Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: Haunted House

IMG_3355Think of a character you’ve written before–or, if you’re new to this writing thing, be your own character. Now send this character to a haunted house.

Five minutes. Go.


Molly had never been to a haunted house, never had the time, never bothered. Her dad always said they were childish and that nothing could scare him, so why waste the time and money? But now he was gone and the house was empty and Caleb really, really wanted to go.

“I’ll hold your hand,” he said, leaning into her neck in that creepy way he always did. “I’ll keep you safe.” He smelled her hair. It probably smelled like stale beer and pretzel salt–she hadn’t showered after her shift at the bar–but maybe that was a turn-on. Maybe anything was a turn-on when you were as desperate as Caleb.

“I’ll be fine,” she said. “It’s people in costumes and papier-mache ghosts.”

But when they got to the door, her stomach jumped. Even though the person who let them in was a teenager in a cheap Dracula cape wearing an overdose of Axe body spray. Even though there were green and purple twinkle lights in the doorway and polyester spider webs and a scary sounds mix playing in the background.

She grabbed Caleb’s hand and he squeezed it. They had only walked a few feet before someone with a mask and a chainsaw jumped out, roaring at them.

She didn’t mean to hurt him. She was startled, scared, and unlike most civilized people her fight-or-flight response was mostly fight. The chainsaw fell with a light thud to the ground and as she knelt to help the poor bastard up, she realized it was only cardboard.

“I’m sorry,” she said. He’d lifted his mask and his nose was bleeding. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

There were hands on her shoulders and they weren’t Caleb’s. Someone was escorting her to the door.

“I’m so sorry,” she said over and over. The manager was there. He was calling the police. “Oh come on, is that necessary?” she said. “I’m sure this kind of thing happens all the time.”

The manager looked at her. He had an ugly mole on his cheek and eyes that were too tiny for his face. “I’ve been haunting since I was seventeen,” he said. She couldn’t tell how old he was but apparently this was supposed to be an impressive amount of time. “And this is a first for me.”

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