I have never really wanted to go into one of those haunted houses that pop up this time of year. You know the ones; they advertise every five seconds on TV between September 1st and October 31st, the commercials always show screaming frat boys, and there are a lot of pumpkin graphics while the guy who also announces for local monster truck shows does the voice-over.
The idea of them, their very foundation, doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t imagine anything less scary than a large group of people being herded through a maze while teenagers with masks on jump out and scare you.
My idea for a similar attraction is the following: you and a friend (no more than one or two others) drive out into the middle of nowhere, where a house sits, boarded up and dilapidated. There is no festival atmosphere. This is no party. Just a house.
There is no pre-planned path. You explore at will on the surrounding property and in the house itself. The staff lie in wait within.
What happens is determined by a survey you filled out beforehand cataloging your worst fears. Scared of dogs? There will be dogs. Scared of Leatherface? He’ll be there. Your fears will be manifest.
The experience ends when you want it to, although, if done properly, you’ll want to end it quickly.
THAT appeals to me. That is what I want. Now someone just needs to make it for me.
For the first time, I think I can truly understand why people say that their house is haunted. I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in the supernatural. I don’t believe in anything that can’t be proven with the logical, brute force of Science.
Late last night, I was in bed reading when I thought I heard the back door open and then close. A minute or so later, I heard footsteps walking passed the dining room door. I called out to Emily.
I got out of bed and walked out into the dining room and into the hallway. No-one was there. Emily wasn’t home and I was all by myself.
It was a little nerve-wracking.
This is no isolated incident. The doors open and close on their own. The venetian blinds hum and chatter. There are the sounds in the walls like something is pressing to get in.
It’s an old house. It moves and settles and shifts. The doors close and open because they’re too damn loose on their hinges and the wind from the open windows opens and shuts them.
I know it. I internalize it. And I still don’t believe in ghosts. Not one jot.
But….sometimes, when it’s really late at night and I’m all alone in the apartment and I hear those soft and sinister sounds start up again, deep within the walls of the house and moving across the floorboards like cat’s paws, I can’t help but want to believe there are ghosts making their way through the apartment with unearthly purpose.
Because, really, isn’t that more fun that a seventy year old house with some creaky floorboards?