01 Feb My Friend Is Camping Alone, His Texts are Starting to Scare Me Part 3
As soon as I landed in Denver, I powered up my cell. I had a series of texts from Dylan’s phone. I’m not sure what time they were sent.
Me: Who the fuck is this? Where is Dylan?
Me: I’m with the police. We will find you.
There was no response.
After I got my luggage, I rented a small truck and drove to the ranger station. The police officer I spoke with told me they were letting the ranger handle the investigation for now. As soon as I arrived, I was escorted to a back room. I assumed it was the same ranger that had talked to Dylan. He was a lanky, disheveled man with shaggy, black hair and pale white skin. He reeked of smoke and looked like he hadn’t slept in years. I sat down across from him. He placed his hat on the table, lit a cigarette, and spoke:
Ranger: “We called you down here because, at first, we needed your phone as part of the investigation, but I’m afraid that is no longer necessary.”
His raspy voice was tattered and broken. His clothes shared the same features.
Me: “What happened?
Ranger: “I’m sorry, but–I cannot discuss any details at the moment. You need to leave this to the professionals. We will do everything we can to find your friend.”
Me: “That’s bullshit!”
Ranger: “I’m so sorry, but we cannot have civilians interfering. We need you to stay safe and out of the way.”
Me: “I got text messages from his phone right after I landed! Something happened to him!”
Ranger: “I know this is hard. We are searching all possibilities, but we do not believe there was any foul play. Teenagers in the area have been known to play pranks on lone campers. You are more than welcome to help us with reports. I know how hard it is to lose a friend…”
Me: “Oh and these teenagers slash tires and steal phones to send violent threats too!? FUCKING DO SOMETHING! You even told Dylan that he was in danger!”
Ranger: “ I promise we are working night and day. I think the best thing to do is stay off the trails and be there for his family and—”
I couldn’t even let him finish his sentence. I was too upset. I stormed out, and he didn’t attempt to stop me. I know that was all bullshit. What was he trying to keep from me? I had text evidence that Dylan was being followed by someone or something. I’m going to figure this out. I went to the only place I was familiar with in the area…Dylan’s apartment. I still remembered his door code from the last time I had visited.
The apartment was eerily quiet. I was overcome with feelings of fear and sadness. As soon as I saw a picture of Dylan in the kitchen, I couldn’t help it. I had to cry. After a few moments, I collected myself, opened the fridge and pulled out a beer. I needed to sit and think.As I got up to throw the empty beer away, I saw something in Dylan’s kitchen.His Colorado map. I had forgotten all about it. Dylan used this large topographical map to keep track of all the places he trekked. The map was riddled with black thumbtacks and a few white ones. Dylan’s method was simple. Black thumbtacks for the areas he had already explored, and white for his upcoming adventures. I wrote the coordinates of the white markers. I searched through Dylan’s apartment, and collected the remaining camping gear. I grabbed a wooden baseball bat from his closet as well.
I knew where to go.
I loaded the truck, tossing the supplies in the truck bed, and headed to the mountain. It was a long drive, eventually I passed the old bridge on the way, I didn’t notice any sign of recent construction. Ten minutes later, I pulled up next to Dylan’s car. It was eery to see the yellow police tape wrapped tightly around the body of his white sedan. It made the situation all too real. As soon as I parked the pickup, I dropped a pin on my phone.
After what seemed like an eternity of hiking, I reached the point on the map where Dylan had marked, and I got to work setting up camp. I was running out of daylight. I constructed my tent and placed a sleeping bag inside. As soon as night fell, I lit a large fire and quietly snuck away from camp. I took cover in the trees about 100 yards away. I posted up beneath a large tree, cracked open an energy drink, and kept my eyes glued on the tent.
Nothing. I thought I heard a few footsteps rustling in the leaves, but I chalked it up to the wildlife.
It was quieter. Still nothing.
“OH SHIT!” I yelled as I jumped. I almost had a heart attack. Three deer walked by me. I had started to nod off, and they woke me up.
I was exhausted, cold, and trying to stay awake. I drank my last bit of caffeine.
I saw something. Walking towards the tent. It was man. With a flashlight he started looking in and around my tent. What the fuck?
He noticed no one was in the tent and started shining the flashlight around the woods. He didn’t see me.
He started leaving and headed South. I followed. I’m took off my boots so I could walk quietly. I threw on a couple more pairs of wool socks, and kept my distance.
I continued to follow, taking countless turns in the dark. He seemed to be wandering, shining the flashlight in front of him as he walked.
4: 17 AM
He finally stopped near a pile of leaves. He tripped on something–and started brushing away the leaves. Then I saw his face…it was the park ranger. here were doors under the pile–huge, metal, cellar doors. A chain was fastened around the handles, and the doors led straight into the ground. He stopped to smoke a cigarette, pulled a notepad from his coat pocket, and scribbled something down. After he finished writing he started looking through a flip phone.
There was no way…
I sent a text.
Me: “Where is Dylan?”
THIS PIECE OF SHIT HAD DYLAN’S PHONE. It chimed right after I sent the text. He fucking read it and whispered to himself, “I told you to leave it to the professionals,” and put the phone back in his pocket. I wanted to kill him. I was blinded by rage. He’s started undoing the chains, and making a lot of noise. I couldn’t let him disappear from my sight. I was running out of time.
I did it.
I fucking hit that piece of shit in the skull with the bat. Right before he opened the doors, I swung as hard as I could. He fell to the ground and didn’t move. The chain rested next to his bleeding temple.
He never heard me coming. I’ll never forget the sound when the bat connected. That dull thud and crack of solid wood smashing into bone. Sweat and blood misted in the air as he fell. I opened the cellar doors, and I wished I hadn’t.
It was the smell—a putrid stench of rotting of flesh—that hit me first. As soon as I saw the first limb sticking out of the massive mound of corpses, I had to look away. My head was spinning, and my stomach turned over.
I was mortified by what I had just seen.
I got back to Dylan’s apartment. I was still sweating and breathing heavily as I bought a plane ticket for the next flight home. I decided the best plan was to call to the police when I landed. I just wanted to go home. My heart was pounding.
Red and blue lights flashed outside as a police car pulled up to Dylan’s door.
I had to try and keep my cool.
I spoke with the officer. I felt like I was going to vomit.
As we were talking about Dylan’s disappearance, the officer’s radio receiver sounded. I listened in horror.
Some campers discovered a scarecrow—strung high in a tree, with a noose around its neck. The campers claimed dark liquid was seeping through its burlap skin, and it was wearing a park ranger’s hat.
My thoughts began to race. I’ve made a huge mistake. The ranger was just investigating a lead which led him to the cellar. He must have found Dylan’s phone after I got those weird texts. But how did he get a key to the cellar? I … I acted so quickly. I hit him with the bat and ran.
“Oh shit. What have I done? I just left him to die. And most importantly… that cellar? What the fuck was that?”
My phone chimed, I had a text from an unknown number…