Take out Eli and Denise, add a 13 year old me and this is a basically a true story. I had to recover deeply repressed memories to bring you this comic (the first in a week of Halloween themed HE’s).

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a HELL HOUSE, it is essentially a haunted house put on by a fundamentalist Christian church with the intent of giving children night terrors and guilt for things they haven’t even thought of doing yet all for the glory of Christ. When you’re 13 and someone says, “Hey, instead of boring old youth group, we’re going to a haunted house/ hay ride out in the middle of nowhere!” you’re typical response would be “meh.” You’re 13, so everything is pretty much, “meh.” But internally you’re all “sounds cooler than singing praise songs then talking about how we’re better than everyone else for an hour.”

When I said a Hell House is essentially a haunted house… well, it’s not. It IS NOT a haunted house! In a haunted house you pay money to walk through a maze of dark corridors while “actors” dressed as ghouls and monsters jump out and scream at you. Sometimes there’s a chainsaw. It’s fun for every one. I should know, I worked at one in high school. It was pretty much awesome. A Hell House, on the other hand is a place where you pay money to walk through a barn that has been outfitted to look like a house and in each room “actors” act out short vignettes depicting different ways one might damn oneself to Hell. It is seriously a living instruction manual on “How to Win Friends and Get Into Hell.”

Oh, also it’s fucking terrifying when you’re a kid. Also it’s ONLY for kids.

I’ll reconstruct the scenerio as best as my fragile mind can:

We entered the Hell House has a group and were greeted by our demon guide. Let me preface the rest by saying this particular church had purchased basically EVERY rubber demon mask from Spencer’s gifts. The demon guide took us through various scenes, including: a motorcycle wreck caused by awesome teenage drunk driving, a Satanic sacrifice caused by awesome teenage Satan worship (this is happening in our neighborhoods RIGHT NOW! Why don’t you care?!), an abortion caused by awesome teenage sex complete with a pan full of blood and fetus parts (no shit), a chick that OD’d due to awesome teenage drug use (needle hanging out of her arm), and a teen suicide caused by listening to awesome rock and roll (it WAS “Welcome to the Jungle”).

After all of these little one act plays were performed for us (many of the children were convulsing and in tears – PRAISE THE LORD!) we were lead into a room full of coffins and told to “get in.” (still not making any of this up). I got into a coffin with a girl that I had a crush on. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make my move because she was too busy sobbing uncontrollably, and having a claustrophobia induced panic attack. A voice read our collective eulogy, then the back of the coffins sprang open and we were catapulted into Hell. I’m assuming dimensional gateways were involved. Demons were dancing around a pit of fire as the Prince of Lies himself stood atop an altar shooting laser beams into our eyes (still still still not making this up – all true). Satan had a giant evil goat mask, red cloak, an ample supply of smog machines and (seriously) laser pointers mounted to each finger with which he wrote his initials on our retinas.

Just beyond the eternal torment and despair there was a doorway, beaming with light (and more smog). Turns out the portal to Heaven is just behind Hell… sort of in the back-left corner. Afterward we were further indoctrinated counseled by various members of the congregation and encouraged to come back and bring our “unsaved” friends. Because, honestly, if Hell House didn’t scare the shit out of a little kid until he believed whatever the shit you told him to believe, what else could?

LATER THERE WAS A HAY RIDE!!!

In retrospect, I am deeply disturbed by the amount of fear and guilt that I was purposely saddled with as a “youth group teen.” They seemed to be intentionally molding maladjusted young adults. I suppose a guilty, fearful and confused kid is easier to brainwash teach.

LATER THERE WAS A HAY RIDE!!!