I've tried to rationalize my situation, which is to say that I've done a lot of research and have so far come up with nothing but a lot of crackpot theories from less than credible sources. There are plenty of ghost towns in South Dakota, most of which are a result of former mining towns that dried up when their respective mines did, and so through word association you often hear about them also being haunted.
Most "paranormal investigators" claim that there are many different types of hauntings, but the two most frequently observed are "intelligent" hauntings and "residual" hauntings. Intelligent hauntings are when the ghost or entity is aware of their situation. On the other hand, a residual haunting was explained to me as being like listening to a recording over and over again; there is no "intelligence" behind it as it's simply a moment in time which has been "imprinted" upon the fabric of reality. To further muddle the murky waters, while it's believed that ghosts are often tied to either a location or an item, it's possible that ghosts can also latch on to a person in some way and therefore follow them along as a result.
I assumed that I was the first person of whom Sanity had "latched on to," but I awoke in the middle of the night, while staying at a roadside motel, to find out that simply wasn't the case. I didn't notice him at first, as his silhouette blended almost perfectly with the shadows in the room, but a small slit in the curtains of the window allowed just enough moonlight to sneak through and showcase his outline. He looked deformed in a way, as if mangled or twisted, but I could only make out the vaguest of physical distortions in the darkness. "The town called you too?" he asked, rasping, almost moaning in pain.
I then heard, what I assumed, to be his normal voice echo inside my head as he told me his story...
June 3rd, 1997
I was barreling down Highway 34, going west, and I hadn't seen another car for miles. It was just me, my Jeep with the top off, and nothing but open road with a cloudless sky; just the way I like my vacations. I'd meant to take Highway 212, but I took a wrong turn somewhere, so I stopped in a little patch of nowhere called Enning to ask for directions just as the sun was dipping below the horizon. I was told by the woman behind the counter that the safest bet was to just turn around and go the other way at the junction, but that would cost me plenty of hours. She reckoned that "if'in you were the adventurous type, what with that Jeep and all, there is a shortcut which'll get you there much quicker."
I just smiled and said, "you're right, I didn't buy that off road vehicle for nothing!" So I headed back on the highway and, as soon as I was past the mile marker which she had mentioned, I veered down the dirt road just behind it and continued my way towards Mud Butte. Yes, that's a real location; look it up! I was heading there for the annual "Mud Butte Bowl," a football game which is purposely played in the mud. There's plenty of tailgating with food and beer, plus other activities like a concert with fireworks.
As I was lost in my reverie, I didn't notice that the country music radio station which I was tuned into had since tuned out to nothing but static. I fiddled with the dial a bit trying to find it again, or really anything else that I could, but I got nothing. "I'm really out in the middle of nowhere now," I thought. I then flipped over from FM to AM, wondering if I could even get anything of note, when suddenly a voice began to crackle through my speakers. It sounded a bit distant, like the signal was weak and broken.
"...they say to keep watching the skies, but that's a diversion! Wake up, people, and stop staring up at the skies! Stop looking up, mouths agape, drowning in the rain like a bunch of turkeys! They're making turkeys out of you and every day is Thanksgiving! The truth is not out there, it's right here! Below you, around you, inside of you! Turn off your damn TVs and see with your own eyes right in front of you!"
I probably should've heeded their warning... or maybe I should've just paid more attention to the road than listening to such a strange broadcast. Either way, I noticed the thing in front of me a bit too late as I cut the wheel and went careening along a patch of jagged rocks before settling back down on the dirt. The Jeep was still running, which was nice, although it was a little lopsided. I put my foot back on the gas and found that it was a bit of a struggle to move forward. Grabbing a flashlight out of the glove box, I shined it down at my tires and found one of them to have a nasty gash in it thus rendering it useless.
That's when I heard a guttural scream behind me which sent a shiver up my spine. I turned around and shined my flashlight back from whence I came, all the while my mind was trying to piece together just what it was I briefly caught in the illumination of my headlights... perhaps some kind of wolf or coyote? No, it looked far too big... some kind of cow or bull? That same guttural scream echoed out again, which sounded like no animal I'd ever heard... except this time it was closer. I unbuckled my seat belt.
I went to get out of my Jeep, to see if I could replace the tire, when I looked up and saw a pair of glowing red eyes glaring at me from within the darkness. I went to go shine my flashlight in its direction, hoping to maybe scare it off, but there was nothing to be found once the beam made it there. Shaken, but not stirred, I snaked my way around to the back of the Jeep and began to unlatch the spare tire. As I turned the bolts, which held the spare tire in place, I could hear the distinct sound of footsteps behind me... turn... step... turn... step... turn... step... then, as I turned the last bolt, the footsteps stopped.
I grabbed the tire with both hands. The cold winds of the South Dakotan plains were briefly replaced by the feeling of hot air on the back of my neck. I took a deep breath... and then I quickly turned and threw the tire at the thing behind me without even getting a good look at it in the process. I knew I hit something, however, because I heard an ear piecing screech behind me while I ran as fast I could away from whatever the hell was even capable of making such an ungodly noise. I didn't stop or turn my head to look back at the thing, not even to see what kind of damage I did if anything; I just kept running.
But it wasn't long until I heard something behind me... and it was quickly gaining ground. I could already feel my chest tightening up, with my heart barely being contained, as I was gasping for air. I tried to shine my flashlight in front of me, for as much illuminated guidance as it could muster, but an unsteady hand made for an all around disorienting pathfinder. I stumbled over rocks and around bushes. The thing behind me snarled. I swore that I almost felt its jaws closely nip at my back. I suddenly tripped and fell forward, violently plunging myself downward as I rolled down a hill or into a ditch of some sort.
thing behind me howled as I scrambled to my feet. It was then that I saw it: a lone beacon shining like a lighthouse during a violent storm; was it an indication of a safe harbor? I ran towards it nonetheless as I heard the familiar sound of displaced dirt and rocks behind me. The closer I got to this light, the more rocks and vegetation I encountered. I felt like a soldier running through a mine field while a bombardment was happening right behind them. "I'm not going to make it," I thought, "I'm not---"
I tripped and fell forward again, but this time I rolled with a splash as I hit water. Instincts took over as I righted myself into a sitting position within the ankle deep water along the shore, all before putting my hands up in front of my face as a last ditch effort to protect myself. However, nothing happened. I waited, but I didn't hear anything. I didn't see anything neither. Whatever it was had simply vanished.
"Hey, the hell you doing out there?" I heard a voice yell from behind me. I turned to see a man standing on a rather small, but very brightly lit, houseboat; no doubt the light which I was running towards.
There was something out there," I yelled back as I pointed out into the darkness, "it was chasing me!"
"No shit?" the man laughed, "well, swim your ass over here quick. I'm in the middle of a music break!"
He didn't have to tell me twice as I quickly swam my way over. I couldn't quite discern the dimensions of the pond in the darkness (or maybe it was a lake?), in terms of how wide it was, but it was certainly deep enough to where I could no longer feel the bottom as I reached the houseboat. The man extended an arm over the side as I grabbed hold and he pulled me aboard. I immediately collapsed with my back on the deck, eyes looking directly upwards into the night sky, as I was finally able to catch my breath.
"Thank you," I managed to say between gasps, "my car... it broke down... and... this thing... it chased..."
"No, no, no," the man said as he waved a finger in my direction while checking his watch, "not yet
I watched as he stumbled into the cabin of the houseboat, leaving me to get my bearings as I struggled to stand up. My legs were wobbly from all the running and I was soaked to the bone; how could this get any worse? It was then that those cold South Dakotan winds returned in force, of course, so I quickly followed the man inside before I would end up catching a cold on top of everything else. As I turned the corner, however, I began to doubt the "safety" of this haven. There were wires everywhere, snaking around everything, which I now realized were going out the windows and up on to the roof where a series of satellite dishes and antennas of various shapes and sizes were stationed. The man was situated at the far end of the cabin, where the wires seemed to converge, with a microphone in hand.
"Ladies and gentlemen, true believers, thank you once again for waiting during our musical interlude!" the man said into the microphone as he paced around the cabin. "For those of you who waited so diligently, I have a treat now for y'all..." the man then turned to me, "we've got a special guest here tonight, folks, that's right; how long as it been since our last guest? Anyway, guest, what's your name?"
The man pointed the microphone at me, almost jamming the thing in my mouth as he did so, to which I recoiled in confusion. "Uh, look, I appreciate the help and all, really, but... what the hell is this?" I asked.
"Oh my," the man said as he retracted the microphone back to his own lips, "where are my manners?"
With a flourish, as he passed the microphone from one hand to the other, the man unfurled a black flag behind him which bared a skull and crossbones... albeit modified with the included imagery of a microphone and radio waves. "My name is Skull E. Crossbones, captain of this vessel, and host to the the single most important pirate radio station on the airwaves today... 'Skull in Sanity'!" he announced.
"Aptly named," I remarked.
"Thank you," Skull bowed, "seems rather fitting, no?"
"I'd say so," I replied, although I wasn't entirely sure if he understood what I literally meant. "So, are we actually live?" I asked as I pointed at his microphone, "like, can people really hear us right now?"
"Of course!" Skull confirmed, "where else would people tune to for their daily dose of the truth?"
"Truth?" I asked, rather memorized by the absurdity of the situation, "what kind of truth?"
"The whole truth, and nothing but," Skull stated before he continued by saying that, "popular culture would tell you to 'watch the skies,' but the truth is not 'out there,' okay? It's right here! Below you, around you, inside of you! Turn off your damn TV and see with your own eyes right in front of you!"
"Wait a minute," I said, as I stopped him from continuing his shtick. "I've heard this before, yeah, I heard you on my radio just before I had my accident earlier! Whoa, this is some really crazy coincidence..."
"Nonsense!" Skull retorted, "there's no such thing as 'coincidence,' trust me. For example, you said that you were chased here by... 'something,' yes? Can you describe this... 'something,' for us... perhaps?"
"Well, I mean, I didn't get a good look at it but--" I started to stammer as Skull shoved the microphone into my face. I continued, getting the hint, and thus began speaking up a little bit more clearly, "--it made these horrendous sounds, but they weren't any that I was familiar with... I mean, I don't know the sound that every animal makes, y'know, but it just sounded so... unworldly? Hard to say, really, but it moved so quickly... and it had these red glowing eyes... I swear I even saw it stand and run upright..."
"The Boar King" Skull said ominously as he leaned in close to me.
"Wait, I'm sorry, the what?" I asked, reeling back.
"The Boar King!" Skull yelled as he ripped the microphone away from me and began to pace around the cabin. "Ladies and gentlemen, true believers, this is simply incredible! You've heard me talk about this creature before, and I know that there were some of you out there who didn't believe me, but this is undeniable proof: The Boar King is real! Not only that, but we have another survivor... other than me!"
"No, seriously, what the hell is The Boar King?" I asked again.
"You ever hear of the Chupacabra, also know as the 'Goat Sucker,' of Mexico?" Skull replied, "well, The Boar King is like that, but it goes after pigs and hogs! It's also said to be this weird deformed monstrosity which is half human and half boar, but not many people have seen it and actually lived!"
"So, how did you survive?" I inquired in a tone not unlike that of a lawyer cross-examining a witness.
Skull smiled as he pointed downward, "The Boar King hates this water! Want to know why?"
"Because it's man made! It's actually the remnants of an old underground nuclear missile silo. This country was peppered with them until after the cold war; like Swiss cheese, y'know? The ones on the coasts were our first line of defense, obviously, but the ones in the middle? Potential retaliation for any "Red Dawn" type shit! But, after the Soviets more or less closed up shop, these installations were similarly packed up and abandoned. This one, however? It was flooded! On purpose. Why was that?"
"Rhetorical! They were clearly hiding something. I mean, they had to have been doing something else with their time out here other than just guarding a nuclear missile! I'm not sure what, but I do know this: there is a strong electromagnetic pulse emanating from somewhere down below. So much so that I've been able to tap into its wavelength and broadcast a radio signal. That's where my little show comes into the picture, because someone has to tell the whole world the truth of what's going on around here!"
"A lot of weird shit! My setup is still quite meager, I admit, but I did recently purchase a sonar device and every now and then I get an odd ping from somewhere down below! Isn't that a bit odd to you?"
"Maybe it's just a fish?" I offered, before getting cut off again.
"Did you miss the part where I said it's a man made lake?" Skull countered.
"I mean, are you sure?" I implored, as if talking him down from a ledge.
"Well, it's possible that they could have introduced some fish to the environment in order to further the legitimacy of such a cover up..." Skull reasoned, "but that doesn't explain why The Boar King is repelled by the water! In fact, in the time I've been here, I've never once seen any animal around this water..."
Skull suddenly went wide-eyed, as if he were in a trance, and then quickly rushed over to a nearby table where he grabbed a pen and a notebook. "Of course!" he exclaimed, "it all makes sense now..."
I just stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do, as Skull continued to write and ignore me.
"Well, this has certainly been," I paused for a moment to think of the right word, "educational... but I don't suppose you happen to have a phone I could use? I really need to get back to my car, and---"
"No, no, no," Skull said as he stopped writing and turned back to me, "you can't go, not back out there, not right now; The Boar King is still out there! Wait until morning, trust me, you're safer here with me..."
Skull went back to jotting something down in his notebook, once again leaving me to my own devices. I let out a heavy sigh and then proceeded to exit the cabin. I was back on the deck, the winds were still howling, and I was still wet and freezing. However, as I stood there, I couldn't help but notice that those winds were indeed the only thing that I heard. I didn't hear any animals. Even the water was eerily still. Something just didn't seem right. Well, okay, a lot of things didn't seem right... but, still, not even the sound of crickets or frogs? I noticed a pair of binoculars nearby and decided to have a look around.
They were actually night vision goggles, much to my surprise, although I still didn't see any sign of life out there... which, given the experience I had just gone through, was probably for the best. What I did notice, however, was a series of lights off in the distance. Adjusting the zoom on the goggles, I was able to make out a few buildings on the outskirts of what appeared to be a small town. Staying on this houseboat for the night, with this unstable radio host, was becoming less appealing by the minute...
"Better than here," I thought, as I made my way back into the cabin to confront Skull on the matter.
"Look, do you at least have a phone or something which I can use?" I insisted. "My car is still stranded out there, and I really do think that I need to inform somebody about this whole incident so, unless you can really help me out here, I think I might need to go check out that town which I saw nearby and---"
"No!" Skull said as he slammed his fist on the table, "there is no phone, okay? Just stay here, wait until morning, and then I'll help you... okay? And stay away from that town, okay? Just... stay away..."
"Why?" I asked, "what's so wrong with that town?"
Skull threw the pen he was holding at the wall, grabbed the microphone tightly, got up from his chair, and started pacing around the room once more but with renewed vigor. "What is wrong with that town?" Skull replied to me, almost in a mocking manner, "what isn't wrong with that town, ladies and gentlemen? Its a den of thieves! Crooks! Traitors to humanity! Those sick, twisted, sons of bitches..."
It was then that I decided, while Skull was so absorbed in his diatribe, that I would abandon ship and try my luck with the small town instead. I mean, they couldn't really be that bad... right? At least, not as bad as this lunatic... yeah? Either way, I leaped off the side of the houseboat and once again found myself in the water as I swam towards the shore. I was about halfway when I heard Skull yelling out to me.
"You'll be sorry!" Skull warned as I hit the shore, stumbled to my feet and then ran towards the town.
The closer I got the more detail I could make out, even in the darkness, as if a dense fog were being lifted around it like a bubble. Lights from additional buildings began to turn on, seemingly at random, as if the town could sense my presence and was heralding my arrival. I saw what appeared to be a police station, a fire house, and a school. There were other houses too, at least a dozen, and streets with cars. In the middle of it all stood a large structure, rather imposing in the way it loomed over all other buildings, with four columns supporting its ancient architecture; it looked like a Roman temple of sorts.
Yet, like a moth to a flame, I didn't notice the most important thing: that which was right in front of me. It howled as it swiped at me, ripping into my face as I fell backwards onto the unforgiving ground. It quickly pounced on top of me, digging its claws into my chest, as I screamed out in pain. Then, just before I lost consciousness and died, I finally witnessed its horrible visage through blood soaked eyes...
... but you've already seen it yourself now, haven't you?
I realized then that the thing which was standing in my motel room wasn't the same entity who was telling me their story, but it was in fact the Boar King itself... "don't let this town make a monster out of you too," it grunted before disappearing completely into the shadows... an ominous warning, indeed...