To say the least, the town I grew up in was unconventional.
To say the most, I’m surprised I didn’t die due to everything that happened in the sixteen years I made that small, sleepy town my home.
Weeping Falls, Washington was maybe four hours away from Snoqualmie, another relatively small town nestled within the Cascade Mountain Range. The town was established in 1867 by Silas Parmele, who was inspired by the startup of Snoqualmie to create his own paradise nestled in the lush mountains. Though there were reported gang hideouts in the forest surrounding the settled area, that did not deter him. The town boomed in the early 1910s when logging took off and became the town's biggest source of income. Weeping Falls established a small logging camp on the outskirts of town which kept everything running smoothly. The name of the town, however, came from tragedy rather than joy. Silas Parmele had a wife, Agatha Parmele, and a son, Hugo, who settled with him. One day, while the man of the house was writing friends to invite them to the town and Agatha was resting, Hugo stole away out the back door of their cabin and escaped into the forest to play. From what the accounts from the event say, Silas went looking for the boy once he figured out he was gone and discovered a sight no parent should ever see.
Hugo was found face down in a pond that was being fed by two waterfalls that cascaded noisily down from caves in a tall rock face that rose high over the water. The name Weeping Falls came from a mix of the anguish Silas felt finding his dead son, and the fact that the waterfalls feeding the lake looked like tears. The Parmeles eventually laid their son to rest in the same pond he was discovered in.
And thus, Weeping Falls, Washington was truly born.
I lived in that town my whole life, basically. And I felt I was the only one who found the history unsettling, as the teachers in all the schools I attended treated it normally, like the mysterious death of a child was an everyday thing that occurred in rural Washington back then.
The town, in general, was weird. Everything was shrouded in this faint, freezing mist that came out every morning at six and went away around eight a.m, even when it was perfectly sunny outside. There seemed to be an unspoken rule that you didn’t go into the thick woods surrounding Weeping Falls, even though there was no danger anybody knew about in there except for wild animals, but those were commonplace enough; people knew how to protect themselves.
So why did we stay out?
I hated Weeping Falls from the moment I could comprehend how weird it and the people that lived there were, and that was around age ten. The thing that set me on edge was when the Town Triplets disappeared.
The three kids, Alyssa, Beatrice, and Callie were some of the sweeter kids in town, and we were good friends until they vanished. The manhunt had been massive as everybody in town combed the woods for them all.
The only thing that was reported being found was Beatrice's dress and shoes folded neatly by Weeping Falls Pond. And even though the lake was combed extensively with no evidence of them being in there, it was presumed the Town Triplets had drowned in Weeping Falls Pond.
That was until they all came back.
The sheriff was patrolling the outskirts of the woods one final time before the search was to be called off after only three weeks, and he discovered the girls huddled together at the base of a giant tree under Alyssa's’ jacket, all sopping wet like they’d been swimming. The town had little to no reaction to the news that the girls had been found, except for an announcement from the mayor to let everyone know they were safe. Then back to normal. But there had been whispers that after taking the girls statements, the officer in charge of interviewing them came out of the interrogation room tight lipped and white in the face, muttering something along the lines of "That damned hell of a pond."
Throughout middle, and eventually high school, everything was calm and normal. Almost like a movie where nearly everything was perfect. Yet nobody addressed the fact that the Town Triplets were petrified of the school pool, and refused to get in or near the water. Nobody cared enough to ask why.
Except me. Either out of stupid curiosity or concern for my former friends, I approached and asked Callie about why she and the other two were scared of the water. She smiled wearily at me and whispered, “because we’ll be taken down, Ida. We’ll be taken down.”
That was all the explanation I received from her or the others because they were all gone in the morning. Not vanished again, but dead. The news reported that the girls had been found in Beatrice's room with slashed wrists and a singular note that read, “We could not take it.”
Could not take what? The report left me with more questions than answers.
And I desperately wanted answers. Answers about why they killed themselves. Answers on why nobody seemed to care except me and the girls' parents, who stood outside the home with sad eyes watching the paramedics wheel out the bodies of their home. Answers on what the hell was going on here.
I got my answers soon enough.
I crept out of the house early one morning, being careful not to wake my aunt as I slipped downstairs and out the door wrapped in a heavy hoodie and scarf to fight the chill of the mist, which had just settled. They only seemed disturbed after they'd gone missing and came back. So I assumed something had happened while out in the woods.
To the woods, I went.
The tight, claustrophobic feel of the trees and various vegetation pushing in around me certainly gave off atmosphere as I trekked through the thick trunks, dead leaves crunching noisily under my boots being the only sound around at that point as there were no birds chirping.
They'd found Beatrice's clothes by the pond, and the girls had been reported to be wet after being found, so something must have happened at the pond to induce such fear of water, what else could have happened?
I found Weeping Falls pond and the clearing around it soon enough as I'd been following the ever increasing sound of running water from the falls to reach my destination. besides the water cascading into the face of the pond, the water was oddly calm, small waves emanating from where the waterfall made contact.
It was quiet as I approached the water and sat on the edge of the pond cross-legged, listening for any sound and watching for every movement that occurred around the water.
It was quiet as I leaned over the water when noticing something moving near the bottom of the water, slowly making its way to the surface, myself beginning to back away from the edge.
It was quiet when the skeletal hand shot noiselessly out of the water to clasp itself around my throat, fingers digging dangerously deep into each side of my neck as I clawed at it, breath struggling to get to my lungs as it used me to pull itself partially out of the water.
It was quiet when it stared me in the eye, its own eyes close to popping out of its nearly fully exposed skull. the rotted teeth grinning helplessly at me while I tried to squeeze in some air while it began dragging me closer to the edge to pull me in the water.
It pulled me into the water fully with a noisy splash, keeping a grip on my neck. The deformed, barely human looking cadaver seemed to take delight in my struggle as it pulled me down deeper.
Near the bottom of the pool, there were tons of human remains and bodies floating in the murky water. they looked as if they were standing straight up, hands raised above their heads and mouths gaping in a wordless scream. Like a human version of the forest above my head.
I now understood what had so traumatized the Town Triplets so when the underwater human forest contorted any way they could to stare at me. Their arms seemed to elongate as the 'trees' bent to grab at me, running their coarse, sandpaper like hands up to me until I could no longer breathe due to the hand clasped around my neck.
I awoke with a start in a clean, crisp hospital room, my aunt hovering over me while a nurse scribbled something down on a clipboard at the end of the hospital bed.
"Aunt Louise?" I sat up as much as I could due to the tight wrap that had been placed around my lower torso, "What happened? How did I get here? I was in the lake, and-"
"You were found by Thomas, he runs the corner store," my aunt cut my story off abruptly to answer my previous question, "he said he was out on one of his morning walks when he found you floating face down in Weeping Falls Pond, so he pulled you out to check if you were breathing. You weren't, but he did find a pulse, so he drove you here." My aunt was getting choked up with each word she said.
"You've been in a comatose state for nearly four days, Miss Moore," the nurse chimed in, leaning on the edge of the bed in an overly-casual way in an environment such as this, "you've been saying some odd things in your state. Such as 'hands', 'weeping', and finally, 'breath.' Care to explain those?" I felt my face fall at the mention of those words, the agonizingly twisted faces of those missing at the bottom of the pond filling my mind.
"No. There's nothing to explain, ma'am."
I kept my mouth shut like everyone else in Weeping Falls, Washington.
I kept it shut.