I didn't think we were allowed to go this way, but I was too afraid to be left outside, in the dark, in the desert wilderness that expanded all the way to the couple of states over.
We were in Calico, a place I knew well enough, but we weren't in the mine tunnel they allowed self-guided tours in, rather,
we had broken into a restricted mine; we had to hurdle over a barbed wire fence with a sign that stuck up with red skull and crossbones, warning us of death.
There was little to no light in the place aside from our cellphone flashlights.
I asked the guy I was with if we could simply turn back and go home - we were both from Los Angeles and this trip had simply started out as a trip to Alien Beef Jerky in Baker, but rather,
it now turned into spelunking an unknown mine tunnel in Calico.
But the guy I was with just called me a baby and told me to follow him so I wouldn't get lost,
I narrowed my eyes when he called me a baby - I wasn't the one who cried when a scrub brush brushed against his bare leg at the abandoned diner in Yermo.
I didn't say that to him because if he got mad, he'd hurt me.
And if he hurt me, he'd leave me in here, and no one knew either of us were in here. I would have no chance of ever getting help.
We were so deep in, having taken so many twists and turns that neither of us could see the entrance, the exit, the maw of the tunnel any longer.
I couldn't stand the guy I was with, but I stayed close to him - safety in numbers.
We didn't speak to one another, the only noise to break up the silence was our boots crunching on the hard, dusty, sometimes rocky floor.
We came to a cavernous room that had an old ore cart filled with dusty old rocks,
and I watched as the guy I was with grab a smaller rock that was in the cart and he began to smack the side of the cart, leaving dents.
I grabbed his arm and scolded him, asked him what on Earth was he doing. He said it was just an ore cart and to mind my own business.
While he was being a right asshole to the history of mining camps, I decided to venture I bit further into the mine; I know this was stupid, but it was better than bashing his brains in, right?
The tunnels were so cold; I was shivering as my cellphone burned in my right hand.
But I found something that truly scared me, in a tunnel that branched off from the tunnel we were in was a bloody pile of meat - was it human or animal, I didn't know,
but it scared me all the same. Further down the tunnel, blood sprayed the walls and globs of fleshy material gathered at the base of the wall.
I decided now was a great time to go running to the guy I was with and try and try again to get him to leave this place,
but as I came back upon the pile of bloody meat was human looking creature the color of the indigo sky, two antlers branched off from its head was bent over the pile,
smacking and eating at the mass of meat. I crept around the thing.
I tried to explain to the guy I was with that we weren't alone, that something else was in the mine with us, and all he said was sorry,
he didn't have any paper for me to write that story down on, because he said it sounded cool and that maybe mommy would hang it on the fridge.
The blonde bimbos in horror films were smarter!
But he did agree to move on into the mine, though I had the eerie feeling we were both being watched - not to mention we heard three sets of footprints rather than two,
and heard three people breathing rather than two.
We passed more of that magic red stuff that makes all of your bells and whistles fire off at appropriate times splattered upon rocks and upon the dusty floor; something was in the cave with us,
something that had spilled innocent blood.
I started to regain hope as I saw the cold lights that lit up the main tunnel in the start of the tour mine! We were back, we were safe.
Stepping into the cold blue of the humming lights made me feel so safe, like everything would be okay.
But the further we walked down that tunnel, we came to see a creature - that stank like an infected cut - emerge from the shadows.
It was bipedal, I knew that much, and it towered over us, drooping its head to avoid bumping its noggin on the ceiling of the mine tunnel.
At the end of its arms were two long claws that seemed to be made of bone, and we stopped, gawking at the creature that stood before us.
Even as it charged at us, we stood there, frozen at the very sight of this beast, but once it neared us enough that we got a whiff of it's terrible, rotting breath,
we turned and ran back the way we came.
I knew deep down if I lived, that I'd be dreaming of dark places, cold mines, and claws for a long time after.
We made several twists and turns and ended up losing that beast within the dark recesses of the mine.
He asked me if that had been a wolf, and I told him that Yermo wasn't exactly known for its wolves; then he asked if it had been a coyote, and Yermo did have those.
But I had never seen a coyote that size or shape, I had never seen a bipedal coyote outside of websites dedicated to furry art!
I told him the truth, that I didn't know what that thing fucking was and I wanted to go the fuck home!
We wound our way into another cavernous room, a room I never thought would exist at Calico Ghost Town in a million years!
The room was dark save for the flickering candles and our cellphone flashlights, stretched between twin poles that dotted around the room were animal pelts of various animals,
all found in the desert - nothing too horrible exotic. And on the far wall was a box, spilling over with blood and body parts.
The room was silent save for the whispering flames and the loud hum of flies. Needless to say, we turned right around, we knew damn well we didn't belong in that room.
We eventually found our way out, once he started to take direction from me,
we never did find out what that room was for or what else was in the mine with us - we can't exactly ask the employees at Calico Ghost Town since that mine is off limits to the guests.