By Ken Korczak
I want to tell you about a bizarre night many years ago when I accidentally found myself at a gathering of Satan worshippers. It was one of the freakiest nights of my life — and I swear this story is 100 percent true.
It happened about 27 years ago. I was a young man of 19 or 20, and I was out partying with some friends. We were at a keg party at someone’s cabin in a remote corner of northern Minnesota. For the record, in those days, I was a total nondrinker, but I didn’t mind hanging out with my pals who were swilling down beer like the Apocalypse was scheduled for the next morning.
One of my buddies, whom I’ll call Sparky, suggested we go to another party he knew about about 20 miles away — in an even more remote location of the northern woods near the Canadian border. So I jumped into the car with him and another friend, whom I’ll call Tommy. I wasn’t driving, despite being the only one sober. Ah, youth.
It was a dark night. The stars and moon were obscured by moldy low clouds. As we drove through the woods, the pine trees which hugged closely to either side of the rode looked like a jagged wall of shadowy sentinels guarding the exit ramp to Hell.
We eventually turned up a long, narrow graveled driveway that opened into a wide yard of a place that had once been a small country church. The church was an ancient structure made of locally quarried granite stone. But it was no longer a church. Someone had clearly converted it into a home.
There was a large campfire burning, almost a bonfire, out in the front yard. I immediately knew something weird was going on because around the fire were sitting about 15 people dressed in Druid-style hooded robes. I could see other shadowy figures milling about in the yard, moving in and out of the flickering firelight.
We got out of the car. Sparky and Tommy were totally baked. They had been slamming whisky shots on the ride over.
We walked toward the hooded people around the campfire, and a I felt a swarm of cold spiders run up and down my spine because the hooded figures were chanting in some strange language while rocking back and fourth. My first thought was: “Let’s get out of here.” But my two drunk friends were already approaching the circle of chanters — and to my consternation — Tommy went up to them and started slapping them on the backs of their heads!
I expected immediate trouble, but to my amazement, not a single one of the robed figures reacted an iota to being slapped, and quite hard, on the back of the head. They just looked into the fire as if they were oblivious to all else.
I rushed over to Tommy and pulled on his arm to get him away from the group. “Tommy!” I said. “What the hell are you doing? You’re going to get us killed out here! Let’s get out of here!”
His response to me was something along the lines of “go (bleep) yourself!” In the meantime, Sparky seemed to have suddenly disappeared into the night. I asked Tommy: “Where’s Sparky? He has the car keys!” Tommy’s response was: “I don’t give a damn! Let’s go check out the house.”
As we walked closer to the house, the dancing firelight revealed a large white cross hung upside down above the front door. I thought to myself: “Oh come on! Is this really happening? An inverted cross? Hooded zombies chanting around a fire? It’s all so cliché!” Of course, everyone has heard about all these aspects of devil worship, but to me, it always seemed like something out of a crummy B-horror movie.
But here I was on a black night in the middle of nowhere about to enter a converted church adorned with the symbol of Satan.
Listen: The last thing I wanted to do was enter that house! But Tommy had already staggered in ahead of me. I decided to follow, mostly because I hoped that Sparky had gone in there. I wanted to find him, get his car keys and get the hell out of there! Walking though those front doors was not easy.
It was unnervingly dark inside. All I could see were vague outlines of what I assumed were various pieces of furniture and whatnot. But there was a dim rectangular outline of light coming from a closed door kitty-corner to my right. My idiot friend Tommy headed straight for it. I saw him open the door and plunge down the stairs which led to a basement. Against my better judgment, I followed.
Down the in the basement was a large empty room illuminated by hundreds of candles. A set of chairs were circled in the middle of the room, and sitting on each chair was an incredibly obese woman. Some of the women were just basically fat, but about half of them were enormous. Tommy had already pulled up a chair and joined this “round of mounds.” He was looking around and laughing. He was hurling insults at the women, making extremely crude references to their weight.
Some of the women were wearing robes, but others were wearing normal clothing. None of whom seemed to mind Tommy’s long string of fat jokes and extremely corse insults, which I can’t repeat here. In fact, they seemed delighted at the arrival of Tommy, who was too drunk to be really coherent about anything.
They all smiled broadly and stared at Tommy the way a cobra might eye a helpless frog. The women sitting next to him put their hammy, fleshy hands on Tommy’s arms and shoulders and started rubbing his chest. This only made Tommy laugh. Then he got up and said something like, “I can see why you guys might be hungry for a man!” Of course, I am giving only a mild version of what Tommy was really saying, but let’s just say his comments would not normally be heard inside a church — well, maybe in a church with an inverted cross hung over it, but you know what I mean.
I had heard enough. I had seen enough. I walked up briskly, grabbed Tommy very roughly by his shirt collar and dragged him rudely away from the group and back up the stairs. Thankfully, none of the women followed. They just watched and laughed as I dragged Tommy out.
I hustled Tommy up the stairs and out the door. I was extremely thankful to be back outside. I gave Tommy a rough shove sending him sprawling to the ground. I resisted an urge to kick him in the ribs as he lay there, laughing like an idiot. Instead, I stood over him and shouted: “Dammit — let’s find Sparky and get the (expletive) hell out of here!”
It was clear Tommy was no help to me, so I started looking around for Sparky. As I looked back toward the group of chanters around the fire — and was totally amazed at what I saw next!
After dragging Tommy out of the “anti-church” where a squadron of extremely obese women waited — for what? — I was fairly desperate to find Sparky who had the car keys and my ticket out of this hell hole. The chanters were still around the fire, rocking, bobbing their heads, mumbling. Now someone had tossed a few car tires onto the fire creating a greasy, gritty smoke that roiled and boiled like oil into the fresh Minnesota air, fouling it with an industrial stench.
But air pollution was the least of my worries because suddenly I spotted Sparky! He had taken his place around the fire, robes and all! Sparky was one of them! It became clear that he had planned to come here all along — and that he had tricked Tommy and I into coming as well. And I had to wonder — why? For what? Sparky had not only joined the devil dudes, but he seemed a ringleader. He wasn’t chanting, but from somewhere he had produced an old battered guitar which he not so much “played”, but tortured like a captured animal.
He was hitting the strings hard, forcing violent, screeching discords from it, running his bony fingers up and down the guitar neck, like he wanted to choke that neck.So much for my ride out of here! Now what? I looked back at Tommy, who was up on his hands and knees, vomiting violently. And I had to wonder, based on Tommy’s bizarre behavior, if he was in on this too.
But no, I quickly dismissed that idea. Tommy was a good friend. As for Sparky, I didn’t actually known him. I mean, he was a guy from my around my town, but I had never hung out with him. Nobody did. He was a loner, an odd ball. I had always assumed that he was a dope addict. But obviously, Sparky was into something much more sinister than mere drugs.
My next idea was to rouse Tommy and have him go punch Sparky in the head. Then we could get his car keys and leave him and his Beelzebub buddies to their own twisted devices. Why did I want Tommy to punch Sparky in the head? Let me put is this way: When you need someone punched in the head, and the job needs to be done right, Tommy is exactly the kind of guy you want to punch someone in the head. When Tommy punches someone in the head, they stay punched in the head.But after puking, Tommy had slumped back down and became an incoherent sack of wasted humanity on the ground. I shook him violently — but it was no use. He was in a booze induced coma. In the meantime, something ominous was building.
From the anti-church, the fat women started to raise their voices — blood-curdling wails, moans and high-pitched shrieks. At the same time, the ceremony around the fire was growing more intense, more agitated. Some of the robed figures started getting up, raising their arms up and down, making herky-jerky motions, sitting back down, then jumping up again.
Looking around I saw other cars scattered at the outer edges of the firelight. I thought about finding one with a key, taking it, and splitting. But then I thought: “Geez, I’ve been at a Satanic shindig for 20 minutes and I’m already contemplating grand theft auto! What’s the matter with me? The very air here is infected with evil!”
Even though I would have been justified in “borrowing” a car that night, I decided against it. Only one option was left — I’d leave on foot. The idea of walking 20 miles down an isolated dirt road in the black night through thick forest was not especially appealing. The woods of Minnesota are filled with all manner of critters — gigantic moose, black bears, wolves, wolverines — some of which would fancy me a tasty treat. Still, I liked my chances better with Mother Nature’s sweet creatures than with this demented pack of nitwits.
So I set off down the road. It was gruesomely dark. I could barely see the outline of the dirt road looming off through the trees. Yet, the damp night air and the aroma of pine was a welcome relief from that acrid stench of burning rubber. And to be honest, 20 miles was not that much to me.
I had been a long distance runner since junior high school, and I could probably click off that distance in less than three hours. So I took off at a light jog — but after 10 minutes, my conscious got the better of me. I thought about Tommy. I had abandoned my friend back there, lying near the door of the anti-church. What might they do with him? I stopped, gritted my teeth, turned, and headed back. Little did I know, the very worst part of the night was about to begin.
The fire was still burning when I returned, but to my surprise, there was no one around it now. The putrid rubber smoke was swirling around the grounds, scattered by a shifting breeze. It stung my eyes and assaulted my nose. I walked toward the anti-church where I had left Tommy, hoping he was still lying there. There was no sign of him. As I got closer to the anti-church, it became clear where everyone else had gone. From inside the church came a cacophony of raucous voices — wild laughter, exhilarated shouts, manic hooting calls.
I decided to walk around the anti-church to look for Tommy. The deranged voices coming from the building were maddening. I was nervous and jumpy. My skin crawled.Moving around the building, I could see dingy light glowing from a row of basement windows. I knew that I had to creep up to one of those windows and take a look inside.
I had no idea what I would see. I’ll tell you what I most expected to see — and orgy going on between the fire chanters and the fat women. What I hoped I would not see was my friend Tommy strung up down there, perhaps the subject of a human sacrifice. But I had to look. I had to see if Tommy was down there.
Let me pause here again to strenuously remind my readers that I am not making up a single detail of this story. Let me repeat — I am NOT making this up! I give you my most solemn guarantee as a professional journalist and writer that what I am telling you is what really happened, and this story is 100 percent accurate.
So to continue: I got down on my hands and knees and crept toward a basement window of the anti-church. The windows were grimy and filmed with a coating of streaky black dirt. I was hesitant to rub the window to clear away a spot because I didn’t want anyone inside to see me — but I did so and peered inside. I was flabbergasted by what I saw happening down in that basement!
Here is what was going on: All the men and obese women where standing in a crude circle and they were tossing around an object between them. But it wasn’t an “object” — it was a baby, a naked baby. They were tossing the baby back and forth randomly, like a bunch of six-graders standing in a circle playing hot potato with a soccer ball. As they did so, they were laughing and shouting and calling out: “Kill the baby Jesus! Kill the baby Jesus! Kill the baby Jesus!”For the hundredth time that night, I said to myself: “Could this really be happening?”
I tried to get a better look at the baby. Could it have been a doll? Wait! Maybe it was is just a doll! I kept looking. Damn! It looks like a real baby! In the murky candlelight which illuminated the basement, and through the dirty window, I could not be 100 percent sure if they were tossing around a live baby, or just a very realistic looking doll. But what if it was a real baby?
Remember, this was long before the days of cell phones so I couldn’t have simply called 911. What if it was a real baby? What could I do? Storm down there and snatch it away from 30 or 40 crazed devil worshippers? Not likely! But I kept asking myself: What if it was a real, human baby? What could be done? What?
I kept looking as I crouched there in the dark. I kept trying to determine if they were tossing around a real baby or a doll.
Suddenly, I felt a hard, heavy hand slam down on my back. I yelled, sprang to my feet, whirled around, swung my fist as hard as I could — and smashed Tommy right in the jaw — sending him crashing to the ground! Holy crap! “Tommy!” I shouted. I picked him up. “You crazy son-of-a-(bleep)! Come on, let’s get out of here!” Tommy was still not sober, and now he also had the imprint of my fist on his face. I guess I was a better puncher of heads than I thought.
Anyway, as soon as I stood him up, he would slump back down. I kept at him, though. When he fell, I got him to his feet and moved him along, stumbling and falling back to the road. It took at least 15 minutes to get Tommy past where the fire was burning. Just as we began to head up the road, I heard the doors of the anti-church burst open violently. I turned, and to my deep dismay, saw the devil worshippers stampeding out of the church. The first thing I thought: “Had they seen me at the window? Were they coming after us?”
They were yelling and screaming and scattering, jostling and elbowing each other, practically falling over each other. But instead of running toward us, they dispersed in all directions, running frantically. They all plunged into the blackness of the woods. Tommy had fallen down again, so I just sat beside him for a moment. One of the robed figures sprinted close by us, not more than 10 yards away. He plunged into the woods. I heard the branches and brush tearing at his robes, twigs snapping under his feet.
Then he was gone. They were all gone. All was silent.I got Tommy on his feet again. He was sobering a little. Come on, I said. Let’s walk.” Tommy said, “Walk? Why? Where’s Sparky?” I said, “Just walk, you moron! I’ve got something to tell you about Sparky!”
We walked a few yards up the road — and again — I had to stop. I had to go back there one more time. Of course, the reason was obvious. I wanted to see if there was a dead baby in that basement. I said to Tommy: “You stand right here. If you move from this spot, I’m going to track you down, hunt you like an animal, and kill you.” Tommy said, “Gee, what are you so pissy up about?” I said, “Shut up,” and proceeded back to the anti-church.Since my tale is already overlong, let me just say I found nothing back in the church — no baby, no evidence of a baby, or anything else. It was deserted.
Tommy and I spent the rest of that long, endless night on a 20-mile hike back to our cars. The sun was up by the time we got back, and by then the events of the evening had already begun to seem like a bad dream. But it wasn’t a dream. It really happened. I was there. My story is true.