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I visit a bed and breakfast in Bath County, Virginia around the same time every year. This little hotel I stay at is roughly a twenty-five minute drive away from Clifton Forge. Several years back, I went with my cousins into Clifton Forge for some particular reason. I believe it was to pick up some tools from the local hardware store. While exploring the town, I found a strange tunnel that sat on the side of the road right across from a gas station. My curiosity was at an all time high, and I convinced one of my cousins to explore it with me. Unfortunately, my other cousin was too afraid and miserable because of the heat to do anything. I reluctantly decided not to do any exploring in the tunnel and made plans to return on a later date.
My Experience: This past year, I returned to Clifton Forge with my cousins with the sole intention of exploring the town. I used the excuse of Geocaching to go into Clifton Forge, and my cousins willingly took the bait. Eventually, we stumbled across the old tunnel once more. I urged my cousins to go in and they agreed they would do so if we returned with the proper safety equipment.
I needed to know more about the tunnel. I went into the gas station across the street and asked one of the clerks at the register.
"What's the gated tunnel across the street?"
The woman was very old and appeared to be dead on the inside. She said nothing. She was of no help. I felt that everyone in town was going to act this way. A majority of the people in town were old and far too apathetic when it came to anything at all. This led me to believe that no one would really care if we entered the tunnel. It was an incredibly stupid thought, but I was desperate and I needed to get into the tunnel.My cousins and I left the car in the gas station parking lot and made our way across the street. I looked around the entrance, hoping for a way down the stairs and into whatever lay beneath our feets. I discovered an incredibly poor design flaw in the security of the tunnel entrance. It was most likely build in the 1940s, so I am led to believe it was something of a Cold War-paranoia-madness induced mistake. The outer walls of the passage cut off around the handrail going all the way down until the ground swallowed up the tunnel. This allowed us to just walk around the side and climb under.
Once inside, I started running down the stairs. until I was close to the bottom. I realized I had to wait for my cousins to finish getting through and walking down the stairs. I looked up to see that one of my cousins, Jack, was having some issues climbing down. There were a lot of slippery leaves and some piles of rocks in the way. (I had my issues getting through the mess, but my excitment blinded my sense of caution.) Jack stepped on some sort of old, brick wall and slipped and fell. The bricks fell with him and scraped his leg up pretty badly. I ran back up to see if he was all right. My other cousin, Sarah, almost had the same exact issue so Jack and I had to help her down.
Once we were all in, we took a look at Jack's leg. There was some blood, but it was mostly mud and some scratches. Jack shrugged it off and I urged us all to keep moving forward.Once we reached the bottom of the stairwell, cold air rushed up against our bodies. There was a smell of decay about the space as well. I figured some raccoon died nearby. I didn't think that anything terrifying may lay further down the tunnel.
On the left, was a small hallway that led into an entry room for an elevator that went up to ground level. There was a mirror on the wall for some reason and an old sign that read: "Danger: Men Working on Elevator". The elevator doors were welded shut and there was nothing else to see in the area.
Looking down the tunnel was haunting. It was just an empty black void that seemed to go on and on. What was this place? Was this going to lead to an abandoned bomb shelter? Was it a system of maintenance tunnels that run underneath the city? I couldn't help myself but get excited. Old rusted pipes lined the right side of the wall and went on forever. There were puddles from leaks in the pipes here and there, but it wasn't anything too bad.
We started down the passageway with our flashlights and wavering sanity. We walked for what must have been thirty minutes before the ambience began to change. The sound of running water was growing closer, and I suddenly thought we found the entrance to an underground lake of sorts. As we approached the end of the tunnel, we found ourselves in a large industrial cave. There was a large creek that split the area in two. A makeshift bridge had been formed with a wooden plank. We were not the first people to have done this. That reassured me that everything was going to be okay as there were no corpses laying around. (My morbid sense of humor and common sense do not function well together.)The place was huge. It must have gone a quarter of a mile in each direction. We weren't exactly sure where we should start. There were the exterior walls of an old building to our right, directly across the creek. After a surprisingly simple cross, Jack, Sarah, and I were facing what seemed to be some type of warehouse built in the early 20th century. There was a doorway, door missing, right in front of us. Jack and Sarah were terrified almost immediately. I decided it would be fun to peer inside. There wasn't anything of particular interest. It was an old storage cellar that somehow became filled with incredibly old washing machines. There were at least twenty of them, all tossed and thrown about the room like someone didn't know what to do with them so they just threw the trash into the portal to Hell in their company basement.
There seemed to be a few other entrances to other rooms within the cellar, but the path was blocked by the piles of washing machines and mounds of dirt.
"If you go in there, Zach, I'm leaving and not coming back for you." Jack told me.
I considered begging him and Sarah to enter the cellar, but I decided it simply wasn't worth my time. To our left, however, was something that heavily intrigued me. A stone ramp led up to a doorway that had been sealed off. The doorway was completely filled with cinderblocks, except that someone had broken a hole and knocked half of them out. I peered inside this hole to see what the surroundings were. A huge wave of hot air blew back. The area inside was twice as large as the industrial cavern. It was a massive tunnel that seemed to go on for miles. I pulled my head back and looked at my cousins, ignoring the fact that the cinderblocks lay around my feet on the outside of the tunnel and not the inside.Sarah raised her eyebrows and Jack titled his head with some doubt. It was so big and there were tons of other areas to explore. We all agreed that it would be best to explore that space last. We looked off to the left of the ramp and saw there was a walkway about ten feet above our heads. It lead to an old metal ladder that went up to somewhere. There were also a set of metal stairs that ran down to a lower walkway behind it. Something about this area intrigued me as well.
I jumped from the stone ramp and made my way around the platform that the ramp led up too. There was an old tree that had been knocked over at one point or another laying across the river, and directly below the walkway. I thought that maybe if I climbed on top of the tree, I would be able to see a possible entrance to the walkway and whatever lay beyond.
I began to climb the tree. I put one foot on the massive trunk and a hand on the stone pillar the tree lay next to. As I pulled my other foot up to gain balance, I realized my view was no better than it was before. I decided the next step would be to climb onto the stone pillar. As I prepared to do this, another hot rush of air flew and hit me. Then I felt a sharp tug on the back of my shirt. I fell back and landed in the dirt below me. I got up to see what the hell the big deal was. Jack and Sarah were just staring at me like I was an idiot.
"Why the hell did you pull me down?" I asked.Sarah's eyes widened. "We didn't."
Jack looked at me. "I was taking pictures if you don't believe us. I took one as you fell." Jack handed me his phone. I looked at the photo. There was nothing there except me and gravity. It didn't make any sense. The whole concept of some sort of darker energy being in the cavern with us gave me chills and I decided it was best if we didn't try to explore the walkway.We decided it was time to leave, except for the last stop. We needed to explore the sweltering tunnel. We walked back up towards the ramp and the doorway. I decided to go in first. I looked in and around, shining my flashlight, hoping that I would catch something that gave me a clue of which way to go. There was nothing. It was so vast that my light eventually stopped reaching sections of the room. I turned on my flash on my camera and that yielded nothing. It was whited out, but I could see the other side of the room, partially.
There was a sheet of plywood leading from the doorway to the floor. It was about a seven foot drop. I slid down the plywood and told my cousins to wait. I wanted to make sure everything was safe and okay. That's when I suddenly got what I will remember to be the worst feeling I have ever had in my entire life. Alarm bells were ringing left and right in my head. I looked over towards the edge of the tunnel, and I could see that one side of it was L-shaped. It came out a little, then turned and kept going. Right in the corner of that "L" was something. I could barely see it even with the light. I couldn't tell if it was just a shadow or trash, but then I felt it look at me. I was able to discern its shape. It was definitely humanoid, but it was crouching. Whatever it was, it couldn't have been human. It simply felt too evil. The only other detail I remember was that it seemed to be covered in a skin tight material that looked like a black trashbag. It was shiny, tight, and slimy in appearance.
I quickly thought back to my night terrors as a child where I would be chased by strange, slimy black beings in what seemed to be a white world. I panicked. I told Sarah and Jack to not come down into the tunnel at all. I started to run up to the plywood. I stepped on it and it slipped down the wall. I placed it up once more and it continued to slip. I didn't want to look back at whatever was in the corner, but I was terrfied that it was moving towards me. I jumped up and grabbed the ledge. Jack and Sarah reached over and helped pull me up. I climbed out of the doorway as fast as I could and I looked at Sarah and Jack.
"We need to leave. Now."
We all ran across the creek, not caring if our shoes got soaked, and ran towards the maintenance tunnel. I never ran faster in my entire life. Once we got to the entrance, and we could see the daylight, I felt a sense of relief. I could still feel a sense of dread and terror behind me, but I assured myself that it was merely a combination of my adrenaline and fear. And fortunately, it was.
Upon reaching the real world once more, I needed to know what the hell we just experienced. Further research into Clifton Forge revealed that the entire town was built about fifty feet above ground level, due to the creek that ran through the town. This was to prevent flooding whenever the creek rose too high. Everything started to make a little bit more sense. I believe that the "entrance" was indeed a maintenance tunnel. The strange, hot tunnel, or "Hellmouth" as I like to call it probably ran under the main street, which went straight through the town for about five miles.
As to why there were old buildings underneath the town is beyond me. I'm sure they were simply structures that would have been too much of a hassle to destroy when building "Clifton Forge Underground".
The energy I felt down there was incredibly evil. I'm surprised I didn't even realize it until I resurfaced. Perhaps that is what evil really does. It tricks you, it doesn't let you know it's there until it wants to scare you. It wants to feed off of fear. It certainly succeeded in that, but whatever it wanted to do after, I'm glad I didn't stick around to find out.
Here are some additional photos of our journey to "Clifton Forge Underground":
Written by Zach Zeman
aka The Hooded Werewolf