Every September when the candy corn goes on sale and the leaves turn shades of autumn, I begin to crave them. Then the radio advertisements begin, beckoning you to enter the world's scariest places


And I do.

It's not that they're scary per se, it's just that you wait in line and your stomach ties itself in pleasant knots while you wonder what lies beyond the front door. I'll gladly pay $15.00 to spend a full 45 minutes running in self-induced terror, tugging on the sweater of the person ahead of me.

What is it about haunted houses? We pay good money to enter vacant warehouses, corn fields and factories--even high school auditoriums--that were perfectly unhaunted two months before. We pay so people in makeup and costumes, that we know have families and electric bills, can chase us around with chainsaws and fake blood and goblins. We pay this money because there's something so wonderful about suspending disbelief, about letting yourself believe you almost died, that makes everything so much sweeter.

There are hundreds of haunted houses across North America; they'll be open from late September to early November. Most of them also sell concessions and some companies feature hay rides, "haunted theme parks," or walking tours. If you want to go next weekend, I'll come with you.

But only if you'll hold my hand.