I had just graduated college when I inherited a house from an uncle I had never met. I had been deeply stressed about finding a place to live when this middle class suburban split-level just fell into my lap. No one at the funeral had known him very well for the last decade of his life, and I was apparently his closest living relative.
I had been living in the place for about two months when I found a note on my dining room table one morning. “Greetings sir. You are officially invited to join our society. Please do not share this invitation with anyone. More information will be provided to you in the days to come. In order to join us, you must first find us. This will be your first rite of passage”.
Due to past experiences in my old neighborhood, I was always distrustful of the police, and I foolishly thought to handle whatever this mysterious home invasion signified on my own. However, I did call the alarm company, and they sent an agent out to inspect my home security system.
I found the second note a couple weeks later, in the same spot. “Our invitation is still open, but you must pass the first trial in order to be initiated. Don’t tarry, we are closer than you think."
If I had been unnerved before, I was thoroughly alarmed now. This time I did consider calling the police, but was afraid I would expose myself to harm. Whoever had left the two notes had managed to evade my home security system. I was afraid of what else they were capable of.
I had a surveillance camera installed in my dining room. I found the next note in my living room a few weeks later. “I’m afraid cameras won’t help you find our sanctuary, but you have the right idea. If you don’t have any plans for this weekend, why don’t you try doing some spring cleaning?”
The “sanctuary?" In my house? What kind of stalker shit was this? By now I was utterly terrified, but beneath my terror and dread there was just an inkling of hopeful intrigue. Against all better judgement I decided once again not to call the police. I took some time off work and began frantically scouring the house. I did not find any hidden rooms or compartments.
Frustrated, I decided to simply wait for the next message while straightening up the house for the next few days. When I woke up at 2:00 in the morning and found that I had one unread text message, I was overcome by dread. “We can see you are having some trouble completing your task. Please leave twenty dollars in your bedroom floor vent and go back to sleep. You will be provided a clue in the morning”.
By now, I was mentally far past the point of seeking outside intervention. As shaken as I still was, this insane game had become oddly habitual to me. I still didn’t honestly think there was some secret society living in my house for me to join, but I was determined to get to the bottom of this thing, so I left the money at the drop in my room and went back to bed.
I was somehow still disturbed to find that the money was gone from the vent that morning, replaced by the promised clue. It was a photograph. The image had poor lighting and visual context, but I knew it had to be of a place inside my house. By now I was so madly obsessed with this thing that I immediately began looking for the subject of the photo without a second thought. The angle of the photo seemed to be deliberately obfuscating. I looked high and low, in every room, in every closet, under the furniture, in every nook and cranny. Not recognizing anything from the photo, I grabbed my digital camera and began taking pictures at random, hoping to somehow narrow down the spot or at least come to some kind of epiphany.
I had the epiphany while gazing at one of my random photos, taken in one of the two bathrooms in this house I inherited. It was essentially a mirror selfie. It occurred to me that the photo from the drop might be of a mirror. I checked every mirror I knew of in the house. It didn’t take me long to find the one. I discerned that the photo was of the corner of the bookcase in my room, in the mirror that covered the back of my large wardrobe, zoomed in. I looked behind the bookcase and found a scrap of paper with a phone number written on it. I panicked, realizing that I must be near the end of the journey and suddenly remembering just how insane and terrifying this whole thing was.
I spent several hours staring at the phone. I finally gathered up the courage, or mad determination to see this through, in the early evening. When I called the number, I was answered by a deep and gruff, but clear, voice.
“Turn off all the lights in your house by midnight. Empty your wardrobe except for the mirror and sit inside with the door closed until 2:00 AM. The password to the sanctuary is ‘hopeless night owl’. Don’t be late.” Then the line cut off.
I suppose I don’t have much choice if I want to see this thing through. I don’t know what criteria I have met or what accomplishments I have made other than inheriting this house to be extended this invitation. I don’t really want to RSVP, but I know this thing will eat away at me if I walk away now. But more than that, I am afraid of what could happen if I don’t answer the call.
Written by HopelessNightOwl