I’ve been an urban explorer for years. For those not in the know, that’s a fancy term for someone who breaks into old buildings for fun. There’s just something about standing in a place that is abandoned, somewhere that hasn’t been lived in for years, which fascinates me. There is a subtle uncanniness to it, something just ever-so-slightly off about being in a place that was meant to be used, but has been abandoned for a long time.
I’ve explored old sanitariums, hospitals, schools, malls, and a handful of stores. I tend to avoid houses and apartment buildings, since those are usually more likely to have nosy neighbours call the police. But when I saw the house on 5th street, I couldn’t help myself.
The building itself looked old, with a gothic style like something out of an old ghost story. It seemed to fit in the middle ground between mansion and house, barely fitting in the space between the buildings next to it. It looked completely abandoned, with all of the windows boarded up, the lawn completely dead, and a sign with the word “foreclosed” stuck to one of the walls.
It wasn’t so much how the house itself looked, and more the fact that it wasn’t there the day before. It sounds impossible right? But its true. I’d never noticed it before, so I looked up the property on the web, using street view on an online maps site to take a look. It wasn’t there. Its not like there was an empty lot or a different house, its like it just sprung up overnight, pushing other houses out of the way. I had no idea how it even fit there, its not like the street was suddenly longer, or a house was missing. It was as if it had always been there, regardless of how impossible that was.
At first I was fairly hesitant to enter the building. It was in a residential area for one thing, and also it was fundamentally an impossibility. Was there some kind of cover up for this building? I was half expecting there to be some top secret government lab hidden underneath it, all records of its existence erased from satellite data, city records, and online databases. But I had to know, it would eat away at me for the rest of my life if I didn’t at least look into it.
On the next day I had off from work, I packed up my gear and got ready to enter the house. I decided to go at night, figuring that the less people were awake the better. I packed a flashlight, spare batteries, a water bottle, some pepper spray, my cellphone, and a first aid kit. I had no idea what to expect, so I decided to go as prepared as I could.
When I arrived at the house on 5th street, I had this really weird feeling, like I was standing on the surface of another planet. It felt wrong, as if I was a magnet being pushed against another magnet of the same polarity. I tried to shrug it off, to tell myself I was just nervous, and I walked up to the front door.
I expected it to be locked, that I’d need to go around the back and see if there was a back way in, but to my surprise, the door pushed open. I didn’t even need to twist the doorknob, in fact, when I did it didn’t budge. A closer glance made me realize that the knob itself had no mechanism, it didn’t control a bolt. The door was simply closed via friction. The doorknob wasn’t even made of metal, it was just a piece of wood painted metallic gold.
I turned on my flashlight, stepping into the entryway of the house. I expected it to smell of mold, decay, but to my surprise the scent it most closely reminded me of was that odor new cars have. I looked around, observing my surroundings. The inside was in surprisingly good condition, given the dilapidated appearance of the exterior. The walls were carved wood panels, and the floor seemed to be polished hardwood. A staircase led up the second floor, and there were a few doors leading to other parts of the house. I figured it would be safer to try the first floor to begin with, and so I picked one of the doors at random and opened it.
Like the front door, there was no mechanism to the door knob, I couldn’t twist it, just pulling it caused it to open. I wondered how nobody had broken into this place already, given that there was evidently no way to lock the front door. The room I entered seemed to be a dining area, with a number of wooden chairs arranged around a long table. At the far wall was a painting of a familiar looking house. Inspecting it closer, I realized it was a less decayed version of the building I was currently standing in. It struck me as rather odd to have a painting of your own house hanging on the wall, but rich people can be a bit eccentric, so I didn’t pay it too much mind. I was confused as to how well furnished everything was, usually people take most of the furniture when they leave, and when they don’t what is left behind is quickly stolen or destroyed.
I looked closer at one of the chairs, admiring the craftsmanship. I tried to pull it closer to me, to get a better look, but it wouldn’t budge. Confused, I knelt down next to it, trying to see what was keeping it held in place. To my surprise, I realized that the whole thing seemed like it was a part of the floor itself, as if it was all carved from one solid piece of wood. I tried to find a seam or signs of glue, nails, anything to indicate that the floor and the chair had originally been separate, but I couldn’t. It looked almost as if it had grown out of the house itself.
That feeling of magnetic repulsion came back again. This house felt… wrong. If I was smarter, I would have turned and left right then and there. But I needed to know what the hell was going on. I proceeded further into the house, opening up another door that led out of the dining room. This one took me into what seemed to be a library.
Bookshelves lined the walls, filled with volumes of all shapes and sizes… or so I thought. Moving closer to one of the shelves, I noticed that none of the books actually had titles on their spines, they were all just blank. I tried to pick one out, but I found it wouldn’t budge. The books were part of the shelf itself, just like with the chairs in the dining room.
“Who the hell built this place?” I muttered to myself, profoundly puzzled. Then I heard the sound of wood creaking behind me.
I wheeled around, startled, seeing a door slowly being pushed open. I shone my flashlight, trying to get a look at who was opening it. “Who’s there?” I shouted, trying to control the fear in my voice. There was no response, and the door just continued to slowly creak as it opened ever wider.
I reached for the pepper spray and got it ready, holding my flashlight in the other hand. Then I saw what was coming through the doorway and screamed…