Previously: How To See Your Future In A Mirror.
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As far as I know, the ritual game Eye Spy, which is also sometimes referred to as the Binoculars Game, appeared on the internet for the first time on the r/NoSleep subreddit in 2013. It’s circulated a bit since then — it pops up on Quotev from time to time, for example, and it appears on a few non-English language sites — but much of its origins remain unknown. We can’t even ask the Redditor who posted it on NoSleep about it — they’ve deleted their account. The Reddit post isn’t archived on the Wayback Machine, either, so I’ve been unable to dig up anything about this mysterious, deleted Redditor through my usual channels.
For what it’s worth, the original Reddit poster said they found the rules to the ritual in “a creepy book has been passed around my family.” They wrote that they hadn’t tried to play the game, but that the text that followed in their post was taken directly from the book. Some things to think about with regards to that backstory: The stories on NoSleep are generally fiction, even if they operate under the rule, “While you’re here, everything is true”; however, it’s not unheard of for actual true stories to make their way to the sub (the Smiling Man, for example), so it’s possible that the original poster’s setup — that they found the ritual in a book that’s been passed around their family — could, in fact, be the origin of the game, rather than a fictional backstory.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
We have no way of knowing, though, so… do with that what you will.
For the curious, the children’s game with which this ritual shares its name — I Spy With My Little Eye — is actually a fairly recent invention: According to the Phrase Finder, one of the earliest references to it only dates back to 1937. At that time, it appeared in an article published by the Canadian newspaper the Winnipeg Free Press. Binoculars, however, are much older: Their development is closely tied up with that of the telescope, with the earliest records dating back to 1608. The credit for their final invention usually goes to J. P. Lemiere; that device was developed in 1825.
Also of interest: The figure summoned by this game seems to have a few things in common with the Midnight Man. Just, y’know… worth noting.
As always, play at your own risk.
- 1 principal.
- 1 partner.
- A house with at least two entrances/exits and three windows.
- Flashlights, battery-powered lanterns, or other small sources of illumination. Ideally, they should be operated via on/off switches. You should have as many of these devices as there are windows in the house.
- Extra batteries (optional, but recommended if using battery-powered light sources).
- A piece of paper.
- A writing implement.
- A piece of rope or twine measuring at least five meters/16.5 feet in length.
- Something to anchor the rope to. Anything from a heavy piece of furniture to a wall anchor will suffice. If you opt to use a wall anchor, make sure you have the means to install it on hand.
- A sharp object. A knife, box cutter, or pair of scissors is ideal.
- A timekeeping device.
- A pair of binoculars.
- Begin after the sun goes down.
- Go to the house in which you have chosen to play. Bring all your supplies and your partner with you.
- Close and lock all the entrances/exits and windows.
- Check all of your light sources to make sure they work. Replace any batteries or lightbulbs if necessary. Then, go from window to window in the house, opening the curtains and placing one light source on the windowsill of each. Make sure the light sources are turned off at this time. (You may keep other light sources, such as overhead or recessed lighting or floor lamps, on at this time.)
- Position the anchor for your rope near one of the entrances/exits, making sure that there are at least five meters between it and the door. If using a wall anchor, make sure it is properly installed. Tie one end of the rope firmly to the anchor. Make sure it will not slip loose, even if pulled upon with a great deal of force.
- Position your partner near the entrance/exit at which the rope has been anchored. Tie the other end of the rope around them. Again, make sure it will not slip loose, even if pulled upon with a great deal of force. They should NOT be able to reach or unlock the door. Instruct them to remain silent throughout the game — no matter what happens.
- Use the writing implement to write the following words on the piece of paper: “We welcome you. You shall not be harmed.”
- Slip the piece of paper under the entrance/exit at which your partner is positioned.
- Pick up your binoculars. Take hold of your sharp object. Keep them both close by.
- Keep an eye on your time keeping device. Wait.
The Main Event:
- At precisely 10:30pm, move from room to room, turning any lights off in the house that are still on at this point as you go. As you travel through the house, continuously repeat the following words softly, under your breath: “Come, come, come with me. We’ll have lots of fun. Come with me.”
- When you have turned off all the lights, return to the entrance/exit under which you previously slipped the piece of paper. Place your ear to the door. Do not make any noise. Do not allow your partner to make any noise. Listen carefully.
- If you hear nothing: The ritual has failed. Do not proceed. Turn on the lights, untie your partner, and leave the house. Retrieve the piece of paper from under the door and destroy it. You may try again another time… but perhaps it would be wiser if you did not.
- If you hear a soft knocking sound: You may proceed.
- Keeping your binoculars and sharp object with you at all times, move from window to window throughout your house. Upon reaching a window, turn on the light source you previously placed on the windowsill and look outside with your binoculars.
- If you see no one, or you see someone you know: Turn off the light source and move onto the next window. Repeat The Main Event: Step 3 at this new window.
- If you see a figure in the distance: You’ve found him — good. Now let’s just hope that you found him in time. Proceed to The Ending.
- Once you spot the figure, shout, as loudly as you can, “Forgive, for I am mistaken.”
- Close your eyes for a brief moment, then open them immediately.
- Look out the window with your binoculars. Is he still there?
- No: Good. You did find him in time. The game is now over; you may untie your partner, unlock the entrances/exits and windows, and safely leave the house. Retrieve the piece of paper from under the door and destroy it as soon as possible.
- Yes: It’s too late. Did you lock the entrances/exits and the windows? All of them? I certainly hope you did. Even if you did, though, that may not be enough to stop him. Make sure your sharp object is at hand. Be prepared to use it. Do NOT untie your partner. Hope for the best. Hope that he finds other things in your vicinity more interesting than he finds you.
- Do not play this game again.
This game must be played in a house. If you do not live in a house, find one to use if you wish to play this game. Do not attempt to play it in any other building than a house.
However, even if you do live in a house, it may be wise to find a different one in which to play this game. Do you really want him to know where you live?
If using battery-powered light sources, it’s recommended that you collected enough new, unopened packages of batteries to power each and every device. Bring these new packages of batteries with you to the house in Step 2 of The Prelude and insert the batteries into the devices during The Prelude: Step 4. If it is not possible to collect this many new, unopened packages of batteries, you may use whatever batteries you have on hand — but be warned: It would be catastrophic for those batteries to run out in the middle of the game.
You may use candles and matches or a lighter as your sources of illumination, but it is NOT recommended to do so. Live flames are… unpredictable.
During The Main Event, repeat Step 3 as many times as necessary. If you visit each window once without seeing him, start again, revisiting each window in turn. Look quickly, but look carefully.
You MUST find him before he gets too close.
Concerning Your Partner:
It’s frequently said that the partner is required only for comfort — to provide the principal with a companion so that they feel less alone while undertaking this ritual. The rope, it is said, is meant to keep them safe. It’s more dangerous outside the house than it is inside it, you see; should they panic for any reason, the rope will prevent them from running outside.
However, it is possible that the partner serves a different purpose.
It is possible, for example, that the partner is intended as bait.
Why else would you need to tie them up?
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[Photo via jcboiza/Pixabay, remixed by Lucia Peters.]