It all happened when I set foot in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I returned to Copper Harbor, MI. after I visited my sick mother in Topeka, Kansas. I didn't mind the drive, the silence was nice at times. All I did was drive, stop for gas, and then drive. It was a very peaceful routine and I didn't mind at all.
I feel the need to explain what happened to my friends, my wife, my children; everyone. Everything went wrong. To this day, I'm still puzzled as to how it all happened.
I'll start with me returning to the Upper Peninsula. Everything was exactly where I had left it. The lake was calm, the dirt road had the same tire prints from when I had left, and the smell was still there. The fresh air. The sound of the birds chirping, the tall, towering trees. It reassured me that it was back to the daily routine, and I was okay with that, because I enjoyed what I did with my life, as well as where I belonged. I loved my friends and family, and they loved me. That's all that mattered.
I return to my home, I am greeted by an army of my beloved acquaintances pulling off a much needed surprise party. It feels good to feel welcome without having to greet anyone first. This is my home. And it felt great to see all of those familiar faces.
The party was flying by, everyone would bump into one another and hold a decent conversation for several minutes. There was laughter, scattered voices, and vibrant faces. Now, this is where things started to get really fucking strange.
I walked up to this guy that lived down the road from me, and I just told how things have been while I was gone. He quickly and enthusiastically replied by telling me that things have been "slow" and that everything was as normal as it ever would be. There's one thing he said that really caught me off guard. He abruptly concluded by patting me on the shoulder and saying, "...but that doesn't really matter. It's almost time."
Being one of the curious and confused at this statement, I obviously asked him "It's almost time for what?" He just chuckled, patted me on the back, and told me not to worry about it. And then he walked away. The party kept going strong, people kept laughing, talking, and smiling. And nothing seemed out of the familiar. Suddenly, my wife pulls me to the side, her eyes watering, but she has this ambitious smile on her face. She pulls me away from the crowd and says, "Daniel, something beautiful has happened."
Her eyes obtained a very passionate expression of eagerness and insanity. Her lip was quivering. I was really confused as to why everyone was so excited. I pulled my face closer to hers and I whispered, "Honey, what is going on?"
"Something beautiful has happened."
"Honey, what are you talking about? I'm confused. I'm really confu-"
"While you were gone, this- this man came to town. And he told us so many things. So many stories. It was beautiful."
"What man? What did he do?"
"He told us so many things. So many beautiful things. It all makes sense now. And- and tonight, it's all going to happen tonight. Tonight. Right now!"
"Shirley, stop. Tell me-"
She put shushed me quickly, and grinned at me. A single tear slided down her face. She sniffled and then walked away. I was confused, I was stumped as to what had happened to my wife, to my friends, to everyone. I had to know.
Later that night, I found my wife sitting on the edge of her bed, she was staring at this painting that I had not seen before. She then told me that she bought it while I was away.
"It just says so much to me."
It was a painting of a galaxy, supposedly able to be seen with the naked eye. She explained that the name of this galaxy was Messier 83.
"It's just the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
"I never knew you were into Astronomy."
"I'm not. This just says something to me."
She did nothing but talk about Messier 83. It had reached the point where I was legitimately irritated with the name itself. Breakfast: Messier 83. Dinner: Messier 83. My children even talked about Messier 83. They enjoyed the brightness. My son liked the bright shine in the very middle, and my daughter loved the shape. She said it looked like a very bright eyeball. My son tugged on my sleeve and said, "Daddy, can we go there someday?"
I nodded my head quickly and grinned a very fake and uneasy grin. Something wasn't right. Something was off; unbalanced. I was perplexed and furious.
I came home after a jog, and I find my wife sitting on the couch crying. Her face buried into her palms. I drop to my knees along with her and hold her close. She wouldn't stop talking about Messier eighty-fucking-three.
"Shirley, look at me- HEY, look at me. Why are you crying? Shirley- why are you crying? What is wrong?"
"He's disappointed in us."
She can't look me in the eyes. Her muffled words behind her crying upsets me even more.
"Who? WHO? Shirley, why won't you tell me?"
She kept shaking her head.
"Are you cheating on me? Shirley? Is that it? Shirley, are you fucking cheating on me?"
She breaks down completely.
"For the love of God, Shirley. Are you cheating on me? Why aren't you telling me? Why aren't you fucking telling me?"
"I'm not cheating on you."
"Who is this man? Who are you talking about? Shirley- LOOK AT ME RIGHT NOW. I am sick and tired of this. Okay? I'm sick of this Messier 83 bullshit. I'm sick of this mysterious man bullshit. Tell me right now. Who is this man? What did he do to you? What did he do to you?!"
"He just wants us to follow him. He's in Messier right now and I'm here. It's not fair. It's not fair!"
She suddenly digs her nails into my right cheek. I fall back and guard myself. She jumps up to her feet.
"You think I'm crazy."
"Sh- Shirley. I don't. Just- just calm down. I just want to talk to you."
"KIDS COME DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!"
"Shirley, what in the hell are you doing? Stop screaming."
"KIDS, COME DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW! I SAID RIGHT NOW!"
She continues to stomp her feet, slam on the furniture, punch the walls. Scream. Stomp. Slam. Scream. Stomp. Slam. Scream. My children hop down the stairs, skipping steps by multiples of two.
"Valerie, come here."
My daughter slowly backs up in fear.
"VALERIE COME HERE NOW."
Valerie slowly approaches my wife. My hysterical wife. She puts her hands on both of her cheeks. Sniffling between each sentence.
"You want to go to Messier?"
Shirley giggles. A sound of relief comes out of her. She suddenly grips the sides of Valerie's head firmly, as if she's ready to squeeze her head and crush it.
"I love you, Valerie."
"I love you too, Mommy."
She suddenly twists Valerie's head quickly. Breaking her neck. The sound that radiated from her neck seemed that of pressure more than pain. Valerie fell to the floor like a rock. Completely lifeless. Dead.
Shirley began to laugh hysterically, she looked at my son, Evan.
"It's time to go, baby boy."
I stare at my daughter's body. In shock. Confused. In disbelief.
"Sh- Shirley. What did you do?"
"Evan, you want to go to Messier, right?"
"Shirley, stop it."
"Come here, Evan."
Evan ran to her, arms wide open. Shirley and Evan hugged each other warmly. She was crying.
"I love you."
"I love you, Mommy."
She tackled him to the floor and began whip his head into the nearest wall. He never made a sound. He smiled the whole time. I tried my best to her off of him, but it was too late. He was frozen. We fought on the floor for several moments. She dug her teeth into my cheek and ran outside.
She screamed- no, she screeched. Heads poked out of their doorways, as if they knew that it was time to begin something. All of my neighbors stepped out onto their porches. I ran back into the house for the children. It all happened so fast. In a matter of two minutes, my two kids, with so much potential were murdered in cold blood. In such a violent matter. They died happy, in a gruesome fashion. It was then that I felt alone. Everyone had changed. I was static, they were dynamic. I was an outcast. This wasn't normal to me, but it was to them. If I didn't leave, this would have happened to me to. This all would have been normal. I began to daydream about my two children, playing in the backyard, only to see their dead, twisted, battered, bloodied bodies lying there in front of me. I was alone, depressed, distressed, and shocked.
A crescendo of bellowing screaming rang throughout the neighborhood. Everyone stood on their porches, screeching like banshees. Eyes blank, mouths wide open. I looked at my wife with rage, with malice. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to kill her. I put my hand on her shoulder and tried to drag her inside, she slashed me in the cheek again, and ran into the road. She swung her head onto the cement with swift power. Giving the black roads a maroon tint. Everyone started to hug each other warmly and applaud. They were enthusiastically celebrating my wife's suicide. I dropped to my knees and absorbed the madness unfolding around me. What happened to everyone? What happened to this town?
No cops came. No law enforcement of any kind. My neighbors cleaned the mess, and everyone went to bed like normal. I spent the night holding the cold bodies of my children. Sobbing. Burying my face into their hair, kissing their heads. I missed them so much. I wanted them to hug me back. It wasn't fair, it just wasn't fair.
The following morning, there was a man in an outfit. A very old outfit. 20th century esque. He was running down the block, promoting a group known as "Solitude."
"Come join us today! Isolate yourself from those that have alienated you! From those that do not believe in their own inevitable destiny! Join us now! Follow him, my brothers and sisters!"
Everything made sense. That's when it all made sense. Whoever this "man" was, he roamed into this very town, and brainwashed the people that I loved. He planted an idea into their heads. He ruined my life. My sanity.
"Yes! Come now! Join us tonight as we open our hearts, hand in hand, to the beautiful void of Messier 83! Tonight is the night, my fellow brothers and sisters! Tonight is the night where we approach the gates of peace! Of immortality! Of solitude!"
Messier 83...everything was coming together. Piece by piece.
It turns out that Solitude is a nonexclusive cult that targets isolated towns, thus giving it the name Solitude. The leader is very mysterious, his identity is unknown. The main belief of this group is strictly that of Messier 83. They believe that if it can be seen by the naked eye, why can't it be reached? Physically and spiritually. They believe that by isolating themselves from the "infidels" that have "alienated" them, they will finally be able to enter the void of the galaxy Messier 83. The only way to "reach" Messier 83 is mass suicide.
She killed my children. It hurts my head just to think of that fact. It all happened so fast. All because of this belief. I had to go there. I had to go the ritual, or the initation, or whatever the hell it was. I needed to try and prevent this. I had to redirect the remaining number of people I cared about.
I brought along my JVC Everio Camcorder. To capture as much as I could to encapsulate the meaning of this cult and what it really was. The picture is on the side, the only picture that I was able to take. The only one I was able to take before they saw me.
A tall man that I had never seen before stepped down from a platform.
"LOOK! A NONBELIEVER! HE LOOKS AT US WITH JUDGEMENT! HE DOES NOT BELIEVE OUR CAUSE!"
Everyone started to scream at me. They all stood there, staying still. Eyes blank. Mouths wide open. Just screeching at me. Bloodcurdling screams pierced my ears. I was spiraling into a state of instability.
"SHOW HIM! MY FELLOW DISCIPLES, SHOW HIM NOW! SHOW HIM THE PASSIONATE FIRE THAT BURNS INSIDE OF US ALL! PROVE YOURSELVES NOW!"
That's when the tall man grabbed the first person he saw, Gavin Bateman. He slammed him down onto the grass began to grip his upper and bottom jaw. One set of fingers gripping the lower jaw, and the other set gripping the upper jaw. He suddenly began to forcefully open his mouth, using all of his strength. His teeth breaking, snapping in half, his jaw becoming stretched to unrealistic lengths. The sound of skin slowly ripping and becoming detached, the thin threads of flesh beginning to tear. The gurgling noises of him choking on his own blood whilst laughing hysterically. This is where everything turned into a nightmare.
I ran out and began to shout. Trying to tell people to stop and to think about what they were doing. They wouldn't listen to me. Everyone turned on each other. Laughing. They were acting like children playing tag on the playground, only they were not playing tag, they were mutilating each other and tearing each other apart. Limb by limb.
Peoples heads slammed into the hard ground. Fingers digging into eye sockets. I saw a group of five people. There was one person being carried by her limbs. Two people was holding her legs, and the other two people were holding her by the arms. They pulled viciously. First there was a scream, then there was a pop, and then there was rip. Her limbless torso sat there on the ground, screaming in agony, yet adding in a chuckle between every painful shriek.
"DO NOT STOP UNTIL YOU HAVE CONCLUDED BREATHING THE FOUL AIR OF THIS TAINTED EARTH! RIGHT NOW, WE WILL ESCAPE! SOON, WE SHALL LOOK DOWN ON THE FOOLISH! ON THE IGNORANT! AS WE WATCH THE EARTH BE PURGED OF ALL OF ITS BEAUTY, OF ALL OF ITS POTENTIAL!"
They progressively became more aggressive. They were ambitious towards their massacre. Anxiously dissecting peoples bodies, making the green grass crimson. There was nothing I could do. It was all normal to them, and I couldn't do anything about it. I turned around that night and walked home. Kicking pine cones that I spotted in front of me. I slided into my bed and closed my eyes. I would wake up the next morning and grab my cup of coffee from the cafe a couple blocks down. I would be spotted by neighbors, they would wave at me, and I would wave back. And I would repeat this routine for days, months, and years.
New people come into town, only to be exposed to Solitude. Just like me. The second ritual is tonight, and I'm highly considering attending it.