Goblins, Ghouls & Vamps: Oh My!

Back in my day…

Nope. I’m not that old. Let me start again…

Once upon a time…

I’m also not a Disney princess–one more time…

Halloween used to be my busy season. I loved every part of the holiday from trick-or-treating to costume contests; haunted houses to carving pumpkins. I don’t recall a Halloween I didn’t celebrate in my childhood and as the years progressed, the quality of celebrations only improved.

My childhood best friend’s family took Halloween very seriously. They lived on a farm and turned their barn into a haunted barn every other year; they didn’t do it every year because they put in so much work. The years they put on their haunt they started building and decorating the barn as soon as the schools let out for summer break (early June).

It was the Halloween party to go to in our town, but it was always invite only to keep out the ruffians. Luckily enough, I knew a gal…

One year they allowed groups of up to 10 go in at a time. I was in a group with my mom and brother and another family unit. We snaked our way through a blacked out maze with our hands on the shoulder of the person in front of us; the leader feeling around blindly for a way out. Once we made it through, we all gathered in a large room and were greeting by a bloodied up Mary Bo Peep (my friend’s sister).

She told us that a creature was on the loose and that we had to get to safety; she would lead us as far as she could, but was unable to complete the journey with us. After going down some type of hay bail shoot one by one, our group wound up in a room with a water trough in the center and farming equipment hanging on chains from the rafters; things like saw blades, tractor rakes, pitchforks–things that shouldn’t be overhead…

As we followed Ms. Bo Peep around the trough, all of a sudden a wench activated and a calf’s head was pulled up out of the trough filled with water splashing members of the group. And because it was in fact a working farm, it was a very real, very dead baby cow’s head.

I asked my friend about it once we got out and she said that the calf was a still born they found in a field that morning and decided to add it last second.

Another year they held their biennial haunt I was accompanied by my boyfriend at the time. I tried to warn him about the lengths my friend’s family went to shock and scare their guest, but I’m not sure he really believed me…

This year they only allowed small groups of 2-4 people, so my boyfriend and I went in together. As we made our way through the barn, we wound up in the loft where the extra hay was stored. They had removed some of the bails and instead had a table displaying all sorts of probing instruments; things that a surgeon would have on a work table. And in the corner was a little boy (my friend’s brother) in ratty clothing. He started chatting with us about how he was apprenticing for this mad scientist-type fellow and was looking for some new “victims” to continue learning on. He then grabbed a bone saw off the table and lunged as us with it! Obviously we took off running. 

We slide down a slide, tip toed across a suspension bridge hanging over a vat of body parts and organs (probably from dead livestock–these people, am I right!?) and found ourselves in a brightly lit room with a man dressed like a vampire (my friend’s dad). There were caskets all around the room in all shapes and sizes.

The vampire then started trying to sell us a coffin, explaining that no one knows when their time is up and that we should all get “fitted” for our final resting accommodation beforehand. He invited my boyfriend to lay down inside the crimson silk lined casket that was propped open on the floor. Hesitant at first, my boyfriend eventually obliged. 

The vampy salesman offered to shut the lid to give my beau the complete experience. Just as the lid closed I heard a loud thud and my boyfriend yell. Confused, I looked at the vampire, then at the casket. He opened the lid and my  boyfriend was gone!

Mr. Friend’s Dad then told me it was my turn. Um… no. I’m good. He broke character a bit and told me I’d be fine; that it was the only way out. I climbed into the coffin and nervously crossed my hands over my chest as advised. As soon as the last strip of light disappeared around the edge of the lid, the bottom gave out on one side and I tumbled onto a pile of pillows. 

I rejoined my boyfriend as well as a dozen ghouls and goblins that were surrounding us. They welcomed us to the ‘underworld’ and directed us to the exit.

So from someone who has been to Hell and back, you can take it from me: it’s not all that bad. 

When I wasn’t attending the haunted barn, my family and friends would often times come up with our own haunt festivities. They typically were done in cooperation of our church youth group as a family-friendly alternative to other community events. 

One year we organized a haunted hayride. My brother and I, along with 3 of our friends dressed in all black and had painted ourselves in glow in the dark paint to look like skeletons. We laid face down in a field and waited for the hayride. As soon as the tractor passed we got up and started chasing them. Once we spooked them enough we ran into the woods. When the hayride was out of sight, mom drove up and we pilled into her car for her to drop us off at the cemetery. 

We perched ourselves onto the wall at the entrance to the cemetery and tried to look like gargoyles. Again, once the hayride passed us we got down from the wall and started chasing the ride back to the church. Fun was had by all.

Another year we organized a spooky room in the basement of the church. The room itself contained a haunted banquet theme complete with a smorgasbord of inedible delights, strobe lights, fog, and eerie tunes. The same group of guys that helped us with the hayride, as well as my brother, dressed up in their goblin best and acted out a food fight scene behind a banquet-styled table in the foreground. The food on display was fake body parts and organs for guests to poke and prod. Situated at the end of the table was a silver domed serving platter. When guests made their way to the end of the table one of the goblins in the back came forward and removed the cloche exposing my head on a platter. Every time my cover was removed, I screamed a bloodcurdling shriek that would scare the guests. By the end of the night I had no voice and was seeing spots from the strobe lights. 

I’m now married to someone who views getting spooked voluntarily as a nonsensical activity, so my haunt days are all but over. He humored me early on in our relationship, which I appreciated, but I think he was just trying to prove his manliness. Now that we’re married, he has nothing left to prove I suppose…

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