by George Hawver
Hike MoCo is hiking to Gentlemen's Swimming Hole on Oct 30, 2022. They will meet at 8 PM at the Laurel Dale Cemetery where hikers will be treated to several original scary stories as we hike from the cemetery down to the river and back up. Here is an original (fictional) story to get you in the mood!
Trail of Fears Dr. Bill Richards was a prominent psychologist at the Morgan County Correctional Complex. He worked with the inmates to discover what made them do the things that led to their incarceration. He also learned intimate details of their thoughts and fears. One day, after group therapy, he had an idea. It took weeks to get the necessary permissions, but eventually he gained approval for a back country camping trip for three of the inmates who were deemed to be rehabilitated and scheduled for release in the upcoming weeks. Dr. Richards explained that this experiment could help them transition from incarceration to freedom more easily. He was able to hand pick a guard, Corrections Officer Anderson to accompany the group into the mountains. After a full day of hiking, they were sufficiently remote enough to start the experiment. The inmates grumbled at the difficulty of the hike but were happy to be out in nature. As they set up their campsite, they were excited at the prospect of the next few days of activities as they had been promised a variety of outdoor adventures. As everyone settled into their tents and went to sleep, only Dr. Richards was awake. He moved through the camp, checking on everyone and placed a snake in the first tent.
Inside the tent, Inmate Simpson shifted in his sleep and felt a sudden, sharp pain in his calf. He jolted awake and turned on his flashlight, revealing a large black snake. Simpson let out a blood curdling scream as he realized the predicament he was in, and the snake lunged to bite him again. The snake was between him and the door of the tent and as he slowly moved towards the opening, the snake lashed out again, biting him on the arm, not once but twice. He struck at the snake to knock it away and it bit him several more times. By now his pulse was racing and his blood quickly carried the venom throughout his body. By the time CO Anderson got to the tent, opened the flap and realized what was happening, Simpson had been bit again and was starting to get violently ill. The guard pulled out his revolver and shot the snake in the head, instantly killing it, but it was too late for Simpson as he began to succumb to the venom. Simpson was crying and screaming to get the snake out of his tent even though it was dead. The guard had guessed a rat snake but knew they weren’t poisonous but Inmate Peters said he thought it was a black mamba. Simpson died 15 minutes later. By now, the other inmates were yelling for the guard and Dr. Richards to get them out of there now! Dr. Richards explained it was too dangerous to hike at night. They were out of cell or radio communication as well, but eventually he relented and smiled slightly when he said the fastest way back to civilization was a different way from the way they came, but they could be back shortly after daybreak if they left now. They decided to leave Simpson in his tent as carrying his 300 pounds would be too much and they could retrieve him with a helicopter the following day.
As they moved through the thick woods, they had to push through the brush and no one had a machete. They saw a clearing ahead and as they got closer, saw it was a rapidly moving river. Inmate Johnson yelled, “I can’t swim! We’ve got to go around! My brother drowned as a kid and that’s my biggest fear – to join him!” The group agreed there was no way around and said Johnson could hold onto Dr. Richards, who was a strong swimmer. They eased into the water and Johnson thrashed and panicked. Midway across, Dr. Richards slammed Johnson’s head onto a rock and he was knocked unconscious. Dr. Richards released the man and he drifted downstream towards a roar that could only signal a waterfall downstream a few hundred yards. On the other side, Peters and CO Anderson realized Johnson was no longer with them and started shouting for an update. Dr. Richards explained that Johnson had struggled too much and even though he tried to get him across, Johnson had struck him across the head and by the time he recovered and got across he had lost sight of Johnson. The guard walked downstream with the flashlight and saw the waterfall. He looked over the edge down into the plunge pool and saw the lifeless body of Johnson at the bottom. They continued on the trail back to civilization with renewed urgency and Inmate Peters realized they were heading up. He was deathly afraid of heights, but since it was dark and he didn’t have a flashlight, he just kept moving forward. Up ahead, Dr. Richards walked along the path and slowed as he put his back to one side and walked sideways taking small steps. Peters realized they were on a narrow ledge and he was actually relieved he couldn’t see down into the darkness. The group made it’s way along the edge, when Dr. Richards, suddenly lit a flare to illuminate their position and he said he needed to see how much farther the ledge extended. Peters started to get dizzy when he saw how far down it appeared and got completely disoriented when Dr. Richards dropped the flare and Peters saw it tumbling hundred of yards down into the abyss. Peter’s foot slipped and the last thing he realized was that he was following the flare to the bottom. CO Anderson looked at Dr. Richards and screamed, “What is going on? This is so messed up! We’re both going to be fired. Dr. Richards said, it was ok as he was responsible and he had a plan that would exonerate them both from any liability. He explained the road was just another two miles further and they could send a recovery team back for the inmates. As they walked through the woods, Dr. Richards paused and looked down. When CO Anderson caught up, he asked, “What is it?” and saw Dr. Richards was looking into an old mine opening. Dr. Richards stepped aside and shoved CO Anderson down into the pit. CO Anderson screamed as he hit the bottom, about 20 feet down. “Hey get me out, man” Anderson yelled. “I’ve got claustrophobia.” Dr. Richards replied, “Small spaces are the least of your worries, Anderson. You’ve been cheating with my wife for since last year.” Richards reached into his backpack and pulled out a jar of bleach and a jar of ammonia. He tossed them both into the pit. When the liquids combined, Anderson started coughing and Dr. Richards headed back to the road. Dr. Richards made it back to the road and was picked up by the local sheriff. He said he would be happy to make a statement once he contacted the prison to tell them what happened. Inside the interview room, Dr. Richards was smiling. The Sheriff was smiling too, but he was confused. In the room across the hall, a recovering CO Anderson was waiting. He had given a statement that was almost identical to Dr. Richards’ statement, save for the guilty party. CO Anderson blamed the Doctor and the Doctor blamed CO Anderson. Dr. Richards seemed a little tripped up when the sheriff revealed they had found Anderson in an abandoned mine and that he was alive, but then he started smiling again. The sheriff began, “So, Doctor Richards, this little experiment of yours was getting people to face their fears against their will?” “Yes, exactly,” Richards replied. “And Inmate Simpson was afraid of snakes, so he had to face a snake” “Yes” “And it had to be a deadly snake?” “No, that was a bonus” “And Inmate Johnson was afraid of water, or more specifically, of drowning, and you took him into a raging river?” “Yes” “But being in the river wasn’t enough, you had to have him go over a waterfall?” “Well, I wasn’t aware there was a waterfall. Again, a bonus, but he may have already been dead.” “And you threw Inmate Peters off a cliff?” “Actually, he fell, when he realized where he was.” “And CO Anderson. You originally said he killed the inmates and ran off, but he said you pushed him in a hole and tried to poison him” “Well, yes, I guess you have evidence against me now.” “But how did you know he had claustrophobia” “Employee profiles at the prison.” “So, this experiment of yours was mostly successful, but I can think of one participant that didn’t get to face their fear: you” “That’s why I’m smiling…...I did” “So, what is your biggest fear?” “The fear of getting caught.” Dr. Richards was tried and convicted in court and sent back to Morgan County Correctional Complex, only this time as an inmate. He was accidentally assigned with an accused murderer whose sentence was changed from 10 years to life based partly on the psychological profile supplied by Dr. Richards. Dr. Richards was found dead in his cell the next morning.