What I'm about to tell you is a warning. Please stop, please turn back. We stood where you stand now and I wish that we had turned back.
I can't remember how long ago it was, but we were excited, if a little nervous to be visiting our first "paranormal hot spot". There were four of us: Michael, Sam, Anna and myself. We were all very interested in ghosts and "haunted houses" and all that stuff, in fact it's what made us friends in the first place, though we had never actually visited any supposedly haunted areas, or spoken with anyone claiming to be possessed. So when we had discovered that not too far from where we all lived, there was an abandoned carnival or fun fair, whatever you want to call it, we jumped at the chance to go and investigate. Not to mention the fact that the reason it had been left by its owners was due to unexplained disappearances.
In its short history, this carnival experienced several disappearances on its grounds, none of which were ever resolved. As a result, the owners faced crippling law suits from the relatives of those who had gone missing. They had no choice but to cut their losses and run, leaving the carnival grounds to slowly rot away. It was somewhat out of the way in terms of location so no-one bothered to buy up the land and remove the cancerous, rusted rides and attractions, it was just forgotten about entirely it would seem. All the better for us, an isolated, abandoned fun fair? It was like a paranormal enthusiast's wet dream.
"Are we there yet?" I remember Sam whining for the hundredth, millionth time.
"Yes Sam, we are here, now will you please shut up?" I said in an exhausted tone. Anna stifled a giggle and Michael just stared out of the car window.
"Wooooooow," he exclaimed, entranced by the moldy, truly grotesque scenery that met us at the entrance. A large gate, built to look like a clowns face swallowed the dirt road we were on. We exited the vehicle and began to make our way into the grounds. It was better than we had ever imagined: broken down rides, decomposing wooden stands inhabited by rotting teddy bears, there was even the occasional paper clown mask fluttering around in the breeze sporting their sinister smiles. Sam and Michael fanned out, taking pictures and gawking in amazement, Anna stayed close to me and we began to chat
"Wow, this place sure is... creepy," she said with a shudder.
"Come on, you're not losing your nerve are you? I mean you're the one who told us about this place," I said, poking fun at her.
"Yeah, I know," she said in a quick and nervous tone.
"But..?" I asked.
"It's just a lot more... intense than I was expecting." Before I could reply I heard Sam calling us over. We saw him and Michael standing outside a small, brightly coloured, though somewhat faded, structure with a wooden plaque above it saying 'House of Mirrors'. Sam motioned for us to follow but by the time we had gotten to the doorless entrance, both he and Michael had already gone inside.
Anna searched in her bag for a flashlight and upon finding one we proceeded to venture inside, though we soon realized that the flashlight was unnecessary. The inside was illuminated by dull light, somewhat similar to moonlight, but we weren't sure where it was coming from as the moon was completely obscured by clouds tonight. Regardless we continued on inside and as we did, we were greeted by walls lined with, yes you guessed it, mirrors. Nothing out of the ordinary here, we simply stared in amusement at the deformed shapes that stared back at us, mimicking our actions. As we turned a corner however, our notion of ordinary was somewhat stolen, by the outstretched hand of a mannequin. Anna jumped a little bit, which prompted a laugh from myself.
"Shut up!" she shouted, angry but more embarrassed than anything else.
"What do you think this is doing in here?" I asked. She simply shrugged so I began to investigate. As I touched it my hand jerked back involuntarily.
"What is it?" Anna asked, worried. You could tell she was getting more anxious.
"Nothing, it's just so... real. Like human skin." The mannequin was that of a man, it was highly detailed: hair, nails, genitals. Yep, it was all there. The only thing it was lacking was a face. It simply stood, arm outstretched, eerily lifelike. It was pretty creepy but still just a mannequin, a very real, very detailed mannequin. So we dismissed it as such and recommenced our search for Sam and Michael. This seemed like a small building from the outside so it was strange that we couldn't hear either of them. Nevertheless we continued on, only to be greeted by more of these super detailed mannequins, some male and others female. Each propped up into various positions; some leaned against walls, others looked like they were in the process of running and some just laid there on the floor.
It was when our focus returned to the path ahead of us that we saw it. At first we thought it was another mannequin, though this one had clothing. It was dressed head to toe in black clothing: black shoes, black trousers and a black jumper with the hood up, obscuring its face in shadows. It stood there, hands in its pockets and head facing down. We stared at it for a moment, we were about to continue walking but then, then its head slowly began to rise. My heart stopped as I saw its face, if it can even be called a face. It was humanoid in shape, but instead of skin it was made up of what I can only describe as stained glass and lacking any human features. Though rather than showing off some immaculate pattern of shapes and colours, each of the pieces were black and seemingly random in size and shape. The initial shock of its movement wore off on me, though not on Anna who was shaking violently. I stood, with a smirk on my face.
"Okay, very funny, Sam. Or is it Michael under there?" I said with a chuckle, trying to sound braver than I felt.
It tilted its head and continued to stare at me before it- it did something that shook me to my very core. The pieces of glass that made up its face, what I thought was a mask, began to shift, changing size and shape. They slowly changed colour and began to meld together forming a more cohesive surface. Now suddenly, I saw Sam's face staring at me out from under the black hood. He, it was wearing a crazed smile as it began to speak
"Okay, you got me," it said sarcastically. Before I knew it this thing was walking towards me; Anna was screaming at me and pulling my arm, trying to get me to run, but I was dumbstruck. I continued to look at this thing that was sporting my friend's face as it walked towards me. Suddenly I zoned back in, turned and ran. I ran as fast as I could; I didn't even know if Anna was still with me as I crashed into mannequins, throwing them out of the way and vaulting over them.
I ran every which way but couldn't find the exit. It all looked the same, a never ending maze plastered with mirrors and seemingly no exit. I eventually collapsed, completely out of energy. As I thought, Anna was no longer behind me, I was alone with the exception of two mannequins. As I looked at one of them, a realization hit me; I recognised them. A birth mark on one of their necks confirmed it, I was looking at the faceless bodies of Sam and Michael. I wanted to run but was too tired, all I could do was sob. As I lay there, my whimpering was interrupted by something. It was a noise, or I suppose a bunch of noises: large groups of people talking, kids screaming, the sound of roller coasters, laughter, awful music; it sounded like a carnival but it was distorted, sickly and sinister. It was as if the place had just sprung to life again, but all of these noises rather than coming from all directions were coming from a single source. All of a sudden the noises stopped and all that could be heard was a deafening scream. It was Anna, she was close.
Ignoring my exhaustion, I got up and ran to the source of the noise but when I got there all I saw was the thing that was chasing me, only this time its face had changed from Sam's to Anna's and it was still wearing that horrifying smile. It had probably caught her a long time ago and mimicked her voice to get my attention. I knew then that the noises I heard earlier must have been coming from it, not only could it copy faces, but it could copy sounds as well. I turned to run, but the path I had just came from was gone with just another mirrored wall in its place. I turned back to see the doppelganger just a few feet away and with the rest of my strength tried to fight it off. I punched it as hard as I could and to my surprise it actually fell back but kept its balance and slowly regained its posture. Its face... Anna's face was now cracked and discoloured where I had hit it but it was still smiling. The cracks on its face grew until Anna's face had disappeared entirely and was replaced by, what I presume was, its normal stained glass, its own featureless face.
It didn't keep this form for long though, soon the distorted sounds of the carnival recommenced that it took down its black hood, and its head exploded into an amalgamation of faces, each saying different things. On the top left of its now massively deformed head was a young girl. "Hey mister, will you play with me?" it spoke as if two voices were speaking in tandem, the little girl's voice and a much deeper, demonic voice. In the bottom right corner was the face of a man, smeared in clown makeup.
"Hey! I'd just love to cut your fucking face off!" it screamed, the "normal" voice was again accompanied by a demonic one, though this time it was slightly out of sync.
"I'm so lonely..." moaned another voice, this one was on the verge of tears. It originated from the top right of the large mass of faces, it was a man. He shifted his grotesque lump of a face to look at me "You will stay here forever, with me and I won't be lonely anymore! You will stay!" he screamed. He was looking at me but it didn't seem like he was talking to me. This one had no demonic accompaniment. Those were the ones I could make out, but there had to have been at least a dozen more, each shouting, crying, mumbling, laughing and some were just staring at me or into space. It was so loud, all of the noises combined were literally causing my ears to bleed. I fell to my knees and covered my ears but that didn't help. Suddenly however, the noises stopped leaving me in complete silence. It was then I felt a hand grasp my throat and lift me up off of the ground effortlessly. I looked down; the deformed mass of faces was gone, its regular glass face stared up at me. Its hands, which I was seeing for the first time, were made of the same glasslike material. I looked into its face and noticed a twisted version of myself in the reflection. Its skin was grey, eyes white and its mouth was distended. It looked like it was screaming from behind the glass face that looked up at me, though I couldn't hear a thing. Whether my ear drums were shattered or not was unclear but that's the last thing I remember before blacking out.
So please, turn back now while the exit is still in sight. Why won't you listen to me? What do you mean when you say how "lifelike" I am?