I pushed away another margarita offered to me. “No I can’t.  I’ll have to pee too much already.” Ludovic looked down me and apologized for laughing at the bush attack. “Look I’m really sorry we laughed at you, but it was f’n hilarious… ya know?”

I thought he sounded Russian with a bad urban dictionary in his pocket. “Yeah I’m sure it was, thanks for reminding me.”

He offered the margarita to me again.  It was smooth and creamy, not like a normal margarita though. I took a huge gulp to calm, my already scattered nerves, hoping to chill out a bit. I needed to relax and enjoy the night, but time was ticking away and it wouldn’t be long until we even entered the scary part of the park in time to meet Roxas. Come on Chey, get a grip on yourself!

We made our way past the ticket carousels where our bags and costumes were searched for anything dangerous. We went through metal detectors and machines, which looked like airport scanners to ensure the utmost of protection at the event. I set off the alarms due to the brass snake costume jewelry around my upper arms, but the castle guard gave me a few extra swipes of his metal detector wand and cleared me to go. It was a little intimidating, but the extra security measures made me feel a whole lot better about people being in such scary costumes. Anyone could do harm or hurt someone else and they wouldn’t have any way to identify the person.

As we walked past the front entrance locker area, immediately the park transported  us into another realm where you couldn’t see the ground through the thickness of the fog . I could smell gourmet goodies drifting their invitations to my tummy, but I couldn’t see them from where we were standing. The sky was clear and the night was already dark. Deep indigo lights scurried under the fog in shadows tricking my eyes.

Just then, we heard a blood-curdling scream and a wolf howling in the distance. My throat dropped instantly to my stomach as I saw the roller coaster, not 100 feet above us, complete a loop-the-loop.  The roller coaster ride lovers were smashed against the back of their seats in what looked like more g-force than a human body could withstand. The coaster dipped down and away into the dense fog bank below the bridge we were walking across.  The coaster disappeared into the blanket of fog hovering above the water.  You could hear it, but the thickness of the fog, even penetrating strobe lights, you could not see the coaster riding the rails. The wailing screams of the riders  echoed off the lakefront as the trailing car zoomed overhead. Someone’s fake, bloody teeth fell from the skycar and landed just a few feet away from us.  The fog’s dense tentacles creeped up past everything on the ground, covering soft glowing twinkling lights to help illuminate walking paths. In these shoes, it made me weary of each and every step I took.

“Holy Fog Bank Batman!” Dakota murmured. Wide eyed, I took in the essence of the terrifying special effects laid out before us. Eerie music thrummed its way into the night. My head swayed to the dark, haunted cadence. Deep, thunderous melodies surged through my bones. The music felt screepy, so intimidating… so real. It was very Phantom.

I thought it was just my nerves, but with each passerby, I saw the same spectral expression upon their faces. I pulled out my iPod and took verbal notes of what I was observing.  Watching others was deliciously mesmerizing. Here we all were, in a very public and safe place. Paid premium price to get in here and all of us, every single once of us wanted one thing. We all wanted to be scared. I was fascinated at the amazing attention to detail in how Global Studios transformed there family friendly atmosphere by day, to such a frightening adventure by night.

My face felt as though I must be mirroring the faces of all these people here. Most people had their eyes open wide to not miss a thing, anticipating any moment of terror. I saw other people very scared. They were wringing their hands, clutching onto their dates and others jumping at every odd sound. Men and women alike. Thank goodness there weren’t any children here. It was evident these folks were intensely excited to get the devil scared out of them.
Fascinated to see how unsuspecting passersby would react to other man-eating trees, we followed Sheridan to her unsuspecting bench. I definitely wasn’t the only one who got duped. One guy actually threw punches at her, it scared him so bad. “Woah Sher – are you sure this is a covered expense on your health insurance?  Be careful tonight and don’t let the ghoulies bite!”

Sheridan laughed and said, “I’ll meet up with you kids later on.  Let’s plan meeting at midnight over by the insane asylum haunted house all right? That’s where we’re set up to monitor the cameras from all of the haunted houses.”

Lovely.  It would have to be the crazy looney insane asylum.  Why did she decide to take up residency there?  Couldn’t we have monitored the cameras from Dr. Suess land or something?

I put my best go get ‘em face forward. “Okay – we’ll be there. Right now I need to find a bathroom.”

“Laters!”  She waved and settled back down into her attack mode.  I had the coolest sisters on the planet.

Dakota and I edged onward into the park in search of zombies.  I heard whisperings of a parade and I hoped to see it. I knew we must getting close to the zombies when this one fella had blood dripping from his bottom lip, as he was eating it. “Ewww!” A grossed out Dakota whispered in my ear. Is that guy eating his lip?”

“That would be affirmative little sister. We must getting close to your zombies. Betcha twenty bucks we see oozing brain matter tonight.”  I said.

“You’re on.  There’s no way they can do that kind of effect without CGI.”  She took the bet, always a sucker.

Around the next corner the zombie parade greeted us out of the fog and gloom. It looked like they just crawled out of the cemetery. Literally hundreds of people dressed in every form of deader attire imaginable. Missing or rotting parts, torn and ragged, blood stained clothing. The makeup on these gruesome dudes had me questioning if they were indeed real. Dakota freaked out holding onto Ludovic. Some of them would come up and smell you and open their gaping mouths in a silent scream. It sent little pin pricks of fear to the places on my body where the zombie could have bitten me. They looked so real.  They didn’t smell all that great either and I’m sure that was a large part of the special effect. This creep show was off the chain. I gave Dakota an elbow poke to point at the bride and groom zombie couple. I laughed at her when she jumped three feet into the air from me touching her.

“Look!”  I pointed.

“What the….?” She punched me in the arm as I pointed to the groom zombie with the oozing brain matter running down his face.

“Pay up.” I winked. Dakota grimaced at the grotesque creature as the brain matter seemed to swell and ooze from his head. He blew her a kiss and a little spittle of brain shot all over her. Ever the good sport, Dakota ran into the parade to stand next to him and landed a solid smooch on the seeping zombie. Her face smeared with zombie goo. With her thumb and pinkie fingers extended, she pantomimed talking into the phone. She mouthed the words, “Call Me.” to the smooching ghoul. I stood there shaking my head as she gave him one of her business cards to the bar. What? Now she wanted to sleep with dead guys? There were just some things I didn’t want to know about my little sister.  Ludovic just laughed at her drunkiness.

As she was escorted out of the parade route by a zombie police officer, she winked at him as he pointed his baton at her. There was a lot of sexual innenudo going on in this spook park tonight. Always such a flirt!

“I guess they really meant it when they said ’til death do us part.” I said to her as I wiped the brain splatters off her. Scott pointed at a Zombie couple with a zombie baby. Instead of baby feeding from her breast, the baby was eating her breast.  I quickly grabbed my camera for a ghoulish family portrait to capture the moment. They even stopped and smiled at me for the occasion. This was great fun. Gross, but fun. My mind flooded with ideas for the game and what types of images, sounds, and smells could be used to frightened people.

The freak show was almost over when I took another snapshot. The caboose zombie was, of course, a walking corpse eating a human arm as though it was a turkey leg. Pure cliché climax.

After the gruesome shuffle had passed us, Dakota decided it was ride time. “Come on guys, let’s go get in line, I want to get in the front seat of that coaster.” Dakota pulled us toward the ride.

“Oh… no thanks, I stammered, I am seriously not getting on that thing. You go ahead, I’ll wait for you here.”  She rolled her eyes at me.
“Come on, are you chicken?” goaded Scott.

“As a matter of fact, I am an organic barnyard, free range, Grade A hen if you don’t mind and I’m not getting on that thing.” I stammered back at them.
I looked at my watch, I had about an hour before meeting Roxas in the back of the park. “Sorry gang – I’m gonna split. Dakota, I’m gonna go ahead and start my way to the back of the park. I don’t want to be late. I would rather be there early. Okay if I call you later and we can meet in over by the Insane Asylum?”

Dakota put her hand on my arm and squeezed. “Hey sweetie, why don’t you go freshen up in the ladies room and get you a bottle of water or something. You look like the reaper has come to take you away.  You need to relax – he loves you and you love him. Just remember that. Don’t Worry!!”  She hugged me and even with that kind reassurance, there was this overwhelming feeling growing deeper in the pit of my stomach. My life was seriously about to change and I hoped it was for the better.