This is too much for me to write. Maybe I’m writing it for myself. Maybe if I write it down, I might actually believe everything that happened. Part of me still thinks none of it was real. I had to question everything I know. Me, an extremely logical person, having to doubt the very reality we know and experience everyday. Maybe after reading this, whoever you are, you will too.
Most people can’t wait to go off to college. Everyone pretty much thinks it will be like a massive compilation of drinking and sex, at least most high-school kids who can’t wait to get out there and live life to the fullest tend to think so. For me it wasn’t like that. It was just an experience, something I would have to go through in order for my life to be where I wanted it to be in five years or so. It didn’t really matter to me if I would be partying all the time or not at all.
The first year was kind of boring. I was very diligent with my studies, so I didn’t really have time to be cruising the bars picking up girls or whatever. I had met a few nice people, but no one out of the ordinary.
The second year, I got a roommate and life got pretty interesting. His name was Zack, and he was nothing like the people I used to hang out with. Overall he gave the impression of a hippy, but not in the snobby repulsive way. He was a very warm person, and he was an enthusiast of life. Since I can remember he had been lecturing me about how mistaken I am for staying home often and studying most of the time.
"The world is waiting for you, dude!" he kept saying. "It won’t wait forever!"
I’ll admit, he did convince me to try a lot of things I had never tried before, but just watching him live his life had a very positive impact on mine. He would come home with a smile everyday, telling me all about the new genre of music he discovered, or a new martial art he was learning, or all the customs and traditions of the amazing ancient race he was obsessed with that week. It gave me strength to think that it is possible for a person to be happy all the time, to see life in a positive perspective, no matter how bad it got. I think the reason he was so at peace was because of his meditation.
I always thought meditation was straight up nonsense, and every good effect that it had on your life was purely a placebo effect. But Zack was very passionate about meditating. He would meditate at least two hours a day, and he would always tell me about all the amazing things he experienced during his visualizations. He would tell me he was flying with giant seagulls in the night sky, or that he was climbing palm trees with green monkeys on a tropical island. Really any crazy scenario that would look really cool in a movie. I never really took that part of Zack’s life seriously, but every day he grew more excited about his meditation. He would tell me that the experience got better and better, that he was able to see all those places he went to a lot clearer than he used to. He claimed he was able to visualize himself under a waterfall, and actually feel the water running down his body. He even said that after a point he didn’t even create the places he was going to. He would just “open the door to the other world” and the places would create themselves. As if they were already there.
I knew he was fooling himself, but if it helped him there was nothing wrong with that. That’s what I used to think. Although it did bum me out sometimes when he went on and on about it. One day he was bragging about how good he was getting, and he said he wanted to try and visit an unhappy place for a change. A darker world, just to see what it was like, or if it was possible. It sounded so silly. Isn’t the whole point of meditation to feel at peace? Why take your mind willingly to a dark and unsafe place? Maybe he thought it would be some sort of adventure. He was always arrogant like that, willing to try the most insane stunts, just for the fun of it. I remember how hard I tried to convince him to cancel that bungee-jumping trip, but he wouldn’t listen. At least he was lucky enough to get out of all these stunts without a scratch. Maybe he was born for danger. I could never understand that, since I clearly wasn’t the same.
We had lived half a year together and we had gotten really close. It was the beginning of spring when it all began. I returned home one day from class, casually expecting Zack’s joyful greeting. Instead I heard nothing. I figured he was out, since he did that a lot. I turned on the TV, and started to relax in the living room. After a couple of hours, he hadn’t called or anything, so I thought I'd give him a call, just to make sure he was fine. I called him, and suddenly I heard something that got me worried. It was his ringtone. It was coming from his room. ‘What the hell?’ I thought. ‘He never forgets his cellphone at home.’ I went in his room to find it (to what end, I don’t even know), and when I walked in, I jumped up in shock.
There he was. Sitting on the floor, in yoga position, on his meditation pillow, with his eyes open.
"What the hell man, you’ve been here the whole time?! Why didn't you say something?" I said.
He didn’t respond.
Again, no response. He was just sitting there quietly, like he did when he meditated, as if he hadn't even noticed I was in the room. That had happened before, but this time, his eyes were open. Blank, calm expression on his face, and wide open eyes. What was this? Some new level of meditation? Visualizing without having to close your eyes? I got closer, started shaking him and calling his name. Loudly. Loud enough for anyone asleep to wake up. Still nothing. He didn’t even flinch. His pulse was fine, he was breathing steadily, but no reaction to my callings. This had to be one of his lame jokes.
"Fine, stay there, you zombie," I said. "Just let me know when you plan to eat my brain." I thought if he was kidding, he would stop if I ignored him. It worked when my brother played tricks on me like that when we were kids. But it didn’t. Night came, and Zack was still sitting in that same spot. He hadn’t moved an inch or said one word. I got really nervous. I started shaking him like crazy, slapping him, shouting his name loud enough for the neighbors to think we were killing each other. I got so mad, I punched him in the face, and his body fell to the side. That was the first time I saw him move. He simply picked himself up, really slow, without changing his numb expression, and got himself in the same position.
I decided to leave him alone for the night, and if the next day he was still like that, I would call the doctor. I barely slept that night. I couldn’t help but imagine various supernatural explanations as to what was happening to Zack. But I tried to shake them all off, thinking that it was probably some kind of mental illness. The next day—not to my surprise—he was still like that. I tried to contact him a little bit, but as I expected it didn’t work. ‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘I'm calling the doctor.’ I had to help him in any way possible, and if this was the only way, I was willing to go through with it.
The moment I picked up my phone, I heard something behind me. It was a silent growl. Low and consistent, but very intimidating. Like the sound a dog makes when he’s threatened. I turned around and I saw Zack, standing there just outside the room with the same expression on his face. The sound was coming from him.
No response, just that threatening, continuous growl. I know what that sound meant. It gave the same feeling you get when you hear a cat hissing, or when you see a dog showing his teeth. It was a warning. A warning that I was doing something he wasn’t happy with. I was terrified, but an idiotic part of me wanted to confirm my feeling, so I did something I regret. I pressed a button on the phone.
He charged at me.
He let out a roar so heavy, so frightening, like the roar of a giant predator, and he came right at me. My reflexes worked so quickly that I jumped back on the couch and threw the phone to the other end of the room in one motion. When I threw it, he stopped. He didn’t even look at me. During that entire intense charge and that hellish roar, his expression remained the same, cold and blank, not even looking at me. It was as if—and I didn't even want to think that at the time—Zack wasn't the one who attacked me.
After that he went back to his room, and sat in the same position. ‘He knew I was calling the doctor.’ I thought. ‘He knew and he didn't like that. That means he knows I'm there. That means he can hear me but he chooses not to interact with me. This is a mental illness. It HAS to be a mental illness.’ But as much as I tried to convince myself, deep down I knew. That roar, no matter how insane one could be, could not have been produced by a human.
Two days went by, and things only got worse. Anytime I reached for the phone, or the door to go outside, I heard the growl. He didn't want me to tell anyone about him. He would threaten me every time I tried to contact another living soul. Even when I sat on my computer, the moment I tried to log in to any social site, the growling would start. He hadn't eaten or drunk anything since I found him like that. His eye sockets were turning darker, and his skin paler. His expression had also started to change from an expression of numbness to an expression of discomfort, as if he was sitting next to a very smelly person on the bus. Whatever I tried wouldn't work. Begging him to talk to me, saying I was willing to do anything to help him, nothing.
Then I remembered something I was trying to avoid. He had said a few days ago that he wanted to meditate to a darker place. It sounded crazy, but what if he had done it? What if he went to a place that was so horrible it scarred him for life? Or worse… What if he’s still there? I had googled many mental illnesses, and none of the symptoms seemed to match Zack’s. I didn't want to let my mind go there, but it was the only explanation that tied up all the loose ends. Except from the fact that meditation was crap to begin with. But what if I was wrong? Then my thoughts were distracted by a sound.
It was a scratching sound coming from Zack's room. It sounded like a cat sharpening its claws on wooden furniture. My heart started pounding. I had to go see if he was ok. I slowly opened the door and looked inside, trembling with fear. And boy, was I right to tremble. Zack was sitting there, in the same position on the floor, only this time he was holding a pocket knife in his right hand, and he was carving on the wooden floor with great force. However the chilling part was his expression. His face had turned red, sweating all over, veins popping on his forehead, overall he looked like an athlete trying to lift weights of 100 tons. I rushed to his side, asking what was wrong, begging for him to let me help him, but he wouldn't answer. He just kept carving the floor and looking like he was being tortured. Then I turned around and looked at what he was carving at the floor. I realized he was carving letters. My entire body went cold.
HE HAS MY HEART.
I struggled for hours trying to comprehend what was happening and what I could do to fix it. I couldn't call for help, for Zack would attack me. I couldn't give him any medicine, because I didn’t know what the hell this “disease” was. And even if I knew, I doubt he would’ve let me give him meds. Everything was starting to point at the scenario my mind was trying to avoid. Something had taken control of Zack. He had gone to a place he wasn't supposed to go to, and he paid for that mistake. But there is something I knew for sure. Whatever was inside Zack, did not want me dead. It showed that it could have killed me anytime when it made Zack charge at me so violently. However, it never chose to attack me for no reason. Maybe it wanted something from me. Maybe Zack was somehow preventing it from attacking me. Or maybe it wanted me for when it was done with Zack. And I didn’t even wanna think about what “it” was doing with Zack, wherever he was. There were times when I thought I was being insane, that I had to stop all these crazy thoughts. But it was like a part of me knew they were true. Like a survival instinct telling me a predator was nearby. And that predator was disguised as my best friend. I was alive for a reason. I was supposed to do something. I knew what had to be done. I had to meditate.
I had never meditated before, but I had heard enough from Zack to know exactly what I had to do in theory. However, the experience is always different than theory, so I was prepared to fail at least a couple of times. I went in my room, placed one of Zack’s big pillows on the floor, and sat in it in yoga position. First of all, I tried to clear my mind and relax, which wasn't easy considering what I had witnessed and where I was planning to go. I tried a lot of techniques Zack had told me he would do when he was trying to clear his mind, like visualizing two red balls of energy that would merge into one, or a candle that would emit a circular red aura around its flame. After a while I felt completely numb, as if my mind and my body were no longer connected. I was in the right track. The next thing I was supposed to do was try to visualize the door that would take me to my safe space. But I knew that Zack was not at a safe space, so I had to visualize a door to a dark, mysterious realm. Now on the one hand, I had no idea how that place looked, but on the other, neither did Zack and he ended up there anyway. So there was a chance that if I just visualized myself heading to a dark place, I would manage to go where Zack had gone.
I started to see a grey door, and I was slowly getting closer to it. I wasn't sure if I was doing it right, until I heard the whispers. I couldn't make them out. They were high pitched and they sounded as if they were produced by a thousand people. But it felt as if—or at least to my instincts felt as if—they were trying to lure me closer. I had to trust my instincts. They were the only weapon I had to help my friend. I went closer, and the door opened by itself as the whispers were getting louder. I walked into the darkness within…
My eyes opened by themselves. For a moment I thought I had failed, since I had woken up, but after a few seconds, I knew I had succeeded. I was in my room, but it was different. Everything was darker, and the entire environment was in a dark blue color. There was a blue light coming from my window, even though it was night when I started meditating. I tried standing up, but it took more strength from me than it usually does. Even taking a few steps felt new, as if I was learning to swim. I walked into the living room. My footsteps echoed so deeply, it was like walking in the bottom of the ocean. The blue shades that surrounded me sure made it feel that way. I thought I could hear very faint whispers as I was heading to Zack’s room. For a second I even thought I heard the laughter of a child. I turned the knob and expected the worst as I was walking into Zack's room.
It was exactly like mine. Everything was dark blue, like I was in a fish tank. Zack wasn't there, and also missing was the strange carving on the floor he had made earlier. But, on the wall next to his bed, there was something that was not in the room I knew.
It was a black door.
That was the place I had to go to. My instincts were shouting to walk away from that door. That's how I knew I had to cross it. I would not let my friend suffer in there alone. I gathered all the courage I could and opened the door, and inside I saw darkness. Only darkness. Not even the floor of the adjacent room was visible. Maybe there was no floor. Maybe I was about to walk into a bottomless pit. Whatever awaited me in the darkness, I had to find out. For the sake of my friend. I stepped forward, into the void.
For a minute it seemed like I had lost my senses. When I opened my eyes, it felt as if I had woken up from a thousand-year long sleep. I was in a hallway. It was dark, like the dark atmosphere in my home, but instead of blue everything here was in shades of red. Dark, threatening red, like the rooms photographers use to develop pictures. The hallway was narrow, and the walls were made of a disgusting material. It looked like wet sponges, but after some consideration, I figured it also resembled torn flesh. On both sides of the hallway were dark red doors, and it was so dark, I could not see what was in the end of the hallway. There was no window, lamp, or any light source whatsoever, so I could not figure out where that dark red light that enabled me to see was coming from.
This place felt different. The place I was before, my home, was mysterious and maybe unsettling, but not like this one. This place was emitting an incredibly threatening aura. It made me feel that something did not want me there. Or the far worse scenario, that something did want me. Nevertheless, the fact that my senses were screaming at me to get the hell out of this place was my way of knowing I was on the right track. The door of darkness I walked through was still open behind me, so my plan was to find Zack and get him back at the door as quickly as I could. I started to walk across the hallway, and pressed my ear on the first door I walked past. I heard nothing, so I tried turning the doorknob. The second I touched it, I heard a loud breath from inside, as if someone had just woken up. It terrified me, but I had to try, so I spoke.
“Hello?” I said reluctantly. For a few seconds I heard nothing. But then…
It was a man’s voice. It did not resemble Zack’s at all, but it sounded terrified. Like he knew to expect the worst when someone knocked on his door.
“I’m sorry, I mean no harm, I’m just looking for my friend. Can you help me?”
Again there was silence for a few seconds, but then the door slowly opened. Inside was a small pitch black room, with a small red candle burning in the middle. There were no furniture or windows, just the candle on the floor, and I could faintly see in the back of the room a figure of a man, curled up in the corner. It was too dark to make out any of his features.
“Can you help me?” I tried, hoping to get a response.
“You shouldn't be here.”
He sounded old and extremely tired.
“I’m looking for my friend. I think something took him and is keeping him here against his will.”
“You think right. But you still shouldn't be here,” he said.
He was really creeping me out, but at least he confirmed that I was right.
“I have to save him,” I said. “I won't leave here without him. Can you please help me?”
“Help you? No one can help you now.”
“Why? What is this place anyway?”
“This place is proof that humans can be as stupid as to destroy their own lives just to try something exciting,” he said, and I sensed he was starting to get angry. “We all came here by choice. Because we were fools. He did not seek us out, he did not hunt us, we came right into his arms. And why? Because WHY NOT?” he said, screaming the last two words. After a pause he continued.
“Because some people are so irresponsible, they would try anything, because deep down they don't believe it can hurt them. But it can. Oh believe me, we learned that much.” I noticed he was doing something to his left arm with his right one. It looked like he was scratching it, but he was doing it really intensely. “We all deserve to be here. There is no salvation for your friend. He came here by choice, and now he has become his latest toy. And he deserves it, like all of us.”
I took a breath and I asked the question I was dreading.
“Who is he?”
And after some silence he answered.
“I hope you never have to know… Now leave me in peace. And do not disturb the others. Just turn around and walk away.”
This man was obviously a prisoner. I felt horrible thinking there were so many people who had made the same mistake as Zack, and for a moment I thought about trying to save him too. But I knew I was already in over my head. There was no guarantee I would manage to save my best friend from this place, let alone other people. Zack was a priority. I left and closed the door behind me. I continued walking down the hallway, not minding the other doors, figuring there were more prisoners in them. I knew Zack might have been a prisoner too, but the man mentioned Zack had become “his” latest toy, whoever “he” was. I figured maybe Zack was with him. Maybe I could find Zack by finding him. I walked past countless doors, hearing extremely unsettling noises from inside them, including screams and paranoid laughter. I didn't even want to imagine what all these people were going through.
Finally, I made it to the end of the hallway. Before me was a huge door. It looked like it was made of wax, but there were shapes on it that made me want to vomit. They were human parts. Hands, legs, spines, even complete faces were carved like sculptures on the wax door. They were so realistic. Especially the expressions on the faces. Complete and utter despair. I took a step closer holding my breath, knowing this was the place I was looking for. The door opened on its own.
This room was different than the others. I could barely see, because there was a vivid red light flickering on and off constantly. The room was dead silent, and the only thing I could hear were my footsteps stepping on something crunchy. I looked at the floor and tried to make out what I was stepping on in the darkness. My heart froze. I could barely see them, but they were everywhere. Bones. I was cracking them with my footsteps. They were all over the floor. What in God’s name had happened in this place?
I walked a little closer inside, since the room appeared to be huge. I wanted to make as little noise as possible, since I had no idea who was in there with me. Then I saw it. I saw it and I regretted every step I had taken closer to this place. I regretted not taking all the opportunities I had to get the hell out of there. I could barely see it but it was standing at the left corner, its figure flickering along with the red light. It was twice as tall as me. Its skin made it look like a dehydrated corpse. You could see all the bones in its body. Its arms and legs were extremely long, with the arms reaching all the way to its feet. I could not see its face. It had dark, wet hair covering it, falling on its body, down to its waist. It wasn't moving. It was just standing there in a bizarre position, its right hand reaching to the wall on its back, and its left hand reaching for something to its left. It didn't look like it was even breathing. It looked so weak, but yet so terrifying. That had to be “him”. Maybe he hadn't noticed me. Maybe he was asleep. I was trying not to move a muscle, not taking my eyes off him for a second. And then I heard a whisper from the other side of the room.
I knew that voice. It was Zack! I had found him!
“Ian? Is that you?”
“Yeah I came to get you! Where are you?”
“Over here, to the right!”
I looked and I managed to make out his figure. He was curled up like a ball in the corner.
“Come on! Let's get out of here!” I whispered.
“I can't walk!” he answered. “That's why I tried to send you a message. I can't move my body in here. He has almost sucked out all my energy. You have to get me out of here, please!”
“Okay, I'm coming!”
I tried to walk as fast as I could without making any noise, always keeping my eyes on that creature. My heart was beating like crazy. He wasn't moving a muscle. There was a part of me that wanted to believe he hadn't noticed me, but I felt like he knew from the very first step I took into the darkness. Each step I took I thought, 'He’s gonna strike now. He's gonna strike now. There's no way he'll let me get to Zack.' But nothing happened. I actually made it to Zack, without that creature moving at all. I grabbed Zack and tried to pull him up.
“Ouch! Be careful,” he said. I looked at him and could barely see him through the flickering red light, but he was badly hurt. Huge pieces of flesh were missing from all over his body. It was like someone was skinning him alive, bit by bit every day. There was one particular wound on his cheek that made vomit come to my mouth, because his teeth were visible from the inside. But there was no time to feel sorry for him. I picked him up with all my strength, placing his arm around my neck and holding him from the waist. We were so close. We started walking and I looked back to see the sleeping creature.
My spine went numb. He was gone.
“Ian? Why did you stop?” Zack asked.
He wasn't there. He was awake. He knew. He knew all along. Where did he go? What was he going to do? My mind was raging, when I heard the growl. The same growl Zack had made when I tried to call the doctor. It was coming from behind me. I looked at my friend in terror. He looked twice as terrified as me, and uttered one word.
That moment I heard him scream and felt him slipping away from my arms in an instant. I tried to see through the vivid light. Zack was on the floor, screaming. A hand was grabbing his right ankle and pulling him. A long, lifeless, skinny hand. I acted as quickly as I could. I grabbed a bone off the floor, a broken arm of some sort, and violently jammed it into the fiend’s hand. He instantly let go of Zack’s foot, and we heard the roar Zack had made when he attacked me. The demonic roar that would make even the fiercest predator bow down begging for mercy. I picked up Zack as quickly as I could and bolted for the exit. We actually managed to escape the room and started running down the red hallway.
“Thank you… Thank you so much…” he was whispering.
“Save it for when we get home!” I said while running. We were almost at the door of darkness. I had managed to save my friend. Hope sprung inside me as we were getting closer to salvation.
Then something pulled my hair.
It was grasping me violently and I heard the fiend’s roar. I felt like I was looking death right in the eyes. Zack reacted immediately and grabbed my arms, trying to pull me away from him. I could tell he was using every little strength he had.
“No! NO! LET HIM GO!”
But it wasn't enough. I could tell what was going to happen if Zack kept pulling. He would take us both. I knew what I had to do. I gathered all the strength I had… And kicked Zack as hard as I could in the chest.
Zack fell on the door of darkness as the fiend kept pulling me away from him. I could see him falling in to the darkness as he screamed.
And that was the last time I saw him. In the end, I managed to save my friend.
What happened to me next, it's best for your sake that you not know. I've been here for a while and I've managed to stay alive no matter what he did to me. I don't think I will ever escape, but I think I've figured out what he wants. I think he's trying to steal someone's soul so that he can cross over to our world. Everyone here has managed to resist him, resulting to their deaths. That’s how this place is growing bigger. He is using his victims, their very flesh and bone, to make this “dimension” grow. Somehow I managed to discover this humble piece of paper and this pencil. Maybe it was some kind of miracle. What I am hoping to do is try to send this paper to our world, using some kind of meditation technique. I'll keep trying as long as I can still stand. If somehow this does get through to someone, I just wanted you to know this:
There is something trying to get to us. All of us. And maybe the day will come when it succeeds. If that day comes, I hope there is someone out there who knows the truth.
Written by Byron Tsimentas