I remember when my buddies and I started our Halloween attraction, Mirror Madness. We left our usual hangout for the holiday last year and wanted to do something special; we wanted it to be really scary. Something realistic that would leave the customers’ skin crawling all night.
So when Gary showed up last October looking for work, we couldn’t turn him down. I liked him immediately. He shared our sick sense of humor. I thought he could become a yearly regular. It’s a shame I was wrong.
It was the last weekend in October when he showed up, at first as a customer. Since it’s my job to take the money, he approached me as he exited the mirror maze. He pointed to the ‘Now Hiring’ sign and asked, “You guys are still hiring, even though the month is almost over?"
I nodded. “Oh, yes. We’re always looking for new blood.”
He smiled. “When can I start?”
I replied, “We’re only open on weekends. Tomorrow’s Sunday, the next-to-last day. We’ll be open on Halloween, but otherwise this is it. You can come tomorrow and we’ll give you the rundown. Then you can come on Halloween, which is when we do the most scaring.”
“Great,” he said. “I love scaring stupid teenagers. They’ll buy anything. And your attraction… it looks so real. They’re screaming their heads off in there.”
I laughed. “You get used to the screaming. It’s like music to our ears.”
“How much does it pay?”
I paused. “It’s not a lot. There are no benefits, either. And since it’s seasonal, you can imagine that it’s mostly for the experience. You seem like you’ll fit in with my buddies, though. I think you’ll have a lot of fun.”
Just then, my one of my buddies came out. “Okay,” he yelled. “It’s midnight! Everyone go home.”
He walked up to me and asked, “What’s going on, someone answering the help wanted sign?”
Gary smiled and introduced himself. “I just have a few questions about the setup. It seems odd that nearly all the positions seemed full and you’re still hiring.”
The smile slipped from my buddy’s face as I interjected, “Well, the new employees often complain of having ruptured their larynxes screaming and have to be let go. But it’s a rush while they’re helping us scare the kids.”
My buddy then asked, “When can you start, Gary?”
I answered for him; “I told him we’d show him the ropes tomorrow
and he can start Halloween, and maybe come back next year. He seems like one of
us, a lot of fun, you know?”
Gary opened his mouth, presumably to ask another question, but
my buddy cut him off and said, “Show him the ropes tomorrow. That’s an excellent
idea. He can start as a victim.” I scowled, knowing my friend just wanted to
scare Gary. Then my buddy asked me, “How about I work the admission tomorrow and
you show Gary here the works?”
I frowned and was about to protest when Gary said, “That’s fine.
I’ll start tomorrow. It should be fun.”
“Yes,” my buddy said with a smile. “It will be. Get here at six p.m., half an hour before we open.”
Gary asked, “That’s all the time we need to get ready?”
“Yep,” my buddy said. “It doesn’t take long at all.”
I wasn’t sure what my friend had planned, but I didn’t like it.
The next night, Gary showed up wearing ragged jeans and a tee-shirt. He said he didn’t want to get any fake blood on his good clothes. My buddy said, “That’s good thinking, Gary.” He then whispered into my ear, and I reluctantly nodded.
I told Gary, “Follow me,” and entered the maze.
Once we reached the nook labeled “Medical Mutilation,” I slid back a loose mirror panel to reveal a gurney and surgical scrubs. I quickly pulled on the scrubs over my clothes and pulled the surgical mask over my face.
“Okay,” I said with a sigh. “Lie down on the gurney and I’ll strap you in.”
Gary looked at the medical tray covered with bloodstained tools and asked, “Where’s the fake blood?”
I replied, “I’ll get that out in a minute. It’s almost time to start scaring the kids.”
“Okay,” he said as he lay down. I strapped him in and waited silently.
I heard screams coming from the maze entrance and said, “Okay. We can begin.”
“Wait,” Gary said. “You haven’t gotten the blood out yet.”
“I know,” I answered. “I’m sorry, Gary.”And with that, I sliced an incision across his midsection. He screamed for help as blood ran down his old tee-shirt. The kids walking by jumped and squirmed when they saw us. Of course, I pretended to swipe at them with the scalpel before going back to Gary, who by this time was in shock, so all he could do was scream wordlessly.
By the end of the night, Gary was nothing more than a mutilated corpse. I flung his innards at the visitors who ran off screaming in disgust. It was beautiful, but not my best work. I couldn’t help feeling bad for Gary. But, as my buddy said, he had asked one too many questions about our operation.
When my buddy hollered out that it was midnight, I exited the maze for a cigarette. The rest of my buddies gathered around as the last car pulled off. We took off our aprons and scrubs.
“Well,” I said, “we’d better take these bodies to the morgue.”
My buddy told the two assistant coroners, “He means you have to take the bodies to the morgue.”
“What do we tell them this time?” the driver asked.
“Same story as before,” my buddy said with a sardonic grin, “that the escaped lunatic murdered them while they were camping in the woods.”
As they left, I said, “Thank God it’s almost over. I’ve lost my taste for this.”
My buddy clapped a hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay, Doc. If you feel that bad about it, you don’t have to help me escape next year. I think your superiors may be getting suspicious anyway. I worry about your job security, truly I do.”
And with that, the son of a bitch slit my throat.
Fortunately for me, he’s not the surgeon. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t blame me for telling the cops where his hideout is. He was shot by the police the day before Halloween last year, and I guess he was pretty pissed off about having missed my jugular.
But, though it was wrong of me not to do so, I didn’t finger Mirror Madness. And it’s October again. Just last night, I heard two orderlies talk about the place, and how everything looked so real. I laughed for hours when I heard that.
One orderly, the new guy, asked, “What’s up with laughing boy?”
“Don’t mind him,” said the other. “He’s crazy as a loon. And he used to be a doctor.”