Haunting the Haunters

Brennan Stebbins

The first thing I noticed was loud pounding coming through the walls of the structure and fog rising from the roof – both telltale signs of a haunted house in the vicinity.

This is Raycliff Manor – sponsored by Monster Energy Drink, of course – complete with dead woman behind the refreshment counter and a cross-dressing vampire(s) working the room, while Chart Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Nicolas and I waited in line.

“Do I really want to purchase food and beverage from a dead woman?” I thought to myself.

I decided against it, probably wisely, because at that advanced state of decomposition god-knows-what is liable to fall right into your nachos. The energy drinks were more tempting, as I had grown quite parched, but I was already jacked up enough with this vampire in my face and its freakish red eyes staring us down.

We were finally ushered into a waiting room of sorts where a half-dead skeleton went over the house rules.

“Please note there is no smoking, drinking or eating in our attraction,” the voice said.

“Absolutely no flash photography of any kind … do not touch anything inside, and anything won’t touch you,” it continued.

Strict guidelines for a place staffed by stiffs, most of which appeared they hadn’t been in the ground quite long enough. Their bones weren’t clean, if you get my drift.

We were then warned of imminent strobe light and fog use, and told that if we weren’t screaming inside it was because we were already dead. I made a mental note to check my pulse later.

“Come out, come out wherever you are,” a voice inside uttered.

God, what was waiting for us on the other side of the door? Finally Alexandra and I were allowed in, along with four or five others, where a ghostly freak was waiting.

“Welcome to Raycliff Manor,” he said. “Please step into the foyer and wait for me while I lock the door.”

Closing the door to the next group of visitors, the ghoul stepped into the foyer himself to address us.

“I must warn you all, do not stare into the eyes of Dr. Raycliff for too long, you could raise a very evil spirit.”

With that note the painting dropped and a ghost stuck its head through the hole in the wall and screamed.

“Now you’ve done it,” the spook said to Alexandra. “You stared too long, so you must lead the way into the dark.”

The house was filled with lots of distant screaming.

“Up here! Let me outta here.”

“Whoa, there’s someone behind me dude.”

“Why are you here?”

“Don’t leave.”

“I can’t see.”

We walked through a creepy office full of books I’m sure mayors in Alaska would want banned, through a winding stone hallway with hanging vines, then emerged in the typical mad scientist-and-sliced up-body parts room. The whole time costumed employees jumped around corners, tailed silently behind us and came to life behind portraits and pictures. The worst parts were having to walk between hanging bags with body dummies inside and then through a pitch-black passageway with huge inflatable walls pressing up against each other. It felt a lot like walking through the human digestive system, I would imagine.

Nevertheless, we made it to the final room of the house, a crypt, where the token chainsaw-wielding maniac was waiting. Alexandra took it worse than I did.

“They totally didn’t do that shit during the press run-through,” she remarked, casually.


Our trip wasn’t quite over. We still had to have our fortunes told by the onsite palm-reader. The palm reader said she was the daughter of two gypsies and had been reading palms since she was 13.

“Very, very, very long lifeline,” was one of the first things out of her mouth.

This was going pretty well; I was already going to live a long time.

Among her other revelations: I’m going to be married twice and I will travel at some point in my life; even though I won’t want to, I will have no choice.

Well, education wasn’t in my career plans, but maybe the draft is.

Alexandra’s reading was a little juicier, revealing she will be married within a year.

“Kids – one,” she said. “That line’s kind of messed up. You’re more interested in what you’re doing now, it could be your career, it could be your education. You don’t want to be married, but you have no choice, you’re going to be married.”

“You’re uninhibited,” she added. “You definitely are very uninhibited. That’s a good thing in my book.”

Hmm, marriage within a year, and not by choice, paired with a very uninhibited personality – could it mean a blatant disrespect for our states’ abstinence-only education program?

The evening was over, and I had failed to scream. Recalling advice from a certain animatronic skeleton, I checked my pulse because, you know, I might be dead. Nope, still there.