Never let you down: The Elevator Game

Do you like being trapped in a small space? How about in a small space in an unfriendly dimension? If so, this month’s post is for you! 

I’ve decided to try something experimental to teach you about the wonders of the Elevator Game–a try-at-your-own-risk, internet “ritual” that was born cerca 2008 and has seen an uptick in the past couple of years. 

The goal of the game is to get to another dimension, and then (of course) to get home. All you need to play is:

  1. Yourself (you must play alone),
  2. A 10+ story building with an elevator that services at least 10 floors, and
  3. To follow the “rules” of the game. These include pressing the floor numbers in a specific sequence, among other things.

Let’s play here live. Instead of reading this post in order, press the button at the end of each section to travel to the next floor in the sequence. 

As we go, we’ll discuss what you can expect to happen, and outline any of those other pesky “rules” that might be helpful for staying alive.

Sound good? Scroll down to start on the first floor.

Floor 1

Here we are! You can start the Elevator Game at any time of the day, but you must start the game on the first floor. You must only call the elevator using the “up” button. And, to reiterate, you must be alone. 

Before you step in, take a long moment to familiarize yourself with the lobby around you. How many lights does it have? What is the exact pattern along its walls? What does it smell like? How do shoes sound scuffed against its floors? It will be important that you remember every detail later. Maybe life-or-death important. 

Now, let’s step inside. Once you’re in, do not get off the elevator at any point until we reach our destination or until you return safely to this lobby. Got it?

Going up!

Floor 1

Back at the lobby at last! Thank god. Only…are you sure it’s your lobby? Take a look around. Take a listen around. A smell around. Is anything…off? No? Are you sure? 

Remember how I told you to pay attention when you got on? Just because you’ve exited the ritual doesn’t mean that you’re back where you belong. So…are you sure? Because once you step off the elevator, that’s it. 

If you’re not sure, you’re going to need to start the ritual all over again, completing the sequence again and again until you are.

Also–you’re still remembering not to acknowledge the woman, right? Even though she’s getting a little closer?

Floor 2

A few fun elevator music facts:

  • “Muzak” is an official brand name, not unlike Kleenex or Chapstick
  • 7-Eleven weaponized it in the early 90’s to deter teenagers from loitering around their stores
  • The tunes are deliberately calibrated to hack into your brain and manipulate your emotions. Its inventors found it especially helpful, for example, to lull people into a sense of docility as they hurtle hundreds of feet through the air in a small metal box. 

Going up!

Floor 2

At this point, you may hear someone scream your name. Not to worry. It’s time to go to floor 10, our ultimate destination, for the first time. We’re not in the other world quite yet, but I assure you: we’re close.

Floor 3

Good choice. Though that woman’s laughter is going to stick with you for a long time, isn’t it? 

Hit 1 to go to the first floor and get the sweet hell out of here. What’s that? It’s not working? Hit it again. Again!!

Floor 4

Enjoy the elevator ride and this little box you’re trapped in. Claustrophobia impacts about 12.5% of adults at some point; fortunately, it doesn’t impact you. You don’t mind that you can’t stretch your arms out without hitting either wall. Nor that if this box was airtight, you’d run out of oxygen in less than 2 days

Also: You’re still alone, right? You have to be alone this entire time, until the moment when you’re not.

Going down!

Floor 5

When the doors open on 5, a woman might get on. 

If she does, do not look at, speak to, or acknowledge her in any way. Even if she looks like someone you know. Especially if she looks like someone you know.

She may try to get you to break the rules. She’ll say that there’s been an accident and ask for your help. Or she might scream obscenities into your ear. Or she might simply stand in silence, staring until the urge to look at her becomes almost unbearable. 

Don’t do it. Do not so much as glance at her feet

Now is the moment of truth. You’re going to press floor 1. Only, if the ritual has worked, the elevator isn’t going to go to floor 1. It’s going to floor 10. 

She’s watching you. Press the button.

Floor 6

Did you know that incidents involving elevators and escalators kill about 30 and seriously injure about 17,000 people in the U.S. each year? Elevators specifically cause almost 90% of the deaths and 60% of the injuries. 

Passenger elevator deaths were categorized as follows:

  • Falls (60%)
  • Caught in/between (21%)
  • Other (19%)

“Other,” you say? “Other” meaning what?

Going down!

Going up…

Can you feel your stomach jump? It’s working! Are you really sure you want to do this, though? I haven’t mentioned yet what’s on floor 10. 

If you hit any button other than 1 or 10 before you reach the 9th floor, you can still back out. In fact, I will go so far as to recommend that you back out, since the other thing I haven’t mentioned is that it’s a little unclear if you can ever really come back after visiting floor 10. 

We’re passing 8 now…what’s it going to be?

Floor 10

You will see floor 10 now as it is in our world: ordinary enough. Maybe a little quieter than you would like it. And your blood might be pumping a little faster now, because we’re about to get to the part of the game that people really, really don’t like.


(Floor 10)

The elevator doors slide open into darkness. The 10th floor is completely deserted. Other than that and the fact that all the lights are off, it looks almost normal. 

Well, you’ve gotten this far, haven’t you? Why don’t you get off?

“Where are you going?” asks the woman. Or maybe she shrieks as your feet cross the threshold. She’s prone to do either–she’s wily that way. You’ve remembered not to jump and look at her right? Even though it’s just you and her here, alone in the dark?

That loneliness is a sign that you’ve made it. This other world is many things, but it’s not populated. As you move down the hall past tightly shut doors, you realize that your cell phone and watch are no longer working. That’s too bad, because at this point, you are really craving some light. 

Hold on–there’s light there, coming through the window. It’s red–a searing red, but not a red that’s warm. It’s–well, it’s coming from a cross. A blazing red cross, glowing way off in the distance.

Except wait: There’s a red cross down the hall now, too, bright in the black. Or was that where you saw it originally? Has it been there all along? It’s closer than the other one. A lot closer.

What’s that? You want to go home? Well, better get back to the elevator, then. Only…which elevator was it? It’s important that you take the same one. Do you remember the one that you took? I can see you’re a little dizzy. Maybe a lot dizzy. Well, hurry back. You’re going to have to execute the ritual in reverse, if you ever want to get home. The hall is tilting merrily, but I’m sure you’ll find the elevator before you pass out. 

(Don’t pass out, by the way. If you do, you’ll never get home.) 

See you’re back in the elevator now! Well, an elevator. The woman is there waiting for you, but I get the feeling that she might be waiting in every elevator, don’t you? I think she might be smiling. But don’t look! Execute the ritual in reverse now, go on. 

What’s that? You don’t remember the numbers? I didn’t tell you to write them down? Oh. Sorry about that. I know the room is spinning and all, and there’s a pretty heavy ringing in your ears, but I’m sure you can figure it out. Go on. Press the right button, just as soon as it holds still. 

Home at last!

Only–are you? You were supposed to move laterally, not upward, right? Oh, well. I’m sure it’s no big deal. When you go to sleep tonight, I’m sure you’ll wake up in your own bed, and not in the hallway on the 10th floor. 

Maybe I should have given you more detailed instructions for this game right from the top. Or been a little more clear that people who have played this game often don’t end up in the greatest of places, even if they seem to have made it out. 

You see, even if you think you’ve played the game right, if you break a single rule, you’ll end up in a world that seems like yours, but is not. A world that will turn on you by degrees. Many report a feeling of being followed, of seeing and hearing strange sounds, of developing a slow, uncontrollable shake. And if they’ve gone and looked at the lady from 5–whew. God help them. They’ll continue to look at her for the rest of whatever remains of their lives. They’ll spot her in a busy crowd. On their street. Outside their window. 

But that’s not you. You followed all the instructions to a T; you never looked at or acknowledged that woman with the brown hair and polka dot dress and blue eyes that struck you right in your guts, and, if you visited the 10th floor, you flawlessly executed the trip in reverse (1-6-5-10-2-4-1. Or was it 1-4-2-5-10-6-1? 1-5-10-4-6-2-1?). Right? 


What do you think–was it worth it? Or next time, are you taking the stairs? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

IMAGE CRED: Derrick Treadwell of Unsplash. Thank you very much!

Fantasy man: the Rake

The internet, as we well know, is whack. It offers an unimaginable amount of information, and also an unimaginable amount of B.S. I’m going to be straight with you from the start: the Rake is total B.S. We know where the legend came from. We’re able to track its growth. But like so many monster myths, though the Rake started out simply enough, he’s taken on a life of his own.

The Rake: an origin story

We can thank the folks over at 4chan for the Rake’s existence. Back in 2005, they decided to create a new urban legend. After toying with it under the name “Operation Crawler,” they landed on something similar to the Rake the internet knows and loves today: 

The creator of the Rake, probably.

“Here’s what we’ve got so far: Humanoid, about six feet tall when standing, but usually crouches and walks on all fours. It has very pale skin. The face is blank. As in, no nose, no mouth. However, it has three solid green eyes, one in the middle of its forehead, and the other two on either side of its head, towards the back. Usually seen in front yards in suburban areas. Usually just watches the observer, but will stand up and attack if approached. When it attacks, a mouth opens up, as if a hinged skull that opens at the chin. Reveals many tiny, but dull teeth.”

As Rake stories developed and got passed around, the subconscious of the internet whittled him into something more elegant: a pale, hairless, naked man (sans genitals, because I guess that would be a little distracting from the terror) with pits for eyes and long, sharp fingers. Those fingers–which cut his victims open–are how the Rake got his name (alas, he is not secretly a cocky womanizer). 

The Rake went from 4chan to LiveJournal and then back again, his legend taking on the form of a standard story, complete with epistemological mini-stories nested within. The story opens in the summer of 2003, with local news stations in upstate New York reporting sightings of a “strange, human-like creature” before an apparent media blackout. People involved in the sightings banned together to try to find answers. Together, they accumulated a group of documents spanning back to the 17th century that detail encounters with the Rake. 

There is a suicide note from 1964, a mariner’s log from 1691, a (somewhat repetitive) translated Spanish journal entry from 1880:

“I have experienced the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I see his eyes when I close mine. They are hollow. Black. They saw me and pierced me. His wet hand. I will not sleep. His voice (unintelligible text).”

The coup de grace is an account from 2006. In it, a woman describes waking up in the middle of the night. Sure that her husband has gotten out of bed to go to the bathroom, she tries to steal the sheets, only to find out that he is still next to her:  

“When he turned to face me, he gasped and pulled his feet up from the end of the bed so quickly his knee almost knocked me out of the bed. He then grabbed me and said nothing.

After adjusting to the dark for a half second, I was able to see what caused the strange reaction. At the foot of the bed, sitting and facing away from us, there was what appeared to be a naked man, or a large hairless dog of some sort. Its body position was disturbing and unnatural, as if it had been hit by a car or something.”

The Rake looks at them, and then scrambles over, peering closely into the husband’s face. Neither of them dare move. Then the Rake dashes down the hall toward the childrens’ room. The woman screams and hurries to follow, but is too slow. By the time she gets there, her daughter is covered in blood, and the Rake is gone. Her husband frantically rushes their daughter to the hospital, but loses control of his car on the way and ends up in a lake, killing them both.

Obsessed over whether the Rake has visited again or not, the woman sets up a digital recorder near her bed. After weeks of nothing, she finally catches the Rake’s voice, shrill and high-pitched. With horror, she realizes that she’s heard it before, that he had said something to them that night, though she didn’t register it at the time. She can’t bring herself to listen to the recording, to find out what he might be saying now. She lives in terror of waking to find his face in hers. 

Son of a Rake

The Rake stories hit a nerve and started to spread. A Rake-themed Tumblr account was created in December 2010, and then the story moved onto into the big leagues: CreepyPasta and Unexplained Mysteries. Youtube “sightings” and doctored photographs exploded over the internet. New theories began to emerge: the Rake is a proxy of Slenderman. The authorities know about the Rake, and have attempted (and apparently failed) to flush him out of the woods

The Rake monster
A (not great quality) image of the image you will always see when you look up the Rake.

There was even a detailed explanation of how the Rake reproduces, which involves french kissing, a pupua launching down the human’s throat, and a full-grown Rake bursting forth some months later (the author notes that this is “scientifically no stranger than seeing the presence of horse hair parasites living inside a praying mantis by placing it in water,” but offers no explanation of how they might have come upon this information). 

In short, the Rake was lit. But as soon as he became lit, something strange started to happen: people came forward with very Rake-like stories that predated the original 4chan monstrosity. This new “Rake” was just a name to them, a convenient way to categorize the disturbing things they had seen. From someone on r/Humanoidencounters, who claims they didn’t hear about the Rake Creepypasta until 2016:

“[I] woke up at 3 am to the feeling of something watching me. I felt extremely uneasy. I rolled over to look around the room and my eyes locked onto something standing beside my mom. It was extremely tall but looked as if it had a broken back and couldn’t stand up completely. It was slouched over and had extremely pale skin and bones sticking out under the skin everywhere due to how skinny it was. It had long claws hanging from both hands. It’s face was sunken in and eyes were completely black holes. A few greasy hairs were visible on its head. It had no clothes but also no genitals or nipples.

I was HORRIFIED. I rolled over and covered myself up head to toe with the cover. I refused to move or look out the rest of the night even though I was fully awake. Eventually, my mom finally woke up that morning. She immediately started complaining of her side hurting. She raised her shirt to look and found huge claw marks down her side. It was three deep wounds which were extremely inflamed and still bleeding. I felt horrible knowing that thing did that to her while I lay beside her hidden.

A couple months later I saw the creature again. Although, not as horrible as the first experience. I was woken up to the creature slouched on the floor on my side of the bed. It was watching me sleep. I covered myself up again immediately but this time got the courage to peek out and found it still looking at me. I’m not sure when it went away because I didn’t dare look again.”

And from someone on the Rake Tumblr:

“It was around 4:09 at night and I woke up from hearing scratching noises outside I was so scared but I got up and looked out the window the sun was starting to come up and birds were starting to chirp and all that. So I closed my window and pulled down the curtains. Just as I was turning around I see this naked man that was a very pale grey with huge hands and very long claws it sounded like it was weeping and then I stepped on a broken floorboard and it creeked and the thing slowly turned its head and what I saw has scarred me for life. Its eyes we’re pure white and had a bright glare to them and it’s teeth we’re very long I quickly turned around and about 5 mins of pure silence I got the guts to grab a baseball bat that was next to me and beat the crap out of it until it died but when I turned around all prepared to smack it in the head with my weapon it was gone. I was shocked and I dropped the bat and ran to my bed and buried my face into my pillow crying my eyes out because I could not believe what I just saw.”

Suddenly, the line between the fiction of the Rake and real, off-Photoshop encounters blurred. The Rake, born of 4chan, had become something bigger.  

The Rake returns

So what are we to make of all of this, if these pre-4chan Rake witnesses swear up and down that their accounts are true? This is the internet, and as we know, no one ever lies on the internet. 

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

The Rake could be explained away by science. Many accounts involve someone waking up in the middle of the night and seeing something standing over them. This might make the bulk of “real” Rake sightings easy to dismiss as colorful episodes of sleep paralysis. Factor in errant camera fluff for those non-bedtime encounters, and we’re all squared away. As I mentioned above, there is something nicely primal about the Rake. Any of us might imagine up a monster like that on our own.

Or, even more scientifically, there could really be a naked dude with eye bags, scoliosis, and acrylic nails going around to stand over people’s beds. It would be easy to confuse that dude and the Rake; anyone could be forgiven for mixing them up. Someone should really get on straightening that out. Surely it would put everyone’s mind at ease.

Who would win in a rap battle: the Rake or the dastardly rake Lord Byron? Share your opinions in the comments below.  

IMAGE CRED: B_A / CC0 for the very convincing hacker, terrapin227 for the Rake; and Don LaVange for the rake.

And you’re not going to reach my telephone: Satoru-Kun

If you know anything about millennial stereotypes, you know we hate talking on the phone. Nothing spikes anxiety like the implication of someone’s choice to call rather than text. Fortunately, internet spawn Satoru-Kun has saved my generation face: thanks to him, breaking out into a cold sweat when your phone starts to buzz may no longer be an overreaction.

Satoru-Kun is one of those CreepyPasta-esque urban legends whose origin is unclear. Sources put his “birth” sometime around 2011. Supposedly he’s Japanese, though a Google search reveals that most of the content about him is in English, Spanish, or Portuguese, so do with that what you will. He’s not Slenderman-famous, but he’s well known enough to have a piece of fan art or two, as well as to be featured by a few blogs and several Youtubers–my primary source material for this post.

Youtube for Saturo-Kun
Thank you kindly for the perfect image for this post, Maurits Knook of Flickr.

In brief, Satoru (whose name means “to know” or “understand) is a ghost and/or demon who looks like a 8-year-old boy but houses such a repository of knowledge that he can answer any question about the past, present, or future. Ostensibly that’s why people risk calling him: to get the answer to a burning question. But because Satoru-kun is a creature of the internet, let’s be real: people are calling him for with the hope that his arrival will get them views or likes.

Most content about Satoru borrows from these instructions, which detail how to summon him. The ceremony seems relatively simple, and requires only a cell phone (if you’re smart, you’ll make it a burner), a payphone, and any necessary change to operate it. But if Youtube has taught me anything, it’s that simple in theory does not mean simple in practice.

Payphone for Saturo-Kun
On second thought, you might want to include a fourth requirement: hand sanitizer. (Photo courtesy of By Paul Sableman over at Wikimedia Commons.)

First, you approach the payphone. This task alone baffled several Youtubers, especially American Youtubers. (To quote one that provides a lengthy explanation of what a payphone is and why they have passed out of favor: “Like, finding a pay phone is nearly impossible, guys.”) It does not matter what time you approach said payphone, but if you are a Youtuber asking viewers to “smash the like button,” it might serve you to do it at night for the best effect.

Next, insert the requisite coins into the payphone. (This, too, proved difficult for for a couple intrepid Youtubers, but I digress.) Tradition says it should be 10 yen, but depending on what country you’re in, yen may not get the result you’re looking for. It should be coins, though, and not a calling card.

Now, dial the number of the cell phone you have reserved for this task. Once you have answered your own call, speak into the echoing abyss:

“Satoru-kun, Satoru-kun, please come here. Satoru, Satoru, please show yourself. Satoru, Satoru, please answer me if you are there.”

Once that is done, you hang up and then turn off your cell phone. For many, this was a more harrowing trial than the prospect of facing a ghost.

Now the fun begins: within 24 hours, if you have done everything correctly, Satoru will call you back, even though your phone is off. He will whisper his whereabouts and hang up. A short while later, he will call you again, only this time he will be closer.

And then again, closer.

The process repeats until he is in your building, then down the hall, and then, at last, right behind you.

Let us be clear: there is no room for tomfoolery here. You do not hesitate, you do not turn around, and by god (do people really have to be told this?), you do not touch him. You ask your question quickly, listen to his answer, and then stay the hell put until you are 150% sure that he is gone. Do that, and you will survive as a wiser person; you can destroy your phone and move on with your life. Fail, and he’ll take you home with him, and by “home” I mean the burning bowels of hell.

Shockingly, Saturo did not show up for any Youtubers I watched.* One (who called using his brand new I-phone…apparently he wasn’t on the up-and-up so far as the “destroy your phone after it is done” part goes) did receive a call while his phone was off. It showed up in his call history as a series of red zeros with a call origin of…wait for it…Canada. There was some excitement over this mystery in the comments, though a few pointed out that red numbers simply mean that you missed a call. I did some Googling and found that a number of people have received calls from 0000000000, and when they’ve picked up have gotten everything from total silence to the Republican National Committee. So not sure if we can call that one a success.

Regardless, the concept of Saturo-Kun is a fun one. The next time I can’t decide what to have for lunch, I might just give him a ring.

What sort of mystery caller would get you to pick up the phone? Or is that a line that you would never cross, even when faced with death? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

*One commenter wondered if that might be because they were summoning Saturo in the wrong language. That might be. It might also be because several were aggressively mispronouncing his name.