Sacris Spelunca

Spending the day with Keepers of the Dead, giving it one more pass before sending it on to Seventh Star Press for publication this fall (gods willing and the creek don’t rise)…

But first, some reminiscing… and with Keepers on my mind, a trip to the Reservoir seems appropriate.

thecliffsThere are a lot of special places out along the Mississinewa. I can only imagine how magical it was before the Dam. But there was still quite a bit of magic in the place back when we were all still young men. One of our favorite spots was what was once Peoria, nestled up alongside where the old Tahkonong Reservation once held court.

For us, it was known as “The Cliffs”. There was a shelter house at the top of the hill surrounded by a deep forest that held a number of secrets, especially back then — old, abandoned homes filled with ghosts and Lovecraftian horrors, sacrificial altars, and shadowy cultists. There was a steep boat ramp and a winding shore road. And there was the stretch of overlook that gave our little hangout its name.

A lot of kids used to go cliff diving (and presumably still do) into the reservoir from atop that rocky ledge, but Brent and I and a handful of others were more taken by the natural cave formation in the cliffside itself, just below where less intelligent types leapt into the waters below (we witnessed more than a few teens get hurt pretty good there).

The cave was a seemingly perilous climb down and across, where we were forced to scale along a narrow finger and toe hold to reach a small, narrow cave entrance. Skinnying our way back inside, we would sit in a cramped limestone room, scribe charcoal poems and sigils on the walls, smoke cigarettes, and dissect life, love, and magic.

Autumn was the best time out there. It was cool, people were more scarce, and the reservoir was let out and the river could breathe again, like it did before the Army Corps of Engineers ruined everything, before Somerset was submerged, and the dead were washed away.

Still, it was sacred to us. It lived and breathed and gave life to a rag-tag bunch of teen-age misfits.

I don’t go out there like I once did, but it still haunts me. I remember Brent saying once how he hoped when we died we could create our own heaven and how, if we could, it would be the Mississinewa River, from Five Mile to Seven Pillars.

I’ve got to say, I couldn’t wish for anything more.

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