A secret room is good for hiding things. A secret room inside a secret room, now that’s where the real secrets are kept. The hidden safe under the floor boards contains the alternate will, giving the family’s errant son nothing. A cupboard hidden behind a painting contains the gun that would bring the entire company down, and sending the entire board to prison. The kind of thing you can never let another person in the whole world see.
But the secret room inside a secret room inside the secret, that’s where things start to get weird. After navigating through the passage in the kitchen, then through the trap door in the secret room, then through the secret passage in the fireplace in the secondary secret room, you find a plain white room with a steel frame table with a six pack of New Coke on it. Nothing else. Why would somebody do that? It’s not that valuable, is it? Have they gone mad? Have you gone mad?
Then there’s secret rooms inside the secret rooms inside the secret rooms inside the secret rooms. We’ll call them 4th level secret rooms, because otherwise we’d all go mad. Madder. Maddest. Inside the hidden room in the attic with the wall painted over is a safe hidden behind a painting. Climb into the safe and you’ll realize it’s a dumb-waiter, taking you down to the basement. That doesn’t make any sense, the house doesn’t have space for a dumb-waiter. Or a basement. In the new room in the basement, or wherever you find yourself, you’ll see what looks like a mirror. It’s not a mirror, but a sheet of glass, with another you on the other side in an identical mirrored room. Crack it and walk on through to level 4. You should have brought a gun, because your double definitely has.
5th level secret rooms. You understand by now. Follow the garden path down, step by step, door by door, deeper and deeper into this farce. The door in the room at the bottom of the well leads to a ballroom filled with mannequins, under one of which is a ladder leading to the bedroom you had when you were a child. In the closet, behind the monster, is another door, leading to a plain concrete room with nothing on the walls, and behind the painting that isn’t there is another door leading to the storeroom. Are you happy now. Is this what makes you happy? You haven’t been happy since she died. You thought she had hid secrets from you, and it turns out she had. Layers and layers, tessellating bullshit, forever secrets within secrets. You’re in here because she put you in here. Guess you’re the secret.
6th level secret rooms. Time and space have broken down. Through the wall, the cupboard, the safe, the fireplace, the painting that screams at you, and then through the door that looks like a clown for some reason. Not a statue of a clown, or a painting of a clown. The door looks like a living, breathing, joking, sobbing, clown. You open him up and walk through. You’re outside again. How are you outside again? Is this New York? You weren’t in New York. You find your way back to the house, the hidden rooms, and complete the cycle again and again. Just keep going down for months. What level are you even at really? Is that even a meaningful distinction.
7th level secret rooms. Are you dead? Is this hell? You don’t remember how long You’ve been in this house, looking for rooms, trying to find… what are you trying to find. If the sun is anything to go by, you haven’t eaten or slept in at least a month. You must be dead. You thought hell was supposed to punish you for the things you’ve done, but you can’t imagine what you’ve done to deserve ironic secret room torture. Of all possible hells, why this? You would trade it an instant for the one with fire and pokey bits.
8th level secret rooms. Words. Words words words. Semantics have broken down. Sentences don’t mean anything anymore. Nothing means anything any more. You’re just rushing through doors, hoping you’ll find a way out. A word. At one point you walked into a photograph, and you don’t even know what that means. One minute you’re in a stately Elizabethan villa, and the next minute you walk through a photograph and you’re on a beach. There were a lot of bodies. How is this a secret? Words.
9th level secret rooms. You found a door in the basement, hidden behind a layer of mud and bricks. You go through it because you have to, you have to find what’s at the end, even though you know you’re not going to like it. You end up in the same basement again, with the same mud, same brick, same hidden door. Nine times. Nine times you go through to nine basements all arranged in a row. All empty. Why did Susan do this to you? What is the point?
10th level secret rooms. You can keep going. You can keep going forever. Just sinking down, drowning in it. She gave you the house in her will. It was the house she grew up in, and she gave it someone she wasn’t even related to. There’s so much in her house, your house. An infinity, possibly. An impossibility, probably. An improbability, certainly. An uncertainty, definitely. You start laughing and you never stop, and that’s how Susan gets you in the end, trapped forever, somewhere in folded space in a room that can’t exist, laughing. Her final revenge was making the world stop making sense. It’s a good trick. They’ll never find your body, no matter how hard they look.
11th level secret rooms. Secret sex dungeons. You don’t know why, but 11ths are always secret sex dungeons. It’s just weird. People are weird.