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The Rotunda

Estimated reading time — 7 minutes

Most people who choose to go hiking do so in the summer or spring, but some of my college friends and I tend to prefer hiking in the winter. After our final arduous semester of college, our small gang of three decided to go on a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains and try some hiking there. Jack was applying to law school in Knoxville, and so was using this trip both for the hike and to get a sense of his school of interest. He had spiked black hair, a small patch of facial hair under his lip, and green eyes, which made him popular with some ladies in our university. Craig was looking to become a park ranger and looked like he was meant for the wild, with fuzzy brown hair and an extensive boxed beard.

This story isn’t about something scary we encountered in the woods, or some monster hiding in the trees. The hike was actually fun, rewarding, and relaxed (though a bit cold). This is what happened in a small town we stayed in on the base of the mountains after the hike.

The town was designed for those hikers who choose to come in the spring and summer. The main street was filled with all sorts of attractions for people who were interested in the beautiful nature all around but did not want to actually venture into the hiking trails. There were cable cars to high-altitude convention centers, arcades, bowling alleys, “driving” trails, carnival-like games, and a haunted house.


After the hike, my friends and I decided to spend an extra day exploring these attractions. To me, the whole town had an eerie aura, which was accentuated by the lack of tourists in the winter months. Though everything was open, there simply were no people on the streets other than us, and maybe a few other winter hikers and the rare locals.

After riding the cable car for a spectacular sunset view of the mountains, we argued about whether to call it a night. Always looking for a fun fright, I recommended we venture to the haunted house. My friends considered it childish, but I said I was going to go anyway, and meet them back at the hotel. That was a very bad mistake.

The haunted house had a strange set-up; there was no front door, rather a gondola leading up to a door on the second story. From the outside it looked like the house was made of concrete painted to look like old wood, reminiscent of the entrance to an old mine or a tunnel. The building was very clearly a commercial haunted house. I could even see the pop-out skeletons and department-store-like special effects around the door in the second story, and there were buildings with other, non-scary attractions all around the haunted house. All this helped alleviate my fears.

I never intended to go it alone, but after waiting for 5 minutes, the person manning the entrance booth realized that no one else was going to join me. I gave him the $20 entrance fee and told him that considering it’s a winter evening and there are barely any tourists around, I might as well go in alone. I was feeling overconfident, and told him that I don’t scare easily. At that moment, something changed. The man, who was wearing a clownish outfit and had straight brown hair flowing to one side of his head, changed his expression from bored to somber. His brown eyes pierced mine, and he muttered under his breath,

“You shouldn’t say that. You shouldn’t do this alone.”

Immediately after, he smiled, and used an intercom system to let the actors inside know that a young male is coming in. I heard the actors ask if I was alone and he confirmed it. There was dead silence. One of the actors repeated through the intercom, so that I could hear,


“You shouldn’t say that. You shouldn’t do this alone. Run through the rotunda.”

I’ve been to a number of haunted houses and this seemed unusual. Something didn’t sit right with me, but I chalked it up to an early scare tactic they were using before I even entered the house. The man told me the ground rules: “No touching the actors. Proceed forward at a steady pace. If you give up and need it to end early, yell at the top of your lungs, ‘STOP!’” Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this all before. Then the man grabbed me and looked at me very sternly.

“Run through the rotunda.”

Enough. I was getting sick of this scare tactic. I took the gondola and entered through the second floor door.

At first everything played out like a typical commercial haunted house. There were dark hallways, pop-out monsters, and hands of actors reaching for me through the walls. Having never done this alone, I did start getting scared, with my heart rate increasing and sweat coming off my palms, but it was a “fun” kind of fear. There was a crawlspace, totally lightless, and the actors, violating their own rules, grabbed my legs and activated a chainsaw (probably fake) as to cut them off. I desperately lunged forward out of the crawlspace into a room with brilliant purple lights rotating around a platform that seemed to be shaking. Disoriented, I took a few seconds to recuperate and recognized that it was an optical illusion; a cylindrical background wallpaper was rotating so fast as to make a walkway in the center look unstable. Confident, I went across the walkway to a door and opened it.

The following room was a large circular room with a dome on the top, a rotunda. It was dark, but there was enough light for me to make out a door on the far side. What was unusual was that the room was very different from the rest of the rooms in the building. Instead of a black Velcro-like material covering the walls, the walls were ordained with red marble and statues of deformed faces and broken bird wings. The room felt hot, and there was black liquid streaming out of a hole in the ceiling. I remembered the warnings earlier and a shiver went down my spine. I started to run to the door on the far end, but I had spent too much time looking at the surroundings. Suddenly, everything became pitch black, except for a faint red light radiating out of the column of black liquid in the center.

I tried to keep my trajectory to the door, but it was locked now. Another shiver went down my spine. That’s when I started to hear voices all around me. At first I thought they were the actors, and they kept repeating my name.

“Kenneth. Kenneth. Kenneth.”

I couldn’t see. I couldn’t feel anything. I could only hear my name. I thought back to the man at the entrance. At no point did I reveal my name. None of this made sense. I chickened out and shouted “STOP!” but the voices didn’t stop.

I took out my phone. It was 8:33pm and I had no reception. The voices wouldn’t stop, and the room was getting hotter and hotter. I shouted “Why are you doing this? I yelled stop!”

Around me I heard male and female voices in unison. I started hearing words and phrases other than my name.


“Troy abandoned. Clara unreciprocated. Malfeasance wins.”

Now I was terrified. Troy is the name of the town in New Hampshire I was born in. My family moved to New York City when I was young, where I grew up and went to school. Clara was my first crush, though nothing ever came of my lust for her. Malfeasance was the word by which I won a small spelling bee in my school.

I began to shake at these words, and the room began to feel even hotter. But now the heat was starting to localize to my right hand, and was becoming very painful. I cried out for this to stop, and tried to knock down the locked door out of the rotunda, to no avail. I pulled out my phone, but it wasn’t working. The voices continued, in a lower tone:

“A burning hand. A broken face. A broken wing.”

As these words were uttered, my hand, in extreme pain, began to cool down. When I was in school I burned my hand in an oven. I had also been in a stupid fistfight with a classmate over cutting a line in a cafeteria, which ended with both of us breaking each other’s noses. More recently, on a drive to a job interview in Chicago, I ran over a wounded bird on the highway. I felt terrible and remember the image of the bird’s deformed wing.

I tried closing my ears, but the voices only got louder.

“Heights, anger, loss.”

These words I did not recognize, but the lowering, booming tones of the voices kept me shuddering.

“The danger.”


At this point, the black liquid emanating the faint light began to transform from a stream into a blob. The liquid grew and started taking the shape of a human being. Once the shaping was complete, the liquid changed color. In front of me was a man with green eyes, and straight black hair. He had a soul patch and was wearing a suit with a red tie. A knife materialized in his right hand.

No words can express the terror I felt at that moment. With sweat falling down my forehead, with my heart racing so fast and so powerfully that I could feel my chest wall vibrate, and with my muscles trembling and shaking, I begged not to die. The “man” in the center of the room didn’t move, but he stared directly at me, coldly, robotically. I was too afraid to look away from his green eyes. I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my chest, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I screamed, I cried. Then the figure dematerialized, and the room lit up to the level of light there was when I first entered.

I lunged for the door with no hesitation, and it swung open. The moment I stepped out of the rotunda, the pain stopped. The rest of the haunted house was completely lit. There were no actors, but there were deactivated pop-out monsters. I traversed twisted corridors similar to those before the rotunda, but lit up and featureless. I exited through a door in the back of the haunted house.

I took out my phone, which was working again. It was 10:00pm. This didn’t make sense; I knew I spent no more than 20 minutes in there. I was shaking, terrified, and angry. I ran to the front of the haunted house, but there was no one there, no workers, no entrance booth personnel, no actors. I went back to the hotel, swearing to myself to keep the whole affair secret to anyone other than the internet.

The next morning, I told my friends to give me one more hour before we head up to Knoxville. I went back to the haunted house. It looked the same as it did when I first entered, and there was a man at the entrance booth. He looked at me unimpressed, and did not appear to be the same man who greeted me last time. I began yelling and screaming, asking what kind of a sick joke they pulled on me last night, and how they discovered so much about me. He told me that it’s been a slow season, and no one came to the house last night. I felt enraged, and he threatened to call the police.

Feeling defeated and upset, I retired back to the hotel. In the room, Jack was packing some stuff excitedly and jittery. There was a nasty smell in the room, but after the sensory overload last night, I was done analyzing.

“Where’s Craig?” I asked.

“Oh, he’s out prepping the car. Do you like the suit? I’m excited for Knoxville. Just in case I have to impress anyone, I think I’m going to straighten my hair. Do you think I should go for a red or blue tie?”

Credit To – [email protected]

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39 thoughts on “The Rotunda”

  1. RoseByAnyOtherName

    For a haunted house story, fairly original premise. Setting the rotunda in a cave on the mountain could have been interesting. But there was no explanation for why Craig got killed.

  2. It is the best time to make some plans for the longer term
    and it is time to be happy. I have learn this submit and if I may just I
    desire to recommend you some attention-grabbing things or advice.

    Maybe you could write subsequent articles relating to this article.
    I wish to read more issues about it!

  3. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s
    new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly pleased I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  4. little miss black cat

    Wait the whole blue tie red tie thing that’s like a japanese urban ledgend red paper blue paper where if you ask for red paper you get dismembered but if you ask for blue paper you sufficate till your face turns blue.

  5. Teh Moosen is NEAR

    Nice story but honestly too predictable. Add a little bit of thrill and use a little more modern material, you’ve got a winning story.

  6. hmmm… Kenneth is experiencing his whole life in this rotunda, including his future. He learned that Jack is going to kill him with a knife. After leaving the house and later returning there he is told that there weren’t any costumers the day before. Consequently this was some kind of a dream. When he meets Jack again, Jack is wearing a suit and is going to dress like the “killer Jack” from Kenneth’s vision. There is an awfull smell in the room, so apparently there is something rotting in there.
    Sorry for summing up the story like this but my first language isn’t english and maybe I got something wrong.

    Finally my thoughts about this pasta: I enjoyed it. Your spelling style is good. The pasta had a great lenght and you explained everything as detailed as it should be. Unlike some other commenters I don’t think that it’d be better if you’d left the introduction. Beside the fact that I don’t get what is rotting there (and if it’s Craig: Why?) it’s coherent and entertaining. But as a matter of fact it didn’t really get me. I am sorry that I am not able to explain why, I guess it’s just personal preference. I hand it an 8 ;-)

  7. Thank you to the admin for posting my story, and thank you all for your comments and feedback! This is the first fiction of any kind I ever wrote, so I’m really excited that this got posted and that people enjoyed it :)

    It seems like most of the criticism has to do with how believable certain aspects of it were. Believe it or not, the setting/town is based on a real place in Tennessee, that had such attractions open year round despite there being barely anyone around. As to everything else brought up, those are all very good points. I tried to make it fairly believable but I see now there are a number of things that don’t make sense. I also could have been more subtle in describing and connecting the person who appears in the rotunda to Jack at the end. I have another story idea in mind, and I’m going to try to improve it both in believability and in writing/creepiness. Thank you all so much!

  8. mrspatrickbateman

    Ok so I’ve been thinking about a couple things, in the story the main character says he tells his friends to give him another hour to figure out the haunted house. This implies he spoke to both of his friends. Then about an hour later he says he smells something in the hotel room but didn’t pay attention because he was so burnt out by other things going on. I assume the smell is alluding to Craig’s body decomposing but it’s only been an hour at most that he could have been dead, would he have smelled? Also at the haunted house he is told not to go in alone multiple times, he ignores it and does it any way. While what he goes through is terrifying in the end it seems to be helpful, a warning of sorts. So if he hadn’t have gone alone and had his friends with him what would have happened? Could he have been warned with his friend standing right next to him? It seems going alone kind of saved his life. I really like this story so I don’t mean to nitpick but those are just a few things that stood out to me.

    1. The human body does not smell good on the inside, regardless of how long it’s been dead, especially if the intestines have been punctured.

  9. It was one of the best pastas I’ve read in awhile but could someone explain the ending to me? I get that the guy in the rotunda wore a red tie but why does it matter in the end/why is it as brilliant as people say it is?

    1. Basically, the question of the red or blue tie made the narrator realize that the voices in the rotunda were telling the future as well.

      In other words, his friend (with the soul patch) went crazy for some reason, killed their other friend (explaining the pungent smell), and is now going to kill the narrator.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Would have been scarier if you clarified that the entity in the rotunda had no facial features except the soul patch and the green eyes, mostly to make it more convincing that he didn’t recognize his friend. Still, this was a creepy story. Kudos.


  11. I think there was too much description of the friend at the beginning, so when the person was was described in the rotunda, I got what the writer was doing immediately.

  12. “This story isn’t about something scary we encountered in the woods, or some monster hiding in the trees. The hike was actually fun, rewarding, and relaxed.”

    Then why bring it up? Why start the story with a hiking anecdote that doesn’t add anything? This is a story about a guy who ends up at a spooky carnival, so why not just have him be at a traditional carnival in a location that makes sense?

    And why does this small mountain town apparently have a year-round carnival sideshow running at all times? Even in the dead of winter when there are, as acknowledged, no customers? And the haunted house ride is fully staffed with live actors at all times? My God, how do they pay all these people’s salaries?

    “In front of me was a man with green eyes, and straight black hair. He had a soul patch and was wearing a suit with a red tie.”

    Which is to say, I saw my friend who I’d just hung out with ten minutes before but for some reason don’t know recognize since he changed his hair and put on a tie. But it’s a good thing I got this vague supernatural warning about him because now I know that he’s going to…um…well…wait, hang on, I’ll figure this out I’m sure…

    1. This post brings up my issues with this story. And for anyone who would feel urged to complain on the comment, stating “how many horror stories are realistic?”; A story doesn’t have to be realistic, but it has to be believable. Those are not two mutually exclusive things. A story can be both of them in any combination.

      None the less, not an outright bad story. It actually seems proof read, good language and descriptions are used, and the staff and rotunda part was quite scary and were not chlichéd IMO. It would just need some reworking. Keep it up [email protected]!

    2. I live in the town this is either based upon or is. It’s a tourist town, but a lot of attractions stay open year round even though business is slow. Many tourist towns are like that.

    3. You looked here.

      He may have mentioned the hiking for a plot twist.
      I mean, come on, as soon as you read that, you might as well think CLICHE but continue reading on and you say. oh wait.. Its not about hiking.

    1. Amm, in the room, something described da writer’s life in short sentences. Then the heights, anger, loss part he did not recognize, it’s because it was actually telling the future. That man in the room looked like what Jack is going to be in the future. So, Jack killer Craig, that’s why there was a nasty smell in the room, and I think he was going to stab the narrator in the chest too.

      1. Otherwise dislike a comment, just because he asks the explanation of the end, cause he is probably not english? Really? Man, some people are cruel as hell.

  13. Genius. While the room wasn’t exceedingly scary, the ending was amazing. The whole story built the tension up to that point, exploding at the very end. After the supposed danger has passed, we see it has scarcely begun. I loved it. One thing I crave in a pasta is the moment of realization. The moment before all hell breaks loose, the moment of understanding of the imminent terror, the pause as the truth comes out. This moment is a beautiful, chilling element of creepypastas. Kudos to you sir.

    However, I was somewhat disappointed in the scariness of the rotunda, but that is my only qualm with the story. If that was the main creepiness of the story, I would rate this an seven, if that. However, I am impressed. Thank you for submitting this pasta, and I hope to see more work by you in the future.

  14. Very well done. Original idea, very creepy, and unsettling. I didn’t see the ending coming, and usually the ending ruins most of these creepypastas for me, but the ending on this one did quite the opposite. Best pasta I’ve read in a while.

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