Never Find Out.
The computer screen was blank apart
from the word 'HELLO' in green
text in the top left-hand corner. The
green cursor blinked below it, waiting for a response. It was the first thing
John saw when he
opened his eyes. He shot up from the
bed, wide awake as he saw the wall behind it, then the room around him. He didn't
recognise any of it. He was sitting on a bed that wasn't his in a
room he didn't know. He called out, but
nobody answered. His voice echoed for a
moment, then there was only the static humming from the strip light
overhead. He panicked, eyes darting
between the bare concrete walls with no windows and the two wooden doors, one
near the bed and the other further along the long wall of the rectangular
room. The door farthest away was sealed
by a rusted iron bolt on his side and the other had a rusted iron keyhole. They
looked old. The keyhole was much larger than any keys
that were made nowadays, and the lock was fastened on by thick square bolts.
The computer was still
waiting on the desk near the bed. John
took a moment to compose himself, then got up and walked over, keeping watch
out the corner of his eye for signs of movement. A thin layer of grey dust covered
keyboard and before he touched any of the keys, he looked around the room
Nothing. Not even a camera.
The green cursor on the
monitor flickered, counting each second that he wasn't typing. It was the closest
thing to keeping time in
there. No clock. No windows.
No sun. No time.
Where am I? He typed with one finger.
A few seconds passed
before a reply came.
THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT
Who are you? John typed.
THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT
How did I get here?
WE DON'T KNOW
What is this place?
WE DON'T KNOW
John, getting frustrated, looked
around at the empty room
again. The air was cold and smelled of
undisturbed dust and damp. He wrapped
his arms around himself as he shivered.
John continued typing: Let me out
YOU REALLY OUGHT TO ASK ABOUT WHAT'S
IN THE NEXT ROOM
John read the message a few times
before looking at the bolted
door. He never noticed a moment ago, but
there was a rectangular slider covering a peephole.
The green cursor blinked, waiting
for him to ask. Instead, John edged towards the door. What was so special about the room on the
other side? It seemed more important to
the computer than he was.
The bolt was roughened by its rust
coating. Underneath it, John could make out tiny
markings carved into the metal. Lines
and shapes like runes. They made him
uneasy about touching it. There were no
scrape marks in the rust. The bolt had
been there for some time, and perhaps had been closed all that time for a
Nerves took hold of him.
He stepped to the side of the door and with his eyes closed, pulled back
There was a sigh of stale air as
he uncovered the adjacent
room. John stood back from the door and
looked through the peephole. He didn't
understand. He went right up to the door
and looked deeper, but the other side was just as bare as this one. Same shape,
same size, same dimensions. Aside from the lack of the bed, or the
computer desk, the room was empty.
“What the hell?” He said
to himself, a little calmer for looking.
His voice echoed around the room longer than he expected, speaking back
to him. He went back to the computer.
Nothing in there. He typed.
A minute passed.
THEN IT'S ALREADY TOO LATE.
WE'RE SO SORRY
John shivered as the hairs his arms
stood on end. For a moment he stood still, looking between
the blinking green cursor and the open peephole in the door, listening to the
drone of the strip-light. He went back
to the peephole. I could just open the
door, he thought. Someone's messing with
me. But even so, he couldn't muster it
within himself to touch the bolt. He
slammed the peephole shut, scolding himself for letting them scare him and went
back to the computer.
Let me out.
WE CAN'T DO THAT
Let me out now!!!!!
THIS ISN'T GOING TO HELP YOU
This is kidnapping you know?
THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT
Then what is so important?
THAT YOU NEVER LET IT OUT
What's in there?
WE DON'T KNOW
Where did it come from?
WE DON'T KNOW
What does it look like?
WE DON'T KNOW
Is it a person?
WE'RE NOT SURE
What will it do if it gets out?
WE MUST NEVER FIND OUT
The screen went blank.
The text disappeared. The
conversation was over and John was left alone.
He sat down on the bed, legs crossed, and wrapped the thin white sheet
around himself while he waited for the computer to start up again, but it never
did. The sheet smelled like dust and
other people's sweat and was speckled with patches of mould, but it took the
edge of the cold off. Stopped him
That door, the one the computer was
so afraid of, the
heavy-looking door, he was compelled to look at it. It was older than the other
one. Its white paint was cracking and chipping
off. Dark patches of mould in the
corners and rising damp along the bottom.
The bolt was his to open. He must
never let it out, but what was it? There
was nothing there. He'd looked. Just
what had he been made custodian of?
He looked at the door to his right
and presumed, with its
large-bore keyhole and cold draught blowing from underneath, that it must be
the way out. But where was the key? He
looked under the bed and behind the
computer, then it twigged.
The bolted door.
The peephole was open.
John was sure he'd closed it.
Though he couldn't precisely remember doing it, it was so short an
action, he knew, instinctively, that he'd closed it. He went over to the door
again and looked
through the peephole. Again, nothing
there, not in any of the corners, not at the sides of the door. Just a cold
draught coming through the
hole. He slammed the peephole shut,
telling himself aloud that he'd closed it this time, then went back to the bed.
There was food on the desk when he
opened his eyes. John shot up and pounded on the locked door,
calling out to whoever had brought it in to let him out. Nobody answered. There was just the striplight humming above
him. It seemed to have gotten louder.
Had he been asleep? He must have been for someone to come in and
leave it there without him noticing, but he didn't recall ever feeling tired,
or dreaming. He felt like he'd only
closed his eyes for a few minutes. At
least I know there are people outside, he thought. He ate the bowl of cereal,
sandwich and drank
the whole glass of water in one go, then put the dishes next to the computer
that was still dead.
As he wiped his mouth on his sleeve
he realised that he kept
looking towards the bolted door. Again
there was a force drawing him to it, compelling him to look. The peephole was
open halfway. It was too stiff with rust to have reeled
back when he'd slammed it. Something was
opening it. He tried to look away, even
turned his back to it, but found himself looking over his shoulder, wary,
needing to keep an eye on it. He got up
and looked inside.
John slammed it shut immediately
and ran to the other door. He hammered it with his fists. “Let me out.
There's something in there. Get
me out.” He said. No response.
He bashed the keyboard, hoping to get someone's attention, but still
nothing. He shouted for help until he
couldn't speak, then he collapsed on the floor by the locked door. He closed
his eyes and told himself not to
look in again, never look in again, but at the same time knowing that he would
have to. There was no other option. He
had to know.
He touched the rusted metal slider
and recoiled his hand
instantly. He knew he shouldn't. He
took a moment to gear himself up, then
slid it open.
A mass. A shadow in the
corner of the room. Thick and
heavy. Tangible. A shape that
defied any definition or form.
“Hello?” John said to
it. The thing didn't respond or react,
but John was scared to take his eyes off it just in case. It wasn't there before. What was it?
He stood there watching it, trying to figure out a logical explanation
until he needed the bathroom. He closed
the peephole and relieved himself in the farthest corner from the bed, then
went back to the door and continued watching the dark mass. He had to keep watching
it. He had to know. Time passed
and he quickly became tired as
the cold and the growing dread he felt beneath his skin sapped the energy from
him. All the while it never moved. It
never changed shape or size. It was there, but it was nothing. John closed the shutter and lay down on the
bed, but he couldn't sleep. Eventually
he dropped off from pure exhaustion, and when he woke he felt like he'd only
got a couple of hours. He couldn't be
sure. Time was immeasurable. The
humming was constant.
There was more food when he woke,
and the shadow in the next
room was not there. He was surprised to
see the shutter was still closed. Twice
now it had opened on its own, but why not now?
He ignored the food and went straight to the door. There was nothing
in the other room. The walls, the corners were all gone. Only a thick, impenetrable blackness,
impossible to see into. Maybe the light
bulb's gone, he thought. He touched the
cold metal bolt, anxious to open it and see just what was going on, but soon
let go when he remembered the computer's words.
He peered into the inky void. Not
even the light from the striplight showed anything through the peephole. The
darkness was absolute.
He left the slider open, figuring
that if anything changed in
there, he'd know about it straight away.
He slouched on the bed for what could have been hours staring at the
small rectangle of darkness and nothing happened. Not until he closed the peephole
for a moment
then opened it up again. The room was
back, lit up, just as it had been before.
The lights weren't broken at all.
John was confused. He didn't
understand it until he saw the shadow again, this time in the opposite
corner. He realised that the inky
blackness he'd been staring so close into was that shadow, pressed up against
John slammed the peephole shut and
ran for the bed. He wrapped the sheet around himself,
shielding himself from the door as he wept meekly for help. He swore he'd never
open it again. And he didn't, but when he next looked out
from under the sheet it was open. It was
back at the door, and two ovals of white light stared at him from the darkness
surrounding the peephole. As much as
John wanted to close the shutter again he daren't go near it, because the
lights-- the eyes, followed him. As he
walked around the room. As he stared
back at them, wondering what thoughts, if any, were going on inside it. As he
lay with the sheet over his head,
sobbing and begging to be let out.
The sound it made eclipsed the humming
striplight, but John
refused to look from under the sheet. The
flaking remnants of his sanity wouldn't allow it. They were all he had left
now. Besides, he could already see it through the
thin cloth. A crooked, horizontal tear
had formed in it, undulating the sound.
Like static from a dead channel, gargled and choked. Its whole form shuddered
as it struggled to
churn it out. A constant note at first,
then it changed. Warped. Altered
pitch and rhythm. John covered his ears to block it out, but it
Then it started to speak.
Half-formed words from a half-formed mouth, it stuttered and choked out
the harsh vowels. John shouted as loud
as he could for it to shut up, but it continued regardless. He rocked back and
forth trying to tune it
out, forcing himself to think of somewhere else. Home, work, with friends. Anywhere but here, wherever here was.
“John, take the sheet off your
head and talk to me.”
John shook his head. He
couldn't hear it. He refused to hear it.
“Come on. This is
silly. You know it is.”
He pulled his knees up to his chest
and made sure the edges of
the sheet were still tucked underneath him.
“John, I just want to talk.
What's the harm?”
He edged himself further into the
corner, closer to the
walls. His forehead pressed against the
“There's no point in being
like this. You look ridiculous.”
No matter how hard he pressed his
hands over his ears, he
couldn't block it out.
“Come on, at least eat something. That food's been there for a day now. You'll
Please let me go. God,
please, if you're there, please, please help.
I can't take it. Please help
me. I don't want to die here.
“John, what are you crying
“I can still see you through
the sheet, you know.”
John said nothing. He
kept the sheet over himself as he shuffled over to the food on the table. It
had gone cold what must have been days ago
and hadn't been replaced when he was sleeping, because he hadn't been
sleeping. He was exhausted. The
pork tasted bitter and so did the
potatoes. He left the peas.
As he turned to go back to the corner,
the bottom of the sheet
snagged on the edge of the table, pulling out of his hands. It fell to the floor,
“There you are. How you
John scrambled to pick the sheet
up, snapping his eyes shut
before he could see it through the peephole, but it was too late. He already
had. In the corner of his eye when the cloth fell,
he'd seen it. He felt the meat and potatoes
rising back up his throat. He turned to
the nearest corner as the food forced its way out.
“That's because you let it
“Shut up.” John said,
wiping a dreg of saliva off his lip.
“Just shut up. Get out of my
“That's not nice. All I
want to do is—”
“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.
For god sake shut up.” He was
stood in front of the bolted door now, facing it.
“I just want us to be friends.”
“You don't now anything about
me. You're not even real.” John
“Well that's just not true,
is it? John, look at me. I am
“You're not me.” John
said. “You're a thing.”
“OK, so then what am I?”
“I don't know.”
“Didn't your computer friends
John didn't say anything.
He stared at it's face. His
face. A perfect imitation, right down to
the mole on his top lip and the hole in his left ear where he once had it
pierced. It wore his clothes. It
sounded just like him. It spoke just like him…
“I thought not. Just open
the door and we'll talk.”
John took a step back. It
had never mentioned anything about the door before. He shook his head.
John glanced at the computer.
The thing must have seen it, because it sighed and said: “What, and
you're going to believe them? Tell me
this, who are they? What do you really
know about them?”
“They said to never let it
“And do you know why? Did
they tell you what I'll do?”
John shook his head.
“Didn't think so. Did
they tell you anything?”
He shook again.
“Did they tell you I have the
key for that door over
there?” Its eyes cast toward the locked
door and it held up a large-bore iron key, covered in rust, for John to
see. John at once realised why the
person on the computer had said there was nothing they could do. Why they were
sorry. The irony of his situation. To
leave, he would have to let it out.
“But even if you did manage
to get that door open, do you think
they'd believe you're you? John, who do
you think brought you here?”
Time passed. The humming
The peas he'd left had furry white
mould growing on them. He was weak and tired. Starving.
His tears had dried up from dehydration.
He tried to think of home and what
it would be like now. Would people be looking for him? Were they worried? Scared?
What would they think happened to him?
He knew he'd never find out the answers, because he knew he was going to
die in this room. He was certain of it,
but he was also certain it wasn't going to be slowly.
“You know, even if you did
manage to get out of this room, you'd
be sent to a funny-farm. Who'd believe
you about all of this?”
It hadn't moved from the peephole
since it first spoke his
name. It had been answering his thoughts
for some time now.
He tried to ignore it.
Focused on tying the bedsheet into knots. He thought of something else. Someone else.
“She's probably missing you
something fierce by now. Probably worried sick, the poor girl. Its not the first time she's been abandoned,
is it?” It said. “Just
open this door and we'll both walk
free. Imagine how relieved she'll be when
she sees you home. Well, at least, something
she thinks is you. And it won't stop
there. There's a great big world out
John turned to the wooden door.
The way the thing looked at him made him cold inside. Though it was his
own face looking back, the
one he'd seen every day in the mirror, he never knew it could look so cruel.
John wanted to close the peephole,
but he knew it wouldn't make
a difference. It wouldn't shut it
up. It wouldn't let him sleep. He
made sure the knots were secure. One around the chains that held the
striplight, the other around his neck.
Then he stood on the table that he'd dragged into the middle of the
room. The striplight hum was so loud
this close to his head. It won't hurt
for long, he thought.
“That's what you think.”
It said, smirking.
We must never find out.
He'd said the mantra so many times
now it didn't mean a thing. Any resonance it used to have was replaced by
hunger, a yearning for sleep, for silence, sunlight, fresh air. He laughed at
himself for once thinking there
might be a logical explanation. It was
foolish. Logic and rationality were just
human ideas. The world and its monsters
didn't revolve around us, or our ideas.
The thing in the other room was now more like John than he was. He was
no longer himself. He was emptiness and desperation. He was nothing.
He tipped the table over with his
A sharp jolt as the striplight took
The room went dark as the light broke. The other room went dark too.
The plate smashed on the concrete
The bedsheet tore in half and John
hit the floor.
In the dark he could hear it laughing. It was in his own voice just to mock
him. The damaged light fitting strobed
and lit the room for a fraction of a second, and in that flash, John saw it
grinning wider than humanly possible, its inky black matter showing as its skin
It mocked his failed attempt at death
on his own terms. His last choice. Now
there was truly nothing left. The laughter hurt him, insulted him, made him
angry at himself, angry at it. He boiled
over, too angry for reason. There was
only one thought left in his head and it was clear: One of them had to die.
John felt around the dark until he
found a sharp piece of broken
plate. Grabbing it, he got to his feet
and felt his way toward the wooden door.
John slid the bolt open.
The laughter from the other room
twisted into the broken static
noise from before it took his voice. It
rattled and choked, getting louder as the wooden door creaked open. John could
see nothing in the pitch black. Then, through the strobes of light he saw
it. Walking towards him, its face twisted
and black, then reshaping into his own face again. Metres away.
Another flash. Four feet. The
key was in its hand. The static gargling was so loud now it was so
close. Painful, stabbing at his
eardrums. John thrust with the plate shard
into the dark and hit nothing.
Then it was on him.
Its hand wrapped around his throat,
crushing it, as it lifted
John off the ground. The choking static
increased in pitch, becoming a shrieking, deafening wail. John struggled. He sliced the hand around his throat, his own
hand, and the thing dropped him. John
lunged at it, taking it and himself to the ground. He thrust with the plate
shard again and
again, feeling it sink into soft fleshy matter before he was thrown off. He
dropped the shard somewhere in the dark. As the striplight flashed three times
quick succession, John saw the open black wounds. Then they were closing up,
then the holes in
the skin and its clothes had joined back together like they'd never happened.
Without waiting, John launched himself
at the thing, reaching
for the key in its hand. They struggled,
both had one hand on it. Both cried out
in John' voice. One toppled over the
other, then back the other way. They
punched and scratched each other in the dark, rolling over fragments of plate
and mouldy food. Finally, John managed
to wrestle the key free and scrambled toward the locked door, only to be
dragged back by the ankle, inches away from it.
Both John and the thing yelled for help in the same voice and the same
tone of fear and urgency. They spat and
cursed at each other. One of them
managed to bring a leg up and wedge it into the other's chest. One thrust and
the other was shoved
back. The key clanged to the floor,
giving them the opportunity to grab it and get to their feet.
The key slid into the door, the lock
turned, and the heavy door
swung open, letting in light and a gust of cold air. It was a stone corridor
outside. Light shining at the end.
“No, its not him. Its the
thing. Stop it. You've got to
stop it. Please!
Let me out!” The John lying on
the floor cried as the other John closed the door and locked it. The John outside
ran toward the light, towards
the world outside, so glad to finally be out of that room, while the other was
left alone, locked away, screaming in the dark.
30 years old and from England. He first saw The Thing when he was 10 years
has never looked back. It remains his favorite horror movie to date, and
will stand in line for anything John Carpenter-related. One Halloween,
while dressed as Michael Myers, he hung a “dead body” made from old clothes stuffed
with newspapers and wrapped in a bedsheet from a tree. He was nearly
writers are Hemingway, Paul Auster, and Lovecraft.