|Nothing like taking a caching selfie and discovering there's
a freaking zombie lurking right behind you.
A couple of old farts — Robgso (a.k.a. Rob Isenhour) and I — embarked this morning on a mission out to Caswell County to find a fairly new multi-cache called "Return of the Caching Dead" (GC5EHKW), set up by frequent geocaching companion and aspiring old fart himself, Rtmlee (a.k.a. Robbin Lee). Back in February 2013, an earlier version of the cache existed (see "The Caching Dead"), but a clandestine government organization took issue with Mr. Lee's revealing of certain dark, damning secrets, and he was forced to alter the setup significantly. Pity for Mr. Lee, but good for us as far as having a new, high-quality multi-cache to seek on a near-perfect late autumn morning. As it happened, just before we left in the Damned Rodan Mobile, two new caches were published not far from the domicile, so we made a side trip that netted us a pair of very nice first-to-finds. Then we were on our way to an experience that we suspected might be fraught with terror and intrigue. After all, we know the cache hider and have at least some clue as to how his deviant mind works. This fact worried us more than you could know.
Like the "The Caching Dead" before it, this cache has four stages, and I knew stage one would be something different from the original. Indeed. Once we arrived at ground zero, we saw immediately we could be venturing into dark, forbidding territory. As you can see in the self-portrait above, you never know what sort of strange things the camera is going to capture. We managed to find the stage without undue difficulty, though we heard bizarre sounds in the woods — issuing from things unseen, whispering and gibbering, possibly speaking some unearthly language. Once we had recorded the coordinates for the next stage, we made haste from there, escaping with our lives if not our sanity.
|We could only guess at the kinds of secret
experiments that once occurred here.
The coordinates to stage two led us to a familiar installation — ostensibly, an abandoned community center far out in the middle of nowhere, but it seems clear that at one time this facility was used for some nefarious purpose. The interior, as seen from without, appeared just as it had a couple of years ago — all signs indicating some sudden, catastrophic event that resulted in total evacuation. Reaching our objective here required us to follow a path into the woods similar to that of the original cache, but this time, we did encounter some honest-to-god horror: it was becoming clear that whatever malign, inhuman influence resided here, it had begun to work on Mr. Isenhour. I managed to get a photo or two before he came to his senses; and once he did, we rushed out of those woods, followed by the disconcerting voices of the unseen things that still clearly lurked in the forests. As we put some distance between the old installation and the Rodan Mobile, Mr. Rob seemed a bit more himself. Regardless, I kept a close eye on both my hands, as I wasn't particularly keen on losing one.
|For a brief time, Rob succumbed to the siren-song of the things in the woods
and treated himself to a nice handwich.
|Rob doing his best to get ahead.
The route to the final stage led us to a remote lake, deep in the hostile woods, a location I had visited once before — not only for the predecessor of this cache but for an entirely different quarry. The setting seemed the same, but there was a subtle change from before: an almost corporeal presence, something we knew would prove quite dreadful if we happened to encounter it. So far, we had been lucky in that the coordinates provided by Mr. Lee had all been good, allowing us to quickly find the clues we needed to reach this last stage of the game. We were forced to park the Rodan Mobile some distance from ground zero, so we had to make our way on foot farther than was comfortable under the circumstances. But thanks to Rob's sharp eyes, we almost immediately had the secret, hidden container in hand so we might complete our mission. Yes! Done! Now we had to vacate the premises with all haste because we both were beginning to feel the terrible pangs of an unspeakable appetite.
Happily, we were able to satisfy our carnivorous cravings at one of our favorite dining establishments — The Celtic Fringe in Reidsville. A good pale ale helped calm my nerves as well. It was, indeed, an incredible venture out in the wilds of Caswell County today, and I'm pleased to say we conquered every obstacle placed before us, not only without dying but with some semblance of style and grace.
Next time Mr. Lee joins us for a caching outing, he may find himself having to look over his shoulder perhaps a bit more than usual. Old farts never, ever forget.
|Some ghostly apparition captured by the camera?