I arrived at the Shriek Shack at eight that night, an hour before it opened, thinking I’d scout the area a bit while it was somewhat deserted.
I thought wrong.
The place was packed. The small dirt lot next to the Shack that served as a parking lot was filled with vehicles. The overflow had taken up both shoulders of the road, and as I squeezed past in my Mustang, I saw why things were nuts out here: it was Buy 1 Terror Ticket, Get 2 Free Nite!! according to the sign held aloft by a teenaged zombie near the entrance.
I continued on, finally pulled onto the shoulder in front of a jacked up Dodge 4×4, and sat behind the wheel for a few minutes. Their website hadn’t mentioned this. It had mentioned that the Shack’s usual hours of operation were from 7 to 1 in the morning, but that they opened later on opening night.
I tapped the steering wheel. I could come back tomorrow. It might be too crowded for my guy to show up.
Damn it. What the hell. I was here already. I took the key out of the ignition and dropped it into the center console. I kept a spare key tucked under the car’s fender in one of those little magnetic boxes, and after getting out of the car and double-checking that it was still there, I locked the car and started toward the crowd.
I was wearing an old pair of track pants and an older T-shirt, along with a pair of cheap sneakers. Clothes that I wouldn’t care about trashing, or having to leave behind. I had a spare set of duds in the trunk, along with several containers of baby wipes for cleaning off those pesky blood stains.
There was a sort of line formed at the ticket booth near the dirt lot, and from there, employees in zombie make-up guided the groups to the Shack’s entrance. According to the website, the Shack was actually three old single-story houses that had been saved from demolition and attached to one another, back door to front door, to form a “Labyrinth of Pure Horror Fright!!!”. I didn’t know about that, but the screams and shrieks coming from inside it sounded real enough.
After leaving the Shack, the groups encountered the “Forest of Fright” and followed a trail that wound through a few acres of thick pine tree woods. Lights were strung through tree branches to light the way; from where I was standing, I could barely make out white and purple lights through the trees. The end of the trail dumped the groups out near the dirt parking lot.
Should be easy to get into the woods unnoticed; all I had to do was go back to the road, jump across that ditch, and saunter in. Some of the land had been cleared for the Shack, but the woods still closed in on things, and–
“You in line or what?”
I blinked, turned, and saw an enormous woman in a pink camouflage shirt. She had a litter of kids around her, most of them in cheap Walmart costumes. Iron Man was the clear favorite.
“No,” I said.
She rolled her eyes and lumbered past me, to the end of the line, the kids trailing her. I scratched the side of my neck. Okay, enough of this. Time to get the party started.
I headed back to the road. I hadn’t smelled my guy back there, but then again, there were so many people it was hard to concentrate on one scent. And that huge bitch had smelled like old sweat and onions.
I looked around, saw no one who seemed to be paying attention to the only person here by herself, and entered the woods.