It's that time of year again.
Those of you relatively new to the Hell Bus may not be familiar with my 'other' job. Since 1994 I'm been scaring the living shit out of people every autumn. For six years I did my spooking at the Haunted Hotel and I've been spooking (and managing) Literally, a Haunted House since 2000. Although I 'retired' from my Chairperson position after last season, I'm still heavily involved with this year's planning. I've been mentoring my assistant (now official Chair) and helping out with design, construction, organization, media relations... the list goes on. The staff insisted I stay on as 'co-chair.' Even tho I'm not officially running the place, it's still kinda 'my baby.' I may step away from being in charge, but I'll never give this up. It's just way too damn fun.
I have seen everything in this business we call scare. I've seen grown men cry. I've seen adults panic and quit. I've seen breakdowns, pass outs and people lose control of their stomachs, bladders and rectums.
Don't believe me? For the past two years we've kept a tally.
But there are some moments that stick out as being, well, special; the events that keep us veterans talking years after they happened. This is one of them:
During my third year at the Haunted Hotel I was working on the 2nd floor of the two-story house. Those 5 to 10 of us working the second floor would gather at the top of the stairs in between groups. We would talk, play cards, tell jokes, anything to pass the time and keep ourselves awake while we waited for the next group of people to come around the corner and head up the steps. Upon spotting the next group, we would all scatter at the speed of sound to our assigned spot and wait for the group to come thru our area. Group would come thru, booga booga booga, and we'd all run back to the top of the stairs again.
This particular night I was working in the first room on the second floor. Two guys were working the second room right next to me, so we could see each other if we leaned out of our spot.
Anyway, a group was on its way so we positioned ourselves and waited. Now for some reason, this particular group seemed to be taking an usually long time to get to my room. I waited and waited, poised and ready. Finally, after several minutes and no group, I was just about to peek around the corner to see what was up. Like I said, people have a real tendency to panic and quit, then leave thru the nearest fire exit. But I pulled back quickly as the shadowy shape of people came around the corner. I stood 'prop-still' as I observed the following:
The group consisted of 3 females. Girl Number 1 was black. I knew this because, even in the dim lighting, I could see the back of her hands since they were both covering her eyes.
Girl Number 1 is the leader, and she's hiding her face.
Girl Number 2 is a blonde white girl. Even tho she has the bravery not to cover her face, I know she's not handling this very well either because she's crying. And I don't mean a gentle weeping either. I mean a full out sobbing and wailing. She might be frantically looking around, but her arms are tightly wrapped around Girl Number 1's waist.
I have no idea what Girl Number 3 looked like because not only are her arms tightly wrapped around Girl Number 2's waist but her face is firmly buried in Girl Number 2's back.
The twisted daisy chain slowly shuffles their way into my area and I lunge with a snarl. All three of them, still tenanciously attached, slam against the opposite wall and nearly slide down, but manage to stay up on all 6 legs.
I could have really done some psychological damage at this point, considering how vulnerable these three gals were, but I'm so amused at their antics I can only stand back and watch them desperately and slowly slither along the wall into the next room.
This is where the real fun begins. I'm just gonna stand here and watch this.
Upon making it into the next room (please note, Girl Number 1 still has both hands covering her face), the three girls are so surprised by the two guys who jumped out like crazed psycho killers that they go crashing down to the floor. They are now lying on the floor, still holding on to one another's waist. Girl Number 1 still hasn't seen anything. Neither has Girl Number 3. But they are all sobbing and screaming and wiggling like a dying fish.
At this point, I'm having a hard time keeping my pants dry because I'm laughing so hard.
The psycho guys are dancing around, acting all crazy and evil, while the girls continue to writhe on the floor in a sobbing blob. After about 30 seconds of this the guys calm down. In fact, they actually break character and come to a complete halt to watch dumbfounded at this mess on the floor.
I've stopped laughing now. This is getting serious.
I hop out of my spot and walk over to the whole group. The guys and I continue to look down at the three conjoined sobbers as they continue to squirm helplessly on the floor. I bend down and say, "Ok, it's over. You saw it. Now go."
They don't move.
"Come on, it's ok. We're not gonna hurt ya. We're done. You can go now."
They won't move.
"Come on! There's more people coming behind you! You HAVE to GO!!"
Blondie is still crying and looking around at me and the other two guys like she doesn't know English. Girl Number 1 and 3 still have never seen anything. And they won't get up.
By now all three of us actors are shouting at them to get up and go. After several long moments they finally get it and somehow manage to stagger upright and bolt down the hall into total darkness, Girl Number 1 still leading with her hands over her face.
The three of us could only look at one another in total disbelief, which was quickly followed by some high fives.
"Damn, we are GOOD!"