The Halloween Haunted Forest Tour

Four years ago a copse of trees popped up in Nowheresville, New Mexico. Not only was the forest a foreboding place, it was also home to thousands of frightful monsters—beasts with claws and fangs and tentacles and huge bloodshot eyes and every kind of grotesque appendage.

Scientists were baffled by the appearance of the Haunted Forest. The internet, on the other hand, ran wild with conspiracy theories. The most common theory was that the United States of DC Comics had developed a high-tech tree growth hormone that had gotten out of control, and the creatures in the forest were being bred as super-soldiers. 

In reality, the Haunted Forest was an interdimensional portal. The monsters from one dimension were coming to our dimension to feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet of human flesh and offal. 

Sounds rather bleak, doesn’t it? The appearance of the forest was an alarming harbinger. It was the beginning of Armageddon and the end of the world and that kind of thing. But some people didn’t see it that way. The mayor of a nearby city, for example, was perfectly fine having monsters as neighbors just as long as they decided to keep to themselves. 

And then there was Martin Booth, the owner of H.F. Enterprises. He decided to turn the area into a wildly popular tourist attraction. His Halloween Haunted Forest Tour allowed people to ride a tram straight into the heart of darkness. He assured visitors that nobody had ever been eaten on one of his tours—and “nobody ever would!”

But as we all know, accidents happen all the time. Even in Finland and Disneyland, the two happiest places on Earth, people aren’t 100 percent safe. In truth, the Haunted Forest was more like Jurassic Park than Hershey Park. 

An unexpected tram accident two miles into the forest left 84 people unaccounted for. Spoiler alert: Nearly all of the passengers were immediately gobbled up by hungry monsters. “Things with fangs, things with claws, things with spikes, things with horns, and even a fuckin’ thing with a giant mouth on it’s stomach.” 

It was up to a mötley crëw of survivors to figure out the mystery of the Haunted Forest and ultimately save mankind from extinction. Time was running out, and they couldn’t wait for the Justice League of America to swoop in and save them. 

The novel ends in a glorious orgy of hellhounds, 15-foot ogres, colossal wyrms, lizard men, snake women, human-faced scorpions, imps, giant ants, dragons and werewolves. There’s even a pinch of torture porn to make readers squirm. Most devious of all, however, was the demon puppet master orchestrating the entire show from the sidelines. 

Somehow, through grit and luck, a handful of people found their way to a happy ending (sort of). Said one character in a fit of endgame empowerment: “I’m tired of letting this forest push me around. I’m tired of the bugs and the tooth-bearing things and the blood and the fur and the claws and the … the stuff. I’m tired of all the forest stuff.”

[The Haunted Forest Tour / By James A. Moore & Jeff Strand / First Printing: September 2017 / ISBN: 9781977529992]