Room 24


…a place of unlimited darkness.

“Where are the doors?” they asked nervously. “We can’t see any doors…”

“Be careful where you step!” said a cold voice. “This spot is taken.” Dozens of eyes blinked at us in the Stygian gloom.

By the time my uncertain visitors turned to ask me what to do I was already far away.

“There are no doors,” said the voice. “You are here with the rest of us now…”

Even my bellowing laughter couldn’t fill this space.

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]


Room Type:  TRAP     Doors:  4  11  14  21


56 thoughts on “Room 24

    • In the spirit of the year of room 24, I want to ask… what is the actual utility of this page? Why does Maze have a failstate?
      I mean, there’s the whole atmosphere of dread the book sets up about it being inescapable. The back cover and all the trap warnings wouldn’t be as captivating if the trap was just… a second loop.
      But Maze isn’t inescapable, it’s a book. When readers mess up and end up in 24, they’re not likely to start over—most will probably just flip to their previous room.
      Which is not a good course of action! Unless you’re coming from 4, it’s always better to just restart your “run.”
      It’s very interesting to me that the vast majority of Maze’s rooms lead to… nothing. In over half of the rooms, there is no point in not closing the book and trying again (from a prospective solver’s perspective.) I think this is why navigating the maze as a first-timer is so perplexing. There’s no way the author would do that, right?
      As a final thought, I’d like to say that 24 serves as a very forceful room 41. After toiling about in the loop, 41 gives readers an option to start over again—though I suspect few actually take it. (“Why would I go back to 1 if I could just restart the book? There’s no way I’m SUPPOSED to lose progress.”) 24 forces you out of the trap, if extra-diagetically. It’s actually very merciful!

    • It’s certainly merciful, in the manner you describe. 24 could have just had a door to, say, 35, and then you could go around in circles forever.

      I suspect 24 is included more for aesthetic reasons than puzzle design. Given Manson’s desire to paint the Guide as sinister, his Maze needs to do something worse than just waste your time.

    • For sure. I think it’s easy to forget just how disturbing it is to be a kid and unexpectedly encounter it for the first time.
      The text also implies that it’s a kind of purgatory. It lays bare the impossible geometry of the maze (no doors, unlimited space?) and yet describes the room as “crowded.” We were talking about House of Leaves earlier, and the existential dread of this room definitely gets invoked a lot in it. (Starting Only Revolutions, by the way! And ohhh boy you weren’t kidding about it, haha)
      I wonder what function this room might play in-universe… some sort of revenge fantasy where we’re isolated like the minotaur was made to be?

    • It’s mysterious, alright, and maybe impossible to answer without understanding the role of the Maze itself. Repeated underworld references suggest this is some corner of Hades if not Hell, and for countless visitors to persist living in the void of 24, it does seem like they must be something other than normal living people.

      If the Minotaur is a judge of the dead, as 22 suggests, who would have granted him such authority? Why? His Maze isn’t any kind of moral judgment; did Hades want a test of wits incorporated into his kingdom for some reason?

      Perhaps not, and perhaps this is just the Minotaur acting on his own, with some kind of mystical, spiritual, afterlife powers. He imitates his father by acting as a judge of the dead, but he has no actual sense of justice or concern for morality.

      Then again, it only says “dozens of eyes.” That’s not very many people. And “unlimited darkness” may not mean to say literally that this is some extra-spatial, infinite expanse. It might just mean it’s dark all around and always. And these might just be the recent victims of the Minotaur.

      Is that a possibility worth considering? Could the Maze exist not in a mythological afterlife, but on a mythological Earth?

      Oh, no, probably not, because the Minotaur died.

    If you take the 16 step path, it starts with ringing starting (Room 1/26), and ends with ringing stopping (Room 20). If you take a path to the TRAP (and eventually end up here) it ends with the Guide’s BELL-owing laughter.
    The mazegoers hear a ringing from behind a door in Room 1. In Room 26, he was the one to ring the bell (and I’m assuming, like the 37/10 connection with the arguing behind the door, it was because of the time paradox of MAZE that they heard it behind a door in Room 1.) I think that, perhaps, throughout the maze, they heard this ringing the entire time, because every time they entered a new room, the events in Room 26 happened once more respectively. When they “beat” the maze, the ringing stops: the cycle is broken.
    One problem with this is that they hear it again in Room 1 after the 16-step path, but that’s kind of another can of worms (do they ever really leave??). All that matters is that on the correct path, ringing starts at Room 1 and apparently continues until the end (possibly due to the Guide ringing it over and over, which might be implied by Room 26. The Guide ringing it IS what they had heard.)
    The Guide rings the bell to distract them. If you succeed in escaping the maze, you have gotten past his distractions.
    There is an issue with how they could have still heard the bell throughout- but that’s a bit arbitrary, all we need to know is that it was in rooms leading to 20, which probably suggests it had been going on throughout the maze, with every time the party leaves bringing a new version of themselves into the room and letting the Guide ring the bell once more.
    What am I getting at? Well, from what I can tell there are two “endings” to the maze. You either go through the Path and leave(?), or end up in room 24. I guess there is also the possibility of characters looping forever but that doesn’t really count as an ending. In the good ending, the ringing starts as a distraction, but at the end you pull through anyway and it ceases. In the bad ending, you are lead astray. The Guide IS the lesson, and due to the way he hammers in “I used to be royal!” and is so proud of the crown in, say, room 25, I am lead to believe the maze is his form of selfish revenge. He’s the lesson in that he’s the subtle focal point.
    In the only other ending besides the good one, the bell never stops ringing. Just like room 1 (an ending) is adjacent to a room with a bell (26), room 24 (an ending) is adjacent to a room with a bell (11).
    One bell, on the right path, is used for distraction. The bell on the wrong path promises assistance.
    The Guide wants to mislead us on the right path with the distracting bell, but on the wrong path says “whatever you do, don’t touch that!” for the assisting bell.
    If we enter room 24 and lose, the ringing will never stop. Versions of the party will infinitely go through the maze and infinitely lose. That’s why there are so many people in room 24. They are past versions of us. You know how I theorized every time we exit a room, a new version of us enters? If we enter room 24 and bring the cycle to a screeching halt, more and more of us will pile in there. It is said to be a very large space but still be crowded. When the voice says “you are here with the rest of us now…” it is telling the mazegoers they are with the rest of themselves, the ones who failed. More will just arrive, and soon THEY will be the ones who have to say, “this spot is taken.” Each time you open up MAZE, you’re taking control of a new party, with your past failures still in 24.
    And how does the guide give the bad ending a close? Remember how every other beginning and end concerned the bell? By stating, “Even my bellowing laughter couldn’t fill this space.”
    The bell is never going to stop ringing in room 24. More parties will never stop arriving. Saying “BELL-owing laughter” is a clue to how the Guide rung the bell at the very beginning to distract them, and succeeded. They failed, and now they get to feel his pain of confinement in the twisted game of MAZE.
    When you lose MAZE, the last two things you will see will be the bell in 11, and the guide’s “bell-owing laughter” (well, you wouldn’t see anything in room 24, but you know). If you win, the last thing you will hear will be the LACK of the bell (silences are as eloquent as sounds!) You must escape his misdirection or suffer eternal consequences.
    One last thing- a cowbell is a bell tied around a cow’s neck to locate it at all times, to track its movement. Which would be something shameful for the Guide. His duality and animal side is what caused him his troubles, and the idea of collar with a bell meant to track you (not that he had one of course) would be an upsetting prospect for him.
    If the Minotaur is using the maze for revenge, to make the mazegoers feel how he felt, trapped, locked in the labyrinth, treated like a monster…
    Having a bell ring wherever THEY go would be quite ironic ;)

    • You inspired me to rewatch the episode as well. Not a wealth of helpful leads, but the Lewis-Sara interactions in that episode are hilarious. Well worth the 100-minute runtime.

  2. Far in the background, there is a single eye. Interestingly, the eye is perfectly circular. Here’s why:

    This is the door the Minotaur takes to leave room 24. It leads back to room 0, the prologue. It is “far away”, as the text states, and 0 is nothing, so there still “are no doors”.

    This door can only be taken by the Minotaur and not by the guests, who are stuck here forever.

    The end of room 24 next to the beginning of the prologue:
    Even my bellowing laughter couldn’t fill this space. The Maze.

    This suggests, as is in fact the case, that the whole House is a trap.

    • I had always thought that the “The Maze” in the prolouge felt a little odd… Keeping with the tradition of ending a room with “we went to” and starting the next room with wherever you are, treating “The Maze” like the next location works really well. I’m not so sure about the eye being a door but I love this interpretation of the text connection!

    • I see the single eye-
      Actually, I see two, one in the foreground, one in the background, both very small.
      But I don’t think they are eyes, I don’t think Manson intended for them, they are just tiny white specks.

  3. The eyes are all 0s. Page 1 being room 1 page 0 would be the prologue. Room 24 leads right back to the Prologue, which starts outside the Maze: this room isn’t a trap but your only means of escape!

    • WELL probably a tongue-in-cheek suggestion but, among other problems, if this were permitted then one could get to the center and back in fewer than 16 steps.

    • It depends what the prologue counts as. If going back to the prologue is a logical step to be made, then yes, there could be a faster route. (Although you would have to count prologue-1 as a step both times.) If it counts as a “restart” clearing all your previous progress, then no, there couldn’t be. It’s all semantics, I suppose. As for the fact that nobody would be in the room, not everybody would be clever (or possibly deluded) enough to find a way out.

    • Or possibly, only the Minotaur can take this route to greet a new group of guests.

    • Posting links on this forum is problematic (I just tried, and it may show up shortly), but elsewhere on this site is the following summary of White Raven’s conversation with Manson:

      ‘I spoke with Mr. Manson today and asked our first question, “Is there an escape from The Trap.”

      ‘The short answer is no. The long answer is interesting. Manson said that if he allowed MAZE to be traversed via any method other than visible door numbers, the result would be an arbitrariness which would erode the integrity of MAZE. For MAZE to function the structure of the House needs to be stable. The only hidden door number, he said, is the door to Room 17.’

    • (The fact that this was a priority question for Manson demonstrates how eager the general reader is to defeat the apparently unwinnable state of the Trap. WE’VE ALLLLLLLLLL BEEN THERE, buddy.)

  4. “This pit is as black from pole to pole.” – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley – Birds robed in black do not give up their secrets easily. They love to watch us marvel over their messages. Black birds demand our commitment to learning their wisdom, and do not reveal their meanings unless they are convinced we’ve devoted ourselves completely to the path of understanding (both dark and light sides of) energy.

    This concept correlates to lunar themes too. The symbolic meaning of blackbirds is eternally linked to the “dark vs light” phases of the moon. I’m talking nocturnal awareness. Illumined lunar understanding which requires a different use of the senses. Sense which can only be utilized when transformative devotion is made. A commitment to higher knowing (flight) and an acceptance of the void (infinite vastness that eludes the ego and rational mind).

    This is a fundamental concept of alchemy which is: Transition and Transformation. The bird is symbolic of life in the Heavens (higher ideals, higher path of knowing) and the color black is symbolic of pure potential. Between the two, there is no limit to human transformation – all we have to do is close the shutters of the rational mind, and start sojourning with our darkly feathered friends.

    Black birds (in general) are archetypes of living life in higher realms, and are symbolic of:

    1.) Higher Intelligence
    2.) Higher Thought
    3.) Higher Ideals
    This is because birds are (metaphorically and mythologically speaking), situated in proximity to the higher energies of the Universe. This also positions them as heavenly or divine oracles and messengers in cultural myths across the globe.

    Blackbirds and birds of black or dark colors are special among their airy clan as they are the symbolic of:

    The Unknown
    Pure Potential
    Non – obvious Perception
    Through consistent unveiling of your Inner “Depths”, (as our coal-black avian friends would have us do) positive/active utilization of these Inner impulses the esoteric secrets become exposed to the light of your own consciousness.

    Are these concepts deep? Absolutely. It’s the nature of the color black laid softly against airborne oracles (blackbirds, ravens, crows, etc).

    It is no simple mind that summons these onyx beauties. Thankfully, these sky-clad lovelies will never come to a person who is not equipped to read the deeper meanings behind its presence. Better said: If you did not already know the answers, you would have never had the encounter… B

  5. I think that if we make the guide the Minotaur from Greek mythology, and the maze the labyrinth, this could either represent death, (when he finally gets bored and just kills you) or Daedalus’ workshop were he (and now you) are locked in

  6. He doesn’t. The crowd enter before he does, and he simply turns and silently departs. There is nothing in the conversation which states that he actually enters.
    Thoughts on this please? Have I got it wrong?

    • If the guests enter Room 24 directly from the Path or Loop rooms, then guide can simply go back that way. If they got there from the trap rooms, then he can go back and climb up the slide to Room 41 and get there. Or unlock one of the locked doiors in The Cage. If they went in through the mouse hole in room 14, I can imagine the guide giggling about how they’re trapped like mice.

    • No pal, you ain’t got it wrong, he does indeed depart before they realise they are trapped.
      But if you have managed to work out how a magician does his tricks; and believe me you’d have to be exceptionally good to be able to do that, then you’ll have the devil’s own job of working out how this lot figures! (takes a deep breath) I am almost ready to give up. But we’ll have another go…
      Back to the entrance and try again…

  7. If you believe that the eyes in here are only the eyes of your group, the number of pairs of eyes drawn could indicate the number of people in the group. That said, I always imagined the group to be something like 5-10 guests and a bit smaller than the 19 pairs I count here, and I always thought the eyes included those of previous groups. The narration text seems to agree with me that there are far more eyes visible to the travelers than their own group.

    I wonder whether those in the Abyss die of thirst, or whether they live in darkness forever?

    • Sorry I Had To,

      Welcome to The Abyss!

      The general consensus is that there is nothing here to solve. Feel free to prove us wrong.

      White Rave

  8. Just food for thought about descriptions in the narrative, what is “Stygian gloom”? This is mentioned when we are told that dozens of eyes blinked at the guests “through the Stygian gloom.” Any thoughts? Also, now for speculation…could the creatures in the Stygian gloom be previous guests who also made the mistake of wandering into room 24? Also gives us an guide identity clue, simply that the guide is pretty mean. After all, he laughed when the guests failed and were trapped. Any ideas on “Stygian” or what the creatures are? Am I missing a reference with Stygian?

    • It’s a reference to the river Styx in ancient Greek mythology. Basically Room 24 is akin the underworld, the place of death, in Greek mythology.

    • Ahh, thanks for that. Makes sense now that I think about it…

    • The word ‘stygian’ comes from the Greek God of the Underword Stygis, who stole away Prosperine for six months of every year, then she returned to her mother Ceres (Goddess of the crops – hence ‘cereal’). Thus we have six months of darkness (winter) and six months of light (summer). Any questions? There will be a test later! :)

  9. The visitors can’t get out of the trap but I don’t think Manson actually says the Guide can’t get out but then the Guide should know better than to go in to begin with.
    Some ideas for this room 1: Holding the picture upside down, the eyes look better to me…that could mean we have little bats hanging out here. In keeping with my monster theory this could mean Count Dracula (you can count on me) has led his “children of the night” as he calls his bitten kept prey. “BELlowing LAughter clues BELA LAGOSI.
    Some ideas for this room 2: “Four and Twenty blackbirds baked in a pie”, nursery rhyme…no doors in a pie. 20 sets of eyes and four visitors about to join in.

    • Interesting. We recently said that 4 seems the best number for the number of visitors although other numbers are possible. And there are 20 sets of eyes here. That does give you 4 and 20 that matches the room number, and the song, and the song matches the identity of the guide. The rest of the song seems unmeaningful, however. “baked in a pie” could mean trapped I suppose. But simple songs like this are used elsewhere – like in room 9, so that is a plus. It does not really help us in anyway, other than maybe some slight help on the identity of the guide. But then there is no other help to be gotten here since there is no way out of the Trap. Actually – song or no song – it might count as good evidence that the number of visitors is 4, just because it would make 24 sets of eyes in room 24.

  10. Does the guide actually enter this chilly room? Or does he keep out and basically tells all of us that he will enter when hell freezes over?

  11. Reposting here in room 24 rather than general comments.

    White Ravens sample of this page has 24 eyes to represent room 24 I imagine. The book has 40 eyes, I think to suggest the correct path back in room 11. Also the text has the word “dozens” which is non-random looking. There are 3 dozen eyes pictured, with a remainder of 4. 3,4 = room 34. The eyes are clues for eyes! We could not possible know that without a clue to room 34!

    To me the eyes are part of a (here ironic) theme that tell us we need to look Raven in the eye to escape the Trap. And maybe “blinked” in the text helps us know that we can see the eyes. Maybe they are windows to the soul?

    How does the guide get away? Does he fly? And if this is the void of space should we think of “devil bird” like in room 26? Google tells me that song is about the dangers of fate.

  12. SP, somehow I can’t imagine the King of Pop bellowing with laughter. By the way, DG, don’t overlook the “Bell” in bellowing (i used to have a theory about that). And Greg is right, how does the guide get out? There must be a way out of room 24 and the Trap.

    • Tell me more about bellowing theory. I see bell and wing. Both could be significant but I can’t mAke much of them there.

    • Bellowing is not a common word, so probably not random. The Bell in Bellowing could be referring to the Bell in the devil/stage room or the bell in room 11. Also mentioned in one room (I forgot which) is that the guide heard a faint ringing behind a wall. Guide didn’t want the guests to hear (a clue!) and rushes the guests onward before they notice.

  13. THis is what I had in 2012. Anything else?

    What can we say about this room? Dead end? It is the only room which has a description ending it a period, for obvious reasons. BTW – “Stygian” means “of the river Styx”, and may mean this is supposed to be the ancient Greek underworld or land of the dead (or “hell” if you’ve skipped ahead to the final message in room 43).

    No “Christopher”s here!

    • One more note is that to get the 190 doors counted in room 5, we have to count doors that terminate here, even if they are unmarked.

    • David Gentile,

      Yes, overlooking the doors in this room is why people in the past were using debatable doors (such as the bricked up one) to try to reach 190.

      White Raven

    • David Gentile,

      I didn’t realize until I read your comment that I had put a solve meter on this page. I agree with you that there is nothing really here to solve. I am deleting the erroneously placed solve meter.

      BTW – I enjoy creative use of punctuation and have my favorites for every mark (ie. the asterisk* in Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos). This is my favorite creative use of the period. The end.

      White Raven

    • Phew, that’s a relief.

      Re: Solve meters, do they only relate to the three stated puzzles in the book (riddle/path)? Or does it also gauge clues that can be gleaned pertaining to the non-stated puzzles?

    • Hello Gregor,

      The solve meter reflects everything a room has to offer that can be solved with the exception of anything relating to the Riddle of the Guide.

      The five boxes are just way of gauging percentage. One room which is presently unsolved has only one riddle (that I know of) when solved the meter will go from zero to five. Other rooms have so many riddles that two have to be solved for the meter to go up one.

      White Raven


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