I was told there would be scares. But so far, halfway through this attraction called Rooms of Terror, everything that tried to scare me was just all “meh.”
Tracy had the opposite reaction. Of course she did. Everything scared her, even the movies that were supposed to be scary but actually really weren’t.
Still, I had to admit that the special effects were pretty cool. The swamp gas filtering from the Swamp Creature attraction was pretty neat, and I liked how the witch had a really menacing stare on her face as she cackled when we passed it by. That cackle was bone-chilling and it sure gave me the creeps!
“We shouldn’t have come here,” Tracy said, clutching my arm as we walked through a room filled with tombstones. It was supposed to be a graveyard, with the occasional hand appearing from out of the ground or the sound of bats squeaking in the air.
“What? Why not?” I asked, looking at her after checking out the sight of a zombie head rising atop of a tombstone. Even though this haunt-attraction rated pretty low on my scale of scares, it was still pretty cool.
“It’s just so scary,” Tracy replied, shuddering and getting closer to me as a bony hand reached for her leg just as we exited the haunted graveyard.
I smiled at her, “Don’t worry, it’s almost over. Then we got the rest of the night to watch movies at your house.” I was grateful my parents let me stay the night at Tracy’s house tonight; she was my best friend. We’d known each other since third grade and we did everything together. Even the scary stuff. No matter how much I loved checking out scary stuff, Tracy pretty much went along with it, even though she got scared so easily. But then we’d have a good laugh over it later on and did things she liked to do, like painting.
“Just no scary movies,” Tracy said, looking up at me. For someone who was the same age as me, she was still a few inches shorter. Then again, another girl at our school was also 12, and she was shorter than Tracy. I knew another 12-year-old in my neighborhood, and he was a lot taller than me. Tracy had black hair like I did, except hers was longer than mine, and we both liked to wear jeans and a T-shirt every day, which was what we wore now.
“Fine, no scary movies,” I assured, turning the knob of a door so we could enter the next room.
Except this one wasn’t a room. It appeared to be a closet we could not go into.
“Hi, kids!” a clown suddenly appeared in front of us, towering over me with its big red nose and red triangles of hair. But that wasn’t the worst part; the worst part was the huge knife it held over us.
A clown! And a knife! Talk about a double threat!
I screamed, turning tail and bolting for somewhere – anywhere – to go.
Maybe the exit.
But that’s not what I found. Instead, I ended up in a room that had nothing except skeletons everywhere. There were skeletons having a pretend meal at a table, a skeleton playing with a skeletal dog that yipped as it tried to catch the bone offered to it then yanked away, and a skeleton rocking in a rocking chair, knitting something.
“Welcome to our humble abode.”
I turned to see a mechanized skeleton walking towards me. “Won’t you join us for dinner? We have children on the menu.” And here it leaned super close to me, its eyes flashing a red color.
“Yikes,” I muttered, then turned and ran out of the room.
And right smack into Tracy.
“Hey!” Tracy cried, as I hit her chest. Once we recovered, she studied me, “Where did you go?”
“The skeleton room,” I answered, hooking my thumb behind me.
“Dianne, can we go home now? Please? This place is so creepy.” Tracy pleaded.
After seeing that clown, I started to favor Tracy’s pleas to leave this place. I didn’t want to run into it again!
“Yeah, let’s go,” I said, and the two of us left.
Once we got back to Tracy’s house, she appeared calmer and a lot more relaxed. As promised, we watched movies and pigged out on popcorn and ice cream. We laughed at the funny movies we watched then, when it got really late, we huddled together in our sleeping bags on the floor in her room and shared what ideas we had for our Halloween costumes. Halloween was next week, and I was excited about getting dressed up.
“Are you going to enter the costume contest?” Tracy asked.
Our Neighborhood Watch group was hosting a Halloween party on the 30th, complete with a costume contest. Ever since we’d gotten the flyer about it, it was all we could talk about. We eagerly chatted away about the costume contest until it was gone one o’clock in the morning, and then the both of us got really tired. We got comfortable in our sleeping bags and soon the both of us were fast asleep.
Now, you would think that after all that good stuff we did after I got scared by the clown, I would be fine for the rest of the night.
But I wasn’t.
After we’d fallen asleep, I soon started dreaming. I dreamed that I was walking through school, except it was empty and dark. All of the classroom doors were opened, so I was curious about one particular classroom where the door was closed.
I reached for the knob, but before I could turn it to open the door, it flew open. The clown appeared, brandishing the knife.
“Hi, kids!” It greeted in that same throaty mechanical voice.
I screamed then turned to run. As I pounded through the hallways of the school, I could hear footsteps running behind me. I chanced a look behind and my blood froze. The clown was right on my heels, laughing as it chased after me and swung the knife up and down.
I looked ahead again and kept running. I finally came to the exit, but right when I opened the door, the clown appeared and came flying at me with the knife.
I screamed so loud that I must have woken myself up. I found myself wide awake and sitting up on my sleeping bag. I turned to see Tracy sitting up on hers, staring at me with shock.
“Are you okay?” she asked, looking at me with concern.
Realizing it was only a bad dream, I relaxed, heavily breathing as my heart stopped pounding against my chest so hard. “Yeah, fine,” I finally answered. “I had a nightmare about that stupid clown.”
Tracy nodded knowingly. My fear of clowns wasn’t exactly a big secret. She’d known about it for years. “I thought that might happen.” She put her hand on my shoulder in a way to offer comfort. “Want a stuffy? They usually help me sleep without any nightmares.”
I smiled at this kind gesture. Tracy loved her stuffies, even though her older brother teased her that they were for babies. But she insisted her stuffies were for emotional support, and that seemed to work because she kept telling anyone who would listen how they always kept her bad dreams away.
“Nah, I’m good,” I said. “Thanks.”
We both settled back into our sleeping bags. I didn’t feel like going back to sleep, not after a nightmare like that, but it was still dark and Tracy’s family was probably still sleeping. So we just huddled together on the floor and talked in whispers until the soft strands of daylight started to peek through the blinds on her window.
I wish that had been the one and only time I had a nightmare about that clown. If only! Then maybe things would have turned out differently.
But they didn’t.
I had those nightmares all weekend. They always ended the same way: The clown was at the exit of the empty school building, and every time it came flying at me, I woke up screaming in terror.
My parents rushed into my room both times that happened. They were always so concerned about me being so scared and they kept assuring me it was only a bad dream.
I was starting to feel like those “bad dreams” were more than just dreams. Especially after all I could think about was that scary clown during the daytime.
I had that same nightmare again on Monday night. This time, though, it was different.
Just like the other dreams, the school building was empty and the doors were all opened except for that one. And just like the other three times, I still opened that one closed door! The clown was chasing me through the hallways. My heart pounded in my chest as I screamed.
I found the exit and grabbed the handle to open it. Yes, once again, I opened the door to the exit, even though the clown was there in the last three dreams!
It was there again. Waiting for me.
And just like before, it came flying at me after I opened the door.
I screamed, tumbling backward onto the floor. I thought I would wake up before it grabbed me, but I didn’t!
No. Something else happened this time. Something even scarier.
The clown grabbed me by my shirt, gripping it in one hand. Clutching the knife, it crawled up my body and closer to my head. Its rancid breath hit my nostrils. The beady eyes glowed red. And when it opened its mouth, the teeth were black and like sharp razors.
“Your turn,” it whispered in a deathly growl.
Then it raised the knife and swung it down to my head.
I didn’t scream. I didn’t feel a thing. I don’t know if the knife even hit my head at all, because right when I was watching that silvery blade coming down towards me, I woke up from the dream.
I lay there in silence. The clown’s face was still in my mind. I could almost smell that terrible odor that had been its breath on my face.
I sat up in my bed. It was still dark in my bedroom. But even though it was still dark, I could see my feet sticking up from under the covers.
My feet looked really big.
I got out from under the blankets, and I just stood there breathing. I started thinking how nice it was to breathe in a human body again.
Then I walked out of my bedroom. I didn’t care that my feet made squeaky sounds as I took each step.
The rest of the house was still dark. I guess everybody else was still sleeping.
I walked down the stairs and straight to the front door. I unlocked the door and walked right out.
The cool October air swept past me as I walked. It felt nice to experience that kind of feeling again. I listened to the sounds all around me. There were dogs barking, big trucks driving past me and the sound of feet hitting the pavement when I saw not one but two people running nearby.
I walked all the way back to where I knew I was supposed to be: The haunt attraction.
That’s where I came from, anyway. I knew I had to be somewhere else at six p.m., but all of my instincts sent me here.
The haunt attraction wasn’t open yet, though. So I just sat on the porch and waited.
Finally, a truck pulled up and parked in front of the building. The driver got out and hurried over to where I was sitting.
“Whoa, what are you doing out here?” he asked. Then he shook his head. “Nice one, Frank. I’ll get you back.”
Then he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. “Geez! You’re heavier than last time,” he muttered, struggling up the porch steps. He got to the door and I heard keys jangling. “We better get you checked out before showtime. I hope nothing’s broken. We really don’t have enough money to buy another clown.”
He sat me up in the closet. He stood there a minute and looked me over. “Well, we did get a good deal on you. But next time, we really should buy you from a professional dealer.” He closed the closet door and walked off, muttering something about how money was good this year thanks to more people coming to the attraction.
I stayed in that closet for hours. The funny thing is, I was never hungry. I never had to use the bathroom or anything. I just sat there, like a statue, thinking only one thing: Tracy.
When it was finally six o’clock, I slipped out of the closet and left the building. Funny how nobody seemed to notice. I guess they were too busy with other things.
I walked all the way to Tracy’s house. I stood at her door and knocked.
The door swung open and Tracy appeared, wearing her costume of a grape jelly jar.
Her smile disappeared when she got a good look at me.
“Dianne, seriously?” she asked. Then she shook her head and scoffed. “Gee, thanks for letting me know you changed your mind about your costume.”
I said nothing, only stood there with that smile on my face.
She shook her head. “Hello? Anybody in there?”
I remained silent. Now was not the time to talk.
She shrugged. “Whatever. Come on, let’s go. We’re late.”
She pushed me back in order to step out of the house. I followed behind her as we walked to the Halloween party that the Neighborhood Watch group was hosting. She chattered about how disappointed she was that I didn't wear my peanut butter jar costume and debated going to my house to change into it.
“Maybe we should go to your house,” she added, turning to look at me. “You know, to let your parents know that you’re okay?”
I said nothing in response.
She sighed. “You know, your parents have been looking everywhere for you! You change your mind about what costume to wear to the contest, without even telling me, then you show up at my door without saying anything!”
When I didn’t respond, she shook her head then pointed at me. “I’m getting really tired of this whole ‘not-talking-in-order-to-be-spooky’ act you’re pulling, Dianne.” When I still said nothing, she angrily stomped her foot and pounded her fists in the air. “Well? Say something!”
My smile widened as I swung up the knife I had been clutching in my hand. “Hi, kids!” I said, in that same mechanical voice of the fake clown.
The fake clown that I had become.
Tracy seemed to realize what was going on. She screamed and turned to run in another direction.
I chased after her, surprised at how fast I was going. I was practically flying through the air!
As I kept after Tracy through the neighborhood, getting closer and closer to her as she tried to get away from me, I started to think how nice it would be to exist in the body of a girl that was a lot better off than Dianne. Maybe her rich parents had rich friends.
I greedily swung the knife up and down as I chased her. Beads of excitement ran through me as I almost just reached her. I hungrily looked at my prey and muttered in a deathly growl, “Your turn.