Last night, I opted to take a break from my fire fears and take my Little Sister, Velrene out for some organized terror. We braved the "Hauntplex" in Centennial City, an oddly placed industrial extension of Denver that is plenty scary on its own. The Hauntplex generously offers three menu options in tangible fright: 13th Street Manor, Primitive Fear or Realm of Terror.
While trying to decide in front of the ticket booth, I turned to ask a gentleman standing near. He seemed very informed. "They are equal intensity just different settings," he said knowledgeably. "13th Street Manor is a haunted house. Primitive Fear is in a jungle setting and Realm of Terror is a Medieval dungeon."
"Wow, that's a pretty clear description," I said, "Do you work here?"
"I designed them all."
Alllllrighty then! We chose the haunted house for the familiarity and because it seemed less likely to add to my wild-animals-eating-me-alive nightmares which seem inevitable in that jungle scenario.
Since this was Velrene's brilliant idea, I make her lead. From the first zombie appearance, I grabbed the back of her coat and would not let go. When one half-dead motherfucker jumped out of a couch cushion, I nearly shat myself, screaming and half-laughing all the way through. Intellectually, I knew that these were actors and that I'd paid $15 to be in this situation but frankly, these realities mean nothing when zombies are popping out of closets and grabbing at your ankles from under a bed.
The 13th Street Manor taught me this: I may not make such a great mom. Whenever something green, oozing and moaning would appear, I would simply swing V forward in the classic, "Take her, not me!" maneuver. Nice behavior. Very maternal. By all means, eat the child, just stay the fuck away from me, for the love of Elvis.
Huddled in a dark corner, we were both too petrified to enter the bedroom which clearly had a decaying corpse in the bed, so we hatched a plan. Breathless, I helpfully suggested, "Let's wait here for some other people and then hang onto them!"
"Yeah, yeah," agreed V. "Okay, yeah."
Then, a young couple came down the hallway, clinging to one another - the girl hanging on the boy's belt. V simply hitched our wagon to girl's pants and that was that. They never shook us lose or even tried. V learned this tactic early when she'd yelled back at me, "Let go of me!" and I refused. See? I'm teaching her things. Survival tactics. That's important stuff, folks.
At one point, we had to squeeze through a slanted wall crack in total darkness. This is when I realize that leader role may have risks but the caboose position sucks equally. Those godforsaken creatures were right at my heels, breathing on my hair with their rotted teeth and asking me in giggling, evil tones if I was ready to die. While I should have casually responded, "Gosh no, I have yet to see Miami," instead, I screamed-babbled something like "No!!!Ohgod, nooooo!Pleasenoooo!AAAAAAAAAAA!Omigodomigodomigod!!!!!"
Finally, after one exhausting macabre scene after another, we find the exit. We finally let go of one another and gulp in the night air, all talking and laughing at once. We apologize to the couple and they confess, "Oh man, don't worry about it! We were happy to have more back-up!"
Just then, we turn a corner and a large man wearing a hockey mask jumps out of the bushes and makes quite the display of starting up his massive chain saw. HOLY FUCK. I can't remember the last time I ran that fast. Later, we went up to the Designer Dude, whose name is James, and complimented him on that last bit - a beautifully cruel touch. He was pleased.
Going back to my truck, my heart still racing like a bunny in heat, I chuckled at the irony. Here I was paying my hard-earned cash to experience fake ghosts while my good buddy, HDW, is currently trying to get rid of hers. Yup, that very evening, she had a ghostbusters crew visit her home to see what could be done. She's grown tired of the light switches moving on their own and her kitchen being rearranged. 'Tis her story to tell so I'll stop there but I have to admire the timing here - just in time for Halloween!