"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Concrete "

Submitted by Luke G. Jones (


New Bourbon, Missouri

Bourbon County

Population: 8,225 (2010 Census)

The downtown area is about three miles from I-55. I saw a few abandoned motels and gas stations along the highway on our way there, but it was a bit too late in the day to stop for photos. 

Downtown itself is typical of the general area. A square of brick mercantile buildings built in the 1910s and 1920s around a tidy courthouse. Many vacant. Immaculate brick sidewalks and well-tended shrubbery; new lamps with "Historic New Bourbon" banners - against some of the derelict buildings they looked a little bit desperate.

Stopped for dinner here at a greasy spoon called "Friendly Diner." In a former bank building. Looked like it was probably built in the early 20th century, but the exterior had a gorgeous 1960s ceramic tile surface built over the original. I noticed the original vault structure was being used as a storage closet behind the cash register. The menu had all these little symbols next to the entries - some were self-evident like "spicy" or "vegetarian." We couldn't figure out what the little check-marks meant, though, and we asked the waitress.

"That means it's damn good!" she said. 

(I got the double cheeseburger which was accompanied by the face. The waitress was right.)

She asked us where we were from, I told her we were just passing through and liked to visit old downtown areas looking for unusual architecture. She told us New Bourbon used to have lots more buildings - not surprised - and mentioned we ought to check out Bone Gap, a town 15 or so miles east, near the Illinois border. Bone Gap was much smaller than New Bourbon, she said, but folks crossing the river tend to stop and look at all the old buildings there. It was a steamboat hub at one point, apparently. She said it's a bit of a ghost town now, although there was some "corporate interest" in the town 30 or 40 years ago.

Old transportation hubs usually have some interesting buildings. Shannon likes traditional architecture but I'm more interested in the "corporate" stuff that might yield something more modern. We decided to go ahead and make the detour.


Outside of Future City, Missouri

Bourbon County

We spent the night at a Motel 6 outside of New Bourbon and then headed east toward Bone Gap. I did some research last night - there's not much info out there on the town, other than a brief Wikipedia page corroborating the waitress' information about former steamboat infrastructure. 

I guess the name is a corruption of a French phrase meaning "good step" or something like that. There's a Bon Pas Creek nearby. 

Along Highway 51 we saw a sign marking "Future City," Missouri, which lacked even a population marker. Maybe they haven't started the city yet. We stopped at a gas station nearby and asked the clerk about the name - he said nobody even calls it Future City - everyone around here just lives in Bourbon County.

He also seemed amused that we were going out of our way to visit Bone Gap. But then most people can't seem to understand why we don't spend our vacations at Branson like everyone else.  

Across from the gas station there was a cleared area with a lot of cement rubble lying around. I asked the clerk about that, and he said he thinks it probably was a big truck stop at one point. I noticed what looked like maybe a water tower or something similar among the trees. 

We are about to hit the road again. 


Bone Gap, Missouri 

Bourbon County

Population: 251 (2010 Census)

We parked at a Dollar General near the downtown area so I could write a brief impression of the town before we head in. We've been in quite a few impoverished towns but I get an especially desperate vibe from this one. Half the businesses we passed along the highway were either closed or very run-down. Dollar General felt like it belonged in another decade, even though it was the newest building we've seen. 

Some of the people inside were not wearing shoes. Again, nothing I haven't seen before, but still a little jarring. It's always frightening to be in a part of America that feels like a third-world country. 

Shannon is inside picking up some gum and snacks. Downtown is several blocks from here. We already passed a Romanesque revival church that looked like it had a 1960s addition with tons of green glass blocks. We'll be back to take pictures of that for sure. 

Meanwhile from this distance I see the downtown was pretty large at one point and has quite a few run-down buildings that clearly were hotels or large stores in the past. The district runs alongside the Mississippi River and it looks like a levee keeps the water from running everything over. It's probably flooded multiple times in the past. 

I saw some church spires but the tallest building otherwise was one I took initially for part of a grain elevator, the kind you usually see in small rural towns. It's a grey, rectangular structure that's four (!) stories high, right among the other traditional brick buildings. It has some sort of funnel on top with a lot of birds flying around it. Maybe there's a dead animal on the roof.

Shannon is coming back, so it's time to wrap this up and go for a walk. 


Tulsa, Oklahoma

We're back home for the time being and I figured it's time to write about Bone Gap some more. 

It's definitely one of those places that sticks with you - just two shades short of a ghost town. After leaving the Dollar General, we saw three, maybe four people walking around. Maybe one of the buildings downtown was occupied. 

Sidewalks were overgrown - windows were broken - doors boarded up - at every corner. This was also one of the larger, more sprawling downtowns I've experienced in the rural midwest, making it even more jarring. 

As I figured, most of the architecture was traditionalist aside from some typical 60s additions to some of the shops. I suspect there haven't been many new buildings constructed downtown since the 1970s. I also confirmed that there have been quite a few floods in the town that destroyed significant parts of the built environment.

But other than the church I mentioned in my last entry, the most notable building downtown was the one I initially mistook for a grain elevator. 

It occupied the corner of its own block pretty close to the levee. The area around it was littered with rubble - I saw some metal reinforcements twisting out of the blocks, making me think there may have been some other, similar buildings around this one in the past. 

The building itself was a fantastic example of brutalism, the kind that would make Gropius proud. It was pretty much a forty-foot concrete thumb, each floor punctuated with a row of metal dishes that marked the supports, above which were rows of three hash mark-shaped windows, one set to a side. I was reminded of the stairwell at Trellick Tower in London.

Like a lot of brutalist buildings, the second floor overhung the first, with square columns supporting the overhang and the boarded-up entrance lurking in the shadows underneath.

I haven't mentioned the overall state of the building. It was in just as bad of shape or worse shape than the rest of downtown Bone Gap. What struck me first was how the whole building looked like it was standing in a pond - there was water pooled on the ground in a 10-foot radius of every side, some of it trickling over the curb and into the gutter. 

Also, the exterior of the building, all the way up to the second floor and streaking toward the third, was stained gray-green, as if someone had dipped the building into a swamp and left it there for a few years. Most of the boards over the entrance shined with black mold, and I saw collections of bumpy fungus collecting at the bottom.

Shannon didn't want to get closer to all the fungus and rot, but I walked up to the building and noticed some metal vents near the ground that were dripping a muddy, brownish substance onto the ground. Was there an old air conditioning system still on in there, maybe? That might account for all the moisture. But we didn't see any obvious machinery around the building. I felt moist, humid air issuing from the vents. Weird.

At this point the birds, which I'm pretty sure were crows, were nesting on the funnel-shaped thing on the building's roof. I could see the funnel was made of concrete (not metal, as I figured earlier), and I saw one of the crows flying off with a strand of something reddish brown dangling from its beak.

There was no keystone or signage to indicate what this building was used for. I suspect it was an office based on the structure. I guess it could have been part of the "corporate interest" that the waitress in New Bourbon was talking about?

Anyway, as I was looking at the vents, Shannon sat on one of the concrete blocks, and said it felt weirdly soft. That, plus the prevailing desolation of the area, creeped us out enough that we decided to get back in the car. I actually forgot to take pictures of the church I mentioned earlier, too.

That night I dreamed about walking through downtown Bone Gap and stopping in front of the concrete building - not too strange - I dream about downtowns a lot - but still a bit unsettling.


Tulsa, Oklahoma

I keep thinking about that building. While driving to work, I saw, in my peripheral vision, a building along the freeway that looked a lot like it. I made sure to look at that spot on the way back home, but I couldn't find it. 


Tulsa, Oklahoma

At lunch I went down on 71st Street to watch the demolition of a beautiful 1970s shopping center that had been abandoned for a while. I got a funny feeling from looking at the rubble left behind. A person standing next to me asked if I was OK, and said I looked pale. I realized I was clammy all over, and my knees felt weak. 

That night I had a dream I was throwing a party with a lot of loud music. I heard a knock at my door (I am always paranoid about disturbing my neighbors), but when I opened it, I was suddenly standing back in Bone Gap in front of the building, and I was up to my knees in water. All the music from my party had stopped.

I woke up drenched in sweat. Shannon is gone for two weeks on a business trip. I really hate sleeping alone. I might have to get myself checked out.


Doc couldn't find anything wrong with me. Might have been a panic attack, but they didn't want to prescribe anything prematurely. 

I felt good for a while after that, but I saw the building again in a shopping center off of Highway 64. No mistaking it. I even saw the birds flying around the top. 

I'm having a really hard time getting to sleep.


Saw the building poking out of a neighborhood on the way to work. Decided to do some research. 

I checked the National Register of Historic Places first, but didn't turn up anything there. Makes sense, that block of buildings would have been too young to get on the register before they were torn down. 

There's apparently a weekly newspaper in Bone Gap, which I called next. I tried several times over a few hours and got a busy signal. 

Then I managed to turn up the Bourbon County Historical Society. They have a phone number but are only in their office on the weekends. I sent an email to their chairwoman with my phone number.

As I was walking to my car last night, I'm pretty sure I saw the building silhouetted over the trees out past the office parking lot. There's nothing but a lake back there. My hands were so sweaty they were slipping off my steering wheel.


I haven't seen the building in a couple of days. The BCHS chair, Barb Erzfeld, called me.

According to Barb, Bone Gap has been the subject of a number of preservation and restoration attempts since at least the 1960s. But there's just no money for it. In the mid-70s, a company ("Brockway Solutions," she said) moved into the area with promises of "urban renewal," claiming they would bring however many millions of dollars of good-paying jobs back to the town. There were government incentives, the whole deal. Supposedly they would be able to employ almost half the town.

What Brockway ended up doing was tearing down a whole block of buildings, including the town's original post office, replacing them with a small office park. They brought in a bunch of professionals from their home state of Illinois to work in the office park, and announced they would hire unskilled labor at a "distribution center" a ways outside of town. 

The distribution center was supposed to be one of those self-contained industrial zones with its own fuel stations, restaurants, housing, etc. But folks in the county were already irritated about Brockway tearing down buildings just to bring in people from out-of-state, and then there was even more scandal. First of all, the distribution center was supposedly distributing "meats," and people were having a hard time figuring out how that connected with the offices in town.

Second, some journalists turned up that Brockway was a subsidiary of (one of multiple companies called) GENEX, a defense contractor that sold mostly to the U.S. military. This was all in the middle of Vietnam, too. 

Follow that up with some of Brockway's top executives taking their own lives a year later, and you have a recipe that left Bone Gap with a dead company, a cancelled distribution center, and a bunch of abandoned buildings. Barb told me that people hated the new offices and didn't want to use them for anything (a common reaction to Brutalism), not that there were any new jobs to create in Bone Gap. 

Worse still, the offices started to smell very bad. GENEX apparently came in around 1980 and started tearing them down. Then that company went bankrupt soon after and they left the job unfinished. 

I asked her about the mold and she said it was probably from all the flooding downtown. She said there are superstitions about it, but that's true of almost everything in Bone Gap. 

"It's a town full of ghosts," she said, chuckling.

I thanked Barb for her time. 

I feel really gross from all the sweating. I haven't decided if I want to call Shannon about this.


I saw the building behind Target tonight as I was going in to get some groceries. 

I went online to the skyscrapercity forums and posted about Bone Gap there to see if anyone else has seen the building. I searched the forum and didn't find any posts on it.


I saw the building just off the road near some tollbooths at Creek Turnpike. I started to ask the toll collector if she could see it too, but my mouth was too dry to say anything. I'm not sure if I want to know the answer. 

So far nobody has responded on the forums.

The sweating stopped, but now I feel like I've sweated out all the moisture in my body. My nose is bleeding a lot.


I felt weak and achy last night and my hands and face are breaking out in some sort of dry rash. I itch all over. I'm home sick today.

Someone on skyscrapercity sent me a private message. It was from a new user with the handle john_brown1984. He said, "Re: Bone Gap. Come meet me in Springfield. Don't waste any time. Don't go near the construct."

There was an address in Springfield, Illinois, and a phone number. I googled the address and it looks like it's a gas station. 

I still haven't called Shannon about this.


The itching is worse and the backs of my hands and feet are cracked. I went down to Walgreens for some lotion and the building was sitting up on a ridge behind the drugstore. Water was trickling down the side of the ridge from underneath the building. I had a sudden thought that if I washed myself in that water, the itching would go away. 

I dismissed this thought and went into Walgreens instead.


My throat feels like sandpaper and it hurts to blink. I've lost my voice, too. 

I called the phone number from the PM and got a voicemail. The voice just said, "This is john_brown1984. Don't waste any time."

I think I'm being trolled. But I'm leaving for Springfield tomorrow anyway. It's a seven-hour drive. I'll probably have to stop midway. I can't imagine doing that all at once with the way I feel. 


Rolla, Missouri

I drove for four hours. I put on a ton of lotion and wore thick socks and gloves. It helped for a while but the itchiness is getting worse and worse. 

Over the course of the drive, I saw the building three times on the median in the middle of the Interstate. Once, the water from underneath it was flowing across the road and I felt a fuzzy sense of security as I drove over it.

I'm outside a motel and I'm going to try to get some sleep. Shannon has tried to call a couple of times but I can't really speak. I sent some text messages saying that I was fine, just feeling hoarse. 


Rolla, Missouri

I have not been able to sleep. I thought it might be a good idea to turn on the shower and sit in the steam for a while, but when I got out of bed I felt something cold soak through my socks. The carpet was wet. 

For a moment I thought maybe there was a problem with the air conditioner, but deep down I knew that wasn't it. I also realized, with horror, that the dampness of the carpet was soothing the itchiness on my feet. 

I opened the door to the parking lot. The building was there.

The building is in the parking lot. 

The water is everywhere. The parking is a mirror. I can see the crows roosting in the stark fluorescence of the light poles. 

The air outside is humid. I felt like all the moisture stolen from my body is just hovering out there. Waiting for me, maybe. 

I know what the man from the forum said. But maybe I waited too long. I just want all this itching and paranoia to stop. I'm going into the building. 

I paused for a minute inside to write this. I'm taking my tablet with me. Maybe I can at least write down what I find.


Bone Gap, Missouri

When I walked out into the parking lot's humid air I felt better immediately. I took off my shoes and the standing water was like a balm. I headed to the building wearing nothing but shorts and a t-shirt, my tablet in a bag slung over my shoulder.

By the time I got to the front of the building, the water was about an inch deep. That same smell of pennies and baking bread was much stronger this time, but for some reason it seemed pleasant to me. Maybe because every breath through my nose up to that point had been a rasp of pain.

I walked straight to the boarded-up entrance and knocked on it. There was no response, but the boards gave under my fist like wet cardboard. I was able to peel away the rest of the board and walk right inside. 

I felt something like strands of spider webs brushing across my face as I entered. What I saw was an abandoned lobby - lit by flickering fluorescent bars in the ceiling - with a simple receptionist's desk in the corner, an elevator to my right, and beyond, a hall with many closed doors.

There was a marquee on the wall that gave the place a name - "Brockway Neoplasm Research Building 3" - and detailed whose offices were where. Lots of office numbers and names. The second floor was apparently a "metastasis lab," and the fourth was labeled "extrusion and hyperphase unit." 

The white ceramic floor tiles were mottled with pools of a brown liquid which I soon saw was dripping from the foam ceiling panels. It looked identical to the liquid issuing from the vents outside. The floor felt soft and warm on my bare feet. I still itched, but I had almost forgotten about my discomfort.

I heard a fumbling noise from the receptionist desk and started at what looked like a cluster of exposed tree roots, wavering in the darkness. The roots protruded from a central trunk, and at the trunk's end I could make out a vertical, oval shape that reminded me of a human head. 

There was nothing on the desk other than an old phone. I took a step toward it, and one of the roots jerked at the phone, which issued a burst of static and a metallic chirp, followed by a calm, androgynous voice: "Please go to stairs."

The tendril-root twisted away from the body and seemed to point down the hall. The lights overhead flickered and faded, then one, toward the end of the hall, relit. Off in the distance, I saw the door under that light open slowly.

I heard the phone chirp again. 

"Go up," it said. 

I walked down the hall and peered past the open door - it was a stairwell, with stairs leading up and down. They were glistening with clear liquid that was flowing gently down from the second floor. It swirled around in the landing before me and continued down past my feet. The lower stairwell was totally flooded with the liquid.

I thought for a moment that it made no sense for a building in a flood zone to have a basement. But I supposed that geographical rules did not really apply at the moment. I walked up the stairs. The liquid further soothed my itching feet. I was sweating again and it felt wonderful.

I reached the second floor landing. Where there should have been a door leading to the second floor hall, there was instead a solid, pink-red, fleshy wall. It was pinched in the middle like a sphincter and pulsed a little every couple of seconds. With each pulse, liquid flowed from the center of the sphincter and onto the stairwell. 

I felt a rush of acid in my throat. But the voice, speaking from somewhere above me, interrupted my thoughts.

"Up," it said. 

I kept going. I passed by a set of the hash mark windows. I glanced through - it was too dark to see much of anything, but the lights of the motel and the highway beyond were gone. 

I reached the third floor. The stairs continued up, but a tangle of the brown root-things blocked my way.

The third floor entrance opened and I stepped through. 

The whole floor was a sea of cubicles punctuated with floor-to-ceiling columns made of the same pulsating fleshy substance as the second-floor sphincter. The light panels on the ceiling appeared to be full of a pale, red liquid, which gave the place a red-orange ambience. The liquid seeped through the corners of the panels, dripping to the floor in ropey strands. Everything smelled very strongly of pennies.

It was hotter up here and very humid. All of my itchiness had gone - I felt totally relaxed. 

Two video cameras, hanging from the ceiling by more of the sinewy, root-like tendrils, followed me as I entered. The lenses glistened like dilated pupils. 

The cubicles themselves were mostly empty, but in some I saw more of the root-things either seated or standing in front of old computer monitors. Their root-tendrils were intertwined with the computers. The screens were on. What looked like lines of code were flickering past. 

I had thought maybe they were rooted to their spots, but then one of the root-beings stepped out of a cubicle. Actually, it was more like it seethed out - it rolled forward on its mass of tendrils, the fleshy ends slapping the floor panels. 

It rolled up to me. This one had a central trunk and an oval, head-like protrusion like the "receptionist," and on close inspection, I could make out deep, shadowy pockets where eyes might be on a human. Before, I thought they might be plants, but in the bloody light the thing looked like it was constructed of bare muscle. 

It extended a tendril, and I found myself holding it like a child about to cross the road. It rolled away, leading me around some toppled cubicles to the elevator. The door slid open, releasing ropes of the ceiling-liquid onto the floor.

I stepped inside. The root-thing remained in the hall, regarding me with its empty sockets. 

The door closed. I noticed that the elevator's instrument panel bulged outward, beige viscera poking out from behind it. The elevator lurched upward, and soon the door reopened. 

The fourth floor was totally unrecognizable from the rest of the building. Everything, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, whatever furniture used to be in here, was coated in bumpy, pink-beige flesh shot through with red-purple veins. The bumpy flesh had little patches of hair here and there, and I saw some crescent-shaped protrusions that reminded me of fingernails. The whole place thumped with a pulsing rhythm. 

The room was stiflingly humid, to the point that I could see steam rising off of the floor-flesh. I wanted to curl up and take a nap in the folds, but I felt compelled to move forward. 

In the center of the room was a three-food podium of flesh topped with a computer monitor and keyboard. The monitor looked like it was grafted to the flesh by a lattice of scarlet veins. 

Behind the podium was another flesh column, wider than any of the ones downstairs. Floating in front of it and over the computer were two medicine ball-sized orbs, black as tar and glistening. They hung from the ceiling from a web of nerve-like strands. The web connected to the podium as well as the huge column behind them.

I felt a presence here. Were the orbs watching me?

The computer was on, displaying a blank, black screen. The skin under my feet seethed, urging me forward, and green text spelled out a word on the screen: "Children?" 

A green cursor blinked. My hands moved toward the keyboard, so I could type a response to the "question."

But the keyboard crumbled like chitin under my fingertips, and my arms plunged forward into a deep, warm hole filled with a soupy liquid. The muscular insides of the hole closed around my arms, and immediately I felt a thousand tiny tendrils emerge from the soup, poking between my fingers and over my palms to my forearms. 

Steam vented from little sphincters at the base of the podium and enveloped me; the room seemed to quiver in a sort of ecstasy.

As for me, I felt euphoric and calm. I felt like this was where I was meant to be. I let the steamy warmth embrace my face and body. I wanted to strip naked and lie under the orbs for the rest of my life.

After a moment, the podium released me. A mass of tiny, spaghetti-like tendrils, warm and wet, crawled up my arms, poking under my shirt sleeves, and came to rest between my shoulder blades. The tendrils gently wrapped around my chest and neck. 

A grayish film closed over the hanging orbs, and the word on the screen changed. "Children."

I heard the elevator door slipping open again. 

I didn't really want to leave, but I drifted back down to the third floor. The root-things whirled out of their cubicles, feeling over my neck and back for the little clump of tendrils lurking there. I moved past them, and they allowed me to enter the stairwell. The cameras followed my movements.

I wandered downstairs to the lobby, and the "receptionist" stood in front of its desk, watching me with its faceless head. 

Through the hole I had made in the boards, I could see I was back in Bone Gap. I stepped through the ruined entrance and out into the rubble-strewn block. I sat on one of the rough-hewn blocks, thinking to myself, how cowardly for these others to give up so easily. I don't understand this thought.

Then I got my tablet out of my bag, typed out this entry, and sent you a text message which you hopefully received. I probably won't be here when you get here. I already feel itchy and dry in the air outside the building. 

Am I going to become one of the root things? Will the thing on my back consume me? I don't really know. I'm sorry, but I have to go back in. Don't worry too much about me. I feel wonderful.

You would like it here, Shannon.