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A tale of ghosts and corn. Or: What I did for Halloween.

Originally posted at LiveJournal on Nov 3, 2013

Bit late, I know, but I'm still in the Halloween mood.  It was actually a pretty quiet one for me this year.  No elaborate new Abby costume, no trick-or-treaters at our house... at least two of the nearby towns usually set up special trick-or-treat times the weekend before Halloween, when stores and other businesses are the ones giving out the candy.

As for costume ideas, I was actually considering doing something like this:

At least some good came out of Community's fourth season. This seriously may be the dean's most brilliant costume yet.

The idea never came to fruition, though, as there weren't any costume-themed events at which Samantha Stephens (Bewitched) or Jeannie the genie could marvel at the wonders of 2013.  Next year, perhaps.  Ooh, maybe I could get together a bunch of friends and we'd each be a different black-and-white TV character, and we could all marvel together at the wonders of 2014...

But I'm getting off track.  While Halloween itself was uneventful, the Halloween season most certainly was not.  Sneak preview:  my tale today includes two haunted house recommendations, and a story-in-pictures of the time I did get to cosplay -- in a giant corn labyrinth.  You guys know where I'm going with that one, I'm sure.

First, the recommendations:

I've been to maybe one haunted house before, but when my best friend Mary said she wanted to see some really good ones this year, I jumped into research mode.  I highly recommend the Haunted Wisconsin site if you're in that general area; I also checked some of the previous years' reviews at JSOnlineThere were so many choices.  SO MANY.  Some that sounded really cool weren't available this year/anymore, like Monster Mayhem Haunted Laser Tag (basically an interactive haunted house.  Where you fight zombies.  With laser tag.  I'm not into zombies generally, but even I thought that sounded fun).

In the end, we decided on the first two options I'd e-mailed to Mary that, as of that day of researching, sounded the best.

The first was ABANDONED in Mt. Pleasant, WI.  It's actually two "houses" in one -- "Hysteria" and "Ambush" -- which you experience back-to-back.  I.e. we started with "Hysteria" and continued immediately into "Ambush," as if it was one long haunted house.  Anyway, this place was INTENSE.  It absolutely lived up to its promise of "mind-bending" effects, elements of "confusion, misdirection, and illusions," as well as sudden loud noises and people/creatures jumping out at you.

Now, have I ever mentioned that I hate sudden loud noises?  Have ever since I was a kid.  Even if I've heard the same noise from the same source multiple times (like my parents' radio making this big popping/buzzer noise upon turning off completely), if said familiar noise happens unexpectedly (like when there's a storm and the electricity suddenly goes out), I will shriek and cover my ears and mentally curse that stupid radio for scaring me.  Every time.

So why exactly did I suggest going to a place that guaranteed unexpected loud noises?  Was I in the mood for a heart attack -- was it some elaborate (and, um, really stupid) Halloween prank on Mary and my brother (who agreed to join us on our haunted journey, and who will henceforth be referred to as "D")?  Or had I decided to do that increased-exposure-to-source-of-phobia-in-order-to-conquer-phobia thing?

Not really.  I mean, it wasn't my main/first reason for deciding this sounded like a great haunted house -- my first and primary reason was the description of "Hysteria," with its "mind-bending" sensory effects.  It sounded really trippy! (that's honestly the closest word to describe how I imagined the place).  I did cringe at the mention of startling sound effects...but everything else sounded awesome.  And, yeah, maybe exposing myself to my fear would help me get over it.  Although, I did spend most of the walk through "Ambush" with my hands over my ears, which I guess is cheating.

In the end, there really weren't that many big noises, though the ones that did happen were definitely shriek-worthy.  I will say that after a while, I kind of got used to the actors jumping out from around corners or from unexpected niches in the walls, so by the end, they didn't startle me so much.  There was one that really impressed me, though, with its use of digital effects...but I'll say no more, so's not to spoil it.  I'll just say that ABANDONED makes very good use of digital technology.  I mean, there was this one room...oops, never mind! ^_^   Anyway, you could really tell this was a professional operation.

The monetary details:  General admission was $20, but we quickly agreed to pay an extra $10 for the Fast-Pass when we heard the general line had a 45 min. wait.  Our wait was 15 min. at most.
The second place, about 20 minutes northeast, was the Factory of Fear in Racine, WI.  It's on the first floor of a 100+ year old building that used to belong to J. I. Case Plow Works, a farm equipment manufacturer.  Like ABANDONED, it's a two-part haunted house -- "Devil's Nightmare" and the new "Blind Madness" -- but you can choose whether to do both or just "Devil's Nightmare."  There's also a $5 coffin ride, but from what I saw of it (the coffin sits behind a curtain in the waiting area, so people in line can pass the time watching each victim's face on a TV screen set up just outside said curtain), it's just a plain wooden box that shakes around for a minute...I guess to simulate a ride to the cemetery in a hearse that's taking the route with the most potholes?  I don't know, maybe it's my weird imagination, but I pictured the coffin actually moving on a track, with sudden turns and maybe a quick drop or two.  Like a very-mini roller-coaster.  But then, it's $5, so to quote the Greendale 7, "Duh doy!"

Anyway, Mary, D and I decided to do general admission this time ($13 for one house; $18 for both -- $1 of which would go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Southeastern Wisconsin), since it was later in the night and the wait wasn't expected to be that long.  Also because it was getting late, we decided to just do "Devil's Nightmare."  We waited about 15-20 minutes in a huge warehouse-like room (makes sense, this being an old warehouse. Look at me using my brain!).  Besides the "Last Ride" TV to entertain us, there was also a ghost lady from the 19th century (her dress looked Victorian-ish) walking about and staring at people with her big creepy eyes.  Once in a while she'd scream, but mostly she just smiled at everyone.  Creepily.

Get to the house itself, AylaElphaba!  What's your opinion of "Devil's Nightmare"?  It's fun!  It's not as elaborately designed as ABANDONED, but it's a very respectable haunted attraction.  At one point we were winding through narrow, pitch-dark corridors, and every few seconds I'd think I was still seeing empty space ahead of me, except it's a wall.  Somewhere I took a wrong turn, going back the way I'd come instead of the way forward, and then I was walking in circles, calling M and D's names and getting no response.  That was fun.

The whole thing was much shorter than we expected, and that's my only complaint.  We definitely could've gone another half-hour or so, and it would've been only $5 extra.  Ah well, we'll know better next time.
And now:
The (Corn) Labyrinth 
a story in pictures
. . . . . . . .
Preface:  Let's turn the clock back about...a bunch of hours, sometime between late morning and 2:00.  The other big thing Mary and I had planned to do during her visit was check out this giant corn labyrinth I'd found out about via Groupon.  Giant.  Corn.  Labyrinth.  I don't need to tell y'all why I had to experience this.

The following is an account of that experience, told mainly in pictures, with mostly brief captions.

A speed limit?!  Now that's unfair.
Does that cloud look sort of bird-like to you?

What do you mean, openings?  I don't see any --

Wow, thanks, Mr. Worm!


The bag? it from the Junk Lady!  She was wandering around, y'know,
taking a break from the junk world, and she had this extra bag, so... Yeah, she tried to give me a bunch of other stuff, but I kept declining until she went away.

Something oddly familiar about the design...

How much time has passed already?

I should mark each turn in case I hit a dead end or something.
Then I can find my way back here and try a different path.

Another dead end.

Sigh.  Nothing more to see here.  Come on, feet!

The sunglasses?  They're ...magic lenses that are supposed to help you see hidden things.  I traded the junk lady's bag for them.  Don't know what a fairy would do with that, but whatever.  So far they haven't shown me anything useful...

And now someone's dug up my arrows and put them back wrong?!
That's SO not fair!!

Feels nice to be in a more open space for a bit.


I sure wish this Wise Man was here.  ...Maybe there's some clue in the sign about where he went.

That bit about leaving an offering... if I do what the red scribbles say, will something happen?  And where exactly would I put said offering?  There's no box or bag; I'd use the glove, but the opening's stuck closed around this corner* I need to put the offering in its palm, like I was actually putting it in someone's hand?  But that's ridiculous!  It'd just fall out, wouldn't it?

[insert echo of Worm's voice: Things aren't always what they seem in this place...]

Hmm.  Well, it's worth a shot.  I wonder if it'll accept this orange bracelet...
[Exposition: It totally works.  The offering disappears and the glove lifts up to point at one of the corridors]

[a short while later] Hey! Another secret opening...

I can't see much... what if this is another trick?  The glove could've pointed me toward the wrong path... and this opening could drop me into an oubliette or something.  But something feels right about it.  And I'm running out of time...  Should I take a chance?

. . .
. . .
. . .

Sexy Goblin King, here I come!!
The End

* We did not stage that glove -- it was really just hanging there.  I made up the bit about it being stuck to the sign.


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