“The Devil’s Toy Box” is an urban legend that savvier horror fans will recognize as the inspiration for the infamous Lament Configuration from Clive Barker’s seminal Hellraiser series. Though in reality the titular “box” is not a toy at all but rather a small room where the floor, the ceiling, and the walls are each composed of one giant mirror.
According to the legend, if you stood inside this mirror-room alone for too long, supposedly the devil would show up and steal your soul. In most versions of this story, he did so by flaying you alive. I mention all of this because about two weeks ago, I got an email from an 18-year-old girl located in Northern Louisiana who we’ll call “Erin” (the specific town where Erin lived shall go unnamed for reasons that will soon become clear).
Like a lot of places, the town where Erin lived had its own annual haunted-house attraction that went up every October. The attraction was called Farmer Grave’s Haunted Orchard and in years past, it had been every bit as thrilling as that name suggested; which is to say not very. So for Halloween 2014, the owners decided to spice things up by building several new interactive installations, of which included a windowless shack called The Devil’s Toy Box. This shack housed a small room composed of large wall-sized mirrors.
That’s how Erin heard it described anyway — she had never been inside the Toy Box herself. Farmer Grave’s closed less than a week after opening that year — a result of the numerous people who had to be hospitalized after going inside the Devil’s Toy Box attraction. Erin didn’t get a chance to try out the Box for herself before the closure, but she had heard countless stories about it from her classmates at school.
Apparently, no one could last longer than five minutes inside the room. There was even a large timer set up beside the building that showed the current occupant’s length of stay under a second clock displaying the longest recorded time up to that point, which maxed out at four minutes and thirty-seven seconds before the attraction finally closed. The man who managed to last that long (Roger Heltz, age 52, father of three) had been reduced to a wide-eyed mute. To this day, he still hasn’t said a word.