(Secondly, apologies in advance for the lateness of these last two blogs, due to some odd problems with Weebly I was unable to post for a while, but since it looks like these are mostly fixed, here we go!)
It's been days since I attended the Alone: Index of Absorption event, and I'll be honest: I have almost no idea how I'm going to write about this. Alone is the most different, bizarre, and utterly wonderful thing that I have attended this Long Halloween season, and yet it is impossible to rank it or compare it next to the other events we've attended in that it is so utterly unlike them. It's barely scary, but incredibly intense and powerful in a way that will linger in you for days, so I am stumped about what I'm going to say. I'll try my best, though, without giving too many spoilers away, but be warned, there's every chance I'll sound like a complete lunatic by the end of this article.
I've been vaguely aware of Alone for the past few years we've been doing The Long Halloween, but it was never seriously on my radar. Fi and I haven't really been into events that run on the more extreme side of things until relatively recently, and from the sound of it on paper, it could have easily been one of those. Going through a nearly pitch black building, alone, being tormented and accosted by the people within. It sounded like it was jumping on the bandwagon from the completely insane-sounding Blackout experience (one of the few haunts I'll outright refuse to do because of the stuff I've heard they pull), and I just wrote it off on general principle. However, over time as our skin thickened, and we read more reviews about alone, I became more intrigued. Everything I'd heard about it was that it was less a haunt, more a surreal, dreamlike experience you're meant to wander through alone.
So I was curious, but still uncertain.
Then we got a little taste of Alone at this year's ScareLA (a convention for haunters) in August. Alone has been holding a number of smaller events throughout 2015 leading up to their big house in October, and with basically a free demo version to try on for size, we figured, what the hell, let's see what it's like.
Remember those words surreal and dreamlike? Yeah, those summed up our demo quite well, actually. We were brought into a dark room lit only by a swirling laser light with about 20 other people and made to lie down on the floor, while most of us were covered in a sheet and listened to a trio of people talk about madness and colors in increasingly intense voices. One at a time we were brought into the Alone part of the experience, where we crawled, got rolled up in a blanket and flung around a room, drawn on and dressed in weird colorful things before being brought back to the room to lie down. I've never been on drugs and never intend to be, but I have it on good authority that the experience is pretty similar. Not being too terribly freaked out by this, we vowed to do the event come October.
Flash forward a couple months, and Fi and I were driving to Downtown LA, finding an old film production house with a front door reading ALONE, INC. We were eager and nervous, especially after receiving an e-mail that stated we'd likely find ourselves being touched, grabbed, embraced, forced to crawl, endure pitch blackness, have our faces painted and likely get very messy.
Long Halloween Tip # 18: Listen to the warnings given in any Halloween event, and dress appropriately. There's no event I'd recommend this for more than Alone.
Still, we checked in to the sparsely populated lobby, slightly unnerved by the shadows we'd see crossing along the backlit, wall-sized sheet behind the front desk. We waited our turn, slowly watching as guest after guest before us was brought into a dark back room when their name was called. Fiona was called in before me, and so I sat alone, chatting briefly with one of the guys who would go in after me, asking me if I had any idea what we were about to get into. I told him what little I knew, but since it wasn't that much, the nerves were kicking in pretty heavily.
And then I was called into the darkness. I was told to walk along a dark corridor and choose between two doors. Not seeing any particular benefit to one or another, I chose the one on the left, and was pulled into a dark room by a woman who started writing on my arm with a marker about how I was not a triangle, while speaking in an eerie, intense tone about light and color, before she sent me into the darkness.
And from there... well, I can't rightly say everything that happened, and if I were to go into all the detail I felt at the time I'd probably sound crazy, but what I'll say is that it was a truly intense, profound emotional experience. It was scary, at times, but not too scary. More than anything, it was surreal and beautiful. I'd walk into a room and be told to sit on a swing, while an actor pushed me around for a while, laughing. Another time I'd be put in a pitch black room and thrown around for a while by a wild-eyed man, visible only in brief flashes of light. I'd crawl along a long tunnel with only a laser light at the end, swirling around me, only to exit into a room with a person in a unicorn costume and be coaxed into dancing with them.
I'd be taken into a room full of vinyl records and be told to smash some against the wall before being told to clean them up, or go into a room with a man whose face is covered in wet clay and be told to write on the wall with some of the clay from his briefcase.
Sometimes I'd go into a room and just have a person stare at me, intensely, or sadly, or maybe while smiling warmly.
One time there was a room where a sad, crying woman stood in the center, pulling me into a hug, and though I knew she was acting I couldn't help but tell her everything was going to be okay.
Then I'd go crawling through a tunnel made of blankets and wind up having a pillow fight with a man and playing patty cake, while we're laughing the whole time.
So much more happened, so much that I'll never forget and much more that seems so much a blur I can't be sure if it was real or I dreamed it. It was a bizarre, truly amazing experience to have gone through, reaching into me and touching my emotions in ways they're rarely touched, because I'm a pretty reserved person in general. I keep everything close to my chest, and I don't really open up to strangers, but the way they subtly break down emotional barriers and force you to connect to strangers, even if just by looking them in the eyes, it makes for a truly and unique experience.
Thank you for joining me this Halloween season, and as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)