01 Feb I’ve been a search and rescue diver for 12 years Part 3
Despite all the things that have happened, I’ve decided to stay here. To be honest, I fully intended on leaving as soon as possible after my last post. But that changed when I went to Michael’s funeral. It was a grueling experience. He was only twenty-two years old. His girlfriend cried the entire time, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty when I saw his young friends carrying his casket to its final resting place. His death never should have happened.
I had another nightmare last night. This one was the worst yet. Just like last time, those hands reached up from the darkness and grabbed me, covering my mouth and pinning my arms to the bed. That sickening fishy smell turned my stomach and my eyes began to water as I struggled against them.
Then two more hands rose up and held my eyes open. I watched in horror as a face protruded from the ceiling above me. It was like the one I had seen at the water, all green and mossy. Tears began to stream down my face as I recognized the features – It was Michael.
“Why did you do this?” He said, cold black fluid dripping from his mouth.
I tried to respond but couldn’t past the hands that were clasped over my face.
“Why why why why…” Michael went on and on, his voice becoming raspier with every query. I laid there for what felt like hours while he stared down at me and asked why I’d done this to him.
I woke up in a cold sweat and could have sworn that disgusting smell still permeated my room.
I’m beginning to think that this is all my fault. I should have heeded the warnings about Badwater. I don’t think I was the first to go there, but I was the first to see the truth of it and come back alive.
Badwater isn’t just well known amongst the divers. There’s a variety of local legends about that part of the river, and, when I think back, I recall hearing something about hands that dragged people to the water’s depths. Growing up, kids would spread rumors and folk tales about Badwater and the river as a whole. As I got older, I assumed they were just stories that grown ups had made up to keep us away from the dangerous rapids.
I began digging into the history of our town. Legends go back as far as anyone can remember, and even the natives told stories about the river, treating with a certain fear and reverence. I found an eerily familiar description of a Native myth about the river. It was in the library’s archives as part of a local university professor’s thesis regarding metaphorical folklore.
The myth tells the tale of a young man who lived by the river. He had everything he ever wanted: a beautiful wife, a son, bountiful harvests, and a warm place to sleep. However, that all changed when he was overcome by a terrible sickness. That same sickness spread to his wife and child. He recovered, but his family didn’t, and he was left alone.
He still had a warm bed at night and healthy crops, but he fell into a deep depression. Unsure what to do with himself, he would wander the river’s edge for hours, silently hoping that one day he would fall in and be swept away from his troubles.
One day, while pacing the riverbank, he heard his wife and child crying out for him. Frantic, he searched everywhere for the source of the voices. They began to tell him that they were living happily in the river now. His family urged him to dive in and join them so that he too could live happily. Without a second thought, he jumped in only to drown, cold and alone.
The person who examined that myth believed it to be a warning against desiring things that we’ve lost and getting caught up in the past. I now know this isn’t true. The myth is a true story and warns people against the dangers of those things that live in the river.
Through further digging, I’ve found that there’s actually a lot of native lore about the river. Many of them are similar to the story I told you about, but there are others that make this whole situation seem a lot more complex. Many of them reference some kind of god or spirit that the natives worshipped. There are a few different translations, but the most common one I’ve seen is “King Moss.” Some stories refer to him as a personification of the river itself, while others describe him as a spirit with whom the people struggled.
However, one common theme is the existence of a sort of pact made between King Moss and the locals. Some stories made it sound like they sacrificed people to him in order to quell his rage, while others described a situation in which he was to be left alone in exchange for not actively hurting humans.
I can’t help but be reminded of the agreement that Moose and the others mentioned. Could they be referring to a pact similar to this one? I don’t know about this whole King Moss myth, but after all that I’ve seen I’m almost willing to believe anything.
After that, I got the idea to plot out all the disappearances and deaths that have occurred in the past few decades. What I found was pretty typical. Most reports were evenly distributed around the most dangerous parts of the river as well as the areas where the most people tended to gather. However, I noticed an unnerving trend. Reports in which there was no body recovered occurred almost exclusively in the areas around Badwater as far back as the reports go. In those areas, a body was only recovered about 15% of the time. This was commonly attributed to the strong current there which supposedly carried them too far to be found. But now I know the truth. The hands got those people and dragged them down to feed.
However, while doing this I noticed something even more intriguing. I was using a couple different maps to plot out the disappearances when I realized there were inconsistencies between the two. Curious, I looked at a few more maps and saw even more inconsistencies. They were all relatively similar aside from a few changes due to creeks drying up and urbanization.
However, there was one area deep in the forest west of Badwater that didn’t seem to match up on any of the maps. Some of them indicated nothing but forest there, while others showed a small lake. A few of the older maps even depicted a cave system.
I used Google Earth to look at the area, but something strange occurred. The picture was incredibly pixelated. Everything around it was clear, but it became blurry as soon as I toggled over to the area where the maps were inconsistent. It was still somewhat visible, but I had difficulty discerning anything other than tree coverage.
I’m surprised that I’d never been there before. I’ve spent a lot of time wandering the forest, and I somehow never managed to stumble into that place. I’m going to check it out soon. I think this secret goes deeper than Moose and his crew. There’s more to this, and I’m determined to figure it out.
Wish me luck, and if I don’t come back…. Well just wish me luck.