The Undying Ones Origins: A Haunted Camp…

If you read last week’s post, you’re probably wondering what Halloween Haunt has to do with Revenants and The Undying Ones.

Well, back in 2004, I was working as a photographer at Knott’s. It was my second year doing so, and the monsters who were working the front gate with us were different than the ones we had worked with previously. The monsters we worked with in 2003 came from Ghost Town, one of the scare zones. Actually, the first scare zone at Knott’s Scary Farm. The 2004 monsters came from Camp Snoopy.

Now, each scare zone at Knott’s is themed with it’s own back story.

Ghost Town is, obviously, an old west ghost town and it’s filled with monsters dressed up as cowboys, saloon girls, gamblers, school marms, etc. The back story is that the citizens of Calico believed a young woman living in town was a witch. Despite her protests that she was innocent, they hung her, and it was revealed that she actually was a witch. Because they had treated her so cruelly, the witch cursed them to be forever trapped in their true forms – which were twisted versions of their normal selves. For eleven months out of the year they would be separated from the rest of the world, but every year, on October first, the veil would drop and they could roam free once more.

Camp Snoopy didn’t have a built in theme. During the day time, it’s the kids area in the park that’s themed to look like a mountain summer camp. All the buildings are faintly craftsman in style. There are a lot of trees. The paths are bit more narrow and winding than the rest of the park – they can turn into bottlenecks very easily on busy nights. There’s a waterfall, and a lake. It’s a great area that has plenty of opportunity for scares – but recently management can’t decide on a idea it’s happy to stick with.

When monsters were first put in Camp Snoopy, it was filled with mutant punk rockers. At one time it was called Necropolis and it featured Steampunk Vampires. Currently it’s called The Hollow, and decorations have been rolled out to make it look like something out of Sleepy Hollow. There are witches running around, and colonial soldiers, among other things. It’s actually pretty cool.

Back in 2004 though, it was called the Gauntlet. The story was that this castle would appear out of nowhere every October, and unleash it’s citizens out onto the world. Everyone was dressed in medieval garb, there was a King and a Queen, jesters, huntsmen, knights, and barbarians. There was even a bag piper who would wander around and play at special events. They had a throne, and a couple of cages, and lots of bright green lights and fog machines. There was also a vampire maze set up in the area as well as a pirate maze, and they really added to the theme.

Now, at this time I was also taking a creative writing class in college and the big project for the semester was to write a short story. Up until this point, I had mostly written fanfic. I did have one original idea, but it was so massive and constantly changing, that by the time I wrote something down, it was wrong. The story had already evolved into something different. And there was no way I could turn that idea into a short story. It just would not cooperate.

I asked the teacher if I could write some fanfic for the class. I cringe now at the memory of asking him that question. He, understandably, said no. Fanfic wasn’t as widely accepted back then, plus the point of the class was to really work on our own stuff.

I still couldn’t think of an idea though. One just would not come to me.

Every Thursday, after class, I would head to Knott’s. I would park, go up front, grab my camera from the office, and then take a spot out front. I would watch the Gauntlet monsters run around chasing people, and occasionally they would stop for a picture. On breaks I would turn in my camera, and either head back stage to get something to eat, or go over to Camp Snoopy to watch the other monsters work. It was a lot of fun to just sit there and listen to the screams and the scrape of metal toe caps against the cement as someone went in for a slide.

I had already decided that I wanted to cross the veil. I wanted to become a monster. My goal was to join my friends in the Gauntlet. If not, I would become a wench in the pirate maze. Most monsters had some sort of back story for their characters that they created themselves that fit in with the area. These stories were usually shared on one of two message boards. Since I was going to be a monster next year (No ifs, ands, or buts. It was going to happen) it occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone. I could write my back story and submit it for my short story assignment as well.

So, the next day I got to work. I decided to include a couple of my favorite monsters in the story as well, and I tied it all in to the Gauntlet story that I had been told by some of my friends.

When it was done, I was pretty dang proud of it – even if it was just another type of fanfic. I turned it in, and got an A on the project. Then, after the class was done for the semester, my professor went one step further and suggested that I submit it to a magazine.

I refused, because again, this was just another type of fanfic. Plus I felt the ending was kind of weak (it was) and while the thought of being published was cool… well.. if I was going to publish something I wanted to publish something better. So I put the story on the proverbial shelf and promptly forgot about it.

(Pictures from Ultimate Haunt are used with Ted Dougherty’s permission)

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