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It can’t be that bad, can it? That’s what I said back when I was living on the streets. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I remember being evicted and thrown out of my little apartment in Northeast Pennsylvania, and ending up living off the little money I made from scavenging, and from the donations of kind people. And to be honest, it wasn’t all that terrible: yeah, winter was cold, the rats were gross, and the parking garage I lived in never made me feel safe, but I survived, and the people I met along the way helped me to get back on my feet. But the thing that helped me the most, and has scared me ever since, was the Keres Manor, and if I could have a do-over in my life, I’d forefeit all the money I earned if it meant I never had to go back there again...

Radio

It was a warm and rather sunny morning the day I found the radio, I was out scavenging again, looking for things I could pawn off. Funds have been low lately as people were all out on spring break, so I was reverting to my other sources of income, which mainly included the scavenging. I was searching some piles of junk I found around the back of the library when I saw it, a little black radio with orange and white markings and buttons, it was in pretty good condition, all-be-it a little battered and scratched here and there. I tossed it in with the pile of other things I was planning to pawn off later, and continued. 

When I got back to the garage that night, I began sorting through the many treasures of the day, putting them in different piles depending on their possible value, but once I came across the radio, I paused, if this thing worked, I could possibly use it as a form of entertainment! So I set it up on a little wall and flicked it on, and was greeted with some soft static. I began flipping through the channels, hoping to find some music, after I didn’t find anything for a while, I began screwing around with it, changing the channel rapidly- and then silence, I looked down and saw that I was somewhere in the lower 300s Hz. then a voice came through the radio.

“GREETINGS!” The voice cried. “Are you looking for some thrills?” It paused. That was weird, I thought having dead air was a big no-no in the radio industry. “Okay then, what about chills?” it continued, but paused again. Did it want a response? There’s no way that that’s the case, it’s just a radio after all… But even still… what if that worked?

“Uh… No?” I said, jokingly, there was another bit of a pause before the radio made noise again.

“Okay fine, what about dollar bills?” I chuckled at the stupid rhyme, Thrills, Chills, And Dollar Bills, they must have just recorded some dumb sales pitch for whatever this is, but if the radio probably wasn't worth much if it only had one station- “I see I’ve got your attention now! We can pay you if you want, $1,000,000 dollars for every night you spend here!” My jaw dropped, a million dollars a night? And wait, they pay ME to go to THEIR attraction? What kind of deal is that? Seemed like an absolute steal at the time. “Just come on down to the Keres Manor in Ringtown, Pennsylvania! That’s K-E-R-E-S M-A-N-O-R in Ringtown, Pennsylvania! Just be here before sundown, because that’s when we lock up...” Ringtown? That was only a few hours train ride from where I was, if I snuck onto one of the train cars, I could make it in time, and after all, stuck in a house for a night for a million dollars? It can’t be that bad, can it?

Keres Manor

The next morning, I did just that, I packed the radio and a few other belongings and snuck onto a boxcar on a freight train headed south, arriving at Ringtown in no time. I found the place in question pretty easily, even though the locals looked at me like I was crazy, I wasn’t dissuaded. The manor itself was a very nice and clean building on the edge of town with multiple balconies and turrets sticking out of the roof. I thought I saw somebody on the 3rd floor balcony, but as I got closer, it was just a mannequin holding a sign that said “Enter at risk of damnation”. It was so clean, and the props were to tacky, the only thing that ran through my head was “A night in here for a million dollars? It can’t be that bad, can it?”

“Welcome! How many nights will you be staying?” A little speaker on the door chimed up as I approached.

“Thanks?” I responded. “How many nights am I allowed to stay?”

“Why, as many as you would like silly! Though, most people only do it once a year.” It explained.

“And, you will pay me a million dollars for every night I stay here?” I asked.

“Yup!” It said, the door swinging open. “We don’t care what you do while you’re inside, but we lock the doors a half hour after the sun sets, so be sure to make your final decision by then! Because you won’t be able to go outside until the moment the sun peeks over the horizon.” I decided to head inside, because after all, It can’t be that bad, can it?

EntryHall

I stepped inside to what appeared to be heaven. The carpets were spotless, there was a wonderful smell emanating from the kitchen, and judging by the miniature fountain in the middle of the massive entry hall, this placed had running water, and therefore, showers! I explored the dining room first, only to find a table covered in food and drink. Needless to say, I gorged myself on it, though, I thought it was weird that there was nobody else there with me. But putting that aside, I moved onto a nice warm shower… Oh, it was utter bliss! That was the first time I had washed myself in probably a year. After that, I changed into the softest silk robes and wandered down to found a room that was nice and closed off from the rest of the house, which, unlike my open and echo-y parking garage, added a sense of security. Deciding that I would stay wasn’t a hard choice for me at the time, I mean, getting paid a million dollars to stay a night in a place like this? What a steal! After all, I would have stayed there for free! Boy was I right when I decided to come here! Or so I thought...

After probably one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, things started to change almost immediately the sound of the fountain downstairs in the main entry stopped. I thought it was odd, but figured that running that through the night must drain on the water bill, so I pushed it out of my mind. But, the real problems happened after I fell asleep. I began dreaming of myself and everything I did after I entered the building, but it was off. It felt as though I was looking from below, from underground, and it was so hot, it was… it was like fire-

I woke up, sweating, the room was abnormally hot, but being under the blankets made it worse, so, kicking those off, I attempted to fall asleep again, because that would be the quickest way to end the silence- or… lack thereof? I had assumed it would be silent because the only source of noise, the fountain, was turned off… but there was a strange, sharp sounding hum, like a thousand needles washing onto the shore of a fuzzy beach, like… static...

I pulled the radio out of my bag and looked at it. Sure enough, it was turned on, and the static was playing softly through the little speaker. After trying and failing to turn it off, I went back to the channel that was playing the advertisement earlier, only to find silence, to find dead air.

“Why won’t this stupid thing work-”

“It does”


I stared at it quietly for a long, and tense few moments. My heart was racing. Did the radio just speak to me? No, that wasn’t possible.

“Is this one of those hidden cameras show things? Am I being pranked?” I asked.

“No, there are no cameras, but we are watching you.” The radio said, a sweat droplet falling into my eye. It was getting very hot, I couldn’t see why, I couldn’t hear a heating blowing air, but the windows weren’t open so I assumed it was just getting really stuffy. Walking over to the window, I found it locked. I guess they did warn me that they locked up after dark, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

“What is happening?” I asked, turning back to the radio. It sat there in silence for a long while. Was it waiting for something? During my wait, I noticed something, a warm light filtering in from under the bedroom door. I walked over and opened it.

Buring Manor

“Damnation” The radio explained. The scene was that of fire and brimstone. The lobby was burning, though, strangely enough, there wasn’t any smoke, just fire burning everything in sight. I ran towards the stairs, I had thought that if only I could break down the front door, I could get out before I burned to death. I reached the stairs and quickly began thudding down the stairs, but after about the 3rd or 4th step, the whole staircase gave out, and I fell, and fell…

I woke up again in the bed, the fire was gone, along with all the heat, and I mean all the heat was gone. My breath plumbed out in front of me as slowly swirling moisture, I shivered, chills shooting and up and down my spine. I looked at the radio, expecting it to speak again, but it didn’t. I got up and wrapped the blankets around me, though it didn’t help much. The cold felt like it burrowed through me, like some sort of filthy rodent. I walked out of the room to come across a bizarre sight. The entry hall was covered in thick black fog and a layer of ice. I closed the door and went back to the bed, laying back down and trying to fall back asleep, until I heard something.

There was a soft scratching on the wall behind my head, like somebody dragging a nail across the surface on the other side. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise up, and I felt alert, despite the cold trying to eat away at the senses. I couldn’t feel my hands as the noise stopped. As my bout of anxiety ebbed, so did my consciousness, and I dosed again.

I was back on the floor, fire surrounding me and burns speckling my body. I sat up and ran to the front door, ramming it with my shoulder, I felt something inside me crack, and I crumbled, the pain climaxing and I felt myself blacking out, and waking up in bed again, the cold bed. 

Even to this day, I’m still not sure what was happening, all I know is that I wasn’t allowed to suffer only one kind of torment. I sighed a breath of relief, only to find on the intake of breath, that it was so much colder than before, my fingers were starting to turn a very dark shade of purple. ‘But other than some minor frostbite, this version is safe’. That thought put me at ease in this crisis, but as if reading my mind and knowing I had forgotten it, the noise started again, sliding up and down the door, before there was a large crunch of wood, and a finger was prying apart a hole in the wood, from which an eye soon appeared. We stared at each other for a long while before the thing in the hole left, and I felt my fingers and toes give was to a searing cold as I fell back asleep, likely succumbing to hypothermia.

I woke up one last time in the burning building. My hair was singed and my skin was badly burned, and I could feel some of the symptoms of heat stroke beginning. I got up and decided my best option was to try and get to lower ground, as heat, and by extension fire, rises. I clambered down the stairs, careful not to touch the metal railing in fear of burning my hand. But it almost felt as though the lower I got, the hotter it got… Eventually I reached the bottom of the stairs to find that everything came to an end, there was merely a red-hot abyss underneath the house, and I fell into it.

I once again roused in the freezing room, hoping that this was all some twisted dream, only to realize the door was open. I froze in place in that bed, both metaphorically, and physically. The scratching was there too, but it wasn’t on the walls or door, but emanating from underneath the bed. I remember feeling the cold and fear stripping me of sense when the black-blue hand of a woman rose over from the edge of the bed, soon followed by the rest of this monstrosity. Her hair was a block of ice and her skin was so frostbitten, it would be a stretch to call it human skin at all. She climbed over to me and I barely felt it as she dug her nails into me, leaving deep cuts. As soon as I thought this is how I die though, light flooded the room from the window. Sunrise at last, she looked down at me and smiled.

Parking Garage

Then I woke up in my bed in the parking garage, covered in burns, frostbite, cuts, and a few other things. But there was also a little package on the ground, and it contained $1,000,000 as promised. But it wasn't worth it.

Needless to say, I’ve never gone back since then, but times have been hard again lately, and I need some money… but since I know what I’m getting myself into this time, It can’t be that bad, can it?

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