Garbage Bag Man and my fear of haunted houses

Click through for scariest animated GIF I've ever seen.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I hadn’t been to a proper haunted house since I was six years old. Yes, six. “What on earth was six-year-old you doing in a haunted house anyway?” you may ask. Well, I was really into scary stories (I had the entire Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark series, and those illustrations still creep me out), and my mom said yes when I asked to go.

Well, she regretted that decision.

The haunted house of choice was at Tioga Gardens in Owego, not too far from my hometown of Binghamton. The place is usually a garden center, so they hosted the haunted house in one of their greenhouses. To make it dark, they’d covered the entire outside of the place in a dark tarp. (I always thought they’d used those lawn-and-leaf trash bags, but in retrospect, that would make less sense.) I think we went in the middle of the day, but it was still pitch-black inside.

The greenhouse was divided into a series of rooms by–you guessed it–more dark tarps. In the first room, the actor on our left played a spooky organ while my mom and I chuckled at the actor on our right. He was up on a platform, eating from a plate labeled “Spaghetti and Eyeballs.” A loud chord from the organ got our attention, and when I looked around, organ-player-guy was ALL UP IN MY GRILL.

I let out a bloodcurdling scream, if it’s even possible for a six-year-old girl to do that, and decided I did not like this place, not one bit, but we had to keep moving forward, as organ-player-guy was now advancing on us from the rear.

And this kind of scene wasn't even the scariest part of the haunted house.

The next few rooms were a terrified blur. My mom says one of them involved someone being cut in half by a circular saw, but I only vaguely remember that. We walked as quickly as possible. I did not want to look around. All I wanted to do was get out.

A couple rooms later, there looked to be a light at the end of the tunnel directly in front of us, but there was a graveyard scene up ahead with a separate path closer to the wall to the left of it. An arrow directed us that way, so that’s the way we went. As we progressed, I started to say, “This seems to take us straight into the wall,” but before I could get the words out…

THE WALL WAS ALIVE. Some guy dressed in lawn-and-leaf bags, who had seamlessly blended in with the side of the greenhouse, turned around suddenly and growl-shouted at us. I was in front, and though I managed to avoid a Code Yellow, I did burst into tears. My mom led me, a crumpled, weeping, snot-covered version of my former self, back to the original path and out the true exit.

I remember standing in the garden store at the end, wailing, inconsolable, as my mom attempted to calm me down. A garden-store customer said, “You were just in the haunted house? How old are you?” And I said, “Six.” And she said, “Wow. I’m not even brave enough to go in there.”

Well, I wasn’t brave enough to go back into a haunted house–except for the Haunted Mansion at Disney, which doesn’t count–until last week. And though I sweat through my clothes, I did not cry, so…progress.


About Meghan Loftus
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