Estimated reading time — 16 minutes
My name is Wess Kellerman and to save time, I will spare you all the agony of reading my whole life story and keep the details of who I am concise. I’m twenty five years old with short blonde hair and green eyes. I go to the gym regularly to ensure my weight doesn’t get too out of control since, I work night security at a local restaurant/tourist hot spot. I’m single and spend most of my days working, sleeping, reading, and watching Netflix. Not much going on in the life of Wess, well, that is until recently.
I found an old journal while working late at the Luna Rossa Winery the other night. For those who don’t know, Luna Rossa is located in Stillwater, Minnesota and in order for things to make a little more sense, I’ll need to update you on the town’s history a bit. I’m not a history buff, so some details may be slightly off and I apologize. Stillwater was constructed on a large hillside in 1837, with a small chunk of the downtown area built into a sandstone bluff that housed a network of manmade tunnels dating back to before the 1800’s. The Joseph Wolf Brewing Company bought the cave system in 1896, using the tunnels and natural springs in them to store and craft their signature beer. In 1899, three brewery workers stumbled upon an unmapped section of the cave. Two of the workers were buried alive in a cave-in just minutes after the discovery. The one who survived maintained minor injuries, though a few months later was admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric ward, after going into a never-ending rant about a demon lurking within the depths of the cave. He disappeared a couple of weeks later. Eventually, the cave fell under the ownership of the Luna Rossa Winery, and with reports of the cave being haunted, it became a popular touring site for visitors. That leads me back to my job, working security at the winery. Basically, I patrol the cave after hours ensuring no one ‘wanders’ into the cave to spend the night or steal any of the antiques. I have been monitoring that cave for two years without a single paranormal incident until yesterday, when I found the journal.
It was around eleven PM, and I was just making my way past the old cave-in site when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I watched as some loose pebbles and dirt fell away from the larger rocks and onto the floor. Moving closer to investigate, I noticed the half-buried journal. I removed it as carefully as possible, and immediately after retrieving it, I heard a faint noise coming from the other side of the rubble. I leaned forward to listen and heard the faint sound of scraping against the rocks.
“Hello?” I whispered. The scratching noise ceased abruptly, and after combing the area with my flash light, I dismissed it as echoes from a mouse or some other rodent that may have been wandering around the cave. I returned to the security room and began texting my supervisor about the buried book I had found. I stopped just as I was about to send the message, deciding that it would be pointless to contact her that late, not to mention, she would more than likely try and take credit for my finding it.
So, unwilling to part ways with my discovery, I smuggled the old timey book home to read it’s contents. I couldn’t believe it at first, but after reading a few of the journal entries I was able to identify who it’d belonged to; Hector, the brewery worker who’d survived the cave-in. I stayed up late that night reading, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bored out of mind and slightly disappointed. I had spent hours reading about some dude’s day to day life. Other than it’s age, there wasn’t anything remotely interesting about the journal, but as I began to doze off, I convinced myself to hold on to the book, at least until I was finished reading it.
I arrived at work early the next night. Carlos, the guard on the shift before me, gave me a hasty greeting and darted over to his locker. He was in more of a rush than usual. When I asked him about it, he hesitated before responding.
“I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I’m starting to think this place is actually haunted,” he said.
“You’re kidding me right?” I mocked him, “I thought you didn’t believe in that crap, what made you change your mind?”
His face paled as he seemed to search for the right words, “It started right after I locked up for the night. I saw something move in one of the feeds and could’ve sworn it was a person. I went to investigate and couldn’t find anything. During the next two rounds, just before you arrived, I kept getting the feeling that I was being watched and I swear I heard someone whisper my name once!”
“Please tell me you see the irony in that?” I teased, “First of all, there are cameras all over this place! So technically, you were being watched the entire time. Secondly, the whisper you ‘heard’ was probably just a stray breeze entering the cave. They have been known to sound an awful lot like voices at times, just saying.”
“Fine, since you’re going to be an ass about it, I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself. Good night Wess.” He waved to me irritably and sped out of the security room.
My first walk through the site was uneventful, and after giving all the security feeds a good once over I decided to read more from the journal to pass the time between rounds.
It continued much the same as it had left off, with him writing about his work days, his family and coworkers, etc… but at the end of his entry for June 13th, 1899, three days before the cave-in, things finally got interesting. He mentioned he and his two coworkers heard scratching coming from behind one of the cavern walls. Thinking someone may have gotten lost and into trouble, they brought it up to their supervisor who went over the cave layout with them. After a short search and running over a few possible scenarios of what the noise could have been, they all drew the same conclusion that I had – they were just hearing rodents scampering around the cave.
I glanced up briefly to check the security monitors, then did a double take before shooting out of my chair to view one of the feeds more closely. The camera was pointed at the opening of a larger tunnel that was nicknamed Boat Alley. We called it that, because halfway down the tunnel there’s an antique row boat on display from when the caves were flooded many years back. A cold chill slowly crept through my body once I registered what I had just seen. Something, or someone, was in that tunnel, and I had seen them just before they disappeared completely under the boat. I pulled up the security log and left a voice recording, doing my best to remain calm as I spoke.
“This is Wess Kellerman, ID 99009. The date is Monday, January 14th 2016 and the time is 11:23 PM. I’m documenting a possible break-in, in Boat Alley and I’m on my way to investigate.”
During the day the tunnels are lit up like the fourth of July, with bulbs and light strips in every nook and cranny, so that customers don’t get too claustrophobic or trip over the uneven ground. At night, it’s a whole different story. In order to save money, only the floor strips are left on and at the dimmest setting possible. It forces us guards on the night shifts to rely on our flashlights for vision. I readied my light and taser, pointed them at the upside-down boat and stood a good fifteen feet away. I ordered the intruder to come out multiple times, and each time I was answered by the whistling of wind as it crept past me. I cautiously inched closer to the small vessel, and after taking a deep breath, I dropped to the ground to peer underneath.
“Asshole.” I breathed to myself, as I read a note from Carlos taped to the underside of the boat.
“GOTCHA! SEE YOU AT WORK TOMORROW LOL!”
Just incase Carlos had stuck around to scare me, I took extra precautions as I continued my rounds. I had just reached the middle of my walkthrough near the cave-in site when I heard the loud clamor of rocks falling onto the floor behind me. I jumped around in surprise, shining my light just in time to see a beachball sized boulder tumble to the ground, breaking off from a considerably sized hole where it was once lodged. I gawked at the opening for a few minutes, allowing the cloud of dirt and dust to clear before observing the surrounding rocks for any structural damage. By the time I established it was safe, I was unable to contain my curiosity, and I peered into the narrow hole. It snaked for a few feet, widening as it went, before opening up into a large chamber. A moment later, I was army-crawling through the tunnel entrance and standing at the edge of the large cavern. What I saw… was breathtaking. Stalagmites were speckled throughout the chamber and each one glistened as the beam from my light reflected off the condensation that coated them. I made my way to the center of the room and after winding around a couple of the pillars, a small pond entered my limited field of vision. After examining the floor of the cavern, I immediately deduced that it must’ve been left over from when the caves were flooded. I didn’t see them at first, but as I looked over the small pond, I noticed small flakes scattered in small piles around its edges.
I carefully approached the tiny pool–trying my best to avoid kicking any loose flakes or sediment into it and disturbing it’s mirror-like appearance. Unlike the other chambers, this one lacked the normal clutter of sound produced by plummeting water droplets and stray breezes finding their way through the caves hidden orifices. It was completely sealed off from the outside world and the silence it manufactured was unbelievably peaceful. The fact that I was standing in the tomb of two dead men never really occurred to me until now; I guess I was just too caught up in the moment to realize it then. Even now, picturing the unreal stillness of that pond brings about a calmness I never knew existed.
After what felt like hours, I reluctantly turned away from the pond to leave and ran right into one of the stalagmites. I swore loudly in surprise as it split under my weight, taking the top half of the structure with me as I fell towards the floor. I braced myself expecting to have the wind knocked out of me, but to my astonishment the piece I was still clutching practically disintegrated against my body as it broke my fall. I quickly hopped to my feet and was met by a terrible odor, one so foul that it’s difficult to put into words. If I were to try to describe it, I’d say it smelled like a mix of spoiled milk, burnt rubber and cigarette ashes. Needless to say, I threw up as soon as the stench hit my nostrils. I hurriedly covered my nose and mouth with my shirt to mask the smell as I went to investigate the source. If you’re squeamish, I suggest you skip this part because, there’s no sugar-coating what I saw. The smell, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, was coming from the part of the stalagmite that was still standing.
I shined my light at the now knee high structure, doing my best to keep my distance while I studied what was left of it. The base wasn’t thick and round like a normal stalagmite– This one had a bipod base that gradually merged into a single body, and it wasn’t the only one either. After scanning the rest of the room, it was very clear that they all shared the same unorthodox shape, and as soon as I fully examined one that was unscathed, it didn’t take very long to recognize their all too familiar shape.
My breathing became labored as I viewed the remnants of the broken structure, hoping to disprove the thoughts running rampant through my mind. The inside was coated in a rust-like residue and appeared to be hollow at first. I leaned forward to get a better view and noticed the entire base was filled with some sort of lumpy, muddy liquid. Using a pen, I flipped over and scraped off some of the liquid from one of the larger lumps. I let out what started as a soft whimper and once I had fully processed what was in front of me, it instantly turned into a ear splitting scream.
The structures weren’t stalagmites… they were people being used as some kind of shell to preserve their organs and covered in god knows what.
I hauled ass out of that room and practically dove into the small tunnel, clawing desperately at the loose dirt as I scrabbled through the narrow exit. I tumbled down the small mound of rubble at the tunnel’s opening, and after hobbling to my feet, I sprinted towards the security office. I had reached the final stretch and was halfway across the elevated catwalk when I heard a series of light metallic taps coming from behind me. I whipped around to illuminate the grated walkway before I scanned the rest of the small chamber. I held my breath and tried to listen past the white noise of my heart pounding and water droplets splashing. Suddenly, my flashlight flickered a few times then burned out.
I’ve had similar things happen to me in the past, where I’m part-way through my routine and my light suddenly goes out. I just follow the light strips back to the office and replace my light, then finish up from where I left off. No biggie. But after my grim experience in the cavern, I felt guilty for blowing off my co-worker Carlos. For the first time in my life I was afraid of the dark, because in that moment I knew I wasn’t alone, and something was watching me. I took a step backwards and heard the noise again as it echoed off the cavern walls. It was like listening to someone tap their nails on a soda can.
When I turned to make a run for it, a woman’s voice called out from behind me in a soft whisper and stopped me in my tracks.
“Please stay Wess…” She begged as my flashlight began to flicker again. I whirled around and pointed it in the direction of the voice, hoping to find it’s source through the flickers of light.
“Don’t leave me alone!” The voice pleaded to me as five pale, willowy fingers emerged from holes in the metal floor grating, brandishing long, dagger like claws that were blacker than obsidian. They clinked against the grating as each finger closed in around it.
I ran as fast as possible, stumbling once or twice as I fumbled my way through the darkness.
Once I reached the door to the guard’s room, there was a series of loud metallic screeches, followed by the thunderous bang of something landing on the catwalk. I paused in front of the door to contemplate whether I should try to catch a glimpse of the thing pursuing me or not, and immediately decided against it. I shoved the door open and nearly fell through the doorway, before slamming it shut and locking it behind me. I started to dial Nine-One-One on the security room phone, but stopped once I realized how crazy my story would sound. Frustrated, I slammed the phone down onto the receiver and glared intensely at the door I just came through, as a young woman’s’ voice crooned from the other side.
“Wess I promise I won’t hurt you… it’s so cold out here. Please let me in, I’m so cold Wess.”
It occurred to me at that moment that I should’ve just left the winery. The door to the lobby was only ten feet further down the corridor. I was in such a hurry to put a wall between me and that thing lurking underneath the catwalk, leaving the building never even came to mind. To think… I could have gone home, put in my resignation letter in the morning, and never came back to Luna Rossa.
I took a deep breath to calm myself. Despite how terrifying the idea was, I knew I had to figure out who or what exactly I was dealing with. I turned to view the camera monitors and my stomach dropped. All but one of the feeds were displaying static, and to make matters worse, when I tried to go over the old footage I realized I’d forgotten to turn on the VCR recorder at the start of my shift. Not only could I not view the footage from earlier, there was no video evidence of what tampered with the cameras. Desperate for answers, I opened up Hector’s journal once more and breezed over his last few entries. What I read not only terrified me, but confirmed everything I had experienced.
On June 15th 1899, Hector and his two cohorts, Ben and Daniel, were on their way out of the caves when Hector playfully shoved Ben. This caused him to fall into and through the same tunnel wall they had been hearing noises through the other day. Breaking protocol, they decided to investigate the new chamber (sound familiar?) on their own, each bringing their own lantern. The first thing they noticed were the hundreds of human shaped stalagmites scattered throughout the chamber and at the center of them all was the small pond. Ben and Daniel both wandered to the center of the chamber, while Hector observed the man shaped structures. When they reached the pond, they found a naked woman lying at its edge with her lower half completely submerged. Figuring she was dead they ordered Hector to get their supervisor. As he was leaving, he heard a woman’s voice, followed by Daniel’s scream as he came rushing toward him. He spurred him on, confused as to why Ben and the girl weren’t with him. Daniel was only an arm’s length away when a pale, clawed hand shot out from the darkness and grabbed his friend by the ankle. Terrified, Hector grabbed a nearby pickaxe and began chipping away at the opening of the cavern, causing the cave-in of 1899. Just before the opening was completely buried, Hector claimed he saw a stalagmite resembling Ben’s figure at the edge of the pond, still holding his lit lantern. Behind that, he witnessed what he described as a creature that had the body of a woman from the waist up and the body of a demon from the waist down. It was caressing “Ben” from behind. A week later, he returned to the site in secret, just before he was taken to the asylum, and left his journal there as a warning for those who were willing to believe him.
Not really knowing what to do next, I did the only thing I could think of at the time, which was sit and wait it out. Those next few hours were the longest of my life. The creature called to me in a whimpering female voice every few minutes, sounding weak and distressed at first, begging me to help her. After an hour or so it tried a more… seductive approach. Again, using the same female voice, it would moan my name over and over while tempting me with sexual fantasies I could only dream of, if I opened the door for her. When the teasing didn’t work, there was a brief window of silence before the creature began screaming and lashing out at the security room door. I vaguely remember wrapping my uniform top around my head, hoping to muffle the cacophony of scraping nails and ear splitting shrieks that were being amplified by the surrounding cavern walls. The noises were so horrifyingly loud and painful, at one point I actually contemplated opening the door just to make it stop. Then, just like that, it was dead silent.
With my ears still ringing, I checked the time on my phone and realized the opening crew would be in soon. Reluctantly, I got up out of a fetal position and removed myself from underneath the security desk, then made my way to the rusty metal door on the other side of the room. I hesitantly pressed my face against its cool, rough surface, listening for any movement on the other side.
“Hello, Wess it’s me,” Carlos’s voice echoed loudly, causing me to jump, “I accidentally left my smokes in the security room and am just picking them up real quick.”
The door handle wiggled slightly as he tried to open the door, then swore under his breath.
“Hey man, the doors’ locked and I left my keys in my ride, could you get the door for me please?”
“Yeah,” I muttered, “sorry bud, it’s been a long night.”
I reached for the lock and froze. The voice was his, sure, but I had two good reasons to believe it wasn’t Carlos behind the door. One, Carlos didn’t smoke (that I knew of) and two, he didn’t own a ‘ride’, which I knew because he always bragged about how he biked to work everyday. I pretended to unlock the door and a millisecond later, there was thunderous bang as the creature tried to plow through the door it thought was open. Reverting back to the woman’s voice from before, it cackled manically and slowly, with each passing second, it began to fade. Thinking it was returning back to the depths of the cave, I grabbed my things and without hesitation, seized my opportunity to leave. I darted out of the security room and up the stone steps. I burst through the door to the main lobby and sprinted out the front entrance to my car. When I got home, the first thing I went for was the pistol I kept in my nightstand, before barricading myself in the bedroom.
Later that evening, I was woken up by the sound of my phone ringing. I fumbled around trying to find it, but by the time I did, I’d already missed the phone call. I had thirty missed calls/ voicemails and twenty text messages from my boss. I figured she would be upset at me, I mean, I left without locking up and I can only imagine what the security door looked like after the creature man handled it for hours on end, not to mention the large hole at the cave-in site. I figured I had a lot of explaining to do. When I called her back though, things did not go as expected. When I started to confront her about the things mentioned, she told me everything was locked up tight and made no mention about the cave-in site or the security room. She asked if I could come back to the Luna Rossa for questioning by the police. It took everything I had to muster the strength to do so, but I did as I was asked.
When I arrived I was directed to the security room, where the police were waiting for me. I stopped briefly just before I entered the room to observe the door and to my horror, there wasn’t a single scratch on it. Then, as I walked in, I caught a glimpse of the security feeds… all of them were working perfectly and the hole at the cave-in site was no longer there.
The police interrogated me for about an hour, with most of the questions centered around Carlos. When was the last time I had seen him, what was his attitude like, etc… Apparently, Carlos never made it home after his work shift. His wife thought he might have went to the bar afterwards with some friends, but after calling around and finding out none of them had seen him, she made the call to the police. This is where things get even more creepy!
Security footage showed Carlos leave the security room like normal, then sneak back into the caves while I wasn’t looking. He then made his way to boat alley and crawled underneath the old boat (They played my audio report about the intruder at this point in time). As I was leaving the security room, a couple of rocks fell from the cave-in site, leaving a small tunnel behind and Carlos left his hiding spot to investigate the noise. The video showed him crawl into the tiny tunnel and shortly after, it collapsed with him still inside. They apologized for the formalities but they needed to rule out foul play and offered me their condolences. Once I got the okay to go, I left, without saying another word.
When I got home, I went straight to my computer and began typing out this message. It’s taken me almost a month now to write it, because I can still hardly believe what happened. The recording from that night, the one the police had found, shouldn’t have even existed, seeing as I had forgot to turn on the video recorder! I don’t know how, but the creature must have tampered with the footage and somehow repaired the damage it had made to the security room door. I know, it all sounds insane but it’s the truth… at least I think it is. I couldn’t have hallucinated the whole thing, could I?
If I’m not going completely bat-shit crazy, that means some paranormal creature is going around kidnapping people, storing them in the cave and covering it up. Think about it for a second, there were hundreds of people in there! Just how old is that thing? How long has it been holed up in that cave, waiting to pick off some unfortunate passer-by? I have a lot of questions, but I sure as hell am not going to stick around to find the answers and be labeled as a whack job or worse, turned into human jerky.
I put in my two weeks notice right away and used what was left of my PTO days, so that I never had to return to that god awful place, but that doesn’t change the fact that my mind still does. Almost every night, I can hear her or it calling to me, begging me to return, like some sick, siren song playing over and over in my head.
Now, if this tale wasn’t enough to keep you away, I can’t physically stop you from going there and I wish you the best, but to those who were willing to listen, please, heed my warning and stay clear of the Luna Rossa.
Credit: Blake L. Patrick
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