The Attic and Roof of the House of Nightmares...

Climbing the rickety staircase, we entered the attic of the House of Nightmares. Up here were the last remnants of the building's original purpose: the metal cots and chairs from the old poorhouse dormitories.

It's not a pleasant thought to imagine being forced to live here when you've lost everything. A bit like a prison sentence. Much like old prisons with their myriad ghosts, it's really no wonder the House of Nightmares is haunted.

An even steeper and less reliable set of ladder-like steps led up to a hatch in the ceiling. One at a time we climbed them and pushed through the hatch, out onto the roof of the building.

This is probably the most impressive view in Knox County. Unfortunately, my camera is an Instamatic and I don't know diddly-squat about taking photos like this, so I can't offer you a view from the rooftop at night. It was very cool, though--and treacherous, since the roof was slick with condensation. During our trip Jesus began to slide on the soles of his feet toward the edge and couldn't stop himself. In spite of a shove from Hoss, he managed to fall down and hug the roof and not die.

At one point Hoss went to the bell tower and messed around under the eaves, causing a bat to fly out and hit him in the head before it darted off. He didn't fall off the edge either.

Being up here gives you an idea just how big the building really is. It's much more like an institution than a private residence, with roofs at varying levels sloping out of sight in every direction.

We finally went back down, taking care to reseal the roof hatch, and then descended through the floors again. On the fourth we all froze when a red dot of light came on at the far end of a hallway we were passing. We still don't know what it was, although my guess is that it's there all the time to deter people from going up to the off-limits fourth floor. There was definitely still power going to the House of Nightmares, which makes it one of the edgier places we've checked out.

After seeing the light we hurried back down through the floors and into the basement, where we once again got split into two parties by taking different routes through the haunted house. When you're in a hurry to get out, a maze like this is very nerve-wracking. In the end, though, we escaped without any trouble.

I'm not going to exactly recommend a trip to the House of Nightmares, because I get the idea that somebody's paying attention to it; you don't leave all that Halloween merchandise behind all year without some assurance that nobody's going to take it. Cops probably poke around the building every once in a while. So if you do go, be careful. I can say that it's one of the most interesting places I've been, if not the most, even though we didn't encounter any ghosts during our trip. I tried, as always; I spoke to them, I called to them, I isolated myself and tried to allow them access to me, but once again I got stood up. Oh well.

So if you're ever in Bangs, Ohio, at least stop by for a look at the exterior of the House of Nightmares. It's very cool, even from the outside. And keep your eyes open for ghosts in the windows, while you're at it.

UPDATE: Alas, the House of Nightmares is no more; all that's left is the amazing structure of the poorhouse itself. Still well worth checking out, even if only on the outside.