Below is a Recollection–this is not a review, but rather a full spoiler walkthrough of the author’s experience in The Parallel/Heretic’s V A N II S H Part Five. This experience spanned three distinct nights and two separate DEATH experiences. As each experience is separate and distinct, they will be split into individual Recollections. Please read Part One, Part Two (Death), Part Three, and Part Four (Death) to read the narrative thus far–as this is the final chapter. In this experience, we are asked to meet with a girl two hours from Los Angeles, deep in the desert.
Two hours out from Los Angeles. I drive with the girl from night one. The city lights fade into darkness. The highway ends, and we find ourselves on a small two-lane road. That road twists and turns as we navigate through the mountains and arrive in the high desert. City lights are no longer seen—darkness stretches out before us. The comforts of civilization bleed away and are replaced with anxiety and fear.
We exit a road, entering a small city. Run down houses and barren trees line both sides of the street. The area is bleak and dead. We turn down a small dirt road and arrive at a small state park. We park next to a white car. We park, and I am instructed to enter the white car.
“I’m so glad you’re here! Thank you for agreeing to do this. God, you’re so beautiful.”
It’s the girl from the hotel, the girl from the school, the girl from my death. She strokes my face, dropped her hand into mine.
“She’s a fucking lying bitch. Bash her brains in and save yourself. You know you’re going to die out there.”
The Australian man sits in the back seat, smoking a cigarette, warning me of the dangers to come.
It is clear they cannot see or hear each other. But they both continue to speak to me—one loving and supportive, the other angry and cautious. But when the girl asks me to join her for a walk, I follow her. Hand in hand, we walk through fallen leaves and dirt, through trees and fallen branches. We stop in a clearing.
“I’m so glad we’re doing this together. You mean so much to me. You are so beautiful. I love you.”
She rests her head against my chest, holding me tightly. “I’m going to look ahead, wait here.” I wait, bracing myself for what waits in the darkness. The wind picks up, and the branches all shake back and forth, giving off the feeling that people are all around me. But she returns, to me.
“You have a flashlight, right? Good. Follow me, but don’t follow too closely.”
And she takes off into the darkness. We come to a dark staircase with small stone slabs leading down. I light then with my flashlight and climb down, carefully planning each step. Another nature trail continues forward. We pass the burnt out shell of a car and reach a wooden boardwalk stretching out over a small wetland. Frogs croak in the distance. The girl asks me to sit and wait—I comply as she moves forward again. I keep my eyes forward and try to stay warm. She returns and we continue.
We walk for approximately two miles on the nature trail. The path forks and we take the left path. The girl tells me to pause one last time and goes forward. She returns and tells me this is it—it’s time for my initiation.
She runs ahead. I move past some reeds and see wooden stairs leading up to a small observation deck. Multiple figures dressed in all black are waiting for me. I turn off my flashlight and climb the few steps up. I reach the top and one of them charges at me. He tackles me, his shoulder driven right into my stomach—knocking the wind out of me.
I gasp for air as he raises me up and slams me into the wooden boards. Then pull me forward and grab my arm. Rolling my sleeve, they test out a knife, making small scratches on my arm. Goggles are placed over my eyes, drenching the world with darkness. I can make out general shapes, but everything is dark. They spread my fingers and tell me we’re going to play a game—they begin to slam the knife into the table, faster each time, moving in between my fingers. When they tire of this, I am pushed onto my stomach, and the knife is tested on my back—adding more cuts.
“You have a choice to make. The girl you came with; do you die or does she?”
“She does,” I respond with. She’ll enjoy it. I won’t.
Arms wrap around me and I am lifted and pulled back to a kneeling position. One of them approaches me and puts the sheath of the knife into my mouth—thrusting it deeper until I gag. Then they do it again. They place restraints over my hands. I hear two of them talking, whispering. They mention the girl I came with—but I can’t make out much more.
“We’re going to go on an adventure.”
One of them lifts me and begins to lead me down the steps carefully. I still cannot see, so I rely on him to guide me. We move down a different path that snakes back and forth. We climb past some large rocks and reach a second boardwalk. He tells me to wait, he’s heard something. I stand in the darkness while he leaves. He returns, suggesting that it was only the wind and we continue. We reach an area with seats and he sits me down—the wetlands to my back.
“Wait here and don’t move. I’ll either come back or I won’t—either way, you’re fucked.”
Frogs croak and the wind rattles everything around me. The night is cold, but my adrenaline is keeping me warm. I hear a branch break behind me—but that must be the wind too, right? I continue to wait, and another branch audibly snaps behind me. I hear some movement in the water—but no one would be in the water, right? I keep waiting, and I hear footsteps. The man returns, and asks me if I came alone. I tell him, “I didn’t; I came with a girl.” He seems confused, and tells me to keep waiting—and leaves once again. The wind rustles the barren branches and the wetland reeds. More movement—it’s not my imagination this time.
But nothing happens. The man returns, lifting me up and I follow him. I see a shape through my goggles—and he asks, “is this the man you came with?” The girl responds with a yes. And then he has us both follow him. We move up some stairs, and I hear a growl come from the wetlands—it’s closer, much closer. Our guide stops.
“One of you is going to die tonight.”
The girl is not restrained; she does not have goggles on me. So she pushes past me and begins to run. Our guide yells after her and tells her to slow down—we’re just taking a leisurely stroll after all. We continue together—I’m much slower due to my vision and restraints, but they both help with the uneven ground. We reach an area with lights and we avoid them. We travel down another path and our guide uses a flashlight to signal his group—but they don’t respond, so we turn back.
We move down a secondary path and he tells us we’re going to a house. We’ll go in through the back door and hang out in the kitchen. But when we do arrive—it’s not a house at all—but rather, a destroyed foundation; the remnants of what once was. But we move through the back door still and we sit in the kitchen. What he sees is clearly not reality.
Another man approaches. “You take him; I’ll take her,” our guide instructs him. The man grabs me, and we move down the path. “When you get to the tennis courts, make a left,” our guide yells after me and the other man. What world is he living in? We keep moving through paths, our pace increasing. I am practically jogging. I can barely see a trail in front of me—but then the trail disappears. I’m moving through weeds, brush, and brambles. Then leaves. Then grass. I see trees passing me, and then I notice the familiar glow of car headlights.
We reach the cars and I am thrown in the backseat—not of my car, but of theirs. The Australian man sits to my right, the tormentor who led me here to my left. Their leader is driving, and the dead girl from the hotel, the girl that led me into the forest sits in the passenger seat.
“Baby, I’m so glad you’re here. I love you so much. I’m glad you’re doing this with me.”
She grabs my hand, holding it tightly as a hood is thrown over my head. We begin to drive. The Australian man softly sings to himself, but the rest is silent. We drive for ten to fifteen minutes racing down rocky paths. I let go of the girl’s and grab onto my captors to avoid flying forward–but then the car suddenly stops. Their leader tells us to stay in the car. He exits and opens the trunk. The back door opens and a large object is placed over us. I feel it—it’s a shovel. We drive off, faster this time. Accelerating quickly, and then slowing for turns. Accelerating again and then we stop.
I am pulled from the car by my arm. The hood remains and the shovel is thrust into my hands. We walk down a dirt path. Music plays: a sad song welcoming my death. The wind is far stronger here—we must be higher up. We keep walking—walking through a water—and then back to dirt. The ground gets more uneven, so my hood and goggles are removed.
I look around. I am atop a large mountain, spiraling up from the desert floor. Only a few lights shine out from the horizon. The path circles the mountain and we continue to climb. Someone is at my side—it’s a girl I haven’t seen before. She whispers in my ear.
“Please don’t kill me. I don’t want to die. I have a husband—a family. Please don’t kill me.”
She doesn’t scream this; she doesn’t say this to them—she says this to me. Is she a voice in my head—is this what I’m feeling? Or is this another girl sent to die with me. I think on this on our hike. We reach the top of the mountain. It’s beautiful, yet barren—and cold. My tormentor looks around and finds an appropriate area. She finally removes my restraints and commands:
I push the shovel into the rough earth. I lift a pile and deposit it next to my fresh hole. I keep digging until I notice the girl who whispered to me minutes ago is now kneeling next to the hole.
“Please help me, I’ll be buried here. I need to find my husband.” I ask her his name. She tells me his name is Daniel, and he has an Australian accent. So the girl who led me here wasn’t his wife! I tell her I drove up here with him, I’ll help her find him—but my tormentor grabs me and instructs me to keep digging. I look back and the girl is gone. I keep going, and two more visitors arrive: the dead girl from the hotel and the Australian man.
“Don’t you like my gift to you? The pain will be over soon, I promise. Once you do this, we can be together forever.”
The Australian man stays quiet, circling the hole, and smoking a cigarette. My tormentor orders me to raise my arms, and when I do, she removes my sweater. I keep digging, deeper into the earth. My hand blisters from the constant digging, but I keep going. The tormentor again orders me to stop. My pants are forcibly removed and I now stand in just my underwear. I keep digging to keep warm. I dig through the soreness, through the pain. I keep digging my own grave.
After some time, I see a second group climbing up the mountain. They reach the top and I am told to stop. I notice the girl I drove up with is with them—she’s in her underwear too and dirty. Their leader approaches me and restrains me. I notice he has a bag in his hand. I will die here; I will be buried here.
He makes a fist. “Let’s give them a good show,” he says as he brings it into my stomach. It’s not a real punch, but it’s enough to force me to my knees. I feel blood cover my face, pour down onto my chest, soaking my boxers. The blood stings my eyes, and my vision is compromised.
“Now we kill them and bury them”
Their leader brings a knife to my throat. But a man yells.
“You told me this was a simulation! You weren’t actually going to kill them!”
He runs at their leader, pushing him aside.
“Run! Get the fuck out of here.”
I jump to my feet and someone tries to grab me, but I dodge them. I begin to run, making my way down the mountain. I look behind me and someone is chasing me, but I keep running. My eyes are covered in blood, my hands are restrained, and I am only wearing boxers—but I keep running. I run for ten minutes and stop to breathe. I wait, and soon I see the girl I drove with running after me. Someone is chasing her, so we keep running. We run up a hill and through a pool of water. We keep going until we reach the car. The medic waits for us, cuts us loose from our restraints, and our keys and clothes are returned to us. We get in the car, safely, and drive back to civilization.
This was a fragmented story. A story of demons, darkness, and disappearing. A cruel woman seduces girls to fall in love with her. She initiates them into her dark world, forcing them to disappear as a part of a dark ritual by an unknown group. An Australian man’s wife suffered this fate: she fell in love with this woman and was led down her dark path. I suffered the same fate. But the man faced his demon; he knew he had to kill this woman to save others from the same fate. He went to the hotel room—and violently strangled her. He ended what he thought was the demon. But I don’t think he ended it. The group that led the initiation, the group that sent me to that hotel that night is still sending others out into the desert to disappear. To vanish.