Halloween 2017 #5: The Last Time I Worked A Haunted House

Length: Super long

The
last time I worked in a haunted house attraction I learned the true meaning of
an old haunter’s adage: The scariest thing in a haunted house is sometimes the
people that visit it.

I’m
a horror nerd, the kind of girl who loves watching scary movies with guys just
to see their reactions. Gore, torture porn, haunted places, give it all to me.
I love it. So naturally, when I was old enough and October rolled around, I was
front and center to apply for the haunted house that got setup every year. I
was fifteen the first time as it was just a charity haunt. Now it was a big
business thing.

I
was a senior in high school last year, so it was the last time I’d be working
the haunt as I already had college stuff figured out and would be in my dorm
come fall… which is where I’m writing this.

To
say I was a little sad to be walking through the doors knowing that it would be
the end in less than a month is an understatement. I practically balled my eyes
out on Sophie’s shoulder as we stood in the back, while all the new kids got
the usual run down of the rules.

“You’re
being a baby, Heather.” She said and pushed my head off her shoulder. “We’re
just getting started. Cry like this when it’s over.”

“But
it already is over,” I said and sniffed. “This is the last time we get to do
any of this. It sucks.”

She
sighed and shook her head. “We’ll come back when we finish college. Hell, Jean
and Keith have been back every year and they’re like thirty.” She motioned
toward the two people at the front of the room laying out the rules, both tall
and lanky and still sickly in love.

Jean
and Keith were the resident mom and dad of the haunters and had met their first
time working the haunted house. They were the ones that showed me the ropes my
first year when I was fifteen. Just remembering that brought on another sob and
Sophie shoved me.

“I
can’t deal with you like this.”

“What
kind of best friend are you?”

She
laughed. “How are you going to wear your baby-doll makeup if you keep crying?”

I
shrugged. “Not the baby-doll this year.”

“No…?”

I
nodded. “Tanner thinks I’ve… what was the word he used? Oh, filled out too
much.” I motioned to my chest. “The asshole.”

Sophie
scoffed. “He’s a goddamn creep, besides you still look like a little kid even
with slightly bigger boobs.”

I
punched her arm. “Ooh, screw you.”

“I
don’t want go to jail, so I think I’ll pass…”

I
snorted. “Your freshman boyfriend will get you there first.”

“He’s
not a—“

“Heather!
Sophie! Get your butts up here and explain to these new ghouls how to scare.”
Keith called.

We
stood before a bunch of kids, most sixteen or seventeen. I put on my best smile
and walked up to the closest guy in the front row. I made my way to him slowly,
swaying with each step, not saying a word. He shifted uncomfortably as I came
to stand right in front of him and I bent down. I then barred my teeth and
said, in my creepy little girl voice, “I’m going to make you a doll so you’ll
be just like me.”

His
eyes got as big as saucers. His chair tipped and only the people behind him
kept him from landing flat on his back. I reached out and grabbed his arm and
righted him while laughing. “That there, kiddos, is a scare. That’s what we do
here, we scare people. We do our best to give them nightmares and maybe have to
change their pants.” I turned back to the guy. “You all right? The bathroom is
out in the hall if you need it.”

He
waved me off with an unsure laugh which the rest of the group joined in with.

Sophie
took a step forward. “Now that Heather is done showing off… hands up: How many
of you actually read the damn manual you got when you were hired?”

Almost
every hand went up. Sophie and I looked at each other and shook our heads. She
looked back at the group and crossed her arms. “You lying jerks. Tell the
truth.”

Half
the hands went down.

“That’s
more like it. Look, read it. I’m serious, there is a lot of stuff in there that
you’ll need to know.”

“Yeah,
such as all you girls here… someone is probably gonna grab your boob at least
once.” The guys in the group laughed and I turned to them. “And you boys,
someone’s gonna dick-punch you or try to grab it.”

They
closed their mouths and the laughter died.

“Heather.”
Keith said I looked over, raised my hands, and shrugged.

“Just
being honest. Speaking of punching, you’re likely gonna take a hit. At some
point you’re gonna scare someone bad enough that they’re gonna take a swing and
you won’t be able to dodge it. Sophie here got nailed in the nose last year and
sounded like Elmo for like a week.”

“And
Heather took a shot to the mouth and it was a blissful few hours when she
couldn’t talk without being in pain.”

“Girls…
move it along.” Keith said.

I
nodded. “All right, but seriously, these things are gonna happen at some point,
most of the time they’re accidents, it’s dark, a lot is going on, and people
act without fully thinking. Sometimes they aren’t accidents. If you think
someone tried to touch you or hurt you on purpose you break character and go
find one of the security peeps that walk the back halls. I’m not kidding, you
break character the moment it happens and look for security. If you can’t find
one of them, come find me, Sophie, Kieth, or Jean. We’ll get it to the right
people.”

Sophie
moved in front of me. “Exactly, and try to take note of something, hair style,
jackets… anything that could help pinpoint the person. There are cameras in
every room and they take assault and sexual assault serious as hell here. Don’t
hold your tongue if it happens to you.”

“Now
that we’re all done talking about the crappy part of this job, let’s talk the
fun. We have four types of scares here and it’s best if you understand all of
them.” I said.

Sophie
and I continued on with the orientation for the newbies and then we all headed
for the costume and make-up room. One of the new girls was now the doll that I
had played for the last three or so years. That hurt a bit too, less when she
came over to me to ask questions and have me help with her makeup. She was a
cute kid. I say kid but she was maybe two years younger… they all looked like
kids to me.

To
start, the haunted house is just a maze that goes in a big half circle. There
are hidden hallways that follow the loop on the inner and outer sides. We use
these to move around out of sight of customers. The maze itself is fairly
straight forward, but there are two branching points that come back together a
few rooms before the end.

The
theme was like a dollhouse, all the actors were different types of dolls or
puppets or evil kids. Each of the rooms were based around a hellish version of
what you’d see in a dollhouse.

My
new role was actually with Sophie and another actor named Rob, a guy that had
joined two years before and would often get high as shit after work. He was
short and thin as a rail, which we cracked jokes about, but he shared his weed
with us once in a while so it was all in fun.

Since
Rob was so small Sophie or me could drag him, so he was the victim for the
attraction we worked. Rob would go out in the maze and make himself part of
groups by saying his group took off running or that he was lost and he wanted
to join the new group.

When
they got to our room, the sister room, one of us would attack Rob and drag him
away from the group while the other acted like they’d take someone else.

This
usually sent the group running, but once in a while they would try to help.
Luckily, the distance was too short and the room too dark for them to do
anything before we were behind a wall.

So,
that’s what we did for the first few nights and everything went pretty well,
but it was on the third weekend of October, late in the night, that someone did
something that no one in that haunted attraction will forget.

I
was in a corner waiting for the next group when a hidden panel opened beside
me. I was dressed in a white and black… nightgown I guess would be the best
word for it, and blended into the surroundings.

“Heather…?
Hey, you here?—oh, jeeze, there you are.” I jolted slightly myself as the doll
makeup on the girl’s face glowed in the dim light. It was the new baby-doll
haunter, Claire.

“What
is it?” I said in a hushed voice, just loud enough to hear over the sounds of
the haunted house. She motioned for me to follow and then disappeared behind
the door without another word. I knocked on the wall four times to let Sophie
know she would be on her own for a minute and then ducked into the hall.

“You
okay? Something happen?” Being the baby doll wasn’t the easiest character to
play, mostly because she was a bit sexily dressed and had an entire room by herself.
It was at the branching point entrance and she had to do a little act telling
people what awaited down either hall. Since there was no one else in the room
drunks tried to get handy sometimes.

She
shook her head and started talking very quickly. “Not—not really? I don’t know,
there was just this dude… he was so damn tall and lanky, like a skeleton
and—and I saw him watching me from the doorway for a minute and then he came in
and—“

“Whoa,
slow it down, girl. Did he touch you?”

“Sort
of… I think he thought I was you.”

“What
do you mean?”

She
shrugged. “He tried to touch the side of my face while I was doing my spiel
and… and he said he always liked how I preformed. He came every year for me and
now understood what I was actually doing…”

“And
this is the first year you’re playing baby-doll. Guess the so called security
people have disappeared?”

“No,
I found one and told him, but I thought you should know. Security stopped more
people from entering for a few minutes so they can catch him coming out. He’s
still in the maze I bet, because… well, I sort of broke character and told him
this is the first time I’ve worked here. He just smiled and said that was fine
and that I could still help him. He creeped me out, Heather. I had to leave.”

I
patted her shoulder. “You did the right thing. Get back to your room as quick
as you can until we know what’s going on. What security guy did you talk to?”

“Uh…
tall guy, kinda big nose, smells like he bathes in Irish Spring… I can’t
remember his name, sorry.”

“It’s
Pete. He’s one of the good ones. I’ll go talk to him. Thanks.” Screams reached
us from the other side of the wall and I looked over. “That’s gotta be Rob and
Sophie. Hurry back. I’ll check with Pete after this group.”

She
nodded and I went out the door just as Sophie and Rob slammed through one a few
feet down. I rushed out to see a group of four, two men and two women, fighting
with each other on if they should go and help. I went to one of the twin beds
beside them and hopped on it and yelled, “He’s one of us now, you should all
join us! You’d make such pretty dollies and the needle don’t hurt after the
first few stitches.”

The
group screamed and then stumbled their way out of the room as I laughed. When
they were completely into the next room I hopped off and found Sophie and Rob
in the hallway.

“What’s
up?” Sophie asked the moment I stepped in.

“Someone
creeped on the baby-doll girl. Pete stopped the show so they could try to catch
him when he came out.”

Sophie
checked the clock on the wall and shrugged. “Almost closing time anyway, doubt
they’ll start back up. Tomorrow is gonna be insane as it is.”

I
went over and picked up the radio that was on the table and called for Keith.

“Yeah,
Pete already called on the radio. We’re figuring out how to handle it. Jean went
to see Claire to make sure she’s okay.”

“We
starting up again?”

“That’s
up to Tanner, but probably not. There were only a few groups left and we can
give them free tickets and front of the line for tomorrow.”

“So
they haven’t got him yet?”

“No.
Pete is in the video room trying to see if this dude hid somewhere. Security is
gonna walk the maze again too once we get these other groups out of here. You
bunch can let the other actors know they can take a break, I’ll let you know if
we start going again.”

I
told him thanks and looked at the other two. “Well, guess that’s it.”

“Good,
I’m beat. You’ve put on a few pounds, dude.” She said to Rob while she
stretched out her arm.

“Yeah,
I went from 120 to 121. You’re just weak.”

She
scoffed. “I’ll show you weak… Come here.” She lunged for him but he backed out
of her reach with a laugh and took off down the hall.

“Asshole.”
She turned back to me. “You coming? I don’t want to have to grab all the others
by myself.”

“Sorry,
but could you this once? I want to go talk to Pete.”

“You’re
not taking the blame on this, are you?”

“He
said he came every year to see me. But no one ever acted like that to me. I’m a
little freaked out and worried about Claire.”

“They’ll
nab him. Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah,
I guess. I still wanna check with Pete. I’ll catch up.”

She
pulled me into a quick hug and then left. I turned in the other direction and
headed toward the security room, which was really just a plywood box with a
bunch of cheap monitors in it.

I
opened the door and peeked in to see if anyone was there. Pete was staring at
the monitors, fast forwarding through footage.

“Pete?”
I called and opened the door a bit more.

He
turned, gasped, and nearly toppled out of his chair. He took a few deep
breathes and placed a hand to his chest. “Jesus fucking Christ, Heather. I told
you about that before.”

I
forgot that I still had all my makeup on and stifled a laugh as I stepped into
the room. “Sorry, sorry. Just wanted to check on if you found the creep yet.”

“We
were waiting for him and I had Tim go through from the beginning… the guy never
came out and Tim didn’t see him. So, I’m looking through the cameras, but…”

“But?”

“I’m
starting to wonder if the new girl made it up.”

I
smacked the back of his head. “You know better than to think that.”

He
adjusted his hat and sat up some. “Maybe, but I ain’t seeing anything on these
feeds. I can’t even find where she talked to the guy, but this camera has been
messing up all day. I’ve been telling Tanner about it all week.”

“Great
setup here, really makes me feel safe knowing that.” I looked at the screens as
he fast forwarded through the recordings. I then looked at the monitors above
and paused. “Hey, those live?”

“Hm?
Yeah, why?”

“Claire
is still in her room.” I moved around him and pointed to the little square
which had the baby-doll room on it. Sitting in the corner was Claire, the fake
wig unmistakable. “Everyone is out of the place already, why is she there?
Keith or Jean should have got her out.”

“Dunno.
Hold on.” He reached for the radio and called one of the other security
personnel on it. But they were busy dealing with the groups who were pissed
they couldn’t go through, and the other two were dealing with some girl who was
crying in the corner. Sounds creepy, but she was just scared badly and hid.
“Dammit. Guess I have to go get her. The video will have to wait.”

“I’ll
do it.”

“You
sure?”

I
shrugged. “Yeah, why not?”

He
stared at me for a minute and then held out a radio to me. “Take it. We haven’t
found this guy yet and I’ll keep an eye on you from here.”

“It’ll
be fine, stop being an idiot.” I pushed the radio back but he shoved it
forward.

“I’m
serious, Heather.”

“Ugh,
fine. Fine. I’ll take it.” I pocketed the small radio and started out, but his
voice stopped me at the door.

“Claire
was freaked out about this guy, he seems to have a thing for baby-doll. If I
tell you to get out of there you do it.”

I
felt my heart quicken as I turned to him. “You seem worried.”

“A
haunter in another house was badly hurt by some guy last week. Same sort of
description. The last thing I want is one of my haunters getting hurt.”

I
nodded slowly. “I’ll be careful.”

“I
doubt it, but it’s nice to hear. Go get her out.”

After
a few deep breaths to calm myself I started down the hall and then crossed over
to the outer hall to make it to the beginning of the maze. I was on a bit of
autopilot as I had walked my way to the baby-doll room a hundred times. Before
I knew it I stood in front of the door. I couldn’t help the unease that sat in
my stomach like a bad taco. Still, I pushed the door open and stepped in.

The
room was bathed in purple and blue light. The walls were tacky stripe wallpaper
and in the corner was a little table with decapitated stuffed animals around
it. I could see Claire in the chair and she looked up the moment I stepped in.

“Claire?
What—“ The way she looked at me made my voice break. I could feel it then,
someone else was in the room with us. I pressed myself against the wall and
stared out into the room as my eyes adjusted to the light. I didn’t see
anything, but Claire was staring at the corner of the room.

“Has
the baby-doll returned to her crib?” A male voice asked, its tone haunting and
low. “Tell her to step out, Claire.”

“Get
out of here! He—ah!” She gasped and clutched her wrist. There was a piece of
rope tied to her fingers and they were all bent at wrong angles. “He wants you…
you have to leave.”

“She’s
very stubborn. A very poor substitute for you, Heather Evans.”

I
jolted at the sound of my full name and felt my stomach twist. This dude was
stalking me. For the first time in my life I felt real horror and it was a
terrible feeling.

“I
can already see you there, Heather. No reason for me to hurt this faux
baby-doll. I will though, so step out where I can see you clearly.” He said and
Claire gasped again.

Slowly
I stepped out into the room and glanced at the camera. The little red light was
flickering. Pete wasn’t seeing this, or was only getting pieces. I started to
reach for the radio in my pocket, but the shadow in the corner spoke again.

“No,
no, hands where I can see them.” He stood, a towering figure that looked almost
inhuman in the dark. He made a tutting sound. “What have they done to your
face? It’s all wrong… so very wrong. You were beautiful as the baby-doll, but
this is an… abomination is the only word to describe it. Disgusting.”

“I—Well,
sorry to disappoint.” My words came out forced. I was struggling to keep my
fear in check. “Look, we can… we can talk, right? You wanted to see me, so let
her go. I’m the baby-doll you want.”

He
giggled, almost sounding like a little boy. “You are what I want, but I already
have her. If I let her go she’ll bring another one like this one.” He moved
toward the small bed against the wall and tore off the cover. Laying on it was
another person, but they weren’t moving.

“It’s
Jean.” Claire said and I turned to look at her. “I don’t know if she’s alive
still… he hit her.”

“To
be honest, I don’t know if she is either.” He tossed the ragged blanket back
over Jean. “Can I hear your script, Heather? I’d like to hear it now, please.”

“Let
them go and I’ll be baby-doll for the rest of the night.”

“Tempting,
but no.” I saw the glint of metal show in his hand and he started over toward
Claire. “If you won’t do it then I have to harm the imposter.”

“Wait,
no. I’ll do it.” I glanced at the camera again, cursing it in my head. “What do
you want to hear? The whole thing?”

“Surprise
me.”

“Okay,
but… I need the wig to get myself into character. Let me get it.”

He
leaned back against the post of the bed and crossed his arms. I still couldn’t
make out much about him in the darkness. “Fine.”

I
ran over to Claire and saw what he had done to her. Her fingers were broken and
he had tied string to each one and then a rope to the string. Even a small pull
would cause an immense amount of pain. Her makeup was streaked and runny from
tears and she looked at me with hope in her eyes. I forced a smile.

“You’ll
be okay.”

“He
hurt Jean and then came for me… he’s insane.”

“Yeah,
seems to be.”

“Stop
talking and get the damn hair.” He called and I turned to see him still at the
bed. I turned back to Claire and moved in close.

“Radio
in my pocket. Your other hand ok?” I said in her ear as I pulled the wig from
her head. She nodded slowly. “Good, take it and just hold the button in.” I felt
her free hand move to my waist and then into the pocket. She pulled out the
radio and brought it to her lap and I heard a faint squawk that I tried to
cover with a cough.

“What
was that?” He asked and I turned with the wig in my hand.

“It’s
the fake blood… the smell makes me cough.”

He
laughed. “Really? Yet you wore it so well last year.”

I
glanced back at Claire and then put the wig on. “Why are you hurting us?”

“That
doesn’t sound like Baby-doll.”

I
cleared my throat and did my creepy child voice. “Why you here, mister? What
you want from us?”

“To
be fix things, Baby-doll. You always entertained me, but you haven’t been the
best little girl.”

“Did
I? Oh, that’s very kind of you to say, but I’ve always be a good girl.”

“I
don’t believe that, you’ve always struck me as brat, one that needs punishment
from time to time, especially after what you’ve done.”

“Tee-hee,
punishment? For little me? That doesn’t sound fair .” He slowly stood straight
and I knew then he was going to hurt me just as he had hurt Claire. I was
praying that the radio was working and the cavalry was on their way… but I
didn’t know if they’d reach us in time. He took a few steps toward me and I
moved back until I felt the wall at my back.

“How
many people have you ushered through here to make more dolls, Baby? You deserve
punishment for that.”

“Oh,
but mister, I didn’t do nothing of the sort. I warned the people that walked
through here. You know that.” I was sweating, my heart was thudding against my
ribs. All I could see was the piece of metal in his hand which I slowly
realized was a hammer. I was amazed that I could even keep up the voice.

“Was
all just a game to you, though. All those people, they didn’t go home the same…
I didn’t go home the same.” He raised his arm and I could now see him clearly.
Bright blue eyes stared at me, sunken in his skull. There was no smile on his
face, only a grim look of sadness. He was clean shaven with black or brown
hair. He wore a long sleeve shirt and torn jeans. He was too damn tall and too
damn skinny, and he swung the hammer at me.

I
raised my arm up to block it from hitting my chest. It caught the edge of my
forearm and I felt a sickening, mind numbing shock of pain rush from the center
and up my arm. I cried out and hit the floor. My arm was broken, I could feel
the bone shift when I landed. I looked back to see him standing over me and
then slowly he bent down and touched my hair. I sobbed and looked over to where
Claire sat. She was untying her fingers as quickly as she could, glancing at me
in fear.

“You’ll
never take another soul, Baby-doll. I am sorry to do this, but it’s the only
way.”

Every
muscle in my body tensed as I waited for the next impact. Instead I felt him
hit the floor beside me and looked over. Someone was on his back, their arm around
their neck and fighting to keep hold.

“G—get
out of here.” It was Jean. A streak of blood ran down the side of her face, but
she seemed fine otherwise. She was pounding the guy in the head with her fist.
I got up slowly as they struggled for the hammer and then ran for Claire.

I
wanted to help Jean, but with my broken arm there wasn’t much I would be able
to do. Instead I grabbed Claire’s good hand and made a run through the maze. I
heard a crash behind us and then heavy footsteps echoed throughout the halls. I
kept running and practically dragged Claire through the attractions.

“Heather!”
A voice called and I looked up to see Pete running down the hall to me. “Jesus,
what happened?”

“Where
the fuck were you?” I said and hit him with my shoulder. “Didn’t you hear the
radio?”

“I
did, but it was just gibberish and static. I was on my way to see you when
there was an incident outside. Tim thought he found the guy we were looking for
and—“

“He’s
back there. That asshole is back there and coming for me.” I went to point and
cried out when my arm shifted. Pete looked down at me and then at Claire, eyes
wide. I looked over to my arm to see blood streaming from a large gash.

“Holy
shit.” He grabbed the radio from his belt and moved to stand behind me. “He’s
in the maze and attacked some girls. Call the police and everyone get in the
maze now.”

There
were quick acknowledgements and then Pete turned back to me. “Come on, you two
are getting out of here.”

“But
Jean—“

“What
about her?” I explained to him that she was back in the baby-doll room. He told
me they’d get to her and escorted Claire and me out and to the other building.

All
the actors where there and Sophie looked up from a plate of cookies when we
entered. She dropped them on the floor and rushed over, but stopped shy of
hugging me. I was glad because I was feeling sick and dizzy then.

“Where
have you—what—I mean… Jesus Christ, Heather.”

“Found
the creeper.” I said and forced a small smile.

“They
did this?”

“Broke
Claire’s fingers and attacked Jean, all to get to me.”

Sophie
swore and a look of anger crossed her face as she started to walk out of the
room. I stopped her with my good hand. “They’re searching the maze, but I doubt
they’ll find him.”

“Why?”

I
shrugged and sucked in air at the shock of pain. I took a few deep breaths and
then looked over. “Because he wants to hurt me…”

“Why
you? What’s so special about you?”

“Because
he thinks baby-doll did something to him.” I swallowed hard. “Can you get me a
chair? I think… I’m going to faint…” I blacked out.

It
was a few hours later that I woke to see my dad sitting in front of me, concern
all over his usual stern face. There was a woman there as well, dressed in EMT
clothes and she gently looked over my arm.

My
dad fussed over me and talked to the medic. I’d have to go to the hospital, but
I didn’t want to leave just then. I yelled out for Sophie and she bounced over
from some corner of the room.

“Claire?
Jean?”

She
canted her head and frowned. “Claire is getting treated like you. Jean is at
the hospital now, they think her skull is cracked, but they weren’t super
concerned… at least it didn’t seem that way. Keith went with her after he lost
his head for a few minutes on anyone who even looked a him.”

“And…
and the creepier?”

She
slowly shook her head and I felt a new wave of dread wash over me. “They
searched the entire place, even the police went through everything. They found
the… they found the hammer, but the guy is gone. Pete is beside himself in
anger right now and he’s taking it out on Tanner for the crappy cameras. He
said the camera for the baby-doll room went to shit again just after you left
and he couldn’t see you. Apparently Pete has been telling Tanner about it for
the past two weeks.”

“I
know… I know, but… it took so long…”

“It
was crazy, they went after some dude that was hanging outside the house and
thought he was the creeper. When they realized it wasn’t, Pete went looking for
you. And, well, you know the rest.”

I
nodded and let the medic lead me out of the break room and toward an ambulance.
I wiped my makeup off with the nightgown as I sat in the back and wanted to get
rid of the gown I wore, but couldn’t manage with a broken arm. Instead I sat in
silence and decided that I was done with haunted house attractions.

He’s
still out there now, I’m sure, and as another October finds me I can’t help but
wonder if he’s still looking for baby-doll or is he looking for Heather
Evans.

Credits
to: jp_carver (story)