Chapter 5: Angela
“How did your car end up melted on the back end?”
“It was just the bumper.”
“Yeah, that thing. How did you get cut?”
“When I crashed, I got the cut.” I was not a good liar.
“When do you sleep?”
“When I am at home long enough to relax.”
“Did you sleep?”
It felt as if I had an annoying little sister in the car with me who kept saying, “Are we there yet?” Angela was in fact my wife’s sister, and right now she was the most annoying little thing on the planet. She had told me once before that she wanted to join the force and become a detective. It seemed to me she was de-escalating herself, which seemed fine as long as she finished quickly.
We were nearing the foothills of the mountain, and soon we took the exit that would lead us up to Camp Devils Lake. Angela got tense at this point. I asked her what was wrong, and she confessed that she was scared of the mountain because so many people had told her different stories about the evil lurking in the woods and the mysterious disappearances of adults and children, of how they were never seen again once the mountain devoured their bodies. She said that every time she had to engage in a call to the mountain, it gave her goose bumps, and she would tell another officer to take the call.
“Do you want me to turn around and take you back?”
“As long as I’m with someone, I should be OK.”
“What stories have you heard about the mountain?”
She mumbled something under her breath.
“Angela, if you’re uncomfortable, I’ll understand.” With a quick glance over at me, she gathered her courage and started telling one of the tales.
On a dark and stormy night, the winds howled and pranced a dangerous game. The ground shook and quaked as the devil’s wings thrashed upon the earth. The tail of the serpent grabbed hold and snatched both the wicked and the righteous, stripping their flesh from their bodies. Their deathly screams howled through the night when the demons came to feast. The devil, delighted with the suffering humans, pounded the earth with his mighty wings. The winds of torment filled the air, and the demons roamed free to infect and desecrate the land. The children screamed in despair, desperate from the loss of their loved ones, and bowed to the devil. The devil, embracing their screams and pain and delighting in his dark intentions, said, “This is how it should be, but to him, all around and all-knowing, I am forced to bow to you, you minuscule little creatures.”
The children, confused, looked up, and as they did, the devil looked into their eyes and bowed, not taking his eyes off them. The subtle look in the devil’s all-seeing eyes made the children cower and look away. The devil was not pleased at this and yelled out in a demonic voice, “Look at me, you little heathens!” And as he said this, the children looked directly into his eyes, and he possessed them all. He infected and changed them. He devoured their souls, chewed their bodies, and spit out their skin and bones. The creature then reanimated their bodies to do its bidding. These lost, soulless children wreaked havoc on the townsfolk, slaughtering all the cruel and heartless people. These lost, cruel children ran amok upon the earth, devouring flesh and biting into the souls of the sinners, the greedy, the gluttonous, the sick, and the weak.
The devil, who had made the children in his own image, was amazed by the countless souls sent to the darkness of his dwellings in hell. The children were lost forever but had been created in the image of a beautiful yet deceptively cruel, evil creature. These children were born on the mountain of Camp Devils Lake. The town in which these children were brought up in the world was now a desolate wasteland of dead trees, the lair of enormous unknown creatures said to be the demons of the earth. Beware the mountain! Beware the fruit of his children, for they bring wrath upon the land.
Camp Devils Lake had originally been located near the bottom of the mountain because many people were too scared to venture into its higher elevations. The town’s mayor had moved the camp near the lake and made a generous contribution to restructuring the camp.
“The legend of the children of the damned souls has been told many times in the past but is now being forgotten by the new generations,” Angela concluded. She seemed exhausted after telling the story of the origins of Camp Devils Lake.
“We heard the stories about the mountain when we were kids.” Looking up, she suddenly noticed that we were on the gravel road and heading deep into the mountain. Trying to get her bearings and focus on her surroundings, Angela suddenly froze as she spotted a great many serpents on the sides of the road.
Worriedly, she asked, “Do you know what kinds of snakes are up here?”
“Timberland rattlesnakes and northern water snakes,” I replied.
“Is that all of them?”
“Yes, besides the million other species I don’t know. Why?”
“Look on the sides of the road.”
It looked as if the snakes were all congregating toward the road. They slithered their way to the edges and coiled themselves, positioning their heads upward toward the car. As we passed, their heads swiveled to follow us with their eyes.
“It was weird seeing those snakes do that, Rodger. What do you think of this mountain?” Angela asked.
I told her I thought of it as a place that was misunderstood by everyone living in the town. She threw me a quick glance and then rolled her eyes.
My wife, Angela, and their friends had played at the bottom of the mountain when they were younger and had heard horror stories from the people who had tried to live on it. Angela told me she and the family thought the mountain was haunted with evil sorcery.
“This mountain creeps me out, Rodger. Why are you intent on coming here?”
“Listen, Angela, I know I’m not supposed to tell you about anything that was said in the meeting with the commissioner and the chief, but when I was explaining to them what had happened, they didn’t seem scared about the situation. They seemed surprised I was still alive. The last thing they said was ‘Try not to get killed.’ To me, they seemed in shock to see me alive and walking around with just a couple of scratches. It felt as if they knew that something is happening on the mountain. Angela, what do you think?”
She looked at me as if I were insane. “Rodger, I think they were interested in the mountain as much as you are right now. They were constantly talking about the car this morning. The investigator was telling the chief that the burns to your car were not like anything he had ever encountered. He looked baffled and confused.”
“Mike was looking at the car?”
“Yes. He was trying to figure out what happened with the bumper. He told the chief and the commissioner that it looked like something had run into your car. The commissioner was shocked and told Mike to have the car scrapped.”
I looked into Angela’s eyes and told her that I’d had in my trunk a piece of the vehicle I found at the bottom of the mountain. Stunned and confused, she told me they hadn’t found anything in the trunk of the car.
“What the fuck?” I said, enraged. “It sounds like they’re covering up the investigation!”
Angela was in wonder at the whole idea of the commissioner and the chief somehow covering up my investigation. She turned to the lake then and was in absolute amazement, gazing at it excitedly.
“How beautiful, Rodger,” she said. If she noticed that the clouds were a deep, dark purple, she didn’t mention it.
“From experience,” I said, “the scenery is utterly beautiful, but it’s deadly and deceptive, Angela. I was here yesterday and found a million or more crows trying to eat me alive. No trees are living in the camp. They’re just old, dead wood. Angela, follow my instructions while at the camp—promise?”
Hesitant at first, Angela played with the idea of being in complete danger the whole time at the camp. But she agreed. “Sure, Rodger.”
As we neared the camp entrance, she excitedly read aloud the sign on the road: “Welcome to Camp Devils Lake.” We arrived to find multiple police officers scanning and investigating the campground. The commissioner and the chief were both there, presently doing what they did best—coordinating the whole operation.
“They’re just standing there doing nothing,” Angela said as if reading my thoughts.
“You took the words right out of my head.”
She gave me a weird look and smiled. “Rodger, did you know the commissioner and the chief were going to be here?”
Surprised, I replied, “No, I did not know they were going to be here. It’s amazing how fast they got up here and started corrupting my investigation.”
Angela and I walked over to the chief and the commissioner, who at the time were both talking to the coroner. The shocked look on the commissioner’s face as we walked up surprised me. He paused momentarily and then shook my hand, asking in a serious voice, “What are you two doing here?”
I looked into the man’s eyes and said, “I am continuing my investigation. Why, sir?”
“The story you gave us this morning was so interesting that we felt it necessary to take a more active role. Now, if you will excuse me, Rodger.” The commissioner turned and walked back over to the chief. They were collaborating and gathering evidence, discussing the two dead bodies and seemingly shocked about how their spines were twisted right around at the waist.
Angela was walking around the camp in utter amazement. She had never seen the police department act on an investigation so fast—CSI, FBI, and a whole bunch of other agencies were working on the crime scene, and members of the media were hovering nearby. She noticed the trees and the gray clouds above, observing also that the forest was dead and that the trees looked ancient.
The sound of a helicopter startled us all. The mayor had arrived at the crime scene in an S-76C helicopter, a machine made for the wealthy—it was extremely expensive. The mayor made his way out of the chopper and was instantly surrounded by the media. Like most politicians seeking to increase their standings in the polls, he gave some brief, unanswerable statements on the investigation and made a few false promises, following the age-old tradition of politicians providing snippets of small but tangible progress, enough to move them off the radar and cover up the broken promises.
Boldly, Angela walked over to the political giant and asked him why he was there. The mayor seemed surprised by the question, stating that he was there to see what had gone wrong with the James K. Polk High School and Junior High School field trip. Angela appeared in utter shock at this response because now media, police, and the mayor were here to show they were taking action, but before, no one wanted go near the mountain. She seemed to be contemplating what was going on.
The commissioner and the chief were both walking around the camp, pointing out the eerie yet beautiful scenery and noting that the trees all seemed to be dead. I trailed behind them, looking at them as if they were stupid, trying to eavesdrop. The commissioner, the chief, and I then decided to head toward the radio tower. Angela was out of sight, caught up in the mess with the media and the mayor. I could no longer see her.
All of a sudden, the camp’s loudspeaker activated, and a loud, eerie voice intoned, “He comes to feast upon your souls!”
The commissioner and the chief looked at each other and in unison said, “What the fuck?”
The hair on my arms started to rise again, and I could feel the cold breeze on my neck as the wind began to pick up. From within the crowd of media broadcasters, a person started to yell as hundreds of timberland rattlers emerged from the forest and swiftly slithered toward the camp. The mayor ran toward his chopper and had the pilot fly his party to safety. The camera crews, too, all rapidly moved toward their vehicles, trying to get away from the snakes.
But the snakes were too fast. The first scream we heard was from a female news anchor. She’d been bitten in the leg and fell hard to the ground. The rattlesnakes attacked the victim all at once, and the poor lady died within seconds of the multiple deadly strikes as the poison circulated quickly throughout her bloodstream.
The commissioner pulled out his gun and started shooting into the air. I looked at him curiously as he pulled the trigger for the third time. The snakes seemed to move in units and were out to kill. The shots made no difference. The commissioner and the chief pulled back and went for cover in the radio tower. I fell back and followed. I had a sour taste in my mouth and felt a sudden pain shoot up my leg and right up into my brain. Thinking I’d been bitten, I turned and looked down, and I was amazed to see Angela behind me, slashing at the snakes with a butcher knife. I shouted to her to fall back and follow me into the radio tower building, and she obeyed without question.
Joining the commissioner and the chief in the radio room and slamming the door shut, we ran to the windows and saw that the snakes were congregating around the tower, all of them coiled up and vibrating their rattles in unison. Their tongues flicked in and out as they smelled the air.
Angela rummaged through a supply closet and found six small propane tanks, eighteen flares, a flare gun, and a lot of bandages. The closet was huge and also contained a medical kit, which had some vials at the bottom. We all looked at the package and read the label: “Crotalus horridus—Timberland Rattlesnake Antivenom.”
The commissioner and the chief looked at each other and sighed.
Angela looked at them and asked, “What’s wrong?”
The chief lifted his pant leg, revealing that he’d been bitten. He was starting to feel the effects of the poison running throughout his veins. The commissioner grabbed the vial of antivenom, pulled out a pocketknife, and cut the plastic off the bag. Pulling a syringe out of the other package, he inserted the needle into the vial and drew up the antivenom. Holding the needle ready to give the injection, he then told the chief to pull up his pant leg again so he could administer it.
The chief was in pain. I could see Angela reacting to the expression in the chief’s eyes, squirming at the face he made as he received the shot. With that accomplished, the commissioner took the syringe to the sharps container and disposed of it. He turned around and walked toward the window.
“Rodger,” the commissioner called.
The commissioner waited a couple of seconds before asking, “How are we going to get out of this mess?”
I looked out the window and was amazed to see thousands of snakes coiled up below with their rattles rattling. The sound was getting louder and louder, and my head was starting to hurt.
The chief, seated in a nearby chair and starting to recover, looked at his wristwatch and declared, “It’s been three hours!”
His head was probably throbbing because of the loud rattling, but Angela didn’t seem fazed by the noise and was rummaging through the kit we had found, setting individual items out on the floor. In amazement, I watched her work. With the propane tanks and flares, she was starting to make what looked like a mini explosive device. She took off her belt and used it to attach two of the propane tanks together. Without blinking, she asked the chief and the commissioner for their belts, which they willingly provided, puzzled but going along with her plan.
She made three of these devices and then taped a flare between the tanks on each of them.
“Angela, what do you plan on doing with these explosives?” the commissioner asked.
Her disgust evident in her face, she replied, “This will serve as a diversion so we can get to Rodger’s car.”
“How are we going to get those outside?” the chief asked with concern. Suddenly his mouth gaped open at a timberland rattler staring at him through the window.
“Rodger, look!” the commissioner shouted. “The rattlesnakes are all making their way up the tower!”
I looked around and found the inner ladder that led up to the top of the tower. The sound of the damn rattles was making my head pound. I looked over at Angela and told her I was going up to see why the snakes were all heading to the top of the tower. With a very direct stare, she nodded as if she understood my motive. I grabbed the bombs from her, saying that when I got to the top, I would start throwing them and shooting the flares. The commissioner and the chief said they would stay inside while Angela got the car.
I began to climb at a steady pace, trying to be extremely careful, anxious to avoid slipping and falling, breaking a leg or blowing off a limb. As I neared the top of the tower, the sound of the snakes dimmed. Finally, some relief—my ears felt better. I came to a stop and analyzed the latch of the door to the outside. The lever said to pull down to release and push up to open. I followed the instructions, and as I pushed the lever up to climb out onto a small, narrow gated walkway, the rattling became deafening again, making my ears ring. I noticed there were many crows flying over my head as I made my way through to the walkway.
The tower was high, and I could see the snakes trying to climb up the tower, but for the most part, they kept falling. I grabbed the first bomb and looked toward my car. Judging carefully, I dropped the bomb about five feet from the door of the tower and aimed the flare. Before the bomb could hit the ground, I took a shot. Boom! The bomb ignited, and after a couple of seconds, Angela ran out the door at full speed. The rattlesnakes all scattered.
Angela was in incredible shape and extremely fast. Her hair danced back and forth as she bolted toward my car. I threw the second bomb a little further from Angela, and again the snakes scattered and splattered. Angela had now reached my car and was trying to open the door. I still had the third and final bomb to throw and decided I would wait till she was about to drive up so that the commissioner and the chief would be able to get out safely.
I looked at my car and wondered what Angela was doing. It looked as if she was going to break the window of the car. Damn! I still had the keys, and she was unable to open the door. I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out my remote. The Barracuda was a sweet ride, but with the new upgrades, luckily it had an automatic start. I pushed a button on the remote, and the alarm beeped twice as the doors unlocked.
Angela was kicking at the snakes below and pulling them off the top of the car before she was able to get in and close the door. I could see her rifling through the car, trying to find my spare keys. At last, pulling the center console up, she extracted the other remote. I could tell she was pissed off. She started the car, revved the engine, and began to drive toward the tower. I hurried toward the door of the tower, but as I did so, I got attacked by a set of crows. The crows were cawing, but their sound was soft compared to the rattlesnakes.
The crows clawed and scratched at my face as they flew around me, trying to kill me. I still had my gun and the last bomb in my hand. Raising my arm above my head with the weapon in my hand, I fired a shot into the air. The crows scattered and flew away but then circled around and began to attack my face again. I was getting really tired of these damn crows attacking me. Already exhausted, I was now fighting to survive. I shot into the air twice more, reholstered the gun, and made my way to the door.
Squeezing my way back inside, I slammed the door shut, inadvertently catching one of the crows following me in close pursuit and ripping its head right off. The blood splattered all over my face and soaked my hair. I gagged and spit but continued fighting—crows were still clawing at me as I made my way down to where the commissioner and chief were waiting for me to shoot the last bomb. By the time I got to the bottom, I was a bloody mess. I entered the room with three crows attacking my face and neck, and the commissioner, immediately drawing his gun, shot all three crows without hesitation, killing them instantly. Blood in my eyes from the crow I’d killed at the top of the tower had made it hard for me to make it down the ladder with the other crows clawing and attacking, but when the commissioner and chief saw my face, they gasped.
“Are you all right?” they both asked.
I nodded briefly and looked toward the door, pulling forward the last homemade bomb. I grabbed my gun and walked toward the tower’s entrance. I was pissed—my blood was boiling with anger, and I could feel its intensity overwhelming my insides. Opening the outer door, I started shooting at the damn snakes, unloading my clip and then reloading. Having cleared a bit of a path, I walked out five feet from the building and set the bomb down. The commissioner and the chief were right behind me. Angela by now had driven up and positioned the car with its passenger side toward us. I always liked her integrity and consideration for others—she’d always been very smart, ready for action.
The commissioner and the chief were now shooting at the snakes as they again slithered toward us. As I yanked open the door of the car, I heard a yell and turned to see that the chief had fallen to the ground. He was trying to get up as the commissioner unloaded a set of rounds at all the snakes that had started to surround the chief. With a mighty lurch, the chief managed to get up and hobble in the direction of the car—he’d twisted his ankle and was now a desperate man.
Finally both men clambered into the backseat, and I slammed the door after them, grabbed my gun, and slid into the front passenger seat. Lowering the window of the Barracuda, I aimed for the bomb and shot my weapon.
I was impressed by the number of snakes on the mountain—when the bomb went off, it seemed as if thousands of snakes were flying in all directions, their bodies blown apart and scattered.
From behind me, the commissioner reached forward and put his hand on my shoulder.
“You, my friend, will be branded a hero in this city. Thank you.”
Turning around, I looked him dead in the eyes, about to tell him off, but as I opened my mouth, the ground beneath us started to shake. I yelled out in surprise. Angela looked over at me, beginning to freak out. I took several deep breaths to calm down. In the rearview mirror, I could see the ground now shaping itself into the form of a serpent. The immense snake made the earth shake as all the trees around us started to fall toward the car.
I was getting really pissed off, my heart pounding with sheer anger. I reined it in as best I could, calmly telling Angela to keep driving but to stop the car when we got to the bottom of the mountain. She was transfixed by the sight of the serpent dropping the trees. Everyone in the car remained silent as we hurtled down the road. The mountain was monstrous, deadly, and very supernatural. The people who lived here had always said that strange yet beautiful things happened here. The serpent, now as huge as a building, was showing its might—the might of something that could not possibly be destroyed. We all watched in amazement as we bolted down the mountain.
I now understood the tale of Camp Devils Lake and had a newfound respect for the mountain, but what I did not know was that the mountain’s impact on my life would increase exponentially throughout my investigation. It would even bring out my deepest, darkest secrets and wreak havoc upon the very foundations of my soul.
When we got to the bottom, Angela slammed on the brakes, put the car in park, and exited, puking all over the side of the road. Then, to our dismay, the car radio began changing stations all on its own, finally tuning in to an eerily spooky voice that made the hair on my arms rise. A rattlesnake rattle filled the airwaves, and then the eerie voice slowly and deliberately said, “I want your souls—you cannot escape me!” It almost sounded as if the serpent were talking. In the backseat, the commissioner and the chief were both in shock.
I got out of the car and walked over to see whether Angela was all right. She was breathing heavily and seemed to be going into shock. Looking down at her leg, I noticed she was hurt.
“Angela, what happened? How did you get hurt?”
She turned around, looked me dead in the eyes, and passed out. I pulled her uniform’s pant leg up to her knee and noticed she had been bitten in the leg. When had she been bitten? I lowered Angela gently to the ground and went over to the commissioner for the antivenom. He pulled the small kit out and handed it to me so that I could give her the shot.
I first had to fill the syringe. I pulled the plunger, filling it with air equal to the exact amount of fluid I would need, and then, holding the vial upside down, I inserted the needle into it. I then pushed the plunger down, injecting all of the air from the syringe into the vial. This done, I started to pull the plunger out to withdraw the fluid. As I did this, I began to think of my wife, Irene, and how much I loved her and our family. Angela was her sister, and I knew Irene would be devastated if she lost another of her relatives because of my actions on the job.
I got the alcohol swab and dabbed it on her skin to ensure a sterile site. Holding Angela’s leg with my free hand, I inserted the needle quickly and carefully at a forty-five-degree angle. Her skin was clammy, and she was starting to look extremely pale. The chief and the commissioner watched me as I pulled the plunger out slightly to determine whether there was blood in the syringe. If there was, I would have to carefully remove the needle and then find a different spot to administer the injection.
But it was my lucky day—no blood in the syringe. I finished giving Angela the shot, and the chief came over and handed me the first aid kit from the car. Pulling out a large roll of gauze, I started to wrap her leg, finally tying the bandage securely. Both the commissioner and the chief helped me put Angela into the front passenger seat of the car.
The whole time I’d been working on Angela’s leg, I’d been thinking of my wife and the turmoil our lives had gone through. The thought of losing another loved one to my job was killing me inside. My heart dropped as I again noted Angela’s clammy hands and pale face. She was out cold but alive—she was going to make it. My heart was still uneasy, though—scared not for Angela but for myself and especially my wife, who had already gone through so much torment.
The radio in the car came to life again. It was that same eerie voice.
“He comes to feast upon your soul!”
The commissioner and the chief caught eyes and shook their heads. I looked at both of them and asked whether they knew anything about the radio or what was going on. The commissioner, who was staring at me with an ashen face, appeared to also be questioning what had just happened.
Realizing we had to get Angela to the hospital, I told the commissioner and the chief to get back in the car. I knew in my heart that once the news got out that Angela was in the hospital, my wife would immediately race over. I didn’t think I could handle the burden of seeing her heart break again, her agony at seeing another loved one dying because of our jobs.
We sped over to the hospital and watched as the nurses and medical personnel took Angela into the emergency room.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, JuniorWrite a Review