Students often ask, “How do I know if I really know Kung Fu?”
My answer: visit a haunted house.
One October, my church youth group went to the Louisiana State Fair. My girlfriend, Leslie and I walked the entire park arm-in-arm, intoxicated with the alluring aroma of funnel cakes, corndogs, and cotton candy. We rode every ride and saved the haunted house for nightfall.
As Michael Jackson’s Thriller played over the loud speaker, we stood in line with a hundred other people and anxiously waited to step through the web-covered door into the dark monster-filled house. Boards covered the windows and the full moon cast eerie shadows across the roof. I caught a glimpse of a gargoyle peering down at us from the second-story balcony.
Leslie squeezed my hand. “Promise you won’t let go of me,” she said.
“You’re safe with me,” I bragged.
Vincent Prices’ diabolical laughter from Thriller seemed to mock me as we advanced in line.
I never did like that song.
As we neared the entrance, I grew a bit nervous. Every time the front door opened, I could hear the wicked buzz of chainsaws and the victims’ screams coming from inside the house.
Leslie hugged my arm. Her body trembled. What a rush. We were standing at the edge of a nightmare, ready to cross the river Styx. With all the bravado I could muster, I handed Freddy Kruger our tickets. He pointed to the darkness.
My heart pounding, we ducked under the webs and stepped inside. Total blackness. Blindly, we shuffled forward, the floor creaking beneath our feet. Anguished moans and hideous laughter echoed throughout the house.
Suddenly, a candle lit the entryway. It’s flamed floated in mid-air.
As my eyes adjusted, I could see the silhouette of a ghost woman behind it. She instructed us to follow her. With Leslie practically on my back, we followed ghost woman down a narrow hallway and squeezed into a tiny room with fifteen other people. The smell of sweat and fear was thick.
“You’re about to step into hell,” Ghost-woman said. “Follow my commands and you survive.” Her candle went out. Everything went instantly black.
Something pounded on the wall next to me. Leslie screamed and dug her fingernails into my arm. The haunting kill, kill, kill, sound effect that’s on Friday the 13th started playing. Then, strobe lights flashed and the painted images of demons on the walls began to dance. The floor shook. Devils shrieked. Wolves howled. More chain saws buzzed in the distance.
Instinctively, my hands curled to fists.
“Bellazar, the vampire demon is deeply disturbed,” Ghost Woman’s voice cried. “One of you must die to appease him.”
A man behind me said, “Oh, hell no.”
Suddenly, two arms grabbed my shoulders and began to slide around my neck. I didn’t think; just reacted.
I pulled free from Leslie and drove two elbows into the attacker’s stomach. I heard “umph”, and felt his hot breath on my neck.
I clutched his elbow with one hand, his shoulder with the other, and flipped him over my back. A loud crash, something ripped. My attacker howled and cursed. I had no idea vampires knew so many curse words.
Ghost-lady demanded to know what was going on as she tried to relight her candle.
My attacker paused long enough in his profanity marathon to scream, “Someone tried to kill me,” and then he continued with his demonic vocabulary.
I grabbed Leslie, pulled her close, and pushed toward the exit but she screamed and fought me away. I had grabbed the wrong girl. In absolute darkness, I spun around and groped for Leslie but the effort was futile. I was caught in a tangle of bodies as everyone searched for the exit.
Women screamed. Men shouted. The noise level was deafening.
Then the lights exploded on and everyone froze—until they saw, whom I assumed was Bellazar, the vampire demon. He was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. He had a black curtain wrapped around his ankle.
When I had flipped him, his foot apparently had snagged one of the curtains the staff had hung from the ceiling to help black out the room. Now it draped around his body absorbing the blood.
Whether Bellazar’s blood was fake or real, no one cared. A woman cried, “Oh, Lord in heaven!” and then everyone rushed the exit.
Outside, everyone scattered. Sirens blared. Security rushed into the house. Michael Jackson had stopped singing.
I bolted. I wanted as much distance between Bellazar and me as possible. I met up with my youth group at the entrance gate.
Leslie was there. She wasn’t happy.
Neither was anyone else. I learned that park officials had shut the house down and poor Bellazar had to receive minor medical attention. Luckily, no one knew who was responsible.
We boarded the church bus and headed home.
Leslie refused to speak to me except for saying she wanted to break up.
I didn’t get it. I’d saved us from Bellazar. What was her problem?
I decided it was the allure of chicks to vampires. Girls always chose the vampire.
But the real the moral to this tale? If you want to know if you’re learning kung fu, see how you react when you’re frightened.
No, I don’t condone trashing haunted houses. I suggest not going in the first place. Beating up cursing demons, however, I’m OK with.