Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fall is in the air!

So duck, or avoid rapidly expanding shadows.

November in Jacksonville means the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair. It’s the time, as I’m sure you all know, where masses of people gather together to look at (and smell) livestock, get dizzy, possibly drunk, get hit on by carnies, and most importantly, eat things you’d never think of frying.
Like fried Snickers.
Oh dear god, the diabetes and heart disease.
Anyway, this little haunt rat is only afraid of a few things:
-Snakes, and spiders
-Snooki
-Being upside-down for extended periods of time.
There is a ride at the fair (Which is a traveling fair, so you might have been to it, or at least know what I’m talking about) called Ring of Fire. Cheesy name. but legitimately horrifying. At least to me.
And my so-called “Friends” (I love you both, I promise) made me get on this ride.
It’s a vertical circular track and you get held upside-down for a few seconds, several times. I thought I was going to cry.
I tried to keep my eyes closed, but when I felt my stomach pressing against the bar holding you down, and the blood rushing to my head, panic mode kicked in and the world seemed to slow down. Suddenly, 3-4 seconds felt like a minute, and I screamed bloody murder until the carriage finally slowed down and I heard Chelsea and Wayne telling me it was over.
When the operators opened our cages, I was visibly shaking, and they knew that it was me who’d been shrieking like a wounded banshee.
I don’t even feel bad about deafening Chelsea and crushing Wayne’s fingers.
Bastids.
It was a fun night, though, all in all. Wayne won three goldfish for Chelsea, I got to continue my yearly tradition of attending at least once, and there were bunnies.
One of them had his ear in his water dish.
Derp.
Fairs are always a fun family event, but they’re just as great with close friends, and anti-anxiety medication.

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Halloween and some such nonsense.

This past Halloween season, I had the opportunity, for the second year, to work at Night Terrors Haunted House.
Because I’m awesome.
So there.
Anyway, we’ve had a lot of good times and bad this season, and a few incidents with rowdy customers, but all in all, it’s been a pretty good run.
You never really know just how much work and effort goes into a haunted house, especially one of this magnitude, until you work in one. By the end of the night, everyone’s exhausted, all the actors are pissed, there are puddles of pee to clean up, and our vocal chords are trying to go on strike from the abuse.
Lots of fun.
And at the end of the night, every night, we find out who in our ranks did the best job at scaring/making fun of the customers. Or which of us made it past their adrenaline flood and into their memory bank.
I’m in the unfortunate position where I have to make our beloved spenders go through a small, definitely claustrophobic tunnel.On average, customers spend about five agonizing minutes trying to tell me I’m lying, or kidding, or they have a broken leg, or they’re paraplegic, or they’re not real. I get threatened, swung on, hit on, insulted, and at least one person, every night, tries to push me out of the way to go through the actor exit sitting conspicuously to the side of the dreaded tunnel. It doesn’t work. I’m a big girl, and moving me is like trying to move… well, a big girl.
Anyway, a few of our dear customers have stuck in my mind, and remembering them always brings me much joy.
I’ll share them with you now.
– A group of two guys in white shirts, and two scene kids enter my scene. One of the ones in white jumps when I scare him, but enters the tunnel without argument. He gets to the first turn, but doesn’t continue.
[Side note. The tunnel turns twice. It’s a very short tunnel, so it’s not like it’s a difficult obstacle, except for the person behind the grate scream in their faces, spraying them with an air house and beating a block of wood against the grating.]
He encounters who we’ve nicknamed “Alice” (This night, it was my friend Chelsea) and promptly begins screaming his girly little head off. For a second, his voice went so high, I thought he was prepubescent. His scene kid friends yelled at him to move, but it eventually took me crawling in after him, garbed in a bloody patient gown and looking for all the world like a dead mental patient, for him to finally move.

-A group of black guys came into my scene, obviously terrified, and spent a few minutes arguing with me about the tunnel. After I bellowed a simple command, they all dove in. The last guy, frightened of the chick behind the grate, sat at the back of the tunnel and wouldn’t move. I opened the door and climbed in, at which point he started screaming “THIS AIN’T FAIR!” and fell sideways.

– I accidentally scared the owner of the haunt. Twice. I have yet to scare the acting director. Still trying. He’s startled me a few times. Bastid.

-A guy dropped $6 while climbing into the tunnel. Win.

– One guy, at the beginning of the season was very obviously drunk as a skunk. He pointed at my patient gown and slurs “You’re bleeding.” I growl and tell him he’s drunk, and he dramatically shakes his head, and with a gust of boozey breath, slurs “Nuh” and stumbles into the tunnel.

-Last but not least, I have to give a shout out to one of our biggest and most intimidating actors,
David. Every year, we get to go through the house we aren’t working in to see how the rest of the haunt looks. David is in Outbreak, which is a zombie infested hell hole. He’s also one of the biggest chickens in the crew. We could hear him coming from the entrance to Madhouse, hollering and protesting the entire way. When he got to my scene, I saw his eyes widen and the protesting crescendo into a physical battle to get him off the floor and into the tunnel. After a few minutes of pushing and pulling, David and Jay (the one pulling) came tumbling down the ramp out of the tunnel, and a new protest began as they entered Alchemia. I’m kind of sad to know he was just acting.

In two weeks, we’ll get to say our final goodbyes to the building we spent the last several weeks screaming our heads off in for 5+ hours a night, make probably hollow promises to hang out with the other crew members, even though I know we’ll all try our hardest to keep in touch. Those who are getting paid will get their money, and then we’ll have an agonizing 11 month wait until we get to scare the piss, crap, and vomit out of another month’s worth of victims.
I had a blast working with everyone this year. I made some new friends, laughs were had, tears were shed, and I may have gotten someone pregnant.
I’m reminded again that sometimes, people that probably never would have spoken in high school can come together and become such a tight knit family, and work together to make something great. People that you just met a few weeks ago are suddenly by your side, genuinely worried about you, screaming at the asshole customer that attacked you.
I love my haunt family more than I can say, and it’s been a privilege to work with all of them. But all good things must come to an end. I hope to see everyone next year.

I’ll hunt you down and tie you to one of the make-up tables if you don’t come back.

You are warned.