“Be an opener of doors,” said the poet and essayist Waldo Emerson. And in October 2014 redditor Lumarous, a budding graphic novelist, decided to heed this excellent advice. At the time, he was helping his dad settle into his new workplace, and everything was going smoothly. That is, until he discovered a curious-looking trapdoor. But what would he find beneath it?
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the office was an undeniably excellent space. Light, expansive, airy and decked in wooden floorboards, it certainly seemed like a productive place in which to work. Now that Lumarous’ dad knows what’s beneath the trapdoor, however, he probably won’t be able to relax too much.
Hmm… A handle, hinges… an open invitation, surely. “We hadn’t seen this when originally checking the place out,” wrote Lumarous on Imgur. The moral of the story? Always check the property thoroughly for hidden murder rooms, of course.
Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened. Beneath the trapdoor, Lumarous found a flight of wooden stairs descending into darkness and debris. “Spooky stairs?” he wrote on Imgur. “Count me in.” Ah, that’s the spirit – but wait, isn’t this how horror movies begin?
Nevertheless, Lumarous descended the stairs and arrived in a grim, dilapidated basement, a clutter of old pipes and paperwork strewn madly across the dirt floor. To the left and right, brick-built passageways led to who knows where. And so began his fateful journey into the underworld.
So, in the heaps of discarded trash he found boxes of rotten paperwork, moldy books, and rolled-up scrolls with obscure technical drawings. Who did these belong to? What did they refer to? And why had they been discarded in the dark, dank recesses of the basement?
It was torn and water-damaged, but the document he held in his hands was an actual blueprint. What was the mystery structure mapped out in the plan? And was it ever built? If so, where and when? And did the design incorporate inverted pentagrams?
The brick walls were stained black here and there, but Lumarous still proceeded deeper into the basement, ducking beneath a haphazard array of rusted pipes overhead. Heaps of pinkish fiberglass were strewn on the floor, too, like giant chunks of torn flesh. Left and right, meanwhile, passages receded into blackness.
Uncaring, Lumarous went deeper into the darkness and musty decay, the low ceiling pipes undoubtedly forcing him to stoop. Still, there was no going back now; the unknown beckoned with all its shadows and whispered promises.
Step by step, Lumarous inched further down the passageway. To his right, random electric cables trailed from the ceiling like the screaming nodes of some obscure torture apparatus. Up ahead, meanwhile, the passage fell away to yet darker, tighter places.
Like the buttresses of a decaying castle, squat brick pillars marked the corners of ominous new passageways. They led further into the labyrinthine gloom, their destination unknown, but like all good urban explorers Lumarous had to go on.
Nothing, however, sets the nerves on edge quite like a danger sign, and this was a doozy. Discreetly marked in red, it told him that this insulated cable carried a hair-raising 13,800 volts – enough of a jolt to wake the dead. Don’t touch, Lumarous. Just leave.
On the floor, though, the discarded pages of a 1937-printed newspaper evoked the ghosts of the past. Back then, it seems, The Boston Post published short stories, love poetry, and quaint cartoons about a character known as Modish Mitsi. Ah, what simple days they were.
Elsewhere in the basement, piles of convoluted pipes and rusted ribbons lay discarded in the dirt like the entrails of some disemboweled mechanical monster. Curious holes gaped darkly from the stone walls, far too small for a man – but more than large enough for cockroaches, rats and other ghastly critters.
On and on went the basement, a dungeon without end. In the ceiling above, for instance, the water pipes stayed their course deeper into the shadows and decay. Where did they go? And what else would Lumarous discover down there?
For one, an old lightbulb, caked in decades of dust. When Lumarous posted an image of it on reddit, some users wanted to know if it still worked. “It’s burned out,” he told them. “Just like my soul.” Never mind, Lumarous. A dark soul is always more fun than a light one.
Then, without warning, the path was blocked by a pile of planks spiked with rusty nails. “It seemed to go a lot further,” wrote Lumarous on Imgur. “Possibly under the whole complex, but there was some timber in the way.” Too bad; a return trip is now, of course, obligatory.
For now, though, it was time to retreat to the mundane world above. But what next for our intrepid explorer and his dad’s new workplace? “The office space is just a front now,” joked Lumarous on reddit. “The dungeon will be the real attraction.”
He did, however, manage to snag a few souvenirs during his subterranean adventure; just look at the teeth on those cogs. But “thou shall not steal” is a key tenet of urban exploration, and that means Lumarous will just have to return to the basement and put them back where he found them.
Mind you, the bulb does clean up nicely, and while it may not light, it’ll make hipsters green with envy. In the meantime, let’s hope that Lumarous got some artistic inspiration from his dungeon voyage – and that he’ll be returning soon with heavy-duty gloves to see what’s beyond that pile of timber.