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Gripping the Tail of Bravery

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The fear was absolutely suffocating. I stood still, my fingers tucked in my jacket pockets, too terrified to feel the cold permeating the air. Why had I agreed to this? Why hadn’t I rejected the invitation and instead stayed in the comfort of my own home? Judging by the expressions of many others in the line, I could tell I wasn’t the only one basking in regret. Some faces, though, were filled with exhilaration. I couldn’t imagine being eager to enter a situation as unnerving as this one, but I felt envious of those who wore their excitement on their sleeve. At least they weren’t about to die of absolute terror. Shuffling forward in tiny, reluctant steps, I unwillingly trudged through the doors of Erebus, the scariest haunted house in all of Michigan.


The eerie music seemed to grow louder and louder, sending chills running down my spine and dispersing all throughout my body. The line continued, expanding almost all throughout the entire first floor. I could already hear the blood-curdling screams that echoed from the ceiling, bouncing off the walls as if in warning. Something in my head screamed “turn back”, but something in my heart told me to keep going. Wasn’t it just a year ago that I vowed to never step foot in Erebus… like, ever?


But the word “never” is vague, and some things are truly inevitable. I glanced towards my friends, hoping to somehow calm myself down with the knowledge that they, too, were smothered with sheer terror. To my complete discontent, it only made my fear worse. A big chunk of us were squeezed into a small room, the door clanking shut behind us before we even had time to think. Withering paint blotches stained the walls, accentuating the deterioration the room had faced over the years. The chilling eerie-ness of the chamber didn’t offer any emotional reprieve, and neither did the psychopathic-looking girl who had just appeared out of nowhere. She paced back and forth, explaining the history of the building and how a group of mad scientists had begun experimentation here. The experiment ended up going awry and the tests backfired, leading to present day Erebus in all its confusion. Her favorite line to say was, “Everyone thinks I’m crazy. Do I look crazy to you? Because, I’m definitely not crazy!”


After she was done with her ramble, we were led into tiny, claustrophobic rooms with little moving space. The door slammed shut behind us, sending a squeal escaping my lips. Me and my friends huddled together in the corner, formating plans to avoid separation within the haunted house. “Just hold hands and we’ll be fine. Whatever happens, we are NOT going through any of the emergency exits. Got it?” One of my friends said, managing to maintain authority despite the fear.


We all nodded, exchanging a foreboding look. “Why did I agree to do this?” I asked incessantly, not sure what answer I expected to receive.


“I… don’t know.” was the only response my friends could formulate, completely contradicting their original attitudes. A voice rang out through the loudspeaker, but the fear penetrating my existence blocked the words from entering my ears. The only line that I seemed to pick up was, “See you on the other side… if you survive, that is.” As if on cue, the door in front of us creaked open, welcoming us into what looked like the fiery pits of hell.


The next few moments were a blur. One second I was stepping cautiously past the threshold, and then the next I was running frantically as mutated creatures chased me up and down the various chambers. Gripping the tail of my friends shirt, I struggled to hold on while she zigzagged through the hallways, dodging the wretched characters that seemed to appear from the oblivion like a multiplying disease. “WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?” I yelled out, not expecting to receive an answer but rather doing it on impulse.


The hallways became more narrow and I ended up trailing behind my friends, grappling to escape the creatures behind me. The lighting became extremely dark, prohibiting me from seeing where I was going. Strobe lights flashed, paranormal roars sounded throughout the house, and screams echoed against the walls. It was almost like being stuck in a nightmare, except you couldn’t wake up even if you tried.


Emerging from the haunted house was the most refreshing feeling I’d ever experienced. A wave of consolation crept over me, replacing the layer of fear I’d previously been coated with. I was incredibly relieved to have gotten through the whole thing, but more importantly, I was proud of myself. Before that day, I’d been convinced that I could never take on a haunted house as scary as Erebus, yet I conquered the entire thing and came out unscathed. Because of this experience, I’ve learned to never say never, and to accept inevitability as a definite factor of life that can’t be changed.




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