Grizzly Peak Part One
It all started about twelve years ago, when Yuki and I were climbing in the Colorado mountains, near the Grizzly Peaks. It was summer, and the snow was melting in a slow but determined fashion, creating a warm, if not misty, view of the valleys below us. The mists billowed down around us as we scaled the near sheer cliffs in our ever-present need to see where we could reach in the heights of the local wilderness. We’d been dating for maybe two years at that point, and had been engaged for a little over three months, and I’m not ashamed to say that Yuki had promised me some “adult” fun once we reached the summit of the next vista. With her lean figure and trim muscles, she was a compelling package that I could rarely keep my hands off of. She always said the same of me, especially when I allowed my hair to grow out into a ponytail, which I often did.
We were in our early twenties, both going to a local college to become personal trainers. We’d met while learning about advanced nutrition from an older woman who was still in fit condition and insisted on teaching the class in workout clothes, as she would often have us run laps to get us to work up an appetite to eat some of the healthier snacks she’d make us prepare.
“How can you expect to promote it if you haven’t tried it?” she’d said as I’d gagged on a seaweed milkshake, much to Yuki’s amusement. I’d been just as amused when she’d sampled the jalapeno chips, so I didn’t feel too bad about the embarrassment I’d had that day.
We’d taken to each other like fire to wood, and of late had taken an interest in outdoor sports. This would have been our thirty-second time scaling the mountains, taking a new path each time so that we could enjoy the challenge.
Up on the mountain, we’d been steadily climbing since dawn the previous day, using pitons, rope, and harnesses to keep us safe while we used climbing picks to establish footholds. I’d had a cramp in my right leg for at least three hundred feet, but hadn’t said anything out of fear that Yuki would make fun of me. Suddenly, I heard her gasp from above me.
Looking up, my eyes widened as I saw her pulling her arm back from a hole she’d caved in through a thin sheet of shale. She looked down at me, her short black hair done up in a ponytail with her eyes wide.
“What?” I asked, curious. “Do we need to find a path around?”
She shook her head and cleared her throat, a sudden gust of wind tugging at us to pull us from the cliff face like beetles from a tree. When it passed, she just peered down at me with a growing smile.
“I think I found something,” she said, excited at the prospect.
“Like what?” I asked. It wasn’t uncommon to find old mines or hidden alcoves where natives had rested only to die from exposure while on a climb. Despite the summer weather we’d both been wearing long sleeves and tight, heat-trapping leggings.
“I think I found a passage,” she cried out as the wind passed, taking her pick and swinging with one hand, shattering the shale covering. Sharpened slivers fell past me and down into the mists below. I remember how it clattered noisily on the way down. Looking up, my eyes widened as I took in the sight of something I had never seen before while on a climb.
A door–well, a set of double doors, to be precise—made from some old wood that’d weathered the cold well enough. The solidly built doors hung on iron hinges and had handles that formed a V when they came together. A letter G had been drawn in flowing script on the surface of the doors, although it was hard to see as the paint was old and flaking.
Yuki climbed up into the tunnel, which ran about four feet before stopping at the doors. I followed after her, pulling myself over the lip onto flooring that had been laid with small flagstones.
“What do you suppose it means?” Yuki asked, walking up to the door to run a hand over the G, wiping away the top-most layer of dust from it. She turned and looked at me, eyes sparkling with inner light. “It looks like nobody has disturbed it, like, ever!”
“I’ve never heard of anything like this being out here in the mountains,” I said, shaking my head. I rubbed the back of my neck and reached into a side pouch to pull out my smartphone. Looking at it, I wasn’t surprised at the lack of cellular service. I flicked on its light and camera before pointing it at Yuki.
“So, Ms. Onodera, what do you think of your most recent find?” I asked in a mock-serious tone, causing her to spin around to stare at me.
She gave me a saucy wink and cocked her hip to the side. “Well, if I had to make a guess, I’d say that this is the work of aliens!”
“Really? Aliens?” I laughed loud and hard. “You watch that show way too much babe…”
“What? You know it can’t be any natives, they didn’t build with metal. And look,” she exclaimed, pointing at the iron hinges covered in dust and built-up grime, “metal! And this is on a sheer cliff! Who else would build into a sheer cliff?”
“Not arguing that it’s strange,” I said, shaking my head. “Just saying that jumping to aliens seems silly, as this could have easily been done by people. Lot of people inhabited America for the past few hundred years, who knows who did this?”
“I say we crack it open and look!” Yuki said, pulling her smartphone out as she reached for the handles.
“Wait!” I said, putting my hand on hers to stop her. “Are you sure that’s wise? It was pretty well hidden; what if it has some, I don’t know, historical value or something? Maybe we should climb down and get some experts up here?”
“C’mon Eric, don’t be a pussy!” Yuki exclaimed, throwing my hand off. “We’ll just poke around a bit and see what’s on the inside. If it’s some strange burial chamber, we’ll back out and leave it for the experts. I just want to see what we discovered.”
“I don’t know…” I said, looking out of the tunnel and into the fog surrounding the mountains.
“Oh, show some backbone!” she growled, slapping me on the ass as she pushed the door open. With a long and low creak, the door swung inward, its bottom grinding against the flagstone path set into the wide, squat tunnel.
Inside, our phones provided feeble light against the crushing darkness of the passage. I still remember the smell of old grease and iron that wafted in the stale air, the stench of an old workshop that’d been long forgotten.
The light from our phones was enough to light up most of the tunnel, had we kept them aimed in one direction, but Yuki was too busy running hers along the wall in search of any clue as to what this strange building was. Past the doors, the tunnel walls were made from slabs of cut granite stacked together like Lego blocks. The slabs were set seamlessly into each other, devoid of any mortar. I’d read of societies in Central America making structures from heavy stone by fitting blocks into each other and allowing gravity to hold them together, but I’d never expected to see an example of this in the United States.
“This is amazing!” I said, running a hand along the wall to feel how the seams were so closely pressed together, to the point where one could barely tell there was a difference between one block and the next.
“I know,” Yuki replied. She aimed her light to the ceiling, which prompted me to look up.
Great curved pieces of stone, each easily weighing over a ton, sat perched atop the walls. The curved panels converged in the middle of the room, each supporting the other like stones set in an archway.
Hanging from the roof were lengths of old chain that drooped like vines. None of them were the same length—it gave the impression that these chains had once supported something, but whatever it was had caused the chains to snap with the passage of time. I glanced around the chamber, but could not find anything on the floor that might once have been suspended from those chains.
Yuki approached a length of chain and studied it. An old, blackened crust sat at the end of it; the mass crumbled when Yuki prodded it with her phone. The links were stuck together, held in place by the gunk that seemed to be as old as the chain itself.
“What do you suppose that is?” I asked.
Yuki shrugged. “Maybe they used to hold candles, and it’s a buildup of wax?”
“Crunchy wax?” I asked, snorting at her suggestion.
“You have a better idea?”
“No,” I said after a moment, reaching out to poke at the gunk with a gloved hand. It crumbled like crystallized honey, falling to bits that reflected a deep violet in the light. Looking at flakes, I frowned. “They almost look like gemstones, but they can’t be.”
“Like amethyst?” Yuki asked.
I nodded, proud that she remembered the work we’d been doing on our one required science class. We’d both selected Geology because of how often we went climbing.
I looked her over as I lifted the chain a bit, turning it in the light. “Wonder what it is? And why the chain is embedded in the stone?”
“I think there’s more to this than we can tell at the moment. Think about it. The door looked out of place—Old World European, if I had to guess. The architecture in here reminds me of an old church. And hell, I don’t know how they shaped the rocks and got them into this tunnel so easily.”
I nodded. Granite wasn’t easy to cut, or shape, and here we had thousands of blocks placed in perfect symmetry to hold together a tunnel deep into the mountain. Judging by the scent of the catacombs, I guessed that the place was older than anywhere else I’d ever been. It smelled of old earth and dry stone. Not a trace of water could be detected, and the sweat from our bodies and frost dripping from us was the first moisture to have entered the chamber probably since before America was founded.
Rubbing my thumb over the crumbling bits of crust at the end of the chain, I frowned as a new scent filled the air. A coppery tang lingered the more I played with the chain, one that to this day reminds me of dark things lurking just beyond one’s sight The chain had a build-up of the material that, even to this day, confounds me as to its purpose. Once thing was certain, though—it reeked of blood.
But I’ll get to that later.
Figured we could close out the year with some quick tales similar to the ever-popular Creepypasta. This piece, in it's complete form, is available on Amazon in an anthology of similar tales. If you'd like to see the ending now (I'll be posting it free of charge here November 30th) follow this link and nab yourself a copy!