Estimated reading time — 48 minutes
Let me start by saying that Peter Terry was addicted to heroin.
We were friends in college and continued to be after I graduated. Notice that I said “I”. He dropped out after two years of barely cutting it. After I moved out of the dorms and into a small apartment, I didn’t see Peter as much. We would talk online every now and then (AIM was king in pre-Facebook years). There was a period where he wasn’t online for about five weeks straight. I wasn’t worried. He was a pretty notorious flake and drug addict, so I assumed he just stopped caring. Then one night I saw him log on. Before I could initiate a conversation, he sent me a message.
“David, man, we need to talk.”
That was when he told me about the NoEnd House. It got that name because no one had ever reached the final exit. The rules were pretty simple and cliche: reach the final room of the building and you win $500. There were nine rooms in all. The house was located outside the city, roughly four miles from my house. Apparently, Peter had tried and failed. He was a heroin and who-knows-what-the-fuck addict, so I figured the drugs got the best of him and he wigged out at a paper ghost or something. He told me it would be too much for anyone. That it was unnatural.
I didn’t believe him. I told him I would check it out the next night and no matter how hard he tried to convince me otherwise, $500 sounded too good to be true. I had to go. I set out the following night.
When I arrived, I immediately noticed something strange about the building. Have you ever seen or read something that shouldn’t be scary, but for some reason a chill crawls up your spine? I walked toward the building and the feeling of uneasiness only intensified as I opened the front door.
My heart slowed and I let a relieved sigh leave me as I entered. The room looked like a normal hotel lobby decorated for Halloween. A sign was posted in place of a worker. It read, “Room 1 this way. Eight more follow. Reach the end and you win!” I chuckled and made my way to the first door.
The first area was almost laughable. The decor resembled the Halloween aisle of a K-Mart, complete with sheet ghosts and animatronic zombies that gave a static growl when you passed by. At the far end was an exit; it was the only door besides the one I entered through. I brushed through the fake spider webs and headed for the second room.
I was greeted by fog as I opened the door to room two. The room definitely upped the ante in terms of technology. Not only was there a fog machine, but a bat hung from the ceiling and flew in a circle. Scary. They seemed to have a Halloween soundtrack that one would find in a 99 cent store on loop somewhere in the room. I didn’t see a stereo, but I guessed they must have used a PA system. I stepped over a few toy rats that wheeled around and walked with a puffed chest across to the next area.
I reached for the doorknob and my heart sank to my knees. I did not want to open that door. A feeling of dread hit me so hard I could barely even think. Logic overtook me after a few terrifying moments, and I shook it off and entered the next room.
Room three is when things began to change.
On the surface, it looked like a normal room. There was a chair in the middle of the wood-paneled floor. A single lamp in the corner did a poor job of lighting the area, casting a few shadows across the floor and walls. That was the problem. Shadows. Plural.
With the exception of the chair’s, there were others. I had barely walked in the door and I was already terrified. It was at that moment that I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t even think as I automatically tried to open the door I came through. It was locked from the other side.
That set me off. Was someone locking the doors as I progressed? There was no way. I would have heard them. Was it a mechanical lock that set automatically? Maybe. But I was too scared to really think. I turned back to the room and the shadows were gone. The chair’s shadow remained, but the others were gone. I slowly began to walk. I used to hallucinate when I was a kid, so I wrote off the shadows as a figment of my imagination. I began to feel better as I made it to the halfway point of the room. I looked down as I took my steps and that’s when I saw it.
Or didn’t see it. My shadow wasn’t there. I didn’t have time to scream. I ran as fast as I could to the other door and flung myself without thinking into the room beyond.
The fourth room was possibly the most disturbing. As I closed the door, all light seemed to be sucked out and put back into the previous room. I stood there, surrounded by darkness, not able to move. I’m not afraid of the dark and never have been, but I was absolutely terrified. All sight had left me. I held my hand in front of my face and if I didn’t know what I was doing, I would never have been able to tell. Darkness doesn’t describe it. I couldn’t hear anything. It was dead silence. When you’re in a sound-proof room, you can still hear yourself breathing. You can hear yourself being alive.
I began to stumble forward after a few moments, my rapidly beating heart the only thing I could feel. There was no door in sight. Wasn’t even sure there was one this time. The silence was then broken by a low hum.
I felt something behind me. I spun around wildly but could barely even see my nose. I knew it was there, though. Regardless of how dark it was, I knew something was there. The hum grew louder, closer. It seemed to surround me, but I knew whatever was causing the noise was in front of me, inching closer. I took a step back; I had never felt that kind of fear. I can’t really describe true fear. I wasn’t even scared I was going to die; I was scared of what the alternative was. I was afraid of what this thing had in store for me. Then the lights flashed for a second and I saw it.
Nothing. I saw nothing and I know I saw nothing there. The room was again plunged into darkness and the hum became a wild screech. I screamed in protest; I couldn’t hear this goddamn sound for another minute. I ran backwards, away from the noise, and fumbled for the door handle. I turned and fell into room five.
Before I describe room five, you have to understand something. I am not a drug addict. I have had no history of drug abuse or any sort of psychosis short of the childhood hallucinations I mentioned earlier, and those were only when I was really tired or just waking up. I entered the NoEnd House with a clear head.
After falling in from the previous room, my view of room five was from my back, looking up at the ceiling. What I saw didn’t scare me; it simply surprised me. Trees had grown into the room and towered above my head. The ceilings in this room were taller than the others, which made me think I was in the center of the house. I got up off the floor, dusted myself off, and took a look around. It was definitely the biggest room of them all. I couldn’t even see the door from where I was; various brush and trees must have blocked my line of sight with the exit.
Up to this point, I figured the rooms were going to get scarier, but this was a paradise compared to the last room. I also assumed whatever was in room four stayed back there. I was incredibly wrong.
As I made my way deeper into the room, I began to hear what one would hear if they were in a forest; chirping bugs and the occasional flap of birds seemed to be my only company in this room. That was the thing that bothered me the most. I heard the bugs and other animals, but I didn’t see any of them. I began to wonder how big this house was. From the outside when I first walked up to it, it looked like a regular house. It was definitely on the bigger side, but this was almost a full forest in here. The canopy covered my view of the ceiling, but I assumed it was still there, however high it was. I couldn’t see any walls, either. The only way I knew I was still inside was that the floor matched the other rooms: the standard dark wood paneling.
I kept walking, hoping that the next tree I passed would reveal the door. After a few moments of walking, I felt a mosquito fly onto my arm. I shook it off and kept going. A second later, I felt about ten more land on my skin at different places. I felt them crawl up and down my arms and legs and a few made their way across my face. I flailed wildly to get them all off but they just kept crawling. I looked down and let out a muffled scream – more of a whimper, to be honest. I didn’t see a single bug. Not one bug was on me, but I could feel them crawl. I heard them fly by my face and sting my skin but I couldn’t see a single one. I dropped to the ground and began to roll wildly. I was desperate. I hated bugs, especially ones I couldn’t see or touch. But these bugs could touch me and they were everywhere.
I began to crawl. I had no idea where I was going; the entrance was nowhere in sight and I still hadn’t even seen the exit. So I just crawled, my skin wriggling with the presence of those phantom bugs. After what seemed like hours, I found the door. I grabbed the nearest tree and propped myself up, mindlessly slapping my arms and legs to no avail. I tried to run, but I couldn’t; my body was exhausted from crawling and dealing with whatever it was that was on me. I took a few shaky steps to the door, grabbing each tree on the way for support.
It was only a few feet away when I heard it. The low hum from before. It was coming from the next room and it was deeper. I could almost feel it inside my body, like when you stand next to an amp at a concert. The feeling of the bugs on me lessened as the hum grew louder. As I placed my hand on the doorknob, the bugs were completely gone but I couldn’t bring myself to turn the knob. I knew that if I let go, the bugs would return and there was no way I would make it back to room four. I just stood there, my head pressed against the door marked six and my hand shakily grasping the knob. The hum was so loud I couldn’t even hear myself pretend to think. There was nothing I could do but move on. Room six was next, and room six was Hell.
I closed the door behind me, my eyes held shut and my ears ringing. The hum was surrounding me. As the door clicked into place, the hum was gone. I opened my eyes in surprise and the door I had shut was gone. It was just a wall now. I looked around in shock. The room was identical to room three – the same chair and lamp – but with the correct amount of shadows this time. The only real difference was that there was no exit door and the one I came in through was gone. As I said before, I had no previous issues in terms of mental instability, but at that moment I fell into what I now know was insanity. I didn’t scream. I didn’t make a sound.
At first I scratched softly. The wall was tough, but I knew the door was there somewhere. I just knew it was. I scratched at where the doorknob was. I clawed at the wall frantically with both hands, my nails being filed down to the skin against the wood. I fell silently to my knees, the only sound in the room the incessant scratching against the wall. I knew it was there. The door was there, I knew it was just there. I knew if I could just get past this wall –
“Are you alright?”
I jumped off the ground and spun in one motion. I leaned against the wall behind me and I saw what it was that spoke to me; to this day I regret ever turning around.
There was a little girl. She was wearing a soft, white dress that went down to her ankles. She had long blonde hair to the middle of her back and white skin and blue eyes. She was the most frightening thing I had ever seen, and I know that nothing in my life will ever be as unnerving as what I saw in her. While looking at her, I saw something else. Where she stood I saw what looked like a man’s body, only larger than normal and covered in hair. He was naked from head to toe, but his head was not human and his toes were hooves. It wasn’t the Devil, but at that moment it might as well have been. The form had the head of a ram and the snout of a wolf.
It was horrifying and it was synonymous with the little girl in front of me. They were the same form. I can’t really describe it, but I saw them at the same time. They shared the same spot in that room, but it was like looking at two separate dimensions. When I saw the girl I saw the form, and when I saw the form I saw the girl. I couldn’t speak. I could barely even see. My mind was revolting against what it was attempting to process. I had been scared before in my life and I had never been more scared than when I was trapped in the fourth room, but that was before room six. I just stood there, staring at whatever it was that spoke to me. There was no exit. I was trapped here with it. And then it spoke again.
“David, you should have listened.”
When it spoke, I heard the words of the little girl, but the other form spoke through my mind in a voice I won’t attempt to describe. There was no other sound. The voice just kept repeating that sentence over and over in my mind and I agreed. I didn’t know what to do. I was slipping into madness, yet couldn’t take my eyes off what was in front of me. I dropped to the floor. I thought I had passed out, but the room wouldn’t let me. I just wanted it to end. I was on my side, my eyes wide open and the form staring down at me. Scurrying across the floor in front of me was one of the battery-powered rats from the second room.
The house was toying with me. But for some reason, seeing that rat pulled my mind back from whatever depths it was headed and I looked around the room. I was getting out of there. I was determined to get out of that house and live and never think about this place again. I knew this room was Hell and I wasn’t ready to take up a residency. At first, it was just my eyes that moved. I searched the walls for any kind of opening. The room wasn’t that big, so it didn’t take long to soak up the entire layout. The demon still taunted me, the voice growing louder as the form stayed rooted where it stood. I placed my hand on the floor, lifted myself up to all four and turned to scan the wall behind me.
Then I saw something I couldn’t believe. The form was now right at my back, whispering into my mind how I shouldn’t have come. I felt its breath on the back of my neck, but I refused to turn around. A large rectangle was scratched into the wood, with a small dent chipped away in the center of it. Right in front of my eyes, I saw the large seven I had mindlessly etched into the wall. I knew what it was: room seven was just beyond that wall where room five was moments ago.
I don’t know how I had done it – maybe it was just my state of mind at the time – but I had created the door. I knew I had. In my madness, I had scratched into the wall what I needed the most: an exit to the next room. Room seven was close. I knew the demon was right behind me, but for some reason, it couldn’t touch me. I closed my eyes and placed both hands on the large seven in front of me. I pushed. I pushed as hard as I could. The demon was now screaming in my ear. It told me I was never leaving. It told me that this was the end but I wasn’t going to die; I was going to live there in room six with it. I wasn’t. I pushed and screamed at the top of my lungs. I knew I was going to push through the wall eventually.
I clenched my eyes shut and screamed, and the demon was gone. I was left in silence. I turned around slowly and was greeted by the room as it was when I entered: just a chair and a lamp. I couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t have time to well. I turned back to the seven and jumped back slightly. What I saw was a door. It wasn’t the one I had scratched in, but a regular door with a large seven on it. My whole body was shaking. It took me a while to turn the knob. I just stood there for a while, staring at the door. I couldn’t stay in room six. I couldn’t. But if this was only room six, I couldn’t imagine was seven had in store. I must have stood there for an hour, just staring at the seven. Finally, with a deep breath, I twisted the knob and opened the door to room seven.
I stumbled through the door mentally exhausted and physically weak. The door behind me closed and I realized where I was. I was outside. Not outside like room five, but actually outside. My eyes stung. I wanted to cry. I fell to my knees and tried but I couldn’t. I was finally out of that hell. I didn’t even care about the prize that was promised. I turned and saw that the door I just went through was the entrance. I walked to my car and drove home, thinking of how nice a shower sounded.
As I pulled up to my house, I felt uneasy. The joy of leaving NoEnd House had faded and dread was slowly building in my stomach. I shook it off as residual from the house and made my way to the front door. I entered and immediately went up to my room. There on my bed was my cat, Baskerville. He was the first living thing I had seen all night and I reached to pet him. He hissed and swiped at my hand. I recoiled in shock, as he had never acted like that. I thought, “Whatever, he’s an old cat.” I jumped in the shower and got ready for what I was expecting to be a sleepless night.
After my shower, I went to the kitchen to make something to eat. I descended the stairs and turned into the family room; what I saw would be forever burned into my mind, however. My parents were lying on the ground, naked and covered in blood. They were mutilated to near-unidentifiable states. Their limbs were removed and placed next to their bodies, and their heads were placed on their chests facing me. The most unsettling part was their expressions. They were smiling, as though they were happy to see me. I vomited and sobbed there in the family room. I didn’t know what had happened; they didn’t even live with me at the time. I was a mess. Then I saw it: a door that was never there before. A door with a large eight scrawled on it in blood.
I was still in the house. I was standing in my family room but I was in room seven. The faces of my parents smiled wider as I realized this. They weren’t my parents; they couldn’t be, but they looked exactly like them. The door marked eight was across the room, behind the mutilated bodies in front of me. I knew I had to move on, but at that moment I gave up. The smiling faces tore into my mind; they grounded me where I stood. I vomited again and nearly collapsed. Then the hum returned. It was louder than ever and it filled the house and shook the walls. The hum compelled me to walk.
I began to walk slowly, making my way closer to the door and the bodies. I could barely stand, let alone walk, and the closer I got to my parents the closer I came to suicide. The walls were now shaking so hard it seemed as though they were going to crumble, but still the faces smiled at me. As I inched closer, their eyes followed me. I was now between the two bodies, a few feet away from the door. The dismembered hands clawed their way across the carpet towards me, all while the faces continued to stare. New terror washed over me and I walked faster. I didn’t want to hear them speak. I didn’t want the voices to match those of my parents. They began to open their mouths and the hands were inches from my feet. In a dash of desperation, I lunged toward the door, threw it open, and slammed it behind me. Room eight.
I was done. After what I had just experienced, I knew there wasn’t anything else this fucking house could throw at me that I couldn’t live through. There was nothing short of the fires of Hell that I wasn’t ready for. Unfortunately, I underestimated the abilities of NoEnd House. Unfortunately, things got more disturbing, more terrifying, and more unspeakable in room eight.
I still have trouble believing what I saw in room eight. Again, the room was a carbon copy of rooms three and six, but sitting in the usually empty chair was a man. After a few seconds of disbelief, my mind finally accepted the fact that the man sitting in the chair was me. Not someone who looked like me; it was David Williams. I walked closer. I had to get a better look even though I was sure of it. He looked up at me and I noticed tears in his eyes.
“Please… please, don’t do it. Please, don’t hurt me.”
“What?” I asked. “Who are you? I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Yes, you are…” He was sobbing now. “You’re going to hurt me and I don’t want you to.” He sat in the chair with his legs up and began rocking back and forth. It was actually pretty pathetic looking, especially since he was me, identical in every way.
“Listen, who are you?” I was now only a few feet from my doppelgänger. It was the weirdest experience yet, standing there talking to myself. I wasn’t scared, but I would be soon. “Why are you-”
“You’re going to hurt me you’re going to hurt me if you want to leave you’re going to hurt me.”
“Why are you saying this? Just calm down, alright? Let’s try and figure this-” And then I saw it. The David sitting down was wearing the same clothes as me, except for a small red patch on his shirt embroidered with the number nine.
“You’re going to hurt me you’re going to hurt me don’t please you’re going to hurt me…”
My eyes didn’t leave that small number on his chest. I knew exactly what it was. The first few doors were plain and simple, but after a while, they got a little more ambiguous. Seven was scratched into the wall, but by my own hands. Eight was marked in blood above the bodies of my parents. But nine – this number was on a person, a living person. Worse still, it was on a person that looked exactly like me.
“David?” I had to ask.
“Yes… you’re going to hurt me you’re going to hurt me…” He continued to sob and rock.
He answered to David. He was me, right down to the voice. But that nine. I paced around for a few minutes while he sobbed in his chair. The room had no door and, similarly to room six, the door I came through was gone. For some reason, I assumed that scratching would get me nowhere this time. I studied the walls and floor around the chair, sticking my head underneath and seeing if anything was below. Unfortunately, there was. Below the chair was a knife. Attached was a tag that read, “To David – From Management.”
The feeling in my stomach as I read that tag was something sinister. I wanted to throw up and the last thing I wanted to do was remove that knife from under that chair. The other David was still sobbing uncontrollably. My mind was spinning into an attic of unanswerable questions. Who put this here and how did they get my name? Not to mention the fact that as I knelt on the cold wood floor I also sat in that chair, sobbing in protest of being hurt by myself. It was all too much to process. The house and the management had been playing with me this whole time. My thoughts for some reason turned to Peter and whether or not he got this far. If he did, if he met a Peter Terry sobbing in this very chair, rocking back and forth… I shook those thoughts out of my head; they didn’t matter. I took the knife from under the chair and immediately the other David went quiet.
“David,” He said in my voice, “What do you think you’re going to do?”
I lifted myself from the ground and clenched the knife in my hand.
“I’m going to get out of here.”
David was still sitting in the chair, though he was very calm now. He looked up at me with a slight grin. I couldn’t tell if he was going to laugh or strangle me. Slowly, he got up from the chair and stood, facing me. It was uncanny. His height and even the way he stood matched mine. I felt the rubber hilt of the knife in my hand and gripped it tighter. I don’t know what I was planning on doing with it, but I had a feeling I was going to need it.
“Now,” his voice was slightly deeper than my own. “I’m going to hurt you. I’m going to hurt you and I’m going to keep you here.” I didn’t respond. I just lunged and tackled him to the ground. I had mounted him and looked down, knife poised and ready. He looked up at me, terrified. It was like I was looking in a mirror. Then the hum returned, low and distant, though I still felt it deep in my body. David looked up at me as I looked down at myself. The hum was getting louder and I felt something inside me snap. With one motion, I slammed the knife into the patch on his chest and ripped down. Blackness fell on the room and I was falling.
The darkness around me was like nothing I had experienced up to that point. Room four was dark, but it didn’t come close to what was completely engulfing me. I wasn’t even sure if I was falling after a while. I felt weightless, covered in dark. Then a deep sadness came over me. I felt lost, depressed, and suicidal. The sight of my parents entered my mind. I knew it wasn’t real, but I had seen it and the mind has trouble differentiating between what is real and what isn’t. The sadness only deepened. I was in room nine for what seemed like days. The final room. And that’s exactly what it was: the end. NoEnd House had an end and I had reached it. At that moment, I gave up. I knew I would be in that in-between state forever, accompanied by nothing but darkness. Not even the hum was there to keep me sane.
I had lost all senses. I couldn’t feel myself. I couldn’t hear anything. Sight was completely useless here. I searched for a taste in my mouth and found nothing. I felt disembodied and completely lost. I knew where I was. This was Hell. Room nine was Hell. Then it happened. A light. One of those stereotypical lights at the end of the tunnel. I felt ground come up from below me and I was standing. After a moment or two of gathering my thoughts and senses, I slowly walked toward that light.
As I approached the light, it took form. It was a vertical slit down the side of an unmarked door. I slowly walked through the door and found myself back where I started: the lobby of NoEnd House. It was exactly how I left it: still empty, still decorated with childish Halloween decorations. After everything that had happened that night, I was still wary of where I was. After a few moments of normalcy, I looked around the place trying to find anything different. On the desk was a plain white envelope with my name handwritten on it. Immensely curious, yet still cautious, I mustered up the courage to open the envelope. Inside was a letter, again handwritten.
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of NoEnd House! Please accept this prize as a token of great achievement.
With the letter were five $100 bills.
I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed for what seemed like hours. I laughed as I walked out to my car and laughed as I drove home. I laughed as I pulled into my driveway. I laughed as I opened my front door to my house and laughed as I saw the small ten etched into the wood.
It had been three weeks since I heard any word from David. In the six months since we started dating, we had only gone three days without talking, and that was after a pretty intense fight. There was nothing out of the ordinary when I had talked to him last, he had just mentioned that he was going to check something out a friend told him about. But then I got a really weird text the night before. It was from David, but it wasn’t from his number. It only had five words in it:
“no end dont come david”
Something was wrong. After I read that text I felt nauseous, like I was seeing something I shouldn’t. I decided to get a hold of Peter, but I had talked to this ass before. He was a deadbeat, but at least he might have some information on where David might be. I decided to log onto AIM with David’s account. I figured it would be easier to start something with Peter if he didn’t know it was me. When I logged on, he immediately messaged me.
“David?! Holy shit you had me worried I thought you went to the house.”
“What do you mean?”
“NoEnd House, man, that place I told you about I could have sworn you were gonna go.” NoEnd. This guy knew what was going on.
“Yeah, I actually couldn’t find it. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Where was it again?”
“No way, you already had me worried fuck that place I’ve been there you do not want to go there.”
“Peter. This is Maggie.”
“Wait… what? Where’s David?”
“I don’t know, I thought you would know but apparently not.”
“Oh, shit. Oh, shit shit, shit, shit.”
“What? Seriously, Peter, you need to tell me what’s going on.”
“I think he went to the house. It’s outside of town, maybe four miles down Terrence St. Unmarked road turn right. Shit, man, he’s gone.”
“No, I don’t think he is.”
“What are you planning on doing?”
“I’m going to get him back”
I left the next night at around eight. There wasn’t a single car the entire trip, and as I turned onto the unmarked street I saw a sign pointing down the road:
- NoEnd this way
- Open 24hrs
My breathing hadn’t been steady since I left my house, and seeing the house didn’t help. There weren’t any other cars around, which made me think that it wasn’t open. Light from the front stoop illuminated the surrounding area, and the windows showed that lights were on inside. I parked my car, walked up to the front, and made my way in.
The front lobby was normal enough, but as I predicted there wasn’t anyone there. All the lights were on, but no one was there. Besides the door I came through, there was only one other. Posted next to it was another sign:
- Room 1 this way. Eight more follow. Reach the end and you win!
That wasn’t what made my stomach sink. That wasn’t what stopped my heart. There was more below, scrawled and handwritten in red:
- You won’t save him.
I must have stood in the lobby for an hour. I was frozen. I didn’t know how to go on. Did I go through the door? Did I call the police? After reading the sign I decided that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. I’m average height for a girl, but pretty thin. I wasn’t about to fight off some psycho that was holding David hostage. I decided calling the cops was the best thing to do, so I reached into my pocket and opened my phone to call. No service. The house must be blocking the signal, and it was basically in the middle of nowhere. I walked towards the entrance, figuring I’d find service outside. I reached to the knob and twisted, and nothing. It was locked. I shook it harder. Nothing. It was locked from the outside. I slammed my hands against the door and called out to anyone that could hear me. I knew it was useless, no one was out here except me.
Then I felt a vibrate in my pocket. I reached down and looked at my phone. One unread text. At first, I was really glad I had service, I was saved. Maybe the text was from David that he was alright. It was from a different number, one I didn’t have in my phone. I pressed open, and nearly dropped the phone:
- You can’t save yourself either.
My entire body was shaking. I wanted to pass out. I was stuck there. A cell phone with no service, in a room with no exit. My eyes scanned the room, and landed on the door across the room. A gold ‘1′ was mounted on the front; it looked like a room door in a hotel. The ground felt far away as I walked closer to the door. In a few moments I was within inches of it, and I placed my head against the wood and listened. All I heard was distant Halloween music. Just creepy instrumental music you’d hear at any haunted house. Suddenly I got a little calmer. David was always known for his pranks. He would tell me about these elaborate setups he and his friends would make for the new players on their soccer team. Somehow a smile found its way onto my face, and I opened the door without fear.
Entering the first room alleviated my fears even more. The room was a completely normal attempt at a haunted house, though rather lacking. In each corner was a scarecrow, but not even scary ones. They were the kind you used to see in grade school, with the big smiling faces. Paper ghosts hung from the ceiling, and a fan in the corner added a cold breeze that made them spin. Next to one of the scarecrows was again the only other door in the room. Printed on the front, similar to the first door, was a large ‘2′. I laughed and left this lame room behind me.
When I opened the door to room 2 I couldn’t see three feet in front of me. It was completely filled with a gray mist that smelled like rubber. I guessed there had to be some fog machine in here, and it must have been pumping this stuff for hours. There were no windows in the last room, so the ventilation must have been terrible. I walked slowly forward and let out a small shriek. I had bumped straight into a large robotic Jason Vorhees. His eyes flashed red and the knife in his hand went up and down in a jerky stabbing motion. My heart was racing, and if anyone was with me I would have felt incredibly embarrassed. I covered my mouth and made my way past RoboJason, the fog was getting to be a little much. I was beginning to feel lightheaded as I found the door to room 3. I placed my hand to the knob and jerked it back in pain. The knob was extremely hot. I placed my hand on the door itself and felt that it too was warm. I couldn’t hear anything from the other side, I put my ear up to the warm wood expecting to hear fire and heard nothing. I assumed that it was just a warm, like they were pumping heat into it like the final room in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland.
I took the corner of my dress and wrapped it around my hand, turning the doorknob as fast as I could and I flung myself into Room 3. There was no fire. Just darkness, and it was freezing cold. Room 3 wasn’t like the other rooms. It wasn’t like the other rooms at all.
At that moment I knew that something wasn’t right. I tried to make out anything in the room but I couldn’t even see my hands grasping for the doorknob… that now wasn’t there. I was trapped. I must have been turned around in the darkness, even though I didn’t move once I entered I must have gotten turned around in all this darkness. At that moment a light on the ceiling flashed on. A single spotlight pointing directly down, illuminating a small table, and on this small table was a flashlight. Even though I couldn’t really see where I was going I moved forward, the light on the ceiling was enough to make my way to the table. As I reached for the flashlight I noticed a small tag attached to the handle:
- To Maggie – From Management
The moment I finished reading the light above me turned off, and I was again left in the dark. I fumbled with the flashlight for a second before I was able to turn it on. From what seemed like every direction, a low and rumbling hum surrounded me. My heart was pounding and I started to spin in place, darting the beam of the flashlight all around me. There was nothing in the room, but after a while I noticed something terrifying. It could have been my imagination, but I could see a figure dart away at the last second wherever the beam of light hit. I began to panic. I started backing away from the small table, unsure which direction I was going. The hum was getting louder, and then I starting feel the presence of whatever it was that was dodging the light. My hands shook wildly as I frantically shined the light in whatever direction I could think of. It was always there, just barely escaping back into the darkness every time. But it was getting closer. My eyes started to well up with tears. I thought I was going to drop the flashlight I was shaking so badly, until I saw it. The light set directly on a small number ‘4′. It was written on a piece of paper and taped to a wooden door in the corner. I ran. I ran as fast as I could with the flashlight pointed directly in front of me. I could feel it behind me. The hum was getting louder and I thought I felt its breath on my neck. I was sprinting at this point, only a few more feet to go. In one motion I grabbed the handle, twisted and slammed it shut behind me. I was now in the fourth room.
I was outside. I wasn’t in the house anymore. What awaited me after opening the door to room 4 was what looked like a cave. I looked down to the ground, and I noticed something strange and disturbing. The ground wasn’t made of grass or rock or dirt, it was wood paneling. It was the same floor as in the previous rooms. This was room 4. Somehow I was still in that house. There were a few torches mounted to the side of the rock surrounding me, and the cave beyond was pitch black. The torches looked like they could be taken down, so I walked over to the closest one and unsheathed it from its mounting piece. My body was covered in sweat, and I slowly made my way into the cave. The hum was gone, hopefully for good. No other noise met me inside the cave, but there was a slight breeze. The cave seemed to go on forever, and I was walking for what felt like hours, until I saw a faint blue light. I walked toward it, cautiously but at a decent pace. The light was an opening, the end of the tunnel. I started walking a little faster, I always hated cramped spaces like caves and tunnels. In a few moments the exit was within feet, and before I knew it I was at the end. And that’s exactly where I was. The end. At the exit of the cave, the ground dropped off to a cliff, and there was no other way to go. I looked back into the dark cave behind me. I knew there wasn’t any turns, it was a straight tunnel. I turned and looked down over the edge. What I saw made my stomach turn worse than it ever did before. What I saw was an ocean, water all around with nothing else in sight. The drop must have been a hundred feet, with a small rock formation at the bottom. After a few seconds of studying the rocks, my stomach turned more than I thought possible, and my body broke into a fresh sweat. The rocks formed a number. The rocks formed a ‘5′.
I stood up and backed away from the edge. I hated heights. I was stopped by a wall that shouldn’t have been there. I turned around and was met with a terrifying sight. The cave was gone. I was face to face with a solid stone wall, the side of whatever mountain this was. I had to keep telling myself I was still in the NoEnd House. I didn’t leave. Clearly this isn’t an actual mountain. But it felt so real. I turned back and looked over the cliff again. There was no way. This house has been pretty messed up before now. I was outside for god’s sake. But what it expected me to do now was just too much. I knew what those rocks down there meant. That was the entrance to room 5. There was no stairs leading down, no other paths to use. I was trapped, again. The house wanted me to jump. The house wanted me to jump. I sank to the ground and curled into a ball. I couldn’t do it. There was no way I could jump off a cliff onto a jagged rock formation a hundred feet below. My mind was split in two. I knew that I was still inside, but my surroundings screamed in my ear the opposite. I stayed there on the wooden ground for a while, at that point I had lost all concept of time. After what seemed like weeks I finally stood up. Slowly I made my way to the edge of the cliff and looked down. The giant ‘5′ taunted me to jump. It knew I couldn’t do it and it taunted me. And then the hum returned, the low and distant hum. It seemed to come from behind me, resonating within the mountain. I don’t know what came over me, but after hearing that sound, something inside me lit up. I clenched my eyes shut, and I jumped.
The wind was rushing up as I fell, and a deep fear washed over me. I was going to die. I was going to smash into those rocks and die. They were going to tear me apart and I was going to die. I didn’t dare open my eyes, I just fell. Even with the loud wind around me, the hum was now deafening. I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted it to be over I just wanted to hit the rocks and I wanted it to be over-
And then I stopped. I wasn’t falling anymore, but I never hit the rocks. I opened my eyes and looked around. I was standing on the familiar wood paneling of the house. The hum was gone, and silence took its place. I had made it. I was in room 5. I don’t know how it happened, but I was in room 5. The feeling of dread was gone, I was just incredibly happy to be alive. After a few moments to collect myself I decided to look around at the rest of the room. My happiness left me fast. This room was empty. The walls matched the floor, and the ceiling matched the walls and the walls had no doors or windows. I was in a sealed box. Then I realized I didn’t make it. I wasn’t safe. I had made it out of the fourth room, but only to enter room 5, and there was no leaving it.
At that moment I wondered if David had been in this room. I wondered if he had jumped off that hundred-foot cliff and ended up stuck in the room. And if he did, that means he got out. He wasn’t here, I was alone. He got out, and I would too. The thought of David escaping this room gave me new found confidence, and a second wind filled my spirit. I was going to get out of this room, find David, and get us the hell out of here. I walked around the perimeter of the wall and felt for any sort of inconsistencies. Nothing. The walls were flawless, barely a scratch on them let alone some secret exit. I started to knock at random places on the walls. They were completely solid. The confidence started to leave me. I was running out of ideas. And that’s when she spoke to me.
“Maggie. You shouldn’t have come here, Maggie.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin if that was possible. I was still facing the wall, and the voice had come from the middle of the room. The voice was that of a little girl… at least that’s what it sounded like. I turned around slowly, and my eyes fell on who spoke to me. I was right, a little blond girl, no more than seven years old with light blue eyes and a long white dress. She smiled at me and spoke again.
“But now that you’re here, let’s play a game.”
There was something horrifying about that little girl. She wasn’t scary like those horror girls are in those Japanese movies. She looked completely normal. If I saw her walking down the street I would have just walked right on by. But looking into her eyes, I felt complete terror. Jumping off of a cliff was scary, but I wouldn’t jump off twenty cliffs twice as high if it meant I could take back one minute of looking into her soulless eyes. After a moment of staring, I finally spoke.
“What game? Who are you?” I mumbled.
“If you lose, you die.”
“If I win?”
My heart sank somewhere below my feet. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I knew she was telling the truth.
“Which will it be?” She smiled.
“Neither.” I don’t know where I found the courage to talk back to this demon child, but I had come too far to just let David die. And if I died, this was all for nothing. No, I chose neither. But then I saw it. The reason the little girl terrified me. She was more than just a small child. Looking at her, I also saw what appeared to be a large man, covered in hair, with the head of a ram. It was a horrible sight. I couldn’t see one without seeing the other. The little girl stood in front of me, but I knew her true form. It was the worst sight I had ever seen.
“Too bad.” And with that, she was gone. I was alone again, in an empty and silent room. Only this time something was added. A small table where she stood appeared from nowhere, as though it was there the whole time. There was something on it, but I couldn’t tell from where I was. I walked up to the table and looked at the small object. It was a small razor, like one you would find in an Exacto knife. I reached out to pick it up and as I did a scream left my mouth. When my hand came into view, I saw something that was never there before. It looked as though something was branded into my skin, a single number 6. I looked back to the razor and noticed the tag attached to it:
- To Maggie – From Management
- *thought you may need this*
After reading the note, I started sobbing uncontrollably. Tears were rushing down my face harder than they ever have in my life. I had never cried like that and I don’t think I ever will again. I fell to the ground and sunk my head into the hardwood floor. I was sobbing for hours, just lying there on the ground. And then the crying stopped and depression set in. I don’t even know why I was crying. It wasn’t about David, it wasn’t even about how I was stuck there. There were still no doors in this room, I was still trapped. But that’s not why I was sad. I was in the deepest depression possible. Complete and emotionless depression. I felt empty, and clawed my way up from the ground and steadied myself against the table. My eyes fell on the razor, and I picked it up. I was going to kill myself. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had had it. David was probably dead. I was trapped in here. It was over. I pressed the razor against my wrist, right above the 6 that had appeared on my skin. The sobbing came back, and I just stood there, crying with the razor pressed against my wrist. David was dead, I was about to die. Nothing mattered anymore, and with one deep cut, I sliced down my wrist.
Immediately after slicing down my wrist I was no longer in room 5. I didn’t die, I knew that for sure. The depression was gone, but I was by no means happy. Tears were still finding their way down my face. The room I was in was similar to the one previous, and again, it had no doors. There weren’t any lamps, but somehow I was still able to see everything clearly. The room was completely empty, but before I had time to think of what to do next it went dark, and the hum from before returned. I covered my ears in protest, it was louder than it ever was. But it was over in a moment, and the lights returned, only this time something was added to the room. And then I screamed. There in the middle of the room, strung up by chains and naked from the waist up was David. It looked like he was tortured, knife wounds littered his chest and arms.
“DAVID!” I ran up to him as fast as I could. He was conscious, I saw his chest move up and down, but he wasn’t speaking. And that’s when I noticed what was etched into his chest. I dropped to my knees as I saw it. The 7 stared at me as though it had eyes.
I heard David try and speak, and I got to my feet and got as close as I could to him.
“David! David, can you hear me?!”
“Maggie… what’re you… what’re you doing here?” His voice was slight, but he was talking and I was thankful for that.
“David, I’m trying to save you. How do I get you down?” There were large padlocks on the chains holding him in place. I looked around the room for any sort of key, but all I found was a small knife in one of the corners. The metal was way too thick for that knife to even dent it, so I disregarded it as useless. I went back to David, it looked like he was on the verge of death, and then I felt my pocket vibrate. It startled me something awful, I took the phone out of my pocket. As I suspected, one unread text. I flipped open the phone:
“That isn’t me.”
I didn’t know what to think. David was right there in front of me, but that text was from the first number that contacted me. It as the first text I received from David that mentioned the NoEnd House.
“Maggie…” I heard his voice clearly with my ears and my mind. It seemed like his voice was coming from all sides. “Maggie… You have to go on.”
“What are you talking about? How?” I was face to face with David, or whoever it was that was chained up here.
“That knife…” he made a slight movement of his head toward the corner. “Go get it.” I ran and was immediately back with the knife clenched in hand within a few seconds. I had no idea what was going on, but I needed to save him and would do anythi-
“Now stab me in the chest.”
“…what?” I was shocked. David hung there, staring directly into my eyes.
“You have to run that knife through the seven on my chest. It’s the only way to save us both.”
“No…” I stumbled backward. “No, you’re not making any sense.”
“Maggie!” He was screaming now, his eyes looked frantic. The side of his mouth curled into a twisted grin. “Maggie, stab me now, it’s the only way!” I looked down at the knife in my hand, my head felt as though it was being struck with a bat. I was at a complete loss. I clenched my eyes shut tight and felt the knife in my hand.
“MAGGIE!” And with a scream and a thrust, I stabbed the knife into David’s chest. I don’t know what came over me, I just knew it was the only way. I opened my eyes and saw his face. It was terrified. Tears slid down his cheeks and David looked me in the eyes.
“Why… did you… do that…?”
He couldn’t fool me. I know that wasn’t David. It couldn’t have been, or else I wouldn’t have been able to stab him. I know it wasn’t I know it wasn’t. His eyes rolled back as the life left him, but that’s when it changed. The seven on his body was gone, the blood dripped down onto the ground into a pool below me. The crimson liquid stretched out in every direction, the circle nearly filled the room, and I began to sink. I tried to move but I couldn’t. It was like quicksand. The blood was up to my knees now. As much as I tried to struggle I just sank deeper. Up to my chest now. I clawed and scratched at the wood around me. The lifeless body of David hung above, his head facing me, smiling. The blood reached my neck. I was beyond terrified. Before long I was fully submerged and fell into darkness.
When I woke up, I was outside the house. I could feel the cold earth below me. I rolled onto my back and looked up at the night sky. The NoEnd House towered above me, complete with my car parked in the same spot. I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry. I was out. I was out I was out I was out. I got up and dusted off my pants. My body was still shaking as I walked to my car, but a feeling of uneasiness washed over me. There was no way I escaped. The house wouldn’t just let me go. Something wasn’t right. I knew it. I knew I didn’t kill David in the sixth room. I knew I didn’t. But he was nowhere to be found. I reached down into my pocket and took out my phone. No unread messages. But I had service. I flipped it open and I began a text to David.
“Where are you?” I wrote. Within a second of sending it, I got a reply. I pressed open excitedly.
“room 10 your room 7 run.” and the deafening hum returned.
I bolted. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I wasn’t outside. I was still in the house. The hum rattled everything around me. It shook the trees and the air itself. I just needed to find an 8. I needed to find the next room. That was my only chance. I needed to find room 8. The first few rooms were obvious, but as I progressed it was getting less and less clear where the rooms started and ended. I had no idea what I was looking for, anything that had a number on it. I needed to find an 8 I needed to find an 8 I needed to find-
What the hell did he mean? My address? I slid the phone back in my pocket, the hum was growing louder and louder. And that’s when it hit me. My address. My address. My address. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be.
- 4896 Forest Ln.
- Unit #8
I slammed into my car and flung the door open. The hum shook the metal of the car and seemed to follow me inside. I floored it and made my way back down the dirt road toward my apartment.
None of this was making sense. How was room 8 my apartment? Should I have even trusted that text? It was from David. I know it was. There was no reason not to trust it. It took no time at all to drive to my complex, and honestly, I didn’t even remember driving. It was like when you zone out for a minute and wake up farther down the road. I didn’t even bother locking it as I ran up to the front gate. My hands fumbled with the keys as I unlocked the bolt and made my way into the first hallway on the left. My complex was huge, but my apartment was one of the first ones on the left. I ran as fast as I could, passed 4, passed 5. My head was spinning, this night was weighing down on me like a lead vest. Passed 6. The farther I made it down the hallway, the farther away the hum seemed to be. As I passed unit 7 I could barely hear it anymore. And when I stopped in front of my unit I was in complete silence. I just stood there, standing in front of my apartment. The small gold ‘8′ was at eye level with me. I reached for the doorknob and slowly slid my key in, twisted, and the door swung open and I was sucked in like a vacuum, the door slamming behind me.
Room 8. I got up off the floor and looked around. It was identical to my apartment. If I didn’t know any better I would have assumed that I was home and that this was a bad dream. My mind went to David and wondered what room 8 was to him, what it was that the house showed him. I walked around and studied the area. Literally everything was how I left it, right down to the half-eaten Chinese left out next to the sink. I looked over at my computer desk in the family room. The monitor was still on, and AIM was still up and running. I walked over and sat in front of it, scrolling through my conversation with Peter. It was there, word for word. The house knew all of this, and how I had no idea. To be honest, I tried my hardest not to think about it, the answer no doubt something I was better off not knowing. I tried to click out of AIM but it wouldn’t let me. The computer just froze. I clicked shut down. Nothing. I clicked ctrl-alt-del. Nothing. I pressed the monitor’s power button. Nothing. And then a pop up appeared on the screen. It was a video chat. I looked at the list of people in it, and there were two names. Maggie, and Management. The video feed was live, and all it showed was a grey wall. Then a message from Management popped into the text box.
“Hope everything is how you left it :)”
“Who are you?” I responded.
“Enjoy the show :)” And that’s when the camera turned. The camera focused on a young man strapped to a surgical table. He was completely naked and sobbing quietly to himself. The image wasn’t that clear, but I thought I had recognized the man lying there. He was tall, with short brown hair and a fairly pale complexion.
“This is what happens when people attempt to cheat :)”
That’s when I realized who it was. Strapped to the surgical table was Peter Terry. And he wasn’t alone.
I don’t want to describe what I watched at that moment. The screams, the sounds that Peter made were unlike anything I ever heard out of a human. I couldn’t look away. I wanted to, but I think it was the power of the room, I couldn’t look away. Peter let out one final soul-curdling scream, but I didn’t hear it through the computer speakers, it was coming from my room. My heart sank as I spun around towards the hallway. I got up off my chair, and I could still hear the screams emanating as I walked toward its source. I reached my bedroom door and the screams were now replaced by the hum. That hum. It had haunted me the entire time. I slowly opened the door, and I saw inside my room what I had seen on my computer. There was the surgical table, with whatever was left of Peter Terry strewn across its top. No one else was there. The others in the room were gone, but a chill went down my spine. The Management was here with me, only one room away. I walked closer to the table, the stench was horrific, and it took everything in me to stop from vomiting. I knew I was nearing the end. I had to be. I looked around the room. Somewhere in here was the entrance to the next room. I knew it had to be. And it was. But it was simpler than I had expected. Across the room, where my bathroom door should have been was a simple wooden door, similar to the early ones in the House. Something was stapled to the door, something long, and bloody. It was the entrails of Peter Terry, and they formed a 9 on the door.
I felt bad for Peter, but I had gone through hell that night. I walked right past the table, picked up a long surgical knife and didn’t give the body a second glance. The final door was there, and I walked right up to it. This night was about to end, and I was coming out of that room with David, and I was going to stop whoever it was that was keeping him here. The door opened easily, and as I stepped through I saw what was waiting for me. It was an empty room, it resembled a waiting room for a doctor’s office. There were a few chairs lining the wall and crumpled up old magazines in a basket in the corner. Across the room on the opposite side from where I came in, there stood a single door. My heart sank when I read the label printed on the wood. It wasn’t a number. It was a single word.
I clenched the surgical knife in my hand.
“Alright, I’m fucking ending this.”
They were on the other side of the door. I could feel it. And David was too. The hum was louder than it had ever been. I could feel it inside me. It was coming from inside me. As I walked it got louder, and as I placed a hand on the door the room was filled with the sound. I turned the knob and opened the door. The room waiting for me was not what I had expected. It was the front lobby. The same front lobby that began this entire hell. Only this time, there was someone behind the desk. My heart jumped out of my chest when I saw who it was. It was Peter Terry.
“Peter?” No, there was no way. “How? What?”
“Who were you expecting? A ghost? Satan? Some creepy little blond girl?” He was smiling. I wasn’t.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Maggie. Come on. Just think for two seconds. Who first told David about this place?”
“Who told you about David’s whereabouts here?”
“Goddammit Peter, you were his friend!”
“I’m sorry, Maggie, but that’s how we run business here.”
“Where is he? WHERE IS HE?!”
“He’s in here with us in the House, Maggie. He isn’t going anywhere, and neither are you.” I don’t know what took over me, but I lost it. I jumped over the counter and shoved Peter to the ground. I grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head into the ground, the surgical knife in my other hand pressed firmly against his neck. I wanted to kill him. I had to kill him. He killed David. He wasn’t killing me.
“Maggie, you can’t. There’s always going to be someone to run the House.”
“No.” I slid the knife across his throat and slammed his head further into the ground. “I don’t think there will be.” With his death, the room went dark. I could still feel the surgical knife, but I was no longer holding on to Peter’s hair. I don’t know for how long I was in the darkness, but it felt like ages. I stood and felt for the desk, balancing myself with one hand on the side of the marble surface. Then the lights came on. I could see the windows across the room, it was still night out. I looked out and saw him. David was walking around outside, seemingly unharmed. I ran to the door and tried to open it. I was so happy. But the door wouldn’t budge. I tried my hardest, but the door wouldn’t let me out. I looked out the window and saw David as he began to walk down the dirt road. I rested my head against the door and saw it. My stomach lurched hard. There, pinned to my chest was a name tag, with one word:
David stumbled to his car in a daze. The last couple of hours were a complete blur. Haunting images would sporadically cross over his mind, slowly reminding him of the hell he was now leaving behind. He felt in his pocket for his phone and dialed 911. There was no way he could explain any of this, but for some reason, his first reaction was to call–maybe they could just come here and confirm that it’s a normal house, nothing more. They could put his mind at ease and he could go home, live a normal life with–
Then he remembered. The dirt under his feet slipped around him as David tore back to the house.
Maggie was in there. As he ran, he flipped through his phone – looking for the old texts he knew he’d sent, but there was nothing. There were texts to Maggie and from Maggie, but all of them were blank. David swore under his breath as he reached the door. He tried the knob, but it was no use. With both fists he pounded on the door, screaming Maggie’s name. Nothing. His fists were red and burning, and David slumped to his knees, palms dragging down the door as he went. After a few moments, David felt his eyes sting. He had left her in there. The woman he loved went in there to save him and took his place. He had to find a way in. There had to be another way in. David rose to his feet with a renewed energy, but before he could move he felt his phone vibrate. It was a text, and looking at the name gave him relief.
It was Peter Terry. Maybe he could help.
-Hey, Dave. You alright? Haven’t heard from you in a while.
-peter – jesus – where are you
-I’m in the House. I went in to find you, man. I told you not to go.
-it’s passed now whatever but peter I need to get back in – do you know how
-Go around back – there’s an oak next to the house with a trap door at its base. Go through there, it’s a service entrance.
-what why the fuck would this place need a service entrance
-Just get to the tree, man. I’m trying to help you.
David didn’t have time to ask anything more. He took off running down the porch to the other end of the house, leaping over the side rail and landing in an awkward pile below. He could see the tree wasn’t far. Or maybe it was–the tree was so big that the depth perception was hard to figure. And was that even there before? Yeah, he had other shit on his mind earlier, and who really takes notice of trees, but this one–it was massive. He ran up to the side and there it was: a small, wooden door on the ground below it, like one of those old cellar doors houses used to have leading into their basements. David looked around him and behind his back, and he wasn’t even sure why he did. He just had one of those feelings. Shaking it off, David yanked on the handle. The rusted hinges groaned in protest, but after a few hard pulls, it gave way and revealed the darkness below. With a heavy sigh, David slowly made his way down.
Jesus, it was dark. But soon, David was hit with a smell that put the darkness to shame. It was like burnt hair covered in shit and mold. He spat onto the ground. He could fucking taste that smell. David got his phone out and turned it to it’s highest brightness. It wasn’t much, but he was at least able to see the surrounding walls. Looking around in the dim light, David noticed something strange. He hadn’t been in too many underground tunnels, to be fair, but he assumed the walls would be dirt, mud, or something like that. He couldn’t quite see what it was, but it wasn’t anything man-made, or that could pass as dirt.
Curiosity got the better of him, and with his phone outstretched he went up to one of the side walls. He had to get close to see it, with the phone almost touching the wall. David’s eyes grew wide. No. Can’t- With his other hand, David prodded at the wall. It gave a bit but was solid. He was reminded of the smell and now knew its origin. It was flesh. The walls of the tunnel were covered in burnt skin. David moved the phone a few inches and followed the light. He saw areas where different skins were sewn together with some rough metallic string, almost like copper wire. One section made his stomach turn over on itself. It was a face. A human face, stretched out and elongated, with the eyes and mouth sewn shut. The nose was removed, and the hole that was left behind was sutured as well. Maybe it was the smell, or the sight of this, but David couldn’t take it. With a lurch, he turned to the side and vomited on the ground.
The tunnel went on for ages. What was most likely only a few minutes felt like hours to David. He had to get inside and save Maggie. Nothing else mattered. Peter was a friend of his, but if it came down to it, Maggie was the first to save. Peter could rot in there if need be. Then again, he was the one that told him about this path. David’s mental debate ceased after something from behind touched him. With a start, he spun around and was face to face with nothing. Confused, David brought his phone up and reached out into the blackness. Nothing. Nothing, except a wall. A wall that wasn’t there two minutes ago, rank and covered in flesh. David screamed and pounded on the wall in front of him, and it gave only slightly. The hall was shrinking. Trapping him in as he walked. It hit David like a train. He was in the service tunnel, but he was in the house. It had him. There as no going back, the house was pulling him in, and it was glad to see him.
Earlier, this may have fazed David more than it did at that moment. There, in that hell of a tunnel, David barely flinched. He had seen what this place was capable of, and he had witnessed some of the most sanity-testing experiences imaginable. He’d seen it all–or at least he thought. As he walked, David could now hear the tunnel shrinking in from behind. The grinding, sloshing noise of flesh twisting on itself to seal him in made him feel sick again, but he only sped up his walking. After a moment, he heard something that made him stop dead in his tracks. It was a voice. A girl’s — and it wasn’t Maggie’s.
“Why did you come back? Why did you come back?”
David stood there frozen. The voice seemed to come from everywhere.
“Why did you come back? Why?!”
The screaming was getting closer and David braced himself against the back wall. Soon he heard the thudding footsteps of someone running towards him. And then he saw her. A girl, no older than thirteen, running up to him yelling her constant question. David was too stunned to react, short of just standing there. The girl ran up to him and began to pound on his chest with her fists, hard at first, but then weakening–like a spoiled girl hitting the ground when she doesn’t get her way.
“Why, David…? Why did you come back…?”
The girl slumped to her knees in front of him, with one final hit against his leg. David stood there in shock, hands slightly raised and tense. His fear began to ease out of him. She clearly wasn’t a threat and didn’t seem to be a ghost or anything.
“Hey,” he began, “it’s alright. Who are you?”
The girl jumped slightly at his words. Slowly she lifted her head to look at David. His heart sank as he saw her face. No eyes. Absolutely no eyes. Blackness. And when she spoke, he could see inside her mouth. No tongue and no teeth, just a void.
“You came to save us…didn’t you?”
* * * * * *
The girl stood up and brushed her hair out of her face. For some reason, even taking into consideration how terrifying she should have been to David, there was something oddly… normal about the girl. She had shoulder length brown hair and was skinny as a rail, with a few specs of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Even her clothes could have been found in any store: black tank top and jeans tucked into black-red boots. She was older than he first thought, as well. Closer to sixteen – if she even had an age. A hum from behind them startled them both and dragged David back into his current situation.
“We have to go,” she said. “Now.” And the girl grabbed his hand and took off. Surprised, David followed and nearly dropped his phone. He tried to hold it up as far as he could to light the way.
“No need,” the girl raised her free hand in front of her as she spoke, “I got it.” She mumbled something under breath, something that couldn’t have been English, and a glowing light pulsated in front of them and followed. It was like a spotlight from above was following their movements. The hum from behind was getting louder as they approached the first fork in the tunnel. Without hesitation, the girl veered them over to the right. Clearly, she knew where she was going, and David wasn’t about to argue. After a moment, the humming stopped, and they stood in front of a ladder leading up into darkness.
“Just up here!” And the girl began to climb the ladder before them. David snapped back into reality, and he was incredibly confused.
The girl stopped mid-climb and looked over her shoulder.
“Look, I know this is weird-”
“No. No, I know what weird is. I’ve seen weird. Who are you?”
“I’ll explain soon, okay? We just really kinda need to get out of here, okay? No one is supposed to be here and we, well, are. So–” And with that, the girl returned to her climb. David was about to retort, but the hum from behind grew louder. Survival outweighed understanding at that point, and David grabbed the ladder and followed the girl, leaving that tunnel hopefully for the last time.
The ladder led the pair into an empty room. It almost looked like a huge broom closet. A few scattered buckets and mops were lining the walls, but for being a part of the house, it was very unassuming. The girl next to him shook herself off and shoved her hand toward David. Her mood swings were clearly something to be impressed with, and David reluctantly took her hand and shook it.
“You’re probably wondering who I am, and why I know you.” The girl didn’t even wait for David to respond. “My name is Natalie, and this is sort of my house.”
“What are you talking about? How is this your house? This fucking place is your house?”
“I know, I know, but you have to understand what happened. It wasn’t always like this, it–”
“And what the hell–what was that thing you did? With the light down there?”
“Yes, I know – this is all a part of it. It all relates, just let me explain.” Natalie paused and looked at David. He closed his mouth and looked back at her, letting her know she was now free to talk without interruption. “This is my house. I know it may seem like hell right now, and you’re right. It is. My family kind of dealt in some weird stuff. We moved into this house about ten years ago, and it was nice. A small, quaint place, yeah, considering I’m used to the city–but it was nice. The problem is, my family, we…can do things. Witches, I guess.” Natalie kind of laughed at the thought. “Mostly just parlor tricks, like that light show you saw in the tunnels. But some of us, like my brother, took it a bit too far. He started to mess with some dark dealings–demons and summonings and the like. I mean, summoning isn’t always bad. I can summon a cat, for instance, which is kind of cute but what my brother dealt with was far worse. We would try and tell him to end it, but the power was kind of getting to him. Peter was never one to listen to reason.”
“…Peter?” The idea was circling David’s head, but he wasn’t quite ready to accept it. Peter had been his friend for years… he thought.
“This one night, seven years ago, my brother took it too far. Summoning demons for a few minutes here and there wasn’t enough for him anymore, he needed more. We would ask him why he was so obsessed with all this, and he would only respond by asking, ‘Why not?’ What happened over the next few nights…it’s kind of hard to talk about it.” Even with her blacked out eyes, David could tell this memory really pained the young girl. All of this – this hell – was because of her brother, his friend. It seemed to David that this girl was just as much a prisoner as he was.
“Alright,” David said, putting a hand on her shoulder, “then let’s get you out of here.”
David took a look at his surroundings. His heart jumped slightly as he glanced around. Aside from the hatch in the floor they just entered through, there wasn’t any other exit. Just smooth cement walls.
“Do you know where we are?” He asked the girl, hoping to God she had some idea.
“Yeah, of course,” she said, with a bit too much hesitation for David’s liking. “It’s my house, isn’t it?” And with that, she made her way over to one of the far walls. The surface of the wall was a smooth brushed gray cement. There was no way through, no door, nothing. Natalie reached into her pocket and took out what looked to be a small piece of artist’s charcoal. She pressed it to the wall and began to draw a long, swooping line about three feet in length.
Line after line followed, and David watched in awe as the girl stood back and admired her work. David had never seen anything like it outside of fantasy movies. It was like a yin-yang mixed with a pentagram mixed with a child’s doodle. Natalie placed the charcoal back into her pocket and ran her fingers through her hair. After a moment of silence, she raised her hand and placed her right palm against the symbol, resting two fingers against her temple with the other. At first, David thought she was speaking to him, but then realized that she was chanting her weird language again. Soon the symbol seemed to be vibrating, and David watched on as it began to steadily glow a deep purple. Natalie smiled to herself as she felt the wall shake before it split in two.
“I’ve always loved doing that.”
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