A travelling carnival came to town this year for Halloween and set up in the fair grounds. Along with the usual assortment of spinning rides, a haunted house was erected, quite separate from the other attractions, in a quiet corner. The advertisement in the newspaper for the spooky house said:
Hah! As if you’d actually die –they have laws against that kind of thing … right? Still … I vow not to scream, just in case.
My friends have joined me at the entrance now, so I pay the fee and bravely volunteer to be the first to enter the dilapidated looked structure. Jeez, it’s dark. Really dark. What is that glowing ahead of me? Are those words? I inch forward in the blackness and the words suddenly move toward me.
My late what? I snicker, turning to my friends. But no one is there, just a sign directly behind me, less than an arm’s length from my face, that says
How did that get there? And where all the apostrophes? The hair is standing up on the back of my neck. “Guys?” I call out to my friends, but nobody answers, so I back away from the creepy signs into another room. This room appears to be long and narrow – I wish my eyes would adjust to the dark so I could see where I’m going!
I’m edging forward when something brushes against my back and I spin around to face it.
Taut?? They mean taunt! Something drops from the darkness above and I stifle a squeal and duck.
I spin to my left.
I’m starting to perspire. I want to get out of this weird place; it’s scarier than I expected. Okay, there’s the exit from the room. It doesn’t look too far away.
Yes, I am bored with it! Where are these phrases coming from??
I’m scrambling now, and the eerie glowing words just keep coming! Where did the exit sign go? I can’t see it!
Ouch! I tripped over
and almost tumbled into
I am excited about leaving and I’m almost there, just a few more steps!
No, not that! I clap my hand over my mouth to keep from screaming and leap through the door to the next room. I still can’t see, but at least I’m not being attacked by bad grammar. The exit is straight ahead….
What’s that noise? Yikes, something fluttered right over my head! There’s another one! What ARE those things – are they bats? Yuk, that one was almost stuck in my hair. Are they…? Could they be… ? They are! They’re apostrophes and they’re dive-bombing me! “Leave me alone! Why don’t you go back to the words you belong with??” White, shimmering forms are starting to fill the room around me – ghosts – and the one closest to me answers my question:
And it starts laughing; a shrill howl that sends chills down my spine.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh! I can’t contain my scream any longer! And now I’m running as fast as I can to the exit, beating off apostrophes and screeching ghosts like Buffy in a room full of vampires, until I finally shove the door open and throw myself through it. Phew! Deep breathes. That was horrifying! Deep breathes. It’s okay. I’m all right.
And hey, at least I didn’t literally die screaming.