House of Terror
By: Gabriella Balcom

"Hello," Kandace greeted the other employees. She offered them a friendly smile, but they barely glanced in her direction before turning away, ignoring her completely. Nothing could dim her excitement about her brand-new job, though. Halloween was her favorite day of the year, and this one would be the best ever, because she’d be scaring people at the House of Terror and getting paid for it.

Time passed slowly, the minutes seeming to drag out into hours, but opening time finally arrived.

When she heard the first group of visitors approaching her area, she sat up in her coffin ever-so-slowly. Children shrieked as if they were being murdered. Some of the younger ones burst into tears, edging closer to their parents, and clinging to them for dear life. Kandace couldn't help but grin, knowing the "blood" staining her fake vampire teeth and face looked authentic. So did her Dracula-style cape with its upturned collar, along with her extra-long, gnarled fingernails and glowing, red eyes, courtesy of special contact lens.

Mid-way through her shift, Kandace switched to her other assigned area, positioned herself behind the black curtains there, and got ready. Within minutes, she was having the time of her life, jumping out of hiding and eliciting new gasps and shrieks from customers. The best reaction came from a little boy who might’ve been five or six. Eyes almost popping of his head at her appearance, he wailed before turning tail and running back the way he'd come. His parents chased after him, yelling for him to stop, but he didn't.

After closing-time, she wandered around the building, admiring the decorations—a witch that hurtled straight toward visitors, “bubbling” cauldrons, ghosts which swooped out of nowhere before vanishing, monsters that stepped out of walls—projected images—cobwebs with over-sized but realistic-looking spiders, glowing skeletons, and much more. An eerie mist produced by dry ice added to the spooky atmosphere. Despite knowing things were staged, they looked real, and she shivered deliciously.

Kandace rounded a corner and came upon a group of zombies and Frankenstein’s. They whirled to stare at her. As she approached them she noticed bodies laying on the floor. The “dead” people looked authentic, too, from the blood pooling around their bodies to their expressions of terror and fright.

“Wow,” she murmured. “I love this.”

But she gasped when one of the bodies twitched. She bent to touch it, and discovered it was real.

"Get help!" she yelled.

The other employees didn’t respond, and she realized they held knives and axes.

Encircling Kandace, they raised their weapons and moved in.


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