Went out last night to the “Fear Farm” with a pack of friends. The Fear Farm is a series of haunted houses, plus a haunted hayride. (Owing to recent local price increases in the cost of hay, the presence of such was more a token sprinkling, but hey, at a hundred bucks a bale, I can’t blame ’em.)

Had a blast–it’s been twenty years since I was at a haunted house. Unfortunately, what might have inspired stark terror at ten doesn’t work so well at thirty–I’m easily startled but not easily scared. Still, it was a lot of fun, and at least two of the haunted houses were very well put together. Plus one of our number was a screamer, so that was highly entertaining. (We made her and her husband go through first. The costumed employees are apparently trained to smell fear–as soon as they heard the shrieking, they descended on her and would follow her through the house.) Plus most use of chainsaws I’ve ever seen. And they all started on the first go! (We discussed this at some length. You gotta wonder if occasionally one of the people in the demonic clown suits is left yanking the starter and cursing while his cohorts terrorize the people on the hayride.)

So lots of reflexive startlement, anyway. After a few minutes, of course, you get used to scanning every shadow looking for somebody to jump out at you. The only moment of actual alarm I had occurred as I roamed through the haunted farmhouse, past the kitchen with the moldy pig head in the fridge, a figure blocked my path. He was wearing a black mask over his head, so it was completely featureless except for a very creepy Cheshire grin. Do I scream?  Do I laugh? Do I recoil? No. I said “Oh, excuse me,” and turned sideways to get past him. A minute later, I glanced over my shoulder to see if the rest of my party was following, and the creepy grin was RIGHT THERE at my back. (He walked very quietly.) I made a brief yawping noise which I shall not attempt to render phonetically, faced front, and kept walking. And I hope that the masked gentleman retired back to his corner with the warm glow of a job well done.

All in all, a great way to spend a pre-Halloween evening.

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