In June of 1986, I received a call to inspect the well water quality of the small town of Megiddo Hills out in rural Indiana. It was to be a short drive from my home in Indianapolis, and the company promised to pay me a slight bonus, given its great isolation. When I got to Megiddo Hills, I saw that it was even smaller than I expected. The buildings were old, some still from the 1800’s, but all with what was then modern technology. I drove around and found the address I had been given, which was for the town hall and church. Standing in the doorway was the town pastor, Reverend Price. The pastor was always worried and skittish, and he seemed like he wanted to get my job over with as soon as possible, though that was normal with most clients. I saw that the church looked different than most churches I had seen. Its door was covered in locks, with a small sliding peephole made of metal. The windows were barred, and some seemed older than others, and the walls were thicker than they appeared. Reverend Price took me to the well and told me all that some residents have had encounters with muddy and sometimes green water, and that three people have already gotten sick.
I took a sample and tested the water with a portable testing kit I had brought with me. The water seemed fine at first, but after every slight water vibration, it got muddier and muddier until it was completely brown. Curious, I shook the water and it turned a bright lime green. The kit was unable to identify the issue with the sample, so I asked Reverend Price if there was anywhere else I could check. He reluctantly told me about the old sewer system, set up long before the town was even built, but quickly added that it couldn’t be the problem. I was starting to get concerned over this town, and I lied to him that I might need to stay here another day or so. The Reverend tried to persuade me otherwise, but I was insisting, and he seemed to be aware that I was getting suspicious, so he relented and gave me the address to a local hotel.
I took my car to the hotel, which didn’t take long given the size of the town, and looked at the old building. It wasn’t that old, not as old as the church, anyway, seeming more like a pre-war structure. It was only four floors tall, the porch was starting to rot, and the lobby had resorted to selling food and trinkets given their lack of tenants. I checked in, becoming the hotel’s only guest. After dropping my stuff off in my third-floor room, I decided to attempt to figure out what was going on. From my window I could not see anyone outside —no children playing, no couples strolling, nobody shopping— which was very usual for a rural town in June. However, what I could see were the other buildings of the town, whose windows were barred and doors covered in locks. I descended the stairs back to the lobby and decided to start my investigation with the young woman on the other side of the counter, who had been reading a book to pass the time. I asked her what was going on. She claimed to not understand, but I pressed her, demanding an explanation for the Reverend’s skittishness, the church’s over security, and the barred windows in every building in this town. She sighed, prefacing her tale with a reminder that she was a lot younger than most of this town’s residents and that her story was made mostly of rumors her friends and parents had told.
She told me that once every few nights, their town was met by a parade of a dozen or two unknown strangers. Nobody knew who they were, as the assailants wore dark red hoods and robes to disguise themselves. The Reverend desperately asked those in his congregation to come clean if they had done it, but he could not do much. One time, the police attempted to tell them to stop, but were massacred in response. The hooded figures would mostly just walk through the town with lanterns, quietly chanting in Latin, and retreat into the forest when finished, sometimes doing it three times a night. However, especially in the past year, the strangers would occasionally vandalize buildings, especially the church. They would break into stores and steal whatever strange salts or unknown sinister materials they needed for their dark rituals, but what they wanted from the church was unknown. They’d break in there, and no matter how much Reverend Price tried to keep them out, they always found their way in. One day, to try to put an end to all this, he took three armed police officers, a lantern, and a copy of the Vulgate into the old sewer system. They wouldn’t dare say what happened in there, but all anybody knows is that at 3:31 pm, four men went in, and at 4:17, only three came running out. Price and the surviving officers said that the other had been murdered, but they wouldn’t say anything else. One of the officers quit that day, and Reverend Price had to take the next couple of sermons off, giving them to some of his students instead. The pastor had since forbidden anyone to enter the sewers, and had the entrance blocked off with a large stone, but the next day, the stone was turned to a pile of bloody gravel, and the church had been set on fire. Luckily, the fire department got there before any real damage had been done. It was around then that the water started to go bad, which started a lot longer ago than I thought. Reverend Price was reluctant to call anyone in, for fear of their safety, but he was forced to take it seriously when people started getting sick.
That was all the woman had to say, yet I felt it was enough. I asked her where the sewer’s entrance was, though she did not know where it was and demanded that I not bother looking. I ignored her warnings and continued asking other shopkeepers and townpeoples, all cooped up inside, of course, yet none of them would tell me, and instead begged me not to look for it. With a failed mission and wasted day, I simply went back to my hotel room and went to bed, though my sleep didn’t last for long. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a loud gunshot noise coming from outside. Running to the window, I saw the cause: the parade of hooded figures had arrived and were already breaking into shops and chanting with lanterns and guns in their hands. Shots rang out through the night, as the raid continued. I saw no one attempt to flee the chaos, instead they all cowered in fear and huddled together in corners to wait out the storm. It was then that I got the idea to follow them back to wherever the sewer was, so I went back down to the lobby to see that the door had already been knocked down, and the store robbed. I ducked behind the desk and waited for everything to be over.
After over an hour of cacophony, the noise was abruptly stopped and replaced with quiet and calm Latin chants. I peered over the counter and watched as all the hooded men slowly left their buildings and walked back in line to leave the town. I waited for them to be far enough so that I couldn’t be seen, and followed them from a distance out of town. I followed as they slowly paced into the woods, their swinging lanterns providing mediocre lighting and keeping me hidden. Finally, they descended into a large ditch and disappeared into the mouth of the gigantic stone sewer entrance, cracking and crumbling, covered in moss. It had two lanterns set up on either side that provided a much better way to view the thing than the hooded figures’ swinging lamps. When they had all faded into the cold blackness of the sewer’s shadow, I waited to see if they’d do it again, as the woman at the desk said it had happened numerous times a night.
Sure enough, the second their lanterns were out of sight, they came walking back out, slow as ever. I hid behind a bush to watch until the coast was clear, allowing me to get a view of the figures. They were all hidden beneath thick red robes and hoods atop gold-colored featureless masks which covered their entire faces. In their black-gloved hands lay axes, guns, sacks, gas tanks, or chained lanterns. They all appeared to vary greatly in height and figure, showing no real trend, and their Latin whispers were distorted by their masks. Once they had all left my vision back into town, I grabbed a lantern and snuck into the sewer complex. The inside was even worse than the outside —full of mud, rotting rat carcasses, and unidentifiable sludge— and it seemed to be falling apart, or at least what I could tell from my dimming lantern. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally saw light on another tunnel end. I knew it couldn’t be daytime yet, but the light seemed so bright and real. Curiously, I walked towards it, finding a large well-lit room with a domed roof and contaminated water flowing in and out a pond in the middle, which lay caged below a podium with a book placed on top. It was only after I fully passed the doorway when could I see what was on the walls, that being a gigantic mural of sloppy red drawings displaying spontaneous and unrelated disaster events and Latin phrases and quotes all over the walls, leaving no square foot untouched by the red brush, which I attempted to tell myself wasn’t blood, though I knew the obvious truth.
Remembering the book, I turned back to the podium and glanced at the open pages, which proudly declared at the top, “The Resurrection of the Beast” and told the story of these hooded figures. They were once just ordinary members of the town and its church, until the mysterious Bruce Lorre came to town thirty years prior. He claimed to be the Messiah, and was initially ignored, until he was spotted performing what some recount as miracles and what others recount as dark enchantments by the riverside. He started to grow a following of radical disciples, all of whom kept their identities secret from each other and the town’s populace, only giving their true name to Lorre himself. He had his followers perform bizarre and sinister rituals of blood drinking, goat sacrifice, and the drawing of symbols with salts. However, five years after he came to town, he was dead. A rogue farmer named Martin Cushing had infiltrated Lorre’s cult and stabbed him in the heart, but was bayoneted by the rest of Lorre’s congregation and thrown into the river. For the next fifteen years, the cult was still growing, yet stayed mostly silent, until around ten years ago, around the start of Reverend Price’s ministry, when they began their raids and marches throughout the town. They had been stealing materials and salts to attempt to resurrect Lorre, as they believed that it had been just enough time for him to return. Using a book written by Lorre, the cult had determined which days to parade, which ones to raid, and how many of each to do depending on the day. Most important to them was to get into the church. Not to steal any physical thing, but instead a spiritual one. They needed to collect the essence of the Spirit within their lanterns, which they would release into their salts to achieve the desired power necessary to resurrect their leader, alluding to some sort of failed attempt they had performed not long ago, mentioned to be located in hall six.
I swallowed my fear and looked over at all the tunnels feeding into the room. The one I had exited was number seven of eight total. I looked over at the tunnel next to mine and saw a large roman numeral six above it. I took a deep breath, refueled my lantern, and slowly stepped into the tunnel. I felt that the water was higher in this one, and also felt thicker and muddier than before. After walking through the completely straight tunnel for a while, I began to stumble as the floor felt less and less even, and the texture got squishier and thicker. I tried to settle my balance on the wall, but pulled back once quickly I felt how slimy it was. This immediate motion caused me to fall into the disgusting water, if you could even call it that at this point. Luckily, my lantern didn’t get under, and it wasn’t as deep as it seemed. However, some did splash into my mouth, and as I was spitting out the abhorrent liquid, I experienced a chill and wild terror from its taste. Its taste was the same as that of coins, and thus the same as blood. My hands shaking, I lowered my lantern down to the liquid to see for myself, and sure enough, it had that dark red color. The sight of the gore seeping into the water, as the concentration got thicker and thicker as I progressed, almost made me turn back. But my curiosity had gotten the best of me; I needed to see what was down there, so I pressed on.
I continued making my way through the tunnel, until I saw another light at the end. This one was not as bright as the previous, and was unmistakable as lamps; to dim to be the daylight sun. My heart was racing, my knees were wobbling, my lantern was flashing from the wild vibrations of my hand. When I came to the room which contained the lamps, they were still too dim to see to the end of the room. I saw that the lamps had been turned down to the lowest setting of the dial, and I reached out my hand to turn the left one up. My hand was stopped when my ear caught the sound of a horrible, almost human groan. A sound that was gravelly and almost like a whale’s call, but it had the same cries of pain of an injured cow or screaming child. I took my hand down from the lamp, not daring to turn up the lights. Instead I stepped deeper into the room and held up my light, but once I saw what lay there, I was frozen still. In the middle of the chamber was a hulking mass of flesh and bone, covered in crumbling human faces that silently cried and grimaced. It was bleeding out of every orifice, from eyes to mouths to ears, to random pulsating slits scattered around the live rotting skin, which was starting to peel as large insect-esque legs grew and shrank out of the flesh. Around the center of its body, if you can even call it that, opened a breathing, growling, crying, mouth with chipped teeth and rotting gums. As I stood there frozen, it groaned again, and I thought I saw an eye open from the back of its mouth. The sight of the eye snapped me out of my trance, and I backed away slowly from the fleshy mass. Once I was out of its view, if it even had a view, my slow pacing turned to mad sprinting. I ran back to the middle chamber with the podium, then back out through tunnel seven. I hurried out, following the same path I had taken before, and made it out to the mouth of the sewer system, my head full of conflicting thoughts, wondering what I had seen, why it existed, and even if I had really seen it in the first place. After all, I had just entered a dirty old sewer, so it very well could have been a hallucination.
My thoughts of a slipping sanity were canceled when I looked back in the direction of Megiddo Hills and saw a strange, glistening red light, and smoke rising from the trees. I hurried back to the town to see what was going on, and found the town burning before my eyes. The fire station on the outskirts of town looked to have been the first to be attacked, as it had the most damage done, and mangled corpses of firefighters were strewn about the ground. As I walked throughout the town, I noticed that the fires had been contained at each building, not spreading to alleyways or streets. Bodies were everywhere shot, stabbed, lacerated, mangled, decapitated, burned, killed through diverse and wild methods. A dark purple fog seemed to descend upon the town as I walked closer and closer to the center, and the bodies of cultists started to show up as well. I came to find the one building in the whole town that wasn’t aflame: the church. Despite being the only one not burning, it appeared to be the most ruined. The door had been knocked down, the bodies of cultists were hanging from the broken windows, and large symbols and Latin texts were written in blood on the front wall. I looked down at one of the cultist’s bodies to see that one was still holding a gun, still propped up against his chin after shooting himself through it. I reached down and took his gun for protection as I entered the chapel.
The chapel was in complete disarray— pews were fallen over, the walls were crumbling and full of bullet holes, the bodies of cultists and civilians were all over the floor in a pool of blood, papers from torn books were flying across the floor in a breeze, and the body of Reverend Price. The pastor was almost unrecognizable. His lower jaw had been removed entirely, and pouring out was a green and black gelatinous substance reminiscent of what was in the water that caused him to call me in the first place. His legs were bent all the way backwards, and his hands were tied together, with all fingers removed by some sort of animal bite. His chest had been slashed haphazardly with what looked like massive claws, and his eyes had gone completely white. After examining Price’s horrific corpse, I looked up to see one other person in the room. It was another one of the cultists, and he seemed to be the only other living person in the building, seemingly indifferent to the pile of carnage that stood around him. He didn’t acknowledge me, and instead whispered his Latin chants as he looked upon the podium, which seemed to be glowing and creating winds. Once he had finished, a mist arose from the pillar and I was frozen in place from shock, as I looked up to see the mist rise into an extraterrestrial shape. I remember my eyes started to water, and I began to laugh hysterically as tears rolled across my face. The cultist leading the ritual didn’t bat an eye and merely spread salt around and clapped.
Once he clapped, the smoke collapsed in on itself and morphed into indescribable patterns and figures. People I thought I recognized, and creatures I had never seen. It looked like a leopard, but changed into a bear, then just as quickly into a lion. Waves crashed at every angle of this thing, but no water was here before, and none would be there after. I saw sheep and bulls, but none for more than a second. Seven faces screamed and laughed as they grew in and out of the fog, and out of their mouths appeared ten horns which grew out, overtook the heads, then caved back in. Wounds grew and were healed on this thing, all while the cloud of mist spun around the room, and the cultist laughed and cheered at what he had summoned. Over the course of the next few minutes, the cloud continued to morph and change, as the hooded man watched in awe and I slowly came out of my trance. Eventually, I remembered the gun I had picked up, and I mustered enough strength to lift my shaky arm up and aim at the dark summoner. I laughed one more time and pulled the trigger.
The next morning, I woke up lying on my back in the church. I couldn’t remember anything happening between my gunshot and my awakening, but I saw that the lead cultist was dead, so at least I knew I did something. The church looked just as it had before, and the demon of clouds was gone. I heard the tapping of rain against the ceiling, and when I walked outside, I saw that all the fires had gone out, but the town was nonetheless destroyed. I returned to my hotel, which was now nothing but a tower of black wood and ash. I saw the body of the woman who had told me about the cult. Her legs were burnt, her face cut off, and her shoulders marked with bullet holes. After all I had been through, I barely reacted to this. Instead, I sighed and went back to my car, which was luckily still intact. I began my trip back to Indianapolis, where all I could think about was how I was supposed to write my report, and what would happen if anyone were to find this place.
Credit: Chase JW Docter
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