Andrew and Jordan Melton clutched their mother's hand a little bit tighter as they approached the spooky black house behind the Spring Hill YMCA on Friday night.
Fear welled up in their eyes. Still, both were certain they would go inside.
"You're not going to cry like you did at Yogi Bear's House, are you?" Julie Melton asked son Jordan.
He shook his head.
Jordan burst into tears last year when the family toured the cartoon exhibit at King's Dominion, a theme park in Virginia, Mrs. Melton said with a smile.
Suddenly, the eerie screams of ghosts and goblins blasted through the damp night air. The crackling voice of a witch warned of impending doom.
And 3-year-old Jordan changed his mind.
"I don't want to go in there," Jordan said, tears streaming down his face.
"You don't have to," his mother replied. "Andrew wouldn't go last year."
What a difference a year makes.
Mrs. Melton watched while 6-year-old Andrew took the hand of an escort and headed for the door of the haunted house.
"Are you sure you want to go in there?" asked the woman at the entrance. "Do you know what's in there?"
Andrew stared blankly.
"Good luck," said the woman as she pulled open the door, leaving Andrew and his escort gazing down a long, dark hallway filled with the unknown.
"You go first," Andrew said.
"No, you go first," snapped the guide.
Then suddenly the door slammed shut from behind, plunging them into an ominous pitch black.
Eyes bulging, they instantly moved from room to room. They dodged monsters that jumped from every corner and brushed away cobwebs.
Sinister glowing eyes peered from every nook and cranny. Mangled people waved their missing limbs.
Through it all Andrew was silent.
Then came the long hallway with a luminous skeleton at the end, and Andrew spoke for the first time.
"We're free," he softly whispered.
Well, not quite. Just then a swamp thing appeared from out of nowhere and everyone screamed, including the monster.
Andrew and his escort dashed for the nearest door and once again found themselves among the living, where Mrs. Melton was waiting to greet her son.
"Were you afraid?" she asked Andrew.
"No," he boldly responded, knowing he would never have to divulge his sweaty palms, rushing adrenaline or the yell he unleashed inside.
But little Jordan was pleased to announce his fear of the unknown.
"I'm scared in there. The monsters will get me," he said.