A Purposeful Backrooms Expedition

Classified File 25, Volume XXXVIII


rating: +10+x

All names in this document have been changed to protect the privacy of the missing persons listed in this report until the individuals’ cases have been reopened upon approval.

Two young men, who will be referred to as “Niko” and “Malachi,” have been missing for approximately three years. While their missing persons’ cases had been closed for some time, a compilation of video clips found on a handheld camera has recently been recovered as of ███. The origin of this item’s discovery is said to have been at the front door of Niko’s home, where his mother currently lives. The mother in question reported the item to the Brindle County Municipal Department, but said item was ultimately taken into the custody of the Unexplained Phenomena Branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The following is a description of what occurred for the duration of those clips, as written by Intelligence Analyst Maria Garvey.

DISCLAIMER: All descriptions of what the persons involved in the following footage may have been thinking, feeling, or intending are based on Garvey’s observations of involved persons’ body language and surrounding circumstances, made accurate to the best of her ability.

Clip I


Malachi, wearing a large backpack, waves emphatically at the camera. “Hi, everyone! Malachi here. I’m so excited about this! You guys know that I’ve been looking into the whole ‘Backrooms’ thing, and a lot of you said it was a real place. I was doubtful, honestly, especially with how many of these we’ve debunked, and I wasn’t planning on searching for the Backrooms because you can supposedly only get there by accident.” He takes a deep breath, pausing for dramatic effect. “But I found it! Niko and I found it on purpose!”

“Yep. I’m here too,” adds a younger, less enthusiastic voice offscreen. “Ignore me, I’m just the camera guy.”

“Hey, come on, don’t be like that!” urges Malachi, looking slightly above the camera, earnest and sympathetic. “You know you’re going to be playing a huge role in this, too. I’ll even introduce you!” Malachi moves towards the camera, but it begins to shake, pulling away from him.

“No, no, I’m good,” the voice, presumably Niko, insists. “Just… keep going. I don’t need the spotlight or anything. Just some acknowledgement would be nice.”

“I said your name a few minutes ago! Please, just be patient, okay? I’m not trying to exclude you from this.”

Niko mutters an awkward, “Okay,” and moves the camera back to its original position. “Are we going to… tell them about how we got here?”

“Well, yeah, but not here. I’m planning on editing that in at the beginning; I recorded it from my laptop back at the house. We don’t want to spend too much time on this part.”

“Fair enough. Is there anything else you wanted to say before I cut it?”

Malachi nods. “Yeah, a few more things. It shouldn’t take too long, though.”

“Okay.”

Malachi straightens his posture. “It’s a little creepy, I’ll give you that, but I’m not seeing anything dangerous so far. As you can see,” he continues, gesturing to his backpack, “we have a lot of stuff with us. It’s a little heavy, but I’ve been working out specifically for this trip, so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden.”

“You don’t think all this stuff’s a little overkill?”

“We don’t know what could happen, Niko. I don’t think we’ll die or anything like that. You know how blown out of proportion a lot of these myths and urban legends are. But in case we get stuck longer than we thought we would, we have backup.”

“Fair. I’m definitely not drinking that nasty-ass carpet water.”

They both laugh.

“Yeah,” Malachi agrees. “Let’s walk down this hallway.” He points his thumb to the left. “It has the best lighting, I think.”

“They all have the same lighting. That’s kind of the point?”

“No, come on, it’s a little brighter.”

The camera turns to where Malachi is pointing, revealing a long hallway with decrepit tan carpeting and old, age-stained walls. The two begin making their way down the path.
“You know, it’s kind of beautiful in a way,” Malachi says, absentmindedly glancing around. “I’m not sure how to describe it, but it kind of feels like we’re in heaven.”

Niko snorts. “This is heaven to you?”

“Well, I don’t know. It’s all so… perfect, you know? Nothing out of order, nothing that needs rearranged. Maybe it could use a good vacuuming, but—”

“That’s because nothing’s here,” Niko interrupts.

“Well, duh, but you know what I mean!”

“Maybe.” There are a brief few moments of silence before he adds, “You don’t think this annoying ‘hummm’ in here is going to fuck with the audio too badly, do you?”

“Probably not. I’m really good with this stuff! There’s a way to clean it all up.”

“Alright.”

Malachi addresses the camera again. “So, this is what we’re seeing right now. No monsters, no sense of impending dread or anything like that! It’s cool, and I think we as a… as a society should probably be doing more research on this.”

“You don’t think there’s anything we’re going to see here? Not anything? Nothing interesting?”

“Well, maybe interesting, but not bad. How many of these adventures have we gone on? 20? 25?”

“Yeah, but none of them have been this close to what they’re described as. This shit’s weirdly accurate to what they said.”

Malachi shrugs. “So? It’s not really anything… Well, not to be mean, but it’s not really all that impressive.”

“Well, since we got the footage, can I cap this thing? I don’t think we want to scroll through too many frames of what’s basically a dead cat lady’s basement.”

Malachi sighs. “Yeah, probably. If we see anything new, we can always turn it back on.”

Clip II


Niko is pointing the camera towards himself, revealing his face. He’s apathetic at best. “So, this is embarrassing, but I’m kind of lost. Malachi turned a corner into another room, but when I got there, I didn’t see him anywhere. So, I’m a fuckin’ idiot.” He laughs to himself. “I’m just filming this because it might be funny to add in later. I’m gonna stop recording until I find him again, or unless I run into a ghost or some shit. Wish me luck.”

Clip III


“Yeah, there’s some sandwiches in the back pocket. I’m rolling, though,” says Niko. The camera is pointing at Malachi sitting against a dark gray wall. Malachi is resting an elbow on the backpack.

“Okay. This is going to sound silly, but you don’t think it’s unprofessional to eat on camera, do you?” mumbles Malachi.

“Nah. Even if it is, this is our show. I don’t think anyone’s going to criticize us.”

“Okay.” Malachi clears his throat and faces the camera. “Hey, everyone! Back again. Wait, is that appropriate to say?”

“What do you mean?” asks Niko, sounding as though his mouth is full.

Malachi opens a zipper on the backpack, retrieving what appears to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a Ziplock bag. “I don’t know. This is all one episode, right? Saying, ‘Hi, guys! Back again’ doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.”

Niko makes a dismissive noise. “Look, just say what you wanna say, and once you’re done, we can pull out some jerky.”

“Okay.” He faces the camera again. “Hey, everyone! After some time of walking, I rested my hand against one of the walls and fell right through!"

"Noclipped," Niko adds.

"Yeah, that. I noclipped into this place, and Niko said the same thing happened to him. We're pretty sure this is Level 1. It kind of looks like a… parking garage? Not a warehouse, exactly, but it’s pretty close.”

Niko lifts the camera higher in the surrounding area. They are resting in the middle of another long hallway, but with solid, cracked concrete on all sides rather than musty carpeting or aged wallpaper. “Uh-huh. You want to tell them about what happened earlier?”

“Oh! Yeah. That was kind of a safety hazard.” Malachi clears his throat again. “So, Niko and I got separated—not for long, but long enough that we were both getting a liiiittle nervous.”

I was fine. He was nervous,” Niko remarks.

“We ran into each other again on this level after what couldn’t have been more than 10 or 15 minutes, so we both made it! And, unsurprisingly, nothing bad happened!”

An echo is heard from their left, causing them to immediately turn their heads in the direction of the noise, silent.
After a tense few moments, Malachi faces the camera once again, eyes wide.
“Should we check it out?” asks Niko just above a whisper.

“I don’t know,” replies Malachi just as quietly. “Let’s wait for a second.”

The duration of their next pause lasts two minutes and 36 seconds.
Finally, Malachi nods. “Let’s go. We should bring all our stuff, though.”
The camera is set on the ground as they scramble to put everything away. Niko picks the camera up again, and Malachi can be interspersedly seen pulling on the backpack. They travel down the left hallway, where the only further path is a right turn.
“Huh,” mutters Malachi.

Niko immediately stops. “What?”

“Look at this!”
Niko turns the camera to the right wall. On the wall is a symbol written in neon green spray-paint.
Upon pausing the footage for a steadier examination, the symbol appears to be composed of three layers: the innermost layer is a semicircle with a long line extending from its center out through the second-innermost layer, which resembles a backwards C. From the bottom-right point of said C is an arrow pointing in the opposite direction of the line. Two small dots, one on the top-right area and one on the bottom-left, are on the outside.

“What does it mean?” asks Niko.

“Probably nothing. But it looks cool!”

“What do you mean, ‘probably nothing’?”

“Well, I’ll bet it’s a gang symbol or something. Those are common in abandoned places.”

“Oh really? No badass murals next to it? No more tags? This is the only one?” Niko retorts, irritated.

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying it probably means something. Maybe it’s a map.”

“A map of what? We’ve been walking around for a few hours now, and I haven’t seen any rooms that were even remotely curved, have you?”

“Well… no, but that doesn’t mean those rooms don’t exist.”

“Even so, why would it be all the way out here?”

“I don’t know. Look, can you just hold the camera for a sec? I wanna take a picture of it in case we need it later.” The camera is shakily handed to Malachi. Niko walks into view again, holding his smartphone in front of him where the symbol is painted. After a pause, Niko returns, and they exchange the camera again.
Once they turn the corner, a large wooden crate is sitting directly in the middle of the next path.
“Woah.” Niko suggests, “Maybe that was the echo we heard earlier, you know, of it showing up.”

“‘Showing up’?”

“Yeah, Malachi. Showing up,” he replies flatly.

“You’re still sure that’s a thing in here?”

“I mean, yeah. Random stuff appearing and disappearing isn’t that weird compared to what we’ve seen before. Remember that magic record thing you found?”

“From Mount Zion?”

“Yeah. You still have it, don’t you?”

“Yeah… Fair point.”

“Look, we don’t know how long this thing’s gonna be here,” Niko points out. “Let’s just look inside and see if we find anything… ‘survivor-y’.”

“Okay, but I’m going first. We don’t know what’s in it, and I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“Fat chance. If you didn’t want me to take any risks, you wouldn’t have brought me along. Besides, I have the knife.”

“Niko-!”

“Just. It’s fine. Chill.” Niko passes the camera to Malachi again before carefully approaching the crate, crouching down and wiggling a large swiss army knife between the lid of the crate and its contents, eventually prying it open with a large crack. The noise startles them both, but they quickly recover before Niko steps a few meters back from where it was opened. After 10 seconds, Niko says, “See? It’s fine. I’m gonna take a look at my loot.”

Malachi follows from behind and points the camera into the crate, revealing a myriad of items, including a set of car keys, a bar of soap, a pair of scissors, a book with a blank cover, a broken mug labeled “World’s Best Dad,” a metallic blue water bottle, and a large Ziploc bag filled with an Earthy green substance.

Niko gasps. “Holy fucking shit.”

“Is that…?”

“It is.” Niko reaches into the crate and grabs the Ziploc bag. “Oh my god, we’re saved. That’s it, we made the journey. We can go home now.”

“Very funny. But Niko, we don’t even know if it’s real weed. It might not be weed at all!”

Niko opens the bag and sticks his head closer, taking a huge whiff of it. “Nah, that’s some good kush.”

“Stop it.”

“I’ll eat it. I will.”

“No you won’t.”

“You’re right. This shit’s too good to fuck around with. We’re totally keeping it.”

Malachi sets the camera on the ledge of the crate before reaching into it himself. “No, we’re not. A lot of these things actually could be pretty useful depending on how long we’re here, but drugs aren’t one of them.” He pulls the pair of scissors out of the crate, stuffing them in their bag.
“Don’t we already have scissors?”

“We do, but scissors can break, and an extra pair is pretty good for inventory.”

“But you won’t take the weed.”

“Nope!”

“Why not?”

“Because if we’re going to take stuff, I want it to be useful, to matter-”

“But it will matter when we get back home,” Niko protests. “We did what we said we were gonna do, and we even got lost for a while. I think we deserve a little reward for later. Besides, it won’t take up that much space. You know that.”

“I…” Malachi sighs. “Okay. You do make a good point. But if we find enough stuff that means we can’t fit the weed in our bag anymore, you have to carry it if you still want it.”

“Hell yeah.”

The sound of a crinkling bag is heard. “We’re going to have to cut so much of this out,” Malachi mutters.

“What, about the weed?”

“No, just, like… most of this. We’ll show footage of what we found in the crate, and the way the hallways look, and stuff, but no one wants to hear our entire conversation.”

“Yeah, maybe n-”
Something screams in the distance, presumably an animal from outside the building.
The two young men are silent again.

Clip IV


Malachi and Niko are both sitting against a wall this time, the camera propped up on something to display both of them onscreen. This wall is lighter in shade than the last, but at the expense of a dirtier texture. Both men are breathing hard, and Malachi’s face is paler than normal. Niko is in a fetal position. In spite of this, they are trying to be as quiet as possible.
“So… we got ourselves into some trouble,” begins Malachi through deep, heavy breaths.

“Oh my god,” Niko mumbles. “Oh my god.”

Malachi shushes him. “I know, I know. Just… this needs to be documented.” He faces the camera again. “There was something in the hallways we were in the last time you saw us. I don’t know what it was, but it was kind of gross-looking, honestly, and-”

“It was a skin-stealer,” Niko whispers in shock. “It was a fucking skin-stealer.”

“No, no, it wasn’t! Stop it. I know you’re scared, but those don’t exist. We looked at their ‘biology’ and everything. It probably wasn’t even going to hurt us.”

“Then why were we running?” he hisses.

“Because you ran first, and it noticed, and it started to chase us! We probably made it feel threatened. If we’d just spoken to it nicely, we could have even asked it where the exit was.”
With a sarcastic nod, Niko responds, “Sure, uh-huh. And I’ll bet that bottle we found in the crate totally isn’t almond water. You know, that ‘made-up drink’ you thought was so fucking funny?”

“Hey, be nice! I’m trying to stay realistic.”

“Reality doesn’t apply here. Face it: maybe this one wasn’t exaggerated by the forums.”

“They all are, Niko! To some degree, they all are. Every one of them.” He counts one finger for each listed event. “Werewolves can still think like humans during shifts, zombieism is impossible unless we regress back to the Stone Age, and Bloody Mary is just a cocktail! And that’s not even mentioning the legends made up for money or personal attention.”

Niko shakes his head. “Whatever. Even if I’m wrong, I want us to follow the rules we read up on. If we miss out on someone nice, that sucks,” he admits before beginning to smirk, “but what’s that thing you always say?”

Malachi puts a finger up in protest before slowly letting it down with a sigh. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“Exactly. Look, I might be a kid compared to you, but I know shit. If we’re a team, we’re doing this like a team, and believe it or not, that involves listening to me sometimes. We know the rules of the entities backwards and forwards, so the least we can do is fucking remember and apply them. And if most of it’s bullshit, we’ll still have made it out alive, right?”

Malachi thinks to himself for a moment. “Yeah… that’s fair. I’m sorry, Niko. Can I… be honest with you for a second?”

Niko raises an eyebrow. “I’d hope you’re always honest with me.”

“You know what I mean. It’s just…” His shoulders slump down slightly. “I’ve been getting… a bad vibe from this place. I know that sounds silly, but-”

“Me too.”

“What?”

“I feel it too.”

“Oh. Wow. Uh…” Malachi scratches the back of his neck. “I was going to say that I was using my optimism to overcompensate for how nervous I was getting because I thought I’d just managed to scare myself, but… That’s not good.”

“Well, shit.”

Neither of them say a word for three seconds before they burst into laughter.
“Okay, okay,” admits Malachi, addressing the camera again, “so maybe this place is more accurate to the stories than a lot of the other adventures we’ve been on. Who knew? But we’re going to get through this in the same way we always do.” Malachi smashes a fist onto the flat palm of his other hand. “Together.”

Niko laughs. “You’re fucking cheesy.”

“Well, I think a situation like this calls for that, actually!”

“Fair.”

“Okay, so we need a plan, especially if we get separated again.”

“Codeword?”

“Codeword.” Malachi’s voice lowers to a whisper again before pulling open another zipper on their backpack and retrieving a notebook and a pen. “‘Alpha’ could work. It’ll prevent any skin-stealers from echoing it in disguise because it’s uncommon enough, and we didn’t say it loudly enough for anyone else to hear us.”

“Yeah, but there’s a hell of a lot of tech-savvy entities, so we don’t want to use something they might already have and might happen to say. Besides, if nice entities find each of us first before we find each other, one of us can tell them the codeword for when they find the other, and we don’t want it to be a word associated with them already in case it’s a trap.”

Malachi nods. “That’s smart. So… what about ‘gasoline’?”

Niko puts a hand to his chin in thought. “I like it. It’s pretty referential to the real world. Like, I’m pretty sure gas does exist here, but it’s pretty rare, and given that we’re on foot, I don’t think we’d need it for anything, so nothing can dangle it in front of us.”

Malachi nods again. “Yeah. Cool.” He scribbles something in the notebook. “So that works. What happens if we see something dangerous?”

“Depends on the entity, probably. But… Wait, should we turn off the camera? It’s got more battery life than God Himself, but I don’t wanna take that for granted in this place. Besides, we can just explain the stuff we did later if it actually comes in handy. You know strategy-talk sounds boring.”

“Okay. Turn it off, and we’ll plan here for a while. But I think once we hit a new level, we’ll turn it back on.”
Niko reaches towards the screen, and once his hand is out of frame, the clip ends.

Clip V


The camera is facing a wall covered in pipes with Malachi and Niko sitting extremely close, having a hushed conversation.
The camera hastily moves to point at Malachi, who is sitting cross-legged. The lighting is dimmer, and a group of particularly-rusty ventilation ducts stretch out impressively far behind him. “Okay, so we’re at Level 2, and we almost immediately saw a smiler. I threw a signal flare at it, and we ran.” He gulps in some air. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to run for your life and not make any noise at the same time.”

“Me neither,” Niko wheezes. “Fuck.”

“So… this is hard.”

“That’s what she said.”

Niko.”

“Sorry.”

“Okay, okay, so… Our main objective right now is to get out of here as soon as possible and find Level 4. It’s the safest place that’s closest to us.”

“We should try some of that almond water. Might help us run faster.”

Malachi cocks his head to the side. “It wouldn’t give you superpowers, Niko.”

“Okay, let me fucking rephrase that.” A sturdy zzzip sound comes from their backpack. A small metallic cling comes next. “It might help me run faster.” Niko places the blue bottle they’d found in the crate on level one in front of the camera. “This is almond water. Probably.”

Malachi throws his arms out to Niko in a panic. “Wait, don’t just drink it without checking!”

“Nah, don’t worry. I’m not stupid.” Niko opens the bottle and pours the tiniest bit into the carpet, revealing a clear, albeit slightly murky, stream of water. “See?”

Malachi relaxes. “Okay. Yeah. Go for it.”

The bottle is lifted up and tilted for five seconds before being set back down on the carpet. “Holy shit.”

“What?”

“This is… really good. Like, it tastes okay, but I feel like… Huh.”

“What do you mean? What do you feel like?”

“I don’t know. Just… calmer. More focused. I can think a little more clearly, too.”

Malachi nods. “Okay, cool! That’s good. Um… in case it’s not what it’s supposed to be, I’m going to hold off on it for now. That way, if you get sick or something, at least one of us can make sure we’re safe.”

“Makes sense.” Niko sighs. “So, you remember reading up on this level, right?”

“Yeah?”

“You know what we have to do.”

“…Yeah.” He turns to face the camera again. “So, to get out of this level, we’ll have to just… open a bunch of random doors until we find something! Which is scary to think about, but… Honestly, I didn’t think we’d even get this far.”

“What do you mean?”

“I guess I thought… we would have left by now.”

“Oh.”

“…Yeah.” Malachi glances at his watch. “It’s been about seven hours. I didn’t think the…” he gestures to the room, “whole rest of this would actually be here. I set up a plan for it just in case, but it won’t be very fun.”

“You know time is fundamentally fucked in here, right?”

“Oh, this isn’t digital!” Malachi exclaims, pointing at his watch. “It has a rechargeable battery, but it’s not connected to any kind of satellite or outside source.”

“So? Do you think that matters?”

“I mean, probably.” Malachi counts his fingers again. “There are only two reasons it wouldn’t function normally: either it breaks, or we travel through time in such a way that implies parts of our journey never existed on this timeline, which would make it technically correct anyway, and our stomachs can’t tell whether or not we’ve stepped out of the proper flow of time, so any extra time we may have spent or might spend won’t make us starve more quickly than we normally would.”

A few moments of silence. “Uh… right. Yeah. So, what’s the plan?”

“We make our way back into the hallway. One of us tries opening any and every door we find. If it’s locked, we keep going and try a different one. The other person is going to keep watch and make sure there’s nothing dangerous around, and if there is, they’ll tap the opener’s shoulder twice and pull them in whatever direction is safer, where they’ll keep looking for doors.”
“What if we get trapped on both sides?”

Malachi reaches to the right and pulls the backpack towards him before unzipping it and retrieving the notebook and pen again. “We’ll use the codeword…” He jots something down on the pages, reversing it, and showing it to Niko. It reads, “firebird”.

“Okay.”

“What do you want to be?”

“I’ll be the opener. You’re taller, so you can see things from further away.”

“That works!”

“Can I pick any of the locks?”

“Wh-? No! Did you hear what I just said? We need to be quick about this. Plus, we don’t know what happens if you open a door that’s supposed to be locked.”

“Okay.”

“Wish us luck!” chirps Malachi to the camera, giving a thumbs-up. “Okay, turn it off. We need to go.”

“Right now?”

“Yes, right now-!”

Clip VI


Malachi and Niko are resting against another wall that appears very similar to what they had described as “level one” in previous clips, with an exception being the lighting, which is even dimmer than before. Both of them are exhausted and filled with despair, neither gazing into the camera until the end of the clip.
“So…” Malachi starts, his voice dry and hoarse, “We’re back on level one again. I don’t know how or why, but… yeah. We found the entrance to level two so easily last time… I don’t know what happened.”

“I’m so tired,” groans Niko, blinking several times. “My eyes hurt. My feet hurt. My everything just… fucking hurts.”

Malachi turns to face Niko slightly. “Can I have some more of that almond water?”

“Yeah, just…” Retrieving the bottle from offscreen, Niko passes the metallic blue bottle to Malachi.

Malachi twists the cap off and pours the bottle into his mouth before abruptly stopping. “There’s no more.”

Niko’s eyes widen. “There’s not?”

“Nope.”

“Oh… Oh god… I’m sorry. I didn’t-”

“It’s okay, Niko. It’s… it’s fine. We have more bottles of real water.”

They’re silent for 20 seconds.

Niko rests his head against Malachi’s shoulder. “Can I sleep? I don’t care what time it is. I’m so…”

“Yeah. Yeah, you can. I’ll keep watch.” With that, Malachi unzips the backpack again, retrieving a large, thin blanket and draping it over Niko, who grabs the bag itself to use as a makeshift pillow.
Malachi ruffles Niko’s hair as a gesture of safety and comfort. He keeps his own eyes disturbingly wide, as if forcing himself to stay awake.
After approximately 30 seconds, Malachi focuses on the camera, looking a bit sad. Once he comes closer, the screen blacks out, and the clip ends.

Clip VII

The camera is unsteadily aimed at Niko, who is still laying on the floor, asleep in the same position he was in the previous clip. The lighting is now much brighter.
Panicked, Malachi whispers, “I don’t know what’s going on, but he’s not waking up. I’m terrified. I think the almond water must have done something, but I don’t know why I’m not affected if that’s the… He’s been like this for 14 hours. I had to carry him somewhere else at one point because it sounded like something was coming, but he didn’t wake up then, even a little bit. I don’t know what to do.” Reaching down, he hastily pushed Niko’s shoulder. “Come on, please wake up. At first, I thought he was just getting really good rest, but something’s wrong.” His voice cracks. “Something’s very wrong.” He sniffs, breaking into a hysterical laugh. “I can’t call for help because no one’s here! No one’s ever here. And I can’t take him anywhere new because I don’t know if I can keep him safe and fend off whatever might be next at the same time! I don’t know what to do. I’ll… I’ll start recording again if… when something changes.”

Clip VIII

The camera is positioned unevenly on the ground, making only Malachi’s torso and Niko’s body visible.
Niko stirs, groaning, which gradually erupts into a loud, violent scream. “GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF. GET AWAY!” He bolts upright, kicking and flailing his legs before beating his arms against the concrete wall.

“Stop it! Stop, Niko-!”

FUCK OFF! FUCK YOU! FUCKYOU, FUCKYOU, FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFU-!

Malachi quickly straightens the blanket before throwing the middle of it in front of Niko and pulling back, effectively trapping him.

Niko begins to cry. “Get away… Get away from me.”

“Niko, I can’t let you run! Not here! I’m sorry. It’s-it’s me!”

“No… Please don't…”

“Hey, it’s okay.”

“It’s not okay. It’s not gonna be okay.”

Despite Niko’s panicked state, the two slow their movement. “Niko, it’s Malachi. I’m here. Please wake up.”

Niko takes some deep, uneven breaths. “It’s not… No. No, it’s not…”

“Niko, look at me.”

Niko’s breathing slows. “…'Chi?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you… Are we alive?”

“Yeah, of course we are, buddy! You just had one of your night terrors again.”

They hug. “No,” insists Niko, sounding more muffled, “I didn’t. That’s… not what that was.”

“It sure sounded like it.”

“No. It’s bad. Something bad happened.”

“I’m listening.”

“There was… There was this thing, and…” A beat. “Oh my god, it’s the Dreamweaver.”

“What?”

The Dreamweaver. We read about him, remember?”

“Uh… yeah, we did. But-”

“He’s here. He got to me when I was sleeping. I’m fucked.”

“What are you talking about? We just need to get more almond water-”

“Which we don’t have.”

“-And find Level 4-!”

“Which we can’t get to. Because we’ve been running in a circle.”

“Well, now that you’re awake, we can get going again!”

“Great. Super excited for that.”

Agitation creeps into Malachi’s voice. “You know, not to sound rude, but your pessimism is the last thing we need right now!”

“Oh, sorry, I get kinda cranky when sleep demons invade my brain!” Niko shoots back. “Maybe I should be thanked for escaping so quickly.”

A beat. “I’m sorry, Niko. You’re right. I was just… I was really scared, and I’m not seeing things clearly. I’m…”

“Dude, are you okay?”

“Don’t change the subject. I know you don’t like talking about your feelings-”

“No, seriously, your eyes are fucking bloodshot. You look… terrible, man. How long was I asleep?”

“About 19 hours,” Malachi yawns.

What? You haven’t slept at all? This entire time?”

“What choice did I have? It’s not safe for us to both be asleep.” He yawns before his next sentence. “Besides, I’ve had it worse! I used to pull all-nighters a lot for math class. This isn’t that different.”

“We’ve gotta get somewhere safe… But there is no safe place with that guy lurking around. Wait, is that on right now?”

“What?”

“The camera. Is it on? Recording?”

“Yeah? Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be invasive, it’s just… I didn’t know when you were going to wake up, Niko… if at all. So the second you started moving, I wanted to… I don’t know.”

“You’re really not doing great, are you?” Niko moves for the camera, presumably to shut it off.

“Nope. Not even a little bit. But we’ve got thi-!”

Clip IX

A large crowd of people are congregated inside a spacious room with blue carpet and polished white walls. Some are shouting, others laughing, and two small children1 briefly chase each other on-and-offscreen with paper planes. The camera is most likely propped on a stand, allowing for further visual range.
Malachi leads Niko onscreen, and they’re both significantly happier and more relaxed. Turning to face the camera together one last time, Malachi, still wearing the backpack, puts a hand around Niko’s shoulders, waving. Niko’s hands and wrists are bandaged. They’re both holding small jars of a bright, reddish-orange liquid in one hand.
Malachi tries to say something to the camera, but the cacophony around the two men makes it impossible to hear him. After trying and failing to get a sentence across, he and Niko laugh before approaching the camera.

Clip X

“Okay, go,” Niko says, moving backwards to reveal the camera, himself, and Malachi all positioned similarly to the previous clip. This room, however, is different in that a) it is smaller, and b) no one else is present. The crowd can still be heard in the distance.

Malachi waves enthusiastically at the camera. “Hi, everyone! I’m happy to report that we’re okay! Just outside of the room we’re in is Level 4, full of people like us who got lost! It really is just like what they said. I’m impressed!”

“I fought a brain demon.” Niko smirks as he says it.

Malachi chuckles. “It wasn’t a demon, Niko.”

“Whatever. Basically a demon.” Niko folds his arms.

“We have almond water, sandwiches, and cereal bars to spare!”

“And nachos.”

“And nachos! We have everything we could ever need to survive back here.”

“Amen, brother.”
Malachi and Niko clink their jars together. Niko takes a swig of the liquid while Malachi stares at his cup quizzically.
“Something wrong?” Niko asks.

“Well, nothing wrong, per se, just… I know this stuff’s supposed to calm the nerves, and one won’t make us permanently addicted, but is that really a wise thing to do before we get to the next level?”

Niko chokes on his drink, sputtering and coughing. “I’m sorry, what?”

“What?”

Niko stares at him in shock. “We’re not going to the ‘next level’. Are you crazy?”

“Why wouldn’t we? We need to get home eventually.”

Niko shakes his head, horrified. “No. No, dude. This is it.”

“What are you talking about?” Malachi asks, raising an eyebrow.

“There’s no way out. This is the safest place in the whole damn…” he pauses, gesturing vaguely to their surroundings with his free hand, “place.”

Malachi looks down at his jar, moving the liquid around. “That was fast. We should probably put this stuff away for now. Levels six through eight are pretty dangerous. Deathmoths are no joke.”

“I can’t believe you. I can’t fucking believe you.”

“What?” demands Malachi.

“You… You’re going to… You’re shitting me! Even after everything, after what happened to me?”

“I’m sorry, Niko, I really am, but what’s the alternative?”

“It’s staying here. The alternative is staying here and not getting our asses handed to us by giant moths, or rats, or spiders, or whatever the fuck.”

“There has to be a way out. You know how these things go-!”

“There’s not. These people wouldn’t be here if they found a way out. That’s the point of the-”

“You know they’re just scared. I’m sure someone did at some point.”

“No, they didn’t!” Niko’s voice raises in volume and pitch. “No one did. Everyone who isn’t here is dead or found a different place to live safely in here. There’s no getting out.”

“What about our family?” Malachi shouts back. “What about our friends, our lives?”

“They probably think we’re dead.” Niko grits his teeth. “And we pretty much are. We’re not on the radar of the Frontrooms anymore.”

“The… what?”

“The Frontrooms. The place we don’t live anymore. The place that’s behind us until further notice.”

“You’re…” Malachi begins to breathe faster. “You’re, what, giving up? No one is going to know what happened to us-!”

“We can upload what we’ve got on the camera. There’s Wi-Fi here. They’ll know. There’s even this form we can fill out that sums up everything we need to say.”

“You’re just…” Malachi trails off, sounding heartbroken. “You’re just giving up.”

Yes!” yells Niko, furious. “I am. What were we always taught about being stranded on an island, Malachi? Wait until you’re rescued. Safety in numbers. Doing anything other than that is stupidity.”

“This isn’t an island, Niko, it’s a fucking nightmare!” He’s sobbing. “And we need to get out of-!”

“Ooh, Malachi’s cursing, now. It must be so hard-”

“Don’t start that shit with me!” Malachi snaps. “I’ve had it! I hate your ‘roll-over-and-die’ attitude! This isn’t the only adventure it’s nearly killed us on!”

“I thought you said we were never in danger on any of those,” Niko snarls.

“We were! But I didn’t want to make you feel bad, so I never said anything. But it’s not true. Every time, every time we’ve been in actual danger was because. Of. You!”

Niko’s mouth hangs open.

“It’s you who always touches the cursed objects. It’s you that wants to stop and take a smoke break. It’s you that eats all our food. It’s-!”

“So it’s all my fault, huh? If I’m such a fucking liability, I don’t even know why you wanted me here.” He’s crying, too. “You’re no different. You said it wouldn’t be dangerous. You said we would get out. You made me way too fucking positive about what we were getting into, and I believed you. You’re so blind, so fucking naïve, all the fucking time, that you can’t see danger when it’s right in fucking front of you. I don’t even know how you’re still alive. That ‘shining attitude’ you wish I had finally trapped us. We’re stuck here forever, and now you want to pull me into more danger with you. You’re-! You’re fucking unbelievable, you know that?”

“Niko, I-”

“You think I’m selfish? You think I’m fucking inconsiderate? What about now, huh? I want to survive and wait here for a chance to see my parents again, see my girlfriend again, and y-!”

“You don’t think I want to see my boyfriend, Niko? You don’t think I want to hold him and sleep next to him again, to hear him comfort me and tell me how much he loves me?” Malachi cries. “I’m willing to fight for that. I’m willing to die for that. You just want to take the easy route and refuse to take more risk than you have to. You want to play video-games and hope to God that someone else just magically figures out your problems for you.”

Niko slowly shakes his head, clenching his jaw. “Turn the camera off.”

“No. No, I won’t. Because I want them to see. I want everyone to know the truth, to see what you chose to do with the rest of your life instead of going back for them.”

“So you want to incriminate me, is that it? You want to make sure I’m the villain so they can continue looking at you like a hero?” Niko sneers. “You need that validation, don’t you? You always have.”

Malachi clenches his fists. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That’s why you started this show anyway. You wanted to be the world’s hero, a martyr for positivity, even when it made no sense, when it was smarter to be fucking realistic.” Niko staggers closer to Malachi, puffing out his chest, seeming to size him up. “You think if you believe hard enough, things’ll get better on their own. But I’ve got news for you, hero,” he spits. “We lost. This is the end. We threw our lives out the window because you trusted your shiny chunks of brainrot going on up here.” He points to his temple. “And I’m never gonna forget that.”

“Oh, don’t worry! Drink more memory juice. You can forget everything about me! How’s that?” beams Malachi with a sarcastic smile.

Niko throws a punch, which Malachi catches the wrist of. Niko then knees Malachi in the stomach, making him cough and double over. Niko uses the opportunity to slam another fist into the back of his head, which Malachi retaliates by punching Niko so hard that an audible crack is made, and Niko is thrown back a few yards before stumbling to the ground, covering his face.
After a few ragged, furious breaths, Malachi settles, suddenly mortified. “Niko, oh my god, I… I’m so sorry. I was just trying to defend my…self.”

Niko coughs before pushing himself to his feet. His nose is bleeding.
Everything is silent for eight seconds before Niko fishes a lighter and a wrapped substance from his pockets. Bringing the drug to his mouth, he lights the end, taking a deep breath in and coating the filter in the blood on his lips.

“You’re… smoking a joint right now? Are you serious?” Malachi shouts.

Niko shrugs, all emotion locked away. “I don’t even know why I tried. Of course you’d want to keep going.” He picks up his “memory juice” and casually turns around, heading for a pair of doors in the back of the room.

“Niko… Niko, wait-!”

“No, no, please. By all means, go. I’ll be fine anyway. You won’t have to worry about that weed taking up space in your bag anymore. Or anything of mine, for that matter. You can leave. No one’s stopping you.”

“Wh-what?”

“But if you’re not back in the main hall in five minutes, don’t bother coming back at all. I don’t want to know what happens to you.” Niko shoves open one of the doors.

“Niko-”

“Goodbye, Malachi.” It slams shut behind him.

Malachi stands, motionless. After 30 seconds, he begins to tremble before approaching the camera with a wide-eyed, unreadable expression on his face, tears falling faster.
He moves his arm closer. The clip ends.

Clip XI

Nothing is visible in this clip.
“H… Hi everyone. It’s Malachi here. I wasn’t going to record anything unless it was interesting or useful, but… I think this is the best way to keep track of my thoughts. It’s dark, and kind of cold, and… Well, I’m not really a fan. I keep hearing weird noises, but nothing’s shown up, so… I think I’m safe for the time being. If not, and if talking will attract something to me… at least I’ll know what direction to run.
“I’m having a hard time keeping my emotions in check. Niko isn’t… with us anymore. He’s not dead! He just… didn’t want to keep looking for a way out anymore. I was so mad at him, and so scared, but… I think I've started to understand where he’s coming from.
“It’s likely that, um… You’ll never hear from him again. And I’m… I’m sorry about that. I’m… not okay, in case you were wondering, but no amount of crying or screaming will make this situation any easier so… I’m hanging in there!
“You know…” His sentence is cut short for no discernible reason. He says nothing for 38 seconds. “You know, maybe you will see him again! And maybe I will, too! I’ll bet we’ll bump into each other again at some point. This place is big, but it has a way of… giving things to you. Whether they’re good or bad doesn’t really matter because it kind of balances out! Probably. Am I making any sense? Because I don’t think so. Or maybe I am.” He laughs. “I just need to keep my head screwed on straight for a little while longer, and I know I’ll make it out of here!
“You know what? I just had an idea. I’m going to find a wall and feel it while walking in one direction. I’ll come across a door eventually, you know? Wish me luck!”

Clip XII

Malachi is slightly less cheerful. “Okay, this is… This is really hard. ‘That’s what she said,’ amiright, Niko?
“…I know he’s not really here, it’s just… I’m hoping to get a response. Not sure why since, again, he’s not here, but… I don’t know. It’s comforting to pretend he’s around.”
He gasps, pointing the camera to a small red glow an indeterminable, but most likely far, distance away. “It’s not white like a smiler, and it isn’t moving. Could it be a way out of here?”
For 15 minutes, the camera shakes slightly. The red glow appears to be getting closer, resembling more of a glowing red dot. “It’s so pretty…”
15 more minutes later, Malachi comes across a small, red, vertically-placed rectangular prism. “Oh, no. No, no, no. I know what you are.”
As if expecting a response, there is a pause.
“Oh, very funny. I’ve heard about you. I’m not listening to anything you say.”
Another pause.
“I don’t know! It’s not like I have anything better to do.”
A pause.
“You’re not my therapist. You’re the… You’re the opposite of a therapist!”
A pause.
“Shut up.”
A pause.
“It’s not. It’s not, and you know it. I just need to find a way out. And you know what? I can’t stand you, and I know I shouldn’t do this, but I’m taking you with me.” Some rustling is heard as parts of the prism’s glow are covered with a silhouette of fingers.
A pause.
“Just need to… feel for the right…” Zzzip. “Yes, the zipper! You’re going in my backpack until I find a way out of here. I just need to listen to something to keep my thoughts solid, and I’m pretty good at not letting negative Nancies like you get in the way of things. Almond water helps, too.” Zzzip. Everything is pitch black again.
A pause.
“It wasn’t ‘criticism’. It was rude! And he’s… safe, at least. Maybe he was making more sense than I admitted at the time…”
A pause.
“That was wrong of me, yeah, but… I apologized to him!”
A pause.
“I-I was defending myself.”
A pause.
“Well, what do you think happened since you think your opinion matters so much?”
A pause.
“No, I would never! I’d do anything for him.”
A pause.
“You weren’t there! You don’t know. You don’t understand!”
A pause.
“This… This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have brought you along.”
A pause.
“It doesn’t have to be like that. It… It won’t be like that! I have love on my side, and love always wins!”
A pause.
“What? What’s so funny about hope, huh?”
A pause.
“I don’t think so. I don’t agree with you.”
A pause.
“No, I don’t!”
A pause.
“Stop scaring me. It’s not funny or clever or cute!”
A pause.
“That’s it! I’m throwing you out.” Zzzip.
A pause.
“What. What is it?”
An extremely long pause.
“Will you just get out of here?!” A small woosh noise is followed by a plastic clang. “Garbage. Total garbage. Niko is safe! He’s fine.” Zzzip. “As for everyone watching… err, listening… ignore all of that, please. Actually, wait, I can just edit that out! As long as I… find a computer at some point… Oh, boy, this is going to be a while, isn’t it? I’ll cut this vlog short for now, just because there’s really nothing to see, and, well, I don’t want to waste battery life. I would have uploaded this already as some kind of distress call, but there’s… There’s no Wi-Fi in here. I mean, there is, but it’s only, like, one bar, and it’ll look like it’s loading for a little bit and then say it ‘timed out’. Somehow, that’s way worse than not having service at all. And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried many times! Hundreds, even! Maybe not… I lost count, honestly. Just… just ignore all of this. I’ll be fine. I’ll, uh… I’ll keep you guys posted. If I can.”

Clip XIII

Similarly to Clip XI, the visuals are nothing but darkness.
Malachi sounds significantly more anxious. “Okay, um… I don’t know how long it’s been since I recorded another one of these… I would know, normally, but my watch’s battery died a while ago, and that stupid big charging block I had wouldn’t connect. I may have… freaked out and thrown it into the endless void like I did with the… What was that thing called, again? I… I can’t remember.
“Okay. Okay, 'Chi, don’t panic. People forget things all the time! It was a lot of information to absorb… all of the stuff I read before bringing Niko to this hellhole… Uh, pardon my language. Sorry. It’s not like anything’s going to kill me here at this point! I’ve been lurking around here for a while and even pulled out a flashlight — don’t ask why I did that — and nothing came to get me! Though I still couldn't see anything, either. I ran out of almond water, which… isn’t great. I’ll just, uh… I’ll end this.”

Clip XIV

Malachi is hitting something metallic. “Stupid, stupid, stupid! ‘Running in a circle,’ he said! We were going in a loop, over and over again! Why didn’t I remember to have him pull out the symbol he was so interested in? Oh, that’s right, because I was awake for so long that I nearly forgot how to breathe! No, no, I can’t resent him for that. It’s not his fault… He just wanted to rest. It’s not his fault… Sorry, just… had to get that out.”

Clip XV

Malachi is weeping. “I was so stupid. I can’t believe I just left like that without him… He’s going to die, and it’s all my fault… I deserve this. I deserve to be alone. No, no! I don’t. I can’t think like that. What was I going to say? Right, okay, um… This wall… really is stretching on forever. Um… I can’t remember. Fuck… I’m so… Oh god… Itchy! That’s what I was going to say. I’m so itchy. At first, it was just a little, but it’s everywhere now. It hurts, but I can’t stop scratching. Sometimes, it stops for a minute, and I forget what I was complaining about, but then it hits full force! I think I’m bleeding. It’s fine, though… I’m okay. I’m going now.”

Clip XVI

“Why? Why me? Why the itch? Why the itching? Everywhere, all over my body. There’s so much blood. I can smell it. But I’m still alive. There’s no more food. I tried to stretch it out for as long as I could. I feel… sick. I’d do anything for a sandwich right now. And I mean anything. Literally anything. I don’t care what it is. A BLT? Sure. PB&J? Yeah. Even a banana would be nice. Just one… I’m on my last bottle of water. Only half of it left. I can’t even express how much that scares me. I don’t… I don’t know what I am, but it’s different. I’m different. When I get out of here, I’m… going paleo. No more cheese puffs for this guy. I don’t want to talk anymore. My throat hurts. It’s itchy, too, no matter how much I scratch. The blood tastes kind of good, though. I had a point to this… I’ll remember. Just not right now.”

Clip XVII

Malachi’s voice is almost unrecognizable, groaning through every sentence. “I… Hah, I forgot where the ‘record’ button was for a good while there. It’s like my brain was playing a trick on me. But there it was! I’m feeling a little better, a little… lighter. Maybe that red speck was right. Well, here’s to hoping my brain plays nice again.”

Clip XVIII

Malachi’s voice gradually raises from a whisper to shrieking.
“Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg. Stretches not the truth. Don’t trust Meg! Stretches not the truth! Don’t trust Meg! Stretches not the truth! Don’t trust Meg! Stretches not the truth! Don’t trust Meg! Stretches not the truth! Don’t trust Meg! Stretches not the truth! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRETCHES NOT THE TRUTH! STRE-
A loud, wet crunch is heard. There is no sound and no discernable audio for one hour, 36 minutes, and 33 seconds.
End of footage.

Summary


Two young men, Niko and Malachi, were pursuing online fame by exploring a rumored area known as “The Backrooms.” The expedition went awry, and both men are most likely dead.

Analysis


Garvey has taken the liberty of researching these supposed “Backrooms,” but discovered nothing of use. Both men likely suffered from stress-induced psychotic episodes that resulted in them losing their way in an abandoned building of an unknown location. Based on the footage recorded, it seems as though they are not the only people who have gone missing under these circumstances, and it is highly recommended that this case be reopened and investigated further.
It is also recommended that any new or recent missing persons cases regarding suspects with the name “Meg,” “Meghan,” “Meghana,” or any variants of such names should be investigated more thoroughly than other suspects based on Malachi’s final message.
The overall threat level of the “Backrooms” to the general public is inconclusive. If its location is somewhere beyond the scope of our capabilities, the most efficient decision moving forward is to contact sister departments with the intent of obtaining any further information to determine how organized a potentially responsible cult may be.
The most likely scenario is that the Backrooms are not only a nonexistent place but play a similar role as “The Dragon” does for victims of “magic mushroom” substance abuse. What substance may have been consumed by any missing persons listed in this report (aside from marijuana, a mind-altering Schedule I Narcotic not known to cause phenomena of this caliber) is a drinkable known as “memory juice,” verbally referenced exactly once by Malachi but visually depicted in two (2) separate clips of the discovered footage.
The most unlikely scenario is that the Backrooms are not on this plane of reality, but rather exist in another dimension entirely where the ████ Administration has little to no official jurisdiction. Garvey understands that such ideas are unlikely to be taken seriously by the higher-ups, but she insisted the statement be left untouched in this report for future consideration.
The recommended course of action is to send factions of ██████ to as many abandoned shopping centers, libraries, maintenance facilities, and warehouses as is within our limits. If any further evidence confirms or denies a more specific location of any missing individuals listed in this report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are to be notified immediately. Withholding such information is a federal crime prohibited by law.

RECOMMENDATION STATUS:


DENIED


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