|Part of the classic tri-fold brochure that convinced me to enter the establishment|
I was young and apparently foolish. I would look over the brochures we had collected and see if there was anything I wanted to do. When I say young, I mean, young. Not yet even a tween-ager. My mother counseled against Hauntings, but I had braved the Mysterious Mansion and solved it with skills honed from years of watching Scooby-Doo, so what was this to me? Obviously if you have live ghost shows "every 20 minutes" then either this is accomplished through tricks and special effects or these ghosts are professional performers. I had nothing to fear.
So on the day we decided to go we ate a late breakfast at the local McDonalds (back then you could buy character glasses made of actual glass...I got Charlie Brown) and we went to Hauntings.
Inside the single tiny room there were just us 3 and a young couple. We were told not to sit on the front bench. We sat in the dark for what seemed like hours. I got scared. I started shaking. It was obvious because the Charlie Brown glass that I held between my thighs was rattling on the bench.
When the show started I was thrown into a dimension beyond fear and panic. Looking back from this point it was nothing, but to my little mind it was pure HELL.
Let's have another look at the brochure, shall we:
This is what I expected, a person wearing a sheet and some glowing items "floating" with the aid of wires.
Yeah. What I got was a strobe light flashing on a robed and hooded form swinging a chainsaw, smashing into the front bench and roaring "Someone must DIE!"
I recall to this day the words, "Not me!" being screamed by me because, as I've observed, kids are incredibly practical when it comes to such matters.
Oh, was I a wreck. For the remainder of the trip I would not walk near that place. I'd walk in the street to avoid it. If I was on the other side of the street I'd start to get nervous as we got near it. It was like the obsession people get with shark attacks or germs. My psyche was scarred. My father would later say that he felt horrible that they'd taken me and that he should have known better, but hey, I don't blame him. I wanted to go.
For years whenever we would visit Gatlinburg (every year for Thanksgiving, because we really didn't want to see the whole family twice within 30 days, so we fled the state) I'd get antsy when we came near Hauntings and move as far away from the building as I could when we passed by. That is AWESOME. You can't plan for that kind of permanent mental marking. I firmly believe my love for all this weirdness was born in that incident. Bless it.
I don't have that Charlie Brown glass anymore, but I'll always have that memory until the day I die.