Ye Who Enter Here

📅 Published on October 30, 2023

“Ye Who Enter Here”

Written by Micah Edwards
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: 7.00/10. From 3 votes.
Please wait...

“Ah, welcome!”

The man who stood at the open door was painfully suburban. His thick-rimmed glasses were slightly too large for his face, even with the wide grin he was currently sporting. His pastel polo shirt was tucked into the belted waistband of his cargo shorts. He was currently in his socks, but Carlos saw that the shoe rack next to the door contained two pairs of New Balance tennis shoes that appeared to be the right size. Carlos would have been surprised to have spotted any other brand.

“You must be Carlos, right? I’m Steven Nekoda. Come on in! We’re happy to have you here. Steve Junior’s gonna be psyched to meet you.”

“Yeah, good to meet you,” said Carlos, shifting his laptop bag in order to shake hands as he stepped inside. The front hallway was just as blandly suburban as Steven himself. Carlos felt like he was walking into an ad for a new subdivision aimed at early middle-aged couples with 2.3 children. “Is he actually going to be happy to see me, or is that just what you told me to get me out here? You can tell me the truth now. I’m already here, and I’m not going to bail at this point. I just want to know if I’m walking into a situation with a kid who wants to learn, or one who doesn’t.”

Steven let out a loud laugh. “So, you really have been doing this a long time! No, I was telling the truth. Steve Junior loves to learn. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to get him to stop reading. He’s just got an issue with staying focused on any one subject. His mother and I have found that getting him a tutor is really the best way to keep him on task. He’s an absolute sponge for information once something catches his attention.”

“Okay, that sounds great. It’s always good working with a kid who’s doing his best.”

“No question there! He definitely is.” Steven hesitated for a moment. “There is one thing that I, ah, sort of downplayed. Didn’t really bring up, in fact. Steve’s something of a, well, older student.”

“You said he was in high school. Was he held back?”

“No, it’s just that he’s not…high school aged. He’s been in something of a non-traditional schooling situation for a while. He’s, well, he’s in his twenties.”

“Huh. I’m only twenty-two myself. Is he going to be okay with having a teacher his same age?”

“Oh, definitely, that won’t be a problem! Steve’s had all sorts of teachers over the years. Older, young, women, men, whatever. I’ve just found that a lot of the tutors start to get weirded out by the idea of teaching someone their own age, or older. I hope you don’t hold it against me too much. It just makes it easier getting someone out here.”

“It’s fine. I hope there isn’t anything else you ‘didn’t really bring up?’”

Steven laughed again. “I promise you, no more surprises. And Kat’s going to bake you cookies to take home as an apology for the omission. She’s out getting the ingredients right now.”

“Well, that’s hardly necessary, but I certainly appreciate the gesture.”

“Okay, excellent. We’ll have the cookies waiting for you along with the check once you’re done.” There was a short pause, and then Steven added, “Ready to get started?”

He led the way down a well-lit hallway painted in an inoffensive shade of beige. It was decorated with a half-dozen pictures of the Nekoda family smiling in various photo studios across the years. Carlos noted that Steve Junior was no more than ten years old in the most recent one.

They turned the corner into a kitchen with formica countertops, brightly painted cabinets and a small wooden table placed in a breakfast nook. Wooden signs on the wall read “THE QUICKEST WAY TO A MAN’S HEART IS THROUGH HIS STOMACH” and “BLESS THIS MESS” in stylized fonts.

“Steve Junior’s just down here in the basement,” said Steven, reaching for a door that Carlos had initially assumed led to a pantry. As soon as he opened it, the heavy strains of metal music washed into the room. Steven winced.

“Sorry about that. We let him do pretty much as he likes down there. Steven! Turn it down! The tutor’s here!”

The volume did not change. Steven smiled apologetically.

“I’m sure he’ll turn it off once you’re down there. If you need anything, just let me know! Otherwise, I’ll leave you two alone.”

Carlos started into the basement, closing the door behind himself. He noticed that the back of the door bore a lengthy inscription in Italian, taking up most of the available space. It appeared to have been carefully hand-painted.

The stairway walls were covered in sound baffling and dotted with movie posters hung in thin white frames. The first one was Inception. The next was some 70s horror movie called Shivers, followed by a more recent one called Slither. Carlos wondered if they were connected, as the posters for both featured a horde of slugs approaching a woman in a bathtub. The next one down was Leprechaun, however, and the one after it was Doom. Carlos couldn’t spot any connection between them, nor any of the next four: Equilibrium, John Wick, The Sting and The Usual Suspects.

The ninth poster brought him to a small landing at the bottom of the stairs. The basement, most of which was a single large room, spread out to his right. The walls were painted a deep red and lined with shelves stacked with all manner of books, tools, collectibles and odd knick-knacks. The shelves were held up on brackets that looked like rib bones, especially against the bloody red of the wall.

A large table sat in the center of the room. An unmade bed was in the corner nearest to the stairs, while a desk bearing an elaborate computer setup sat against the far wall. An expensive gaming chair sat in front of the desk, facing away from the stairs.

The moment that Carlos entered the room, the thudding music cut off. The chair swiveled around to reveal a man dressed all in black, his thick fingers steepled before him. A patchy beard covered too much of his face. His hair was slicked back and greasy. He was definitely at least thirty years old.

“Well, well, well,” he said, smiling oddly at Carlos. “Welcome to MY LAIR!”

Carlos stood where he was, uncertain what to say. The man rose from the chair, his smile broadening into something much more natural. “Portal 2? No? Not a fan?”

“Sorry, I haven’t played the game,” said Carlos. “You’re Steven, I assume? Or Steve? I’m Carlos, your statistics tutor.”

“Call me Verbal,” said Steve Junior, looking annoyed. “Steven is my dad.”

“Okay, uh, Verbal. So, you want to tell me what part of stats you’re having trouble with? Are we just starting with the basics, or what?”

“First, I’ve gotta know: whose decorating job do you like better? Mine or my folks?”

“Well, you’ve certainly put a lot more personality into the space,” said Carlos. “Having the entire passage from the gates to Hell from Dante’s Inferno on the door certainly conveys a message.”

“You recognized it!” Steve Junior—Verbal—actually clapped his hands in delight. “Well done! Did you know the whole thing?”

“No, but seeing an Italian poem written on a door gave me some pretty good context, and that helped me recognize the last line.”

“Still. Not bad. Any chance you can name the nine circles?”

Carlos set his laptop bag down on the table and unzipped it. Steven had said that keeping his son on task was the hardest part. “I’m really here to talk about statistics.”

Verbal waved a hand dismissively. “We’ve got hours. Let’s get to know each other first. You can learn a bit about me, and then I’ll learn from you.”

Carlos raised an eyebrow. He knew a delaying tactic when he heard one.

Verbal offered him a pleading smile. “Come on, five minutes? One quick tour of the room, and then we’ll dig into distributions, confidence intervals and regression.”

“All right,” said Carlos. His job would be easier if he showed Verbal they were on the same side. “But I’m holding you to that five minutes.”

“I promise, we’ll be done within one standard deviation,” said Verbal.

It didn’t precisely make sense, but Carlos appreciated the effort to make an on-topic joke. It gave him confidence that the father had been right; Verbal did want to learn the topic, and just had difficulty focusing. If a brief diversion at the beginning would help him to get into the right mindset, that was easy enough to accommodate.

“Okay, give me the tour.”

“Well, it’s more of a self-guided thing. Look around! Ask me about anything here. I’ll tell you about any of it.”

Carlos cast his eye around the room. The first thing that caught his attention was a small framed picture of the moon with a sizable block of text superimposed over it. “What’s this?”

“That’s the Safire Memo!” Verbal’s face lit up. “Read the whole thing. It’s only a couple of hundred words. It’s the speech that was written in case the moon landing failed. I love it. It’s such a creepy look at what might have been. And the astronauts were still going to be alive if they had to read this one. Alive, and knowing that there was absolutely no way back to Earth. Can you imagine dying like that?”

“A bit morbid,” said Carlos.

“Every man dies,” said Verbal. “Not every man really lives.”

Braveheart,” said Carlos. “I recognized that one.”

“Nice work! Pick something else. We’ve still got four minutes left.”

“All right. What’s this weird double bug statue?” Carlos pointed to a figurine about the length of his finger. It depicted two bugs joined at the thorax, one head directly above the other. The lower bug was a translucent amber, while the upper one was green and black and opaque.

“Not a statue! That’s a cicada midway through molting. One of the 17-year brood. It took me weeks to catch one at the right moment. I painted it with a light resin to keep other bugs out. Flies will lay their eggs in just about anything they can get to.”

“Did you just prowl around in the forest until you found it?”

“I tried that at first, yeah. Eventually I realized I’d be better off just catching one of the nymphs and bringing it back to where I could watch it getting ready to molt. It still took a few tries, but it was a lot easier once I had it in a controlled, enclosed environment.”

“Makes sense.” Carlos wandered along the shelves until he found a small stack of what looked like baseball cards topped with a faded yellow checklist. “These?”

“That’s the complete original series of Garbage Pail Kids cards. They’re from before they started putting the puzzle pieces on the back. Every one of them has a permit for different bad behavior instead. A lot of them are about lying, but they did have to come up with forty-one different ones. Even Dante only managed nine. There’s bound to be some overlap.”

Carlos thumbed through the cards briefly. They looked like demented version of Cabbage Patch dolls, which he supposed they were a parody of. The backs were, as promised, jokey little certificates entitling the bearer to various socially unacceptable behaviors. A few had names filled in in childish handwriting. One of them said “Steven.” It occurred to Carlos that it had likely belonged to Steven Senior originally.

He moved on to the next item that caught his eye, a twisted white tree that looked to have been carved from rock. “What’s—”

Carlos’s question was cut off by a low, plaintive cry from behind him. He spun around, startled. Verbal had some sort of a thin trumpet to his mouth and was blowing into the end of it, producing the odd sound.

“What is that?” Carlos asked. The lacquered instrument was as long as his forearm. It tapered to a narrow mouthpiece at one end, while the other terminated in two bulges that looked suspiciously like the end of a femur.

“It’s my kangling,” Verbal said proudly. He blew it again briefly, producing another unearthly moan. “They’re made from human leg bones.”

“Okay, but that’s a replica, right?”

“Oh no. It’s very real,” said Verbal. He put the kangling to his lips and blew another long blast. The sound made the hairs on Carlos’s neck prickle. “I made it myself.”

He and Carlos stared at each other for a long moment before Verbal broke into a grin.

“Gotcha! I wouldn’t play a real kangling indoors. I was just pulling your leg!”

His smile widened. “Get it?”

He waved the bony trumpet at Carlos, who smiled weakly. “Yeah, I got it. Very funny.”

“Anyway, the five-minute tour is up. Just seemed like a fun way to let you know that,” said Verbal. “So, stats?”

“Uh, yeah. Stats.” Carlos attempted to regain his focus. The noise from the kangling had rattled him. The way the soundproofed walls had drunk up the sound only made it eerier. He felt like the long, pleading note was still around him, hiding. “Actually, do you mind if I hit the bathroom first?”

Verbal gestured toward a door over by the computer desk. “Be my guest.”

The state of the bathroom made it evident that of all the things that had ever caught Verbal’s interest, cleaning had not been among them. The sink was covered in soap scum, scattered beard hairs and small brown droplets of what Carlos hoped was mud. The shower in the corner was similarly uncleaned, and seemed to have mold the same color as the droplets in the sink creeping up every corner and edge. Carlos wondered if it was possible for a sink to be moldy. He was disinclined to scratch at the small flecks to find out. His finger already felt oily from flicking the light switch on.

Carlos had only asked for the bathroom in order to have a moment to collect himself. He was suddenly very glad that he had no need to use the toilet. It was closed, but the stains he could see along the edges of the bowl hinted at the horrors that might hide inside. Carlos was fairly sure that he would rather wet his pants than lift that lid.

The mirror was covered in dots of toothpaste, along with more of the rusty brown spots. The knobs for the sink were sticky to the touch. There was no apparent soap anywhere in the room. The hand towel was stained with filthy fingerprints. Carlos didn’t even consider touching the bath towel lying on the bathmat in front of the shower.

Eventually, he settled for rubbing his hands vigorously together under the running water, drying them off on a large wad of toilet paper, and then using that damp wad to turn the water back off. Another several squares were enough to cover the doorknob as he exited the horrific room. After using the same tissue to turn off the lights, Carlos attempted to surreptitiously toss it into the trash as he left to avoid offending his host.

Verbal’s back was to Carlos as he emerged from the bathroom.

“Have you ever heard Needle Prank?” Verbal asked.

“Is that a band?”

“Oh yeah, they’re the best. Absolute genius sludge metal. Check out It Goes in Pink. Not their most famous song, but probably their greatest work.”

Music suddenly blasted the room again, a dark and sonorous beat. Guitars shrieked through heavy distortion. Lyrics reluctantly crawled forth, though the actual words were largely lost in the sound.

“Now’s not really the time!” Carlos said, raising his voice to be heard over the din.

“No time like the present,” Verbal said. He turned to face Carlos. Inexplicably, he was holding a chainsaw. It was not running, but was menacing nonetheless. “A thousand unforeseen circumstances may interrupt you at a future time.”

The song still caterwauled around them. Verbal hefted the chainsaw, showing it off to Carlos. “Not that this is a thousand circumstances. Maybe sixty, if you count each tooth on the chain. Still, you get the point.”

Carlos put his hands up slightly and forced a smile.

“Okay, very funny. You got me.” He had to shout to be heard over the music, but at least it hid the quaver in his voice.

“Not just yet, I haven’t. But with a hundred and twenty volts just waiting for the activation of a single button?” Verbal grinned as he flicked one finger and the chainsaw roared instantly to life. “I absolutely will. All of these picture frames and shelf brackets and kanglings don’t just come from nowhere, you know.”

Carlos panicked, which was his undoing. If he had sprinted as soon as the chainsaw sprang into action, before Verbal had both hands gripping it, he might have made it past. He could have slid across the table or scuttled underneath. Either path would have taken him to the stairs, where he could have fled into the house. Verbal’s progress would have been slowed around the tight corner and narrow walls of the stairway. Carlos would have been able to make it outside, to the safety of manicured green lawns and swept-clean sidewalks and happy, nosy neighbors.

Instead, in that crucial first second, he froze. Verbal was already closing the distance by the time he convinced his legs to run, and by then his only place of escape was the bathroom. He ducked back inside, slamming the door, but the blade cut through the hollow core door like it wasn’t even there and slashed Carlos’s wrist as he attempted to lock the knob.

Carlos shrieked and retreated, looking frantically for an escape. The room offered none. There was only the advancing chainsaw, and shortly thereafter, a veritable geyser of blood.

Upstairs, Steven Senior watched the football game, the volume slightly higher than was normally necessary. He had turned it up as soon as the first strains of It Goes in Pink had made their way upstairs. The tutoring sessions always ended the same way. Once the music had hit that volume, it was only a matter of time before the screaming started. That had a way of carrying past any amount of soundproofing, and he just hated to hear it.

It was a shame about the tutors, of course. But after what Steve Junior had done to his mother, Steven Senior had understood the dangers of letting his son go unsated for too long.

Besides, it was good to encourage a boy’s hobbies. How else could he carve a place for himself in the world?

In the basement, the chainsaw snarled out an uptempo counterpoint to the wailing metal song. Upstairs, Steven cheered as his team scored a goal.

Outside, a dog cocked its head at the Nekoda house and pulled on its leash, straining toward the basement. Its owner, his headphones in, tugged impatiently back, pulling the dog away. After a moment, it reluctantly followed.

Later, while his son worked on his crafts, Steven drove the tutor’s car to a scrapyard to dispose of it. The HOA had rules against overnight street parking, after all.

Rating: 7.00/10. From 3 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Micah Edwards
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Micah Edwards:

Average Rating:


Average Rating:


The Hunger of Evota Falls
Average Rating:

The Hunger of Evota Falls

The Watchmaster
Average Rating:

The Watchmaster

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Another Fairy Tale
Average Rating:

Another Fairy Tale

The Parker Express
Average Rating:

The Parker Express

Room 404: Not Found
Average Rating:

Room 404: Not Found

Average Rating:


Recommended Reading:

The Age of Reckoning: Volume 1 (The World of Naeisus)
Wicked William: My Ouija, My Friend (Wicked WIliam Book 1)
Pages of Dust: Volume 3
Don't Scream 3: 30 More Tales to Terrify

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).

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pedro Bolas
Pedro Bolas
2 months ago

Total spic death

Skip to content