My church recently organized a camp for youths, held at Genting Highlands. Those who paid attention gained experiences and lessons that will lead them and guide them through life etc. etc. etc., but mostly everyone was just looking forward to the last day of camp when we would get to got to the Genting Highlands theme park.
Oh yes, the theme park was great. Unfortunately, we only had three and a half hours to spend there, so the campers were advised to stick to the indoor theme park. Me and a group of friends had a great time there, spending an illogical amount of money on lunch, watching busking magician shows and freezing our ears off in the snow house, which was all well and good. But the most exciting thing we did there, since we didn't get to sit on the roller coasters, was the visit to the Ghost House.
Unfortunately, no pics.
But the experience in itself impressed itself in my mind, so I don't think I'll need any pics to remember them anyway. I took on the dark and tentative walk through the Ghost House with one of my closest friends and two girls. I'm quite blur on how exactly we ended up with this arrangement. We were a group of eight, and when we bought the tickets they told us that we would only be allowed in four by four. The two girls immediately jumped in and said that me and my friend were to be their escorts. I mean, it's not that I object to being taken advantage of for my homely and protective nature. It's just that, as I stood before the entrance with the girls behind me and a dark unknown corridor with cryptic noises emanating from it in front of me, I wished I could have had more time to think whether or not I agreed in the first place.
But it wasn't really all that bad, at first. I mean, we had seen one of the ghosts walking around the plaza and handing out pamphlets when we were waiting to buy our tickets. After all, the plain reality is that the spooky noises are really just recordings. Along the corridor were windows and doors and such things through which we vengeful zombie murders taking place in front of our eyes, but it was really just a video of a couple of actors doing what they do best, being replayed on a cleverly-designed TV screen. The sound of gunfire and the spray of blood in the dark was really just a balloon popping and a fine jet of cold mist. The ghosts that jump out from corners and give chase down the long and dank corridors are just ordinary people like you and me who have been hired to scare people and they really won't and can't hurt you, and as part of their job they get to leave their haunt to hand around pamphlets to the people in the plaza downstairs.
All these realizations taking place in my head, plus the laser light gun they gave us for the journey, and the natural masculine inclination to appear macho in front of the girls, granted me an unusual kind of courage. I lead us through the haunted house, keeping cool and concentrated throughout the whole stretch of the walk. When the first ghost jumped out at me, I pointed my gun at him and laughed at his face. The whole thing was really amusing to me.
Can't say the same for the girls though.
My friend was protecting the girls from the back, and he did it well for the first half of the journey. But then the ghosts started chasing us. Then I had to keep yelling at him to stay at the back, stay at the back.
I once read that people sometimes confuse feelings of fear for infatuation, meaning that people fall in love with other people in scary situations. I'm compelled to disagree. When you're running away from ghosts in a dark corridor with people shouting at each other and balloons popping next to you and water being sprayed in your face, romantic intentions are not likely to be your main concern at that time.
I actually made my way through the ghost house with a steady and brisk pace, focusing on nothing but the lights we were supposed to shoot with our laser guns and thinking how to get the girls out of there as quickly as possible. I was only briefly aware of the constant thudding and bumping noises and the fake skeleton props. After the first zombie-murder-screen, from which I received a full share of blood water in my face, I crouched and continued walking like in Counterstrike whenever I saw another screen. When the ghosts started chasing, I blocked out all senses and focused on finding my way and leading us through the dark maze. When we got out the other end, I was cheerful. The girls hadn't burst into tears, thankfully, and my friend was shaken but he would recover. I actually applauded them for their bravery, and happily led them down from the Ghost House to go see a magic show and calm their nerves.
Yep, I was perfectly unaffected by the entire Ghost House.
Of course, when you're walking through a dark, unfamiliar corridor all alone three hours later, it's a different story.
Yeah, yeah. It wasn't until later that night that the effect of what I had been through finally caught up with me. I open a door into a dark room in my house, and the haunting atmosphere of the Ghost House replays in my mind. The insides of my ears replay all the noises I had ignored back then, and my memory's eyes saw the zombies...
So I turned on the lights. Okay, laugh at me. I deserve it, really.
Fear is a complex, useful, wonderful thing. It gives you an adrenaline rush today, and makes you roll up on the floor and cry tomorrow. It also scrambles all your other emotions, which can either sharpen your senses, or make you lose yourself and your mind. It's what helped humans outrun tigers in the days long gone, and it's the main lever used by corrupted politicians in today's world. But at the end of the day, it just feels pretty darn good.