It was the day before Halloween when I first heard about the No End House from a friend of mine. He told me that it was a legendary haunted house attraction that was said to be the largest and scariest in the country. Everybody had heard about it, but nobody seemed to know where it was. My friend told me he had found it.
The rules were pretty simple. You paid $20 to enter the attraction. The building contained nine rooms in all. If you managed to reach the final room, you would win $500. The only catch was that nobody had ever managed to make it all the way through to the end. That’s why they called it No End House.
My friend told me he had tried to complete the house and failed miserably. He said the haunted house attraction was located roughly four miles outside the city and drew me a map. It piqued my interest and I told him I would check it out the next night. As I turned to leave, he grabbed me by the arm and tried to convince me not to go. He said that it was unnatural, that the things the house contained would be too much for anyone to endure.
I didn’t believe him and no matter how hard he tried to convince not to go there, my mind was made up. Winning $500 for completing a haunted house sounded too good to be true.
The next night, I followed the map he had drawn and arrived at No End House just as the sun was setting. I immediately felt that there was something strange about the building. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. From the outside, it didn’t look that scary, yet for some reasons, it sent a chill down my spine. The feeling of uneasiness only intensified as I approached the haunted house and opened the front door.
Stepping inside, I let out a sigh of relief. The entrance hall looked normal, like a hotel lobby decorated for Halloween. There was a sign posted on the wall that read: “Leave $20 in the tray below and proceed to Room 1. Eight more rooms follow. Reach the end and you win $500!” With an uneasy chuckle, I placed my money in the tray under the sign and made my way to the door.
The first room was a complete let-down. It was almost laughable. It resembled a children’s ghost train at a fun fair, complete with white-sheeted ghosts hanging from the ceiling and mechanical zombies that lurched forward and gave an unconvincing moan as you passed by. I brushed aside the fake spider webs and headed for the door at the far end of the room.
Upon entering the second room, I was greeted by thick fog. A rubber bat hung from the ceiling and flew around in a wide circle. Some haunting Halloween music played on a loop in the background. I stepped over a few toy rats that raced back and forth across the floor and opened the door to the next room.
At first glance, Room 3 appeared to be just a normal room. It was sparsely furnished, with a wooden chair in the middle of the floor and a single lamp in the corner that did a poor job of lighting the area. It took me a few minutes to realize that there was something not quite right about the room. The light cast shadows across the floor and walls, but the problem was that there were too many shadows.
I could see the shadow of the chair against the wall, but there were other shadows beside it that had no business being there. Then, I happened to look down at my feet. My own shadow wasn’t there.
At that moment, a vague and foreboding feeling of impending doom gripped my heart and my courage deserted me. Reaching behind me, I tried to open the door I had just come through. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was locked. I didn’t have the option of retreating. The only thing I could do was walk across the room to the other door and press on, further into the house.
The fourth room was possibly the most disturbing. There was no light. The door behind me closed automatically and I was left standing there in complete darkness. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing. I was scared to move. I’m not afraid of the dark and never have been, but there was something about that particular darkness that absolutely terrified me. Darkness doesn’t describe it fully. It was an absence of anything. There was just a dead silence. I couldn’t hear a thing. I couldn’t even hear myself breathing.
It was the sound of death.
Just then, the silence was broken by a low hum. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I felt something pass behind me. I turned around as quickly as possible, but it was impossible to make out anything in the darkness. The hum grew louder and more intense. The noise seemed to surround me. I knew that something was there, lurking in the dark and I knew that it was gradually drawing closer.
Until then, I had never felt that level of abject fear. I wasn’t scared of dying. I was scared of what would happen to me if I lived. I was afraid of what the thing lurking in the darkness had in store for me. The humming noise grew louder and louder until it built to a crescendo.
Then, for a split second, there was a flash of light before the room was plunged back into darkness again. In that split second, I saw that the room was empty. There was nothing there. The hum was now a wild screech and I had to cover my ears and run forwards. My hands fumbled blindly for the door handle and when I found it, I wrenched it open and fell into the fifth room.
Looking up at the ceiling, I was shocked to see that the room was covered in trees. Their branches towered above my head and the room appeared to be extremely large. It was as if I was in the middle of a huge forest. The floor was lined with tall bushes and shrubs. It was impossible to discern where the exit was. As I made my way deeper into the room, I began to hear the sound of birds chirping and insects scuttling through the undergrowth. I could hear them, but I couldn’t see them.
I kept walking, hoping that the door would lie behind the next tree I passed. After a few moments, I heard a buzzing sound and felt something land on my arm. I shook it off and kept going, but a few seconds later, I felt about ten more insects land on me. They were crawling up and down my arms and legs, and some even jumped onto my face. I flailed my arms wildly, trying to swat them, but they just kept crawling all over me. Looking down, I didn’t see a single bug, but I could still feel them on my skin. I dropped to the ground and began to roll around, desperately trying to crush the insects, but it was no use.
I began to crawl, even though I had no idea where I was going. The entrance was nowhere to be seen and I had yet to find the exit. So I just kept crawling, invisible insects biting into my skin. After what seemed like hours, my body was exhausted and I began to give up all hope.
Just then, I heard a low, droning hum. It was the same as before and it seemed to be coming from somewhere in front of me. I pulled myself up by grabbing a tree for support and took a few shaky steps. It was then that I noticed the door. It was only a few feet away from me, but it was covered in ivy, making it almost invisible. I just stood there, my head pressed against the door marked six, my hand shakily grasping the knob. The hum was so loud I couldn’t even hear myself think. There was nothing I could do but move on.
Room six was next. And room six was hell.
I closed the door behind me, my eyes held shut and my ears ringing. The hum was surrounding me. As the door clicked into place, the hum was gone. I opened my eyes in surprise and the door I had shut was gone. It was just a wall now. I looked around in shock. The room was identical to room three – the same chair and lamp – but with the correct amount of shadows this time. The only real difference was that there was no exit door and the one I came in through was gone. As I said before, I had no previous issues in terms of mental instability, but at that moment I fell into what I now know was insanity. I didn’t scream. I didn’t make a sound.
At first I scratched softly. The wall was tough, but I knew the door was there somewhere. I just knew it was. I scratched at where the doorknob was. I clawed at the wall frantically with both hands, my nails being filed down to the skin against the wood. I fell silently to my knees, the only sound in the room the incessant scratching against the wall. I knew it was there. The door was there, I knew it was just there. I knew if I could just get past this wall –
“Are you alright?”
I jumped off the ground and spun in one motion. I leaned against the wall behind me and I saw what it was that spoke to me. To this day I regret ever turning around.
There was a little girl. She was wearing a soft, white dress that went down to her ankles. She had long blonde hair to the middle of her back and white skin and blue eyes. She was the most frightening thing I had ever seen, and I know that nothing in my life will ever be as unnerving as what I saw in her. While looking at her, I saw something else. Where she stood I saw what looked like a beast beside her. It had a man’s body, only larger than normal and covered in hair, but its head was not human. It had the head of a ram and the snout of a wolf. It was naked from head to toe and its toes were in the form of black hooves. It wasn’t the devil, but at that moment it might as well have been.
It was horrifying – the man-beast and the little girl in front of me. They were the same form. I can’t really describe it, but I saw them at the same time. They simultaneously occupied the same space in that room, but it was like looking at two separate dimensions. When I saw the girl I saw the form, and when I saw the form I saw the girl. I couldn’t speak. I could barely even see. My mind was revolting against what it was attempting to process. I had been scared before in my life and I had never been more scared than when I was trapped in the fourth room, but that was before room six.
I just stood there, staring at it. There was no exit. I was trapped here with it. And then it spoke again.
“David, you should have listened.”
When it spoke, I heard the words of the little girl, but the other form spoke through my mind in a voice I won’t attempt to describe. There was no other sound. The voice just kept repeating that sentence over and over in my mind and I agreed. I didn’t know what to do. I was slipping into madness, yet couldn’t take my eyes off what was in front of me. I dropped to the floor. I thought I had passed out, but the room wouldn’t let me. I just wanted it to end. I was on my side, my eyes wide open and the form staring down at me. Scurrying across the floor in front of me was one of the battery-powered rats from the second room.
The house was toying with me. But for some reason, seeing that rat pulled my mind back from whatever depths it was headed and I looked around the room. I was getting out of there. I was determined to get out of that house and live and never think about this place again. I knew this room was hell and I wasn’t ready to take up a residency.
At first, it was just my eyes that moved. I searched the walls for any kind of opening. The room wasn’t that big, so it didn’t take long to soak up the entire layout. The demon still taunted me, the voice growing louder as the form stayed rooted where it stood. I placed my hand on the floor and lifted myself up to all four, and I turned to scan the wall behind me.
Then I saw something I couldn’t believe. The form was now right at my back, whispering into my mind how I shouldn’t have dome. I felt its breath on the back of my neck, but I refused to turn around. A large rectangle was scratched into the wood, with a small dent chipped away in the center of it. Right in front of my eyes I saw the large number 7 I had mindlessly etched into the wall. I knew what it was: room seven was just beyond that wall where room five was moments ago.
I don’t know how I had done it – maybe it was just my state of mind at the time – but I had created the door. I knew I had. In my madness, I had scratched into the wall what I needed the most: an exit to the next room. Room seven was close. I knew the demon was right behind me, but for some reason it couldn’t touch me. I closed my eyes and placed both hands on the large seven in front of me. I pushed. I pushed as hard as I could. The demon was now screaming in my ear. It told me I was never leaving. It told me that this was the end but I wasn’t going to die; I was going to live there in room six with it. I wasn’t. I pushed and screamed at the top of my lungs. I knew I was going to push through the wall eventually.
I clenched my eyes shut and screamed, and the demon was gone. I was left in silence. I turned around slowly and was greeted by the room as it was when I entered: just a chair and a lamp. I couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t have time to well. I turned back to the seven and jumped back slightly. What I saw was a door. It wasn’t the one I had scratched in, but a regular door with a large seven on it. My whole body was shaking. It took me a while to turn the knob. I just stood there for a while, staring at the door. I couldn’t stay in room six. I couldn’t. But if this was only room six, I couldn’t imagine what seven had in store. I must have stood there for an hour, just staring at the seven. Finally, with a deep breath, I twisted the knob and opened the door to room seven.
I stumbled through the door mentally exhausted and physically weak. The door behind me closed and I realized where I was. I was outside. Not outside like room five, but actually outside. My eyes stung. I wanted to cry. I fell to my knees and tried but I couldn’t. I was finally out of that hell. I didn’t even care about the prize that was promised. I turned and saw that the door I just went through was the entrance. I walked to my car and drove home, thinking of how nice a shower sounded.
As I pulled up to my house, I felt uneasy. The joy of leaving No End House had faded and dread was slowly building in my stomach. I shook it off as residual from the house and made my way to the front door. I entered and immediately went up to my room. There on my bed was my cat, Baskerville. He was the first living thing I had seen all night and I reached to pet him. He hissed and swiped at my hand. I recoiled in shock, as he had never acted like that. I thought, “Whatever, he’s an old cat.” I jumped in the shower and got ready for what I was expecting to be a sleepless night.
After my shower, I went to the kitchen to make something to eat. I descended the stairs and turned into the family room; what I saw would be forever burned into my mind, however. My parents were lying on the ground, naked and covered in blood. They were mutilated to near-unidentifiable states. Their limbs were removed and placed next to their bodies, and their heads were placed on their chests facing me. The most unsettling part was their expressions. They were smiling, as though they were happy to see me. I vomited and sobbed there in the family room. I didn’t know what had happened; they didn’t even live with me at the time. I was a mess. Then I saw it: a door that was never there before. A door with a large eight scrawled on it in blood.
I was still in the house. I was standing in my family room but I was in room seven. The faces of my parents smiled wider as I realized this. They weren’t my parents; they couldn’t be, but they looked exactly like them. The door marked eight was across the room, behind the mutilated bodies in front of me. I knew I had to move on, but at that moment I gave up. The smiling faces tore into my mind; they grounded me where I stood. I vomited again and nearly collapsed. Then the hum returned. It was louder than ever and it filled the house and shook the walls. The hum compelled me to walk.
I began to walk slowly, making my way closer to the door and the bodies. I could barely stand, let alone walk, and the closer I got to my parents the closer I came to suicide. The walls were now shaking so hard it seemed as though they were going to crumble, but still the faces smiled at me. As I inched closer, their eyes followed me. I was now between the two bodies, a few feet away from the door. The dismembered hands clawed their way across the carpet towards me, all while the faces continued to stare. New terror washed over me and I walked faster. I didn’t want to hear them speak. I didn’t want the voices to match those of my parents. They began to open their mouths and the hands were inches from my feet. In a dash of desperation, I lunged toward the door, threw it open, and slammed it behind me.
I was done. After what I had just experienced, I knew there wasn’t anything else this house could throw at me that I couldn’t live through. There was nothing short of the fires of hell that I wasn’t ready for. Unfortunately, I underestimated the abilities of No End House because, in room 8, things just got more disturbing, more terrifying and more unspeakable.
I still have trouble believing what I saw in room eight. Again, the room was a carbon copy of rooms four and six, but sitting in the usually empty chair was a man. To my horror, I gradually realized that the man sitting in the chair was me. Not someone who looked like me; it was me, David Williams. I walked closer. I had to get a better look even though I was sure of it. He looked up at me and I noticed tears in his eyes.
“Please,” he whispered. “Please don’t do it. Please don’t hurt me.”
“What?” I asked. “Who are you? I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Yes you are…” He was sobbing now. “You’re going to hurt me and I don’t want you to.” He sat in the chair with his legs up and began rocking back and forth. It was actually pretty pathetic looking, especially since he was me, identical in every way.
“Listen, who are you?” I was now only a few feet from my doppelganger. It was the weirdest experience yet, standing there talking to myself. I wasn’t scared, but I would be soon. “Why are you…?”
“You’re going to hurt me, you’re going to hurt me, if you want to leave, you’re going to hurt me.”
“Why are you saying this? Just calm down, alright? Let’s try and figure this-” And then I saw it. The David sitting down was wearing the same clothes as me, except for a small red patch on his shirt embroidered with the number nine.
“You’re going to hurt me, you’re going to hurt me, don’t please, you’re going to hurt me…”
My eyes didn’t leave that small number on his chest. I knew exactly what it was. The first few doors were plain and simple, but after a while they got a little more ambiguous. Seven was scratched into the wall, but by my own hands. Eight was marked in blood above the bodies of my parents. But nine – this number was on a person, a living person. Worse still, it was on a person that looked exactly like me.
“David?” I had to ask.
“Yes… you’re going to hurt me, you’re going to hurt me…” He continued to sob and rock. He answered to David. He was me, right down to the voice. But that nine… I paced around for a few minutes while he sobbed in his chair. The room had no door and, similarly to room six, the door I came through was gone. For some reason, I assumed that scratching would get me nowhere this time. I studied the walls and floor around the chair, sticking my head underneath and seeing if anything was below. Unfortunately, there was. Below the chair was a knife. Attached was a tag that read, “To David, from the management of No End House.”
The feeling in my stomach as I read that tag was something sinister. I wanted to throw up and the last thing I wanted to do was remove that knife from under that chair. The other David was still sobbing . My mind was spinning into an attic of unanswerable questions. Who put this here and how did they get my name? I knelt on the cold wood floor and watched myself sitting in that chair, sobbing uncontrollably and begging myself for mercy. It was all too much to process. The house and the management had been playing with me this whole time. My thoughts for some reason turned to my friend and I wondered whether or not he had managed to get this far. If he did, did he meet himself sobbing in this very chair, rocking back and forth… I shook those thoughts out of my head; they didn’t matter. I took the knife from under the chair and immediately the other David went quiet.
“David,” He said in my voice, “What do you think you’re going to do?”
I lifted myself from the ground and clenched the knife in my hand.
“I’m going to get out of here.”
David was still sitting in the chair, though he was very calm now. He looked up at me with a slight grin. I couldn’t tell if he was going to laugh or strangle me. Slowly, he got up from the chair and stood, facing me. It was uncanny. His height and even the way he stood matched mine. I felt the rubber hilt of the knife in my hand and gripped it tighter. I don’t know what I was planning on doing with it, but I had a feeling I was going to need it.
“Now,” his voice was slightly deeper than my own. “I’m going to hurt you. I’m going to hurt you and I’m going to keep you here.” I didn’t respond. I just lunged and tackled him to the ground. I had mounted him and looked down, knife poised and ready. He looked up at me, terrified. It was like I was looking in a mirror. Then the hum returned, low and distant, though I still felt it deep in my body. David looked up at me as I looked down at myself. The hum was getting louder and I felt something inside me snap. With one swift motion, I slammed the knife down, but before it pierced my chest, the room was engulfed in darkness and I could feel myself falling… falling… falling…
The darkness around me was like nothing I had experienced up to that point. Room three was dark, but it didn’t come close to what was completely engulfing me. I wasn’t even sure if I was falling after a while. I felt weightless, covered in dark. Then a deep sadness came over me. I felt lost, depressed and alone. The sight of my parents entered my mind. I knew it wasn’t real, but I had seen it and the mind has trouble differentiating between what is real and what isn’t. The sadness only deepened. I was in room nine for what seemed like days.
The final room. And that’s exactly what it was: The end. No End House had an end and I had reached it. At that moment, I gave up. I knew I would be in that in-between state forever, accompanied by nothing but darkness. Not even the hum was there to keep me sane.
I had lost all senses. I couldn’t feel myself. I couldn’t hear anything. Sight was completely useless here. I searched for a taste in my mouth and found nothing. I felt disembodied and completely lost. I knew where I was: this was hell. Room nine was hell. Then it happened. A light. One of those stereotypical lights at the end of the tunnel. I felt ground come up from below me and I was standing. After a moment or two of gathering my thoughts and senses, I slowly walked toward that light.
As I approached the light, I realized it was a vertical slit in a heavy curtain. I slowly pushed my way through the slit and found myself back where I started, in the entrance hall of No End House. It was exactly how I had left it, still empty and still adorned with childish Halloween decorations. After everything that had happened that night, I was still wary of where I was. I looked around the place trying to find anything different. On the desk was a plain white envelope with my name handwritten on it. Immensely curious, yet still cautious, I mustered up the courage to open the envelope. Inside was a letter that read:
“Dear Mr Williams, Congratulations! You have made it to the end of No End House! Please accept this prize as a token of great achievement. Yours forever, The management of No End House.”
The envelope held five crisp $100 bills.
I started laughing, a high-pitched hysterical laugh.
I couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed for what seemed like hours.
I laughed as I walked out to my car, I laughed as I drove home and I laughed as I pulled into my driveway.
I laughed as I reached my house, I laughed as I walked up to my front door and I laughed as I noticed the small number 10 etched into the wooden panel of my door.