My colleague and I were saying cheerio after work when the dog started to bark and the screams began. Normally we would just ignore it but today the screams were particularly dramatic and so interrupted our thoughts.
The building in which I work is a long stone structure that houses several businesses. Our nearest neighbours are a night club on one side, and on the other, the Edinburgh Dungeon.
The dungeon is part of a chain of pseudo-historical, entertaining underground tourism experiences, with other locations in London and York. Actors take victims/customers through different areas, relaying to them some of Edinburgh’s ghoulish history, including methods of torturing witches and, in the “anatomy theatre,” tales of famous murders, Burke and Hare.
The tour takes people through several levels, with one particularly haunting section falling on the other side of the wall at the end of our hall. The tour also enlists the services of an electronic dog bark, so the sound of a rabid rottweiler often precedes the mayhem. The screams erupt while we hunt around in the stock room, eat lunch, or work in the phone room.
If there is a fire we would have to escape into the dungeon. Well, it’s actually a dark emergency exit staircase that we share with our macabre neighbours, but the sounds come from behind that door, so to me it is like running from the fire into the pit of doom.
New staff at work are inevitably shocked the first time they hear a man’s sharp howl coming from down the hall, followed by the terrified screeching of a collection of teenage girls. But within weeks they too cease to flinch as the rapid clunking of shoes signal the young prey's flight.
Each and every day I have to resist the desire to bang madly on the exit that separates us from the people clamouring around in the shadows, waiting for Fear to catch them. Instead I allow myself the pleasure of adding a flourish to my directions for people who wander into our bright shop looking for the dungeon entrance.
“Just up the street,” I say. “Turn right beneath the bloody pendulum and follow the screams into the darkness.”
I should really demand payment for that kind of advertising.
The hill at Snurrom
10 hours ago