Utah 1966

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

"Finally, I've gained the courage to go on holiday again! An idealistic trip to the desert is the perfect outing."

- The first survivor.


To my young, burgeoning nephew and dear friend, as you are always interested in my trips I would like to tell you that the following trip was potentially my last. I know this may come to you as a shock but my days as an adventurer could perhaps be over. I wanted you to hear it from me first as you must take my word as absolute fact, since there are some out there who choose to think I’m mentally unstable and have created a web of fabrication, that is false. Please brace yourself and your stomach as this is not for the faint of heart. You are to absolutely keep this account to yourself. It is not a fanciful narrative, nor fairy-tale but it is indeed a fantastic recital of terror. As a result of the latest trek, not only has my thirst for adventure has turned into a shriveled, dry root of what used to be a thriving and succulent slice of my life, but I fear for my mental well being and psyche. I know you will believe me nephew, even my oldest and dearest of friends think my tale to be a work of fiction and some have even had the audacity to assert it was all a dream. I do insist that it is indeed fact, and this is a recital of my excursion. The following is a tale of madness and despair and if you have the mental capacity to write back to me after reviewing my words, please do not ask me anything in reference to what I saw; for I cannot explain these events in any greater detail and in all sincerity, I do not wish to. 

We sat on the red, sandy and sparsely covered landscape that makes up the greater part of Utah, discussing how and why we made the trek all the way across this vast country. I was always grateful to travel far and near, however as I had been stuck in the way of illness some weeks prior in my home of Pennsylvania, I was even more nostalgic and felt the longing for travel this time. Oliver Wilson was my companion, a raucous chap whom I had been friends with since we were boys, he had become over the years much less bookish than I but we had never stopped sipping scotch and finding adventure together. We had spoken of taking a long trip to the west for some years, whilst laying in my swathe of flannel, I had plenty of time to sift through all the travel magazines and books we both had collected. We decided that as soon as I felt well, it was time to commence our journey. Life seemed so fragile to me then as I lay unwell as I had equal parts hopelessness and regret, so the need to travel and experience what I could with my time left in the vast landscape of humanity was of great importance to me.

 There was something comforting about being bed-ridden with a mildly incapacitating illness, perhaps it was the lack of responsibility and obligation thanks to the excuse of being unwell, being able to collect only pity and rest was an hourglass of moderate pleasure. What a luxurious thing to feel, a thankfulness for being momentarily sick.

After some weeks of planning and preparation, Oliver and I packed lightly and made the long trek to the sunnier portion of the United States. One of the most important stops to me was the great ocean of dirt and orange rocks that seemingly went on for an eternity. We made our way near a Navajo Reservation in hopes to make a brief encounter with the indigenous people, a group I had always held in considerably high regard. The tales I had heard and images I had seen at the pictures had always intensely intrigued me, it was more than necessary we made it a point to visit such an amazing site before my impending demise that may or may not have been a figment of my own hypochondriac imagination.

Despite the reservation being public knowledge, its location was somewhat escaping our combined brains. We followed some crudely given directions along the way that did not coincide with our trusty road map that had so far been gold to us, turning from paved tarmac, to gravel roads, to dirt and dust under our tires. The views of loose dirt swooping and blowing over the humbling, giant plateaus was worth our slight mislocation. White Rim Road had thus far been good to us, and we shared tales we each had heard of the dangerous and what quite frankly sounded downright mythically to me at times; the black crack. A cavernous fissure that went on for miles and at some points was more than 65 feet deep. I ask you my dear nephew; what is it exactly about this innate human desire to explore such reckless regions? 

Day quickly became dusk and we decided we should preserve both fuel and energy in an effort to get a fresh start the next day.  “Here looks good”. Oliver proclaimed to me, as if the spot he had pointed out would have been different from the several other thousands of square feet of dirt that made up the landscape. “How do you reckon?” I laughed as I parked our vehicle. Oliver gave me a tongue in cheek glance as he got out of the car. We channeled our inner Lewis and Clark and set up camp under the clear sky, stars began making subtle and soft appearances as hues changed from clear blue to opposing contrast, making for a very authentic, pioneering experience. A glorious spectrum of lavender, orange, and lilac strokes lined the sky resulting in the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. Now as I think back on that gorgeous painting of a sky, I wonder how this universe could produce such beauty prior to introducing me to such obscene horror. 

I awoke several hours after we descended to sleep, the indications being the pitch blackness of the surroundings illuminated by naught but a few embers of our fire. To this day I cannot say that anything in particular awoke me such as a sound or strange rustling, no howles or shrieks, yet more of being awoken by the feeling of curiosity. This may sound strange but as I recount the events they come to me as unquestionable fact, at this point at least, whereas it is the past and I can only tell it by exactly how it happened. Almost immediately vertical, I was as awake as I could possibly be and swore I saw a flash of light in the distance. I grabbed a flashlight and dawned my jacket and began walking. “Oliver… psst Oliver! Is there something out there?” I whispered to my companion but he remained sleeping soundly. We were set up not far off from one the base of the many immensely cascading rock formations. These ancient natural structures were hundreds of thousands of years old and dwarfed humanity in their age, and resilience to exist, towering to the heavens like we were insignificant ants at their feet. I was humbled by their sheer existence. 

I began an uphill trek towards the formation that looked so interesting. I'm not sure what it was, but I knew I was supposed to go. My body was light as I walked, a steady gait but my eyes were struggling in the darkness even with the directed beam of light that I had in my hand. No sounds were present, it was completely silent, I could hear my breathing even through my nose, my footsteps were the deafening poundings of a war drum crunching against the dirt. I was getting closer now to a somewhat small,yet still majestic dusty orange obelisk formation that beckoned me. Each step felt louder and heavier as I got closer, my flashlight started to flicker, only to be healed by a few smacks on its side. I swore I could hear a humming from the natural pillar, I closed in on it, my flashlight shut off just a few inches from it and then - nothing. There was nothing at all. I felt like I woke from a dream, a sudden clarity washed over me and I felt numb to the boulder and my surroundings in general. I smacked my flashlight and the light showed just as bright as new, it was time I had a few more hours of solid rest. I turned around to begin the slight downhill hike, knowing I’d have to be more careful as this was to be a bit more challenging than the ascent just completed. 

Clearly I hadn’t my wits about me, for as soon as I turned I fell flat on my face and then rolled several feet more. I stood up, brushed myself off, and this is when things really became strange; despite the nightfall masking the view of the landscape, something was oddly different when I stood up. It was as if the fall had flipped everything - no, as if it made things bigger, brighter perhaps, not bright in the visual sense but the saturation of the earth beneath my feet, no that wasn’t it either. I couldn’t quite tell what exactly was different at first, the dirt appeared more orange than earlier, the formations looked like they towered hundreds of feet higher, even the sky was not so black now but had subtle shades of blue, lavender, reds and yellows. The colors seemed to almost shift when I would step occasionally. Each rock formation or boulder in the distance had a glow of colors around them, it must have jarred something in my vision when I fell, as these colors would appear on everything I saw. I continually wiped my eyes to try and cure my blurred vision but the combination of dust from my hands and the potential concussion did not help;  I understood the problem would subside on its own. 

I walked towards the camp site again, or in the direction I thought was accurate. The last glow of the embers must have cooled by the time I walked back, it was up to my flashlight and my cunning, perhaps equal parts of both. So I walked, and I walked, and I walked to the point of panic setting in. My ego is not at stake here, I have never been, nor have I ever claimed to be a pillar of manliness so I have confidence in saying that by the time I had walked for at least five thousand paces, I was completely sure of two things; I was more panicked than I have ever been and I would die in the desert of starvation, and exhaustion. My throat became tense from resisting the urge to weep, my eyes becoming red, I knelt down, succumbing to my emotions. My shoulders raised above my head as I hung it in defeat and when I looked up to condemn God for putting me on this earth, a man was standing directly above me. I shrieked and flipped over and backwards in terror, crawling and babbling wondering how he was present so suddenly. He was dressed very neatly, in a suit with perfectly styled hair and a content look on his face, not grinning but subtly tranquil, like the Mona Lisa. 

“Who the…what how did you..?” I jabbered and fumbled my words as he stood there so calmly until I gathered up enough reason to muster out: “Who are you?”. He stood and waited patiently as I babbled and struggled, rising to my feet once more. The colors that seemed to radiate around the landscape did not apply to him, in fact the ground around him actually appeared to be darker than the surroundings. “Hello, we have been trying to reach you since you arrived here.” he said so smoothly, like he was reading it from a well rehearsed script, the miniscule smile still tightly formed on his lips. I could not utter a single syllable, I looked around, even pinched myself but I couldn’t find the power to say a word. I also did not even think of turning away from the man or running from him, the idea was not anywhere in my head, and even if it did occur to me, I doubt I would have been able to pursue it. 

We walked toward an archway that was not uncommon for the desert, it’s only difference here was the occasional jitter I saw on it’s bright orange,blue, red,yellow and purple edges, which I can still not determine was a result of hitting my head when I fell, or if it was in fact something more sinister. It was not very far, but every so often the man would look back at me and show his placid face. I thought of only one thing as we walked, it distracted and puzzled me as to what his ethnicity was. Being the astute traveler I am, I typically can assume a person’s enthic background to at least a regional assumption. His however was puzzling to me, his skin tone was what I would describe as a pale tan, features were smooth, which was atypical of the region based on the sun exposure, his eye-lids were slightly hooded, lips thin and wispy, eye color was light, somewhere between an emerald and aqua, speaking of the eyes his were appearing slightly larger than normal. His proportions themselves were theoretically perfect, the jawline, facial structure in general. He looked like the result of hundreds of years of mixed ethnicities bred together, indistinguishable to pinpoint a region to.

As we walked through this threshold, I looked back behind me and saw the distance shrinking in darkness. The sound of crunching footsteps turned into long echoes as I turned around from the desert landscape and my eyes beheld a long corridor, it went on for approximately one hundred feet before turning. The only sound that could be differentiated from the echoes of my footsteps was the low humming of the light bulbs above. did not walk at first due to my surprise of this inexplicable location. I turned around and there was nothing but a wall behind me. The hallway corridor’s construction appeared as concrete but when I touched the walls it felt ice cold yet soft. A sensation combination I have never felt before, nor do I ever wish to feel again, the feeling made me violently nauseous, this sensory overload from feeling contradicting objects that should not be cold, nor soft at the same time was enough to make me dry heave and clutch my stomach. 

Another realization was made, the well dressed man was nowhere to be found. I had no other choice but to walk the lonely hallway before me. The floor looked unnerving as well, its color was dull. Somewhere between green and gray, no matter how hard I focused on these hallways I couldn’t articulate what exact color they were. I had the overwhelming desire to touch it but the concerning fear that rattled my psyche from my experience with the wall halted this desire. It almost looked carpeted, but the echo of these hallways made me think otherwise. However the acoustics of the walls would also potentially prevent echo in theory. All my logic and reason were being challenged, my reality was in sincere jeopardy. 

The hallways would become turn after turn of more or less the same thing. Occasionally there would be a light flickering, its droning hum being atypical of the others. Finally after yet another ninety degree angle turn, there was an absolute labyrinth of doors, hallways and steps. I felt an inconceivable dread in my stomach, the anxiety and fear gripped me tightly as I felt the insignificance of my existence even more now than I did when I was in the great vastness of the desert. In that sea of dirt I knew I was a small piece of the universe; utterly insignificant against the Earth but I felt at peace being that. Here, in this maze of gray darkness, I felt even more alone and insignificant in a world that was made by someone. Or something. I walked slowly at first, taking each corner slowly and carefully. After a while I became more fearful of some of the darker corners that I would pass. My gait increased as did my fear, eventually turning into a full sprint. I could hear a faint sound some distance away, and stopped in my tracks as quickly as I could. It was the melody of Wooly Bully playing ever so faintly far away. 

As I caught my breath I decided to try and find the source of the music for perhaps that would lead me to someone, something, or anything that may be different from the same dreaded hallways I had seen for what felt like ages. Quietly stepping around corners, listening intently to detect the origin of what potentially would be my savior. This went on for sometime, I eventually got close enough to hear the stylus scraping along to the next song. It took me approximately thirteen minutes to make my way to the root of the music. I was a big fan of Sam the Sham at one point in my life, can you guess when I stopped? I even had that particular album that played through the halls. As clear as day I could hear the scratchy speaker playing an appropriate track to finally find the source. Suddenly a room, seemingly the apex of the dreadful labyrinth I found myself in. There the record player stood singularly on a small table, just big enough to display it alone. 

Four walls surrounding me then, each had an identical doorway in the center of its ugly dimly lit surface. My heart was beating to the sound of the haunting rock’n’roll melody, my legs turned to gelatin, and my stomach had a swirling hurricane inside of it. The record had stopped, the only noise to replace it was the dulling hum of the lights above. I picked up the needle hovering about the record, cast it aside and examined the record. It looked ordinary enough, deep grooves worn into its surface, the sticker in the center torn off on both sides. At that point my repulsive surroundings began to infuriate me, anxiety turned to tremendous rage.

 I clutched my head as the room spun and let out a bellowing scream releasing my fury. It stopped and as I looked around; the dark void of a doorway there was the outline of a broad shouldered, looming colossal statue of a being. It was hunched over slightly, still towering several inches above the doorway. No distinctive features could be made out aside from two pale, gray eyes peeking out, shimmering like coins in a fountain. Framed underneath was a smile I had seen before, an unnerving content smile, containing a mass of sharp teeth lined in black. It stared at me as if I was a delicious thanksgiving dinner. It moved slowly and intently ducking beneath the doorway so as to not break eye contact with me. Only a few small steps and I had had enough, I hurled the table and record player at the creature, not looking if I even came near my target, I turned around and sprinted as fast as possible. Taking the corners fast and tight, the record was still firmly grasped in my hand. The sounds of my breath and footsteps pounding in my ears were only drowned out by clawing and pouncing against the walls, leaping and bouncing, I could hear the walls crumbling behind me. My impending doom seemed inevitable at that point, I had no idea where I was fleeing to, only that I must do something, anything to get away from that horror that pursued me. 

Running for what felt like minutes, I felt the stitch in my side and my exhaustion taking over. I looked behind me, the black beast was gaining and the interval between us was closing. As I turned my head back round, the hallways split into two and I made my choice, an abrupt wall came to a deadend, I rebounded off the wall, the record in my hand came around and bounced against my forehead like an axe, shattering in several pieces. I fell back so hard it knocked the wind out of me, my eyes tightly shut as I wheezed for air, suddenly when I opened my eyes I saw the red sun rising in the distance over the sandy landscape. This lonely vista of topography looked like heaven in that instance. Moisture and darkness dripped down my right eye equipped with a sudden and piercing pain. I reached up and felt the shard of record in my forehead, just above my right eye, the blood dripping down my face. The sight of blood was more than enough to make me heave in disgust, and had I eaten anything in the hours that past I would have surely regretted doing so. Slowly my fingertips traced the sizable piece of plastic, running the length of it and down onto the ridges of brow. Logically speaking I probably should have left it until I could receive medical attention. However I wanted no remnants of my evening of horror. Firmly grasped in my hand, I plucked out the portion of the record buried in my face. Tossing it aside into the sand, it lay there shining against the sun, mocking me with its jagged red points.

Aside from the oozing of red on my face, which quickly bore a resemblance to brown face paint, everything felt bone dry, cracked and old. Like a piece of leather sitting out in the sun my mouth was so completely dry, my lips were as cracked as the old dirt beneath my feet, but I still felt the overwhelming need to get far away from wherever I was. I began running immediately until my sides were completely stitched. Dehydration had long set in but I believe adrenaline still was in such high supply that I hadn’t noticed my lack of sustenance. I shuffled through the sand for several hours, my feet burning as much as my eyes were. My gait resembling that of the undead took me to a road finally, the dust constantly blowing orange powder against the morning sun. My memory became hazy after that, at some point I collapsed, and saw my good friend Oliver above me; a sight to be held with the bright sky against his back. I felt bliss at that moment, at last there was some peace. While the end of my trip was hazy and through two dark slits of eyes, that is the last I can remember of my time spent in Utah.

I awoke in the hospital several days later with a splitting headache, a bandage over my eye socket and a severe case of memory loss. It took several weeks of nightmarish visions to piece together the labyrinth of terror I experienced. As I write this, fully healed now,  the window corners are frosted, and the snow has been falling for several hours. The warmth and the heat of the sun has been warped and perverted, my icey surroundings are now my peaceful reality. You ask me about my trips, nephew, and if you shall some day join me. Unfortunately that may be quite impossible, for that particular abnormal trip to the canyonlands in Utah, has made me wonder if I shall ever leave my comfortable and warm home again and I wonder…if that piece of stained black plastic still sits in the sand.


Submitted: October 03, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Kevin Yozviak. All rights reserved.

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