Friday, February 9, 2007

Gore Geeks in the Slaughterhouse

One of the stranger places I've lived was in an apartment, built inside a haunted house, built inside an abandoned slaughterhouse, down by the Kingdome in Seattle. My boyfriend at the time, who was raising about 30 rats in his apartment for said house, had convinced me to help work on the Variety Club sponsored haunted house, and I became addicted.

The crew of fifteen uber-goregeeks (myself included), lived and breathed the haunted house. The daily routine was, go to work, go to the haunted house, stay up all night building/painting sets and making creatures, go to sleep for two hours, rinse and repeat. The building itself took up an entire city block,so this thing was huge. We were the wild boys with power tools and implements of art destruction with no "adult" supervision. We made cool stuff like an animatronic skeleton that was fully articulated, creatures that dropped from the ceiling and popped out of hidden places, zombies, ghosts, dark mazes, a graveyard, and all the usual stuff that scares the crap out of people.

After the show run was over in October, we took a break for a few months, then started all over again in the spring. At some point in this mid-eighties tweaked environment,we decided it would be a really good idea to build a secret apartment in the haunted house, where we could live rent and utility free for a few months. We thought we were being really "edgy" 80's style, moving into this totally crappy industrial area, way before loft spaces were even considered trendy in Seattle. It was dangerous, dirty, and probably not the best place for us to set up shop. Meh.

We built the apartment and equipped it with a hidden door behind a false bookshelf, a loft bed, futon couch, space heaters, bookshelves, tables, a hot plate, and tanks for the rats. To get to the bathroom you had to go out the other secret entrance, run down the hall, and hope you weren't spotted by the homeless people who would get into the building every once and a while. We even had a shower with at least one minutes worth of hot water.

It was a ton of fun, and turned out to be a regular refuge for friends going through rough times. Couch surfers included: a friend who had just been kicked out of his apartment by his wife; my brother who had been kicked out of our parent's house for reasons I'd prefer not to get into; and the occasional person who had partied too hard and was way too wasted to go home. On one occasion the rats managed to get out of their cages, and looking for someplace warm, swarmed all over one of the unfortunate passed out people on the couch. If you ever get the opportunity to see someone wake up from a drug/alcohol induced stupor to find themselves completely covered with rats, I would highly recommend it.

After the show was over the boyfriend and I stayed in the apartment for a while. It was fine until late November when the snow started coming through the holes in the broken windows. Taking a one-minute shower in a room with snow slowly piling up on the floor had started to lose its' charm. At that point our relationship was beginning to tank, so we called it good, packed up all our stuff, said goodbye to the ghosts, and went our separate ways.

In the 90's they tore down the slaughterhouse to make room for a freeway off-ramp, and later blew up the Kingdome to build a new stadium. The only thing left from the haunted house era were the train tracks. We used to sit out on the loading bay at night, smoking cigarettes and watching the trains go by the house and the Kingdome, but I don't think we really appreciated what a unique moment in time we were experiencing.

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