Hi, my name is John. What I'm about to tell you is the culmination of months of research. Research that I will not be continuing past posting it here. In fact, once it's posted, I'd be happy to never hear of it again, I just thought that there may be a few of you out there who would get some sort of cheap thrill out of it I suppose.
Where do I begin? Well, a few months ago I finished university and moved to the North of England to live with my partner. Her family lives up here and there were plenty of job opportunities so I thought nothing of it, my own family living in the East of England. I like to think of myself as a history buff, so once we'd moved into our new home, I started to do a little research about the local area. It's always something I've done whenever I've moved in the past, as it often means that you can understand the local area and the people who live in it a lot more.
During my studies, I came across numerous death records that had the same cause of death: mine collapse. Again, I thought nothing of it as this is the North of England, mining was the main industry here, a notoriously dangerous industry that claimed the lives of so many men, young and old, in times past. What was a little gruesome however was the discovery I made next. Whenever someone was caught in a mine collapse, their bodies were never recovered. It was deemed a waste of work time to retrieve the bodies of men who were almost certainly dead, so the foremen and mine owners would not allow it.
The logic of this, though deplorable by modern standards, could almost be argued as reasonable if it was not for the personal collected accounts of some of the ex miners from years later. They recall events like this happening all the time. They would beg to be able to retrieve the bodies, but to no avail. The men were already dead, what would be the point. However, this was not always the case. Many men were simply trapped by the mine collapses or just injured. Still, the 'surviving' men were not allowed to dig them out. Some tried and were fired instantly for 'lazing on the job'. As the remaining men dug deeper into the mines they were working on, some swear they could hear the muffled cries of the men they had been forced to leave to die. They would leave the pits at the end of the day and have to look the wives and children of these men in the face and lie to them, telling them their loved ones had perished, but always knowing the truth, that they had left them to die for fear of their own jobs.
Upon reading this information, I couldn't help but feel that this was all a little far fetched. I would consider myself a highly rational person, and the idea that less than a century ago this kind of thing was allowed to happen, seemed highly unlikely to me, and was likely just a collection of horror stories that the downtrodden miners would tell each other in their mutual hatred of the men who were sending them down the mines for little pay whilst reaping the rewards of their hard graft. Certainly I knew that the parts of the stories about the mine collapses were true, the records were there for all to see, but leaving a poor trapped soul to their fate in the name of profit? No, I refused to believe that the miners would not have made every effort to retrieve the men who survived, job be damned.
That was until the next bit of information I received. Many of the mines in the North are now museums, that keep the heritage of the local area alive and give brief snippets as to what life was like up here when the mines were operational. A friend of the family works at one of these museums as a guide, and he very helpfully agreed to help me out with my research, sending me little interesting bits of information. I met with him at the museum and told him about the stories I had heard, hoping for a discussion about how absurd it all was. All I received was silence in return. He slowly got up and walked away from me into a section of the museum marked staff only. I waited for a good five minutes but there was no sign of him. Presuming that I had somehow offended him, I asked another member of staff if he could go and fetch him for me so that I could apologize. A couple of minutes later he returned explaining that my friend had gone home for day as he was 'feeling ill'.
I was quite upset at this, as the last thing I had wanted to do was offend anyone with the information I had found, so I drove over to his house to try and explain myself and reconcile. His partner answered the door, and upon my asking for him told me exactly the same thing, that he was 'feeling ill' and had gone to bed. Deciding it was probably best not to disturb him, I headed home, deeply perturbed by what had happened.
When I eventually got home, I discovered an untitled email from my friend sitting waiting for me in my account. There was a file attached entitled 'CROCKHOPE MINE EXCAVATION REPORT'. He had written in the email:
'This is a classified document, read it and then delete it from your laptop. Or better yet, don't read it at all and just delete this email. I'm not sure you'll like what you read. In any case, start from page 23.'
It seemed odd to me that I was being warned not to read a simple archaeological report but nonetheless, there was clearly important information in here for it to be classified in such a way. It did make me wonder though, why would there be classified information files in a museum? And why did they make my friend react in such a bizarre way? I forced myself to think about whether this was too much, whether I had probed too far for what was supposed to be just a passing interest. But then again, I hadn't asked for this information, or indeed even tried to seek it out, so what harm was there in reading it?
After deliberating this for a while, I decided to go ahead and read it. I opened the file to find a 57 page report on the findings and procedures involved in the excavation of the mine in 1995, prior to it's conversion into a museum in 2001. As instructed I scrolled to page 23 and began to read. The report stated that, as expected, they had recovered a number of human remains. What was deemed unusual however was a number of strange marks found on the bones and whatever remaining flesh of the corpses. The report then stated that it was believed that these marks were caused by an animal or collection of animals of some description that had found the miners bodies long after they had died and feasted on their corpses.
This was about as much information as I wanted to read. I understood now why my friend had gone so pale and immediately left when I brought up the subject in the first place and I also understood why this information was classified. These poor souls had been left to die and their remains had been devoured by random animals. Not exactly what you want plastered on the walls of a museum is it?
I was ready to delete the file when I noticed something odd. The file had 57 pages according to the computer's page counter and yet the contents of the book only went up to 56. So what was on the extra page? I quickly scrolled down to find an image of a page scanned from an autopsy report. As it turned out it was an autopsy report of the bones collected from the mine. My initial conclusion was that they must have done further investigations into the identities of these poor men. I was partially right.
As I read the report I quickly started to realize the awful truth. Findings had shown that the mysterious marks on the bones were made by human teeth. The marks had been cross referenced with each of the skulls retrieved, and it had been found that one by one, the men had turned to cannibalism to stay alive, some of the bones having more than one individual set of teeth marks on them, suggesting that the miners in their desperation had turned on one of their brethren for nourishment.
I couldn't read any more. Out of a sheer sense of both sickening horror and overwhelming pity, I couldn't bring myself to read any more of the report. These files weren't just classified in order to stop the museum from looking bad, but to protect the families memories of the miners who had perished. After all, who wants to know that their grandfather ate his friends?