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A Haunting in Philadelphia
The essence of fall was truly among them as Maggie, Casey, Sarah, and Lauren walked home from school Friday afternoon. With every step, the leaves beneath them crunched and the cool breeze reminded them of the chilling months to come. With Halloween just a week away, the days were becoming noticeably shorter, and by the time the girls reached Lauren’s house, the sun was already giving hints that it was soon going to set.
The girls dropped their bags in Lauren’s living room and spread out on the couches. The house was cold and an eerie silence crept throughout, making the time perfect for a scary movie. Lauren grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels.
“Friday the Thirteenth is on again,” she exclaimed happily. “Let’s watch it.”
“Come on, Lauren,” Sarah replied, “We’ve watched that movie every Friday since the beginning of October. It’s just boring now. Put something else on.”
“I say we just watch regular TV,” Casey added, nervously, “you know I hate scary movies.”
“It’s almost Halloween,” Maggie replied, “I say we don’t watch TV at all. Why don’t we do something exciting for once? Sarah’s right. We’ve watched movies almost every Friday since October 1. It’s getting seriously boring.” The girls thought about what Maggie said, and all agreed that she was right.
“What else is there to do, though?” Lauren asked. She had her heart set on watching her favorite scary movie and making it a lazy night.
“Oh, let’s go to the Eastern State Penitentiary!” Sarah said, enthusiastically, happy that she would not have to spend the night watching scary movies. “My mom told me about it yesterday. She said it’s really scary, but a lot of fun. And I think she said it’s open late on Fridays. Lauren, you could drive us down.”
“I’ve actually been there before,” Casey added, “It is really fun and really scary. We should definitely go. It’s only about a half hour from here.” The girls again agreed that this would be a better idea than watching Friday the Thirteenth, and got ready to go. The girls waited excitedly by Lauren’s car while she left a note for her mom explaining where they were going. They all piled into her old 1997 Jeep Wrangler and hit the road. It was about 7:00 when they arrived at the Penitentiary, and the sun had been down for a good few hours now. The night was darker than usual, and not even the moon was visible in the somber night sky.
As the girls made their way to the entrance, they were surprised, especially Casey, at the fact that there was no line.
“The last time I came we waited for about an hour to get in. The line was huge.” Casey explained. They shrugged it off and made their way up to the main entrance. A man stood there brandishing a bloody knife. His costume was eerily convincing: the girls could have sworn that the blood dripping out of the large cuts all over his face were real and his empty left eye socket could not have been feigned by makeup.
“Hi,” Sarah began, “We’re here for the haunted tour of the Penitentiary. How much-“ But before she could finish, the man cut her off.
“Free for the ladies tonight,” he said in a shady, exhausted tone. “This way,” he said, and began hobbling off in through the door. The inside of the Penitentiary was more terrifying than they could have imagined. Blood dripped from every inch of the walls. Skeleton bones, that looked way too real, were scattered throughout the floor. Distant cries of pain echoed in against the tall stone walls. The girls shivered as the man began to speak again.
“Your tour begins here,” he said, holding open a door for the girls to walk through. “Good bye.” He said with a menacing grin and slowly shut the door.
“I don’t remember it being this creepy,” Casey whispered to her friends. “I know for a fact when I came before the sets and sound effects were not this real.” The girls began the tour, and were petrified with every step they took. Around every corner lurched a ghostly silhouette or pale faced murderer. The prisoners in the jail cells cried with pain and despair as the girls walked by, immobilized with fright a their freakish appearance and disturbingly convincing behaviors. With every step the fear intensified, and made the girls want to turn back.
“Casey, this is not fun!’ Lauren shrieked, “I want to go home!”
“They must have changed their actors and sets or something,” Casey replied, equally afraid, “because this is one million times scarier than the last time I came. We aren’t even halfway done! I say we go back.” The fear got the best of the girls and they quickly agreed to turn back. The ghosts and half-dead zombies continued to jump out and scare them as they made their way back to the entrance. Soon the cries of pain and horrifying music became faint, and the door that they entered in was visible. They plowed through the door and searched frantically for the man who had let them in. It was suddenly silent; the music was no longer audible and the shrieking had stopped. All that could be heard was the frantic panting of the four girls searching for the man.
“He’s obviously not here, let’s just go,” Lauren said breathlessly, and the girls headed out to the parking lot. The ride home was silent as the girls mused on the horrifying sights they had just witnessed, still fresh in their minds. At about 9:30, they arrived back at Lauren’s house. They quickly made their way into the house, glad to be safe at home.
“Where have you been?” was the first thing they heard upon entering. It was Lauren’s mom and she was standing in the living room, looking angry.
“I left a note,” Lauren explained, “We went to the Eastern State Penitentiary. I didn’t want to call you because I knew you would be working.”
“Lauren,” her mom said sternly. The rest of the girls just stared, still shaken from their experience. “Don’t play games with me. Tell me where you were, now.”
“Mom,” Lauren replied, “I swear, that’s where we were. Why don’t you believe me? It’s not like I’ve ever lied about where I was before.”
“Lauren Marie,” her mother responded, her tone sounding angrier, “I was not born yesterday. I know for a fact that the Eastern State Penitentiary was closed this season because of financial reasons. I work for the newspaper, we had a huge article on it. Tell me where you were.”
“Mom, for real, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Well, I guess that explains why the line was so much shorter than last time,” Casey interrupted, but then it hit her. “Wait a second, if it was closed, then that means-“
“Lauren, just tell me. The place has been vacant since last November, there’s no way possible you were there,” Lauren’s mom said, impatiently.
“Then that means that it was all real,” Casey stated in utter disbelief. The girls all turned to look at her, equally shocked. “That’s why there was no line, and it was so much scarier than before. Because this time, there were no actors. Those were real ghosts, guys. That was the real thing.” Their faces all turned pale white as they came to the realization of their ghostly encounter. They had just experienced a real life haunting, no acting involved. This would be a Halloween they’d always remember.