Facing my Mortality in Stygian Darkness

During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I had the opportunity to participate in a really incredible summer programme. It was about a month long and would give us art, PE, and science credit in return for jaunting all over the American West to camp, bike, hike, spelunk, white-water raft, conduct field experiments in geology and biology, draw wildlife, make pottery out of raw clay we gathered ourselves — you get the picture. It was a blast, and I remember most of it with great fondness.

There were a couple of experiences, though, that still give me a chill when I think about them — and this one is the worst.

It was one bright morning in June when me and my group (three teachers and about 20 students) turned up at the lip of the short vertical well that marked the entrance to the Nutty Putty cave. Nutty Putty cave was discovered in the 1960’s, and is located just west and north of central Utah. It is a hydrothermal feature located in a very fossiliferous area (home to cherty limestone, dolomite, Deseret limestone, and all sorts of other exciting things). Despite this, the formations in the cave are not the calcite stalactites and stalagmites some people expect — instead it’s just sort of muddy and damp and brown, and the natural formations of Silicon Dioxide go mostly unnoticed by any but the real geology enthusiasts.

Getting into the cave itself was already a test of my nerves — first you had to clamber down the short vertical drop, and then crawl through what looks almost like a rabbit hole at the bottom. It quickly became clear that it was a little wider than it seems, but there was no way to move forward besides sliding in on your stomach across the rocky detritus of the cave floor for about 6-10 feet. Once you managed that, the cave opened up into something much more spacious.

Now — I have never been super excited about tight, enclosed spaces, but I don’t think that my discomfort at that time was any more than a lot of people have. As it was, I had to really give myself a pep-talk to get past that first crawl, but I managed to persuade myself to do it.  There are a few different routes which could be taken once inside, but my group pretty much all wanted to head down to the bottom reaches and the “Birth Canal” feature. This was a tight, absurdly small corkscrew tunnel of rock, and I still have no idea why they wanted to shove themselves through it like human toothpaste in a tube. I had no intentions of doing so, and there were a couple others who agreed with me.

The crowd who wanted to have their skeletons compressed stopped at the Birth Canal, and the handful remaining continued on towards the feature at the lowest reach of that arm of the cave. This was another loop of rock, but much wider and oriented vertically. You’d drop or climb down one side, move through the bottom “curve” of the loop, and then clamber up the other side. I was last in our line of intrepid spelunkers, and so I was the last into the loop. It wasn’t an impressively large feature, and the drop down into it was innocuous enough. The problem came, however, when I tried to get back up the other side.

I am not a tall dude. In fact, I’m really short — five feet tall, and despite being a pretty physically fit 14-year-old, arm strength wasn’t my strong suit.  I could brace myself with my feet on the rock and reach the handholds I would need to pull myself up, but I couldn’t get any leverage to push or jump with my legs thanks to a combination of the distance I had to span, and the angle.  The only option was to pull myself up by my arms, and it became dreadfully apparent to me right away that I wasn’t able to do this. If I had been fully rested and not suddenly suffused with joint-melting levels of mortal terror, I might have been able to manage it with a little luck, but I was already fatigued from the hour or so that we’d already been descending into the cave.  

For the first time in my young life, I became truly aware of my own mortality. As the moments passed and I literally could not pull myself up, I suddenly understood how people can just end up dead — and dead in the worst possible ways. I had never before really been in a situation where I had no way out, and I was utterly dependent upon the ability of another person to fish me out of the jaws of a really miserable death. I know this sounds dramatic and hyperbolic, but stay with me — I promise you it is not.

“Alex!” I said, my voice coming out as a dusty, terrified squeak. “Alex, I can’t get up!”

Luckily, my friend who had been next to last in line was still within earshot. He was about a foot taller than I was, and probably about 30% scrawnier. He came back to the edge of the drop and reached down for me — and luckily we managed between the two of us to scramble me up and out of the loop. I was pretty spooked, but I had to stick with my class, so we were in the cave for at least another hour or so. When we finally ascended the main gallery and emerged into the blazing desert sun — I tell you, I have never been more grateful to see the sky in my entire life.

 

Over the years Nutty Putty caves has turned up in the news from time to time — stories of groups of careless hobby cavers or Boy Scouts who end up needing to be rescued from one area of the cave or other, and every time there has been some talk of measures to make the caves safer, or regulate who is allowed to enter.  The last time, though, the talk was all too late. A man who was caving with his brother and some others was exploring the cave, and he accidentally crawled along a tiny passage and then into a vertical crevice, only to find himself compressed on all sides, suspended upside-down, and unable to move anywhere. 28 hours of rescue attempts later (with rescuers able to get close enough to see and pull on him, but unable to unstick him), he died. They couldn’t even recover his body.

Nutty Putty is sealed now, a tortuous crypt for one unfortunate person who made a small error in movement and judgement. Had I been alone, it could just have easily have been me — and this thought still haunts my nightmares.

Small Town Chaos

Myself (Jason)> (Millie) my girlfriend >< (Lt. Alexander) {Jason’s father} <> (Dylan) Millie’s Brother.

*I changed the names to protect the identity of those involved*

Background  I am 19 years old and I have been A Volunteer Firefighter For our small town’s Fire district on Mt. Hood in Oregon since I was 16.

It was a Monday morning. I drove to my girlfriend’s house which is about 20 miles away from town,  located deep in the woods, to pick her up and give a ride to school to drive her to school like I do every morning.

(Millie Has a brother that Suffers from Asperger’s.)

I pulled down the driveway in my Ford Expedition/ response vehicle. And Millie Wasn’t  there and this never has happend with out a message, I check my phone to see if she was running late. She didn’t text me so I called her,

Bring…. Bring…

…Apple IPhone Ringtone…

Millie’s phone was in the front yard! I got out of my Car with my Radio. “Millie” I shouted.

I walked up to her phone and I picked it up and unlocked it to find the numbers “91” dialed on her phone!

I turned my radio to Dispatch requesting for police to My location for an Unknown Disturbance. I ran into the house. I yelled “MILLIE!”

In the Distance, I heard “help” I ran out throw the back door to find her half-dressed, Crying in shock and bleeding from her head.    I radioed for EMS. and For the Police to Step it up!

I asked her “Millie, what happened?”

Millie> “Its Dylan, He has a knife! “

me> “ok, where did he go?”

Millie> “I don’t know, He won’t take his medicine”

me> “Ok, let’s go”.

I turned to take her out to the front to put her in my car. I looked to my right to see My Cousin that is a Rookie at the local Police Department said “Jason!, what’s going on?”

me> “She been attacked and he is armed with a knife!”

Officer>” Ok get her to safety”

I took Millie to my car and she started crying harder. My EMS mode kicked in and i started working on her

Millie> “He tried to…”

me> “I know Hun, You’re safe now! He can’t hurt you now!”

More police and Sheriff deputies showed up to look for Dylan.

When EMS showed up in our EMS Engine, Lt. Alexander, My father. Ran up to us and told the Ambulance to Step it up. They Started treating her wounds while I was told to go to the Engine  to get cleaned up.

I turned to where the Engine was parked and started walking to it, when I heard the bushes 20 yards to the left of me move, I looked over and saw Dylan in the bushes with a Creepy horrific smile on his face.

Me“HEY!!!”

The police ran to the street guns drawn and I pointed at Dylan,

Me> “There in the bushes across the street”

He Jumped out of the bushes.

My father saw what was about to happen and blocked Millie’s view

The Police saw Dylan as he jumped out with a knife…
BANG 3X

Dylan Died instantly.

Millie was taken to hospital by Ambulance, I hopped in the ambulance with her because it is a 120min drive by ambulance to the nearest Emergency room.
I held her hand, she said “Dylan tried to…”

Me> “I know Hun, It’s ok you’re safe now.”

Millie> “no, he said that he was talking about to himself, saying that They’ll never know. I asked him if he was ok then he tried to Attacked me as I ran down stairs, He chased me out the front door ripping my shirt off and hit me in the head with something.

I fell dropping my phone as I tried dialing 911 in the front yard then crawled to the back yard, I had a hard time staying awake so I grabbed a rock and threw it at his face. That was when he ran off.  I was looking for a place to hide. And a couple minutes later You showed up.”

I held her hand while until we got to the hospital In Portland, That’s where I called her grandma and told her what hospital we are at an that she is in the ER being worked on, and that she was going to be ok, and not to go to the house.

~Today Millie has made a full recovery and is Now my wife to be with a little one of ours on the way.

Psycho at School

I always believed in being kind and friendly to others until something happened to change that. In this particular case it was a boy named Larry from my geometry class sophomore year. I don’t mean to brag but I was one of the most intelligent kids in the class and always finished my assignments early. Larry, however, had lots of difficulty understanding what was going on.

The teacher asked me to help explain it to him since I was already finished with my own work. I tried to explain it to him slowly and step by step until I was sure he understood. In 3 days there was going to be a big test. On the day if the test I wished him good luck and told him to just do his best. He was pretty quiet and was never around a big group of people but he seemed like a pretty nice person.

A few days after we got our tests back. After class Larry walked over to me smiling and said he got a B.

“Congratulations,” I said.

“Thanks, dude. I couldn’t have done it without you.” It felt good that I was able to help somebody.

That night he sent me a friend request on Facebook. I didn’t think it was anything unusual so I accepted. Within 5 minutes I got a message from him saying “I wanted to thank you again. You’re a lot better than the teacher at explaining stuff. If it weren’t for you I would’ve failed.”

“No problem,” I told him. “If you ever need help with anything else feel free to ask.”

We chatted a bit more about over the next couple weeks about geometry and school in general. It wasn’t long until he sent me a message saying “You seem like a pretty cool and nice guy. I was wondering if you’d like to date me.”

I was shocked but I tried to be as polite and nice as I could. My older brother (who’d already graduated years ago) is gay so I didn’t have any prejudice at all.

“Sorry but I’m not gay,” I told him, “I’d be glad to still be friends, though. You seem really nice, too.” He said “okay” and didn’t send any further messages. He didn’t look in my direction at school either.

A few days came and went and I got home to see a few comments Larry left on my Facebook pictures. They said really nasty things like “Damn, what an ugly picture” and “That face could make small children cry.” My family and a couple friends responded telling him how his comments were rude and unnecessary. I deleted them all and rather than blocking him right away like I should’ve, I sent him another message.

“Hey,” I said, “I’m sorry I hurt you by saying we can’t date but please don’t leave comments like that on my pictures anymore. I don’t want to have to block you.”

About an hour later he sent me a message which had me shaking and in tears. I can’t remember all of the vile things it said but I’ll type what I do remember.

It said something to the effect of “Like I still want to date your ugly ass anyways. Your biological parents didn’t want you so why would anyone else? You’re a worthless piece of trash who should just die. As a matter of fact you shouldn’t have been born at all. I’d slit your throat myself but you aren’t worth the prison time. You should kill yourself instead. Make this world a better place and just die already.”

I walked over to my mother and handed her the phone, very upset that someone would say those things to me, especially after I tried to be nice and help him. I mentioned in passing during one of our conversations that I was adopted and he even used that against me. My mom called the sheriff and told him what was going on. Larry switched schools and I got a restraining order against him. I left social media afterwards and haven’t gotten back on. Nowadays I don’t go out of my way to be kind to people and distance myself from them. I don’t have any I’ll feelings towards Larry and hope he got the help he desperately needs.

My Last Girlfriend Died

When I was a freshmen in high school, I experienced something that will make my first high school year unforgettable. There was this football player named Nick and trust me when i say he was every girls dreamguy he was! He was 6’1, smart, strong, and really hot. And his eyes were blue, they were gorgoues.

A guy like that, you’d think he’d be really popular and in some way he was. He just hated the idea being around people, and unlike any other guy he never partied or did anything fun. It was school, and practice for him. The creepiness all started out when i was waiting for a guy friend to finish with his football practice. Two other girls were sitting there with me waiting for my friend scott. Nick and two other guys walked toward us, the guys he was with were holding back their laughs. “hi mary” nick said in a really creepy but deep voice. He was a senior and I was a freshmen so i was very confused how he knew my name. My 15 year old slef, was a very very rude person and as the rude person i was i ignored him. One of the guys spoke and said, “would you ladies like to go to prom with us?”

They laughed out loud and walked away. At this point i thought they were all on something but i shook it off because highschool boys are dumb. Finally scott came and my two friends who were waiting with me left. Now scott had to leave really quick to change so i went and started talking to the couch. Nick was changed and all and he was on the field now staring at me and the couch, he approached and started to talk to the couch about missing  game or something and i excused myslelf.

Later on when i was at the mall with scott, i asked him about nick and he told me nick was a nice guy, but he had a thing for younger women. Now i was dying of happiness because nick was amazing looking, and he did sort of acknowledged my exitence before.

Days passed and homecoming was in a few weeks. I wasn’t even planning on going to be honest, but everything changed when nick asked me during lunch. It was like a dream to come true for me!

Me and nick talked a bit about where to meet, when hes picking me up and stuff like that. Homecoming came around, and it was all so fun. Down side was the seniors decided to prank us the younger kids so without us knowing there was alchoal in the drinks.

The party ended and Nick was supposed to drive me to my bestfriends house because i was sleeping over, but he parked by the beach. The scene was all romantic and shit until he said, “My last girlfriend died” now i was getting very uncomfortball and the topic seemed to weird to talk about. Honestly i thought he was kidding. But he started to push his body against mine which made me angry his arms were rubbing my feet and slowly moving into different place, I was only a 15 year old and he was horny as fuck at that second. I told him my bestfriends mom is asking about me, which did cause him to get mad but he drove me to her house anyways.

We ended the night with the kiss, which made him less angry but i was totally freaked out. I told my best friend bout it and she said he had too  much drinks.

i woke up to ten missing calls from scott. I was so confused why’d he call me what did he want? I called him back and he told me how i shouldn’t have left with nick because his freshmen year in highscool, the same thing happened with the drinks and because he had too many drinks he hurt his girlfriend which caused her death. Scott then said it a rumor, but i should still be careful.

after i told nick what i heard, i saw him outside my bestfriends house staring down the window. I was so done with nick, but i guess it was the end. He acted like he didnt know me, and like nothing happened that night. High school ended and he was out. Last text i got from him read ,

“You reminded me of her, in so many ways. You looked like her, your kiss felt like hers and so did your touch. I’m glad we didn’t do anything that night, because that’s how she died.”

This is based on a true story, im 21 now and thinking about it, i couldve lost more than just virgitny that night. I still get chills when I wonder what was going through his mind that night.