Crocodile House

📅 Published on October 16, 2021

“Crocodile House”

Written by Darkly_Gathers
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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The Crocodile House stands alone in the scrubland; old, abandoned and overgrown.  And I use the term ‘stands’ in the loosest possible sense.  It must have been a grand place, once, but the building is now a dilapidated wreck.

The council put some fences up around it a while back, but some kids brought the fence down, the committee never bothered to put it back up, and now it lays uselessly on the ground, covered mainly by creeping dry grass and weeds.

Emma turns to look at me, and she grins.

“You ready to go inside?”

I say nothing.

I’ve been into the Crocodile House before.  But only as a part of a large group, and never this late in the day.

I glance to the horizon.  The sun hovers low and red and shimmering above the far hills.

“Come on, Will, don’t be a puss,” Emma teases.

I force a laugh.  “Fine.  Ladies first, then,” and I gesture her onwards.

She flashes me another smile, steps from the road and onto the scrub-bush, walking around the edge of the fence perimeter to the fallen section.  She steps up and onto it with a dull metal clank and looks back to see if I’m going to follow.

I do, of course.

She’s a lady, after all.

She waits until I am alongside her, then we walk the length of the front ‘lawn’ together, though there’s little if anything actually ‘lawn-like’ about it anymore.  Dead, dry brown grass and overgrown thickets of ferns and weeds cover the path.  Strange, prickly purple flowers brush warningly against my legs as we push towards the front door.

Emma grabs the handle and opens it up with a creak, and I’m half-expecting the entire house to collapse as she does so.

It doesn’t, thankfully, and we step inside.

The windows have grimed over, and the only light comes through gaps and holes in the walls and ceiling as narrow, glowing beams; beams filled with floating specks of dust and cast through our lines of sight.

We walk through them and look around.

It’s much the same in appearance as it was the last time I was here.  A little more graffiti, maybe.

The stairs to the upper floor have broken and collapsed away, along with much of the upper floor itself.  The walls are cracked and chipped, and the floorboards are buried beneath thick layers of heavy dust.  Our surroundings are a picture of disarray and destruction.

The halls and rooms were largely cleared of furniture, except for a few broken old shelves and cupboards.  Our footsteps echo around the house.

I come to a stop, standing at the doorway to a long and shadowed room.  Emma leaves my side to check out a nearby corridor, and I listen to her creaking footsteps against the floor as I look down the length of the room.

A painting hangs at the far end, smeared in grime but still quite clear.

I’ve seen it before, but compulsion bids me go for another close look.

I tap on my phone’s flashlight and walk between the room’s narrow walls, wondering what such a room would’ve been used for in its prime.

I come to a stop at the far end and raise the flashlight.

The painting depicts a family of four, and their faces all blurred into formless spirals.

This is a feature of the painting, I should add.  Aside from dust and grime, the picture itself remains largely un-vandalized.

By my guess, the family is sitting together on a couch in a relatively modern room—80s or 90s era-décor.

The wall behind this couch is streaked with blood, and the open doorway to their right reveals a large and low shadowy shape creeping through the corridor.

It is the lower half of a crocodile, surely.  It could be nothing else.

“Creepy…” murmurs a voice in my ear, and I shout out in alarm.

Emma laughs to herself as she enjoys my reaction, then turns to look up at the painting.

“What kind of people used to live here, do you think?”  I try to settle my nerves and turn away so that she doesn’t see my red face.  “Freaks, probably.  If they were into stuff like this,” I reply.

“You think this is weird?”  she asks me, eyes glinting as she looks directly at me.  “You ain’t seen nothing.  Do you want to know why they call this the Crocodile House?”

“It’s because of the paintings, right?  It must be.”  She shakes her head and grabs my hand.  “Nope.  Wait till you see what I have to show you.”  She starts to drag me back through the room.  I allow myself one more glance over my shoulder at the disturbing painting, watching it grow smaller and smaller as I am led away and eventually through the door and around the corner.

She leads me to a part of the house I have never been to before, into a room that ends in a set of dark, descending stairs down into the dusty gloom below.

I hesitate, and we come to a stop.

“Emma, look, I’m not sure about this.  It’s probably not…you know, not safe down there.”

“I’ve been down loads of times.  Come on, don’t you wanna go down with me?” she asks, gently squeezing and stroking my hand as she speaks.

Ugh.  I’m only human, so, yeah, naturally, I’m gonna go down.

“Fine,” I reply.  “But if I die, I’m coming back as a ghost to haunt you.”

“Fine by me!” she chirps, and she leads me to the top of the stairs, turning her flashlight on too.

We shine them down into the dark.

“It’s a little lighter at the bottom.  There’s a ceiling window,” she says, but she’s quieter now.

We begin our descent.

The stairs creak, and the air becomes thicker with every step.  We creep down into the depths of the house.

We reach the bottom and round a corner of fallen beams and rotted wood.  My heart beats fast, and I’m a little worried that Emma can feel it in my pulse through my hand.  I’m half-expecting some horror to appear from out of some dark corner at any second.

But we remain undisturbed.

Down another long hall, and at the end of it, sure enough, is a little murky light, shining red through the long and thin window around the top of the room.  It’ll be right at the level of the grass outside, I should think.

And we haven’t even reached the bottom.

There’s another set of stairs in here, this time in the room’s very center, and made of grim iron.

They lead down through a hole in the floor.  Right in the middle of the floor, the design is bizarre as hell.

A crude crocodile was sketched on the wall in white and green chalk.  However, aside from this scrawling, the room is empty.

“One more to go,”  Emma whispers, and while I’m sure she didn’t mean it, the way she speaks gives me the chills.

So down we go.  Our feet clanged against the metal as we descended the stairs to yet another room – deeper still.

I let go of Emma’s hand so I could grip the rail.  The stairs are narrow, and they spiral around and around.  I lift my gaze from the steps, and my eyes adjust to the dim red light.

“What the fuck!”  I shout suddenly in alarm, stumbling where I stand.  I raise my phone, and the flashlight illuminates slightly clearer the focus of my attention.  Down there at the very bottom.

Emma laughs.  “Chill!  This is what I wanted to show you.  This is the real reason this place is called the ‘Crocodile House.’”

She continues her descent, feet loud on the metal.  I stare for a moment longer, open-mouthed, and my senses heightened before I continue.

What the fuck kind of place is this…?

I follow her down and step finally onto the lowermost floor.

This room is pretty wide, much wider than the one above it, at least.

This seems, bizarrely, to be the best-preserved room in the entire house.  The wallpaper is peeled with clusters of black mold.  But it remains mostly intact.  It’s a rusty reddish-brown and is covered by old maps, some in chipped and cracked glass frames.  Some simply tacked into the plaster.  These are curled and torn.

The maps are of Africa, regions of Australia, and places I do not recognize.  One of the walls is covered in shelves, with most of them still standing.  Stacked full of thick and ancient books… one of these shelves has a collection of taxidermied birds perched across the top.  A couple of hawks, and what I think is a toucan.  They stare at us, silent and judging.

There is another painting hung on the wall, in the same style as the one upstairs.  This one depicts the silhouette of a crocodile swimming beneath a group of faceless families in a public pool.

Who would paint something like that?

Who would buy it and hang it on a wall?

The painting and the birds…it’s all unsettling as fuck.

But they pale in comparison to the room’s centerpiece, the thing that caught my attention on the stairs.  Directly ahead, at the far side of the room, is an enormous water feature.

At least, it could have been a water feature, once.  Now it’s just a silent and stagnant pool, filled to the brim with murky green scum-water.

It’s about seven, maybe seven and a half feet across, but I have no idea how long it is.  It leads away, straight ahead, through an arched tunnel in the wall and into the far distance in the dark.

But this pool – this thing, whatever it is – it’s filled with terrifyingly lifelike statues of crocodiles.  They could be genuine, for all I know.  Still, some have their jaws open and heads above the water.  Some have their upper bodies slightly raised, using their claws: frozen in place as they clamber over one of their brothers.  The shadowy shapes of some of the reptile statues are visible just below the surface.  I do not know how deep the water goes, nor do I know how many there might be.  And statues they must be, I’m sure of it; if they were taxidermied like the birds, then surely by now they would have rotted away.

A flash of my phone reveals the disturbing crocodile replicas go as far back as I can see, far down into the tunnel.  So there could well be hundreds, for all I know.

Hundreds of silent, frozen reptiles.  Glassy eyes, ever-staring.


“Jesus, Emma…what the hell is this place?” I murmur.

“Isn’t it cool?”  she whispers back, walking right up to the edge of the pool and crouching down until she is eye level with one of the crocodiles.  She lightly taps its eye, a motion that makes me cringe.

“This is weird as fuck.  This whole house is whack.”  I tear my gaze from the unsettling pool and its silent inhabitants and start to walk the edge of the room, looking up at the shelves, the books and the maps.  “Who would build a room like this…”  I look back over my shoulder to the crocodiles clustered together, filling the murky pool, all life-size.  Massive.  Larger than you would think, probably.

I craned my neck to look up at the stuffed birds.

Shadowed and coated in dust, they watch over the room with a cold and uncertain menace, and despite the evening’s warmth, I shiver.

There’s something wrong here.

I can feel something, something impending.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  Like the beat of a silent drum, I can feel an approach.

But I don’t want Emma to think I’m a pussy.  So I just keep circling the room.

There are no doors, I realize, way later than I should have done.  The crocodiles occupied my mind, I guess.  There are no ways in or out aside from their tunnel into the gloom and the iron staircase.

I raise my phone, and the flashlight lands on a message carved into the wall.  Carefully carved, I should add.  This doesn’t look like any impromptu graffiti to me.

It’s written in large letters and reads as follows:

‘If again you read this message, then weep.  For the protector of this place has long since departed.

I suddenly become aware of my own breathing.

There’s that drum again.

It’s like I can feel it pounding through the floor.  I imagine it, I know it, but it sounds like the march of something dreadful—some nightmare.

Beneath the message is another, though a little smaller and covered in a layer of grime.  I swallow and use my sleeve to wipe it away.  It reads:

‘Tears for the crocodiles.’

* * * * * *

I decided that I’d had enough of this place.  I turn around to Emma and call her across the room.  “Hey, Emma!  I’m done with this.  This is freaky as hell, and it could be dangerous.  Let’s just –”

Let’s just go back, I mean to say, but the words catch in my throat.

From my position on the opposite side of the room, I’m staring right at Emma.

Nothing obscures my view.

The iron staircase that we descended, the one in the middle of the room, has vanished.

I sprint to the center of the room and look up.

The hole in the ceiling remains, but the staircase-the staircase has gone.

Fuck.  Oh, Christ.  Oh no, no, no-no.

“Emma,” I murmur, but she doesn’t respond.  She has gone deathly pale and slowly retreats from the crocodile pool until she is next to me in the middle of the room.

“What the hell is happening?” she whispers, but of course, I cannot answer.

The sound of a shrill squawk bids us both jump in fright and turn to look up to the top of the nearest row of shelves.  To my utter horror and disbelief, I see that the birds – the taxidermied birds – have decided that they’ve served their time down here in this room.  Feathers shed from their bodies as they stretch their wings, and one by one, they step out over the edge, wings flapping as they rise up and out through the hole in the ceiling.

One of the feathers drifts slowly and steadily down through the air and lands right by our feet.

It’s around here where we start to panic.

I look from the birds to the statues of the crocodiles.

“DON’T YOU DARE!”  I shout at them, raising a shaking hand in futile warning.  “DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE!”

My heart is a hammer in my chest now.  This is fucked.  What the hell are we going to do?  “Emma, is there anything you’re not telling me?”  I ask her, my voice wavering.  For now, the crocodiles remain in place.  But the water in which they reside has begun to bubble with the murk of throbs and ripples.  To our terror, it starts to rise, overflowing the pool’s borders and spilling out into the room and over the floor.


“I don’t know!  I don’t know!  This – I’ve never seen this happen before!  This doesn’t make any sense…the stairs…”  She looks up to the hole in the ceiling.  “Maybe we can use the shelves?  Use them to climb back out?”

I don’t think they’re going to be tall enough, but it’s worth a try.

The room has begun to steadily fill with water.

And the crocodiles watch through their cold and unblinking eyes.

We splash through the green and murky water, struggling with the smallest of the shelves.  It’s a start.  But even this is too heavy.  We knock the books from their perches and into the water.  We struggle with our movements.

“Come on… come on…” I mutter, but with no time to coordinate, we end up pulling with force simultaneously, and the entire apparatus tips sideways and crashes down to the floor.

Or to the water, I should say.  It’s up to our knees already.


“Will, what are we going to do?!”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know!  Just don’t panic!”

This is what I get for being a simp.

Our efforts are worthless.  There is no way out.

The water rises.

And there is no way out.

The water rises to our waists now.  I watch in terror as the last of the crocodiles disappears beneath the water’s surface.

There’s no way to move anything now.  The water is too deep.

I hold one of the shelves steady as Emma tries to climb, but it’s just too narrow, and she makes little progress before stumbling and falling back into the murk with a splash.

The entire room is a watery wreck now.  And we are forced to swim to keep ourselves above the surface.  My feet no longer touch the bottom, and the terrible, sickening sensation that we could be surrounded at this very moment plays havoc with my emotions.  Surrounded by impossible and blood-thirsty reptiles, shadows in the water, ready to drag us down to the depths at any second.

Any second.

I splutter and spit, grimacing with the moss-like taste.  I glance to my right as the water level reaches the base of the painting—the painting of the families in the public pool, with a crocodile swimming beneath them.


The picture has changed, and the painted crocodile has vanished.

“WILL!”  Emma screams, and I grab her hand through the water.

“It’s okay!  It’s okay.  We’re going to be carried up to the ceiling.  We’re going to be okay!”

And sure enough, we rise.  We rise, but slowly.  The water, which at first seemed to flow and rise with frustrating speed, now barely trickled.  Time slows as we push out our arms and kick our legs to keep afloat, doing our best not to think of what could well be swimming right now beneath us.

Reptilian shadows, all around.

Do I feel something cold scrape against my leg, or do I imagine it?

What would I do if Emma suddenly disappeared from sight?  If, with a final scream, she was dragged down into the murk below?

Would I try to go after her?

The hole approaches, and with a grunt of exertion, I throw up an arm, then another, and haul my soaking body up onto the hardwood floor of the room above.  Emma screams my name, and I roll onto my front, grabbing her by the wrist to drag her up and out of the water.

Together we run through the basement and around the dusty corridors, back up the shadowy stairs and through the house.  Finally, we’re out and into the overgrown front lawn, panting and gasping, just as the sun completes its set behind the hills on the horizon.

* * * * * *

No one believes our story, of course.

Kids have been back there since to test it out, but any rising water does not challenge them.  There isn’t even any water damage, and no one finds themselves trapped by any disappearing stairs.

There is one thing, though.

The crocodile statues have vanished.

And whether this is good or bad, I could not say.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Darkly_Gathers
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Darkly_Gathers

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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