The old ways are never far from the surface in Lithuania. This was, after all, the last country in Europe to convert to Christianity. But what some urban explorers found in an abandoned building just outside Vilnius, its capital, spoke of a terror not merely ancient, but hideously dark.
The expedition was led by Canadian Tyler Paduraru, a history and politics graduate whose girlfriend is Lithuanian. And the eastern European country she’s from, in Paduraru’s own words, is his “favorite place” in the region.
He said as much, however, in 2011 – a full three years before Paduraru explored the dilapidated building on Vilnius’ outskirts. Would his respect for the country he described as “charming” and “civilized” diminish as a result of the vile discoveries he was about to make?
According to shamanic tradition, doors or tunnels mark the threshold of the “otherworld.” In Lewis Carroll’s famous tale, for example, Alice traveled to Wonderland through a mysterious rabbit hole. In some occult practices, meanwhile, spiritual portals are lines of contact to demonic entities.
And Paduraru found his own “rabbit hole” after apparently scouting the edifice’s perimeter. But beyond it, he would not find any Mad Hatters or March Hares, giant caterpillars or Cheshire Cats. On the contrary, the jagged hole led to a world that was dismal, lonely and black.
Inside, a crumbling tunnel stretched into darkness. What exactly was this place, this rotten carcass of a building? Paduraru gave away few details when he posted his photos to Imgur. In fact, the caption simply read, “Meanwhile, at an abandoned facility in Lithuania…”
But wherever Paduraru was and whatever this building’s former life, evidently he wasn’t the first to breach its gloomy interior. Abandoned places often attract troubled souls. However, the threatening graffiti scrawled here was just theater. But terror – true terror – lay just head.
Indeed, Paduraru soon stumbled upon the first of many unfathomable clues. What seemed to be a Catholic rosary necklace had been taped to the wall. What was this strange gesture’s meaning? A black handprint on the wall, meanwhile, suggested a panicked visitor.
Nearby, a melancholic prayer had been scrawled onto the wall’s gray, flecked surface. Written in Lithuanian, it appeared to say, “Mes Esam, Bet Greitai Musy Nebebus. Amen.” And, translated into English, it seemed to exalt the coming of death: “We are, but soon we won’t be. Amen.”
Undeterred, Paduraru continued deeper into the building. And with shattered tiles at his feet, he eventually came to a door. It was solid, metal and rusted around the edges. And beyond it lay a kind of inner sanctum where unspeakably weird things had occurred.
In traditional Lithuanian mythology there are a few spirits to steer clear of. Žiburinis, for example, takes the form of a glowing skeleton. And then there’s Baubas, with his characteristic red eyes and elongated arms. But as Paduraru was about to discover, there are some who worship far darker creatures.
Do buildings “remember?” Well, psychiatrist Norman Zinberg once advised users of psychedelic drugs to pay attention to their setting. From this, one can safely infer that abandoned buildings may not be the most sensible place in which to consume hallucinogens, unless you want the walls to whisper to you.
Indeed, mind-bending drugs could well have played a part in the creation of this disturbing object. A dead bird in an abandoned building isn’t particularly unusual. But a bottle with feather stuck in it, surrounded by what appears to be shredded fur, raises some questions.
Passing into a cluttered storeroom, Paduraru stumbled upon some rotting wooden shelves, which were filled with box files. What’s more, paperwork was strewn wildly over the floor. This was, apparently, an old archive. But what did it contain?
Close-up shots were unfortunately not detailed enough to reveal anything. However, the rambling halls and tiled walls seemed to indicate that this could have been some kind of medical institution – an asylum, perhaps?
Indeed, if madness once stalked these corridors, it doesn’t seem to have left. Propped up against a wall, a headless torso – inexplicably wrapped in gaffer tape – seemed to indicate “abnormal” activities. Nearby, meanwhile, a snail with a human head appeared to gaze on quizzically.
Paduraru later discovered a large kitchen knife. The fine scratches on its surface suggested that it had been rigorously and clumsily sharpened. What sort of hands had once held this? Had they been large and heavy, or small and quick? Was this a murder weapon, or maybe a ritual implement?
After Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she found a bottle with a “drink me” label. And drink she did. Though the bottle that Paduraru found contained a liquid vaguely resembling absinthe, the label definitely didn’t say “drink me”. And sensibly, he left it alone.
Paduraru and his companion were nearing the end of their journey. The brick floor beneath them was punctuated with open shafts leading deep down into the darkness. What they discovered next may leave an indelible mark on your consciousness. Once seen, you may be never be able to forget.
Indeed, from now till the end of your days, you may wonder what people get up to with dead cats and pink brassieres inside the darkened vaults of decrepit Lithuanian hospitals. Seriously though, Satan is the Prince of Darkness, not a mangy dog. He can’t have been too pleased with that offering, whatever it was meant to symbolize. The mystery of this abandoned building, it seems, goes on.