As someone who has always found herself covering her eyes during scary movies, only to become curious and open them again, it wasn’t a huge surprise that I agreed to go to Bates Motel.
Fueled partially by an innate desire to push myself past fear and partially by the attendant who slammed the door behind my friend and me, I entered the haunted house relatively unprepared—big mistake.
We all waited tentatively in the first room, reaching for each other’s hands and playing our fears off with nervous laughter. Soon, the doors opened and we left the safety of the entrance. The inside of the motel looked like a smoking lounge at an airport; you couldn’t see five feet in front of you.
We quickly made our way past dark figures, hoping they wouldn’t reach out at us. When they did grab our shoulders or jump in front of us to block the doorway, my friend and I did our best to keep moving, giving them a stiff arm that rivaled the Heisman Trophy.
Wow, this isn’t too bad, I thought to myself as we passed through the first few rooms. How bad could the rest of it be? As it turns out, really bad.
Compared to the rest of the house, those first few rooms were child’s play. We thought the worst part would be a hand reaching out at you from a hole in the wall or a fake corpse dropping from the ceiling. We thought wrong.
During the fourth or fifth room of the house, things ramped up. We found ourselves in a meat locker with a massive, cleaver-wielding man as the lights flashed on and off, creating a sickening, disorienting atmosphere.
Against my persistent protests, threats, and entreaties which can’t exactly be printed, the man swung the cleaver at my friend and me and attempted to grab us by the shoulders while yelling in a booming baritone.
The meat locker led us outside into the descending seven o’clock light, and I thought it was finally over. The flashing lights and the bear-like butcher made a great finale, and I, for one, was ready to go home. Faced with another entrance back into the house, I realized that it was far from over.
Being out in the daylight was a relief, even as hands reached out from plants to grab our ankles and old statues shifted on their pedestals. The re-entry was easily one of the worst parts—we knew what was ahead of us, and we knew we had to go through it to get out. There was no escape, and this final leg promised to be the most terrifying of all.
Unprepared for what was to come, we were suddenly cornered and locked into a small cage-like room by a man with knotted gray hair and a hat obscuring his face. He climbed over the walls of the cage and reached down at our heads, forcing us against the back wall as we tried to make ourselves as small as possible. Screaming more violently than I ever have before, I slammed against the metal wire walls and screamed at him to let us out and that he better not come near us again, only slightly more strongly worded.
Finally, the door swung open and we ran out into the next room, only for him to follow us whispering, “I’m not done with you girls yet!”
We booked it through the library and into a room filled with grotesque dolls of all types. I should’ve known that that wasn’t enough; there would have to be something much worse than a pile of toys. A man rose up from the clutter with a terrifying screech and I stopped dead in my tracks.
The scene reminded me of the movies from my childhood that I always wound up watching one way or another, even as I tried to close my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look away. After a few seconds and multiple strong pulls by my friend, I got my wits about me and ran without looking back.
In the next room, my friend and I experienced a reversal of those roles. We found ourselves in a small child’s room with a frantic lady rambling on about clocks. “Tick tock! Tick tock! It’s all in the clocks, don’t you understand?” she implored. As my friend froze, I did the same as she had done for me. I yanked her arm, practically out of its socket, and shoved her along.
At this point, we sprinted like we were being chased by a madman, which, in hindsight, we probably were.
As we entered the final room, I saw it: the door rimmed by light.
Did we really make it? Was this the light of the outside world, or was this the white light you see before you die?
Holding hands, we stumbled through the final set of double doors back into the late evening.
As we realized that our hero’s journey had finally come to an end, our screams were replaced with laughs, as we hugged each other tightly on the lawn of the busted brown building.
It’ll take a considerable cooling-off period before you’ll find me at another haunted house, but since I always have a way of uncovering my eyes, I’m sure this wasn’t my last brush with death.
All I hope is that I’m a little better prepared for my next great adventure, and that I once again leave with only a sore throat and a racing pulse.