THE FALLS is a horror novel about four friends who travel to Northern Michigan to let loose, but soon a local legend and strange circumstances have them running for their lives.
Nolan had forgotten about the road trip, because he had other things to worry about, most notably of which was finishing his senior year at Michigan State University and maybe getting more serious with his girlfriend, Nora. Then again, serious with Nora was another subject altogether. Nolan, who was all of twenty-two, did love her, but she had a way of manipulation, at least that was what Derek and his buddy Max always said. To be honest, they thought he could do better, but Nolan figured to propose soon, so this road trip faded a bit until Derek called him a few days ago. Honestly for Nolan it couldn’t have come at a better time and for all four it seemed like that last big hurrah before the real world grabbed them up. In other words, like his buddies Derek, Max, and Stuart, Nolan too was hell bent on partying and having as much of a good time as possible, which meant a lot of drinking and the usual shenanigans that go along with a trip such as this, especially in the summer of Michigan, where sunshine beams only but a few months out of the year.
“You dicks better strap it on, because this place is a trip, last time I was there, not sure if I told you guys…” Derek said.
“Yeah you told us, we know the story. Drunken debauchery, you’re historic threesome and The Exorcist soundtrack playing throughout the campground at all hours of the night on a volume of 10 no less, yeah we heard the legend before,” Stuart piped in pushing his black frame glasses up and sipping a morning Budweiser.
“Stuart, young lad…You weren’t there. You just don’t know,” Derek added.
“I’ll tell you what I do know. Derek, my friend you have a funny way of weaving tall tales. The threesome was probably you and two mirrors,” Stuart spouted. Nolan and Max chuckled.
Stuart pushed up his black framed Ray Bans again, a constant movement that he does without even realizing it. Stuart was an anomaly, a high IQ guy with a – don’t give a shit attitude, yet from all appearances one might consider him a “nerd” that is if one didn’t know him. Max still went with the B-boy look, flat cap, baggy jeans and shell-toe Adidas. Nolan had the Timberland loafers with no socks and plaid shorts. In unison they walked over to the cooler and grabbed a beer. They cracked and drank or to be more precise they inhaled their beers in seconds and then tossed the empties. Then they grabbed two more in a snap and copped a squat.
Quickly Stuart and Derek followed suit. The four of them then sat around the back porch of Derek’s small starter home, enjoying the sunshine of the morning, bullshitting for close to an hour and getting a little cloudy. Derek soon realized that they’d have to get more beer and also that they were running behind schedule.
“I got your schedule Derek. Shit I’m like waaaayyy on schedule…”Max said buzzed.
“Don’t be a shit face Max,” Stuart riffed.
They loaded the last of their gear, the tent, three coolers and Derek peeled out in a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. This was a fishing trip more or less by design. They’d drive four hours north from Detroit and then really let loose. Derek and Max were not in college. Derek worked for his Dad as an electrician, which meant he was one of the few who actually had money. Max sold weed, so he had more money.
“D, get a case. I got the next one,” Nolan piped. Derek pulled over and five minutes later they were walking out of a liquor store in Flint, Michigan with two cases of cold Budweiser.
“You guys hear that two more people disappeared from The Falls,” Derek said cracking a beer barreling down I-75.
“There are some strange stories coming out of that place…what was that one, the Black-Rag-a-Ma-Tag gang or whatever the fuck they called them?…cop…” Max added nonchalant as a police car passed on the other side of the freeway.Everybody dropped their beers in unison.
“The Black-Rag-a-Mag-Tag Gang as you say or what they are really called just the Blackbloods, were the first settlers of The Falls. They were like a small sect of forty people from parts unknown at the turn of the century. They disappeared and were found hanging from trees a few miles away. Their blood was dried up and looked black in the photo, so they called them Blackbloods. Yeah we’ve all heard that story,” Stuart said sipping his beer and putting his glasses up again.
“What an uplifting story,” Nolan chimed in with a laugh.
“Yeah I mean they really got up in the world,” Max added.
“I mean yeah, way to hang in there right?” Nolan added.
There was a pause.
“Are you guys out of material yet?” Stuart piped in.
“They were hung by Gypsy’s,” Derek said.
“Gypsies? No not fucking likely,” Stuart surmised.
“Ok…And like what the fuck is a Gypsy anyways now that we’re on the subject? A poor person? Like some street beggar who wears Salvation Army clothes?” Max asked.
“That pretty much sums it up there Mad Max,” replied Nolan.
“Now I’m taking shit from this guy, Mr. Izod Catalog here,” Max thumbed in Nolan’s direction.
“And it wasn’t Gypsies that hung up The Blackbloods oh by the way…they don’t know who or how it happened. It was probably some Indians who were getting payback if you ask me. They were pretty pissed back then,” Stuart said. “It was like a warning to keep white people out of the area.”
“Indians don’t hang people,” Nolan replied. “They just scalp the posse and rape the women.”
“Well whatever the fuck happened, I don’t know. All I know is that someone hung up some white people as a warning to keep people out of The Falls. I read it somewhere, but that was like over a hundred years ago,” Stuart went on.
“Shit. I guess that idea backfired!” Max howled.
“Where’d you read it Stuart? Geekly Weekly?” Derek pressed.
“No it was a magazine on your Mom’s coffee table.”
“And in no time flat we are now back to the Mom jokes,” Max surmised.
“Actually, there were only twelve people hung. The rest of the Blackbloods were never found,” Nolan said serious like. This chilled some laughter.
“What is this – a creepy campfire story there Timberland Dockers?” Max spouted.
“Yeah only some of the gang were hung and not in the packin’ John Holmes kind of way,” Stuart added drunk. In fact they were all drunk in that obnoxious banter and conversation one might hear in any bar anywhere in any college town, USA during happy hour or any hour for that matter. “Stuart, don’t try to be funny it doesn’t suit you,” Nolan said.
“That’d be freaky though, to find a camp site and there are like twelve people hanging from the trees,” Stuart surmised.
“The more the merrier,” Max added.
Derek was done with the conversation. He hit the stereo and Snoop Dogg, Gin and Juice blared out the speakers and everyone sang along and drank and the Nissan Pathfinder barreled north.
Three hours later, they pulled into The Falls Campground in Northern Michigan and it was jam packed. Campers, tents, cars, bikes, people were wedged so closely together it was like a circus. Kids ran around throwing balls, a game of horseshoes was going on behind them, young men were throwing fishing lines into a pond…and there was a serious BBQ going on. This was a campground in full party mode and people made rounds from one campsite to the next.
“Hey! Welcome, if you guys don’t have beer, grab one!” a middle-aged guy in bucket cap spouted then pointed to ten coolers that were lined up in the next campsite over. There was loud music, a station of classic rock blared over the campgrounds. Right now the song was Dream On by Aerosmith.
“This looks like something out of an eighties movie!” Max said.
“Shit, it’s gotten more family friendly since the last time I’ve been here,” Derek said let down.
By night everyone was singing, drinking, talking, partying and enjoying life like an all-American holiday weekend. There was no way you could tell D, Nolan, Max and Stuart that in less than 48 hours they’d be running for their lives.