When I first heard about the haunted zoo, I admit I may have snorted a little. After all, zoos aren't scary - unless you end up on the wrong side of lion cage, smelling like a big old piece of human lunch - but otherwise the scariest thing about a zoo is supposed to be the smell. Right?
That’s what I told myself after I found out I had to go out to the Haunted Zoo on Friday night. Like cover it. Like go through it.
I knew I was in trouble when I saw the vampires. There they were, just a bunch of kids, dressed up and covered in fake blood. I’d talked to these kids, interviewed them. I knew their names.
I backed up like I’d just seen a snake, past the children on the Haunted Zoo tour; it was a mad scramble for the door.
Then they, the vampires, screamed, and the group I’d randomly joined darted forward like a bunch of nervous bison. Yes, I was the head bison. I admit it.
So I don’t like haunted houses. Freddy Krueger gave me nightmares, and “Paranormal Activity” had me sleeping with the lights on for weeks. But here I was, in a haunted house for the first time in years. Journalism is great, right? Takes me out of my comfort zone. Walking up to the entrance, I could’ve kicked myself.
I’d like to say my I was calm, cool and collected. I didn’t giggle, I didn’t scream. I certainly didn’t try and hide behind a flock of children. These are all things I’d like to say, and they’d all be galloping lies.
Zoos are actually really scary at night. Something loomed out of the dark - it was the guide - and I screamed like a banshee. That was when the 12-year-old next to me grabbed my arm. “It’s okay. I’ll protect you,” she said. I was about to laugh and say something grownup-ish when a werewolf (not the Jacob Black kind) lunged out of some bushes. I yipped, jumped and let her drag me forward, since the guides were very clear that the only way out was through. (Unless you’re a small, crying child. They let THEM leave.)
We made it through the zombies. Coasted through Jason. It was all going to be okay, I thought to myself, with a giggle.
The roar of a chain saw erupted, just inches behind me. Now, I knew the chain saw was there. I’d interviewed the guy who was holding it. I let out a shriek the like of which Jamie Lee Curtis would be proud, a full-on sprint past the 12-year-old and her dad while a black blur of chainsaw and costume make-up roared behind me.
After the tour was over and I was safe, I asked the kid what she thought of the Victoria Advocate reporter’s behavior.
She tried to be nice about it, but looked embarrassed for me.
“How’d I do?”
She wrinkled her forehead, gave me a pitying look.
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