We've all heard the convention stories. Drunken misadventures, meaningful encounters with celebrities, romantic trysts, and dealer room coups. Here's one that's a little bit different.

It was the first year The Horrorfind Weekend was in Gettysburg. My friend Andy Monge came in from Minnesota for the event. It was, sadly, our only in-person meeting, but he and I have been close friends from afar for a long time.

Instead of meeting at the con, we decided for him to fly to Virginia, spend a day or two hanging out, then make the road trip to Pennsylvania together. It was a great choice. The entire experience is one of my best convention memories.

Sure, we partied up. We hung out with the writers. We laughed until we were both sick.

He and I got to the hotel early on Thursday. Things were quiet, which was fine by us. Some calm before the riotous storm. We were sitting in the bar around four in the afternoon. Drinking some beers, talking, laughing, anticipating the excitement. A few con people wandered past now and then. We exchanged pleasantries with the very friendly Ogre, from Skinny Puppy.

There we were, minding our own, when suddenly the entire room was filled with senior citizens. There were dozens. They were the epitome of urbane sophistication. Nattily dressed, cocktails in hand. Or perhaps they were mocktails.

The older ladies and gentlemen seemed to have stepped out of a classic Hollywood production. I almost expected to see Clark Gable or Carole Lombard.

We went on with our conversation, probably kvetching about genre trends we hated. This went on for an hour or so. Then it happened.

A middle-aged woman came to the entrance and made an announcement to the effect of "Everyone! It's time! Let's go!"

The air itself seemed to deflate out of the room. The former celebrants all slumped, their poise turned into utter defeat. They shambled out the door slowly, heads down, looking like concentration camp victims heading to their demise.

Andy and I looked at each other, puzzled, and without speaking we got up and walked over to a large window.

Outside was a bus, and the people were climbing into it. On the side was the name of a retirement community.

I suppose this was a regular outing for the group. An hour a week, or month, where they could pretend they were younger and more vital. Still involved in the business of life and the social order. It was a little like the cosplay we would see later in the weekend.

We were both haunted by the experience. It was a potent reminder of what lies ahead for all of us. Those of us, at least, who can afford an upscale rest home.

It was one of the best weekends of my life, but the encounter with the senior citizens clouded over the whole thing. I can't remember exactly what year it was, but I think nearly fifteen Halloweens have passed. I still think of it often, and I reflect upon the fragile dignity of old age.

Written by Mark Sieber

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