In the summer of 2003, I went to my grandparents house in Glarus, a small town with a population of about 90, as I had done many summers when I was younger. My dad always insisted that I have a good relationship with his parents, and I didn’t mind at all, they were quite fun. I lived about 4 hours away from Glarus, and I didn’t see my grandparents much, so it was always nice to get out there. I hadn’t been there since I was 11, however, and being a teenager, spending a summer by myself didn’t seem like much fun. For whatever reason, I assumed because they missed me, they really wanted me to come out there, so that year, I was told I could bring a friend. After some convincing by my parents, my best friend Ryan was allowed to come with me.
My mom dropped us off, and Ryan and I spent our days swimming, playing video games, watching movies, just doing what 14-year-olds did. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we would go to the library where they would hold a big family style dinner, events where, quite literally, the entire town would attend. The food was phenomenal. But every Tuesday and Thursday, promptly at 8 o’clock, Ryan and I were told to go back to my grandparents house. We didn’t think much of it. The only thing we found weird about it was that the other younger people were allowed to stay. Either way, we were just happy to get back to whatever video game we were playing at the time, even if the walk back to the house was a little creepy because the streets were empty and silent, as everyone was at the library but us. This went on every Tuesday and Thursday for the two months we were there.
The day before we were to leave, Ryan and I woke up at around 11am. We went out to the living room, where my grandparents would be every day when we got up. This day, they weren’t there. Neither of us thought anything of it, and went about our morning routine of splitting an entire box of cereal. Since it was our last full day there, we decided to spend as much of it outside as we could handle before inevitably being drawn back inside by the game we’d spent so much time on that summer.
We got our swimsuits on and grabbed our towels, not looking forward to the 20 minute walk it would take us to get to the lake (we were really lazy 14-year-olds). The main part of Glarus was about 10 minutes from my grandparents, who lived fourth house to the last on the main street, before a large wall of trees that separated it from a quarter-mile long field and then all the business of the town. We began walking at about noon, and when we got to the trees, Ryan pointed out that there were a bunch of things in the middle of the street in the distance, but we figured we’d see what it was when we got there.
As we got closer, we realized that whatever it was in the street was on the street for as far as we could see it, as well as the sidewalks on both sides of the street. We kept approaching until we both stopped in our tracks simultaneously. We both saw it simultaneously. Both of our lives changed simultaneously. The streets and sidewalks, as far as the eye could see, were lined with bodies. We stood there for an uncertain amount of time, processing what our young eyes were seeing.
When he finally snapped out of his stupor, Ryan begged me to go back to the house and wait for my grandparents and/or call the police. He expressed this wish 3 or 4 times before I finally came to my senses, and I told him that if someone or something was out there hurting these people, I had to go find my grandparents to help them, not understanding that they were more than likely amongst the dead that decorated the street. I insisted we travel further into the town to find help, reasoning that someone more than likely had called 911 already.
Ryan reluctantly joined me as I walked on, carefully stepping over the cadavers that littered the sidewalk. At the time, I was just horrified at the sight of all the blood, I wasn’t comprehending the wounds that had caused these deaths. Looking back, they were from slit wrists, plastic bags wrapped around the head with duct tape around the neck, and gunshots to the head. Once we got a little bit further up, we began seeing people hanging on the porches of the many business that lined the main street. The children we’d sat at dinner with every Tuesday and Thursday prior to that day laid dead with their parents.
Unsure of where to go, we headed to the library, knowing that my grandparents spent much of their time there. It was when we were about, looking back, I’d say roughly 30 feet away from the library that Ryan noticed my grandma, laying on the floor, on her back, her wrists slit. Her right hand was holding my grandpa’s left, who had endured the same wounds as his wife of 42 years. I instantly began crying, and couldn’t help but feeling completely alone. Though I was with my best friend, that lack of any adult I knew, which I would have optimal in any other situation, absolutely terrified me at that moment.
I again snapped out of it and told Ryan we needed to find someone, anyone to get help. We first checked the library, yelling out for anyone who could hear us. When the library only turned up more dead bodies, we checked other businesses. After about 10 minutes of searching with no results, we decided to head back to my grandparents house. We ran as fast as we could, quickly stepping over the dead bodies of the many adults we’d been introduced to at the library dinners, with the feeling of the horror we’d come across finally starting to set in, only because the shock of seeing our first dead bodies had finally worn away.
We got back to my grandparents house and called the police, where we were told to wait in the front yard. After that is when things got confusing. They showed up about 20 minutes after we called; two police cars and three school buses. One of the police cars went up to what I assume was as far as it could go without running over corpses, while the other stopped in front of us as we sat on the front lawn.
We were taken to a police station, where my dad was called. And only my dad. He came and got Ryan and I, and explained that what we had just seen was a big secret, and that if anyone else ever found out about it, we would be in severe trouble. Ryan stayed at my dad’s house that night, where we were kept up nearly all night, repeatedly being warned of the grave consequences that would come if we ever breathed a word of what we’d seen to anyone. Finally, around 5am, my dad told me go to bed. I remember him telling me to go to sleep, and that he was going to take Ryan home. I remember laying in bed for nearly two hours, waiting to hear the front door open and close, and my dad’s car to start up. Finally, it happened.
I remember falling asleep, and waking up the next morning, thinking it was all a dream.
I remember the phone ringing later that afternoon, and me answering it, as my dad was at work.
I remember Ryan’s mom sobbing uncontrollably on the other end.
I remember being told that my best friend had hung himself about 5 minutes after getting home earlier that morning.