Maybe it’s late at night, but you can’t sleep. You’re bored, or you can’t stop a bazillion thoughts from racing through your skull, or maybe you had too much coffee, or you’re a little drunk. Whatever the case, I’ve been there, my friend. I know how it feels to sit there and realize that you’re not really living right now. You’re just existing. Surely there’s something you can do, right?
But no matter what, no options presented seem like something that feels right. It’s definitely not clubbing night. Watching TV or playing video games seem like mind-numbing options and you’ve likely been surfing the net all night and have realized how little satisfaction you’re getting from that, too.
Well, good news, because I have a solution. This option might require you to put on pants and walk somewhere, but it’s worth it, I guarantee it.
See, there’s a building not even a block from where you live, and at any time of the night you’ll find the rear entrance unlocked. During the day the place is locked up tight as a drum, but for some reason, once night falls outside, whatever time of the day that happens to fall on at any time of year, you’ll find that rear entrance is open and waiting.
What are you waiting for? Christmas? Get your pants on, put on your shoes and get your ass down there. Didn’t I promise it would be worth it?
Only, one thing. You’ve got to follow my instructions to the letter. To. The. Letter. That’s very important. Got that? Okay, good. Are you ready? Then let’s go.
The building is just up ahead. See it? It’s an old office complex that’s currently unoccupied. I’m not sure what businesses were once housed here, but for now, it’s empty. It’s been here for years, and I don’t recall a time when there was an actual business open there.
Yes, of course I’m sure the rear entrance is unlocked. Didn’t I say that? Let’s head around the back. Don’t worry, I know the lights are off. It’s not like this building advertises itself to the general public. Only a select few have ever attempted what you’re about to attempt. Stop worrying, okay? You’ll be fine, as long as you follow my instructions.
There’s the entrance. Go on and try the door. See? It opens, just like I said it would. Now, proceed to the first elevator you see. What do you mean, it’s too dark to see? Just use your flashlight. You didn’t bring a flashlight? Didn’t I tell you to? Oh, no. My bad. Well, you’ve started now. You can’t turn back. You don’t want to know what happens if you ignore me and turn back now. You’ll just have to use what light there is from the moon to proceed.
Okay, the elevator is ten paces forward and to the right. This building is ten floors tall. You will be going to the eleventh floor. What you…shut up, I’m explaining. What you need to do is get in the elevator and immediately press and hold the button for the tenth floor. When it starts to flash, let go of it right away and tap the button for the first floor…
Phew. You did a good job there. Now the elevator is proceeding the the eleventh floor. If you’d pressed those buttons any differently you might have wound up on a different floor, and believe me, you don’t want that.
The elevator doors open on a hallway that leads straight forward to a brightly illuminated EXIT sign. This is not our path. You run for that exit, and you’ll probably never make it there. If you do, you’ll find out that the sign lies. Instead, you need to turn to the left and take the first door you see.
Wait! Is that really the first door you saw? You were about to head into it without even realizing that it was not the first door you saw. It was the second. The first door you saw was the one your eyes cast upon as you were turning. It’s the second doorway on the left, true, but it wasn’t the first door you saw after I gave the instruction.
See what I mean? You have to follow my instructions to the letter. That was the last time I’m going to warn you that you’re choosing wrong. Pay careful attention from now on or who knows what will happen?
Head through the door and sit down immediately.
Good job. You apparently understand now. Do as I say, and only as I say if you hope to get through this with your sanity and/or life intact. Ignore that cold sweat on your scalp and congratulate yourself that you didn’t close the door but instead sat down as soon as I told you to.
The room before you is black. Blacker than anything you’ve ever seen. You cannot see your hand in front of your face. You need to sit there, perfectly still, not moving a muscle, until I say move.
Count your heartbeats. When you get to twenty, stand up. One…two… Remember to count heartbeats, not seconds.
There. You got to twenty and you are standing. Now, announce to the room, “That which is darkest is closest. That which is closest is watching. That which is watching is furthest.”
Did you say it? You didn’t hesitate after standing, did you? Did you speak as I told you the words or did you wait until you heard them all? If you waited, you are done for.
Okay, it looks like they’re satisfied. That’s good news for you. You may proceed. Take one step forward and then immediately turn right. Walk forward until you come to a door. Open it, close it immediately, and stand with your back to the room. This room will be as dark as the first.
Stop breathing. Hold your breath and no matter how much it hurts, do not let it out. What is in this room follows the sound of breath, and if it hears any, well, I won’t tell you what it will do or you will release that breath and bolt for it. Keep holding your breath and count another twenty heartbeats.
Now, the breath must really be straining your lungs. I understand that. Stay facing the door, but walk backwards until your back presses against the far wall. Keep that breath held. Walk slowly. Ooh, I bet you just can’t stand it anymore, can you? You simply must release the breath. I can’t stop you. All I can do is remind you that you are not alone in this room, and breathing would be so much worse than simply keeping your breath held…
There’s the far wall. Without looking, feel for a door handle. Open it. Step through and close it. Now release that breath. Feels good now, doesn’t it? You’re about a quarter of the way through, and you’re still alive and still yourself. You’re doing quite well so far.
The room you are now standing in is not dark, as the others have been. It’s lit by a small fire on the far end. A huddled figure is sitting by that fire. Don’t turn around! At least, don’t do so, until you stand straight, and announce in a clear voice, “Might I share your fire for a moment?”
Now wait. Count your heartbeats again. If you get to ten and have heard nothing, hold your breath again and run back through the door you came in through without looking back.
There. Was that a soft grunt? Did it come from the figure? Be careful. Think hard about it. If you decide that it was indeed a soft grunt of ascent, turn and go to the fire and huddle before it like the figure is. While walking, you likely noticed that there are five doors in this room, including the one you came through.
Huddle on the opposite side of the fire as the figure, but make sure you huddle yourself in the same position. Never look directly at it. You won’t like what you see. Now you may ask it any question you want to. Here’s the catch. If it’s the wrong question, you will be stuck huddled in this position while it can get up and leave. Most people ask it which door to take.
Good, you’re asking him which door to take. And if you listen, he will tell you that it’s the right-hand door closest to the one you came in.
Don’t get up yet! Consider the fact that this figure is not your friend. It doesn’t know you, and it probably doesn’t like you very much. Could it have lied? Maybe you should take exactly the opposite door it suggested. Or maybe this creature cannot lie, and you should listen to it.
No, don’t ask me. I truly don’t know. One of these doors is the right one, but it’s never the same door. You get to choose whether you believe the figure or not.
Seems like you’ve chosen to listen to it. Let’s see what happens…
Wow. Looks like today is your lucky day. You’re doing very well so far.
You find yourself in another long hallway. This one is longer and much, much darker. There are two doors at the end. If you walk straight to those doors, you will be forced to choose one, and neither is marked. You can feel that presence, can’t you. The one that’s right behind you. You can feel its breath on your neck. You can sense how close it is. The hairs on your neck prick up.
It’s going to follow you. If you look around, you will regret it. Don’t speak to it. Don’t acknowledge it in any way. Just walk. Walk until you hear whispering. If I were you, I would pay attention to that whispering. Not so much what’s being said as which door it’s coming from.
You’re hearing it now, aren’t you? Yes, just right up there to the right. You stopped as soon as you heard it. You’re still listening. You’re doing so well. Yes, it’s still there, and yes, you still need to ignore it. Turn to the door you hear it coming from and walk straight toward it. Place your hand on the knob.
Now, here’s where things get complicated. On the other side of that door is whatever you’re picturing in your head when you turn the knob. So it’s important, vital, that you do not think of the thing you fear the most. You know that thing that sometimes keeps you awake at night because you’re certain that if you close your eyes, it will come for you? That creeping feeling you get when you think someone’s watching you? That idea or thought that your deepest nightmares try to hide from you?
I’m warning you, if you’re thinking about it, stop. Don’t turn that doorknob until you’ve cleared it from your mind. Are you still thinking about it? You are, aren’t you? The presence behind you is getting closer. You have three ways out of this. You can run for the two doors at the end and accept whatever fate lies beyond them, you can let the presence behind you catch you, and do whatever it’s going to do, or you can stop thinking about your fear right now and open that door!
Whatever your choice, you’re not bored anymore. Told you it was worth it.