The weather is getting chilly. The smells are rich and the colors vibrant! The perfect time for telling spooky stories. Here’s the next installment of Alex’s story.
Don’t Be Afraid
Screams echoed from inside the building as Alex, Larry and Madison walked up the parking lot toward the front.
“At least this building looks a little run down,” Larry murmured.
Alex sighed. “It was a car plant and the owners agreed to let the Fright Company rent it for the month. Guess some income is better then none.”
Larry shook his head. “You really are no fun, aren’t you?” Larry had exchanged his tie for a plain black tshirt.
“Wait. He gets worse,” Madison mumbled, rolling her blue eyes.
Alex glanced at his two partners for this outing. “Not a word from you two. We’re going to get through this, I’ll write the damned review and then not another word about me not being scared.”
“You might be scared of the line,” Larry said and jerked his chin toward a spot over Alex’s shoulder.
Alex turned. Every fiber in his body groaned. This was going to be the longest night ever. The line stretched up and down roped off lanes. “You’d think it was Disney World.”
“We should have gotten here right when it opened,” Larry mumbled as they moved to the back of the line. “We can come back tomorrow.”
“No way!” Madison said. “Unlike you two, I have a life. I’m not wasting another night. We’re staying.”
Alex shrugged and joined the line.
“Why’d we come so late?” Larry wondered. “I would have thought you’d want to get it over with.”
“I could have swore the brochure said it opened at nine.”
“On a Friday night?”
“More like you read it wrong and it closed at nine,” Madison mumbled, crossing her arms.
Alex held up his hands. “It doesn’t matter. We’re here. Let’s make the best of it.” But he knew there was no way to make this any worse.
The line moved slowly. At every turn were warnings to ‘turn back now’ or ‘keep out’.
The couple in front of them were a pair of lip-locked teens who seemed not to notice they were in public. Just another annoying aspect of this entire haunted house. A couple of women got into line behind them before a made up zombie joined them at the end of the line. He turned away any new comers, drooling and slobbering, saying the house had enough victims for the night.
They would be the last group to enter, the zombie said. And never come out!
Alex rolled his eyes.
The zombie interacted with the ladies behind them and even a couple of times with Madison, groaning and mumbling something about eating brains. But he never touched anyone. You couldn’t touch them and they couldn’t touch you. Alex knew this.
It was an hour later that they stood before the double doors to the dark building. Alex’s mood was so dark, he didn’t think there was any way this haunted house would get a good review. Not unless it was the gate to hell. The wait was just too long.
Larry and Madison looked to be beyond their tolerance level, too. Madison leaned against the wall, her arms crossed, her head cocked to the side in annoyance. Larry stood next to her, his head leaning back and he looked to be sleeping.
Some haunted house.
Even the zombie looked bored. He waited behind the two ladies with his head against the wall, drool slipping from his lips. It was no way for a zombie to act. He could have lunged after one of the ladies and tried to eat her brains. But Alex supposed they were well past that.
At least they were next. The last group of the night. The two teens before them had separated long enough to move up, but now were back to kissing.
The low energy level of this haunt made Alex think this was going to be the most disappointing house of all. And it was rated so highly.
They waited another fifteen minutes and then the door opened.
Their turn. Finally.
The teens before them parted, the girl squeezing close to the boy. The ladies behind them giggled in anticipation. Madison sighed. Larry took up a position next to her. Zombie boy pushed in close, making the ladies behind them crowd forward.
It was their turn.
As they walked through the large double doors, a scream echoed from somewhere deep in the house.
A girl jumped from the darkness and one of the ladies behind them screamed. Then laughed nervously. Madison grabbed Alex’s arm. He groaned silently. Shock value. This was one of those haunted houses. The ones where things jumped out at you from every dark corner.
“We warned you not to come,” the girl said as the group moved forward into the darkness. She was pale with wide, if a bit crazy, eyes. Her hair was uncombed. From the occasional flashing light, Alex saw she wore no make up. It was all acting. “No one listens. They come anyway. You came.”
“Had to write a column,” Alex murmured.
Madison elbowed him.
The girl turned to him. She skipped up to him and leaned in close. Very close. He could smell her breath… Putrid. She must not have brushed her teeth for days. Nice touch. “Do you know why?” she asked quietly.
“Why?” Alex replied.
She laughed. “That’s what I asked you!”
Alex sighed with impatience. The darkness and occasional flash of light was giving him a headache. “Why what?”
“Why were you picked?” she sang in sing song voice, swinging her arms.
“Because I’m not afraid.”
Again, she stopped and came back to him. “Not afraid?” she wondered, circling him. She began to sing ‘not afraid, not afraid’.
Alex glanced back at Larry who shrugged. Alex noticed the kissing teens had found their way to the rear of their group. The two ladies were in the middle. Alex was leading. That was fine with him. The faster they went, the faster they would get through this thing. The wacky girl was still singing ‘not afraid’ when they came to a door and stopped. “This house is alive. It beats with evil. It thursts for blood. Every year around this time, it waits for the right person. It has its pick from all those fools who wait in long lines to enter. I warned you! You should have stayed away!”
“We read the flyer,” Alex said.
She smiled. And opened the door. “Then good luck.”
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Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. I love decorating the yard with spooky mausoleums and grave stones. I love the crisp air and the changing colors of the leaves. I love going to the pumpkin patches and farms for the fall festivals. I love carving pumpkins and eating comfort foods. I just love this time of year. But one of the things I love the most are the haunted houses. My family and I go to a couple of them every year. We have fond and funny memories of them, most stemming from someone’s fear.
With that in mind, here is the start of my horror story…
Don’t Be Afraid
Alex La Croeux shook his head in disbelief and ran his hand through his hair.
“Come on, Alex. Really?” His coworker and friend, Larry, leaned against his desk. His brown hair was cut short and his glasses were stylish and rectangle. He wore a light blue shirt with a dark blue tie.
It was that time of year again. Time to prove it. Again. And again. “No, Larry,” Alex stated in a strained voice. “Nothing scares me.”
“Told ya,” a woman’s voice called from the cubical next to his.
“Thanks, Madison,” Alex grumbled. Last year, he had gone through this with Madison. She hadn’t believed it either. She made him prove it by going to haunted houses. He must have gone to ten. What a waste of money! All because his friends couldn’t believe that nothing scared him. But really. Nothing scared him. Alex supposed in the real world things like guns and bombs and terrorists would scare him. But this was Halloween. It was all make believe. Zombies, vampires, devils. They didn’t exist.
“You mean to tell me that nothing has ever scared you? No movie? No book?”
Larry snapped his fingers. “What about the Exorcist? That scared the crap out of me!”
“It’s a movie. Pretend.” Alex moved his fingers over the keyboard as he tried to concentrate on the column he was writing for the newspaper.
“What about The Shining? The book, not the movie.”
“That’s your imagination.”
“So what you’re saying is that you don’t let yourself get scared?”
Alex sighed. “It just doesn’t scare me. I’m not going to analyze why.”
Madison stood up in the cubical next to his and leaned over the wall. Her blond hair hung in waves around her shoulders. She was pretty and smart and was dating some weight lifter. “I already tried,” she said. “Last year. We watched Nightmare on Elm Street.”
“The remake or the original?” Larry wondered.
“The original. Nothing. He didn’t even flinch.”
“It’s a monster movie. Movie being the key word here. Make believe. Come on, guys. I have work to do.”
Madison smiled, shrugged and sat back down.
Larry leaned in close to Alex. “Couldn’t you have pretended to be scared so she could comfort you?”
“I heard that Larry!” Madison called.
“Don’t you have something to do, Mr. Spellman?” Their boss, Joe Capaleti, walked past Alex’s cubical and Larry jumped, scampering into his work area. The man slapped a piece of paper on Alex’s desk, leaning over the wall to do it.
Alex scanned the brochure and groaned. “Come on, Joe. Not again. I put in my time.”
“No one is as fearless as you are. I need a review by next Wednesday.”
Alex rolled his eyes and shook his head. He glanced at the brochure. Gory masked people reached for the photographer. The tag line proclaimed ‘scariest haunted house in Illinois’.
“It’s that time of year, Alex. People love this stuff. You can review it objectively. That’s why I like sending you.”
“I want to work on the election. This is just a waste of time.”
Joe slapped Alex on the back. “This stuff sells newspapers.” He began walking away. “Take Larry. He doesn’t have anything to do.”
Alex shook his head and leaned back in his chair. Every year he was sent to review these haunted houses. And they were all the same. He picked up the brochure and looked at it. No one under twelve admitted. Nice touch. Pregnant women not admitted. Oh, come on. People with a heart condition shouldn’t enter.
Alex rolled his eyes.
Soft feminine laughter floated to his ears.
“You’re coming too, Madison,” Alex called. “After all, you started this.”
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