(Based on a true story)
“Are you ready?” Todd asks as I stare at the twisted grin accompanying this colorful, yet horrid clown paint looking back at me in the mirror. I can hardly recognize myself. I’m not typically fond of confrontation, generally more meek than macabre in my overall demeanor, but not tonight. It was October first, and tonight I was: a twisted ghoul, a demented creature, a ghastly shadow in your nightmare. “Hey! The first guests are arriving, we have to get to our spot in the maze, are you ready?” Todd wasn’t rushing me; I’ve been getting ready in the changing shed for a few hours now. I had to prepare myself. It was more than just make-up and a costume I would don. A more mental (than physical) transformation was in order. In my opinion, the real scary things in life often stem from thought. If someone, or something, pops out of a corner, and you jump in fear, that’s all it is: a jump scare, nothing more; fleeting, temporary, lasting only the length of a hop. I wanted my scares to linger. I wanted patrons to think of me long after they left this haunted house. I hope they can’t sleep at night, or in the morning, or afternoon, or at all! That’s true fear.
This was my first time as a scare actor, and although I felt my haunt goals were a bit auspicious, I still deemed them attainable. I turn and follow Todd out of the actors’ shed, ready to embark on this eerie escape. We make our way down a dark trail littered with props, support lumber and cords, but before we reach the back of the maze, Todd stops. “Shit. I forgot that Corey called out last minute, he was supposed to be the chainsaw chaser–would you mind?” I wasn’t much of a woodsman, and hadn’t rehearsed scaring with the chainsaw, but the novelty added to the sinister allure. “Grab the one in the shed by the wigs” Todd says. I return a moment later to the back entrance of our “Southern Carnival from Hell” themed maze, equipped for terror, and I eagerly get into position. I’m now inside the pantry of a dilapidated kitchen, obviously the chef of a carnival is a chainsaw wielding clown; how else would the delicacies be prepared? The haunt crew did a great job of fermenting the perfect amount of sauerkraut and yogurt to create this musty, rotting smell lingering in my nostrils. My overwhelmed senses are intensifying when I hear them, muffled in the distance at first, but quickly approaching; the screams.
I can’t explain the euphoric sensation, like a dormant stimulant, that surged through my body as I got ready to add to this symphony of fright. I hear footsteps, and then I see them, a group of four, examining their terrifying surroundings. My heart starts racing, waiting for them to step past the corroded overflowing sink, which is my cue to rev up. I burst through the pantry, laughing maniacally, and held up the chainsaw, which I have to admit, is a bit heavier than expected. All four of them begin to run, crying in terror, and I follow. Now chasing after them, gleefully swinging the saw away; I feel more alive than I ever have in my life. This jarring jubilation is cut short as I trip over a prop limb and accidently pierce one of the patrons in the shoulder. The chainsaw begins penetrating their upper torso, blood splattering everywhere, stopping only when it got to what I assume was the shoulder blade. I didn’t know what to do; I was a clown caught in blood lights. The other guests are shrieking, as I stand there, in awe. Other scare actors are slowly approaching now, in disbelief, and Todd calls the authorities.
Apparently, I grabbed the wrong chainsaw; one outside, by the props, meant for cutting support rods. “I said the one inside, by the wigs!” Todd shouts at me. I don’t know if I’ll be charged for murder, because what happened wasn’t on purpose, but what scares me more, is how good it felt. And well, I’m afraid that the next time won’t be an accident.
Sergio Giovanni is a musician and writer from New York. He loves to read, collect, and believes that spreading awareness on what you’re passionate about (or believe in) is necessary.