This story is not for the faint of heart. When I was 23 years old,
Halloween of 1990, I was helping the high school drama department with
their haunted house at the fairgrounds. They had taken over one of the
buildings and set up a maze inside that guided guests through various
spooky scenes. It was sorta scary; well as scary as high school kids
get, but I, being one of the few adults there decided (without
consulting anyone) that we needed to make the experience more
terrifying. I found an unattended fire extinguisher and decided that I
could use this to create a fog effect. So, between groups of guests
that passed through the haunted maze I would, without anyone noticing,
spray a blast of "fog' from the fire extinguisher. This was creating
the eerie fog effect I was hoping for and was enhancing the overall
ambiance (as far as I was concerned). Well, as the evening progressed
,the building began to fill with more and more of my special effect
fog. Someone, I think it was one of the high school girls who took
notice of how smokey this place was getting and panicked. She yelled,
Well what followed was a melee of terrified confusion.
People were screaming and yelling, "FIRE! FIRE!". I tried to calm those
around me down trying to reassure them that though it looked like
smoke, it did not smell like it. Too panicked to listen to reason,
walls were torn down in an attempt to get people out of the building
faster. I heard screams and children crying as everyone rushed for the
exits. It was a horrifying scene to watch as crying costumed kids and
harried parents poured out of the haunted house. Someone ran to a pay
phone and dialed 911. Again I tried to calm people down as I said, "I
don't think that is smoke."
A few moments later the fire department arrived as we all watched from
a safe distance. They bravely entered the haunted house in full gear
and disappeared into its foggy interior. We all waited anxiously. At
first nothing seemed to be happening , but then they emerged, the brave
firefighters, silhouetted in the fog, one of them carrying something.
Holding the fire extinguisher the fireman asked us, "Can somebody explain this?"
Everyone looked around confused and I thought for sure I was in a lot
of trouble. Apparently no one had seen me using the fire extinguisher,
but I felt something must be said, being that I was one of the
"responsible adults" there.
"Okay," I said " Look, I think I know who did this. But I am not going
to say right now because I don't think this was done with any malicious
"You saw who did this?" asked one of the other adults, "Who was it?"
"I am not going to say right now because I think they are pretty
embarrassed by all of this and I am sure they are sorry. Look, I think
he is a great guy! He was probably just playing around and I think it
would be best if I took this person aside and talked to them on my own."
As the fog cleared from the building, we were allowed to reenter and
clean up the mess and the fire department left. Some of the students
were insistent that I expose who it was that played with the fire
extinguisher, but I reassured them I had it under control and would
deal with the person responsible later.
It's been almost twenty years, and still I can't forget the scariest haunted house ever! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!