Stay out of weird spaces
Today I am writing about the Creepy Pasta The Tunnel!
Most of the CreepyPasta stories I have come across have a strong supernatural element, this one does not and yet it remains one of my favourite creepypastas. The Tunnel tells the story of Alex who find a tunnel in his rented property and is far to curious for his own good.
This one reminds me, more than most, of the ye old campfire stories you’d tell as kids.
Here be spoilers.
Our protagonist is Alex who has lived in his house for six months or so and failed to notice a door in his basement. The door is situated behind the dryer and Alex stumbles across it when he pulls out the dryer in an attempt to locate an errant detergent bottle cap.
After some consideration Alex contacts his landlord, the landlord thinks the door is an access point to the crawlspace. Alex decides he’s going to take a hacksaw to this locked door. Curiosity is never a good thing in these situations. The door (once the lock is destroyed) is a little stiff but it opens revealing a room ten feet by ten feet, easily enough for a man to stand in.
Naturally, Alex decides to go inside for an explore. In the room, Alex finds a tunnel, two feet in diameter with an unknown depth.
After a mild panic attack and a moment of his imagination going mental Alex decides to go down the tunnel. But the tunnel is disappointing, it just ends after a short time. So, Alex shuffles back, just in time to hear his landlord legging it down into the basement screaming for him. But before he can get out the tiny door slams closed, and the sound of the dryer is moved back into place is heard.
Naturally, Alex is pretty put out by this and his landlord’s cryptic remark of “it is too late now, Alex, I told you not to open it,” is pretty damning.
As a means of escape Alex tries to expand the tunnel and dig to the surface, but digging forward, and pushing dirt backwards causes the tunnel behind him to close, Alex realises this but decides to press forward anyway, effectively sealing himself in the tunnel with no way back. His flashlight dies after a short time, leaving him in darkness.
Alex eventually hits a smooth surface, he tries to dig it out, noting it is not hard or soft. Using his watch as a light Alex finds out the object is a tennis shoe, leading to the lower cuff of a pant leg. Alex assumes he is now not the only person who has tried to escape. He eventually discovers that this person was female and via library card he recognises her as a girl who disappeared five years ago.
Alex does eventually escape; the girl is exhumed and the landlord found guilty of kidnapping her. Our protagonist moves out into a new house with no secret tunnels.
This story works for several reasons, it employs both a physical and psychological fear. The room and tunnel are dark and cramped, playing on common fears. The mystery of what the door it, where the tunnel leads, why the landlord behaves the way he does and who the body was all serve to hook the reader, pull them in and keep them invested. The gradual reveal of the mysteries is well crafted, well paced and organic to the story.
The suspense builds slowly, reaching a couple of small peaks, such as when Alex is sealed in the room, when his flashlight dies and when he discovers the body, before reaching a satisfying conclusion.
Alex as a character is believable, his curiosity natural and not to over the top, he is curious enough to investigate but once he’s established the room and the tunnel he tries to leave (like a normal person would) he only further explores when he’s given no other option.
The hidden nature or the body also works really well, the story wouldn’t be so satisfying if the body had simply been in the room. The body being hidden within the tunnel works really well and adds a great sense of dread and concern for Alex, as obviously he’s doing something that someone else tried and failed to do.
Lastly, this story works so well because it could easily be real. We could all find a tiny door and a secret murder room. It plays on our fear of the unknown and our natural curiosity. Many creepypastas rely on the unexplained mythic element to frighten the reader but this one does it by highlighting the causal cruelty of man.
Overall this is a great internet campfire story.