Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
It is the year 2037.
Yeah, okay. I know it’s a cheesy way to start a story, but I just feel that it’s worth mentioning. Especially since it happened 25 years ago. I can’t help but think if I could have saved Jimmy. After all, it was my idea. I dug up the story back then. And it was me who wanted to see what was going on. If only I didn’t let him enter that house…
Alright, I’m sorry for being so unclear about what happened exactly. Allow me to tell you something about myself first. I’m Simon, 53 years of age, divorced, no kids, 1 cat. I work as a newspaper reporter. I have always had a very curious nature, that’s why I like my work so much.
Even though I like my work, my cat and my lifestyle, I haven’t felt at ease in my home for the past months. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that it has something to do with the loss of my good friend Jimmy. And I don’t mean ‘loss’ as in ‘I’m very sorry for your loss’. No, I actually lost him as in ‘he disappeared, never to be heard from again’.
I have buried the events of that day deep in my head and almost forgot about them, but during the past months memories have resurfaced.
Anyway, I don’t like it here anymore, so I asked for a job transfer and got it and I am about to move to a different town.
Perhaps you’re wondering what exactly happened to Jimmy? To be honest, I have no idea what happened after he went in that house.
25 years ago, while I was browsing the internet looking for some interesting things to write about, I stumbled upon a story about a house that had been empty for 135 years, but was never torn down. Interestingly enough, it was a house that was situated not far from my own place. There were some pictures of the house too. Curious as to why the house had been empty and neglected for all that time, I tried contacting the person who had posted the story online. But I never got a response from the poster. So I went to city hall to ask around.
I questioned several archive workers, but none of them were able to tell me something I didn’t already know about the house. They asked me where I found the information, the story. I told them I found it on the internet. I asked almost everyone at city hall who could had known something about the place.
But nobody knew anything, or didn’t want to talk about it. Frustrated, I left city hall and went to the house to take a look at it myself. I called Jimmy, my old high school buddy and the photographer at the newspaper , to come over and check it out with me.
Jimmy was always up for some fun. I drove to our workplace to pick him up. He was always carrying his camera around. He jumped into the car and asked me where we were heading. I told him my story and he looked at me, smirking.
‘I’m serious man,’ I told him. ‘So I was at city hall, and nobody seemed to know anything about that house, some of them even tried to evade my questions, as if I was nuts. And when I asked why the house hadn’t been demolished yet, they just told me that they didn’t have any clue.’
Jimmy’s facial expression changed. He was thinking. I knew I awoke the journalist inside him and that I got him excited for the story.
‘Alright man, let’s do it! Let’s go check it out! I got my camera ready so let’s have some fun, yeah?’
We drove to the building and after we arrived we immediately got out of the car.
‘This is it? Really?’ he said while looking at the building.
‘Doesn’t seem that unusual, huh…’ I replied.
I took the photos of the house out of my pocket and held one of them next to the house to compare. The house in its current state was located in between two large modern buildings, in a busy street. There was a lot of traffic on the road and just as many pedestrians walking around along the sidewalk.
‘Either this house has been renovated in the past 70 years, or someone has a master’s degree in photoshopping.’
Jimmy leaned in to take a look for himself.
‘Well, had you shown these pictures to me before, I wouldn’t have come with you,’ he said, smiling.
‘Come on, let’s enter.’
‘You boys don’t want to do that, really.’
A young woman stood next to us. She looked stunning. Green eyes in which you could lose your ways and long straight black hair. Both of us were looking at her, just admiring what we saw.
‘Hey… you two have never seen a woman before?’
We snapped out of it and we only just realized what she had said to us.
‘I’m sorry, what did you say? Why shouldn’t we do that? You seem to be the first one who actually is willing to tell us a thing or two about the house.’
‘You two are reporters? It’s not really smart digging up stuff that’s not supposed to be dug up… I’m just saying. Why shouldn’t you go in? Because if you do go in, you never come back out.’
Jimmy laughed. But she didn’t. She looked dead serious.
‘Come on… we’re not kids anymore and we certainly don’t believe in fairytales either. What’s the real reason we can’t go in? Did you hide a body in there or something?’ I replied to her, laughing.
‘Well look, I’m just warning you. There’s something bad going on in that house and I just hate to see something bad happening to a couple of handsome young fellas like yourselves.’
Jimmy asked her: ‘Hey, are you single?’
I cut him off and continued questioning her.
‘So be more specific please. You say that anyone going in there doesn’t come back out? So what does that mean? There’s a killer in the house? Death traps? Gas leakages? Surely, if that was the case, city hall already would have had this building torn down long ago.’
‘I can’t tell you, because I don’t know what is in there. All I know is what I have seen happening. I live in this neighborhood too, you know. And I can always see it happen. People go in, but they never come out. It’s an empty building which the government doesn’t care about, which makes it ideal for homeless people to sneak in, expecting a comfortable stay.
So either there has been a huge hobo party going on in that house for the past 50 years, or every hobo that went in there died or disappeared without a trace. You may guess which option I find more plausible.’
‘If that’s the case, why haven’t you ever called the police about this? You seem to know enough to inform them about it…’
‘Buddy, I’m sure you did plenty of research about this place before coming here. And how many people were really interested in sharing information with you?’
She glanced at us for a moment, we didn’t really know what to answer.
‘That’s what I thought. So if no one cares, why should the police think any differently ? I’m just trying to do you two a favor and save your lives here…’
I looked at Jimmy and he looked back at me. Her story, crazy as it may have sounded, made some sort of sense. Indeed nobody wanted to talk about the house, just like she said.
‘What do you think? We go in anyway?’
Jimmy was thinking. He looked at the house and back at his camera a couple of times. There surely was a good story here. Jimmy nodded.
‘Alright Simon, since I have the camera, I’ll go in, take some pictures. Perhaps a few good pictures of the hobo fest going on in there’ he said with a wink to the woman.
She didn’t seem to like his joke at all.
‘So let’s say there’s a good story to write here, do you think we could use your knowledge of this house in our article, miss…?’
‘It’s Samantha. And sure enough, I will provide you with some good material to write about.’
I felt really good about this. I still was very skeptical about the house and the things that were supposedly happening there. But even if there wasn’t something to write about, at least it would have made for a good horror story.
‘Alright Jimmy, you go in and take some pictures. You’ve got your phone with you? Keep me posted about everything that’s going on in there, okay? If anything out of the ordinary happens, take a picture and call me if there’s something wrong. I got my phone with me, so I’ll be here waiting for your call, alright?’
‘Sure thing buddy, I’ll just go then. Hey Samantha, Simon, smile!’ he said and he quickly took a picture. The polaroid camera spit out a picture. He grabbed it, waved it around, looked at it and seemed to be satisfied with it.
‘Lovely couple!’ he said, and he started walking to the door of the building. He opened the door which strangely enough wasn’t locked and closed it behind him. I took my phone out of my bag and switched it on.
The first incoming call appeared on the screen. I picked up and looked at Samantha who was anxiously biting her nails.
I smirked when I heard Jimmy’s comments. Always the joker. He hung up shortly after to explore some more and to take pictures.
A few minutes after he hung up, he called again. I picked up and put it on speaker phone. I listened to what he had to say. And it didn’t sound good.
He was talking about not feeling too well, being dizzy and seeing… faces? I talked to him, but he kept asking me to respond. Was my microphone broken? No… It was a brand new phone, so it couldn’t possibly have been that? I noticed some desperation in his voice and shortly after that, he hung up.
I tried calling him back, but I got a dead tone as soon as I had dialed his number. Only a few minutes later , I got another call from him. I tried to pick up, but the phone didn’t let me, no matter how hard I pressed the buttons. The phone stopped ringing after a minute… I looked at Samantha, but she kept staring at the phone. Shortly after that, the phone started vibrating.
It was the recording call voicemail service. Thank god I downloaded this service. It always came in handy if I needed to hear back a conversation. Very useful for a journalist.
I opened the service and saw that I had a new voicemail message from Jimmy, it came in shortly after the service recorded my previous conversation with him. I listened to the message…
It sounded as if Jimmy had lost his mind…
‘I told you didn’t I?’ Samantha said panicky while pointing at the phone hysterically. ‘This is what happens in that house!’
I didn’t really know what to do. I looked at her, then back at my phone, then back at her.
Another voicemail message appeared. I listened to it: Jimmy was screaming for help.
In a moment of panic and concern for Jimmy, I dropped the phone and ran to the door of the house. I tried to open it, but it didn’t open. It was locked. I started bashing the door, tried kicking it open but no luck. I ran around the house to see if I could find a window to smash in. But there weren’t any on the side or the back.
I ran back to my car to pick up the phone I dropped. I wanted to call the police. Samantha was still standing there. She shouted to me: ‘The police can’t come! Your friend is doomed!’
‘Well, can’t you do something then?! You know this house, you should know what to do!’
‘Why should I know?! I have never been in there! I don’t even know what exactly is in that house! I warned you both! But you wouldn’t listen! And now your friend is in there!’ she kept shouting at me.
I tried to call the police, but my phone didn’t dial. In the meantime I had received two new voicemail messages.
Jimmy’s messages made less and less sense every minute. What was he talking about? There seemed to be someone… something with him in that house. I listened carefully to the things he said. In the last message he left me, he mumbled:
‘… where’s the door?!’
I looked up from the phone to look at Samantha and saw her staring at the house. I looked up and understood why she was staring. The door was gone. The windows were gone. There was nothing but bricks and a roof…
Samantha was just standing there with her hands in her hair. I looked around and only just noticed at that moment that the busy street turned completely empty. No car or pedestrian to find. I couldn’t stay there without doing a thing so I put my phone in my pocket and started running towards the nearest building to look for help.
‘Stay there! Keep an eye on the house!’ I shouted to Samantha.
The adjacent building was a big apartment complex. I ran to the front door and started to press every button there was to press. I waited impatiently, then pressed the buttons again.
No dice. Nobody seemed to be home. I turned around and brushed through my hair franticly, thinking about what to do. I took the phone out of my pocket again, to find yet another voicemail message… I listened to it while running back to the car. Jimmy still wasn’t making any sense.
I ran back to the house and to the car. I moved passed Samantha, got in my car and dropped my phone on the passenger seat. Think… Think carefully. I laid my head on my arm on the steering wheel, closed my eyes and tried to understand what had happened in that past hour. I knew I couldn’t leave Jimmy to die there. That was the only thing I knew for sure. Only a few seconds had passed when I heard my phone rang. I took the phone without looking and tried to pick up. It did this time and I heard Jimmy’s voice. However I didn’t really know what I was hearing…
I opened my eyes rapidly after hearing what Jimmy had said and I threw open the car door. As I did so, I heard a loud curse and there was something falling on the ground. Surprised, I jumped out of the car.
A man laid on the ground, grinding in pain from the slam of my door. The roads and pavements weren’t deserted anymore. I gazed around me and people looked at me as if I was some kind of bully, or a madman.. I turned around to face the house. Its doors were back, as were its windows.
‘Hey, are you going to help this man or not?’ a woman on the street asked. I looked around, trying to find Samantha in the sudden crowd that had appeared back on the streets, but I didn’t see her. I swallowed, turned around and back a few times to look at the house and without saying anything, in a moment of pure panic and confusion, I got back into my car and drove off, straight back home.
After a day at home I went to the police. They already had been looking for Jimmy, because he never returned home that day. I told them I knew where he was and that I would lead them to the house. I was sure about the location, the street, the surroundings. It was all so clear in my memory. However when we arrived at the place… there was no house. I couldn’t understand it. I tried to play the messages that Jimmy had left me to the police, but my phone kept on refusing to function. The police got mad at me for wasting their time. I didn’t know what else to tell them, they just wouldn’t believe me.
For days I waited in my car. I spent hours walking back and forth through the street to see if I could find the house. And I waited for her. I waited for Samantha. She said she lived in the neighborhood, so I started looking for her name on the address plates on the houses of that street.
Samantha was the only one who could prove I wasn’t going crazy. Because she had been there too, she had seen it all happen. And I knew she could explain everything, I just knew it.
But she never showed up, I never found her place either. And I really felt like I was being insane. Out of pure frustration, I threw my phone in my basement, never to look at it again. Over the years, I buried the memories of that day deep down in my mind, I tried to move on. And I succeeded to do so, until recently.
I remember it all so well. I guess this really is the reason I don’t want to stay here anymore. After 25 years, the past has finally caught up to me. I am replaying the events of that day over and over in my head as I am packing and organizing my things.
It’s early in the morning. Yesterday I went to bed early. I spent most of that day cleaning and packing. Today it’s time for me to clean out the basement.
Christ, what a mess. I flick on the light of the basement and walk down the stairs to look around to see if I already can see some things I want to take with me. There’s a lot of junk I haven’t touched in years. At the bottom of the stairs I take a look at the floor which is scattered with all kinds of objects. I rest my hands on the back of my head, thinking where to start cleaning.
Suddenly the door slams shut on top of the stairs. It scares me. Must’ve been my cat. I take yet another look around. With a flash, the whole room turns dark and I can’t see a thing anymore.
Damn it, these old light bulbs are worthless. Slowly my eyes get adjusted to dark and I can make out some objects laying around. But I also notice that the room isn’t completely dark. I can see a very small ray of light, shining through the pile of junk along with a muffled ringing sound.
I wonder what it is. I try and find my way towards it, stumbling over all the stuff I collected over the years. I trip over an empty bottle and land right in front of the illuminating object. I pull it towards me and notice that it’s a phone.
Not just a phone… It’s the phone I had with me 25 years ago. After all those years… it can’t still be working?
I look at the screen and I see that the recording call voicemail service is still running. My curiosity tempts me… That entire day has been engraved in the deepest part of my memory for 25 years. And the past few months I wondered if it actually had happened, or if it has just been my mind playing tricks on me.
I play the recorded conversations and voicemail messages, just to find out…
RECORDING CALL VOICEMAIL SERVICE
Current user: Simon
Last login: 14-11-2012
Received calls: 9
Missed calls: 6
Voicemail messages left: 6
Old voicemail messages: 5
New voicemail messages: 1
Picked up: Yes
Call duration: 20 seconds.
“It’s been one minute since I entered the house. A challenge is laid upon me, I can make it. I know I can. Haha…
Hey Simon, my mouth feels dry.. Did you bring some water? I forgot to take some with me. Hang on, let me go find a water tap real quick. I’ll call you in a minute.”
Picked up: Yes
Call duration: 52 seconds
“Hey, it’s me again. Listen, I feel a bit weird, my thirst isn’t really gone. If it’s even thirst that I feel. Uh Simon… My mind is getting a bit blurry…
I’m starting to see faces on the wall.
No…, not faces. A face, a beautiful one. I try to touch it, but as I get closer it starts fading away. Simon? Say something… Simon? Why aren’t you responding? Hello?”
Picked up: No
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 30 seconds
“What in god’s name is happening to me..? I feel like I’m losing my mind, man. The room gets darker by the minute, yet outside it’s as bright as can be. I can’t see you guys through the window. Are you still there? Why aren’t you talking to me? Simon? Pick up the goddamn phone!”
Picked up: No
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 25 seconds
“I’m not sure if I can take this anymore. The face won’t disappear. Simon, I’m begging you… Help me… The room is spinning, man. I feel like it is. STOP WHISPERING TO ME!!!! JUST GO AWAY!!!”
Picked up: No
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds
“Simon? Dude.. pick up! Listen… I just looked into a mirror and looked into my eyes. Those aren’t my eyes. She stole my eyes! She stole my fucking eyes! I got her eyes! beautiful eyes… I just smacked myself onto the head to wake myself up from this nightmare, but it doesn’t work.
I don’t want to get up. Simon, she doesn’t listen. STOP TALKING TO ME!
I’m scared, petrified. What was a beautiful face before, just turned into a black cloud of darkness and pain. I don’t know what to do… Why won’t you pick up?!”
Picked up: No
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds
“She isn’t real. I keep telling myself. What? Simon, pick up the phone for crying out loud! Where are you? She’s screaming now, it hurts my ears…
Seriously, every time I close my eyes, her face is there. Every time I open my eyes to escape, she’s there. I can’t get away, she’s everywhere. Where’s the door?!”
Picked up: No.
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 20 seconds.
“Always looking, always there. That’s what they said. That’s what I said. Hahaha always.
Huh?.. She’s gone.. I can feel it. She left! Simon, are you there? She’s gone!”
Picked up: Yes.
Call duration: 9 seconds.
“Simon… she’s back. I can feel her again… Simon. It’s Samantha…”
At the end of the final message, I really don’t know what to think. I’m just sitting here with the phone in my hand, my other hand covering my mouth. I know I wasn’t crazy!
All of a sudden the phone starts vibrating. I let it drop out of my hand and stumble backwards.
Curious, yet frightened, I pick up the phone again to check out why it vibrated.
‘New missed call.’
‘New voicemail message.’
Hesitantly, I click the play button and put the phone to my ear. My heart skips a beat when I hear the voice of the person through the speaker.?
As I reach the end of the message, I hear the basement door getting locked from above. I quickly run back up the stairs. At the top of the stairs I try pushing the door open, but it’s stuck. I only just notice now that there’s an item pinned on the door. I take it off and look at it, illuminating it with the light of my phone.
It’s a picture of me, a picture of 25 years ago. The picture of me in front of the car, the picture that Jimmy took of me and Samantha before going into the house… However there’s no trace of her on the picture…
Suddenly I hear a faint whisper rushing through the room and I don’t dare to move anymore… The words from the voicemail message still echo around in my head and blend in with the whisper that’s rushing through the air. I start bashing and kicking the door to try and open it, but the door doesn’t budge. I turn around to see if there’s another exit, but there isn’t. I turn around again to try and break through the door, but… where’s the door?
I understand now. This is what she did to Jimmy. And this is what will happen to me…
Picked up: No.
Voicemail message left.
Message duration: 57 seconds
“Hi Simon. I told you I would provide you with some good material to write about. So why didn’t you write? This was such a good story. I was waiting for you to spread the word about the house… You needed to bring me new victims, just by doing what you do best. Writing, being a journalist, making people visit the house. I can’t keep doing all the work myself. I already did that 25 years ago when I posted the story online…
You were supposed to tell the world about me. What a waste… What a shame. I think I’ve waited long enough for a new victim though. I’m done waiting. You’re next.
Oh and it will be your house that the next journalist will visit. Much love, Samantha.”