Leon Czolgosz, assassin of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, was electrocuted for his crime on October 29, 1901, at Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York. Among the personal effects found in his cell was a U.S. quarter stamped with the date 2218. The face in profile on said quarter was not George Washington, but rather a face which has yet to be identified.
In almost every building, there is one corner, one small enclosure that no one ever looks at. It’s the corner in the basement that has been blocked by a disused sofa for years; the thin space in the attic between the wall and the stacks and stacks of crates full of junk you never use, but could never throw away. The space that never sees the light of day, or any other kind of light at all. Where darkness does not merely dominate, but practically oozes out from around the edges of its prison.
No one knows quite how long a space must remain concealed for it to acquire this particular property, nor if there are any specific conditions it must meet. But it is a far more common occurrence than you might think.
In newer buildings, when this happens, the residents often report feeling cold when passing by, even in attics during the hottest of summers. Whenever contemplating taking a quick peek to see if there is anything actually there, an unnatural dread seizes them, and they leave the room quickly, if not quite running. Once left behind, the feeling passes, and it is quickly forgotten, or laughed off.
What actually happens in these forgotten sanctuaries of the dark? It is impossible to tell. For while many such corners have been exposed to reveal absolutely nothing, some brave souls have lost their sanity through nothing more than an ill-timed glance. The safest thing to do when encountered with such a phenomenon; close your eyes, rip away the area’s covering in a single motion, then keep a tight hold on what you’ve pulled away. No matter what you hear or feel, do not get up, do not look around, and do not try to cover your ears. You might be one of the lucky ones.
If you go into this one tiny, dingy one-story bar in Paris, and the right bartender is behind the counter that night, you might be able to see a very exclusive gallery show of the lost works of one Henri Beauchamp. But, to get in, you have to prove you’re a devotee of the artist to get in.
You’ll be asked, in clear and perfect English, “What would like to partake of this glorious night?”. Answer absinthe, no matter what. Any other drink, from whiskey to water, will kill you as you sleep.
The next question will regard the type, and you MUST answer one of two things: “The stuff that Man himself could not bear to take,” or, “The good stuff. The best stuff.” If you ask for any other absinthe, in any other way, you will be plagued by nightmares for 13 days. Each night’s dream will be more horrible than the last, until, upon the thirteenth dream, your nightmare will follow you, every moment of your waking and sleeping life. Don’t try and cheat the barkeep: the door locked behind you. You have to drink what he gives you, doom or not. That such a powerful man granted you audience should be enough. Besides, I’ve heard that the dying complimented his drinks in their death throes.
If you make it that far before sealing your fate, the bartender will say, “Be sure you handle this with care; this is the finest I have.” From here, you may do one of two things: Say, word for word, “I overestimated my fortitude, and I bid you good eve.”. If the barkeep nods, you may leave the door you entered, unharmed and with nothing gained and nothing lost (except the time spent inside).
Or you can go on. You will be given a glass with a seven-sided rim, with each side twisting ever so delicately around the basin until forming a sleek and simple handle. You will also receive a very, very, very special absinthe spoon, in the shape of a key; the holes at the key’s top serve as the draining point for the alcohol to pour over the sugar cube. And, of course, an unmarked bottle, stripped long ago of its label, scraps of paper sticking to its sides, covered in the rot of the decades past.
The spoon is completely flat, but has two distinct sides: one with a groove along the shaft of the key, and one without. Turn the shaft down, so its groove will be face down. If you attempt this face up, your absinthe will taste foul, your nose will burn, and your eyes will shrivel in their sockets with unspeakable horrors not of this world. Now, if your spoon is the right way up, begin preparing the absinthe as one would (put the sugar on the spoon, and pour the alcohol over so it gains its color and “special qualities”).
Say “cheers” to your friend, the barkeep, and bottoms up. If you don’t, the absinthe will burn every innard it touches with the power and pain of sulfuric acid.
If you’ve done it right, the already dim lights will go off, and darkness will consume the bar. Don’t be afraid; the darkness is the cue that you’ve been approved for the exhibit. Wait out the darkness, and keep silent as the dead, lest the bartender decide to make you so.
Eventually (not too long, two to three minutes), a green floodlight will shine brightly on a door on the far wall of the bar. The bar will be bathed in green, and not just from the floodlight. Little luminescent spheres will gently drift through the room, and the barkeep will no longer be there… nor any other unassuming patron inside before. There’s no danger by this point… consider it a safe point. If you didn’t finish the absinthe, you don’t have to, but you might need the alcohol. Either way, take the spoon and put it in the keyhole of the green-lit portal’s doorknob. It will fit perfectly, and reach the end of the keyhole with a resounding click.
In the heart of the Rockies, lies a grove of trees growing in a perfect circle. A grove that, aside from this geometric oddity, appears perfectly innocuous from the outside. If one should step foot into this grove however, the inside with be as dark as any moonless night in those mountain woods, even on the brightest summer’s day. Those who have mistakenly wandered into the grove are rarely in any condition to say what happens inside, many simply never come out. However, if you are very brave, or very foolish, you can attempt to camp within the grove. Go in with your eyes shut tight, lie down in your sleeping bag, and no matter what you hear, no matter what you feel, do not open them again. If you somehow manage to find your way to sleep before the grove takes your sanity or your life, you will awaken in the middle of the day to the light of the sun on your face in a the middle of a grove; a grove that, aside from growing in a perfect circle, and containing your heart’s one greatest desire, is perfectly innocuous. If one should step foot outside this grove however, they will find the outside to be dark as any moonless night in those mountain woods.
Get on any passenger bus that travels a long distance; Greyhound is usually a good pick. Anything that’s on the road for longer than 24 hours. Get a window seat facing west, then stare at the sun, waiting until sunset. Just before the sun touches the horizon, close your eyes. Hard. Do not turn away, don’t look at anything else. Cover your ears if you have to. After a while, you’ll notice that the bus has stopped moving. That’s the signal that you can open your eyes. When you do, you’ll see a gas station, illuminated only by a few flickering flourescent lights. There will be no sun, no moon, no stars in the sky. The convenience store will have its windows boarded up, but the sign will say ‘Open.’ If you feel you can’t go through with it, get back on the bus, return to your seat, and fall asleep. You’ll wake up at sunrise the next day, well on your way to wherever the bus was going. If you enter the store, the door will slam shut behind you. You will spend an unknown amount of time there, living out your worst nightmares made real. If you survive the ordeal without going mad, you will awake back on the bus, as it reaches its destination. Nothing will ever scare you again. Some say that after this ordeal, anything else simply pales in comparison. Others say that all that room contains, is all the fear you will ever feel in your entire life, and exposing yourself to it all at once keeps you from feeling any more. This, however, can only be done once. There are some exceptions to the ability, as well…