The Cistern by BushBumper

The Cistern


Taken from a passage on StrangeUSA.com and edited by me:

“Closed down in 1989, the Traverse City State Hospital is in many ways considered haunted by locals. If you try to enter the hospital with religious materials such as: bibles, holy water flasks, or crosses, they are destroyed before entering the building. On the grounds of the hospital, you can see various ghosts. You can also hear the voices and screams below from the hallways of the psych wards. Sightings of the ghostly apparitions of babies and old people have been reported walking inside on different floors as well as ghostly figures that chase people that dare to even go inside. Sightings of disfigured creatures roam the basements and tunnels. On various occasions, you will see lights on in the rooms of the patient’s, but no electricity is connected to them and the power has been inactive for years. It isn’t even unusual to find possessions of the patients on the grounds.

There is said to be a spirit of a priest that was recorded to have committed suicide in the chapel. The chapel is one of the only safe places on the premises, and it is the only place where religious material will not be tampered with.

There is a rumor that there is a gate to hell open somewhere near the ‘Hippie Tree’

I knew the rumours about the Traverse City State Hospital to be absolute bullshit. The building wasn’t haunted, there is no such thing as ghosts, and there is definitely not a portal to hell near the dilapidated tree that stoners like to hang out at and get high. I never believed in supernatural things at all and when people talked about their “close encounters” I simply would roll my eyes. Not to say I wasn’t into a good horror story, because I was actually a huge fan of all things creepy. I owned the entire collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories and I’d sat down and read every bizarre and scary story by him I could find. I liked reading in general, although that makes me sound like a nerd. Most stories I read are actually happening in that character’s universe though, unlike someone in real life claiming they’d seen “orbs” in a nearby cemetery and claiming something unnatural is occurring, rather than just admitting it’s dust particles.

However, I will admit there was always an odd feeling in the area around that tree. I had frequented the area around it often with my two best friends, Chris and Markus. We would go biking in the woods further up from the hippy tree, marking our path along the way with blue spray paint circles on nearby trees. At certain points we’d choose a different colour to mark a good spot for building BMX stunts. We would build ramps out of fallen logs and branches and create nice, smooth ramps to do tricks off of. I’m sure many of them are still there…but I haven’t been back there in months and I never plan to ever again since what happened.

On our hiking trips to find the best spots for a good ramp we would sometimes walk past a large circular building made of concrete. Nearly every inch of the wall was covered in horrible graffiti and it looked like it hadn’t been touched in years. It had served some purpose to the old “haunted” hospital but I had no idea what. It was a nice walk away from the hospital grounds and it was hidden in the trees so that no one could possibly see it from the view of any of the surrounding windows.

I also found it strange that we never saw anyone else on our adventures. We went past it several times a week and there was never once another human being in sight. Sometimes we’d see new graffiti tags or a new empty energy drink can, but never an actual person. Something about the structure felt…wrong, but I never could quite figure out what it was. When walking past its ruined and vandalised walls, it almost felt like something was calling out to you.

One day in the middle of June, while walking up the sloping woods trail, Chris and Markus began to horse play, as they often did. Chris jumped on Markus’s back and reached down, yanking the pack of Marlboro Camel Wides with the words “I wuv Markus” from Markus’s hands and running up the hill. He wrote that himself, sadly.

“Hah! I got your cancer sticks!” Chris mocked as Markus ran up after him

“How dare you steal Elizabeth! She’s my one true love!” Markus yelled, continuing his pursuit. Markus often referred to his cigarettes as his girlfriend and would often say things like “I have to go call my girl” when he went out for a smoke. He smoked quite a lot…


I raced after them to make sure I didn’t miss the epic chase scene and we eventually got to the location, once again, of the large abandoned concrete building. Markus was gaining on Chris as he turned around near the building, ready to taunt him once again, when he noticed Markus was no less than 20 feet from him. Chris quickly raised the pack of cigarettes high in the air and aimed them as if he was about to throw them on to of the cylindrical concrete building when Markus stopped in his tracks.

“Don’t you dare!” Markus yelled
Chris smiled wickedly and tossed his cigarettes up and over the concrete wall and a light thud confirmed they hit the high roof of it.

“You asshole!” Markus said as Chris began laughing like an evil villain.
Markus quickly jumped on Chris and wrestled his Iphone out of his pocket and chucked it over the building, the same as he did to Markus’s cigarettes.

“NO! MY PHONE! What the hell man? That was expensive!” Chris whined, running his hands through his hair wildly.

“Well maybe you should think before you steal Emma again!” Markus said, smiling.

“Is there even a way up there?” I asked, looking at ledge of the building, just out of reach.

“We’re going to find out that’s for damn sure!” Chris said in a panicked voice, running around the building and out of sight.

“Don’t worry sweetie! I’ll be right there! Just stay calm!” Markus yelled to his cigarettes.

“Over here!” the voice of Chris yelled from around the opposite end of the building.

Markus and I rounded the cornerless, vandalised walls until we found Chris, stepping onto an awkwardly shaped tree stump that provided just enough of a boost to grab the ledge of the building and pull oneself up. Chris pulled himself up first, then Markus, then me. As I heaved myself up onto the building roof I saw a large concrete circle with large clumps of moss covering nearly the entire right side of it. On my left, there was a purple metal protrusion in the shape of a square with a small steel pipe coming out next to it. Markus raced over next to it to reclaim his cigarettes from the concrete when Chris began looking worried.

“Yo! Where’s my phone!?” Chris asked loudly, gesturing his arms outwards.

I noticed Markus looking down at the purple square when I started to walk over to him. The closer I got to it the more I realised that it was a square hole with a broken hatch where a cover used to be. The square hole went down into the black interior of the large building and had a descending ladder consisting of steel pipes bent and formed into the concrete. Around the interior of the top, there was graffiti, as well as every inch of wall on the inside that the sun permitted us to see.

Markus stared down into the hole with me and wrinkled his nose at the scent of mildew and decomposing matter. From what we could see, there was nothing but garbage and rotting wood at the bottom, followed by never-ending blackness.

“Somebody call it or something!” Chris whined.

I pulled out my mobile, scrolled through the contacts, and selected Chris’s name from them.

After a second, a strange echoing buzzing noise began emitting from down the hole as a faint light flickered on and off at the bottom of the poorly constructed ladder.

“Oh shit, dude, I’m so sorry!” Markus said staring down into the mire of wood and garbage.

“Tell me you didn’t!” Chris yelled, his voice cracking a bit.

“Don’t worry man, I’ll get it for you, it was my fault.” Markus apologized, beginning to step towards the ladder then pausing.

“On second thought, maybe we should all go down…just in case.”

“Are you scared of the dark Markus?” I asked in a teasing tone.

“Nah…I just….what if there’s a homeless guy down there or something?”

“Oh come on! Move out of the way.” Chris said, carefully lowering himself to the first ladder rung and stomping it to test it’s durability. Chris carefully continued descending the rungs until he landed with a loud echo on several planks of decaying wood.

“You coming down?” he asked, his voice reverberating a hundred times over.

Me, then Markus both descended the ladder into the murky abyss until all three of us were standing on a collection of branches and soda cans, staring into the surrounding darkness of the inside.Only a few feet in front of us was visible and most of the ground had been flooded with a good 8 inches or so of water.Luckily, the garbage and wooden planks made remnants of a walkway. As I looked around at the floating debris I began to feel the same uneasiness that I felt before, as if something bad was about to happen, but I shrugged it off.

Chris looked along the ground and found his phone, barely teetering on the edge of a branch as he picked it up and wiped it’s screen with his shirt.

“This place is spooky!” Chris said, each word echoing wildly throughout the cavernous building.
“No kidding…” Markus said, pulling a cigarette out and lighting it.
Chris held up his camera and took several pictures.


“We should come back here sometime.” Chris said, smiling swiping through his pictures.

“We do need a new spot to get blazed since the Hippie Tree has cops nosing around it now.” he finished.

“I haven’t been there since Mother’s Day!” Markus said smiling.

“The smell though…” I complained, looking down at the floating garbage and noticing a soaked purple messenger bag with a cartoon skull printed on it, the fabric covered in some vile black substance. I lightly nudged it with my shoes, causing it to drift in the opposite direction.

“We’ll bring the gas mask bong!” Markus yelled excitedly, his voice echoing louder.

“Hell yeah!” Chris said, high fiving Markus.

I didn’t feel comfortable being in the building, but I would never admit it to the guys, who seemed way to excited about it.

“We’ll come back here tomorrow and smoke it up.” Markus said, starting his climb back up the ladder.

I followed behind him and I turned around to look into the hole at Chris, who was snapped another picture before pocketing his mobile and climbing up.




That night I did some research on the area and discovered that the building was an old cistern used by the hospital many decades ago. It was used to store rainwater originally, which explained the flooding. I also discovered on many forums that people included the very same Cistern in their tales of the haunted hospital not too far away. The fact that I felt something there didn’t help put me at ease as I read story after story of ghost encounters and strange happenings. Many stories told of the “Hippie Tree,” the broken and split apart fallen tree with more than enough graffiti on it, that Chris, Markus, and I used to frequent to get high and unwind after school. Apparently a long time ago, when it was still standing, it was believed to be the way to get into the underworld.




The website read:

“ it is said should one circle the tree, they would be whisked to the gates of underworld where it is rumored the tortured souls of those housed within the Asylum were sent on their passing.”

Despite sitting on its many toppled trunks nearly every week, I’d never known the folklore behind it until now. The more stories I read of diseased patients dying en masse and suicidal priests that hung themselves in the chapel, the more I started to scare myself. While I didn’t believe in ghosts, the stories were still disturbing. I calmed myself down with youtube videos and music before going to sleep.

The next day, Markus and Chris showed up at my house and we rode our bikes back up the trail to the cistern.I relayed the information I had gathered to them on the way there but there only response was a collective and sarcastic “Oooo!” followed by laughter.

“I thought you didn’t believe in paranormal shit James!” Chris said, looking over his shoulder while pedaling.
“I don’t, It’s just that I found it interesting.” I replied. I didn’t believe a word of it, but it still gave me a weird feeling. Not quite fear, just slightly uncomfortable about going back to the area.

We biked up the hill, past the old hospital, and into the woods until the large concrete building came into view. One by one we all climbed on top of the large building and once again descended into the murky depths of the hollow interior, each movement causing a loud echo. Once we were all down Chris pulled off his backpack and removed a modified gas mask out. The head was normal looking, but where the respirator should be there was a long green plastic tube with a round bubble at the end and a short metal pipe sticking out for the packing bowl. Chris slipped the mask on, and flicked a switch on the side that caused the mask to light up on the inside, illuminating Chris’s face with a green hue.
“Whoa! Dude! When did you do this?” Markus said excitedly.
“Something I added recently to make night blazin’ easier. L.E.D for life bro!” Chris said, laughing as he adjusted the modified mouthpiece and gestured towards Markus.

“Hand me some of that chronic bruh.” he said in a typical stoner voice, muffled through the mask. I let out a chuckle as Markus reached in his pocket and pulled out a plastic baggy full of marijuana and sprinkled some into the bowl. Chris held the pipe carefully as he flicked a lighter several times and began to inhale, causing the mask to fill with smoke for several seconds. The smoke completely concealed the eyes of the gas mask until It looked like a pure white cloud. Chris pulled the gas mask forward and the smoke sprayed out in every direction like an engine letting out steam and he pulled the mask off with a “WHEW!” and handed it to Markus.
“Oh shit! My eyes!” Chris said, laughing as he wiped tears from his watering pink eyes.
Markus put on the mask, took a hit, and removed it the same way but while coughing uncontrollably.
“Oh man!” he coughed. “I forgot how powerful this thing hits!” he finished, handing the mask to me.
I slipped on the glowing mask next and held the tube tightly as Markus handed me the lighter. The mask made the surrounding darkness just a little darker, despite the lights on the inside. The smell of rotting wood was  slowly replaced with the powerful skunky scent of low grade marijuana that never got ceased to make me gag. I held the carb, lit the bowl, inhaled, and lifted my finger from the hole as the smoke slowly made it’s way up the tube and into the mask. Just before the white cloud took over my vision I saw something that froze my blood. Standing in the darkness, I saw what looked like the twisted back of a malnourished creature in the darkness, It was disturbingly inhuman with a concave stomach and emaciated limbs that looked like they were on the verge of snapping. Moss and twisted branches weaved throughout of the stygian creatures skin, causing the grey flesh to bulge around the entrance and exit wounds as it struggled to move. It’s amorphous body contorted as it’s abstractly long arms began to vibrate more violently with each movement struggling to lift it’s deformed figure out of the muddy water. The smoke began to cover my eyes at the bottoms as the creature slowly stood up straighter, it’s gibbous spine tearing through its flesh, and turned it’s mud soaked head towards me, revealing vine-like appendages that hung out of its open maw like tentacles, dripping with tenebrous water like some Lovecraftian horror. Then I met it’s gaze to see nothing but deep, black, unutterable sockets that cracked in every direction of its malformed skull as the smoke completely overtook my vision, getting in my eyes and mouth, suffocating me.
In a panic I screamed and tore off the mask, throwing it down on the wooden plank we stood on and looked in horror through the clearing smoke at the place where the creature had been…but saw nothing.
“What the fuck man!” Chris shouted, picking up the mask.
“I saw something!” I blurted out, coughing heavily with tears running down my face from the smoke,
Markus and Chris both looked behind them at the empty black void that the muddy water flowed into and then turned back to me.
“Dude, did you take fucking acid or something? Why you holding out?” Chris said, giving me a nudge on the shoulder.
I continued to stare in the direction of the ineffable monstrosity that I had seen just moments ago. That wasn’t my imagination, it couldn’t have been.
“Listen, I think I just freaked myself out with the ghost stories…can we leave?” I said, never diverting my eyes from the spot in the murky water.
“Alright man, just a few more hits thou-”
“Like, now!” I snapped, interrupting him.
Markus gave me an uneasy look and glanced at Chris.
“I guess dude.” Chris said in a disappointed tone, reaching down to the backpack.

We went back to my house and played video games until around 8, when Markus and Chris left on their bikes. I watched television for a little while after, some show about Alien Abduction that I really wasn’t paying attention to. At some point my mom asked if I wanted anything from the store and I said no and she left as well around 8:15. I sat there, staring at the images on the screen, trying to replace the images of what I saw or what I thought I saw out of my head. I had never been afraid of the dark until that night. Every time I entered a room I flicked every possible light on and left them on when I exited. Even when I took a shower I couldn’t close my eyes in fear that something was right behind me, waiting for when I wasn’t looking to strike. That night I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t. I stayed up, with every light in my room on. I watched Youtube videos on my laptop to clear my head, but nothing could quite erase the horrible thing I’d seen. I didn’t like feeling like this, paranoid and jumpy. I’d only felt something similar to this when I was a kid and would watch scary films before bed, but this was worse. I didn’t want to be one of those people who become obsessed with their paranormal encounters and ended up becoming recluses. There had to be a logical explanation for it, maybe I was hallucinating from lack of oxygen in the mask. It couldn’t have been real. I’m sure the paranoid schizo’s on the paranormal forums never once doubted their eyes. If a lesser mind than mine witnessed what I did, they’d already have a thread post on GhostPlace.com or one of the other paranormal forums. Maybe reading their posts will show me how ridiculous this whole thing is. I thought.

I stared at my laptop screen for several seconds before moving my mouse to the search bar and paused and typed the only sight I remembered from my previous search, “GhostPlace.com” and hit enter. The page loaded up and I immediately navigated through the forum, reading retellings of supposed paranormal encounters that either made me sigh in disappointment or laugh at how utter bullshit they were. There was a man from my town who believed there was a UFO base at the bottom of Lake Michigan and for this,one I had to comment. I made an account, using a picture of me on last years Halloween, and I typed the first user name I thought of: “TheObscure”. It sounded like a name someone trying too hard to be spooky would pick and it made me laugh.

I quickly typed my reply,

“I very seriously doubt extraterrestrials would choose such a densely populated area to hide a base. People are always swimming in the lake and fishing in it. It sounds like a drunken man’s tall tale.”

I examined it and decided it was missing something. I decided to look up vague evidence of what he was talking about and found a site that claimed to have found a stone formation on the bottom of the lake. I finished my post with:

“Although… (I linked the website)

You never know…”

I hit enter and laughed. Subtly making fun of people was particularly fun tonight for some reason. I continued searching through them and making myself laugh until the paranoia had subsided and the sun had begun to rise. I looked at my clock, 7:38 a.m.
I had stayed up the entire night…but I wasn’t tired.

I ate breakfast, took a shower, and continued to read stories until time for school. After I got home, I couldn’t hang out with the guys because every teacher I had decided to give out a ton of homework. After I finished it, I immediately went back onto GhostPlace.com and began to read more stories while I lie in bed. At some point in the night, I drifted off.

In my dreams I once again saw the creature inside the building but this time the image froze. I stood still with my friends suspended in time as the abomination looked in my direction, it’s soulless black pits focusing intently on where I stood. The image began contorting as I heard a thousand voices screaming, so loud that I felt my ear drums would burst. The screams came in every pitch you could imagine from a glass shattering females voice to a guttural demon-like low one. I tried to cover my ears but I couldn’t move, I was paralyzed. Suddenly, I was thrust down into the water several feet as if it were a polluted ocean. The garbage swirled around me as I held my breath and  looked below me into the black depths. What I saw next I can barely describe. Emerging from the depths below me was a massive ineffable monstrosity with thousands of eyes and more massive than anything I had ever seen. In a panic, I looked toward the surface and struggled to swim up and away from it, but still had no control over my limbs. It’s horrid form began to pick up speed and I felt my lungs straining to retain oxygen but nearing their limits. My heart was pounding in my chest as I tried my hardest to move, but I knew that I was going to drown. I looked up to the surface of the water as it grew further away and I felt absolutely helpless as my body gave in and water filled my lungs. I saw my lifeless arms and legs, reaching towards the surface as it grew darker and darker until large tendrils began to wrap around them and I was spun around to see a gaping maw of millions of rows of teeth surrounding my lifeless corpse as a loud moaning sound vibrated the water and the screams somehow got louder. I was being consumed by some unfathomable, antediluvian, creature. The maw began to rotate and collapse on to me as the loud, grating noise of static and voices began to escalate to an unbearable level as I opened my mouth to scream.

At that very moment my eyes shot open as I fell on my bedroom floor, flailing and gasping for air. My leg was caught on something and I began to pull on it in a panic, realising my leg was tangled in the bedsheets. I looked around my room, taking deep breaths, still not fully realizing I was awake. After several seconds I unwound the sheets from my leg and sat, once again with my back against the wall, on my bed. I didn’t sleep that night. I had this recurring nightmare every night for the entire week. I couldn’t have gotten more than an hour or two of sleep, nor did I want to ever have to close my eyes again. By Friday afternoon I looked like a mess. I could barely function in school and I would barely respond to my mother, who seemed to be getting worried. I hadn’t told anyone about the nightmares or paranoia, I thought they would think I was going crazy. I stayed up all night on GhostPlace.com reading about vivid nightmares/sleep paralysis and in the morning, drank three cups of coffee. I wanted to fight sleep off for as long as possible.Chris and Markus showed up at my house around 5:00 that Saturday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go biking around town. I threw my laptop in my backpack and went with them. I didn’t want to be alone.
We road to Markus’s house and I could barely keep myself from falling off my bike due to sleep deprivation. On the way there Markus stopped in front of the state hospital parking lot and looked at me.
“You up for some basketball?” he asked looking at me with a smile.
“I don’t know.” I replied in a groggy tone.
“You really look like shit James.” Chris remarked, stopping his bike next to mine and putting his hand on my shoulder.
“You alright?”
“I’m fine.” I lied.
“You guys can, I’ll just sit and do some homework.”
“Okay, that’s cool man. Let me kick Chris’s ass real quick and we’ll be on the way to the MARKAPALOOZA house.” he said excitedly, pedaling towards the parking lot.
“Pff, I’ve only lost twice!” Chris yelled, pedaling after him.

I followed on my bike as they did their usual back and forth and when we reached the parking lot, Markus pulled a basketball out from his backpack and they began to play, shooting free-throws at the old rusted basketball hoop. I sat on a nearby bench, pulled out my laptop, and began to work on an essay that was due Monday. It was hard to focus due to fatigue so I sat there, staring at a blank screen for several minutes before typing an opening line. I had gotten a page typed when the same uneasy feeling came over me that I felt when I had been near the cistern. I looked around, but I saw nothing aside from Markus dribbling the ball around Chris and shouting insults at him. My vision started to blur as I began to hear a high pitched tone that caused me to wince. Then my vision was drawn to the abandoned hospital building. Every window was filled with dirty polluted water and there were bloated corpses floating in each one with ropes tied around their feet, keeping them from floating to the ceiling. The entire building had turned into a macabre aquarium of death and I was the only visitor. Suddenly the bodies began to twitch violently and black liquid began to spray out of their eyes and mouths until every window became nothing but an atramentous display case. My heart began to pound and I turned around and screamed.

“Guys!” in a panicked voice, causing them to drop the ball and turn around hurriedly.
I looked behind me and started to point but when I turned around, everything was normal. No water, no corpses.

“What the hell man? What’s wrong?” Chris said looking worried.

I noticed the ringing in my ears was no longer there and I looked back towards my friends, embarrassed and afraid. A combination of feelings rarely felt simultaneously.

“Nothing…I’m sorry.” I said, staring at my feet.

“Man, I really think you need to just relax and smoke a joint or something. You look like you haven’t slept in days. Let’s head back to my house guys.” Markus said, picking up the ball and putting it in his backpack.

Back at Markus’s house, I sat on the couch while Chris and Markus played an online shooting game that I didn’t have much interest in. I pulled out my laptop, went to Ghostplace.com and once again began to read about ghost encounters. I read nothing that sounded like what I had experienced. I decided to make my own post describing my situation. No one knew who I was, so I could tell the absolute truth and expect an answer of some kind. I started a new thread:






Vivid Nightmares, Hallucinations?

“I’ve been having a recurring dream where I’m drowning in a polluted ocean and a large creature begins to devour me as I drown. Just before I wake up a corpse grabs me and screams for me to help her and I always wake up at that point. It all seems so real and vivid that I can almost feel the water dripping off me when I wake up.

I rarely get any sleep because of this and I’ve even started hallucinating vividly in my waking life. I saw the windows of the hospital fill up with water today and I saw bodies floating in them before they vanished from sight. I am scared and need answers. I’ve never had anything like this happen. It started a week ago…

I’ve never believed in the supernatural, but I figured I could get help from those who do. “



I re-read it, I sounded just like one of the ridiculous posts I’d been making fun of. I didn’t want to submit it, but this might be the only place I can get help. I clicked the “Create Thread” button and waited. After several minutes of no one replying I decided to browse local posts. I typed in my town and the search results came up. The first few pages were about the hospital and fabricated ghost encounters (as expected) and they eventually began to delve into more interesting topics. One that immediately caught my interest was:


“Mysterious deaths and disappearances - Lacy Zerbe and her father”

I clicked on the link to see an article explaining a recent disappearance of a young girl and her father. According to reports from Lacy’s friends, she was the adventuring type, often exploring the woods in her free time. The basic summary of the long article was that her father, Jerome Zerbe, had been struggling with psychotic episodes before he mysteriously vanished in late December. He had sudden bursts of anger and he was suffering from extreme hallucinations. His last known whereabouts were the Behavioural Health Centre downtown where he had gone for a psych evaluation. Halfway through the evaluation he assaulted the clinician and ran out of the building, screaming nonsense about creatures that wanted his daughter. Authorities searched the area and his home but there was no sign of the man or his daughter, Lacy Zerbe (16). An active police search for the man and his daughter lasted two months until the corpse of Jerome Zerbe was found, drowned in the Grand Traverse Bay. His daughter however, was never found. An Amber Alert for Lacy was put out but she still to this day has not been found.

I scrolled down to see a picture of Lacy when a chill ran up my spine. She was an attractive girl with long black hair and a checkerboard dress. The picture was of her sitting on a concrete slab, smiling up at whoever was talking the picture, clutching a purple messenger bag with the same cartoon skull on it as the one I’d seen in The Cistern on the first day we went there…

I immediately closed my laptop and stood up, as Chris and Markus both looked up at me.

“I’ll be right back” I said, trying to hide my nausea. I quickly walked to the bathroom, closed the door, and dry heaved for several minutes into the toilet. There was a nervous knot in my stomach and my heart was pounding hard, I felt a sickening feeling like I’d never felt before.

This has to all be a huge coincidence. I thought. These kinds of things don’t happen in real life.

However, these thoughts were not comforting this time. In fact, I no longer trusted myself at all. My brain torments me when I sleep and causes hallucinations while I’m awake. How do I know what’s real and what isn’t? These were the thoughts of a mad man, but they were being thought by me. I needed a distraction, anything to get my mind off my thoughts. I picked myself up off the floor and walked quickly back to the downstairs living room to see Markus throwing his hands up as he killed Chris in the game.

“Awww! NO!” Chris moaned throwing down his controller.
“Throw me the controller, I have to put Markus in his place!” I announced, putting on a fake smile. I played video games with them for a few hours before we all found places to sleep. Chris took the recliner, Markus slept on a pull out mattress, and I got the couch. I don’t remember falling asleep, but it must’ve happened quick.

I opened my eyes to a sky full of ominous dark grey clouds, obscured by what appeared to be the surface of water far above me, as high as the sky reached. I rolled over on my side to lift myself up as my hand dug into dirt that swished around and floated away from me in a dark cloud as I realised that it was not solid ground I was on, but underwater. I panicked for a moment, grasping at my throat for air until I realised, after several panicked breaths, that I did not need it. I drifted to my feet as I observed my surroundings, a familiar dirt trail surrounded by tall trees. I was in the woods, but they had been submerged, with the plants swaying gently with the current as I tried to comprehend what was happening. The disconsolate, gloomy underwater woods stretched on forever in every direction and I couldn’t quite make out where I was. Suddenly, in the murky distance a faint green glow caught my eye. I felt myself being drawn towards it as my body seemingly began swimming towards it on its own. I continued towards the ambient glow as it grew closer and closer, turning the water around me a haunting, unnatural hue. I finally swam past a large tree as I entered the clearing where the origin of the glow resided. A small circle of trees surrounded me as I looked down to see a titanic toppled over tree that had been split into several splintered pieces seemingly from toppling over after it’s weight had caused it to be top heavy. The wood of the enormous tree was covered in graffiti and garbage that ruined any beauty it may have had. Then it I realised where I was…The Hippie Tree. I was far above the small circle of interlocking tree parts that comprised our old hangout spot. Swimming towards the centre, I diverted my eyes towards the glow and finally saw what was causing it. A limp, lifeless body with torn clothes floated in the centre of the circle wearing Chris’s gas mask with it’s green lenses radiating colour in every direction. A cold chill ran down my spine as I looked upon the macabre thing with both intrigue and dread. I didn’t want to approach it, but I forced myself to swim forward as a nervous knot formed in my stomach. I swam up to the body as the lenses of the gas mask nearly blinded me, causing me to squint as I reached out my hand to touch it. Just before my fingers touched it’s surface, a great expulsion of white smoke leaked out from the seams of the mask, jutting through the water and causing me to retract my hand in fear. Suddenly, a loud, echoing moan shook the water around me as an ineffable noise echoed from below me. I quickly looked down to see the floor of the woods cave in on itself, forming a massive crater that crumbled down into pitch blackness as the entire woods began to shake. Below me, a deep pitch black hole had formed as a feeling of great panic arose inside me. Out of the darkness a form began to emerge as strange shapes began to work their way up towards me. Two of the shapes quickly retracted and thrusted upwards, wrapping around the throat and legs of the body before pulling it quickly down into the endless black pit. All light quickly faded from around me as the green glow was pulled down into the depths at an unbelievable speed. Horrified, I began to swim upwards towards the unreachable surface with all my might. I felt something twist tightly around my ankle as my heart sank. I looked down to see a slick, revolting tendril working its way up my legs as I began to struggle and try and pry it off with my hands. As I struggled, I felt another tendril tighten around my neck as a feeling of absolute dread filled my chest. All at once, I was pulled downwards by my neck, heading quickly towards the unfathomable fate that awaited me. I pulled with all my strength at the appendage as the darkness of the bit began to surround me. Just before I was submerged into the blackness, I looked into the depths to see a million eyes and rows of teeth rupturing outwards from slick, fetid flesh as it dragged me towards it. I opened my mouth to scream as the horrifying form began to consume me, a loud roar that burst my eardrums emitting from within.

I sat straight up and screamed, grabbing my face with my hands and quickly looked around to see I was in Markus’s living room once again.

“WHAT!? What’s going on!?” Chris shouted, nearly falling out of the recliner.

I looked around the room and saw Markus and Chris both sitting up in panic and staring at me with worry in their eyes.

“I…had a bad dream, I’m so sorry…” I whimpered, trying not to cry in front of my friends.

“Holy shit man…must’ve been an intense nightmare. You want some water or something?” Markus asked starting to get up.

“No, no I’m fine…thanks.” I said weakly.

I was relieved when I saw their faces. The dream seemed so real…

I pretended to sleep for the rest of the morning until Chris and Markus both woke up. I was getting back to sleep, but I didn’t want them to worry. We spent the quiet Sunday morning playing video games and watching films, as we normally did on most weekend. Chris would play his bass and Markus would rap to it while I made a beat with whatever items I could find. We always wanted to make a band but never actually put effort into it. My friends were actually making me feel better and the images of the nightmare were pushed temporarily to the back of my mind…still there…but not bothering me as much as it should. However, that didn’t last long due to the next thing that came out of Markus’s mouth.

“So, when are we going back to that Cistern place again? I haven’t smoked in 3 days because of my parents being home and whatnot. We can’t smoke outside either because my parents are friends with the nosy ass neighbours and ever since she found my bag full of seeds she tells them to spy on me when she’s away…” Markus said, looking back and forth between Chris and I.

A sick knot twisted in my stomach.

“How about tomorrow after school?” Chris asked.

The nervous, sick feeling in my stomach grew far worse. I couldn’t let them go…

“Guys, I don’t think we should go back there. I’m sure we can find SOMEWHERE else. Anywhere is better than that place. It smells horrible and I feel like there is some kind of fungus we’re breathing in…” I said desperately, hoping I could say SOMETHING to convince them not to go back.

“Are you still freaked out about that place James? I mean, come on man. It’s the only safe place we have-”

“Please! I just have a bad feeling about it…” I spat, on the verge of tears.

Chris and Markus looked at each other and then gave me a strange look.

“Ok, we’ll try and find another place to smoke…” Markus sighed.

I sighed in relief.

“Thanks guys. I’d better get home before too late. I didn’t finish my homework…” I said, picking up my overnight bag.

“Alright man, see ya tomorrow!” Chris said waving at me in a goofy manner while grinning.

I rode my bike back to my house and was finished with my homework around 8:00. I opened my laptop to check my email when I saw the website had emailed be an automatic notification of someone replying to my post. I clicked on the link and I was directed back to the post I’d created on Saturday to see someone had posted a rather long reply explaining what the possible psychological meanings of the things I’d seen were. It seemed like something a therapist would say, so I disregarded it, hoping that someone else would reply with something useful. I stayed up all night, reloading the page from time to time while keeping busy with other things but no one replied. Around 6 A.M., I heard the rumbling of thunder and a light rain began to sprinkle from the sky. An hour later, I headed to school and sat through first period. I was looking forward to discussing what the next place we were going to smoke at would be in my second hour English. I walked to my second class and waited to see Chris or Markus come in, but student after student filed in and sat at their desks, none of them my two friends. I sat through the classroom, not entirely focused, just waiting for my friends to both come through the classroom door, but they never did. The rest of the day I was a nervous wreck. Had they skipped school and gone to the Cistern without me? Surely they wouldn’t do something like that just to be able to smoke more comfortably…would they?

To make matters worse, the busses had been delayed due to the storm, which had gotten considerably worse over the course of the day. The rain now fell hard and rolling thunder echoed through the sky. Finally, around 3:00 the bus that I rode arrived and I ran through the rain to get on it. I wished I could get home faster…something felt wrong. I tried texting and calling them but neither elicited a response. The bus route took twice as long due to the roads being flooded by rain and I ended up getting home around 4. I immediately ran up to my room and opened my laptop, desperately hoping for an email or something from Markus or Chris, but instead I only had one message in my inbox. Another reply to my thread. Trying to calm down, I clicked on the link and scrolled past the previous post to see what the new one said. I read it quickly until one line of his reply made me heart stop.

“I too would find a close family member or best friend that I can confide in.. But again with most dreams they too are a opening to psychic premonition”

Psychic premonition… My dream was showing me the future.

I quickly ran downstairs and dashed out the door as I heard my mother yelling asking where I was going. I didn’t have time to explain, I had to get to the Cistern. I quickly got on my bike and began to pedal as fast as my legs could in the direction of the old hospital. The rain was picking up, stinging my face with each hard raindrop as the tires of my bike struggled to keep friction against the slick pavement. After a short while I saw the old hospital and quickly veered to the left and into the woods. The dirt trail was muddier than I expected and the wheels on my bike quickly lost traction as my front tire spun out of control, sending me slamming hard into the mud. Wasting no time, I quickly pulled myself up and ran through the muck, fighting to reach harder ground. I quickly began to run towards the direction of the Cistern as lightning lit up the sky, emitting a sharp crackling noise. The water soaking my clothes made it harder to walk as I stumbled several times as my feet got stuck in soft spot in the ground. Finally, the large concrete building came into sight, it’s graffiti covered walls looking ominous in the inclement weather. I was halfway to the building when I stepped on something that crunched beneath my feet. I looked down to see a carton of Marlboro Camel Wides crushed into the mud, with the same “I wuv Markus” drawn on it in permanent red marker. I began to breathe more rapidly as I increased my pace towards the building. When I finally reached it, I followed the curve around until I found the stump and lifted myself onto the concrete roof. I raced over to the square hole and looked down into the void and called out.

“Markus! Chris!” I screamed down into the blackness, hearing my own voice echo over and over.

After several seconds of silence, my mind began to race. Could they not be in there? Or maybe…

“JAMES!” I heard a shrill voice scream from below. It was a scream of panic, one that sent needles down my spine.

“I’m coming!” I screamed, quickly lowering my legs into the hole, nearly slipping on the slick metal. I lowered myself onto the steel ladder slowly, and then lowered myself as quick as I could into the hole. I began to descend to the second rung when my hand slipped and I lost my balance, falling a good six feet down into the abyss, slamming hard against the thin wooden plank causing it to snap in two, sending me under the shallow water. Mud and garbage swirled around me as I pulled myself out of the polluted mire and stood up, completely drenched in water. The brown water came up to just above my knees as I stood there staring into the darkness, spitting out the poison that had gotten in my mouth.

“Chris! Markus!” I called once again, my voice reverberating around the cavernous building. I heard deep breathing coming from directly in front of me in the pitch blackness and quickly directed my attention towards the noise.

I stared into the darkness as a faint green glow began to melt through it. It’s glowing intensifying as the image of the gas masks glowing lenses appeared in the crepuscule interior as if it were floating in place. I squinted at the disembodied mask, noticing that the face on the inside was covered in swirling white smoke. With each long inhale came a shorter exhale that produced clouds of smoke on both sides of the mask causing a short hissing noise. Something wasn’t right…

“Chris? Markus?” I said quietly, almost scared to raise my voice now.
My voice echoed around the darkness as the rain continued to pour into the open hole behind me, causing and endless echo of raindrops along with it. No reply. Just inhale, hiss, inhale, hiss.

I slowly moved towards the glowing mask, the sloshing water beneath me impairing my movement greatly.
“H-hello?” I whimpered, the mask still not moving as the smoke swirled around inside it and continued to respirate.
I slowly reached into my pocket for my mobile, hoping that it had survived the water and pulled it out. The screen flickered a little, but it still responded to touch. I hovered my finger above my flashlight app, trying not to break eye contact with the mask and raised my phone in front of me. I hesitated, then clicked the button.

A flickering burst of light came out of my phone, illuminating the area in front of me and my vision was immediately filled with a horrific image. A limp body hung in the air with the mask attached to its head as a writhing mass behind it began to squirm and shake violently. A sickening form slid to the left of the body as a deformed head slowly slipped from behind the body, two deep black pits suddenly staring directly into my eyes. A deep, eldritch noise that sounded like an extremely rusted crank being forced into motion echoed around the building as my phones light began to flicker. I heard whispers amidst the loud echoing noise as my phone’s screen gave out and submerged everything in darkness once more. I snapped around and began to move as fast as I could towards the steel bar ladder as the hellish noises grew louder. I leaped towards the ladder and gripped it as hard as I could and began to quickly ascend it as heavy rain slammed against my face. I heard the water sloshing violently behind me as something massive moved through it in my direction. Halfway to the exit, my foot slipped off the bar below me and I was only held on by my one hand. I caught a glimpse of a massive slithering and malformed mass before I quickly regained my footing and pushed myself up the ladder towards the hole. The concrete walls began to be covered in crackling veins of black liquid as I climbed and the smell of decomposing flesh filled my nose. I reached my hand out of the hole and used the bar below to pull myself out right as something made a loud noise within inches of where I was. I dove out of the hole onto the concrete as a large mass slammed into the concrete wall inside the abyss. I quickly glanced down into the hole to see the eyes of the hellish creature from my nightmares staring up at me, barely lit by the dark stormy sky.  It slowly backed away into the darkness until it vanished completely. The dark muddy water beneath the ladder gurgled and a glowing green gas mask floated up to the surface as heavy raindrops spattered against the lens.

As for getting home, I don’t remember much. My thoughts come and go in flashes after that. Apparently a cop found me walking down the street covered in gashes, soaking wet, and brought me to a hospital. I am told that I was mumbling nonsense that the nurses and doctors couldn’t understand. My first memory was waking up in the hospital, my mother at my bedside. I began crying hysterically into her shoulder and screaming that someone needed to go to woods out of town for Markus and Chris but she simply looked at me with a worried look in her teary eyes.

“After the police officer picked you up he heard you mention that. A team of officers checked honey, there was noone there…” She said, brushing my hair from my face.
“Well then they didn’t look hard enough!” I retorted.

“They aren’t there sweetie, they are missing. Police are searching for them right now, they will find them.” She said, hugging me again.

So I gave it time, 2 months to be exact. Their bodies were found on the same day along the bay shore. The causes of death were determined to be cold water drowning. I write this now to document what I experienced in hopes that someone will believe me. There are things that we cannot explain or ever begin to comprehend and I witnessed one of those things first hand. I still have nightmares every night and I never get sleep. I’ve withdrawn from friends and family and I spend most of my time on paranormal sights, just trying to find answers for why this happened to me. I still feel like something’s watching me at every moment and I always see things moves out of the corner of my eye. Whether these things are hallucinations from lack of sleep or real, I’ll never know.

My mother took me out of school because I had begun to hallucinate and scream during class. I have even begun to hear voices…Even now I can hear light knocking on the door and a calm man’s voice muffled behind it.

“James…My name is Doctor Cameron. I’m here to help if you’d just open the door, your mother is very worried about you. James? James…”    




were floating in place. I squinted at the disembodied mask, noticing that the face on the inside was covered in swirling white smoke. With each long inhale came a shorter exhale that produced clouds of smoke on both sides of the mask causing a short hissing noise. Something wasn’t right…

“Chris? Markus?” I said quietly, almost scared to raise my voice now.
My voice echoed around the darkness as the rain continued to pour into the open hole behind me, causing and endless echo of raindrops along with it. No reply. Just inhale, hiss, inhale, hiss.

I slowly moved towards the glowing mask, the sloshing water beneath me impairing my movement greatly.
“H-hello?” I whimpered, the mask still not moving as the smoke swirled around inside it and continued to respirate.
I slowly reached into my pocket for my mobile, hoping that it had survived the water and pulled it out. The screen flickered a little, but it still responded to touch. I hovered my finger above my flashlight app, trying not to break eye contact with the mask and raised my phone in front of me. I hesitated, then clicked the button.

A flickering burst of light came out of my phone, illuminating the area in front of me and my vision was immediately filled with a horrific image. A limp body hung in the air with the mask attached to its head as a writhing mass behind it began to squirm and shake violently. A sickening form slid to the left of the body as a deformed head slowly slipped from behind the body, two deep black pits suddenly staring directly into my eyes. A deep, eldritch noise that sounded like an extremely rusted crank being forced into motion echoed around the building as my phones light began to flicker. I heard whispers amidst the loud echoing noise as my phone’s screen gave out and submerged everything in darkness once more. I snapped around and began to move as fast as I could towards the steel bar ladder as the hellish noises grew louder. I leaped towards the ladder and gripped it as hard as I could and began to quickly ascend it as heavy rain slammed against my face. I heard the water sloshing violently behind me as something massive moved through it in my direction. Halfway to the exit, my foot slipped off the bar below me and I was only held on by my one hand. I caught a glimpse of a massive slithering and malformed mass before I quickly regained my footing and pushed myself up the ladder towards the hole. The concrete walls began to be covered in crackling veins of black liquid as I climbed and the smell of decomposing flesh filled my nose. I reached my hand out of the hole and used the bar below to pull myself out right as something made a loud noise within inches of where I was. I dove out of the hole onto the concrete as a large mass slammed into the concrete wall inside the abyss. I quickly glanced down into the hole to see the eyes of the hellish creature from my nightmares staring up at me, barely lit by the dark stormy sky.  It slowly backed away into the darkness until it vanished completely. The dark muddy water beneath the ladder gurgled and a glowing green gas mask floated up to the surface as heavy raindrops spattered against the lens.

As for getting home, I don’t remember much. My thoughts come and go in flashes after that. Apparently a cop found me walking down the street covered in gashes, soaking wet, and brought me to a hospital. I am told that I was mumbling nonsense that the nurses and doctors couldn’t understand. My first memory was waking up in the hospital, my mother at my bedside. I began crying hysterically into her shoulder and screaming that someone needed to go to woods out of town for Markus and Chris but she simply looked at me with a worried look in her teary eyes.

“After the police officer picked you up he heard you mention that. A team of officers checked honey, there was noone there…” She said, brushing my hair from my face.
“Well then they didn’t look hard enough!” I retorted.

“They aren’t there sweetie, they are missing. Police are searching for them right now, they will find them.” She said, hugging me again.

So I gave it time, 2 months to be exact. Their bodies were found on the same day along the bay shore. The causes of death were determined to be cold water drowning. I write this now to document what I experienced in hopes that someone will believe me. There are things that we cannot explain or ever begin to comprehend and I witnessed one of those things first hand. I still have nightmares every night and I never get sleep. I’ve withdrawn from friends and family and I spend most of my time on paranormal sights, just trying to find answers for why this happened to me. I still feel like something’s watching me at every moment and I always see things moves out of the corner of my eye. Whether these things are hallucinations from lack of sleep or real, I’ll never know.    

My mother took me out of school because I had begun to hallucinate and scream during class. I have even begun to hear voices…Even now I can hear light knocking on the door and a calm man’s voice muffled behind it.

“James…My name is Doctor Cameron. I’m here to help if you’d just open the door, your mother is very worried about you. James? James…”    


Submitted by BushBumper