Saturday, April 9, 2011

FICTION: Scaretastic by Alva J. Roberts

The abandoned hospital loomed in the darkness, its oppressive bulk blotting out a huge portion of the October sky. The walls of the building were made of brick, and weather worn boards covered the windows. Light cut through the darkness from the open door looking like a huge gaping maw.

“Are you sure this is the place?” Sara asked uncertainly.

“Yeah, come on, I thought you wanted to do something scary on Halloween, then hit up the Sigma Fi costume party,” Mike replied. “This is supposed to be the scariest haunted house in the entire state?”

“Yeah, and if we make it through, we get our money back,” Mike’s roommate, David, piped in.

Sara’s friend, Beth, giggled and clutched David’s arm. They were already hitting it off. Mike wished his part of the double date was going as well. Sara looked bored and everything Mike said seemed to be totally wrong. She sniffed and walked toward the abandoned hospital, three steps ahead of Mike. He stopped to stare at her as she walked away—it was not the first time her nurse costume had caught his attention.

“Hey! Wait up!” Mike called, following after her.

The sound of David and Beth’s laughter chased after him. Mike wondered if the pair was on something. Maybe it was not just coincidence they had both dressed in hippy costumes for their blind date, but Sara did not seem to notice anything strange.

As Sara neared the open door, a huge man stepped through it, blocking most of the light. He wore a zombie outfit, his skin pale and sallow, his clothes torn and dirty, and a trickle of fake blood running down his chin. It was an expensive costume, much more impressive than Mike’s “Roman” outfit, consisting of a ratty yellowed sheet tied into a toga.

The man played his part well, ambling forward with a jerky gate. He really did look like he was one of the walking dead, even going so far as to let out a groan as he pointed to the sign near the door. Mike shivered—the guy was creepy.

“Whoa, dude. Fifty bucks a head? No way!” David said as he read the sign.

“Yeah, but you get your money back if you make it all the way through, so stop being such cheapskate,” Mike answered.

“Stop being such a cheapskate,” David answered in a high-pitched voice that brought gales of laughter from Beth.

Mike did not answer as he pulled out a hundred dollar bill and put it in the “zombie’s” waiting hand. “Come on, Sara, let’s let groovy McSaveabuck hang out here. We’ll check out the haunted house.”

Mike walked forward through the large double doors into the entry way. Another set of doors stood in front of him. Mike breathed out in relief as Sara followed him inside. The way the date had been going, he thought she might not.

“McSaveabuck? God, you are sooo weird,” Sara said as she walked up to him.


“Hey, wait up! We’re coming,” Beth yelled.

Mike opened the door with a thrill of anticipation. A blood choked scream echoed through the crisp fall air. Mike put on a scared face as he walked through the door, while Dave laughed maniacally.

The interior of the building was dark, with small lights spaced evenly down the corridor. Plastic skeletons and cotton spider webs lined the plain white walls. On one wall there was a poster of a demon trying to break through the bars of a cell. Cheap rubber bats hung from the ceiling. A huge banner said “Welcome to the Scartastic Haunted House!”

All in all, it looked like a hospital decorated for Halloween.

“Wow. Scary. I’m really scared,” Sara said in a dry monotone.

“There are three floors and it supposed to get scarier as you go. They couldn’t whip out big guns right away,” Mike said as he stared at torture devices made of foam rubber.

Beth let out a high pitched shriek as a hairy spider dropped from the ceiling. She jumped to the side, grasping David’s arm.

“Good,” an ethereal voice whispered.

“Right on, buddy,” Dave said as he coped a cheap feel.

“Your roommate is a total perve,” Sara said, leading the way down the hall, her pace quickening.

Mike could tell his chances with Sara had gone to absolute zero. It was too bad he could not just call it a night, but maybe he could ditch her at the party.

More of the cheap Halloween decoration lined the hall. The scariest was a plush werewolf, not because it at all looked real, but because its glass eyes seemed to watch his every move. A rickety stair case sat at the end of the hall, and it was obviously not part of the original structure.

The stairs let out an awful creek as Mike climbed them. The horrible smell of decaying flesh filled the air as they made their way to the next level. The white walls were gone, as were the common Halloween decorations. The walls looked burnt and sickly green light shown from the ceiling.

“Okay, this is kind of creepy,” Sara said, breathless.

“I told you it was going to be scary. Come on,” Mike said with a smile. For the first time since their date started, Sara returned his smile.

Corroded metal bars blocked the doorways and windows, and a layer of ash covered the floor. A charred skeleton lay in the corner, grinning morbidly at them. This one was not plastic. It looked real. Mike decided it was some kind of movie prop.

A rotting hand burst through the floor, grabbing Sara’s ankle. She let out a terrified wail as she pulled away, slamming her back into the metal bars. More hands, these ones clawed and scaly, reached out from inside the cell, clutching at her and yanking on her white nurse outfit.

“Hey! Let go! You’re tearing it!” Sara shouted.

Mike ran over, smashing his elbow into one of the seeking hands. His knee cracked into another. Inside the cell, Mike saw twisted and deformed human-like shapes snarling at him. One of the talons swept out lightly scratching his arm.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Mike asked the men, holding his arm as he turned to Sara. “You okay?”

“Yeah. Thanks for the assist. I don’t know what they were doing.”

“Maybe they hired some convicts fresh out of the pen and they wanted a little bit of sugar,” Dave said with a leer.

“Well whatever they were doing, I’m going to talk with their manager when we get out of here,” Mike said.

“Hey, what the hell?’

Crimson liquid began falling from the ceiling, raining down on them, to collect and pool on the floor. Sara and Beth ran to the wall, huddling together out of the dripping scarlet rain. They were drenched in seconds. Mike knew what it smelled like, but he licked the back of his hand to be sure.

“They’re using real blood. What the hell’s wrong with these guys?”

“They just want our money. If you think some pig’s blood is going to get you my hundred bucks, you’re so wrong! I need that for weed!” Dave shouted, his playful joking tone gone.

Something behind them snarled low and loud. Mike turned to see a huge furry creature standing a few feet away, drool dripping from its inch-long fangs as the trickling blood caked its fur.

“Run!” Mike shouted in terror.

The group sprinted down the hall as the snarling beast snapped at their heels. More hands reached out of the cells, clawing at them. Up ahead, Mike could see another set of rickety wooden stairs. Something huge and hairy dropped down from the ceiling to graze Mike’s head. He ducked, losing his balance on the blood slick floor, sliding down the hall head first into a pile of bodies.

“Very good!” the ethereal voice whispered again.

Glazed dead eyes looked into Mike’s. The stench of rotting flesh filled his nostrils, making him gag. Maggots squirmed across the decaying pile of meat.

“They’re real! These are real!”

Beth screamed in pain as the hairy monster chasing them tackled her to the ground. Its long fangs tore through her tender flesh. Her blood sprayed through the air. Dave stood paralyzed watching as his blind date was torn to pieces.

“Beth!” Sara shouted, running over to kick the monster.

The creature was intent on Beth and ignored the kicks. Mike hopped to his feet, sprinting through the gruesome rain to bring all of his weight down on top of the monster. It shrugged its shoulders and hurled him across the room. It shook its shaggy head, tearing through the muscles of Beth’s neck. Her head rolled away, down the hall, as the monster howled.

“Come on! Up the stairs! We can’t help her!” Dave shouted, scurrying forward.

“Damn it, Dave, wait for us! Sara! Come on! He’s right! We can’t help her!” Mike grabbed Sara’s shoulders, pushing her toward the stairs.

Mike was one step behind Sara as they ran up the stairs into another passageway. Eerie red light illuminated the hall from an unseen source and the walls looked like they were made of some kind of black stone. Open doorways lined the hall.

Mike spun when he reached the top of the stairs, only to see the hairy monster surge up behind them. It made it half way up before the stairs collapsed, sending the temporary fixture crashing to the floor. It howled in ineffectual hunger.

As quickly as he had begun, the grisly rain stopped.

“What was that? Oh, my god. Beth. Oh, God,” Sara mumbled as tears ran down her face to mix with the blood caking her body.

“I don’t know what it was,” Mike answered, terror roiling through his stomach. “Where’s Dave?”

“It killed Beth. Beth is dead.”

“Sara, get a grip. We need to worry about getting out of here alive,” Mike answered in a harsh voice. “Dave! Where are you?”

Something sounding like metal hitting stone echoed through the hall, and then there was a pain-filled shriek.

“Dave!” Mike ran forward, stopping at the first room.

Dave was clamped to a huge stone alter. A massive metal blade swung from the ceiling, tearing through his stomach with each pass. Dave’s organs flew across the room, slapping into the wall. His blood poured from the wound, pooling on the floor.

“Oh, God. I called him a perve.” Sara whispered, standing next to Mike.

Mike stood in silence, numb and cold. His brain had gone to Jell-O, but one thought pounded its way into his horrified, numb consciousness.

“We got to get moving. There are only supposed to be three levels. There should be a way out, and then we can call…somebody.”

Sara’s arms snaked around his shoulder, gripping him in a death grip. He could feel her whole body shaking, and knew she was as terrified as he was. He plastered on a strong face as they walked down the hall, an instinctual urge to protect her forcing him to quiet his own fear.

Each room was filled with torture devices and the dead. Macabre scenes of pain filled each and every one. Mike tried to shut it out, tried to ignore the moans of the people in the rooms and the blood.

So much blood.

They moved forward at a snail’s pace, watching for danger around every corner. Sara let out a soft whimper, and Mike pulled her close. It had to be over soon. It had to be.

After what seemed like hours, Dave made out a door in the dim light. He pointed it out to Sara, and they bolted for the portal, swinging it wide. They stepped through and walked into a strange hospital hallway decorated with plastic skeletons and rubber bats. A huge banner read “Welcome to the Scartastic Haunted House.”

“Excellent” the disembodied voice spoke again.

“This is your fault!” Sara wailed. “You wanted to come to this damn haunted house.”

“You’re the one who likes to be scared...”


Mike and Sara’s argument flickered on the black and white monitor. A tentacle snaked out to turn down the volume. Balzi had heard enough of the strange human prattle.

“How goes it?” a voice asked in a strange, gurgling language.

“Very good. The two dead ones have given us enough terror to power our ship for three parsecs and two of them have survived to run through it again.”

“Keep up the good work. A few more like that and we’ll have enough power to make it home,” the commander said joyously as he slithered away.

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