Much to the surprise of many, I have not always been into horror or getting scared. When reflecting upon my life, there are moments where I can see where my intrigue could have potentially stemmed from. From watching Kill Bill at the ripe age of 5 (don’t worry, my father had me cover my eyes for the bloody parts) to my borderline goth phase in middle school, my life was riddled with potential catalysts of horror. However, I trace my Horrific Origin to Halloween of 2012.

I was 14 and had just started high school. Unsure of where I fell into the world, I decided to take Introduction to Theatre. While it did not convince me to stick with high school theatre, I did make a delightful friend in the class. When Halloween came around, she invited me to go trick-or-treating with her family. I agreed to go with them since it sounded fun. What was not mentioned was that we were going to also visit a local home haunt.

I arrived at her house on Halloween night dressed in some basic costume, blissfully unaware of what the future had in store for me. As we were setting a game plan for the evening (obviously hitting the full-sized candy bar houses first), she casually mentioned hitting this haunted maze. Now, 14-year-old me was quite the eccentric, scaredy-cat of even the most mundane of things.

When I was even younger, I had once matter-of-factly declined going on go-carts because I “had been on Splash Mountain before, and that was too scary.” Yeah, past me, Splash Mountain and go-carts are totally related. Anyways, when my friend told me about the haunted maze, I hesitated in responding. As if noticing my slight hesitation, my friend reassured me with saying that little kids went through it and were COMPLETELY FINE. I agreed to go with her and mentally started preparing for the unknown.

Any preparations I mentally made did not prepare me for my first haunt experience ever. After hitting a few houses for candy, we made our way to the front of The Haunted Shack. The driveway of a typical suburban home had been turned into a maze that seemed to rival those seen at Knott’s Scary Farm. The dilapidated façade resembling a shack loomed in front of me as my anxiety began to rise from the depths of my stomach. The already electric air seemed to be further charged with the screams coming from within the maze.

At this point in time, I will admit that I was 100% regretting my decision to even go trick-or-treating with my friend. I was not a fan of horror or getting scared and was terrified of the unknown hidden behind the creaky door. We filed in line, and I frantically tried to think of any excuse to avoid my immediate future. Every protest was met with a “if little kids can do it, you can do it” response from my friend. 10 minutes and 15 excuses later, we found ourselves next in line to go inside this little house of horrors. Before I could even think of one final reason why I should not go through the maze, we were escorted right through the shack’s door and straight into the heart of the maze.

I will be completely honest; I do not remember much from the maze. I pretty much blocked out most of it from my memory. I remember colorful rooms with disorienting turns, and people popping out from hidden corners. My memory seems to pick back up as soon I exited that maze. Tears formed in my eyes as I tried to regain any semblance of composure. My friend anxiously grilled me on if I enjoyed it as I struggled to calm my racing heart. I quietly mumbled that it was okay and silently vowed to myself that I would never set foot in a haunted house again.

Fast forward three years to October of 2015. I was 17 years old, and the guy I had a huge crush on invited me to go with him to Knott’s Scary Farm. The silent vow I made to myself was all but forgotten as I agonized over keeping my cool over the invite. I excitedly accepted without even realizing the implications behind my decision. The whole night went by without any incident; however, I did spend most of the time with my head burrowed in my crush’s arm. That night, I came to the halting conclusion that maybe I would enjoy scaring people instead of getting scared myself.

Horrific Origin

I decided to look up local haunted houses to see if any were holding auditions and stumbled upon this one website that had an open call. In my excitement to apply, I completely did not pay any attention to the name of the attraction. After a brief interview, I was invited to haunt with the group and quickly scheduled my orientation. At this point, the name of the haunt had been mentioned multiple times to me; however, I failed to realize that this Haunted Shack was the same as the one that had traumatized me 3 years prior in my Horrific Origin.

Fast forward to orientation day. I found myself standing in front of the exact haunted shack façade that had traumatized me all those years ago. I quickly double checked the address I was sent, as I started to remember that experience and the memories that came with it. For once, my directional skills did not betray me, and I was exactly where I needed to be.

That fateful day ended up completely turning my world up on its head. I fell quickly in love with scaring people and developed an itch for all things horror. I had met individuals who loved all things spooky, and we clicked faster than a couple in any romantic comedy. That next year, I volunteered for Midsummer Scream and finally felt like I had found my people. I had found my place in the world and was welcomed with open arms.

Now, I have evolved into someone who embraces their niche interests. I have come to discover that I actually enjoyed getting scared and am constantly wanting to push the limits of my fear. I have been extremely lucky to make amazing friends through this community and find a world I truly belong in. For all that, I am grateful to the Haunted Shack for being my Horrific Origin.

As for next week’s Halloween edition of our Horrific Origin series, Miranda shares what makes the Halloween season forever worthwhile. See you then!

Horrific Origin – My Full Circle Of Fear & Fate


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About the Author

Linnea Swanson enjoys writing about things that scare her. When not writing, she enjoys reading and screaming into the void.
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