically, they used to call it The Sunshine Factory. The building has a lot of windows which are now boarded up, allowing no light inside.