I went to a Haunted House last night, specifically, Nightmare on 13th Street. I went with a group of people I’d only just met, and I’m sure I made a fantastic impression on them. Yep.
They will never talk to me again.
Obviously, people react differently when frightened, and I’m sure you’ve heard of the fight or flight response. I don’t do either. If something jumps out at me or there a loud noise or a zombie about to chomp on my face, I hit the floor. Duck and Cover is my mantra. Nothing will get through the impenetrable shield of my arms over my head.
However, one of the girls I went with and whose arm I clung to… she’s flight all the way.
You can imagine this is not a good combination.
There was one particular room I remember where you walk in and it’s all slanted and someone jumps out at you from the center. My arm-clingee was off like a rocket and out the door and I fell down trying to flinch back away from the threat. And since I was at the back of our group, that left me alone, which freaked me out more and I had to chase them down. Which is not a smart idea when the girl was running away from something chasing her in the first place.
But after much screaming and twists and turns we made it through, and I have to say that if you plan on writing anything scary, ever, go through haunted houses. There was a maze that was supposed to be part of the insane asylum/zombie infestation with white sheets speckled in blood every 4 feet, and I was weirdly reminded of a zombie book I’d read. And I thought about how fun that would be to write even though I knew that if this were real life I would be dead in five minutes flat, not fighting my way through a maze (curling into a ball on the floor only makes you a zombie truffle).
Haunts are also a great place to get details to set the mood. Nightmare on 13th was all about the tiny details, from the strobe lights blacking out to rice-maggots on the floor and zombie saliva sprinklers. The characters looked great, too (and by great I mean terrifying) and could really inspire some freaky creatures.
Except maybe the guy with a chainsaw who back away and pointed us to the door when a particularly large guy in our group shouted at him to back the freak off. You don’t want that.