Fifty-eight years after the United States government launched Project 4.1 to study the medical effects of nuclear fallout, Justin Watson and his friends have continued working on the experiments, with disastrous results.

Photo by Stephen Kline

Watson, who graduated from Mason in 2010 with a degree in government and international politics, has opened an urban haunted house called The Warehouse with four colleagues in Rockville, MD.

The Warehouse features an imaginary scenario of a continuation of Project 4.1.

The haunted house centers on the story line of Atomic Advancements, a private pharmaceutical company that decided to continue the work on the decades-old research project to study the response of human beings who were exposed to significant radiation from high-yield weapons.

That is when everything went horribly wrong.

The Warehouse, which is located a block from the White Flint Metro station, is a 37,000 square foot department store in a dying shopping mall. Watson and his company have transformed the space into 17 rooms with zombies, decaying bodies and armed guards. A hospital wing, jail and laboratory are all included, but Watson has kept the final room a secret. He promises that it will be different than your average ending to a haunted house.

“Our premise is that The Warehouse is going to be more terrifying than any other haunt you’ve ever been to,” said Watson. “We aim to scare grown men.”

Visitors will explore the storyline by traveling through each room, meeting 75 zombies on their way through.

Watson and the four other co-owners of The Warehouse bring a variety of backgrounds to the company, including construction, law and human resources.

Watson said he knew that government and international politics were not the correct choice for him, but by the time he realized it he was too far into his degree to make a change.

Instead, he took advantage of his entrepreneurial spirit and joined up with his friends to create a zombie house.

Even with their combined skills, the company is still an amateur in the zombie and horror scene. To prepare, they have spent the past year visiting other haunts and attending conferences.

“The Warehouse is inspired by a mixture of Dawn of the Dead, Walking Dead and 28 Days Later,” Watson said. “Our zombies are aggressive. They won’t just stumble around like the zombies in the Thriller music video; they’re going to be vicious.”

Tickets are $30 on regular admission nights and $25 on student discount nights. More information can be found at the website