2020/01/30

Mel's Hole

Mel's Hole

Mel Waters had always flown by the seat of his pants, and in the summer of 1995 his freewheeling lifestyle was catching up to him. With his finances circling the drain and his marriage on the rocks, Mel purchased a tract of rural land west of Ellensburg,Washington where he hoped to turn his life around.

Soon after moving onto the property, Mel and his wife set out to explore their new spread. The wood-ringed scrub land initially presented them with nothing but a couple of rundown outbuildings. But the couple pressed on to a far corner of the plot. There they stumbled upon a mystery whose increasingly bizarre turns would change their lives forever.

In the middle of a small clearing, the Waters found a gaping hole. It measured nine feet across, and hand-placed brick clad its first fifteen feet from the rim down. Mel took the hole for one of the old wells that dotted the area, whose springs had run dry when the water table had shifted. The presence of odd metal bits, rotted tires, and small animal bones littering the shaft's mouth indicated that locals had been using it as a dump.

The Waters soon put their hole to the same use. Household garbage, yard waste, and even an old refrigerator, soon joined decades of other neighborhood refuse in the abyss. The first real oddity Mel noticed was that he never heard a thud or splash emanating from the depths when he dumped something in. Shouting down the hole also failed to return an echo.

Being an inquisitive sort, Mel set out to measure the hole's depth. He gathered a sturdy rod and a reel of high test fishing line from his marlin angling days. Mel tied a standard one-pound lead weight to the line and lowered it down the hole.

He paid out the entirety of the five thousand-foot reel without the line going slack.

He spliced a second reel of equal length to the first line and sent it down, too. At ten thousand feet, the line remained taut.

As it did as Mel added reel after reel. He finally gave up after exhausting his last foot of fishing line--at a total of 80,000 feet.

Curious as to whether the hole was partly filled with water, Mel tied a roll of lifesavers just above the lead weight and repeated the experiment. The candy returned topside bone dry.

Despite possibly having a hole on his property that delved a significant distance into the earth's crust, Mel initially went on with  his business. He'd turned one of the old shacks into a workshop where he made handcrafted jewelry. The metal odds and ends scattered around the hole's rim often provided interesting raw material, so Mel made a habit of scrounging through the bits of detritus for proverbial hidden gems.

One day, a friend to whom Mel had gifted a handmade belt set with old coins came to visit and brought up something peculiar he'd noticed about his gift.

"It's this Roosevelt dime you set into the buckle," Mel's friend said.

"What's wrong with it?" asked Mel.

"Look at the date."

Mel squinted at the small silver coin. "1943. I don't see a casting error. What's the problem?"

"Roosevelt was still alive in 1943," said Mel's friend. "The first Roosevelt dimes weren't struck until 1945."

"Maybe it's counterfeit," said Mel.

"If you're going to all the trouble of passing funny money, how do you fudge a simple detail like the date? And there's more." He pointed to the mint mark.

"It's a B," said Mel.

"That's right," his friend affirmed. "But the only US Mint facilities are in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point. Their mint marks are P, D, S, and W. There is not now and never has been a B."

The mounting strangeness prompted Mel to do some digging into the hole's past. The locals told him that the place had been used as a dump since time out of mind. It had been known to the local Indian tribes even longer.

One local hunter confided a story in Mel that chilled him to the bone. One of the man's beloved hunting dogs had died a few winters before the Waters had moved to Ellensburg. The bereaved hunter had wrapped his deceased hound in a tarp, carried him to the hole, and tossed the carcass in. He never explained precisely what had possessed him to dispose of his late canine friend in such an unorthodox manner. Indeed, Mel's own dogs were terrified of the hole and would dig in their paws if he tried to lead them near it. The small bones strewn about the edge were the only signs of any animals' presence Mel ever saw near the hole.

Regardless of live animals' fear of the hole, the hunter had thrown his dead dog in and considered the matter laid to rest. The winter had passed uneventfully, and in the spring, he'd returned to his favorite pastime in the surrounding woods.

One day, while out hunting alone, the hunter had heard the rhythmic swishing of paws through the underbrush. His eyes had darted toward the sound's source just in time to catch sight of a dog running through the budding woods. The hunter knew his dog's dead body had gone into the endless hole--he'd thrown it in himself. Still, he said, it was that same dog he'd seen running through the woods that day. He'd have recognized his old hunting companion anywhere--right down to the square metal tag dangling from his collar.

Mel's growing obsession with the hole further strained his deteriorating marriage. At his wife's pleading, they took a long vacation away from the property.

When Mel returned, he found a roadblock overseen by two uniformed men who claimed to be soldiers barring the road to his land. The men, whom Mel assumed to be from the nearby Army base, at first said a plane had crashed on his property, and access was restricted until further notice.

Mel told the soldiers to pound sand. He was about to drive around them when they changed their tune and offered him a deal. The government wanted to set up a research facility on Mel's land. They were prepared to lease the property from him for $2 million a year. The only condition was that upon acceptance of the deal, Mel had to leave the country immediately. If he refused, he'd be arrested for running a meth lab, which the agents hinted would be only too easy to fabricate.

Mel took the deal and left for Australia in the summer of 1997. There he established a wombat rescue charity. The lure of the hole would prove irresistible, though, and Mel would eventually find his way back to the States and into even weirder and more sinister misadventures. But that's a story for another time.


For more mind-bending horror, buy the first book in my award-winning Soul Cycle!

11 comments:

  1. I know what uncle Mel would do with such a hole as that.

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  2. This has the same 'half-step-from-reality' 'mists where the horns of elfland are softly blowing' feel as Fenton Wood's Yankee Republic series.

    Very eerie.

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  3. "Wombat rescue charity." Thank you for the chuckle at the end of that strange tale!

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    1. Thank Mel. He really did run an Australian wombat rescue for three years.

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    2. In that case, I thank and applaud Mel for showing kindness to God's funny, fuzzy critters.

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  4. Mel's Hole!!!

    This brings back memories of listening to Art Bell as my buddy and I delivered pizzas until 3 a.m. (it was a college town) in his old Toyota Tercel. Or my old '84 Subaru turbo wagon.

    We both worked for the pizzeria but would ride with each other on each other's days off. Because we were nerds with nothing better to do.

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    1. Good times!

      My fondest C2C AM memories are of pulling all-nighters back in college with only Art's dulcet voice to keep me company as I toiled.

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