My time with The Tension Experience has been going on since February, when a mysterious shadow group called the OOA Institute contacted me out of the blue. For the past four months, my life has been a wild roller coaster ride that has kept me looking over my shoulder and eyeing my phone at all times. Because you never know when you will be called or what will be asked of you. I still don’t know who they are or what their main goal is, but the OOA seems to know every move I make…and they’re very, very interested in me.
I’ve already chronicled my first and second experiences, and we talked about it at length on the last Dinner for Fiends. Since then, our own Buz Wallick has joined in on the fun after the OOA reached out to him after I happened to drop his name in our conversations.
What really separates The Tension Experience from other haunts/ARGs is that no member has had the same experience. Some are just starting the event. Others have been around for a while and recruited to higher positions within the sect where they are given specialized tasks. Others (like DC’s Sean Decker) have been banned from the order for their unruly behavior and switched sides to an even more mysterious Anonymous-like group called “Sentinel,” who are intent on exposing the OOA. Personally, the Institute keeps treating me like I am some sort of “chosen one” in their grand plan, and my fate seems tied with an ex-member of the order named Jenna, whom I keep encountering through my experience.
The Tension Experience website has an active forum where all of its members come to share their own stories – and we’ve created some very strong friendships and even organized group meet-ups outside the Experience. That community is at the heart of the latest chapter in our long, twisted road. Previously, we’ve all gone through the experience as individuals, so all of us were shocked when we were sent a formal group invite to “the annual OOA mixer.”
After the last event, I was handed a note on the street – a series of runes that I couldn’t fully decipher the meaning of. When that note became public on the forums, I was called by Addison – one of the members of the OOA we had dealt with since the beginning. She sounded distressed and begged me to put her in touch with the person who passed me the note. Not knowing whom to trust, I was resistant – but she cried and pleaded with me until I gave in.
A few days later, we all meet for the mixer event. Coffee and donuts seemed awfully quaint for such a creepy organization, and each and every one of us expect ulterior motives when we meet in front of the address – an old veterans center in the San Fernando Valley. We’re instructed to leave our cellphones in our cars and, once the front doors opened, are given name tags and a rose. Several officers from the OOA greet us: a deliriously happy woman, an old jolly dancing man, a creepy blank-faced woman with a camera – and finally, the young blonde-haired Addison herself, looking nervous and submissive.
OOA posters adorn the wall (a closer inspected finally reveals that it’s an acronym for the “Oracular Order of Anoch”). Tables and chairs are laid out with a lot of snacks. We are encouraged to dance and converse and enjoy ourselves. The place feels like an after-church social and everyone is having a grand old time…
And then things start to get weird…
The OOA officers walk up to some people and cross out their name tags with a Sharpie. Why? I have no clue. Others members are pulled aside and whispered things. Some of them stop speaking for the rest of the night. One of our own is told something and spontaneously breaks down crying. And a few are pulled out of the room for several minutes at a time. Why? Again, no fucking clue. But the vibe of this little mixer is getting stranger by the minute.
The happy old guy pulls me aside and tells me a dirty joke from the 50’s about “Pastor Fuzz” (it’s so long, I won’t repeat it…but it’s a Google search away). A few minutes later, he pulls me aside and starts to tell me the exact same joke. When I beat him to the punchline, he laughs.
Addison pulls Buz aside and I see the two of them talking. She hands him a note and I can see he’s visibly freaked out…
Other members try to talk to her, and an OOA officer steps in between them. So I decide to try my luck and approach her.
“Hello, Addison. Did you call me the other night?”
She looks around the room and gives a hesitant nod. She clearly doesn’t want me talking to her.
“Did you find what you were looking for?”
She shakes her head and then quickly runs away from me. This girl is terrified.
That is when the “Leader” steps out from the back room and begins the “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony. He lectures us about our importance and says that our many questions during this experience have no answers. At least, not yet. He introduces Mike Fontaine, a member from our meet-up group who was recently anointed “scribe” of the OOA. After a nice speech about friendship and the importance of our community, a cellist comes out on stage and plays ominous tonal music for several minutes.
When she finishes, the Leader screams, “Bring out the traitor!” and the mood suddenly changes. A masked man is dragged to the front by the OOA officers – now adorned in robes – and the bag is pulled off his head to reveal Michael Rizzo – one of our very own initiates who posted negative comments on the Tension Experience’s Facebook page. In the weeks prior, he had been banned from the Experience and previously reached out to a lot of us on social media asking if we could get him back in the good graces of the Institute. We take a group vote on whether to welcome him back or banish him forever. We choose the former.
The Leader continues: “There is one more bit of unpleasantness we must deal with.” He tells us that one of their officers has sinned and must be disrobed and stripped of her rank. To everyone’s shock, they haul up Addison. As she kneels before the Leader, a man bursts in through the back, screaming “Addy! Addy!” It’s Addison’s father, calling for his daughter to come home. And he isn’t taking any prisoners. He pulls out his phone and starts snapping pictures of everyone, threatening to expose the order. Addison is tearful and we can all see that she is conflicted, but a fight breaks out between him and a security guard there. Addison’s dad is violently thrown up against a wall – leaving a massive hole where his head hit!
“Our location has been compromised!” the Leader screams, and the OOA ushers Addison out the front door, shielding her like she’s the President of the Unites States after an assassination attempt. The bouncer drags her father out the back door, kicking and screaming. All of us members are left alone and Buz breaks the stunned silence of the room: “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!?!”
We all get up and converse for several minutes, looking over any possible clues the OOA may have left behind. And that’s when a woman walks into the building and hands me a cellphone.
“It’s for you,” she says.
I take the phone, and a female voice tells me to walk into the back room, up the stairs, and sit down with “the bag” over my head. Pulse racing, I walk up into a dark cluttered attic and comply. I can’t see shit through the bag. But I hear footsteps and the woman’s voice. She gives me a safe word. Then a strange helmet is placed on my head and I feel robe tied around my body. Hands start to position my head in various ways as the woman rants to me. My heart is pounding so fast, I have trouble following her words. She compliments me on my shirt and tells me that I am starting to experience “the machine.” The same machine that made her into who she is now. The machine that will soon make me into what she is. Then everything is removed from me except the hood. I am instructed to count to ten, remove the hood and tell the others to leave.
I go back downstairs where all the initiates look like they’re about to die from the anticipation. “We have to leave…NOW!” I yell. And with that, we all file out and another tension-filled event has come to a close.
Many of us go to a post-event bar meet-up, which we like to do after these events. We learn from some members that they were tricked into meeting with Addison’s parents the day before the event. What has become of Addison? None of us know. But she’s still within the OOA while her parents are desperately searching for her. Whatever happens next will undoubtedly live up to The Tension Experience name.
After several paranoia-filled months, we have only scratched the surface of what’s in store for us and the rest of the world when tickets open up for the main event on July 1st. In the meantime, you can join us by signing up on their website. It’s not too late to take the plunge down the rabbit hole…
Keep it tuned here for the latest updates in this weird ongoing saga…
In the days following the event, there were growing concerns over Addison’s whereabouts. Several of us received distressed phone calls from her and others warning of her safety. When the OOA made several ominous posts, many of us feared the worst.
Out of nowhere, The Tension Experience Facebook page posted a live Periscope video of a junk shop…revealing Addison alive in a chair. Several indiscernible photos were dropped before her, which she proceeded to cross out and seal in an envelope.
Someone off camera drew the OOA symbol in blood on the letter…and the feed went dead!
Events are getting darker and stranger by the day. What happens next is anyone’s guess. But I do know one thing: It’s going to get tense.
Videos captured by Buz Wallick. Though audible on periscope, no audio was available to capture.
Later that night, another live video was broadcast… Addison weeping and burning several things at a bonfire. Then, in her most assured voice yet, says “It’s okay. This is my path. I’m ready.”
It seems as though Addison is back in the arms of the OOA. But at what cost? What in Anoch’s name is happening to her?!? And what will happen to us?!?
To be continued…
Video captured by Buz Wallick. Though audible on periscope, no audio was available to capture.
Indoctrination begins this fall, 2016, in Los Angeles, California; and the OOA Institute would encourage those interested in taking the path to enlightenment to visit The Tension Experience website, “like” The Tension Experience on Facebook, and follow The Tension Experience on Twitter and on Instagram.