If you live in Bakersfield, California, then you should know three important things:

1) Stay out of the river

2) Stay out of the tunnels

3) Don’t trifle with the Lords of Bakersfield

In 2003, you could hardly swing a dead cat around here without hitting some local who had something to say about the Lords. This was because of the murder of a member of the aforementioned group. (I will simply call him T., since I’d like to avoid legal issues.) I was only six at the time, so most of what I learned about it was as an adult, years after. The investigation led to revelations that residents of Kern County basically already knew; the Lords of Bakersfield was a group of wealthy, influential Bakersfieldians who used their connections to get away with the rape of teenage boys, and to cover up the murders sometimes committed by those teenage boys. The group supposedly dates back to the 60s or 70s, but older residents swore that they were just a continuation of the White Orchid Society which was already notorious in the 1950s.

The investigation of T.’s death was said to put an end to the Lords, but I don’t think it did. I’ll tell you why.

Toward the start of my sophomore year at the state university in the city, posters with the eye of providence started showing up all over town, reading “REFUSE NOW” right underneath. I later found out that if you slap a .com at the end, you’re taken to a rather underwhelming and mediocre website, but that’s not incredibly relevant. I found these posters slightly creepy, and I love creepy shit, so I vowed that I’d figure out what was up with them over the winter break.

As winter rolled in, trees lost their leaves, and I began to feel the classic Bakersfield-in-winter chill. You know, the kind where you freeze your ass off, but because you live in a valley, it never actually snows? Anyway, determined to get to the bottom of these posters, I started recording their locations. I figured that maybe, if I could find a dense cluster of posters, I could extrapolate the where Mr.-Refuse-Now was based.

I found that most of the posters were clustered around the old San Joaquin Cotton Oil Company. It’s a historic site in the industrial part of town which is mostly collapsed at this point. Two large semi-cylindrical seed warehouses still stand, as well as a boarded-up front office, but everything else is gone, leaving wood and concrete supports behind. The local gangs in the area cut a hole in the fence surrounding the property so they could tag the place up, so access was simple.

It was midday in December when I passed through that chain link fence, and an eerie silence filled the air. I expected to hear cars from the nearby street, or gang members and/or teenagers milling about in the warehouses, but it seemed no one was driving today and looked as if no one had stepped in the structures for years.

When I stepped inside the warehouse, the first thing I noticed is footprints in the otherwise undisturbed dust. They trailed off into a dark stairwell which terminated at an old wooden door. Flickering light, as if from a flame, shined out the edges of the door. But there was no way I’d charge in there without knowing what I was getting into, so I left to return the next day, after I’d done some research.

I spent a few hours reading old issues of the Bakersfield Californian (as well as a couple of smaller defunct newspapers) on microfiche in the university library. I found out that, in the 1950s, a string of disappearances of teenage boys occurred in that area. I also found a partial map of some of the illegal basements (historically used as opium dens) in the area – to my expectation, there was a basement right underneath that warehouse.

The next day I brought a flashlight and a pocketknife with which to search the warehouse. I would’ve brought another person along too, but my only options were my girlfriend, who’s terrified of this kind of stuff, or my jerkass British friend from the university whom I really didn’t want to deal with right now. He’d spend the entire time being loud and annoying and I felt this required discretion.

I was met with the same unnerving silence as I passed into the warehouse, which only grew more oppressive as I descended the staircase. As I reached the bottom, I drew my knife and flung open the door in one swift motion. Suddenly, the flickering orange light dissipated all at once with the scent of smoke hanging in the air. I pulled out my flashlight and scanned the room with it. The source of the light was hundreds of candles all around the room. At the center laid a perfect circle with strange markings in it.

And then I noticed it. Blood. All over the edges of the circle, but somehow nothing within the boundary. Dumbstruck and terrified, I continued to scan the room, and noticed a long tunnel. The darkness in the tunnel was almost a mass – as if it were full of a thick ooze. Shining my flashlight down the tunnel did next to nothing. Despite this, I proceeded forward.

The tunnel felt like it went on forever with no discernible features or distinguishing marks of any kind. It was just darkness, choking out my flashlight and preventing me from having any idea how far I travelled. After what must have been an hour, I somehow ended up popping out of the forest right by the bluffs. And by the Kern River. I saw a black-cloaked figure dropping what appeared to be a body into the river. My emergence from the forest must have come as a shock, because when he turned to see me, his face contorted into an unusual scowl. Then I suddenly felt the sharp pain of cold steel against the back of my head.

I awoke several hours later in a daze. As I scrambled to my feet, I searched for any sign of the robed man, but there was nothing. I looked at my watch. 7:00PM. I had been unconscious for eight hours, somehow. A chill wind howled up the ridges of the bluffs as I took my phone out and called the police. They took my report and assured me everything would be okay, but I still felt uneasy. The whole way home, all I could hear was the howl of the wind.

I never found Mr.-Refuse-Now, nor did I figure out what was really going on with the posters. Most of them have been torn down at this point. When I returned to the San Joaquin Cotton Oil warehouse, the entire basement area had been filled with concrete, and the building was in even worse repair than the first time I visited. All that was left was the lonely howl of the bluffs, rushing through the corrugated tin. And I found out that a number of photos on my phone had been deleted.

There would be no reason for me to believe any of this had to do with the Lords of Bakersfield (or for that matter, even bother recalling they existed,) except that for months after the fact, there was nothing on the news. No investigation. No police presence. No crime scene. Not even a missing person’s report. It could’ve been a coincidence, until today. I received an envelope with no return address, bearing an eye of providence printed on the front. I opened the letter and looked inside.

A white orchid.

Written by AlixeTiir
Content is available under CC BY-SA
Originally posted on reddit's r/nosleep

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