Yesssss…something crazy finally happened to me. This is the most ridiculous thing to ever occur in my life. Weirder than two friends coming out to me, weirder than having a huge crush on my cousin when I was 8, weirder than bringing a dead bird to class in 2nd grade…they all pale in comparison. The bird thing is a close second, but really they can’t compare because this was straight out of a chainsaw slasher movie. I’m not even sure if those two horror genres are allowed to be in films together, but that’s how scary this was. OK, enough build-up. Grab some popcorn and a friend’s hand (or the hand of someone you’re interested in; more power to you) and get ready.
My office did an event one Saturday and needed a HUGE tent for it, but we had no budget to rent one. We called every contact we had on Thursday and had a woman at the WWII museum call us back and say they had a 30x60 tent we could use. The museum is about 40 minutes away, but it was the only option we had, so we were pretty excited about it. Once we made the trip to the museum, a woman came out and said, “Yeah, John’s going to come and talk to you about the tent. There’s a slight issue with it.” The issue? It was destroyed A YEAR AGO in a huge storm. How badly was it destroyed? Well, we had the lovely John to tell us that bit of news. The top probably had huge tears in it, but for some reason he didn’t know for sure. He DID know, however, that many of the supporting poles were broken. He also knew that even if they weren’t, there is no way our vehicles would have been able to fit the poles. So…they couldn’t inform us of any of this before we came all the way out to the middle of nowhere??? This was just pissing us off at this point, by the way. The chainsaw-slasher part is still to come. John asked us if we want to see the tent anyway, just in case it’s still usable somehow. Well, we DID drive THREE vehicles FORTY minutes out of our way. Contrary to what John may think, we do not actually take time out of our incredibly busy schedules to take three vehicles just to visit the WWII museum on a whim. So, yeah, we would like to see the tent. So, he told us to follow him. We crossed the street and drove into what was essentially a field with an overgrown gravel path…and a barn in the middle of the field. This barn is something out of “Deliverance.” Also, it was raining; as if this setting wasn’t creepy enough. So John let us all into this barn thing, and we walked into a semi-lit, fairly-empty garage area with Russian words spray-painted all over the walls and a random filing cabinet or two. One of the interns informs us that he’s fairly certain one of the sections of Russian graffiti says “murder.” Garbage and random junk littered the floor, which I’m sure also houses about a billion types of viral infection. But what we did NOT see is anything that could pass as a tent. So John escorted us to another room, which looked like it could be the basement of a creepy house where people do drugs and make pornos. That doesn’t happen in this room, though. Nope, this room gave subtle hints that the barn had been broken into and used as a party barn by teenagers. These subtle hints included, but were not limited to, the fifteen-odd empty handles of vodka, the two doors that had been lain out as beer pong tables, the fifty empty red Solo cups and the hundred or so Natty Light cans strewn on the floor, the counter, the sofa, and the stained and ratty carpet. Combine this with the low ceiling, the flickering fluorescent lighting and the feeling that any second I would find the pentagram and skulls where these kids had done animal sacrifices and I was just a little creeped out when John shut off the lights and I WAS STILL IN THE ROOM. Two other interns were just in front of me, and with no small amount of shame do I relate to you that in a life-threatening situation, there would be no gallantry from this girl. No, I shrieked and clawed the backs of the guys in front of me to make sure I was no longer the last person in the room. Huh-uh, I’ve seen scary movies; I know that the person in the back and the person in the front always get it. And the virgin is always the first to go, so DOUBLE WHAMMY. So, John moved a filing cabinet from in front of a different door and left us all in the creepy party-garage/date-rape house/E-is-for-ecstasy room. Then my boss (who is only two years older than me so we get along really well) saw the stairs leading up to a second level, and he goes, “I’m going to go check it out!” Of course, this is where in a REAL scary movie he would have been killed off because once you split up you are just begging for the ax-murderer with half a face and some serious mommy issues to come find you and peel off your epidermis in its entirety to complete his zoot-suit-o’-skin (femur-cane sold separately).
But the real version is infinitely creepier and potentially really sad too. He came back downstairs where we were all still waiting for John and said, “Umm, it’s really weird up there.” While this was not a shocker to any of us, we asked him to explain. Apparently the upstairs area was split into a bunch of teeny TEENY rooms with a bed and a bathroom each, and the words “Know why you live” were written on the staircase. First thought: we’re definitely going to be killed. Second thought: tell CBFF Christi and BFF Corrin where I am and what John looks like so they’ll know who to look for during the investigation into our mysterious disappearance. Third thought, less funny: this sounds a lot like a human trafficking scheme. That thought has bugged me ever since we left that underage-drinking Russian crackhouse with a chop shop on the side for a little extra revenue, actually. But it’s not funny to think or write about, so I’ll skip it and go back to the funny-creepiness.
The second my boss related to us the teeny rooms that I’m sure were just places for the wasted teens to hook up with a bit more privacy, John freaked us all out by pushing back through the tiny door with the filing cabinet in front of it and telling us he found a storage area outside that may contain the tent. Remember? We’re looking for a TENT. I know, it’s a little hard to remember why on EARTH we were putting ourselves in so much danger in the first place. To refresh your memory, it’s because we love our jobs so FREAKING much and take pride in our work and want to put forth the best DARN event possible. Yeah… Anyway, we all traipsed outside in the drizzling rain and see four storage-area-garages all sitting next to the barn building. Though we were now out of the dusty, ratty porn-barn and in the daylight, we were no longer visible from the road, i.e. no witnesses. FAAAAAN-tastic. As John opened up the first of the garages, we began to get an even stronger sense that we were in a bad Stephen King novel. I’m not even sure if there ARE any bad Stephen King novels, but you get the idea. Think that really crappy “Wrong Turn” movie and anything with clowns in it. We saw faded, once-brightly painted picnic tables stacked on top of each other, old carnival signs, clown faces peeking out at us from behind old holey tarps, and I THINK parts of a merry-go-round or carousel. TERR. IF. EYING. (I know that’s not how you spell terrifying, but it works better this way phonetically) As we were all half-heartedly looking for the tent that is supposedly buried under all these old horror-movie props, just wanting to make it out alive and not really caring about the tent anymore, all of a sudden one of us looked up and John was carrying around a spool of chain in one hand. YES, he ACTUALLY had a chain dangling from one of his hands. I’m not creative enough to make this crap up. Calm, rational, and realistic person that I am, I tugged on everyone’s sleeve that I could get a grip on and squeaked, “He’s got a chain, you guys! He’s definitely going to kill us!” My boss told me to get into his car and have 911 on speed dial. Now, I sincerely can’t tell you guys if we were all serious or not. He was half-joking like the rest of us. But I really can’t figure out if we were all scaring ourselves into hysteria and were laughing because we were all terrified, or just laughing it off because we knew it seemed horrifying but was really harmless. Anyway, partly to get out of the rain, and partly because I felt one of us should have a chance of survival in case John started swinging that chain around, I got into the car and just watched. John had mentioned that his “friend” (accomplice) might know where the tent was, but we didn’t see him call this friend; suddenly this other guy appeared out of NOWHERE and said, “So you guys didn’t find that tent yet, huh?” WHAT. THE. HECK. We didn’t know how he knew where we were, how he knew what we were looking for, and why his umbrella tip had a semi-sharpened look to it, but we were not about to stick around to find out. John (who at some point had put down the chain) and his friend opened up the second garage and we found TENTS! Remember tents? So we wouldn’t get rained out for our event? Barely, right? Tents by the score, poles in the upper thousands, of all different shapes and sizes. We were almost home free. But not quite. We quickly discovered that we couldn’t lift a tent out of the garage to see if it was undamaged, and even if we could somehow manage that impossible task, there was no way to know which poles went with it. And even if we could somehow manage THAT, neither the poles NOR the tent would fit into any of our vehicles. ALL of which John or one of his deranged cohorts COULD have learned for us with just a little bit of digging BEFORE we drove 40 minutes out there and spent the better part of a morning trying not to get axed, or herpes…herpes’ed? Anyway, the second we learned it was useless to try with these tents, we hightailed it out of that house of death and made our way safely back to the office…and it didn’t even rain the next day.
Point: I’M STILL ALIVE! End.