Author's note: I would like to put a disclaimer here, that all names in the following story will be those of pseudonyms. I am not going to disclose the company I work for, and no direct quotes will be used either, everything will be paraphrased. Though I have asked the people related to this story if they were comfortable with me finally disclosing the following events, I don’t want to bring anyone else into the messy situation that this was. Thank you.
Legends have been told in many different ways. There are the myths, the unsolved mysteries and the stories that can send a shiver up anyone’s spine. Places like the catacombs in Paris, the many tunnels around the world rumoured to be laced with undead spirits and bones of the innocent; and the fact that we have only explored nearly 5% of the oceans around us. Of course, many of these tales come from historical stories, campfire fables and articles and blogs from bored teenagers who want to scare someone, like all of those creepypasta stories on the internet. But the following, oh god, the following is absolutely true.
Please do not ever think that The Chamógelo is fake.
I was a journalist in my early twenties, still am to this day. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and thought that well, my life was going to be pretty decent.
I had my career goal just ahead of me and felt comfortable financially with my new job. It was nice; plus I got to see the world for what it was, not the prettied up shit that I wrote in the newspaper. But anyway, journalism brought me anywhere I wanted around the world. Of course, I had to get through all of the ranks to be able to travel first; but as soon as I was allowed to, it was like my dream had finally come true.
I never stayed in one country too long, and actually got to visit a majority of the world. I covered the stories that no one else would, went to the most upsetting countries and locations just to get the story from the people there, and not just copying what another journalist had written online. I soon became the go-to guy for questions about places, and the one they would always choose to send to the newest devastated country. It was taxing, I will admit, but it was my passion.
I don’t remember exactly when this was, but it was sometime in the late 2000s, let’s say 2009 just to give it an actual year. I know not remembering this may seem fake, but my memory from the early 2000s was so blurred because of this incident and I genuinely do not remember much from 2009-2012, so I just assume that such was because of what had happened.
I had just arrived back in New York from a long, excruciating “mission” to Cambodia; taking notes and interviews from the locals about the hauntings of the mysterious Koh Kor island. That was mainly what I did. Many people would classify my work to be that of a paranormal investigator, but I would have to disagree. I never actually believed in ghosts, ghouls or hauntings which was why I was a perfect candidate to send off to these locations. I wouldn’t just shit my pants and run home, no. I stayed for the amount of time given to me by the newspaper and came home when my welcome was finished. Half of the time my scoop didn’t even make it into the papers, but I always posted it online. The world was growing out of the newspaper anyway, so I quickly turned to online blogging and news outlets. But that’s not my point. I had just returned from Cambodia; excited for my break from the catastrophes in different countries, and the exhaustion that came along with jet-lag, exploration and just talking.
I stepped into my dusty house, alone and ready to sleep for an uninterrupted fifteen hours before my phone rang.
It was Micheal Lewis the head reporter, and my boss. We did the casual back and forth of my travels before Mr. Lewis decided to address the reason he called. From my memory; this is what he said:
“I was actually hoping to catch you at the airport, kid.” He started, but I didn’t reply in the second of silence in the air. He began again.
“So, listen. You’re familiar with Greece, right? I mean you’ve been there before and liked it enough, so I’m sending you back. We’ve heard reports of this bullshit hoax called the Smiler, or the Grinner or something up in Athens and we want you to check it out.” Micheal paused again, and this time I decided to speak up.
“Yeah, okay. Uh, listen, Mr. Lewis, I can’t function right now, can we push it until next week?” I assumed that was a pretty straightforward request. It wasn’t like he was the one running around from different countries and feeling all of the physical effects; now was he?
“Sure kid, does Tuesday work for ya?” I rolled my eyes. It was Sunday when he called.
“Yeah, sure,” I said in a monotonous tone before he and I said our goodbyes. I couldn’t even get a week?
Putting that aside though, I didn’t think about Greece for the next day and a half. I slept for as long as my body would physically let me, and when I woke up I began packing. Late on Monday, I received a plane ticket and quite a lot of greek currency in my mailbox; the standard protocol for my seedy boss, How he got the money? I never asked, I never wanted to. I just did what I was told. The more I think about it now, I can see that this whole thing was wrong. This was not how a corporation worked, I was basically an information mule for my company. Regardless of that though, I did my packing and was on the next plane to Greece.
Don’t get me wrong here, I love Greece. It is a beautiful, rich country with more history than the majority of Europe and the Americas combined. This place was my dream location; and I always wanted to retire into one of the beautiful, village-like homes on the coast; overlooking the seas. I always took the opportunity to visit any part of Greece, and always will. Still, to this day I make occasional visits there. I have ties in that country; so if I ever need a place to stay, I basically have a second family there.
And that was who I was going to meet with.
They were a nice family, I mean they *are* a nice family. The Johnsons were always the first to meet me in Greece, they still are, but what happened sort of put our relationship on hold. This was a very basic family, the Father, the Mother, and two lovely children who I have also decided not to gender. These four grew to be my very close friends. They always had an extra room for me, taught me almost all I know about Greece and genuinely cared for me as one of their own. I was in my early twenties when this story happened, so I was fairly new to travelling at that point and I believe that this was only my second location in the world; so this was the first time I was even meeting my “vacation family” as they called themselves. Oh, how I wish that was all this was; a vacation.
Anyway, we met up and I made my way to my semi-permanent AirBNB. The house was lovely, the family as well, and I genuinely didn’t even want to go on whatever this expedition was going to bring me to; because I was jetlagged, tired and at the time; being pampered by this caring family. I was living the dream, or so I was for about a day, and then I snapped back into reality and realized I had to go to the actual location of the “phenomena” and do my usual investigation or whatever it would be called.
A typical hunt for me included bringing a camera, and a notebook to the area I was supposed to visit; ask the locals about the legend and then go and try to seek it out for myself. Over twenty years of doing this job; I have yet to see anything as terrifying as what I came across that day.
I cannot stress this enough, please never go looking for the Chamógelo, the Grinner, or whatever the people near you call it. I am going to tell you my uncut, true story about this thing, this it, that cannot even be classified as a creature. I am not saying not to look for anything, but god, do not look for this fucking thing. You will absolutely regret it. I do.
So, instead of you going and risking your life to seek out the adrenaline rush that I got from this, I am just going to tell you exactly what happened, sparing no details. I have finally come to terms with what happened in Greece, and I am ready to tell my story. This is a completely true recount of my time in Pentili, Athens’ second highest mountain, and the most truly haunted place that I have ever visited.
So, I don’t recall the exact dates of this event. Like I said before, 2009. I was a twenty-two-year-old trying to get the adrenaline high of a lifetime. When I entered the journaling corporation; Micheal Lewis, my boss, was infatuated with the idea of a young person like me travelling the world as a skeptic and myth-busting creepy legends and stories. For the most part, I was never put into dangerous positions and would often just be sent to prisons, tunnels and asylums around the world, all of which were heavily maintained by the tourist companies that owned them. These were business schemes to drag in bored teenagers and curious adults to read the newspaper again; and though my stories only made it in half the time, I was having fun so why not just continue, right? This being one of my first expeditions, I was ecstatic. I got to climb a mountain with only myself, and the information I brought with me, which included everything I needed to know about the Greek wilderness, a safety guide on how to climb a mountain and of course, the urban legend I was to investigate.
This, unlike any of the other stories I had heard; was actually fascinating to me. The story went; “Εάν φτάσετε στο σπήλαιο Νταβίλη στο δεύτερο υψηλότερο ελληνικό βουνό και απαγγείλετε τη δεδομένη φράση, το Chamógelo θα κάνει μια σύντομη εμφάνιση που δεν θα ξεχάσει ποτέ.” which, in English, roughly translates to; “If you reach the Davelis cave on the second-highest Greek mountain and recite the given phrase, Chamógelo will make a short appearance that you will never forget.” Now, let me make this clear. I was so excited. I didn’t have all of my bearings but I figured I would be fine.
Also, another thing, I refuse to give anyone the phrase that I used. I do not want any readers going to try and find this thing for themselves, and am only disclosing this story because I feel that the world will not be as daft as it once was. But for precaution, the line I recited will not be found anywhere in this retelling.
After interviewing some of the older locals and the Johnsons about this creature, I was met with stories of terror and deformity beyond recognition. I was warned not to go to the cave, not even to step foot unto that cursed mountain; but I didn’t listen. No, I was far too excited now. Anything that caused the locals this much terror was something I needed to see and experience. I wish now that I had listened, and the Johnsons will forever judge me for what I did. But I was just a kid, I didn’t know how bad it could be. I am only writing this to warn you, no matter how fake, or silly this may sound it is more than true, please don’t take this warning for granted. Never visit that cave.
I went alone up the mountain. The kind tour guides of Greece gave me a very brief rundown at the bottom of the summit, before scurrying away to live their personal lives. I thought nothing of the agitations that the locals performed at the end of the trail or the fact that they nearly ran away from the beginning of the hill. No, I was simply too caught up in the fact that I would be getting the hike of a lifetime. This was my first mountain climbing experience and I was so excited to commit to it. Now, that was an understatement. Not even regarding the events that took place inside of the dreadful cave; I was on that mountain, just climbing to my destination for nearly four days.
The hike was treacherous. I was running low on food; my water supply had vanished by the end of day three, and I was quick to assume that my death was going to be slow and painful, not induced by the horror that awaited me in the cave. Fortunately, though, the guides had told me that once I reached the Davelis caves and recited the given phrase, my “Greatest wishes would be granted” and that a large feast would be waiting for me. I doubted it at the beginning of my trek, but the farther I climbed the more I believed such a thing, and by the end of day four I felt my mouth watering and anticipation heighten. The mountain was already playing tricks on me, but all I wanted in my delusional state was the rumoured meats and cheeses I would be met with upon reaching the cave. It was said that there was nothing in the world that could make a person happier. I would be smiling forever, they said.
By the end of my fourth day, I had reached the climax of my journey; the great cave that I was destined at the beginning of the trek to approach, and there it was. It was so easy to miss, only a tiny, manmade trail marked the commencement of the longer trail I had to take to get to the rumoured cave, but I noticed it right away. It was as if, in my haze, it was almost calling to me. My mouth began to salivate, my eyes were running as well. Think of it this way, this was the first time I had seen any signs of civilization in days. My stomach was beginning to eat itself by the middle of day three, and god now I know why people are quick to resort to cannibalism. It was a scary thought, yes but the way some of the preserved, but deceased hikers that I walked by were looking; it was almost too tempting. This mountain was playing tricks on me though, and I would not let it.
As I walked, no, as I crawled up the last little trail I would have to, I began hearing something. A sound that would never, ever leave my mind. In the far distance, there was a small giggle; just above the wind. I swore I heard it, and this was not just a hallucination caused by the lack of every basic necessity I needed at that point. That laugh caused a shiver to run up my spine so fast that I nearly fell down. I did keep going though; the mountain was not going to overcome me. I wouldn’t let it.
I could see it. The cave that everyone had told me about. The sound of the laughter only heightened as I neared the threshold of the Davelis Cave, but the smell of food and alcohol dragged me towards my destination. Before approaching I took a moment to stop and recite the passage, and as soon as I was done; I could smell steaks, porks, all of the meat imaginable as well as some vegetables and even a hint of a pie. The scent reminded me of what the gum that Violet from Willy Wonka, would have tasted like. This smell was excruciatingly delicious, and when I climbed up those steps, bearded and tattered, all I saw on the stone slab for a table, was the most delicious food I have ever seen in my life. The thought of how it got there, or why, didn’t even cross my mind. I had found the food I was promised, and though the main goal of this expedition was more vital than a three-course meal, I didn’t stop myself from starting to eat. The more I ate, the more laughter I could hear and the louder it became. It was not a nice laugh, not a welcoming one either. No, it was the laugh of someone, something who was in all ways insane. I personally had never heard anything like it. Not even the iconic Joker’s laugh could have compared to the maniacal tone within this gutted, loud howling that ricocheted off of the walls surrounding me in the cave. But, I ignored it and continued eating.
Until I was full, the laughter did not stop me from gorging myself with as much food as possible, and when I truly could not eat a single bite more, I began what I came here to do. Unbunk the myth regarding The Chamógelo.
This laugh, I can remember, was becoming so deafening. My head began to pound as I looked through this enormous cave structure to see what, or who I could find. Normally, this would have freaked me out, but after being stranded alone on a terribly cold mountain, I wanted to meet this person. To interview them. They must have been there, right? I mean, maybe whoever it was was in the same situation as me. They came to investigate the mystery and stayed for the beautiful food left on the table by the force unknown. Or perhaps, they were the chef who made all of the delicious food for me.
Whoever they were, I wanted to know more about them. The booming laughter was everywhere now, and it did not sound happy in any way. But I kept on. I recall having spent nearly four or five hours in the cave before finding the person I was looking for; five hours of feeling so full I could be sick, so cold I could fall over at any moment and my head was so sore from this laughter that I nearly turned back. And that was when it got me. As soon as I felt too weak to continue myself, the room I entered next was the room that I had been looking for. This was the room of The Chamógelo, and I had just found it.
Please, if you are already convinced not to go to these fucking caves; stop reading. If not though, please continue because if this doesn’t change your mind maybe you deserve to be its next victim.
What was once likely a very beautiful young woman, was now nothing more than a terrifying husk. The body of whatever this thing was, was elongated, and a terrible austere colour that I hope never to see again. Its naked body was that of a woman’s, but the figure on this creature was completely gone.
Her, no, its breasts had for some reason been torn off and discarded somewhere in the rotten-smelling room, and the hands of this creature were fingerless; but bound tightly with blades protruding from the nooks in its knuckles. I can only assume what was done with those rusty, blood-crusted blades, but frankly, that was when I wanted to leave. I know, I was naive and stubborn but usually, these things were put in places like this to scare away tourists and keep the story going. I knew this thing was not fake. I knew when I saw its terrible face. A face that could not have been replicated by anyone in fear of death just from the sight.
The eyes were hollowed out, and just two black masses with the decaying sclera still drooping from the empty sockets. The nose, well there was no nose at all. It had looked like this creature was made without such a feature and it was disturbing to look at. But the mouth, that fucking mouth still haunts my dreams every night. There was already nothing natural about this moaning, laughing creature, but that mouth is going to haunt me forever. When someone says that one has a smile to both of there ears; that would be an understatement for this thing. Its mouth was pinned to the side of its head by what I can only describe as medieval safety pins. There were no lips, just a giant crater in its face pinned up to appear to be smiling. The skin around this makeshift mouth was creased, bloodied and rotted making me have to assume that this was made to appear like this. Maybe it did it to itself, or maybe The Chamógelo had a maker once upon a time. Whatever it was, that mouth was not something that a human could have done to itself so I do not know, or even want to know how it got there. Inside of this crevice were rows of sharpened teeth, skin fragments and bones stuck between each tooth; and I can safely say that none of these were without bloodstains.
That was all I allowed myself to take in, before turning around and running back out. But it saw me. It saw me and chased me on those legs that I could only have assumed would have broken under the strain. I had more than three hours to run out of this building, or at least I thought I did, but when I rounded the corner I saw the table where I had my feast. It was impossible, but so was the existence of the creature, so I did not question it.
On the table, where I assumed to be the remnants of a great meal, were nothing but rotting bones and decaying human flesh. I looked down at my hands and saw that the rib sauce and dressings that I thought I had caked onto my fingers, was actually a dried red crimson colour. It was blood.
I had eaten humans.
I started to yell and sob but forgot that I had to escape. This creature was still behind me and was catching up very quickly. Before I had time to start running to that door, that door that was not even two metres away, I fell, and The Chamógelo landed on top of me.
I thought this was going to be my death, and sometimes I wish it was. I assumed that I was going to end up on the table of meat and death; just like the humans I had eaten when I arrived. The creature loomed over me, its mouth or whatever that could be called was writhing, it was attempting to smile; even with its permanent grin already attached. The creature pinned me down and stared at me. Regardless of having no eyes in its sockets, it was staring right at me. Drool began to fall from its hole onto my face and chest, but my consciousness was wavering, and soon I felt nothing. The monster towering over me was the last thing I saw, that fucking laughter was the last thing I heard, and when I woke up I was met by the locals I had seen the week before; screaming and yelling for help.
According to the Johnson family, I had come back six days after I left. That meant that this creature kept me in its lair for two more days than I had arrived, and I have no recollection of any of it. They also said that when I came down, the locals had apparently heard laughter coming from up the trail, but no sign of anyone; even with an extensive search.
You’re probably wondering why it didn’t kill me, and I honestly wish I could answer that for you. Frankly, I believe my life would have been easier if it just had.
After the ordeal at the mountain, the Johnsons took me back into their arms; though disappointed in me for not believing them. They healed and nurtured me until Micheal Lewis arrived later in the next week to aid me home.
I will never forget the face of that man when he saw me again. He looked scared, scared of me.
The creature had mutilated me in the cave. I was not in any pain when I woke up, but I still cannot look into a mirror without hearing the sound of that insanity-inducing laughter. I am writing this, sitting in my office with the screen on my computer as bright as it can be; as to avoid catching a glimpse of my face. The face that I used to love, the face that picked up so many attractive partners through the years. I still wish I had listened to everyone’s stories closely, and I wish that I could have taken back my naivety and childishness before trekking up that cursed mountain and doing this to myself.
Please do not go and try to find The Chamógelo in Greece. The creature might not spare your life as it did mine. I cannot have anyone else meeting the same fate as the table of human decay, or the fact that I cannot even look at myself without remembering that terrible time. I wish you the best of luck if you are a traveller, and I do hope you go and solve some myths out there, but if you ever hear a story about The Chamógelo, The Grinner, or any other variation of such; do not investigate. It could cost you your life. Or your sanity. I still hear that distant laughter every time I shut my eyes.