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This is a piece I wrote for the Pumpkin Masquerade over in [livejournal.com profile] pulped_fictions. We were unmasked today so I'm free to share it here. Thank you to ALL of my betas - you were all amazing and you know who you are! *blows kisses* I hope the rest of you like it!

Title: Welcome to My Nightmare
Rating & Warnings: Rated PG I suppose. Mild language, blood and some gore.
Summary: Three friends go to a haunted house, expecting a good time and cheap thrills. What they get is a nightmare come to life.
Prompts Used: Haunted House, Attack of the Killer Whatever


"All right, this place is really busy tonight! Look at all the cars!" Jon pulled into the parking lot and grinned at his friends. The attraction's bright neon sign advertised, “House of Morituri: Where Nightmares Come to Life. Open Every Friday & Saturday in October!"

"I told you this was the place to be this week! The week before Halloween, every haunted house, haunted mansion, haunted hospital, you name it, is packed!' He picked a parking space and stopped the truck, sliding his arm around Lauren. "Come on baby, don't be scared. It's just for fun, cheap thrills." He leaned closer, his mouth brushing her ear as he whispered, "Getting scared is great foreplay."

Lauren laughed as she elbowed him. "Get away from me, you pervert." Her smile belied her harsh words; she was crazy about Jon, had been from the first time they met. "I just don't like being scared, that's all. This isn't my idea of a good time. Why can't we go to a movie instead?" She looked up at Jon, her eyes pleading with him. Jon sighed and looked over her head to gauge Jenna's reaction. He knew his sister wasn't thrilled about her best friend's relationship with her brother but she'd never put Lauren through something she didn't think Lauren could handle.

"Well, Sis, what say you? Are we going to go in here and get the hell scared out of us or are we going to watch Real Steel?"

Jenna grinned and rolled her eyes. "Come on, Lauren, you're such a pussy. This is going to be great. You'll see. When it's all over and you've had the time of your life, you can thank us by taking us out for a beer." She popped her door open and slid to the ground, slamming the door shut behind her. She walked around and opened Jon's door, holding it open. "Come on, let's go before they decide they've let enough people in for the night."

Jon slid out from behind the wheel, bumping Jenna out of his way as he turned to hold his hand out for Lauren. Lauren sat unmoving, her eyes glistening as she started at the haunted house. Now that the door was open, she could hear the sounds of a chainsaw running, hear the horrified screams coming from those trapped within the walls.

Jon looked at Lauren, then turned to take Jenna by the arm, guiding her a few yards from the truck. "Why didn't you tell me she had such a fear of haunted houses? She's white as a sheet!"

Jenna just grinned and started to walk away. "That's your problem, lover boy. You've got her here, you deal with it. I'm going on inside." She looked back and said, "Hey, seriously, she'll be fine once she gets inside. Just hold her hand and don't let go. You'll be golden." She waggled her hands at Jon and said in a mocking ghostly voice, "See you on the other side!"

Jon rolled his eyes and walked back to the truck. Lauren hadn't moved a muscle; she was still staring at the haunted house, her eyes wide and her breathing shallow. He climbed inside and shut the door behind him, blocking out the screams and the sounds of the chainsaw. "Honey, look at me."

Lauren didn't respond so he took her chin in his hand and forced her to look away from the house. "Lauren! Honey, snap out of it! Look, it's ok. We don't have to go inside, ok? I'll go get Jenna and we can go to the movies instead. It's fine." He smiled and kissed her softly. "I didn't know you were so scared of these things or I would never have brought you here. Jenna-"

Lauren shook her head and tried to smile. "No, it's ok. You're right - these things are just for fun anyway. We'll go through it and then we'll go get those beers, like Jenna said." She took Jon's hand and squeezed it. "Really, it'll be fine."

Unconvinced, Jon stayed in his seat. "You're still shaking. I mean it, we don't have to do this." Lauren opened the passenger door and slid to the ground. She shut the door and grinned at Jon through the window before walking around to his side of the truck. "Come on, Jon, I'm out now. Let's just go do this before it gets any later. Then we can ditch Jenna and go test that foreplay theory of yours."

Jon laughed, his dimples showing as he got out of the truck and locked the door. He caught Lauren around the waist, pulling her body tight against his as he said, "It's not a theory, baby, it's a proven fact. Pulse pounding, heart racing, chest heaving... what's that if not a recipe for hot sex?" Lauren nodded and wrinkled her nose at Jon. "We'll see, won't we?" She gave him a quick kiss and took his hand, intertwining her fingers with his as they walked toward the house.

With every step they took, Lauren shook a little more but she thought she was doing a good job keeping her fear hidden from Jon. When they got through with this, she really was going to ditch Jenna, damn her. She couldn't believe her "best" friend would do this to her, whether she was pissed about Lauren dating Jon or not.

Lauren was so lost in thought that she didn't notice Jon had already paid their entrance fee and was waiting on her. He put his hands on either side of her neck and looked her in the eye. "Are you sure you're up for this?" Lauren gave a small smile and nodded as she put her hands on top of Jon's. "I'm sure." As they walked inside, Lauren looked over her shoulder and fervently prayed that she was telling the truth.

* * * * *


Jenna walked slowly through the halls of the haunted house by herself, checking over her shoulder every so often, hoping that Jon and Lauren would catch up to her. She felt bad about giving Jon such grief about Lauren, and about being so harsh with Lauren herself. She sighed and rubbed her hands over her eyes. "There's no excuse for acting like that," she thought to herself. "Just because Jon and Lauren have hit if off is no excuse to be such a bitch, Jenna." She turned around and began to walk back the way she'd come. "I'll find them and apologize. We can leave and go get those beers, maybe catch a show or something." She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and tried to text Lauren and Jon but, oddly enough, she didn't have service. She shook her head and thought, "Must be in a dead zone. Haha, get it? Dead zone. I crack me up."

As she walked, it struck Jenna that the animatronic "horrors" were pretty lame. As they moved and shrieked, she could actually hear the gears turning and was that...? Yep, some of the lights weren't functioning right. She shook her head, chuckling softly to herself. At least she wouldn't have to worry about the place being too scary for Lauren. This place was a joke.

Looking around, Jenna realized that she was lost. She didn't recognize any of the "horrors" here and she damn sure didn't remember this intersection in the hallways. She turned and looked back, surprised to see a man standing a few yards away from her. Jenna chuckled as she realized that he was made up as Jason Voorhees. Obviously, this was no animatronic; she'd just walked down the hallway and there'd been nothing there before. It couldn't hurt to try to talk to him, see if he could point her to the exit.

She smiled and walked a few steps closer to "Jason". "Um, excuse me. I know it's your job to scare me and everything but I just got an urgent text and I need to get out of here." She held up her cell phone so he could see it. "Can you point me to the exit? I know these places have hidden doors and things all over. I'd really appreciate it."

Jason tilted his head to one side and raised his machete slightly but made no other movements. Jenna rolled her eyes and walked closer. "Okay, very good. You're in character and I don't want you to break that. Can you just nod in the right direction? Maybe point with your machete? I won't tell anyone, I promise."

Jason lifted his machete and walked slowly toward Jenna, his pace never wavering, his eyes seemingly boring into hers. As he drew closer, Jenna stopped smiling, her face turning pale. "Hey, what's wrong with you? You're carrying this a little far, aren't you?" She began to back away but Jason had a much larger stride and was able to catch her easily. He buried the blade of his machete in Jenna's stomach, lifting her with the force of his strike and embedding the tip of the machete in the wall behind Jenna.

Jenna stared down at her stomach, her eyes fixed on the handle of the machete and the large hand that still held it, held her pinned against the wall. Blood flowed from the wound, dripping onto the floor beneath her. She looked up at Jason, her eyes full of confusion and pain, her mind unable to process what had just happened. "But.... you're not real," she whispered. "You don't exist."

Jason pulled the machete free from the wall and from Jenna's body. Jenna clasped her hands over her stomach as she fell to the floor, trying desperately to stem the flow of blood. She looked up at Jason and began to claw her way along the floor, trying to pull herself upright so she could run away. Jason watched her for a few moments, then swung his machete, slicing cleanly through Jenna's neck. Her head spiraled across the floor, coming to a rest a few feet from her body.

As Jason grasped Jenna's head in one hand, her ankle in the other, Jenna's blood-spattered cell phone began to flash, signaling an incoming text.

* * * * *


"Dammit," Jon cursed in frustration as he jammed his cell phone back into his pocket. "I can't get a text through to Jenna to let her know we're just now going in." He ran his hand through his hair and shrugged. "I guess she'll just have to wait at the truck for us, huh?" He squeezed Lauren's hand and smiled down at her. Lauren smiled back.
Now that she was inside the haunted house, her insides seemed to have turned to a quivering mass of nerves. Every sound, every light flashing made her jump. Jon pulled her closer to him, holding her against his side as he said, "Are you sure about this? I can feel you shaking." Lauren nodded and said, "I'm sure. Let's get a move on, shall we? We still have some theory testing to do later." She winked at Jon and wrapped her arm around his waist, sticking her hand in his back pocket.

They made their way through the halls and, as each horror showed itself, Lauren began to relax and even enjoy herself. "This isn't so bad," she whispered to Jon. "These things are hardly scary at all."

The words had barely left her mouth when she slipped, landing hard on the floor. "Ouch! What was that?"

Jon crouched next to her as she scrambled to her knees. "Baby, are you ok? What happened?" He took her hands and pulled her to her feet. "I'm not sure," she said as she checked herself over for injuries. "I slipped in some-" Her words lodged in her throat as she looked down, seeing that she'd slipped in what looked like a smear of fresh blood on the floor. "Jon, is that what I think it is?" She ran her hands over the back of her thighs, her hands coming back stained red. Jon knelt and touched the tip of one finger to the stain on the floor, his eyes growing wide.

A flashing light in the corner drew Jon's attention. He stood and held his hand out to Lauren. "Stay here, baby. Let me check this out." He walked to the corner, realizing that the smear of blood led straight to the wall and then stopped cold. He knelt at the corner and picked up the source of the light. His eyes widened in shock as he realized he was holding Jenna's cell phone. He ran his thumb across the face, wiping the smear of blood off the screen.

"Lauren, we have to get out of here! Right now!" He stood and turned back to Lauren and saw her face a mask of terror, her eyes wide as she pointed at something behind him. He looked over his shoulder, catching sight of a creature that made his blood run cold in fear. Its jaws gaped wide, unearthly growls emanating from its throat. The creature shambled toward Jon, its bony hands reaching out to him, its body mostly deteriorating, rotten flesh barely clinging to the bones beneath.

"Lauren, run!" Jon yelled as he grappled with the creature, its almost skeletal appearance belying its strength. Lauren started to run, then stopped, hesitant to leave Jon behind. As she watched, Jon slipped in the blood smear on the floor and went down hard, the creature falling on him and biting into the flesh of his neck and shoulder. Jon screamed as the flesh tore from his body, leaving a gaping wound. Lauren stared in horror, transfixed, as the creature kept biting, tearing Jon's flesh from his bones. As Jon fell silent and his movements ceased, Lauren screamed his name.

The creature turned its head toward her, its eyes dead, soulless pits, its mouth dripping blood, Jon's blood. Lauren screamed again and ran for her life, constantly looking over her shoulder as she scrambled desperately through the hallways, searching for the way out. Tears streamed down her face as she ran into horror after horror, unable to find the exit.

Finally she found a door that wasn't locked. She turned the handle and found that the door opened into a small room lit only by the glare of the neon sign outside. Hearing footsteps coming her direction, she ducked inside and quietly shut the door. Lauren looked around at the room, searching desperately for a place to hide. The room was made up as a child's bedroom; a small chest of drawers, a child-sized bed, and a rocking chair were the largest items in the room. A life-size clown doll sat in the rocking chair, his face painted cheerfully bright. Lauren considered her options and slid under the bed, making sure to pull her arms and legs close to her body so they couldn't be seen from the doorway. Lauren held her hands tightly over her mouth to muffle her sobs. She couldn't believe that Jon was dead, even having seen it happen with her own eyes. What was that creature?! It looked like a zombie but those weren't real. Tears of anguish and terror wracked her body.

Heavy footsteps came to a halt outside the room where Lauren was hiding. She held her breath and clasped her hands tighter over her mouth as the door swung open, revealing large black boots in the doorway. Several long minutes passed before the door swung closed again. Lauren strained to listen as the heavy footsteps retreated, moving down the hall and away from her hiding place. Lauren forced herself to remain still and quiet for as long as she could stand it, fearing that whoever it was would return and catch her if she tried to run too soon.

Lauren slid slowly toward the edge of the bed, peeking out to make sure that the room was still clear. She looked the room over and gave a small sigh of thanks that it appeared safe. She rolled onto her stomach and had just begun to crawl out from under the bed when something grabbed her ankle and roughly pulled her out from under the bed.

She looked up into the face of a nightmare come to life. The clown that had been sitting in the rocking chair knelt on the floor with her ankle held tightly in one hand, a razor-sharp knife in the other. Gone was the cheerful smiling makeup. In its place, the clown's face was a terrifying mask, large sharp teeth gleaming in a mouth that was covered in blood. Lauren screamed and threw her hands out to ward off the blow as the clown sent the knife plunging toward her chest, but it was no use. The blade slid into her chest, piercing her heart and silencing her screams.

* * * * *


As the sun rose the next morning, the haunted house's neon sign went dark and a group of six men stepped outside. One of the men carried a large bucket, which he set on the ground as he turned to face the others. "All right boys, we had a very successful night but now we have to get this lot clear in time for opening tonight. Everyone grab a handful of keys and get started trying to match them to their vehicles." He watched with a smile as the others scrambled to do as he bade before turning to look at the house. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a large wad of money. He thumbed through it as he said, "You take care of me, and I'll take care of you."
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