The Fun House
By Michael Cuddy
I can’t tell you my name or where I’m from. I can’t tell you much of anything for that matter. What I can tell you is what happened,
and then you’ll know why I’m so scared. But you must read this, so that it never, ever happens to you.
We were on vacation in New England , my family and I. My two younger brothers decided to take a walk down a dreary street that
morning and I tagged along. We were taking the long road down to meet our parents. The last remnants of auburn foliage still clung
despairingly to the trees which lined the winding road in thick forests. A thin blanket of freshly fallen snow covered the ground and
invisible eddies of air picked up the white powder and flung it in our faces as we walked. Soon, one could be sure, the icy grip of
winter would hold full sway over this part of the world, but for now, nature teetered on the brink of the precipice that divided autumn
and its colder brother.
I remember distinctly the lack of noise that day. One would surely expect raucous banter on such a crisp, clean morning as this. Alas,
no birds sang, nor creatures stirred and, in retrospect, I admit this should have been our first warning that something was terribly
wrong. Sadly, naïveté is eternally damning.
Eventually, we did hear a noise, a sort of huffing and puffing that was the unmistakable wheeze of a car’s engine. From around a slight
bend in the road flew a blue car. Don’t ask me the make or model; I wouldn’t be able to tell you. My gaze was transfixed not on the
vehicle, but on its operator. The memory of the stare of that old woman still sends shivers down my spine; looking into her eyes, even
from behind the protective barrier of the windshield, was like peering into the deepest depths of hell.
The car slowed to a halt across from us on the other side of the road. Its driver, the little old lady with snow-white glistening hair,
whose appearance should have been quite nondescript except for the feeling of dread welling in my gut, got out of the car and smiled
at us.
“Boys,” she cackled in a sickeningly sweet, grandmotherly voice. “Help an old lady out, will you?”
My youngest brother, whom I shall refer to as John, ever the Good Samaritan, immediately saw to the lady’s problem. “I was
delivering pies to the funhouse down the road a piece, you see. I do it every Sunday. My pies are a big hit in this neck of the woods.
Darned if I forgot to drop off these few packages, though. It seems you boys are well on your way there, though, so would you mind
detouring for a bit and dropping these off for an old lady?”
“Of course not, ma’am,” John quickly replied, taking a large package wrapped in brown paper from the woman. Why couldn’t he have
stopped to consider how strange all of this was? He might still be alive.
The old woman got in the car and sped off without saying anything further. “Don’t you think that was a little weird?” I asked John.
“Maybe she was just senile,” my other brother, who I’ll call Frank, suggested.
“Perhaps…”
Since we were supposed to meet our parents at the other end of this out-of-the-way path, we trekked along with the package. Soon, to
our surprise, we came upon a decrepit, failing building, seemingly an old warehouse, situated right along the road, that looked
awkwardly out of place in the clean New England woods. The ominous ruins marred the peaceful serenity of the scenery and not for
the first time that day, I felt queasy with unease.
“Are those people?” Frank asked, sounding a trifle bewildered.
“Where?” I asked. It was preposterous that there could be people in that building. Surely, this place hadn’t been suitable for life in
many, many years. However, to my astonishment, there were people in there. I could see them through the windows as we approached
the place. They seemed to be laughing and having a grand time. As we neared the building, one of the folks inside happened to glance
out and catch sight of us. Abruptly, the festivities therein came to a halt and the people disappeared from view.
John must have been feeling the same sense of unease that I’d felt, because he no longer seemed set on delivering the old lady’s
package. Somehow, though, Frank spotted a sign hanging above the building’s side entrance. It was yellow with faded blue lettering, and
hand-painted. The bracket that mounted it to the side of the building was nearly rusted through and hanging at an awkward angle. I
could just barely make it out as we neared: The Fun House, and beneath that, in the same scrawling script, You’ll die laughing!
While the latter inscription was obviously meant to be lighthearted, it nonetheless made my gorge rise. This had to be the place the old
lady had meant, and there were people inside, but I still felt so bad about the whole thing. John seemed to be recovering from his
fleeting sense of unease, glad now that he had found the delivery site and could be rid of his burden, thus completing his good-deed-for-
the-day.
John and Frank forged ahead and rapped on the door below the sign. The door slowly and portentously creaked open and light shone
in on a dusty, dark, abandoned foyer, devoid of any signs of life.
“Maybe we should just leave these packages and be done with it,” I suggested, nervously. Frank and John nodded their agreement and
the latter dropped his load to the ground where he stood.
As we turned to leave, I perceived something in my periphery; a shadow darted across my line of sight that I could have sworn looked
just like our father. I opened my mouth to mention this to my brothers, but they beat me to it. “Was that dad?” they asked in tandem.
I couldn’t have been sure of anything then, for the situation had spiraled to near insanity, with us perusing a long-forgotten warehouse-
turned-funhouse in the middle of nowhere. But I could have sworn that that was my father. And I would have been right. Was my
father.
We entered the place, treading carefully over rotting floorboards, and followed a dimly lit corridor to the atrium of the place. As we
approached the center of the funhouse, we could distinctly discern calliope music; it sounded like a carnival! Indeed, the corridor
culminated in an arena much like you’d expect to see under the big top, complete with a high wire and stage and rows upon rows of
seats. But the entire place was empty and dark.
“Maybe we didn’t see anything,” Frank opined in a high-pitched voice.
“Shh!” John hushed, “look over there!” He was pointing to a row in the stands across the arena where a man with a green button-down
shirt and khakis was walking casually. Keys jingled in his hand as he strolled down the aisle and toward another corridor. He voiced
something that sounded like just going to go warm up the car, honey, and a second, feminine voice muttered back from the depths of
the shadows, okay, darling.
“Maybe we should go ask that guy if he saw dad,” John said.
“John, I really don’t think dad’s in here. Why would he be? They must be miles from here still, waiting to meet us.”
“Yeah, where were they going, anyway?” Frank asked.
“I don’t know, they said something about trying this pie. Supposed to be famous or something…” Realization dawned on us then, and
we sprinted toward the man in the green shirt.
“Excuse me, sir!” I yelled out as we approached the man, but he gave no indication that he’d heard us except to pick up his pace. He
led us to a lift that was in surprisingly good shape. The doors closed before we could reach him and we watched as the old mechanical
arrow spun around and stopped, pointing at the number 9. The lift returned to the lower level and we clambered in and sailed up to
the ninth floor.
There was nothing up here on the ninth floor but a bunch of storage closets and more dark, abandoned hallways, even more grim than
the ones below. A single sodium lamp cast an ethereal glow over the place, lending to the horror of the scene.
I think we were all beginning to panic by then, and John seethed, “where are all those people we saw? They can’t have just
disappeared!” He was losing it, I could tell, but there was nothing I could do to stop him. He ran down one of the dark corridors,
yelling for the people we’d seen earlier to come out and stop hiding.
John’s yells abruptly terminated with a painful yelp and moan. Heavy breathing ensued from the dark corridor, but I could no longer
see John for the life of me. Instead, there was a new, bigger shadow that materialized from the gloom: the man in the green shirt.
Frank and I stood rooted where we were long enough to recognize the smears of fresh blood over green-shirt’s lips and bolted for the
lift.
We managed to get the doors shut just before the psychopath reached us, and frantically huffed and puffed in terror as we were
lowered to the bottom floor. I was sure that my brother was dead, killed by that crazyman upstairs. Frank’s face was deathly pale and
his eyes were glassy. I was afraid he might faint. I prodded him on nonetheless.
When we returned to the arena, we saw that a single seat in the audience was occupied. It was our father.
“Dad!” I screamed, the terror of this whole mess gushing out in my shriek. Frank ran over to him and tried to pry him away from his
chair, but dad wouldn’t budge. In the dim recesses of my mind, I vaguely wondered where my mother was.
Dad turned his head slowly to look at Frank as the latter tugged on the former’s sleeve. He smiled, a wide, insane grin, and Frank
began to laugh hysterically. He bawled with raucous laughter and tears streamed from his eyes, but they were not tears of joy. There
was no emotion on his face but pure terror. My father reached out and ripped off one of Frank’s ears, stuffed it in his mouth and
began to chew. Frank continued laughing the whole time. That laugh will haunt me the rest of my life.
It was then that I realized that my father was dead. I could see the decay in his face, smell the fetid, putrefied air all around him, and I
nearly collapsed. I turned instinctively to run; run as far away from this place as I could and never look back. Frank’s laughter was
stifled with a gurgling gasp, but I could not bear to turn back and see what had befallen my younger brother.
Before I could escape The Fun House (you’ll die laughing!), I was stopped dead in my tracks by green-shirt man. I spun around to try
another corridor through the arena, when I saw to my utter horror that the audience was back. The people we’d seen earlier through
the windows were all here now, hundreds of them, and they all were looking at me through vacant, lifeless eyes. I saw the old woman,
the pie lady; I saw my mother; and (oh, God!) my little brother, too, fresh off of his rendezvous with a devilish death up on the ninth
floor.
I turned back to green-shirt man, who was smiling that insane smile I’d seen my father wear, and I feigned obeisance. I suppose that
this confused green-shirt man momentarily, for he simply stopped in his tracks and looked at me whimpering before him. As he lunged
toward me, I sidestepped and stuck out my leg, tripping him. He (or it, I guess I should say), toppled forward and landed face-first on
the floor. I wasted no time in jumping to my feet and dashing for the door I had come in through when my brothers were still alive.
When I had gotten free, I ran for miles. All that I can recall of this was running. The ground beneath me was a blur as I raced above it,
and I ran until I was out of breath and then ran even faster. That is the last thing I remember of that day.
I tell you this to warn you, and now you can see why I can’t give you any more information than I already have. The dead somehow
need us, the living. They draw power from our act of dying and feast on that in some morbid way. They have agents everywhere, too,
always searching for souls to steal. Take the old pie lady, for instance. Please, watch out for them, they’re here. And above all else, stay
away from the Fun House.