After we got our things put away in the cabin, we set out to do what we were most anticipating: swim. We got changing into our swimsuits and walked down the long pier in the back of the cabin, and we each jumped off into the water of Long Lake. The sun beat down on us as we waded around in the unbelievably refreshing lake. It was myself, my girlfriend Kimmy, and our friends Jake and Alyssa. We swam around for nearly an hour and a half, and the time flew by. Only one thing sticks out about our time in the water, and its only in retrospect that it does so. At one point, Ryan said he had felt like something bit him on his stomach. The pain went away almost instantly, he said, so we didn’t worry or even think about it anymore.
After nearly and hour and a half in the water, we were all exhausted and hungry. We swam to the ladder on the pier and climbed up. When my foot touched the pier, I noticed there was a leech on it and I admittedly freaked out a little more than I should have. I got it off, and that was that. Ryan and Alyssa walked ahead of Kimmy and I, and it wasn’t until we got to the cabin and I saw the front of Ryan that I was able to point out the trail of blood coming from his naval. It wasn’t bleeding profusely or anything, it just looked like a pin had poked him in his bellybutton. He wiped the blood away and that was that.
We cooked our dinner over the firepit, just burgers and hot dogs, and sat around listening to music and talking. It was too late to take out the ATV’s, and we were all tired not only from swimming, but the 7 hour drive it took us to get there. While sitting around the fire, Ryan began complaining of a sharp pain in his stomach. He put his palm over his navel area and gently squeezed. And as quickly as it had started, it stopped.
Throughout the rest of the night and into the next day, Ryan would intermittently comment on the same sharp stomach pain he’d felt at the fire. It was around noon our second day there that Ryan got his first nosebleed. I say “first” because they would a mainstay over the following two days after there. We were sitting at the kitchen table in the cabin playing cards when out of nowhere, the dark red liquid began pouring out of Ryan’s nose. He assured us that nosebleeds were a regular thing for him, and that it would stop soon. He attributed it to the change in air quality from the city to the middle of nowhere.
Nothing truly gave us worry until the last day we were there. Ryan had nosebleeds and complained of the strange stomach pain throughout the day before, but then, everything came to a head.
It started when blood began leaking from Ryan’s left ear. I alerted him to it, and he just sort of stared at me blankly. I said his name, but got the same blank expression. Then his nose started bleeding again, but he did nothing to stop it. He just stood in the same spot, letting it hit pour down over his lips and chin, and drip onto the floor. Then his other ear began bleeding. Then, the naval area of his white t-shirt began turning red, spreading outward.
I ran to Ryan and lifted up his shirt, unsure of what to do. What I saw made me vomit. His bellybutton was much larger than it should have been, and on the edges of it were these leech looking things. I looked into the chasm in his stomach, and I couldn’t see any organs; there were just hundreds, if not thousands, of these leeches squirming around inside him. He eventually dropped to the ground, landing on his back. The leeches began squirming their way out of his ears, his nose, his mouth, and worst, his eyes. They chewed their way form under his fingernails, and judging by the squirming bulges in his socks, his toenails.
We called 911 as the leeches ate their way through my best friends flesh. He didn’t bleed as much as one would think. I attribute this to the fact that leeches are bloodsuckers, and there were so many of them that they quelled the flow of blood from the lesions they were creating all over his body. From when I noticed his ear bleeding, it wasn’t even 30 seconds before Ryan was dead. It wasn’t a minute before his entire body was mangled and chewed through. He was unrecognizable, both as my friend, and as a person in general. The only thing that would give anyone the idea the pile of meat on the floor was a person was the shape.
Normally, a completely ravaged human body would be a bloody, red and pink mess, but the thousands of black leeches that covered his cadaver made the whole scene a squiggling tarp of shiny black, and they all consumed the blood that would normally have made a mess of the entire area surrounding him. Me and the girls eventually ran outside to wait for the police and stay away from the leeches. A short time later, a single police car came up the cabin driveway, one officer got out, and retrieved a large bag from the backseat of the car.
Without introducing himself, he simply asked “You got any of them on you?”
We all replied in the negative. He cautiously walked to the cabin door, and we looked past him to see what macabre scene awaited him inside. He inched the door open, and leeches began making their way outside. The officer jumped back whilst simultaneously opening the bag he’d brought from his car. He began pouring out what looked like a white powder, that I soon deduced wasn’t a powder at all, but salt, and covered the wayward leeches.
He then poured a trail of salt to the gnarled body of Ryan, covering all the leeches between it and the dead pile of them near the door. He proceeded to pour the entire supply of salt over what was left of Ryan. When he was done, he walked out of the cabin and up to the three of us, as we stood there dumbfounded.
“Someone’ll come here to clean this up in the next few hours. Don’t go swimming in Long Lake.”
And with that, he got back in his car and backed out of the driveway. We took pictures as evidence of what had happened, and waited around for the ambulance to get there. They cremated what was left of Ryan and gave us the ashes, which we in turn delivered to his parents, who were devastated to hear what had happened to their son. A lawsuit was filed against the town of Long Lake for what had happened to Ryan.
And while I’m glad justice will be done to those that knew about the dangers that lurked within it and failed to warn outsiders of it, I’m even happier I noticed that leech on my foot when I did. It could have been me.