Over the winter I noticed a pattern in much of my writing A lot of it was centered around the night and darkness. I was also using the word night a lot, leaning on it for easy rhymes. The same went for dark. So I’ve been challenging myself to write about night and darkness without actually using either word.
Recently I passed through my first haunted house of the Halloween season, and in taking my own advice, jotted down some notes on what parts of the experience left the strongest impression. It’s one of my favorites, a haunted trail that with elaborate scenes and structures.
By far the part of the night that stuck with me the most was two completely contrasting scenes paired together. The first was a wooden shack, pitch black inside that, as usual, I found myself leading my group into. As I groped through the darkness, feeling the walls for a door to escape to, I realized that we were actually in a slowly narrowing hallway, the wall on my right wood, and the wall on my left chain link fence. Pushing forward in my search for the exit, I began to notice the chain link wall was starting to shake violently. I had no idea if it was an anxious patron behind me, or something worse. Finally, I bumped into a wooden door that swung open, spilling us back out onto the moonlight trail.
We followed the path to another shack. This time the door swung ominously on its own. A bright light and fog spilled out. I entered first and after a few steps, realized all I could see was white. I turned around to grab my husband’s hand, only to watch it disappear into the bright fog. Another hand, incased in black, reached out towards me. “Are you guys behind me?” I called out to my husband and sister. I turned back around, reaching out to find a door, and a disembodied black mask with empty white eyes loomed above me. I shrieked and surged forward, dodging more black hands and banging the walls until I pushed open a door and tumbled back out into the night, my husband and sister behind me.
My take away? Both rooms were terrifying, but the second one had an extra element of the unexpected. I had never been in a white out room before, and seeing things appear and disappear was incredible unsettling. It certainly inspired me to find new ways to set my own horror stories in the bright light of day, not just in the dark of night.