Some people consider life events coincidence. Ask other people, they’ll call it fate. And then there’s everything that lies inbetween. In my particular instance, I’d call it strange luck. Neither good nor bad, just....strange. You see, I’m an urban explorer. Looking through abandoned buildings is like peering into a free museum of the past. When all you want is to see something interesting, you’re bound to eventually find it. Yet unfortunately in this instance, I got more than I bargained for.
One night, I decided to venture into a decommissioned government building about ten miles from my house. I’ve heard it used to be a facility that conducted illegal experiments, but could not find much to substantiate this claim. It seemed to be a laboratory of some kind, but not much more than that.
After creeping around inside, I could definitely see why rumors would go around. It was creepy, but maybe because it was abandoned and near the woods. There was all sorts of electric equipment throughout the facility. The walls were stark white which resembled a hospital. I also found a cafeteria, a break area, patient rooms. All the cabinets were mostly empty except for expired medicine or junk. Of all the rooms, the labs were the most interesting. I could tell certain chemicals used to be held there as there was still an acrid stench. Things got particularly interesting in the basement.
There was a laboratory down here as well, but this one had all the chemicals housed in safes. Something was special about this place. Large dusty terminals lined the walls, accompanied by cobwebs and the occasional crawlies. I made my way over to a shelf which had an absence of dust where the vials and flasks used to sit. Just as I was moving my light around, I was startled by a loud...
My flashlight slipped and cluttered to the ground, leaving me in near pitch black darkness. I grunted as a rat scuttled past me, casting a strange shadow from the beam of my flashlight.
“Stupid...” I muttered, talking more about myself than the situation. As I bent over to pick up my flashlight, I noticed the area of the wall where the light was shining. There was a strange deviation at the back of the shelf. When I investigated further, I found there was a space behind the shelf.
Holding my flashlight in my teeth, I heaved my body against the shelf and managed to scoot it out of the way. After three more good pushes, I uncovered just what I thought I saw...a secret door! My heart beating in anticipation, I reached for the door handle. Just before my hand touched the brass, I froze. There was something emanating from the room on the other side, but it wasn’t something you could see. I...felt something from it. I could only describe it as some sort of energy.
Pushing the strange sensation from my mind, I opened the door. With a groan of the hinges, I was looking into a 10x10 room with nothing in it...except an unearthly, gigantic snake. I immediately slammed the door as my heart hammered in my chest. I pulled the shelf back into place and booked it out of there.
“It wasn’t just any snake,”I later explained to my friend Rob. “It was huge. No telling how big this thing was. I don’t know what the world record is, but this thing....”
“You don’t have to make up stuff for me to check this place out, ya know.” Rob replied with a smirk. “I’ll go, imaginary snake or not.”
“It’s not...look. Come see for yourself. There’s no way it got out. I pushed the shelf back in front of the door.”
“Okay, let’s see this snake.”
The next day, Rob was making his way through the brush around the property in the mid afternoon. He wiped the sweat from his brow as we entered through a broken side window.
“You definitely picked a lovely day.” He huffed.
“Quit whining. It’s in the basement. C’mon.”
“Least it’ll be cooler down there.”
We made our way into the basement, and Rob helped me push the bookshelf aside. Putting my ear to the door, I listened for any sign of the serpentine behemoth. Rob blinded me for a second, and I looked back to see him holding a camera with a sly grin.
“Hey, if this is the find of the century we need evidence, right?”
“Just give me some room. I’ll need to shut this back in a sec.”
Adrenaline pumping, I slowly turned the knob and peeked through the five-inch opening in the door. Nothing so far. I opened the door just a little bit more and peered in further.
There was nothing there...
“Hey, get off my foot,” I chastised Rob as I backed out.
“Sorry...it’s not there?”
I huffed and stormed away, clutching the sides of my head. Could I have imagined the whole thing?
“Oh, c’mon. Don’t leave me in suspense!”
“’m going crazy, okay?”
“Well now you’ve piqued my curiosity. They must have hidden this room for some reason.”
I turned back to see Rob grab the door knob, and as he started to open it, I got a sinking feeling in my gut. That strange energy I felt before came surging back.
“AHHHHHhhhhh!!!!” Rob slammed the door shut, leaning against it as he gazed back at me with eyes as wide as saucers.
“Did you see it?” I came rushing over.
“There, there....there was a scorpion. A really big, big freaking scorpion!”
“What?” I said. I reached for the doorknob, and Rob backed away. About halfway through opening the door, I saw the huge snake and slammed it shut again.
“Rob? You know the difference between a snake and a scorpion?”
“Yea, but what does that...”
“The snake’s here again...”
I backed up and let him open the door to peer inside.
“Nope, definitely an obnoxiously big scorpion.”
I pondered over this for a moment.
“Hold on a second....you’re afraid of scorpions.”
“Right...especially when they can eat me.”
“And I’m afraid of snakes....”
“Don’t you see? This door....it lets us see our fears.”
“Then why didn’t it show anything at first?”
Then I remembered that Rob’s foot was on mine when I first opened it.
“Hey, let’s open it together.”
Giving me a wary glance, Rob put his hand on the doorknob with me and we turned it. Inside, we found a completely empty room.
“Holy shit, I was right,” I whispered.
“Wait, how about this?” Rob started. “Let’s shut the door. I’ll open it, and you look inside with the camcorder. I wonder if you can see the scorpion once I’ve opened the door.”
I stood at a fair distance, still in view of the door and watched Rob open it. I looked inside, only seeing a blank room. Rob kept looking back and forth between the room and me and finally shut it.
“You...didn’t see it?” He asked. I shook my head side to side.
“Let me see the camera.” We reviewed the footage, and were astounded to see that nothing showed up on the recording. It was just me panning the camera around an empty room.
“Well...looks like I brought this for nothing.”
“Rob, do you realize what we’ve stumbled on here?” I looked off into space, my mind scowering the possibilities. “We’ve found a door that can let you see your own fears. Do you know how much people would pay to experience this? Not only that, people could literally confront their own fears. It’s a psychologist’s wet dream.”
“I don’t know man...I’m not sure that’d be a good idea.”
“Think about it...the ultimate attraction. Confront your own imaginary fears.”
“Is it imaginary though? How do we find out if it’s just an illusion?”
“Good question. And how do we do it safely?”
“We have some work to do. But in the meantime, we’re going to need more people. We need to understand how this thing works, and the best way to do that is by letting more people see the room. I wonder how it works with fears that are intangible. How would it work with you know...disappointment or....oh man...”
“What if someone’s afraid of death?”
“Oh, yeah. That could be dangerous....”
“We have quite a lot to think about.”
So in the next couple of months, we had to systematically show our friends what we dubbed The Room. Not the most spectacular name, but it’s a name nonetheless. Our friend Scott went in the room to find a doppelganger of his parents chastising him severely. Apparently, he was afraid of disspointing his parents. Not as scary as impossibly large pests, but it did bring up more quesitons. Who exactly are these copies of his parents and where did they come from? Is there an alternate dimension involved?
Our question of whether these fears were just an illusion was also answered, as the doppelganger of Scott’s dad grabbed him by the shirt and shook him at one point. I’m not sure what was stranger, seeing him getting shaken by some invisible force or watching him talk to them as if they were really there. It was mind boggling.
Dion was the next person that went in, and his experience was more of a revelation. Apparently he was afraid of losing his girlfriend and when he entered the Room, he saw her laying sick on a hospital bed. We had to remind him that he wasn’t talking to his actual girlfriend, to keep him from breaking down too badly. It was very strange how this Room affected people’s sense of realism. It seemed to make people forget that they were only looking at a copy, something that was created out of their own emotion. When we pulled Dion out, he was sobbing and not right for the next couple of days. We urged him not to tell his girlfriend about this because there was just too much we didn’t know.
After some more trial-and-error, we decided that we wouldn’t make the Room an attraction. There was too much risk involved. If word got out about it, we’d no longer have our own private club of people. We did consider that this could be a positive tool for psychologists. We let Dion go back in the room again, and this time he did better. Apparently he made his amends with his girlfriend and left on his own accord.
“It’s a strange sense of relief,” He explained afterwards. “It’s like, after dealing with the thing you’re most afraid of, you’re free! If I could deal with that, I can deal with anything!” It actually ended up being a very positive experience for him, and we brainstormed how this could be used for other people.
After discussing it, we thought of our friend Brian. He was a really nice guy and down-to-earth, but he really struggled with insecurity and feeling unimportant. It was obvious from the time we’d hung out with him that he felt almost invisible to people. Knowing how the door worked, the room would be full of people that would ignore him. He could force them pay attention to him and become confident in himself. We had all the best intentions for him, and those intentions became the worst mistake of our lives.
Brian followed us into the abandoned facility, full of trepidation the entire way. We reassured him that we found something unique and special that could help him.
“Help me how, exactly?” He asked as we broke out our flashlights.
“So, we know you better than anyone, right?”
“Yeah, yeah sure.”
“We want you to feel better, more confident about yourself. Haven’t you said before that you feel invisible to people?”
“Yes, pretty much. I still don’t understand...”
“What if we told you there’s a room that can manifest your fear in such a way that you can confront it?”
“I’d say you need to stop taking drugs.”
“C’mon, man. Seriously, you’ve got to try it.”
“Okay...if you say so.”
We led him down to the basement and to the door behind the shelf. I stood over to the side of the door while Rob stood further back to get a full view of the room. It was obvious from the look on Brian’s face that he would need some convincing.
“This some kind of prank?” He said as we revealed the door.
“No, not at all,” Rob reassured him. Brian’s eyes darted between us suspiciously.
“Because this....definitely feels like a prank.”
“I promise. If we explained to you what this is, you wouldn’t believe us anyway. You have to see for yourself.” I said.
“Wow, he’s right though,” Rob added. “I’d think this was a prank too.” We both laughed out loud, realizing how ridiculous this whole thing was. Had this been us, we would have definitely been suspicious.
“I’m not touching that door until you guys explain.”
So in detail, we went through our experiences in the last two months. Brian’s face went from doubt, to belief, to uncertainty, and finally to some sort of resolve.
“Okay...I’ll peek in. If anything looks suspicious, I’m out.”
“Sure, man. That’s fine. I get it,” I nodded along with Rob. While still glancing back at us, Brian slowly turned the doorknob and peered into the Room.
“You see anything?” I asked.
“No, nothing here.” Brian replied. He opened the door the rest of the way, then stepped inside out of my line of sight. It was at this moment that Rob’s mouth dropped wide open.
“What? What is it?” I said, and rushed to the open door. Brian was nowhere to be seen. I checked every square inch of the room, even behind the door. He was nowhere to be seen.
“We are in some deep shit here, man.” Rob stammered.
“I knew we should haven’t done this, “ I responded. “In the back of my mind, I knew this was a bad idea.”
“What are we going to tell his parents?”
“I don’t know...”
We ran through the event in our heads over and over. His fear was to feel unimportant, so why would he disappear? There was something we missed, something grave.
Knowing his parents would never believe us, we had to come up with something. They knew Brian was going somewhere with us that day, so Rob came up with the idea that we went fishing. Brian had to go back for something at one point and never returned.This suggested he was lost in the woods It sounded somewhat flimsy, but if we told them the truth we’d be thrown into a mental asylum. Yet, we couldn’t tell them the truth. Now we knew for sure that the Room was too dangerous. Despite everything, we felt awful knowing there were so many people looking for him and we were the only ones that knew what happened to him.
Rob managed to get a hold of Brian’s diary to see if he could find any answers in there. He told them that he left something of his in Brian’s room, and swiped the diary while he was in there. Later he told me he felt horrible about it. It was an hour into reading Brian’s diary that it dawned on us exactly what had happened that day Brian disappeared.
The diary entry read:
“Another day of feeling ignored and unimportant. For the first time, I worked up the courage to talk to a girl I liked. I went to ask Katie out, and she walked right past me when I said ‘hey’ to her. She didn’t even acknowledge me. It was like I was completely invisible to her. It’s worse than I thought. Being insignificant isn’t what scares me, it’s more than that. I’m afraid one day I’ll disappear and not even exist to people anymore the way things are going.”
When the revelation hit me, I got sick and ran to the bathroom. Rob couldn’t stop crying for a long time, and we both felt like the worst human beings on earth. We didn’t even tell Brian what we were getting him into, and we erased him from existence. The guilt still wracks me to this day, twenty years later.
Rob and I boarded up the Room, set fire to the facility, and never looked back. Sometimes I wonder if it’s still there, amidst the ruins of that abandoned facility. What exactly were they working on and was the Room cause for the facility to be shut down? There were more questions than answers and some days just thinking of it hurts my head.
We uncovered something that was never meant to be found, and paid dearly for it. Rob and I both learned that buried things should stay buried. Yet, there’s still this weird part of my brain that wants to go back to that Room.
Ridiculous. I don’t need to look into that room to know my fear, because I’ve lived it. I keep waiting for someone to find out what I did and arrest me for it, but it never happens. So the only way I can make amends is to bring Brian back. I became obsessed with the idea, and actually went so far as getting a degree in Quantum Physics and Engineering. Now I’m working for a top-secret agency that gives me all the resources I need to find Brian once and for all.
We’ve made great progress, and we’re so close to opening portals to other dimensions. It’s fascinating, but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing this for Brian. This is the only way I can make amends and bring him back.
I know this all sounds crazy, but it’s true and they say truth is always stranger than fiction. Surely nothing bad will come of it, I just know it...ns18.104.22.168da2