Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
N̴o̸n̷e̷ ̶o̵f̴ ̷u̴s̷ ̵r̸e̶a̵l̷i̵z̶e̸d̴ ̵w̴h̷a̴t̵ ̶w̷e̸ ̵w̴e̶r̴e̷ ̶g̷e̸t̸t̷i̷n̴g̷ ̷i̵n̸t̵o̶.̶ ̵D̸a̸v̵i̴d̴ ̷i̸s̸ ̸t̵h̵e̶ ̸o̵n̴e̶ ̸w̵h̵o̷ ̴c̶l̵i̵c̸k̴e̶d̶ ̷o̷n̵ ̸t̶h̵e̵ ̶p̴o̶s̷t̴ ̵a̴n̶d̶ ̸d̵e̷c̴i̴d̸e̸d̷ ̴w̵e̸ ̸s̶h̴o̷u̴l̷d̸ ̷p̶l̷a̷y̷.̵
It was Thursday night and David’s dad was working. Naturally, at the prospect of finding ourselves on a Friday night unsupervised, my friends and I were drawn to David’s house, like moths into fire.
We are all 17 years old. Before we played, we were beset with that unshakable, idealist faith of youth. Nothing could touch us; we would live forever. The psychic knock game broke this belief, among other ideals.
Nobody believed it was real. The four of us had performed a dozen of these rituals before, to little results. Our little “Scooby Doo Club” consisted of me, my boyfriend David, Donna, and Mike. Smoking a bowl and poking around the internet for ‘sinister’ games to play was just what we did for kicks. The only thing any of them ever actually did was make our skin crawl at the implication of what if? – effectively making us jump at unexpected sounds and non-aggressive shadows. Everyone’s played Bloody Mary, but nobody expects to actually see her in the mirror. In our world of warning labels, the only thrill left that you can find is the thrill of ignoring them.
We were crowded in the living room, scrolling through YouTube on David’s smart TV. Donna had queued up a video that was supposed to be unsettling. It wasn’t. The caption on the video read:
“Japanese Girl Suicide Picture Urban Legend”
Allegedly, this girl had painted a picture of herself as a suicide note. Donna told us: “It was really popular in Korea and got spread around a lot.” Apparently if you stared into the painting’s eyes for long enough, the girl would smirk and her hair would move.
At least, that’s what Donna said. Her ritual choices were usually stupid. I didn’t see shit.
“Donna, this is fucking stupid and the music is annoying.” I told her.
She paused the video and glowered at me. “I thought you guys would like this. She’s pretty hot.”
David laughed and said: “We don’t care what she looks like. This is dumb. I’m with Gage on this one. I don’t really want to watch this girl’s face not change at all for five whole minutes.” Thankful that he’d agreed with me, we exchanged a quiet high-five.
Donna huffed, “Of course you’d side with your stupid boyfriend. At least Mike agrees that she’s hot,” and then with a touch of the dramatic melancholy that was Donna’s trademark, she said to herself: “Her eyes are so sad.”
Mike giggled and threw a pillow at her. Getting a bit too stoned and giggling was Mike’s signature.
“Here’s one,” David grinned. He sent the browser command to the TV and opened creepypasta.com.
Donna groaned: “I don’t wanna read.”
David read the article for her. It was titled:
The Psychic Knock Game
There was more to the rules than the post stated. Here are a few that I’ve come up with:
1st: Do. Not. Play. This. Game.
2nd: The person on the other side of the door must answer it.
3rd: If they don’t, it will knock on your door instead.
None of us even expected the silly Snapchat user in the post to be real… but they are. Go ahead and add them if you don’t believe me. You shouldn’t. But you probably will. We all did
Mike giggled, “Who should we do it to?”
David had a gleam of excitement in his eye. “My stepdad.”
“What if your mom answers?”
Donna sighed, “It’s not real, Gage.”
David was still grinning, “Mom is in Michigan visiting her sister. That’s why we’ve been here all week.”
The front door opened and we all jumped.
David’s sister Morgan doubled over in laughter, “Boo!” She held her side as she tried to catch her breath, “Shouldn’t smoke so much, shit makes you paranoid.” She crossed into the darkened kitchen and opened the refrigerator door, bathing her face in the icy light and grabbing a case of their dad’s beer. Then, taking her keys from the counter, she headed back to the door. She stopped at the frame before she left and turned back, eyeing David, “Better get rid of the smell before Dad gets back. He doesn’t want you guys smoking in here.”
“Oh, but you can take his beer to a party and that’s cool.”
“Shut up.” She rolled her eyes and with a cheerful, “later nerds,” was gone. We heard the snick of the lock behind her and moments later, her headlights shone through the kitchen window as the car backed out of the driveway.
I was already wearing a black t-shirt, but David found clothes for the rest. A black sweater that hung loosely on Donna’s wiry-frame covered her past her shorts. A pair of pants for me. Mike was bigger, so David had improvised with one of his dad’s work uniforms; black cotton pants and a plain black chef’s coat. We looked ridiculous.
David had stolen his stepdad’s cigarettes. We’d been smoking them all night; there were a few left and he insisted that it was a good enough personal item.
I read through the rules again. “It’s not gonna work. We need a picture of the door.”
David handed me his phone with a grin. On the screen was a live video feed of the door in question. I looked back at him confused.
“He put in one of those camera doorbells a couple weeks ago. Dumb idiot put it behind the pillar so you can’t see anything except the door.” He giggled. “When you walk up to the house you can’t even see it. He’s been opening the door to yell at everyone who knocks now for not using the bell.”
Mike laughed so hard at this that his eyes filled with tears, “So perfect. He’ll be so mad.”
Donna pulled up a GPS app and mapped the route to David’s parants’ house.
And so the ritual began.
None of us thought it would work. As we passed the energy from one hand to the next, it grew around us. The air felt oppressive–hot. As beads of sweat soaked my forehead, my breathing grew short and staccatoed. I felt myself growing faint but calmed at the notion that I was just freaking myself out. Then I looked over to David and realized he wasn’t in control of himself any longer.
The house rumbled with the energy and we heard a hissing voice from everywhere around us growl: YESSSSSS.
The candle snuffed itself out. David’s eyes were round planets with stars swirling within, wide as if held open by invisible fingers. When the candle burst back to life, it burned with the intensity of a soldering flame, hot and blinding-white. I didn’t want to, but I felt compelled as the others raised their arms to do the same. David’s eyes changed to glistening, empty pools of milk.
He knocked three times into the air in front of him.
The candle snuffed itself out again, leaving the room in cavernous darkness, save for the lights of the phones displaying the map and the live feed of the door.
The door that his stepdad did not open.
We could see him through the glass at the top; heard as he swore on the other side of the closed door through the live video feed: “Son of a bitch. You fucking kids. Knock on this fucking door again. I’ll fucking–” his voice trailed off as he moved away.
Donna was excited. “Holy shit. Does that mean it worked? He heard it?” Nobody else spoke.
Mike offered a blood curdling scream that rang until Donna covered his mouth with her hand. She directed all of us, with her eyes, to be quiet.
We stared at each other, not making a sound.
Mike was typing something.
His eyes shone with panic, like an animal trapped. He handed Donna his phone:
Do you think that’s it? the thing? Will it give up like in the doorbell vid??
“There was nothing in the doorbell video. Just my stepdad yelling,” David whispered.
“Shhh,” Donna hissed.
The door opened slowly and nobody moved as a dark shadow entered.
“Sorry, couldn’t get my key to work. Forgot my dumb phone.” Morgan looked at us for a moment as if we had three heads each. Grabbing her phone out of her room, she then looked directly at Mike, “I know that was you. You scream like a girl.”
We doubled over in laughter. Slowly, over the course of the next half hour, a sense of ease settled back into the room.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a dude scream like that,” Donna jibed him.
He threw another pillow at her, “Whatever dude. That was fucking scary as shit,” and he began giggling again.
The rest of the night passed without incident and, for the most part, we forgot about it.
I was hanging out with David the following night. It was just the two of us. Morgan was staying with a friend and his dad was off at work again.
Our phones chimed in unison. A new Snapchat message. I fiddled with my phone and tapped the notification. Large white letters filled the black screen:
You called me, but no-one answered. I will return. One of you must let me in.
It was from callme_469
“So stupid,” David said, putting his phone down on the coffee table. I felt uneasy.
I felt my stomach fall away.
David looked startled but got up saying, “It’s probably my dad. The lock sticks,” he was almost to the door.
“Wait!” I shouted.
David froze as I walked to the kitchen window and gestured to the empty driveway, “If that’s him–”
“–how did he get home?” He finished for me.
We weren’t being loud enough to be heard, but a voice responded. David’s dad. “Son, it is your Father, home here now. Lock sticking. Open door for Father?” The words sounded new. Whatever was on the other side of the door spoke with the right voice, but the sentence structure was jumbled, as though it was saying words it hadn’t used before. They were harsh. Emphasized wrongly.
This time the message read:
My father’s house has many rooms.
We grew silent and stared at each other.
Many rooms have many doors
The knocking began again, this time all around us.
THUD THUD THUD
THUD THUD KNOCKBANG THUD POUND
THUD POUNDBANG THUD THUD KNOCK
BANG POUNDIt came from the kitchen cabinets, from the closets, the cupboards, doorways, it rattled the mirrors of the medicine cabinets, and it shook from inside of the refrigerator. It struck everything that had a door, and when that didn’t work, it began knocking on walls, the ceiling, and floors.
David began hyperventilating. I was in shock.
Then, as quickly as it began, it ended. Headlights bathed the front of the house through the kitchen window. Before long we could hear someone at the lock muttering: “Goddamit”
Knock, knock, knock.
“Hey!” His shouts were muffled behind the door. “I can’t get my key to–nevermind.”
We both heard the sound as the key found its home in the lock tumblers and snicked the bolt aside.
I may have imagined the monstrous, formless shadow that loomed behind him; imagined the smile full of teeth shining in the dark like boxcutter blades…
…but I can’t be sure if I saw anything, because as soon as the door inched open wide enough, I bolted, past David’s father and his confused expression, and out into the night.
I didn’t stop running until I was at the door to my own house, but I couldn’t bring myself to open it; unsure of whether it was safe. Initially I’d grazed the handle and couldn’t be sure if I’d heard a knock or if it was the beating sound of blood in my ears.
I recognized the line from my years in Sunday School–paraphrased and perverted to serve its sinister purpose:
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat.
I’ve been calling David for hours now. He isn’t picking up.
For more on The Psychic Knock Game, click here.
Check out two stories from author Scott Savino (plus many more) in Monstronomicon, a collection of 100 short horror stories from 70 authors, now available on Amazon.com.
Please support the author’s latest project on Kickstarter as well. Black Rainbow is an anthology collection of LGBTQIA horror stories, with tales written by LGBTQIA authors and allies, and featuring LGBTQIA themes. To pledge your support to the project, visit it on Kickstarter now.