Here’s the thing… I never thought that I’d ever actually be telling this story. I never had a reason to, you know? I mean, this isn’t one of those things that you tell your friends around the fire where you saw a strange creature in the woods or some shit. No. This is something that you try and bury into the deepest recesses of your memory in an attempt to never think about it again. It’s just… I don’t understand. No matter how hard I try and rationalize what happened to me a few months ago, it just ends up seeming delusional. Especially with what’s been going on the past few days. Even thought it feels surreal, I know that it happened. I know it did.
It was back in mid-October. The weather was starting to go to shit up here in Canada, so me and a few friends of mine decided to take some time off and head to Vegas. We weren’t rich or anything, but the girlfriend of one of my buddies worked at an airline, so she could hook us up with some cheap seats. And that’s what she did. Chad, Keith, Baker and I hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we were planning on going nuts. Work was just too much… we needed a break. What followed was a week of entertaining debauchery on the strip. It was fun I hadn’t experienced since college. It came to a boiling point when Baker puked all over some guy’s shoes, refused to apologize and then lost the subsequent fight. He called it a draw but… whatever. It was at that point where we decided to tone it down a bit. So we started heading to Death Valley.
You see, a common hobby that we all shared was that we loved biking. Back in middle school, we’d scavenge cheap, used mountain bikes from yard sales and then ride them around the local forest trails. It was the epitome of our youth. The pinnacle of childhood memories. We never really had a chance to get together and do it after we’d graduated, so we thought this was a better time than any. Besides, none of us had done it in the desert before. It sounded fun.
We made the drive from Vegas and stopped at a bike shop. We rented some of the fancier ones that they had on display. I mean, why have money if you aren’t going to spend it, right? After that, we picked up some snacks and beverages before driving out for the trip. We weren’t planning on an overnight, so we started off early in the morning. At first, it was great. We rode around in the heat, busting each other’s balls in regards to how out of shape we’ve become. We stopped every now and then, eating jerky while taking in the landscape and reminiscing about the older, simpler times before we’d entered the rat race. At one point, Keith brought out a bag of shrooms. Wherever the hell he got them from remained a mystery. He just guaranteed us that they were good. Now, the rest of us weren’t absolute idiots, so we declined. I wasn’t risking broken limbs for this shit. Despite our protests and name calling, he shrugged and a gulped a few down.
About ten more minutes passed without incident. That’s when the weird shit started happening. They were small incidents at first. If experienced in isolation, we probably would’ve thought nothing about it. In retrospect now… we should’ve turned the hell back at this point.
Keith said that he’d spotted something sticking out of the sand, off the trail. We thought he was tripping at first, so we just ignored it. He tried convincing us that he wasn’t, but we didn’t bite. About 5 minutes pass before Chad stops us. He tells us the same thing. This time, we checked it out, much to Keith’s annoyance. As we approached the place that he had been pointing to, it became clear that he wasn’t just bullshitting.
It was a ripped piece of cardboard. There looked to be a cut-off message hastily scribbled onto it. This is what it roughly said:
“-IT MIGHT BE HERE, BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS?”
Obviously, this was somewhat strange. We didn’t know what to make of it. But I guess it wasn’t enough to stop us from continuing our trip. We talked and joked about it a bit before we continued on. I mean, the message didn’t seem malicious or anything. Did it?
About ten more minutes pass before Keith announced that the shrooms had kicked in. We started taking it a bit slower, allowing him to keep up.
A little while later, we came across a tent. It seemed to be intact, but also like whoever put it up was trying to stay hidden. We probably wouldn’t have noticed it if Baker hadn’t gone to piss near some rocks. It was pitched up in a small crater in the ground. Maybe crater isn’t the best word to describe it. A hole, I guess? A small downward sloping area. Strange spot to try and camp, for sure. We called out, but nobody answered back. That’s when we went to take a look inside. We thought for sure that there would be nobody sleeping there. I mean, it was burning outside.
We were right. There was nobody inside. Just two sleeping bags, a small table and two fold-out chairs. But then we saw what was on the table. There was equipment. Shit like infrared goggles and motion sensors. Not really typical camping gear, you know? There was also a few shotgun shells lying around, along with a very strange looking knife. The only other thing on there was some Tupperware containers that had food in them. Moldy food. Like somebody had left and never came back for their stuff. That was when Keith started laughing hysterically. Nobody expected it. He was usually pretty mellow when high. We just looked at each other before asking him what was so funny. His response was straight up incomprehensible. In between breaths, he would utter out phrases like “He was followed” and “Nobody knew. Nobody knows.” It took a few minutes, but he finally calmed down. In fact, his demeanor changed drastically. He went silent. It’s almost as if he didn’t know what he was laughing at in the first place. Nobody really questioned him further. We just assumed that he’d taken some wack drugs. There was nothing left to do in the tent, so we left. We didn’t take any of the equipment, assuming somebody would be back for it.
Back in Vegas, we’d heard about a peak where we could apparently get a great view, so that’s where we decided to head next. Sometime along the way, Baker stopped us. His face was dead serious. He told us to listen, so that’s what we did. I strained my ears, trying to make out whatever the hell Baker was supposedly hearing. It took a while, but I eventually picked something up. And I… can’t really explain it. Not even right now. From what I remember, it was something of a combination between a high-pitched shriek and a low pitched-hum. But almost like… if they were reversed. So a low-pitched shriek and a high-pitched hum. Doesn’t make any sense, does it? Well my brain certainly thought so. Even though it was so quiet, I felt a migraine coming on whenever I focused on the sounds too hard. I looked around and everybody seemed to have the same idea. Baker and Chad both winced before their expressions morphed into one of bewilderment. But then we all focused our attention on Keith.
He wasn’t moving. Like, at all. He was just staring into the distance, roughly at where the sound was coming from. There was a stale expression on his face as he started speaking. Something along the lines of:
“It’s changed. They weren’t supposed to be here.”
And again, he just seemed to snap out of it. He chuckled and turned his head. “Man, it’s really starting to hit.” I remember him saying. Just like before, we really didn’t know what to make of this. So… we just kept going. We were almost there, anyways. However, I could tell that we’d all made a silent agreement to get the hell out of here after that. Except for Keith. Who the hell knew what he was thinking.
About thirty minutes pass and we finally make it to the peak. We all took in the magnificent view in front of us, almost forgetting about the stuff that had happened before. Even Keith was acting like he usually did when he was high. I took out my camera in order to capture the amazing sunset over the valley. That’s when we all realized something. Why the hell was the sun setting? We’d gotten here at around 11:00 AM. There was no way in hell that it’d been that long. I checked my phone and it read 11: 35. Well, that was obviously bullshit. We’d been out longer than that. I asked everybody else about it and they shared the same consensus. Something was wrong. I looked at my phone for about ten minutes and it didn’t change. The device wasn’t frozen either, the clock just stayed the fucking same. We all agreed that it was time to leave.
As we started walking our bikes back down the slope, Keith called out to us in a harsh whisper. He was gesturing for us to come back to the peak. I hesitantly obliged while Baker and Chad stayed back. Keith lied down on his stomach near the edge and told me to do the same. I got down next to him, fully prepared if he tried to push me off or something. He pointed and told me to look at something on the ground below us. There was nothing, so I asked him what the hell I was supposed to be looking for. “You don’t see it?” He said. “It’s moving. But I don’t know if it’s coming here or not. Keep your voice down and don’t let it see you.” Before I could ask him what he was referring to, he scooted back and ran to his bike. He sped away without us. Chad and Baker called out to him, but he just pedaled faster.
We hopped onto our own bikes and started chasing him. If those really were bad drugs that he took, we couldn’t just let him wander off in the desert. However, he was moving too fast. Faster than we thought he would have been able to. Pretty soon after, we lost him. At that point, it was pretty much dark. We also had no signal. Along with that, we’d gone so far in chasing Keith that we didn’t recognize our surroundings. Or at least, that’s what we told ourselves. The truth is, we hadn’teven gone that far. There was no reason why we shouldn’t have known where we were, but we tried to rationalize it. We didn’t know what else to do. Baker suggested that we keep calling out to see if anybody was around. I didn’t support that. It’s not even that I wanted to believe what Keith had said, but something in my subconscious told me that I should. We tried finding a way back Eventually, we had gotten ourselves onto a familiar path. But it was hardly good news. We’d biked in the same direction for hours before we came across a trail that we were on earlier. A trail that we were on about 15 minutes ago. It didn’t make any fucking sense.
However, we noticed something different. There was a smaller wood cabin a few meters off the path in front of us. It DEFINITELY was not there before. And the lights were on. As we got close to it, we could make out somebody laughing inside. Laughing hysterically. Chad said that we should check it out, just in case Keith was in there. Baker and I just looked at each other. It DID NOT sound like Keith. But before we could stop him, Chad was already on his way. We ran after him, barely catching up just as he opened the doors. We stepped into a tiny, barren room. There was pretty much no furniture. Just a small table near the far corner. There was also nobody inside. And no doors other than the one we had come through.
Chad seemed to come to his senses, because he agreed that we should probably get the hell out of there. As I was about to open the door, I caught a glimpse of something out the window. It looked like a person, but just barely. I could tell that it was at least nine feet tall and it was wearing some kind of older-generation suit. It walked in such a strange manner. It’s like it couldn’t move both feet at once and had to pause between steps. It also kept its head down, as if trying to not show its face or something. And its hands… they were twitching in a way that should not be possible. As it reached where our bikes were lying, it stopped. We watched for a while, but it didn’t move. Eventually, we shut the blinds. It was just… unpleasant to look at. I glanced over at the table again. There was a journal on it. I… really couldn’t tell if it was there before. But I assumed that it was. I opened it up and started reading through it. From what I can remember, it detailed a mostly ordinary hiking expedition. That was until the person started writing down strange shit. I know what you’re thinking… the same stuff that happened to us, right? Nope.
It was completely different. But just as horrifying. Apparently the owner of the journal had started hearing cicadas everywhere around him, but couldn’t see anything. He and his girlfriend had also come across a random pit in the middle of their path where a little girl wearing a tank top was doing snow angels – On hot, hardened sand. She was laughing hysterically as she spread her blood across the ground. I read a bit more before hearing Baker call out to me. Apparently the thing had left. Well, it didn’t leave. It just vanished into thin air, according to him. It was at that moment were the wooden floor underneath us started getting pushed by something underneath. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was. We ran to our bikes and started booking it out of there. Away from whatever the hell this was supposed to be.
I guess at some point, we’d lost Baker because he was no longer behind us. But I didn’t care. Neither did chad. We just kept going. We turned a corner and saw the glow of a bonfire up ahead. I remembered this place. It’s where we had stumbled upon the tent earlier. I didn’t want ride by it, but we had no other choice. Going on a detour didn’t sound like such a great idea. As we started getting closer and closer, we noticed that there was somebody sitting on a pull-out chair, right in front of the fire. As we got even closer, we realized that it was Baker. Or something that looked like him. We didn’t stop as he waved to us, sporting a disturbing ear to ear grin. As we passed him, he let off a hysterical laugh that followed us for longer than it probably should have.
Eventually, it had gotten to the point where we were about to pass out. I couldn’t bike any longer, so I got off and puked out all the jerky I’d been eating earlier. Chad fell to the ground, looking like he was about to faint. I checked behind us to see if anything was following, but there was nothing. I also tried an experiment of sorts afterwards. I took out my phone and checked the time. A wave of relief washed over me as the bright, digital screen read 2:42 AM. Chad and I walked our bikes the rest of the way back. We said nothing to each other the whole way.
We made our way to the car and rented a cheap motel for the night. In the morning, we returned the bikes. Upon seeing our alarmed expressions, the cashier had asked if something had happened. We just told him no. How were we going to explain it? As we left, I heard him say something under his breath:
“Not supposed to be there…”
Later, we called the police, telling them that we had gone biking and that Baker and Keith had gotten lost and we couldn’t find them. Nothing about the other stuff. They acknowledged this, asked us some questions and told them they’d look into it. We never got a call back.
After that, we cut our trip short and took the flight home. Chad and I started drifting apart, at a quicker rate than we had before. I guess we really just didn’t want to talk about it, which was fine by me. I settled back into my work routine and tried not to think about it. For a few days at a time, it worked.
I thought that the best way to forget was to never mention it to anybody ever again. And that was what I was planning on doing. Until I got a message from Chad two days ago:
“I see it, but I don’t know what it is?”
I didn’t respond to it. In fact, I blocked his Facebook account. I tried forgetting about it today, but I don’t think that’s going to work. I’ve been hearing laughter recently. Hysterical laughter. And I can’t tell where it’s coming from. What the hell happened?
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