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ELKO — Bang! A bullet slammed into my chest.

For a second that lasted an eternity, I swayed and stared into the red-rimmed eyes of the madman before me. He grinned ... his mouth a toothless, black chasm.

“This [haunted] house is built to scare,” said Rusty Bahr, Boys and Girls Club CEO.

The Boys and Girls Club and Friends in Service Helping cohost “Haunt After Dark.” The Allhallows event raises the hair on the back of your neck, along with funds for both agencies.

The experience is certainly not for the faint of heart. Besides being “shot” with an air gun, I encountered a number of other sights, sounds and sensations that would send most people running home for their mommy.

“About a third of the people who come here chicken out,” Bahr said. “We have chicken doors throughout the building.”

During my tour, just minutes before the house opened Saturday, I got the dubious honor of being the first victim. “All bloodied up and no one to scare,” this collection of grim ghouls let me have it.

After escaping the gunman I stumbled into a mental ward where a psychotic mother sat with her demon infant, witnessed a gruesome chainsaw attack, and barely escaped a rabid dog protecting an overflowing vat of offal.

“The people in the rooms are great at what they do,” makeup artist Bree Foster said. “They know how to just “get” you. They jump out at you, chase you and they scream at you.”

Foster used to work at Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks, California as an actor.

“Every room has a purpose,” Bahr said. “It’s a show. Something happens exactly the way it’s supposed to in each room. Don’t come here if you just want to have a ‘fun’ Halloween time.”

“The worst thing for us is that some people get so scared they swing at you and call you names,” Foster said.

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Those who “survive” the 15-minute journey through the heart of darkness will likely run out on wobbly legs, hearts pounding. Hightailing it to a get-away car is to be expected.

But, there is more. “Psycho Circus” was developed in 2017. Housed in a different section of the building as “Haunt,” this circus-like scene is a clown hater’s nightmare.

“These clowns are dying to show off their talents and mesmerize their victims with the greatest haunted show on Earth,” the website boasts.

The clowns were off that night, so I was spared.

It has been three years since the original “After Dark” merged into “Haunt After Dark.” Bahr said that during this time they have put about $50,000 into the program. The new equipment and animatronics have made this into a one-of-a-kind experience.

“We’re trying to make this one of the scariest haunted houses in the United States,” Bahr said. “Don’t bring the little ones. They won’t make it.”

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Business and lifestyles reporter

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