13 Secret Rooms, Rumoured to be Located in the Basement

1. Impossible to see anything in here, thanks to the total absence of light. Torches don’t work in this room. No one knows how big it is.

2. It looks as if it used to be a bathroom. Tiled floor and walls, copper pipes, damp-stained ceiling. But there’s no bath, sink or toilet.

3. Little voices, quiet, soft as the down on your arm. Little whispers, words too faint to discern. You sink into a mildewed sofa.

4. Not so much a room as a closet. Not so much a closet as a box. Not so much a box…

5. Cabinets, vitrines. The fluorescent tubes don’t work any more. Case 12 contains the remains of a creature that looks part man, part bird.

6. What the fuck you doing in here? Who said you could come in? Can’t you see what we’re doing? Get the fuck out!

7. The basement is a symbol of the underworld, or Hades, itself a symbol of the unconscious, or Id. To descend into it is to enter oneself.

8. What they took at first to be a torture chamber transpired to be a gym. Bodies in motion, strung out on equipment, broken in rows.

9. A bedroom, in which all of the furniture is formed from naked people, contorted in attitudes of obscene joy.

10. A padded cell or perhaps a playroom of some sort. The people here seem very happy.

11. A feast is laid out before you. Plates are hands, offering lurid mouthfuls of food. The table’s ears are spoons, its eyes grapes.

12. There is nothing in this room, just you. When you leave and close the door behind you, the room ceases to exist.

13. Hotels don’t contain a Room 13. The basement does. When you enter it you fall into a dream that is a little death, a little surrender.


I’ve added a new tab to my website: 13. Click on it to read all my 13-part prose poems and a preface, explaining how they came about.

All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

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