A door creaks open. Something moves in the darkness. People scream out in terror. Your heart races and your mind considers dozens, if not hundreds, of terrifying outcomes.
Welcome to the Buffalo Sabres' Halloween House of Horrors, the only hockey-themed haunted house attraction open to brave customers this holiday. The Sabres have already frightened tens of thousands of customers this October with a shocking and inventive show designed to horrify, terrorize, baffle and disgust any poor soul that enters their rotting domain.
"This is something we've been planning for a while," said general manager Tim Murray, who takes part in the nightly event by playing the role of the chainsaw-wielding homicidal maniac TankerFace. "We wanted to give the fans a really unique experience for Halloween and the House of Horrors has hit all of the scares we were aiming for: no scoring, no defense, bad goaltending, weird personnel decisions and just the worst, most horrible hockey you could imagine.
"Sometimes, even I get frightened by it. And I created the whole thing."
Visitors brave enough to enter the Sabres' lair face a gauntlet of appalling images and unnerving situations in a spine-chilling ordeal ranging in length from two hours and 20 minutes to three hours. Immediately after walking in the door, crowds will be menaced by real-life zombies, blood-drenched ghouls, psychotic lunatics, sad and mournful ghosts and other beasts who want to make innocent bystanders run screaming into the night.
The players have even taken spooky Halloween-related names including Brian "Brain Eater" Gionta, Drew "Head on a" Stafford, Matt "Massacre" Moulson and Tyler "Michael" Myers.
"It was gross, so gross," said Sabres fan Mike Fulovsky. "I almost threw up a few times. It never lets up. You're horrified from the minute it starts to the final whistle."
Buffalo is 2-8-1 this season and averaging an anemic 1.09 goals per game. The Sabres are last in the NHL with 21.2 shots per game and recently finished a shutout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs with just 10 shots on goal. In 10 games this season, Buffalo has been blanked four times.
"I've never been so sickened in all my life," said fan Myra Sullowiticsz, who took in the Sabres show in Toronto. "You really feel like you're living a nightmare. I screamed my head off the entire time and just kept looking for a way out."
Murray said the fans that survive the Sabres' House of Horrors will be given special prizes and benefits for future events. The response to the ghastly and gruesome show has been so overwhelming that the team has extended the performances throughout the rest of the year and possibly indefinitely.
According to Murray, the team plans on pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable for general audiences by flooding spectators with as much pain, torment, misery and downright hell as they can muster.
"I give the fans a lot of credit," Murray said. "They've able to withstand most of the sick, twisted stuff we've thrown at them so far. But this is just the beginning.
"Wait until they see what we have in store for Christmas. Nobody - not Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or Jesus - will save them by that point."
There is no Sabres House of Horrors unless you count every game on the schedule.