01 Feb I’ve been a search and rescue diver for 12 years Final
I Messed up.
After discovering that strange area on the maps, I decided to go there. I packed everything I thought I’d need: hiking gear, a camera to record my findings, emergency flares, and a gun. I wasn’t going to let myself get caught off-guard. By that point, I was determined to get to the bottom of the town’s strange mystery.
I headed out at about noon, deciding that it was best to do my exploring in broad daylight. I wanted nothing to do with those things that came out near the river at night – the lures as Clyde had called them.
Speaking of which, there have been three disappearances in the past couple nights. I have no doubt that it’s the work of those eerie faces. The other SAR divers have been searching relentlessly, but I’ve called out sick every day. I want nothing to do with Moose and his crew until I figure out what’s going on. I feel a little guilty about it, but I’m hoping that my investigation will save more lives in the long run.
I headed toward that strange area I had discovered, choosing to move through the densest part of the forest in order to avoid running into anyone. The hike was surprisingly long and arduous. I could hardly find my footing after all the rain we’d had. Within fifteen minutes I was soaked to the bone, covered in mud, and had nearly broken my camera twice.
The trip took incredibly long, longer than I expected. It seemed as if I was circling around the area without ever getting closer. I scrutinized my phone closely. I had been using it to guide me, but somehow I kept getting off course.
My destination should have been directly to my east just over a mile away. I turned in that direction and headed straight, but, when I looked down at my phone, I realized that I had somehow veered north. I was a little closer to my destination but grew more distant with every step in the wrong direction. I don’t know how to explain it. I just kept veering off course without intending to.
This persisted for several hours, and I feared the sun would set before I even got there. But I grew closer, little by little, until finally I reached my destination. The sight of it bewildered me. A soaring rock structure stood in the center of a large clearing.
The structure is hard to explain. Imagine cutting off the top 500 feet of a mountain’s peak and then just plopping it down in the center of a field. That’s what it looked like, an unconnected stone structure that rose to a jagged, pointy tip. It gave the distinct impression of a pyramid, though lacking the smoothness and straight angles that one would expect. A fissure in the front appeared to lead into a passageway.
Strangely, a small river ran out of the cave’s mouth. It only appeared to be about 10 yards wide, and it meandered across the clearing until it diverged in the woods. The water was crystal clear and flowed surprisingly fast. I followed it until I reached the mouth of the cave.
I looked inside to find only darkness, the passage going back as far as I could see. It seemed to be relatively straight with no tunnels branching off. I entered the cave and noticed that the air immediately grew colder. It must have dropped at least ten degrees from the outside. I shivered and zipped up my jacket.
The river continued as far as the passage did, and I followed it as I delved deeper into the strange “mountain.” I noted that there were no stalactites or stalagmites in the cave. While it lacked any smoothness or markings that would indicate a manmade tunnel, it also didn’t seem to be natural. The whole place had a strange air about it.
I continued deeper until I was sure I must have been in the heart of the structure. At that moment, I noticed an eerie bluish light in the distance. It grew closer and brighter until I almost didn’t need my flashlight. The passage grew narrower until I was just barely tip-toing around the edge of the river.
The light brightened until I suddenly found myself in an enormous round cavern. The walls were covered in thousands upon thousands of small glowing green insects. Glow worms. I had heard of caves like this in New Zealand but didn’t think they existed here.
However, what drew my attention sat at the center of the cavern. My breath caught in my throat when I saw it, and my hand immediately went to my gun. The river dwindled until it ended in a clear circular pool. In the center of that pool rose an enormous stone throne that seemed carved directly from the floor of the cave. It was adorned with beads, reflective stones, and precious metals. Normally I would have found it beautiful, but that beauty was ruined by what sat atop it.
I can only describe it as a figure. It must have been at least fourteen feet tall and sat straight, almost regal, on top of the throne. Its hands rested on the arms of the seat and a stone crown sat atop its head. Dark green moss comprised the body, much like the face I had seen by the river. Black stones sat where the eyes should have been, and they stared sightlessly down the length of the tunnel I had just come through. I shivered at the thought of that thing watching me the whole time I had been approaching it.
There was no doubt. That thing was what the natives had referred to as King Moss.
That’s when I noticed the smell. It was disgusting, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it earlier. It was exactly like the smell in my dreams, a gut-wrenching combination of grass clippings and rotten fish. I nearly vomited and tried to focus on breathing through my mouth. That wasn’t much better, though. I could taste it on the air. It coated my tongue and throat, making it impossible to ignore.
I covered my mouth and nose with one hand and pulled out my camera with the other. This must be the source of all the weird shit going on. This was what the native myths had talked about, and I was going to make sure everyone knew about it.
I turned the camera on, pointed it at the green figure, and…nothing. The image was too blurry to discern anything. There was just a mess of black and green shapes smudged across the screen. I rubbed the lens on my shirt and turned it back to the throne only to find it the same as before. I couldn’t get it to display properly.
I was moving to wipe the lens again when I heard a voice behind me.
“It won’t work.”
I whirled around to find Moose standing there. He glared at me with a weary look in his eyes.
“He has a way of staying hidden,” Moose said, nodding to the enthroned figure. “Cameras won’t work, not even film. Hell, it’s a miracle you even found this place. Most people would get lost.”
I slowly began to reach for my gun. He noticed the motion and threw his hands up in surrender.
“Whoa now,” he said. “I mean you no harm.”
“Yeah right,” I responded.
Moose furrowed his brow. “Listen, you can keep your hand on that gun all you like. You can even point it at me if that makes you feel better. Just hear me out and promise not to shoot me for no reason.”
I kept my hand resting on the gun at my hip but nodded.
“You won’t believe me when I say this, but I’ve been trying to protect you.” Moose sat on the cold stone floor, looking tired. His normally clean-shaven face sported a shaggy beard and dark circles ringed his eyes.
“Bullshit. Just like how you tried to protect all those people down at Badwater?”
Moose remained silent for a moment, and his eyes took on a distant look. “You have no idea how much I wish I could have.”
I stared at him for a moment. He seemed genuinely sad. There wasn’t any malice to him. He was just a weary old man. I kept my hand near my gun but decided to hear him out. “What is all this, Moose? Why couldn’t you save them?”
He nodded to the throne once again. “Do you know what that is?”
“King Moss.” The name sat heavy on my tongue. I felt as if I had just spoken something terrible into existence.
He chuckled. “I see you’ve done your reading. Yes, that’s what the natives referred to as King Moss. But do you know what he is?”
I reluctantly shook my head.
“’There are creatures that existed long before humans on this earth, and then there are beings that existed long before even them.” He stared at King Moss. There was neither fear nor reverence in his eyes, just weary acceptance. “He existed before almost anything else on here. He was ancient when the first fish took steps on land, even more so when the first settlers made their way to this place. Maybe he’s a god, or maybe he’s just another creature like us. All I know is that he has powers beyond fathom.”
“You can’t kill him?”
Moose shook his head. “That thing over there isn’t him. I mean, it’s certainly a part of him, maybe something correlating to a head. But cutting off the head won’t kill something like him. He’s the river, he’s the groundwater, he’s the plant life in the water, he’s everything. His influence extends beyond even the river. There’s no stopping him. We can only abide by the pact.”
I remembered the agreement I had read about in the native myths as well as the one that I heard the older divers referencing. “And what exactly is this pact?”
“I’m not entirely sure of the reasoning behind it, but King Moss seems to be a lethargic sort of creature. He doesn’t like being challenged, even if his challengers don’t stand a chance. He just likes to sit in silence and eat. Nearly a thousand years ago, he came to an agreement with the natives. He would mitigate his power, relegating it to certain parts of the river, and only feed off those who fell in. In exchange, the people wouldn’t attack him and would let him eat in silence.
“One rule of the pact is that only a certain few people would be allowed to know of King Moss’s existence. These people were to guard his secret and ensure the covenant remained unbroken. They were the protectors. The role was passed down generation to generation, and, once the natives left, it was passed to the settlers. Clyde and Ryan are the protectors now, just like their fathers and grandfathers before them.”
I had trouble processing all that he had told me. This went back so much further than I could have imagined. “What about you?” I asked. I knew Moose had moved here when he was in his thirties. He couldn’t have inherited the role of protector like Clyde and Ryan.
“Not long after I moved here, I was out hunting in the forest nearby. A sudden storm appeared – one like I had never seen before. I couldn’t even see through the driving rain. I stumbled through the forest, looking for any kind of shelter, and came upon this place. That’s when I saw him.” He glared at the green effigy with disgust. “I told Ryan about it the next day. That night he and Clyde planned on killing me, but then that thing spoke to them. It wanted me to serve as a protector. Apparently, something about me had caught its eye.”
He suddenly looked to me. “You broke the pact when you came back from Badwater alive. I didn’t tell Clyde or Ryan because I knew they’d kill you. But King Moss knew, and he became angry. That’s why he started using the lures again. It was a warning.”
“What can we do?” I asked.
Moose looked to me and sighed. “You really don’t get it do you?”
“It took a while for me to realize it too.” He gestured to the throne. “He can talk to us. It’s like a voice in our heads, but not exactly words. I can’t really explain it.”
I glanced at the creature on the throne and shuddered at the thought of it speaking in my head. “Okay, so?”
“He knows you went to Badwater, and he could have told Ryan and Clyde at any time.”
I cold chill ran down my spine as I began to realize what he was implying. “So why didn’t he?”
“Those two aren’t opposed to killing anyone who threatens the pact. Hell, they proved that just the other day with Michael.”
“I’m sure you think it was those hands that got him, or maybe the lures drew him in. That’s what the others implied to me, though I doubt it. He had overheard us talking about the little boy who went missing a few nights ago. Needless to say, some of the things he heard were…incriminating. I have no doubt that Ryan or Clyde killed him and made it look like a drowning. If he had been taken by Badwater then his remains never would have been found.”
“They killed him?” I was bewildered. I knew that something dark was happening and that the older divers were intentionally ignoring the threat that Badwater posed, but I couldn’t believe they would actually go out of their way to kill another diver.
“Yes,” Moose said. “And they would kill you too if they knew you’d seen Badwater. So, the question is why didn’t King Moss tell them about you?”
I remembered what he’d told me about when he began working to protect the pact. How Clyde and Ryan had tried to kill him, but King Moss had stopped them. “He wants me,” I said.
Moose nodded. “He wants you to protect the pact.” He smiled wryly to himself. “I think he has a thing for divers.”
Suddenly I felt like the giant green figure on the throne was staring at me. It hadn’t moved, but still it seemed like I was being watched. That thing wanted me. I clenched my fist. I would never work for that it.
“Help me kill it,” I said to Moose. “Or at least help me get away.”
Moose shook his head. “I can’t.”
“Yes, you can. There’s still good in you.”
“You don’t understand.” He stood up and stared at me with a look of utter defeat on his face. “I literally can’t.” He began to take his shirt off. Confused by his actions, I gripped my gun tightly. However, my grip fell when I saw what was beneath his clothes.
A green mass sat in the center of his chest. Seaweed-colored veins branched off from it in every direction and faded into his skin. It pulsed like a second heart and my stomach turned as I watched his skin stretch over it.
“What the fuck.”
“This is his mark,” Moose said. “It’s how he shows that I belong to him, and it’s how he keeps me in line. I can’t act in opposition to his will. It burns if I do, and it will kill me if I act blatantly against him. It’s been aching ever since I found out you went to Badwater, and I can’t even leave the town. It’ll kill me if I go too far.”
“What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck…” I backed away from Moose as I muttered it over and over. Things had just gotten so much weirder. I pulled out my gun and pointed it at him.
“Go ahead,” he said. “I don’t care anymore.”
My hand shook as I put my finger on the trigger. I stared at him for what felt like and eternity before finally letting my hand drop to my side. I couldn’t do it.
“I’m going to leave now.” The words sounded hollow. I was badly shaken by that point.
Moose shrugged. “Go ahead. You can’t escape, though. This will all end on way or another.”
I ran out of the cave then, and, once out, I kept running. I stumbled through the forest in a mad dash. It’s a miracle I didn’t trip and kill myself. I ran until I got to my car and sped home.
This will likely be my last post. I’m going to try to leave tonight. I have the bare necessities packed, and I don’t care where I go. Anything is better than this. I don’t know what King Moss has in store for me. If he’s as powerful as Moose claims, then he might have ways of keeping me from leaving. I don’t know. God I’m scared.
Wish me luck.
This will be my last post.
It’s all become too much.
After making my last post, I quickly grabbed my bags and threw them in the car. I was going to leave. I didn’t really have anywhere to go. With no relatives, few friends, and a dwindling bank account, there wasn’t much for me outside of town. But anything was better than what I’d seen in the cave. I wouldn’t mind drifting or sleeping my car. I was sure I could find a job somewhere. Just anywhere other than here.
I immediately hopped in the driver’s seat and headed south. I maintained a straight course, having no clear destination in mind. I wanted to get away as quickly as possible. However, as I approached the city limits, I began to feel a dull ache in my chest. The town grew further and further away, but the ache grew as the distance increased. It felt as if something heavy were pressing down on my heart and lungs. My breathing became labored, and the pain even spread to my arms. For a moment I thought I was having a heart attack, but then I remembered the thing that had been in Moose’s chest.
I pulled over to the side of the road. By that point it was more than just an ache. It felt like someone had hit me in the chest with a sledgehammer, and my whole body burned with a horrible, pulsing pain. I could barely breathe, and my legs shook beneath me. I yanked up my shirt and looked at my chest.
The skin in the middle was raised and greenish, and dark veins radiated out from it. I watched as it pulsated slightly, just barely enough to notice. That thing was the source of the ache. My breath caught in my throat and I began to cry.
I don’t know how long I did so. I must have stood by the side of the road for at least thirty minutes, just a shaking, sobbing mess. It was all so overwhelming. The sudden appearance of that thing in my chest combined with the mind-numbing pain that I was feeling. After a while I managed to regain my composure and climbed back in the car, determined to get away from this thing. But the pain grew and grew until my vision began to go black. I kept going despite barely being able to see. However, after a while my vision went completely. I couldn’t even drive anymore. I got out and began to walk, determined to just keep blindly moving south. But it wasn’t long before my legs gave out and I laid on the hard asphalt in a pitiful state.
The pain was too much. I crawled back to my car and turned around, heading back to town. As I did so, the ache lessened until it finally disappeared. At that moment, I knew that I belonged to Him. There was no denying it. I don’t know when it happened. Perhaps it started when I went in that cave, or perhaps it had been happening slowly all along. It really doesn’t matter in the end.
Over a week has passed since then. I’ve spent most of that time alternating between being a sobbing mess and in a catatonic state. It’s all just too much. I sit in my house now, writing this. It hurts to do so. Acting against Him – even writing about Him – incites the pain, but His hold on me isn’t as strong as the others. Not yet at least. I write this because I feel that I must. The truth must be set free, though I feel there is little that can be done about it.
I have come to certain realizations in the past few days. I can feel myself growing closer to Him, becoming one with His mind. Perhaps the pact wasn’t so bad all along, but I now know that He won’t be satisfied with the pact. Moose was wrong about it all, though surely He must feel the truth now. The King isn’t lazy. He was merely resting, and the pact was a method of easy sustenance until it was time for Him to rise. That time is now.
I can feel His cold rage and His terrible hunger. I fear for what comes next in this town and the surrounding areas. I have no idea how far His influence stretches, but if Moose was telling the truth, then He might be unstoppable. As He wakes, I can feel Him becoming more sentient within my own mind. It’s strange, like a second thought process that constantly underlies the first. I fear it will overtake me soon. I don’t intend to let that happen. I will not let myself become a mindless servant to this monstrous creature.
The thing on my chest is beginning to look a lot more like the one that was on Moose’s. I tried to cut it out, but it wouldn’t let me. The knife stopped inches from my skin, and no amount of effort could force my arms any further. He is part of me forever now. I fear there’s nothing I can do to remove myself from Him. It won’t be long before we are one in the same.
I have my gun with me. I intend to use it on myself. To whomever reads this, know that everything I have written is the absolute truth as I know it. Do not search for me. Similarly, do not search for this town. Only horrors await you here. Either you will be devoured by them or you will unleash them upon the greater world. I want neither of these things to occur. Just know that He exists, know that other things like Him exist in our world, and be wary. Live with that knowledge. Let it sit deep within your gut and never forget it. Do not let things end as I have.