Mark sat in the heart of the Tomb of the Dammed. The Tomb of the Dammed was not an ancient crypt where the undead lurked but a year round haunted house attraction in the middle of a tourist trap district. When it first opened it’s doors in the 1975 the tomb was a haven for horror enthusiasts that some would come across country to see. Unfortunalty it now lies almost forgotten and irrelevant next to the more advanced theme park haunted houses which had millions of dollars thrown into them every year.
Now the tomb sits like a relic of a long forgotten era. It hadn’t changed much since the 70’s. It mostly consisted of wax figures and an occasional animatronic. They saw decent crowds in the summer however in the dead of the winter the tomb lived up to it’s namesake with barely a soul wandering it’s darkened halls. For Mark the solitary scare actor the magic of the job had died and was buried with him in the small room known as the crypt.
The crypt functioned as the scare actor’s office. The walls were cheap wood painted black and the room was lit with a dim light as to not ruin the actors natural night vision. Scattered around the room were an assortment of tools and old retired décor from the house. There were two doors in the room one leading to the opening hallway and a back door leading to the scare zone. The back door had been damaged and warped. It was extremely difficult to lock and shut properly so Mark didn’t even bother, opting to simply take his valuables with him when he left the room.
Mark sat at his desk where he would spend his dull days reading the works of Stoker, Rice and the King himself. He stuck to reading because his boss always had them lock up their smart phones in the office to improve productivity. His “costume” laid next to him, consisting merely of a black cloak and a red demon mask likely purchased from a Walmart on sale. The only sounds to be heard were the cliché creepy music featuring an occasional thunder clap or creepy laugh. To most this environment would seem odd or eerie but to Mark it was all as comfortable and familiar as his own heart beat.
Just as Mark got into an intense chapter of his book the crypts phone rang. Mark sighed for the phone always rang when he was deep into his book. It was likely the cashier calling for a break or his boss advising an hourly and frankly pointless walk through. Mark got up and answered the phone. The person on the other end was the cashier who simply said “Don’t leave your room!”. The call ended and Mark was slightly confused. The sternness in the cashiers voice garnered no argument. It was an odd break of character for the normally gentle cashier.
Mark shrugged for due to the shortness of the words the request was a common one. Often customers would come with young children or simply were jumpy themselves. They didn’t want live actors scaring them and simply wanted to experience the haunted house for itself. Mark went over and switched off the lights so they wouldn’t leak out through the cracks and went back to his chair to simply wait for the frightened customers.
Several minutes went by with not a sound out of the ordinary. Mark began to wonder if the customers simply chickened out all together, again not an uncommon event. He was about to call back down stairs when he heard the unmistakable creak of the door leading in. Years of working in a haunted house had given Mark a very acute sense of hearing. Everything in scaring was determined by sound. He could hear the customers footsteps clearly and could always tell if someone walked with a limp or used a cane. You always knew where a customer was by the sound of props being triggered.
The customer who had just come in moved very slowly, likely too scared to move quickly in the dark. However there was something off in their step. He heard the sound of a single foot hitting the ground and there would be a long gap before another heavy step hit. The odd thing was the foot always seemed to be on the same side. An image entered Marks mind of a foot on a wheel spinning around and hitting the floor.
The “one footed man” finally reached the end of the hall where the first prop was triggered. The prop was a cliché vampire rising from the coffin and slamming into Plexiglas at high speed causing a very loud bang. The prop elicited no verbal response from the customer. No scream, no gasp, not even a laugh. The vampire slammed again and again with no movement from the customer. The noise was grating on Mark and he could just see the dopey customer taking video of the prop on their phone. “Just move on you rube.” Mark thought to himself. There was suddenly a loud noise from the customer. The noise was like a vacuum cleaner running in reverse and when the customer made the noise the vampire stopped slamming.
Mark had no idea what that strange sound was but he didn’t have time to dwell on it as the door opened again and a new customer came strolling in. This customers steps were more normal with one foot in front of the other however they produced another noise. This was the sound of the ripping of cheap wood. Like a large animal tearing it’s claws for through tree bark. He began to feel worry and anger. If this customer brought in a knife and was ruining their walls then they would certainly find themselves footing the bill for new ones.
Mark went to the door and was prepared to yell at the customer when he could hear a faint voice. Even with Mark’s acute sense of hearing the voice was far too soft to make out fully. He pressed his ear to the door and listened intently. The voice was rough and the words seemed almost garbled. It was like they were sampling every human language at once. Soon the customer was moving again and the ripping sounds resumed. However despite moving past the sensor the vampire didn’t slam.
Mark was worried that the constant slamming from before may have broken it however something happened then that pushed the thought from his mind like a freight train. A new slamming had occurred but this one at the front entrance to the haunted house. The slams were like a battering ram crashing into the metal door again and again. Each thump caused a much closer one in Mark’s chest cavity. Finally there was a loud bang and squeak like the hinges being ripped out. Whoever had done the slamming was now walking down the hall towards him with only a thin layer of wood between them and Mark.
The footsteps were like washing machines being dropped on the floor. They thundered through the building with force and pitch that made their loudest props sound like a pin dropping. The steps were also not alone. A new set of feet trundled through the gaping doorways. These were much faster and more frequent like the sound of several small children. The vacuum sound from the first customer sounded once more and the sound of the new feet moved, onto the wall. Mark had to supress a gasp, there were feet moving across the wall, too many feet. Images of a horrific spider or mutated centipede filled his mind. Whatever was out there was not human.
Mark shook his head. It couldn’t be true, no this had to be some sort of prank. Perhaps this was his bosses sick idea of getting back at him for lazing around on the job. He had almost convinced himself that was true but his fear wouldn’t let him. These didn’t sound like sound effects coming from a stereo, these were real. He could feel the vibrations as each footstep from the giant pounded the floor and the sound of large insect like legs hitting the wooden wall were too genuine.
His body began to shake as more and more sets of feet entered the halls. They ranged from the dragging steps of the undead to the clawing steps of a large reptile. They were moving all around his room triggering props and sending shivers down Mark’s spine. In all his years being surrounded by skeletons, vampires and creatures of the dammed he had never once known fear. Now he knew terror like never before. With his cellphone locked in the office downstairs there was nothing to do. The crypt’s phone only led to downstairs and he felt that if he dialed he would only find dead air.
The scraping reached the wall next to his ear and Mark let out a whimper. All at once the sounds stopped. Near silence filled the tomb and Mark felt a new type of dread. Then it was broken by a new sound. This sound was vaguely familiar. It was the sound of a large animal sniffing the air. It was like a lion hunting a prey. The creature out there was sniffing the wall between them and Mark could feel a cold sweat leaking from his body. The creature took one final sniff and what followed would haunt Mark’s mind for what remained of his life.
All at once every creature in the tomb released a horrifying shriek. It was like no sound he had ever heard. It was as if every noise your brain could register were thrown into a blender without a lid. The wail thundered through the walls shaking them and Mark was forced to cover his ears in vain to stop the pain. With mercy the shriek stopped and was replaced by the sound of dozens of feet moving. Prop after prop was set off signaling their coming at alarming speed. They could smell his fear and they were hunting for him.
Mark put his knees to his chest and began rocking like a frightened child. “They can’t get in.” He told himself. He kept repeating the words like a mantra. He held to the idea like a baby holds onto a rattle. Afterall both doors were locked and had no true knobs only a keyhole and these creatures had no key. The locks would keep him safe. A chill went through his body as if he was flung into frozen waters as realization hit him. The doors weren’t both locked. The back door was warped and almost impossible to close.
His head snapped to the door and he could hear the prop just outside go off. He got to his feet and ran for the broken door. He grabbed the handle and began to pull but a large clawed hand put itself between them and began to pull. The door opened a few inches and in the flashing light of the simulated lightning Mark saw the creature. Time seemed to stop as he gazed upon it. The creature was impossible to describe and only one single word seemed to do it justice….wrong. The creature was just wrong, something that couldn’t exist in our reality. Mark felt like a 2D cartoon seeing something in live action. It broke the very fabric of our existence.
Mark began to feel his body fall backwards in shock. However he wasn’t quite out of fight yet. With a burst of adrenaline his leg kicked the wall and he was able to wrench the door out of the abominations hands and slam it shut. He clicked the lock into place and his body hit the floor. Mark had nothing left to do but curl up in the fetal position and simply wait. For it was a question of when and not if. His doom has been decided. How long would it take for the cheap wooden walls to break? For the door to be ripped from his hinges? For Mark the answer was both too soon and not soon enough.
This haunted house had indeed lived up to it’s name. This was the tomb of the dammed. It was here Mark would lay listening to the tearing of walls and the shrieking of those horrible creatures. And what was left of Mark’s mind would simply repeat a single word over and over again. “Wrong, wrong, wrong.”
Credit : Tenac
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