I’m a pretty spooky gal. For those who know me, they know I love Halloween and not just in a casual way. Over the years, I’ve organized events for fellow Halloween enthusiasts, ran a charity haunted house and every year turn my house into one envied by the Addamses themselves. So what can reduce me, Miss Halloween, to a quivering mass of fear? Sprickets. They’re more properly known as cave or camel crickets, but more colorfully called spider crickets or sprickets. Their myriad names aside, they’re a wide-awake nightmare — pale, sickly tan in color, with longer back legs than a regular cricket and giant antennae. My horror of sprickets might have something to do with my introduction to them. It was in the dead of night... or, probably around eight o’clock. Anyway, I was doing the laundry in my perfectly ordinary suburban basement when I caught movement from the corner of my eye. That’s when I saw The Thing. It was on the concrete foundation wall and it was big. Thinking it was a spider, I was wondering if I should reach for my shoe or just burn down the house. Leaning in just a wee bit to get a better look, it jumped straight at me. The next few moments are a blur to me, but I know there was screaming and flailing. What was worse was it got away. It was living in my basement... lurking, waiting. It wasn’t until a few months later when I saw one again. This time, it was in Weston and I was told what the hell-spawn was. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, they’re harmless. They sure don’t look it. Apparently, these little critters live in dark, dank environments (hence cave crickets) and occasionally blunder into man made structures. They’re nearly blind and their only defense mechanism is their terrifying giant hop right at you. Joy. How I managed to go for 30-something years without ever seeing one of these before, I’ll never know, but now I see them all the time. Why? Because I’m working at a haunted house this Halloween. And it’s a haunted house in a haunted house — the Belvoir Winery. The winery is located at the old Odd Fellows Home in Liberty, which was featured this year on the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters and has been the target of countless urban legends for decades. It’s the perfect setting for a haunted house, as the crumbling brick buildings are terrifying in their own right. Bloody’s Haunted House is right next door to the winery, in what was the old folks’ home. I, like most Northlanders, have been fascinated with this complex of buildings for years. All my life, I’ve heard stories about it, primarily because my great-grandfather belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Plattsburg. He died while my grandmother was still young and her oldest brother had to quit school to support the family. They came very close to living at the Odd Fellows Home themselves. When I heard there were plans for a haunted house at the old home, I jumped at the chance to work there to sate my dual desires. And the home doesn’t disappoint. Just walking the abandoned halls calls you back to an earlier time and you can’t help but imagine how the place must have been when it was in operation. You can’t help but wonder about the people who worked, lived and sometimes died there. The place is allegedly one of the most haunted in Kansas City, if not the state, so it wasn’t without some nervousness that I went to work on my rooms in the south wing of the former retirement home. Determined not to get freaked out by my potential for paranormal encounters, I hauled boxes of stuff into my rooms and plugged in my iPod and said “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” No problem. Much of the building is in decent shape — barring the occasional broken windows that have caused years of water damage in some areas. It’s created a dark, dank environment... a lot like a cave... I was walking through one of these areas when it happened. All unsuspecting, I rounded a corner with my flashlight and again caught that flash of movement from the corner of my eye. Swinging my light toward the movement, I had a split second to think “so, smartypants, what do you do if this is a ghost?” — unfortunately it wasn’t. At least a half-dozen sprickets starting springing in all directions, some of them toward me. Some of them on me. What happened next I can only describe as teleportation because amid the screaming and flailing and dropping everything in my hands, I somehow made it outside. I don’t know how, don’t even care, and I went home for the day. Needless to say, the next time I went out there I was wary. The hallway was clear, there was no way I was going back into the other hall with the spricket nest, so I went to my rooms. One has a window, so it’s nice and airy, but the other doesn’t and there wasn’t any power in the building yet. Venturing in there with my trusty flashlight, I hopped to the center of the room and started inspecting the walls — and ceiling — from a distance. Of course, one was waiting for me. It was a little spricket, as sprickets go, and it was just sort of sitting there, right in the corner where I planned to lie and wait for victims during the haunted house. “Aww, you’re a baby one. Aren’t you... cute? Heh heh... heh?” I told it. I left. Sprickets 2, Jeanette 0. Bloody’s Haunted House opened last weekend and I’ve made my peace with the sprickets. Or, at least I thought so, until during some down time on Saturday night I spotted one behind one of my fellow ghouls. When I pointed it out, what did this fellow do? He didn’t run screaming like a normal person. Oh, no. He poked it. It gave a mighty hop into the darkness. It’s still there. Waiting. Watching. So, come pay me a visit. If the ghosts don’t get you, the sprickets just might.