Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
My friends were idiots. I was an idiot. I don’t know if the warnings are real, but I know everyone else is gone. We thought it was a story. We just wanted to play along, have some creepy fun, but now it feels so real. Like it won’t go away until it has us all.
At least that’s what Devin said.
To be clear, none of us wanted this. It was supposed to be a fun, cheesy way to spend the night while Devin’s parents were out of town. Brendan found the story (here’s a link), but it was Devin’s idea to actually play the game. None of us were surprised by that, though; Devin’s always been into rituals and creepy things. Of course, we didn’t think it would actually work. But, I guess … no one ever does? That’s how stupid kids like us get suckered into playing, even though every warning tells us not to.
It was me, Devin Hart, Brendan Smith, Hannah Lawrence, Kennedy Lake, and McKenna Hall. We chose Isaiah Whitman as the target, because Kennedy had a crush on him and Hannah and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to tease her about it. That, and McKenna lived down the street from him, so it was a convenient pick.
The rules of the game call for a picture of the target’s door. Easy. McKenna got one with her phone on the way to school. Brendan “borrowed” a pen from Isaiah in chemistry (the game calls for a personal item and Brendan said it was the best he could do on short notice). I printed a Google map route from Devin’s house to Isaiah’s, and Devin provided the “refreshments” and “ambiance”.
So it was the six of us with Devin acting as the Caller. We did the ritual exactly as instructed. Everyone wore black, sat in a circle, and held hands while surrounded by candles. (The game doesn’t call for them, but Devin insisted.) We visualized walking from Devin’s house to Isaiah’s, we raised our right hands and focused on sending the knock through Devin. Devin even lifted his arm like he wasn’t in control of it and knocked in the air three times. And then …. nothing.
At least, at the time, nothing. Devin sulked about how we didn’t have enough people to make it work, and I pointed out that we had no real way of knowing whether it worked or not, because none of us were in Isaiah’s house when it happened. There was a little bickering back and forth about poor planning and what constituted an “invasion of privacy” before we blew out the candles and pulled up Netflix. Kennedy and McKenna ditched early, and the rest of us spent the night watching old horror movies until the sun came up.
And that was it. Isaiah never said a thing about phantom knocking, and we forgot all about it.
Until about a week later when McKenna stormed up to me while I was reading outside during a free period.
She shoved my book out of the way and her phone in my face, demanding to know what “this” was all about. “This” was a Snapchat message from “callme_469” that read “You called me, but no one answered. I will return. One of you must let me in.” It was a creepy message, sure, but we all got the same Snap the night we tried to summon a demon, or whatever. I told her as much, and she complained that since she left early, she shouldn’t have gotten one.
The eye roll was strong in me, but I explained that Kennedy had cut out early, too, and she got a text just the same as we did. I didn’t know how they got our info, but I assumed Devin had something to do with it. He’s the one who made the dumb account in the first place after reading the story, and he probably gave the guy our info to up the creep factor and make it all “authentic”.
She didn’t like that answer, but it’s not like I could have done anything about it. She dropped the subject after that, but I could tell it was still bothering her when Hannah found us later that day, asking if we’d heard from Brendan or Kennedy.
I laughed about Brendan. I thought it was a little silly, her asking us if we’d heard from her boyfriend, but she said they’d had a fight two nights before, and she hadn’t heard from him since.
None of us had.
McKenna and I both tried calling him to see if maybe he was just avoiding Hannah’s calls, but they went straight to voicemail.
I told Hannah he probably knew we were calling on her behalf and he didn’t want to talk.
McKenna offered that his phone might just have died.
Hannah didn’t really accept it. She nodded at the time, because I think she wanted to believe it was that simple — I think we all did — but deep down I know she didn’t buy it.
And, honestly, I don’t think I bought it, either.
Brendan didn’t live with his family. They lived upstate — had moved there for his dad’s work — but Brendan wanted to finish high school with us. So, he lived with his older brother, Sam, in town.
Except Sam wasn’t in town. He was in Maine for a week-long conference and wouldn’t be back for another three days.
Which left Brendan all alone.
And given what Hannah told us about Kennedy, I didn’t blame her for being concerned.
Kennedy was gone. So was her family.
According to Hannah, it was like a one-family Roanoke; food was on the table, lights were left on, no sign of a struggle, all their stuff left behind, and, most upsetting to us, the front door was left wide open. Police were stumped, but we thought we knew exactly what happened.
And Hannah was terrified it had happened to Brendan, as well.
Who could blame her?
Struck by a sharp pang of realization, I asked if either of them had heard from Devin, but neither she nor McKenna had. They hadn’t even seen him since that night.
That bothered me. It bothered them, too, I guess, but Devin was my friend; I’d known him the longest. That mattered to me.
I decided to call him when I got home. Kennedy was gone, and Brendan might have been, as well. I wanted to know that Devin, at least, was still okay. I wanted to hear his laugh as I explained how our collective imaginations made a bad situation seem even worse. I wanted to hear his voice and remember this was all a game. I wanted to know that we were all idiots for buying into it.
I wanted that. But that’s not what happened.
I called and Devin answered before the first ring ended. His breathing was sharp and labored, rattling through the phone as if he had held it too close to his mouth.
“Ash?” His response came out with a grating whisper tinged with what sounded like hope. I wanted hearing him to restore my own hope, but all I could feel in that moment was a growing knot of dread in the pit of my stomach.
“Dev, are you okay?”
“No, Ash. No I am fucking not. We shouldn’t have played that game,” he sobbed. “We shouldn’t have messed with it. Isaiah didn’t answer, and now we’re all in trouble. I — oh god,” his voice became even softer, and I heard him shifting briefly before holding his breath in silence.
In the distance, coming from somewhere deeper in the house, I heard banging.
Thud, thud, thud!
My heart thundered in my ears as fear crawled up the back of my neck. Quiet crept through the phone, but it didn’t last long.
Clang, clang, clang!
It sounded like something was striking pots and pans, and my mind flashed to the “fairy door” he’d painted on an old piece of tin hanging above his bed.
Thump, thump, thump!
Something muted and heavy, like the old steamer trunk at the foot of his bed.
Ba-aa-ang, ba-aa-ang, ba-aa-ang!
The shuddering reverberation of his closet doors.
It sounded like someone was moving through the house, knocking on random things in repeating sets of three, unsure of his location, but seeking entrance nonetheless. Then there was a long pause as we waited for more knocking, and then I heard Devin breathing again.
“It won’t stop,” he whispered, almost to himself. “It won’t stop. It won’t stop. It won’t stop.” He repeated it like a mantra. “It won’t stop. It won’t stop. It won’t stop.”
I was at a total loss, completely helpless to comfort him. What would I even say? How long had he been going through this? Since that night, perhaps?
“Devin, I’m so sorry,” I whispered, fighting back guilty tears. Why had none of us checked on him before?
Suddenly, he went quiet. So quiet I pulled the phone away to make sure we were still connected.
He didn’t respond.
He took a stuttering breath and let it out as one big sigh.
“Behold,” he said, growing very still on the other end. “I have set before you an open door, one that no one is able to shut.”
Three more knocks followed his words, and then there was nothing.
The silence was oppressive. I almost didn’t dare to breathe as I strained to hear anything that might be happening on his end.
Time became meaningless. Maybe only two minutes passed — or it could have been thirty, I have no clue. The only thing that mattered in that moment was the fact that the line was still open and he was still there, somewhere, on the other end.
Come on, Devin, I thought with gritted teeth. Come on!
“Fine,” he said at last, startling me. “I’ll do it. I’ll go. I’m just so tired of fighting.”
“Devin, are you — what are you doing?”
“Ending it,” he said with a heavy sigh. “It’s never going to stop, and I can’t keep hiding. There are so many doors now, Ash. I can’t even count them. And he knocks … all the time. I just ….”
“Don’t you open the door, Devin!” I yelled into the phone, gripping it tightly in both hands, as if by sheer force of will I could hold him back.
“Good luck, Ash,” he said, sounding both exhausted and so very, painfully sad. “Maybe I’ll see you on the other side.”
I heard him shuffling around, and the familiar creak of his bedroom door‘s hinges.
After that, the line went dead.
I tried calling back, but all I got was voicemail.
The news reports called him a runaway. Said he’d been acting disturbed and irrational for days leading up to it. Some suggested drugs. Most thought psychotic break. No one had any leads, but I knew.
He had opened the door.
It came for me just two days later, at 3:45pm.
I was at school, getting ready to go home. As I twisted my combination into the lock, the game weighed heavily in my mind. I tried to shake the feeling that we were all on a bullet train to hell with no way off but to go through the door. I thought about living in a cabin somewhere the internet couldn’t reach. Or maybe getting a big open floor plan apartment where I could be a shut-in for the rest of my life. I reached for the latch to open the locker door, worried that, even if I did manage to do either of those things, I would only be delaying the inevitable.
From inside my locker came three sharp raps.
The door shuddered under the force, visibly shaking with each hard knock as my hand hovered less than a centimeter away.
My chest ached with the slow, deep breath I took, watching the locker door like it was alive. A scream welled up inside me, but never made it out. It was like my brain and my body weren’t communicating anymore, and I just stood there, frozen and screaming inside.
The thing in my locker knocked again, pounding on the door hard enough that I thought it was going to break. Something inside me finally sprung to life and forced my feet to move. I backed up, right hand still held high in the air while my heart pounded so hard I could barely see.
I frowned at my locker in confusion. Adrenaline thundered through my body, leaving me shaken and raw, my every nerve on fire and my attention honed to a needle-fine point, but my brain was still sluggish, unable to reconcile what had just happened..
From my pocket came the familiar “blip” of a new Snapchat message. I pulled my phone out automatically, caught in a haze of oafish bemusement, able to act only by rote, and tapped the new message without conscious thought.
“He who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens.”
I knew the sender before I even looked at the name.
The same sick bastard that messaged us the night we played the game.
As I watched the screen, the little ellipsis cloud popped up in the bottom left corner, giving me a jolt of panic.
Someone was actively typing.
My heart seized painfully in my chest. Cold shot through my body, and I felt the instinctive need to throw the phone and hide.
But another message appeared.
My vision wavered and dimmed. I fought the urge to throw up as I struggled to read the words from a screen now bouncing in my unsteady hands.
“You must let me in!”
I exited the app.
No. No more. I’m done with this, I thought, feeling strangely numb, and yet still teetering on the edge of full-blown terror.
My head throbbed painfully as I deleted Snapchat from my phone. I don’t know why I thought it would help, but it was the only thing that made sense at the time; delete the app and the “thing” couldn’t reach me. The app was the connection, right?
I shoved my phone back in my pocket, trying hard to push the knocking game, and McKenna, and poor Kennedy and Devin, and whatever was going on with Hannah and Brendan as far from my mind as I could. I left my books in my bag, afraid to open my locker again. Not until I was sure it was safe. Even if it turned out to be nothing, later, I wasn’t taking any risks.
I had a brief moment of panic when I reached the school’s front doors and realized I’d have to open them to leave. I stared at them like a crazy person, listening for knocks that never came as three students and a teacher came in and out without incident. I was still uneasy, but, since no one was going to let me sleep in the school, I knew I’d have to leave sooner or later.
I slipped out when a group of three girls came in, hoping the fact that it wasn’t me opening the door would grant me some kind of protection.
I hurried to the parking lot, fishing my keys out of my purse as I went. When I got to my car, I hesitated.
I had to open the door to get in. I looked over the roof of my car and saw several others still in the lot. Doors on every one. Doors on the bus if I wanted to take that, instead. Doors on an Uber, so I couldn’t use that. I could walk the seven miles to my house, but I’d still have to open the door to get in.
A mass of irrational hysteria churned in my stomach, and I stood there, trembling, gasping for breath I couldn’t quite catch and trying not to lose my mind. It was a slow process, and I have no idea how long it took, but logic eventually managed to wrestle its way back into my head to remind me what reality was.
Reality was a series of unlikely coincidences. Reality was reading too much creepypasta and being susceptible to suggestion. Reality was a friend and her family being missing, which was tragic, but it wasn’t unique. These things happened periodically; whole families just up and disappeared without a single trace, leaving everything behind. Whole sections of the internet were dedicated to just that kind of disappearance. Reality was another friend snapping under the strain of his own imagination, just as I was close to doing, and running away from home instead of seeking help.
My heart still raced, and I felt like I’d had too many shots of espresso, but my breathing started to even out the more I thought things through.
I mean …. what the ever-loving fuck? What did I think was going on? Knocking from inside my locker? I laughed. It was ridiculous. It was worse than ridiculous: it was impossible! I laughed, and couldn’t stop laughing, crying, until I’d collapsed beside the car with my back against the door and my head between my hands.
I had to call someone if I didn’t want to end up like Devin — alone, lost on the street, losing my mind and never opening doors. That’s where he had to be now. It made sense. More sense than the alternative.
My parents would know what to do, so I called them to come get me. They were inconvenienced by my insistence, but were worried at the same time. That was fine; so was I. But It didn’t help that I thought I heard knocking coming from inside my car door, right behind my head.
When my dad showed up I just stared at the passenger side door. He tried to reassure me, but he couldn’t hear the knocking. Eventually, he had to get out of the car and open the door for me, but I made him wait until the knocking ceased; I couldn’t take the risk. After all, Kennedy’s whole family was gone. And I was just crazy enough to think it was because of that game.
When we got home, I told them everything — the creepypasta story, the ritual, Kennedy’s family, Devin’s mental breakdown, and my unshakable, irrational paranoia that I would be next if I opened any door. They said they’d look into getting me a psychiatrist, concerned about my health. But that wasn’t good enough. They didn’t understand.
I know this isn’t real — it can’t be, and I refuse to believe it is — but I also know if I open any door I’m as good as gone. I know it in my bones. The others are already gone — they didn’t get help when they should have — and I refuse to join them.
What I needed was a hospital and a room with only one door that I didn’t have to open myself. And I got it in the end. It took nearly twenty pills, a trip to the ER, and an unpleasant stomach pumping, but they gave me the quiet room I wanted.
And there’s WiFi in the rec room, so I can keep up with the stories here while the doctors help me through this. I know I’ll be back to normal again, now that I’m getting help.
What doesn’t help is the email I got earlier today. From someone pretending to be callme_469.
It said “After this I looked, and there before me was a door.” It’s a dirty trick, and my doctors will probably restrict my online access when I tell them about it, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t been seeing extra doors where there shouldn’t be any. All of them waiting to be opened for whoever, or whatever, is insistently knocking on the other side.
For more on the Psychic Knock Game, click here.
CREDIT: Death By Proxy
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