If you lived anywhere in the vicinity of the university, you knew that Zeke McCaney was the hip kid on campus.
Best clothes, best hair (the afro that couldn’t be imitated would be his trademark), and an adamant tree-hugger personality that resonated in everything he said and did. He was the embodiment of the decade in every horrifying way imaginable. If you grew up in the seventies, he was a fashion icon. If you didn’t, he was another reminder that the seventies should stay in the seventies where they belong.
So here, we follow Zeke into his housing building, shades on (even indoors, of course), platform shoes clacking against the marble, waiting for an elevator to take him up to the sixth floor. As the elevator opened on the first floor, a group of freshmen hurried out, talking excitedly amongst themselves.
“You’re full of it, Barb,” one girl insisted.
“I’m serious! The code is haunted. If you type in 2, 4, 1, 0, 6, you’ll be taken to the spirit floor… Donnie said so himself.”
“Donnie also says the moon landing was just a hoax…”
Zeke turned and watched them leave, the conversation peaking his interest as he walked into the elevator. He took off his shades, peering at the elevator buttons. It was a ridiculous notion for sure, but he was heading to the sixth floor anyway, so a few stops wouldn’t ruin his groove. More importantly, he could be that hip guy that went with the flow and tried it.
So he did. 2. 4. 1. 0. 6.
The elevator began to move. He figured it was just going to take him to the second floor.
It didn’t. He blinked.
It kept going up, and up, and up… and after a long minute, the elevator began to shake, then lurched to a stop. The doors opened, and he stepped out. While that was certainly a strange experience, Zeke laughed it off. Chicks and their gossip, he thought. Nothing like a little horror story to keep freshmen girls entertained.
The floor was oddly quiet though; no laughter or yelling or music playing from the common room, or any of the rooms – especially odd for a Friday night. And either I’m tripping on something, he thought, or my hallway is a lot longer than it should be. He frowned, but shrugged it off; it had been a long day, hadn’t it? Zeke took out his key and unlocked his door.
He froze where he stood.
This wasn’t his room.
Or at least, it sure as hell didn’t look like his room. Whatever room he had stepped inside was quite literally dripping. It was as if everything in his room had become a thick, oozing liquid. Even the floor seemed to warp and shift as if made out of quicksand instead of carpet floor. He didn’t dare take a step inside out of fear of being swallowed, which would really not have been cool, and settled for slamming the door in horror and taking off to the next hall where his friend Adam lived. He pounded on the door, yelling for him to open up. When there was no answer, he forced it open himself.
The room hadn’t been liquefied, but instead was completely black, save for a dim, red glow that faintly illuminated the few pieces of furniture Adam owned. Something, something freakishly large, he might add, was crawling down the wall from the ceiling like a shadow the size of a large dog; if large dogs had six legs, that is.
He came to the conclusion that it wasn’t Adam, nor was this going to be a room Zeke would be messing around with either. Zeke slammed the door, his heart pounding in his chest as he slowly backed into the common room, afraid that thing now inhabiting Adam’s room would come for him next.
“I’m getting out of here.”
Officially terrified, he ran for the exit doors, taking the stairs two at a time. All along the stairwells, there were other things crawling along the walls. This time with humanoid shapes with gray skin and long, black hair, all wailing and shrieking and grabbing for him as he yelled and shrieked for help. They swiped at his head, grazing his immense head of hair.
“Oh no, you are not touching my hair!”
But no one could resist the Zeke Afro.
As he made his frantic descent, he could swear the lights were dimming, growing darker and darker. He stopped on the second floor, throwing the doors open only to find himself on the same floor again. Not cool, not cool, he thought in a panic. With no other options before him, he began to search the other rooms, hoping to find another normal person or at least a safe place to hide. Yet they were all something out of a nightmare: endless pits in the floors, a room full of spiders, decaying troll dolls and countless others. He tried running down one hallway, but had to turn back because it quite literally wouldn’t end. He tried the elevator to go back up; maybe it was that darn code that brought him here. If he punched it in again, he could get out, couldn’t he?
But the elevator wouldn’t open.
There was a small black object next to the call button that looked like something out of a sci-fi flick. He didn’t know what to make of it and the doors wouldn’t open. He was trapped. The lights grew dimmer and dimmer still, plunging the hall into a steady darkness. Something was slithering, moving across the common area just down the hall. As the lights dimmed and flickered out, he saw a large mass make its way across the floor.
“No candles in the dorms…” it hissed. It sounded like it was whispering right in his ear. Zeke stood there, consumed by terror, as the lights were drained of what little power they had left and the floor was consumed by black.
Samantha Walsh is a first-year student majoring in special education and English writings with a minor in autism studies. She can be reached at SW850037@wcupa.edu. Conor Killmurray is a fourth-year student majoring in English writings with a minor in political science. He can be reached at CK838793@wcupa.edu.