Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
Dear Mr. Valentine,
As per your request, I’ve collected reliable morsels of information from the many and often incoherent accounts that detail the events which transpired in Merton on September 2nd, 1996. It is only with great reluctance that I reveal this information to you, for I fear for my life that I am pursued with the intent of execution. Yet, I am a professional, and as such I will hold up my end of this terrible bargain, but I warn you that you may be better off unaware of the events which transpired in Merton on September 2nd, 1996.
August 31st, 1996
According to the more reliable sources, even with which corroboration was a cruel goal, the event began on August 31st when the librarian, Ms. Laurie Lasalle, came across a leather bound book called Apocriphex which she believed to be worth quite a great deal of money, for it’s binding and contents suggested great age. The book, though I now dread to speak of it, was written in a language which Ms. Lasalle could neither understand nor distinguish. Determined to discover it’s value, she brought to the nearest university, LSU at Shreveport, where she presented it to some of the faculty for appraisal. Among them (the varying sources cannot seem to agree between the presence of three faculty or four) was Dr. Vance Ridley who told me in my interview with him in 2004, “I felt a deep uneasiness about Apocriphex and could tell Dr. Smith [alias] felt the same way. I’m not a religious man, but the closest I’ve come to belief in the spiritual was when I beheld that ancient book, and now I am glad to believe not, though Dr. Smith believes I do so foolishly.” According to Dr. Ridley, an authority in cryptanalysis and linguists, the book was written in some perversion of Latin and Occitan. The bastard language was very pleasant to hear, nearly musical. Though Dr. Ridley assured me that the translation, though he could only produce a rough one, was not so easy on the ears. The document which contained the translation has since been lost before it could be shipped to me, though Dr. Ridley has told me that the tome was a collection of old alchemical recipes, perhaps written by an Aquitainian monk in the 9h century, though it’s condition would seem to place it a much more recent date. He assured me that the translation bordered on nonsense, though from out conversations, Mr. Valentine, I am lead to believe that you would disagree. I am still searching for the translation.
September 1st 1996
On September 1st, early in the morning, Ms. Lasalle retrieved Apocriphex from the University who warned her to take caution with the book, for it was a priceless artifact; considering it’s bizarre contents and pristine condition. This information was relayed to many friends of Ms. Lasalle on their September 1st book club meeting. I have spoken with many of those women, and it is from them that I have gathered much of this information regarding Apocriphex, though the current location of the original copy alludes us all. After her book club, which ended around noon, Ms. Lasalle went home and showed the book to her boyfriend, Mr. Gary Rogers, who owns that quaint diner on the bluff near Caddo Lake. Mr. Rogers, excited by the nature of Ms. Lasalle’s find, urged her to bring Apocriphex to the city-wide picnic to be held near the lake. She agreed to do so. This information regarding Apocriphex cannot be tied directly to the event which would transpire the next day, though the arrival of the old book only two days before the event seemed too ominous to ignore and with this suspicion I present this report. Ms. Lasalle died on September 2nd, 1996, and so I could not question her. Mr. Rogers spoke with me briefly before suggesting I leave the town, which name has since changed (as you know) and which I am obligated not to report here.
September 2nd, 1996
At 9:00am, then Mayor, Frederic Murphy went out to the site of the picnic near Caddo lake with two wildlife experts and four members of the city council, one of whom still serves to this day. It was a clear day and the lake was calm. The wildlife experts confirmed that there were no alligators in the area and set up a monitoring station in the thicket of some nearby trees to watch for any unwanted wildlife that may intrude about the picnic. The city councilman whom I could reach for questioning reported nothing unusual during this precaution.
At around 10:00am, volunteers began setting up tents, tables, and chairs. A local extermination company was hired by the city to treat the area for mosquitoes and did so. Some of the volunteers think that the chemical used to repel and kill the mosquitoes may have somehow been connected with the event. Scattered reports claim there was an altercation between one of the exterminators and volunteers, both of whom were in the process of divorce. None of the exterminators who were present that day still worked there when I reached them for questioning, but the manager, who was only present for the treating and not for the picnic itself, suggested that the volunteers had set up the grill too close to the water’s edge. Comments from the former mayor suggests that neither of these reports are reliable since he recalls a distinct division between the exterminators and volunteers regarding the nature of the divorce.
At 10:30 am, Merton Police arrived and began setting up cones. Most of the police officers who were present are now deceased, but one survivor, Officer Daniel Patton, says that nothing seemed out of the ordinary besides having to escort a hysterical woman off of the lot.
At 11:00 am, residents of Merton who were taking place in the annual chili competition were allowed to set up a their tents. According to Mr. Rogers and a few volunteers, Ms. Lasalle was quite a contender for this event and showed up early to set up her station. Officer Patton reports that there still seemed to be nothing of note occurring at this point. According to Mr. Rogers, she had brought Apocriphex with her. At some point between 11:00 and noon, the wildlife experts had to chase away an alligator who had come to close to the lot. According to the wildlife experts, it was rare for alligators to travel so far away from the deeper channels of Caddo Lake, though it certainly wasn’t unheard of. Otherwise, they reported nothing of note.
At noon, the picnic was officially open to the public. Before 1:00, a good portion of the residents (the population of Merton was 426 as of 1990) had arrived and begun setting up their areas. Many witnesses report a general uneasiness, though this likely only a sentiment believed to be felt in hindsight. Officer Patton recalls seeing Apocriphex when sampling Ms. Lasalle and Mr. Rodger’s chili, but didn’t think much of it. This is the last reported sighting of the book before the incident, though Mr. Rodger insists that Ms. Lasalle had shown the book to several people who had stopped by for chili. When pressed for names of people who may have remembered having contact with the book, he could only provide names of individuals who have since passed away. This is where reports begin to vary. According to the wildlife experts, there were two alligators swimming quite a distance from the shore who were being closely monitored. According to Officer Patton, reports to the police ranging from one to seven alligators required for most of the Merton Police force to be stationed at the shore to watch for alligators. Most of the residents I interviewed were unaware of the alligators or stated there were none at all.
At 1:00 pm, on September 2nd, 1996; disaster struck in Merton, Louisiana. What happened exactly is nearly impossible to say but I have tried with the utmost meticulousness to string together what seem to be incoherent and unrelated reports for the sake of clarity, though I believe this to be a laudably hopeless pursuit. Most witnesses recall the picnic being interrupted by what sounded like a large nearly muted horn above the clouds. This phenomenon has been reported all over the world at various times, and has even been documented on video if you are interested in researching it further. These sounds, according to witnesses were comparable to two enormous pieces of machinery grinding together. Next, a few reports claim that a swift wave swept over the lake, but the wildlife experts watching the lake disagree that this ever happened. The horn sounds ended abruptly, and many witnesses recall- often with a shiver or a reflective sigh- the brief and stunned silence that settled over them. Then, the waterfront erupted in noise. The police officers began firing into the water, panicked. Officer Patton claims that one of the officers screamed and began firing into the water, leading to a sort of hysteria amongst them. Once the firing began, he quickly left his post to make sure the residents didn’t get hurt in the panic. Most witnesses attempted to flee once the gunfire began, but some faced the water to determine what the threat was. Scattered reports say that an alligator emerged from the water to grab one of the officers. Whatever the case, it was only moments after the firing began that an impossibly large wave burst from Caddo and swept the officers into the lake. The water rose so rapidly that it flooded around half of the picnic site and swept many residence, including Ms. Lasalle, off of their feet. Many were dragged into the lake when the wave receded. Witnesses report that dozens rushed in to try and help those being washed towards the water when a second impossibly large and rapidly forming wave crashed over the picnic, this time covering a wider area. One witness who was swept into the water recalled, with bitter tears, screaming as those trying to swim back to the shore were dragged under the surface of the lake by powerful jaws. In the horror of the frenzy, many witnesses, guided by Officer Patton, fled to the parking lot. Officer Patton returned to the scene to find a horrific mass of writhing bodies, hoping against hope itself to reach dry land. The water was red from blood and swimming calmly between the wildly thrashing figures were the scaly spines of reptilian predators. A third (though some insist it was the fourth) wave washed over the scene and dragged many more of the citizens and officers into the depths of the lake where massive jaws were bursting forth from beneath the water and crushing flesh and bone before dragging the helpless victims below the surface. Finally, six survivors clambered to the shore where they were treated by Officer Patton and a medical team who had now arrived. Witnesses report that after the survivors had escaped, there was an eerie silence which seemed to last for several minutes.
Though the water was dark red from the blood of the slain, no bodies, or even articles of clothing, were ever recovered from the lake. The incident was so crushing that most of the witnesses left Merton, which would later be renamed. Of the six survivors, one committed suicide, two were admitted into mental institutes, one joined a cult, and once died of cancer two years later. The event was never published in any paper and those who died in the incident were said to have died of natural causes. You and I both know, of course, how detestably unnatural this entire ordeal was. Perhaps the most disturbing detail of all came from the wildlife experts, who were safe in their perch. Across the lake, in a mass of swampy foliage, alligators were watching the carnage intently, though the experts claim that no alligators ever neared the shore. Worst of all, the experts tell me, is that no alligators were present during the attack at all.
Mr. Valentine, I beseech you not to look any further into the matter. One of the eyewitnesses I interviewed has since sent me several death threats and has made claims so wild that I dare not publish them in this report. Please, sir, if you value your life and your sanity, be satisfied with the account I have provided you and above all, please do not seek after Apocriphex. I am a professional and as such have fulfilled my contract with you. I will not further investigate the events which transpired in Merton on September 2nd, 1996, less I suffer a fate worse than the now constant terror that grips me even as I write this letter. God bless you, sir, and God help us all.
Credit: Alex Lowe