The Lodge :
I live in a small town in Upstate New York. No more than 600 people sleep here, and less call it home. I moved up from Brooklyn about five years ago and immediately fell in love with its charm, its closeness, and as is the subject of this tale, its mystery.
One day not long ago as I was walking down the town’s only avenue past a used book shop that only sells books you’ve never heard of, and across from the building that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be; sandwich shop, art gallery, grocery all in recent memory, I tripped on one of many uneven sidewalk slabs. As I picked my possessions and myself up off the biting fall cement, I noticed a large sign above an abandoned building I must pass daily; a building that was not out of the ordinary to me at all. The sign was what gave me that start of unfamiliarity, as it declared the building a “Masonic Lodge” in its old, carefully flowering print.
It was the first time I had seen the sign on this building in my then-four-years of inhabitance.
“It’s probably just an old sign someone found and hung up there,” I thought to myself. But even as that thought resounded around my head I could tell that it wasn’t quite right. No, there was another motive behind the appearance of that sign, and now I was determined to find it. I went about asking locals (those who had lived there longer than my years, that is) if they had ever seen the sign before, who owned the building, had they ever seen anyone go into it, that sort of thing. To my surprise, not one of the questioned had noticed the sign, and when I pointed it out to them they were visibly startled at its unannounced appearance. You see, in this town, no one does anything without someone else hearing about it. Something as large as a building-wide sign going up would have been remembered by at least one person, but no one could recall it. As for my inquiries of ownership and use of the building, no one knew who held the deed, and no one had ever seen anyone go into or out of it.
I decided that I would have to investigate myself. Obviously the best way of doing this would be to break into the building at night, armed with only a flashlight and a tape recorder, to document my findings. In hindsight I’m not exactly sure why I chose the night to explore this old, abandoned would-be Masonic Lodge… perhaps the writing of a story was sneaking into my subconscious.
So on a Saturday night I approached the mysterious building, and upon trying the door, found it unlocked. My flashlight showed me nothing of interest on the ground floor; all that decorated the bare rooms was dust and decay. Then my light shone upon the staircase, and I knew that my investigation had only just begun. Upon mounting the second floor, I knew immediately that there was something here; maybe not intelligence, but a distinct presence of something strange hung from the walls and dripped from the ceiling. At first I thought that the second floor was just as void of furnishings as the first, and that’s when my flashlight shone into the room.
I instantly thought that I had somehow switched on a light; hundreds of splinters of brightness shone all around me. Half a second later I realized I was staring into a room of mirrors. The walls were covered in paneled mirrors; the ceiling was plastered with decorative glass and reflective metal. I don’t know a lot about Masonic Lodges, but I had the distinct feeling that this was a unique feature. Just as I was going to inspect my sudden doppelgangers, I noticed something distinctly odd in my leftmost reflection. Everything looked normal about me at first, but I knew something was off. Only when I had shone my flashlight directly at my reflection could I realize that the illusion I was seeing was nothing of the sort.
My reflection had no eyes. Just pits of black gazed back at me from that mirror. I felt my heart skip a beat, and then my brain immediately contained it with reason. It must be a shadow from the flashlight insisted my logic. But I knew that no shadow would be so deep; no shadow would be so still in the light from my shaking arm. And as soon as that epiphany was reached, this startling event repeated itself. Now the reflection to my right was also missing its eyes just as irrefutably. It was at that point that I completely lost the resolve that I had worked so hard to keep. Turning away from those frightening reflections, I ran quickly to the room I came from. Turning from door to door I scrambled for the stairs. At one point I was sure that the halls had become a maze, that I would never find the stairs. Just as this adrenaline-fueled insanity crossed my mind, I almost catapulted myself down the flight I had been looking for for what now seemed like hours. Upon reaching the street, I looked at my watch. Five minutes had passed since I entered the Lodge.
Just as I turned away from swinging the door shut, the final shock of my night bit into my retinas; as if the Lodge would not let me leave without suffering a heart attack first. As I rotated away from that place, I saw two distinct pairs of eyes staring back at me from the doorframe.
Neither my feet nor my heart stopped running until I was safely locked up at home, and it took me hours to fall asleep that night. Every time I would start to drift off, I would see those eyes looking back at me from a corner, from the ceiling, from the floor.
The next day my neighbor asked me if I had ever found the answers I was looking for about the Lodge.
“No, but I think my curiosity is good for now,” I responded lamely. By next week the sign was again gone. To this date I never walk by that building unless I have to. Far away from the unknown-book store, far away from the confused storefront, that is where I want to be.