Estimated reading time — 18 minutes
To whom it may concern, my name is Michael Dean Fox. I’m writing this as a step by step reenactment of the cold winter night I had spent in the back country of East Tennessee. Some of the things I am about to tell you are not going to sound logical, nor are they going to be easy to believe. I only ask that you try your best to bear with me as I walk you through every second of my… Adventure.
My journey began February 6, 2018. I’m a Police Officer here in, well, I’ll leave the town names out so no one tries to retrace my steps. I will say that it is one of the smallest and most peaceful towns in East Tennessee. I was pushing through the last couple of hours of my shift late one Thursday night and made the decision that I would be going on a long hike and find a secluded place to camp in the deep woods over my weekend. I wasn’t having the best of times that week, mostly due to some people quitting their jobs in the department, so me along with the other four patrol officers here had to pick up their duties. Overtime is overtime, yes. But not getting enough sleep and dealing with the idiots of rural America can wear down on even the strongest minds.
I woke up Friday morning around 6:15, then started the Keurig brew as I walked to the bathroom. I grabbed my mug then went down in to my basement to dig out all of my hiking and camping gear from the dry tubs. The first thing I grabbed was my Osprey Aether AG 70 hiking pack. The thing is huge, but super light and it carried everything I needed, except for my ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 tent, which clips onto the bottom of the pack. I attached the tent to my pack then grabbed out my Keen hiking shoes along with the pack essentials, such as my NEMO Disco 30 sleeping bag, mini boiling pot for hot water, a pack of 20 Safety Chem Glow Sticks, TacMed Patrol Trauma Response medkit, two Duracell head lamps, spare batteries of course, water purification tablets, Nalgene 1 quart water bottle, and my rechargeable phone charger.
After I got everything I needed from the basement, I brought it all up to the living room then sat it all down on the love seat. I went in to the bedroom to grab spare clothes for the next day and an extra patrol beanie in case something happened to my main one. I went back out the living room and began neatly putting everything in to my pack, then my phone rang. It was my coworker and good friend Alan, he was calling to warn me about a cold spell that was soon to fall starting later that afternoon. I questioned whether or not I should go, but he only said that it was my decision. I thanked him then got off the phone and proceeded to pack. I grabbed six MRE pouches out of the kitchen then stuffed them in to my pack along with a couple of Snickers bars for a little treat. I grabbed four Hot Pockets out of the freezer, then heated them up and ate them as fast as possible so I didn’t waste any more time. By the time I was done packing everything, it was 7:10. I got in the shower and washed with a deodorizing soap so predators couldn’t pick up my scent so easily. So, if you can’t tell already, I’m a huge hiking nerd. I do not buy the cheap stuff when it comes to my gear and essentials. I only buy the best of the best for my safety.
I got out of my shower, put my toiletries in my pack then went to the bedroom and got dressed. If you must know, I wore black Patagonia Quandary Pants, a heather gray The North Face fleece hoodie, a black Marmot Phoenix Jacket and a light gray Patagonia Fisherman’s Fold beanie. I know it’s a lot of detail, but I want all of you to truly feel everything I felt the whole way and prove that I vividly remember the finest details of the worst day of my life.
I brought all of my things in to the garage and sat everything on the tailgate of my Dodge. I went over all of it to make sure I had it all. I opened my gun safe and brought out my SIG P320 carry pistol and my OWB carry holster. I always keep a full magazine in my handguns, so I figured I’d bring a box of 30 rounds just in case I decided to have some fun. I got all strapped up then loaded my pack in the back seat of the truck and set off onward to the middle of nowhere.
The vibe outside and the drive to the trail head was a little scary. It’s hard to explain the feeling I had driving in the dark, but it’s almost as if someone were in the back seat staring at me intently. I’m a 6’3″ 230 lbs man who doesn’t get scared very easily, but I was freaked out. It was 7:45 in the morning on a Friday and I only drove past one other truck. Normally the traffic would be semi heavy this time around, but it seemed like either everyone left the town or they were all inside their homes still asleep. I turned on my stereo and connected my phone to listen to some of my metal to try and amp me up, but for some reason it just made my anxiety increase ten fold. I had just passed the last traffic light of the town and heading into the well lit tunnel. Not three seconds after I entered the tunnel I had to immediately slam my brakes, thanks to the dumbass dog that ran in front of me out of nowhere. I’m not messing around, this dog came out of nowhere. The tunnel has a two way road running through the entirety of it and has solid concrete walls on both sides not five feet away from the road, so if the dog had been on the side of the road, I would have seen it. It was almost as if the thing had ran out of the wall and straight in front of my truck. It happened so fast and my adrenaline spiked through the roof when I initially saw the dog, so I didn’t feel or hear anything when I hit it. At least, that’s what I thought. I pulled off to the side of the road to see the damage, but to my surprise there wasn’t anything on the ground behind the truck, nor was there any signs of damage to the front end of my truck. I looked down both ends of the tunnel and didn’t see any silhouette of anything, just the entrance and exit of the tunnel. I was completely freaked out, nothing had ever happened to me like that in my life up to that point. I never believed in the paranormal until then.
I got back in to my truck and proceeded on out of the tunnel. I wasn’t going to let that incident ruin my whole weekend, so I stayed strong and continued toward the trail head. Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. Nothing special happened the rest of the way to the parking lot, and I didn’t pass another vehicle at all. I knew something wasn’t right, but I’m not god and I don’t control the world, I just worry about me. The parking lot was desolate. It was still dark out, but the dim orange lights were on in the parking lot and I could see the pitch black opening between the trees, which was the trail head. I pulled up on the right side of the trail head and shut off the truck. I sat there for at least a minute just staring in to the pitch black opening.
The silence was unreal, all I could hear were the different tones of ringing in my own head. I looked down at the temperature gauge and it read twenty two degrees. I sighed a bit, then stepped out of the truck and let out a good yawn and big stretch towards the sky, then grabbed my jacket out of the passenger seat. I got the bag out and set it on the tailgate so I could grab a headlamp out, but as soon as I put the lamp over my beanie, I heard what sounded like a sneeze. I couldn’t tell who or what it came from, if it even was a sneeze, but it had that distinct “Kuh-hishh” sound of a sneeze. I stopped dead in my tracks and scanned the parking lot, but I couldn’t see anything. Being a police officer of 13 years, I know when I’m being watched by someone evil, and that’s exactly how I felt at that moment. I ignored it and turned my lamp on, put my pack on then headed towards the trail. I turned around one more time to look at the parking lot, but saw no one. I dismissed the whole thing as a possible critter in the woods somewhere and pressed on up the trail.
I walked for about twenty minutes until the sun had finally began to rise above the mountain. I was able to see the frost shining off of everything. It was beautiful. The morning birds were doing their routine songs and I felt safer knowing that there’s still some life around me. I got to a mini bridge going over a small creek about three miles up the trail. I stopped and took a break and had some water, then I heard that sneeze noise again. This time, it sounded like it was a short ways down the trail where I just came from. My heart began to beat faster and faster. For some reason, the dog popped in my head and I started to think that maybe it followed me all the way here, but that’s not possible. I drove 80 mph the whole way there because there wasn’t any traffic. I got tired of myself being so worried, so I said “Hey, is someone down there?” but I didn’t get a reply. I felt weird, but I knew I could handle my own, so I walked further up the trail. I came to a fork in the trail, and one of the trails had looked like people went down it everyday and the other one had tall yellow grass covering the ground to where you could barely tell it was a trail at all. I knew I wanted to be left alone by other people, so I went up the grassy trail.
The trail was so over grown that I wasn’t aware of the frozen puddles of water under my feet, and I learned about them the hard way. My left leg slipped off the edge of the trail towards the steep drop down into the gully. Out of instinct I reached for the nearest thing to grab onto so I didn’t fall but the only thing I could grab was the jagged icy edge of the boardwalk which then ripped my index finger wide open. I rolled down into the gully and landed flat on my stomach. I physically wasn’t able to sit up for about ten seconds. I must have knocked my self out, but I was still able to see the ground my face was laying on. I sat up and immediately looked at my finger, and that’s when the pain set in. I took my pack off and grabbed the Trauma Kit. I cleaned the wound with alcohol the wrapped the hell out of it with gauze and medical tape. I was pissed off at this point and yelled “FUCK!” off the top of my lungs. After I did so, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and looked up the trail to see nothing there. I put the medkit back into my pack the threw it on my back and marched up the slope to get back on the trail. I didn’t realize it until I got back up onto the trail, but the tall grass was gone. There weren’t any ice patches on the trail either, just gravel and dirt. I was confused for a minute, and I thought that I stumbled down next to a different trail, but there was a trail marker that I remember seeing before I fell, and it was just a couple feet away from me at that point. I was confused, but I pressed on a bit more up the trail. I got to the top of the steep part of the trail, and to my surprise I saw a big open lake. I never knew there was a lake up in this part of the mountain, but there it was. It was clear as could be, I remember the elegant blue tint it had to it with the occasional ice pads on top, but the whole area was dead silent. No wind, no birds, just silence. There was no trail on either side of the lake, the trail I was on ended right under my feet. I scanned the area a bit more, then above the tree line on my right side I could see what looked like a large cross in the distance. It’s something I never expected to see in the middle of nowhere, let alone in the woods.
I proceeded towards the tree line, and as I got about six steps towards it, I heard the “Kuh-hishhh” sound directly behind me. I felt my knees slightly give out from fear, but got my bearings straight and turned around to see something pale in the edge of the lake. I slowly walked towards it while looking all around me to see if I can’t find what made that noise, but then a smell hit me. I felt my throat get tight and my gut feel heavy, then as I got to the water I realized that the pale thing I was looking at was the head of a woman. I couldn’t even move, I didn’t make a sound, I just stared at it. The left side of it was exposed out of the water and had no flesh or meat on it, just pale white skull. The top of her head had short white hair with tones of dark red. I didn’t want to touch the head to see what the other side looked like. I just turned around and vomited from the smell. I wiped my mouth off with my hand, then I heard a blood curdling scream come from the same direction I saw the cross. I began to sprint through the trees towards the cross. I got to the other side of the tree line to see a large field. On the other side of the field was a big church with a wooden cross on the top of it. I jogged towards the church and began to yell “Hello?! Are you okay?! Hello?!” but I never got a response. Half way through the field I tripped over something hard. I sat up to see that I had tripped over the skull of a large goat. My first thought was maybe there are people who live up here and maybe have a small farm. I got up and ran to the church. There was a wooden fence about four feet tall around the perimeter, and I hopped over it. The wood of the church looked almost ancient and looked rotted. It had obviously been up there for a very long time. I yelled one more time ” Hello?!” and got nothing.
I leaned against the fence to look at my knee. I had smashed it pretty hard tripping over the skull, but before I could get my pant leg up, I could faintly hear chanting of some sort coming from inside the chruch. My heart stopped. I stood there dead silent. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but it sounded like Latin or maybe Spanish, but all I could hear was “Esta-shun-eet-mock.” They repeated this over and over, and it sounded like there was a lot of people in there. I looked in between the logs of the church walls to peak inside, but there was no one in there. No lights, no nothing. Just old benches and light beaming in through the cracks in the walls. The chanting stopped as I looked in the building. Everything fell silent again.
As I stared in to the church, I saw something black out of the corner of my right eye. I whipped my head over to see what looked like the bottom of a robe passing the corner of the building. I ran over to peak around the corner, but saw no one. There were carvings on the front of the church. They looked like pentagrams with some sort of skull in the middle. I knew right away that I was in a very bad place. I caught the same thing out of the corner of my eye, and saw whatever it was pass behind the other side of the building. I asked “Who are you? My name’s Officer Fox, come out and talk to me.” I got to the corner of the building then hear a whirling noise behind me followed by a hatchet flying past my head. I turned around to see two men in black robes walking towards me, both of them holding what looked like makeshift knives made of rusty metal. I pulled my Sig from its holster then put my laser on the man on the left. I yelled ” Drop your weapons, or I will use lethal force!” They kept walking towards me, about 50 yards away. The man on the left throws his knife at me, and I thankfully dodged it jumping to my right. I stood up and yelled “Last chance, drop the fucking weapon!” They both began to run towards me. I put a round through the head of the man of the right. The man on the left stopped and and stared at the lifeless man on on ground, then he looked towards the church and yelled what sounded like “Mah-trah-kay-low!” I then heard the chanting I heard before, only this time it was loud. The man looked at me, and as he locked eyes with me, men and women in robes walked out of the church chanting loudly. None of them had weapons, but they were all tall. Very tall, somewhere around nine to ten feet tall. The man turned around and disappeared into the mob of giants. I began walking backwards in shock not knowing what to do. A woman or freakishly tall thing in front of the mob let out a blood curdling scream that rattled my ears, then I raised my gun up and shot her in the leg. She fell to her knees and let out a whimper, then they all stopped and stared at me. All of their faces had been mutilated in some way. Some of the men didn’t even have eyes, but they still stared directly at me. At this point, my adrenaline was so high, I could feel my heart beating in my arms and feet. The woman gets back on here feet then points behind me and repeats “Mah-trah-kay-low” quietly under her breath, and at that exact moment I heard and felt a huff of breath on my neck. I turned around to see what looked like a ten foot tall man with no jaw staring at me. His tongue hang limp out of his mouth as he breathed raspy. He let out what sounded like a slight giggle followed by that “Kah-hishh” noise I’ve been hearing then he grabbed me by my back pack straps and slammed me on to the ground. The people in robes started cheering as the thing started yelling towards the sky and beating his chest with its right hand. He looked down at me and glared. I tried to yell “Stop!” but I still had the wind knocked out of me and my chest hurt to bad. I unbuckled my pack and slid it off of me. The thing raised his right foot up over me and started yelling. I rolled away from him as he stomped his foot on the ground. It let out an angered cry then the people started yelling angrily. I got up and ran down a brick path away from the church. I could hear the jaw less things heavy footsteps follow close behind me and the peoples yelling got more feral sounding and almost guttural. I ran between these two lit fire torches, one on each side of the path and all of the screaming stopped and I couldn’t hear the thing’s footsteps. I turned around to see all of them standing on the other side of the torches. I stood there panting and trying to catch my breath. An old and weathered looking man in front of the crowd stared at me and spoke in both Spanish and English “Casa de diablo, you’re his now.”
They all slowly turned around and began walking back up the brick path, not making a sound. I look all around me to see where I’m at. There was a small shed to my right, a collapsed barn directly down the brick path and what looked like an old cabin next to the barn. I lean down and put my hands on my knees to try to think of how I can get myself out of there. I say under my breath ” My fucking pack.. Everything I need to survive is in that pack.” I realized I needed to go back up there to get my pack, but it wouldn’t be easy if those things were still up there in that church. I stood up and turned around towards the path to the church to see a black dog standing in between the two torches. I immediately recognized the dog as the one that ran in front of my truck that morning. The dog let out a low growl as the skin on its face became very loose, almost like it was melting. The low growl turned in to a loud half yelp half roar. Almost like a lions roar, or some sort of big cat. I turned around and began sprinting towards the cabin next to the barn. The dog was snarling shortly behind me. The door to the cabin was wide open, so I ran inside and immediately slammed the door. I leaned against the door waiting for the dog to try and push it open, but there wasn’t a sound coming from outside. I stood there catching my breath as a sour meat odor filled my nose. I felt my throat tighten up again and I didn’t feel to good. I heard what sounded like a hungry stomach gurgling somewhere in the back of the cabin, but it was loud. I hesitantly looked to my left to watch a creature slowly stand up from the ground. There was little to no light in the cabin, just the light from outside shining through the cracks of the walls. I could make out the shape of a tall but skinny figure in the main room across from me. It then made a licking noise like a dog licking peanut butter from the roof of it’s mouth. It then screamed a brutal guttural yell mixed with a woman in pure agony then ran towards me. When it exposed itself in the light, I was able to see that it was in fact tall, but it had the head of a black goat and the legs of a horse but they were bent backwards and skinnier. I went to draw my gun but the thing was to fast. It rammed its head directly in to my chest and tossed me six feet in to a wall. My gun fell and slid a good four feet away from me, so I rolled towards it but the creature managed to stomp on my left hand. I screamed from the pain and curled into a ball as the thing continues to scream and stomp all around me. I look up to see it staring towards the roof with its tongue hanging out of its mouth and drooling. I leapt to my feet and snagged the gun off the ground and pinned the laser on to the back of its head. My adrenaline was so high that my hands were shaking badly, so when I went to pull the trigger I shot his left horn off, It whipped its head at me and let out one of its screams then dipped its head down to ram me again. I jumped out of its way and landed on my side with my laser aimed directly at its neck. I pull the trigger and watched the thing fall flat on the ground. Its breathing was rabid and the noise it made with every breath sounded like gurgling because of the blood. It flopped on the ground like a fish out of water as I ran out of the cabin. I sprint out in to the open and look for an escape route. The giant people were walking down the path from the church chanting loudly, and the dog was nowhere to be seen. I looked back in the cabin to see the goat thing still gurgling but trying to stand up. As I’m looking at the cabin, I see there’s a trail leading behind it. I ran down that trail and at the end of it I could see two more torches and a path going into a cave.
The trail was long and a cave was the last place I wanted to go, but it was my only option. As I’m sprinting down the path, I realize that there are spiked posts all along it that have different versions of the pentagram, decapitated heads of young females and various organs strung out.
I run in to the cave and only got about ten feet in before I realized that I don’t have any sort of light whatsoever on me, and the cave is pitch black. The giant people knew I was in there and that I was trapped. They rolled a boulder in front of the entrance, leaving me in absolute darkness and all alone. I dropped to my knees then on to my ass and began to cry. Not sobbing, but crying. Knowing that this was how I was going to die. I started hearing the echo of something breathing heavy coming from further down the cave. It sounded like what ever it was had completely run out of breath. The echos became louder and louder with every second, then I began to feel vibrations on the ground from these loud thuds. The loud thuds hitting the ground almost sounded like horse hooves, but heavier if that makes sense, and there was more than one set. Almost like warriors marching in to battle. The echoes turned into the same guttural screams that the creature in the cabin made, but they were coming from every direction. The noises finally reached every side of me, then my feet got pulled out from under me. I feel hooves bounce off of every inch of my body. I hear my own bones cracking over all the other noise in the cave. I feel the flesh of my stomach get ripped open by the fingers of whatever those creatures were. They pried my rib cage open and plucked my organs out and dropped them on my face piece after piece. I lay there in complete agony as these things literally tear me apart. I hear one of the things let out a nasty gurgling scream, then stomp on my head. I felt my skull crush beneath the weight of the thing, then I felt nothing. I heard nothing. I felt absolutely nothing at all. Almost as if I had been asleep.
I suddenly was able to open my eyes. All I could see was a bright blurry light. Then my vision came back, and I saw that I was laying face down on the ground. I wasn’t able to move, but I could tell I wasn’t in the cave anymore. I had finally gained mobility, so I painfully picked my self up and looked around. I was in the gully. The gully I fell down into the beginning of my trip. I looked down at my hand, and my finger wasn’t ripped open. I felt my shoulders to feel my backpack straps still there, I felt my head to make sure I wasn’t bleeding, but I was completely fine. I only had a headache. I began to cry as I climbed up the slope to get back to the trail, thinking that I am in a never ending loop of visiting hell, but when I got to the trail, the tall dead yellow grass was still covering the trail. I could see the patted down grass from where I fell and rolled down the slope. I began to cry harder as I got back to the main trail. Joggers and people walking their dogs passed by as they gave me weird looks. No one said anything, but they stared in fear or shock. I couldn’t look anybody in the eye, I just stared straight ahead of me and went back to my truck. I put my pack in the backseat then began to head home. Traffic was back to normal and people were out and about living normal lives.
I got home and brought my pack down to the basement and just tossed it on the floor then walked back upstairs like a zombie. I sat down on the couch and pulled my phone out to see it was dead. I sighed and set in down on the coffee table. I turned the tv on and switched the channel to Fox News. I nearly fainted. It was Friday February 14. Exactly one week after I went on my camping trip. I had been gone for a week, but all I could remember was that night I spent in that god forsaken village. Who was that cult? What were those things I saw? Was everything that happened to me that night all the work of the devil? Did I really just dream it all and slept through an entire week in the freezing cold? I don’t know. I will never know, and the world will never understand the things I went through.
Michael Dean Fox
February 22, 2018