When I was a kid, I was scared of that thing under the bed; I imagined it being slimy, the arm of the Swamp Thing, with huge claws. That was a long time ago. Now I was all grown-up. On this particular Tuesday, my roommate and I were heading toward Napa to go wine tasting. I don’t usually have days off these days. But traffic was bad, so we decided to turn back. Now, both of us are writers. My roommate is a horror writer and I’m more fantasy/sci-fi, dabbling in horror occasionally. So when we saw the signs for this “Fear Farm,” off the road near Davis past a farm stand, we were intrigued.

“You want to check it out?” I asked. It would be better than sitting through traffic for hours.

“Yeah, let’s do it,” said my roommate, a petite young woman with a mohawk and numerous necklace chains.

I took the road that would lead us there, a small dirt path. I parked the car on the single dirt road leading in and out, and we walked toward the entrance. We noticed at once that the place was abandoned. Still, I called out, “Yoo-hoo…anyone here?” No response but the whistle of the wind through the grass. We saw the Fear Farm sign hanging over some huge metal storage crates and an old ice cream truck parked out front. There didn’t appear to be anyone around. This looked like the kind of place that Stephen King would write about. Children of the Corn came to mind immediately. The ice cream truck was interesting because of the detail: fake doughnuts glued onto the hood, a clown tie hanging from the rear-view mirror, a couch inside that looked like a mouth. It was a writer’s paradise.

“Let’s look around and take some photos,” I said.

We saw trucks with seats that looked ready to take passengers for hay rides. We saw old carnival booths and painted signs, and in one area, lots of insulation made to look like cotton candy. We saw ticket booths with bars. Eventually, we conquered our fear of what might be lurking in the metal storage crates and took a look inside. In one, we saw a crucified skeleton. In another, we saw a huge pile of props, including what looked like the fake head of a vampire.

What became apparent was that at one time, someone must have put a lot of work into all this. But now, it was in a sad state of disrepair and badly needed maintenance, with weeds everywhere, signs falling to the ground, and a lonely seat belt swinging in the wind, jolting us as it hit against the railing of one of the trucks. But there was one place that we had yet to explore, and it beckoned us from the other side of the Fear Farm, its door like a gaping maw, ready to suck us in: a darkened building with messy paint on it, declaring it to be the “Blackout.”

What could possibly be lurking in there? Maybe a homeless, drug-addicted bum; maybe the thing under the bed.

“Wanna go in?” I said, turning to my roommate.

“No, not really,” she replied.

But I wanted to at least go in and take a little look around. “We could just take a quick look, and if things get too scary, we’ll turn right back around.”

“Okay,” she reluctantly agreed.

As a precaution, we took out our cell phones and turned on the flashlight function, holding them in front of us. Then we ventured forth.

We ventured in, and all the walls inside were painted black; it was a twisted labyrinth of narrow corridors, and the fear we felt was real, because we didn’t know if there was perhaps someone hiding out in there or not. We used the flashlight function on my phone and I ventured forth.

“Let’s get out of here. I sense something in here,” said my roommate.

“I don’t see anything though,” I said. “What do you sense?”

“I don’t know, but couldn’t you see some bum living here?”

“Yeah, I guess,” I answered, though to me, this looked more like the mythical labyrinth of Crete. I expected to turn a corner and see an axe-wielding minotaur, feasting on human flesh.

“Alright, let’s get out of here,” I whispered to my roommate.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” something whispered behind me, its hand on my shoulder, its claws digging in. I screamed…