MISSING TEENS FOUND IN CAVE
By Alan Pratt
The bodies of two Screetown teenagers have been found in a cave near the Double-Fork River. Brothers Nate (17) and Mike (14) Briar were reported missing a week ago after they failed to return from a hiking trip in the area. Police were led to the bodies by search dogs, and were required to use heavy equipment to clear the cave mouth. Although the deaths are being treated as accidental, it is still unclear how or why the boys entered the cave. Inside was also discovered an extensive array of what appears to be stone-age cave art, and some experts are already claiming that the find could represent the most important of its type in the last two decades, and certainly the first of its type in the state. The boys’ parents have accepted the offer of naming the site the Briar Gallery in honor of their sons.
About Screetown Magazine November 2014 issue
Inside the Briar Gallery
Sophie Tullow explores Screetown’s prehistoric discovery
Professor James Pierpont. From the name, I’m not quite sure whether I should be expecting Indiana Jones or a fusty old Oxford professor. The slim, bespectacled, slightly graying man I find at the newly discovered Briar Gallery turns out to be somewhere between the two. He greets me with a smile, apologizes for the dirt on his jeans, and then leads me into the cave.
The Briar Gallery was uncovered at the beginning of October when the bodies of two local boys were found in the cave. Despite the macabre circumstances of its discovery, academics were eager to begin work on this unique new site. I ask Professor Pierpont whether the tragic context has affected the way excavations have been carried out.
“No, not really.” He replies. “We have of course respected the wishes of the grieving family; the start of the excavation was delayed longer than it typically would have been, and the site has been largely closed off to the public since its discovery, but other than that we have been working as normal.” He pauses, “There definitely is a different atmosphere to working here, though. It can get pretty creepy working in caves sometimes, but here especially, knowing how those boys died.” Prof. Pierpont refers to one mystery surrounding the case; the cave was blocked off when the police first discovered it, and no-one has come up with an explanation as to how they got inside. I ask him whether he’s any closer to an answer. He shakes his head.
“No, and I don’t envy the person who does have to work it out…That being said, we are convinced that there is an alternative entrance somewhere in the cave.” He gestures to the pictures plastered on the cave walls, “The time and skill required to produce this volume of complex work suggests to us that the gallery would have represented an important spiritual site to the people here, but we have found almost no artifacts from the period. We think the cave must have been raided sometime after it had been sealed off.”
“Could it not have been raided while the entrance was clear?” I ask.
“We don’t think so. Normally, this type of cave would have been occupied by animals, but we’ve found no evidence of that, which suggests that the cave was deliberately sealed off rather than abandoned.” As to why these people would seal off the gallery, Prof. Pierpont has no answer.
We now turn our attention to the images on the walls. The professor smiles almost tenderly as he shows me some of the key features he’s picked out so far. While the characters are not as large as those famous from France and Spain, they are much more numerous, and stunning in their detail; great herds of bison and elk seem to stampede along the walls of the cave. Here and there I can also make out bears, wolves, and even some people.
“Is this a hunting scene?” I say, pointing to one of the human figures on the wall.
The professor smiles, “No; I honestly think the people are depicted simply as being part of the natural order of things! And do you notice anything interesting about the paintings?” I think for a moment,
“They’re all heading in the same direction. They’re all heading towards the door.” The professor nods.
“It’s another reason we believe this was a spiritual site. For example, it's possible the cave was used for rituals representing life and rebirth, analogous to pagan traditions around Easter. All of the creatures known in these peoples' living world are shown flooding out from the cave; maybe this was seen as a powerful way to ensure the coming of spring after a long winter?” It’s an interesting theory, but Prof. Pierpont admits that it doesn’t yet completely add up. He gestures to another image on the cave wall, a small hand print, one of several dotted here and there.
“It’s doing the Vulcan salute? “ I ask, puzzled. The professor laughs.
“It is! But it’s also a symbol representing evil and restless spirits. It’s still recognised by local tribes today; one of the chiefs has actually come to me to voice concerns about it.” The professor is more thoughtful now, “We still think the symbol might represent something different in this context, though, maybe showing a sort of cleansing of evil rather than the presence of evil…” I nod; this brings me onto my next question: “What do you make of the stories of the Screetown Screamer?”
The Screetown Screamer is a mythical beast said to haunt the hills and forests around Screetown, and is named for the unnatural howling which supposedly indicates its presence. The Screamer has been historically blamed for a number of disappearances, and some stories even claim that the creature resides in a hidden cave in the forest. The discovery of the Briar Gallery has sparked a spate of alleged encounters, in what appears to be a mild case of mass hysteria. I ask the question half-jokingly, but the professor is serious when he answers.
“I hope they’re not true.” He sighs, “I mean, I know they’re not true. But I would be lying if I said I hadn’t heard things that would fit the description… I’m assuming it’s down to bored teenagers, but that doesn’t help when you’re woken up in the middle of the night.” He pauses again, as though unsure if he should say what he’s about to. “One of my PhD candidates has heard something in the cave, too. She was working over there in the back,” He points the rear of the cave where there is thought to be another tunnel blocked by boulders and bits of rubble. “She said she heard a strange voice coming from behind her, rhythmic chanting in a language she couldn’t understand.” He scratches his head, “Of course you have to take that with a hefty pinch of salt; acoustics can get pretty weird underground, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she was just hearing us talking at the mouth of the cave. Still, she seemed pretty convinced, so we let her work mainly at the entrance now.” He smiles sheepishly; I can see him thinking he shouldn’t have said anything after all.
After this somewhat spooky interlude, the professor goes on to tell me his plans for the rest of the excavation. The paintings are to be fully documented and photographed in a painstaking process that may take up to another three weeks; they aim to have finished by mid-November. He then plans to turn his attention to the tantalizingly blocked tunnel at the end of the gallery, where it is hoped lies the key to understanding this enigmatic site. Whether he will find it, only time will tell. One thing is for sure: the Briar Gallery has not given up all its secrets yet.
Pictures: A hand-print from the wall of the Briar Gallery and Leonard Nimoy portraying Mr. Spock as he gives his token Vulcan Salute (top right); The mural in the Briar Gallery shows a large number of bison as well as elk and other deer (middle); The Gallery also includes portrayals of predators such as wolves and bears, as well as smaller animals like marten, beaver and a variety of birds (bottom left); An artist’s impression of the “Screetown Screamer”, a mythical beast which some have connected to the Gallery (bottom right).
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Sasquatch: A large bipedal ape-like creature which roams mountainous areas across the US. Highly intelligent, the Sasquatch has been seen hunting deer, using tools and even communicating in its own spoken language. The Sasquatch is more common in the pacific north-west, but some sightings have been reported in Smithson County. It is thought to be curious towards humans, and may not be dangerous if approached carefully. Attacks have been reported on rare occasion, however, so caution should be exercised. The creature is also known as Bigfoot.
Screetown Screamer: The Screetown Screamer haunts the hills and forests around Screetown, and is named for the unnatural howling which indicates its presence. The Screamer has been historically blamed for a number of disappearances. Some accounts claim that the creature resides in a hidden cave in the forest. This has never been found, but legends warn against disturbing the Screamer’s home. Recorded encounters with the beast date back several hundred years, and it plays a role in the folklore of local Native American tribes. A number of descriptions of the Screamer exist, ranging from a kind of large bipedal bear with red eyes, to a rather small, emaciated man, similar to the wendigo. Like the wendigo, the creature is often associated with harsh winters and winter weather. It is highly dangerous, and it is advised that you immediately attempt to escape if any sign of it is encountered.
6 [Local News] Should I be worried about the Screetown Screamer/Brier Cave? (self.Screetown)
submitted 4 hours ago by screejohnny2
This post was submitted on 12 Nov 2014
6 points (75% upvoted)
I read the article by sophie tullow in about screetown yesterday
and I’m pretty freaked out :( I live on the edge of town by the woods and
my dad said he used to hear the screamer sometimes before I was born.
My brother said the spock hand symbol does mean evil. And he said that he
and his friends think that all the animal pictures running out of the cave are
running away from something evil in the cave…. what do you think… should
I try and get away from here?
all 15 comments
sorted by: top
4 points 3 hours ago
Don’t worry!! Sounds like your brother is just being a bit of a dick to scare you.
4 points 2 hours ago
I went hiking up there last weekend, and we were out til past sunset… didn’t see/hear a thing... Screamer doesn’t exist, dude, so don’t be scared of it.
2 points 50 minutes ago
I have spent practically my whole life in the woods, and have heard the screamer at least 5 times, and it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve heard. How dare you say it’s not real. You don’t know what your talking about.
3 points 34 minutes ago
Jesus, Walter, would you calm down!
2 points 20 minutes ago
Calmer than you are, dude…
0 points 20 minutes ago
3 points 2 hours ago * (last edited 40 minutes ago)
hey, I lived up there when I was younger too. Was pretty sure I heard the screamer a coupla times, but looking back o it I think it was probably bobcats or something. Bottom line, don’t be frightened! Mind can play tricks on you in them there woods…
Edit: Okay! Jeez, I get that bobcats don’t sound like the screamer. I said ‘or something’…
2 points 1 hour ago
Screamer scream sounds nothing like a bobcat….
1 point 50 minutes ago
I’ve been hunting those woods my whole life, I’ve heard bobcat and I’ve heard the screamer. They are not the same.
1 point 48 minutes ago
Screamer =/= bobcat
2 points 1 hour ago
I would leave. My friend says his uncle actually saw the screamer when he was hiking once, said it looked like a fucking walking corpse or something. Guy moved away like two months after that. It’s your decision, but I know I wouldn’t be sticking around to deal wit no wendigo bullshiiit.
0 points 4 hours ago
-1 points 3 hours ago
tullow is a hack. she plagiarised her whole bit about the screamer from creepysmithsoncounty.com.
2 points 3 hours ago
That whole website is a hack
[+] comment score below threshold (2 children)
WORKMEN DISAPPEAR IN BRIAR GALLERY
By Alan Pratt
Contact has been lost with a five workmen and two archaeologists who were working on a project to expand the site at the Briar Gallery. The team were attempting to clear a blocked tunnel which is thought lead to a second, deeper chamber within the cave. The group was last heard from at around 4 pm yesterday. Initial investigations indicated that the tunnel had been cleared; it is speculated that the team ventured further into the cave and have since become trapped. Darkness and poor weather conditions prevented an immediate rescue attempt, but it is hoped one can be launched later today. The disappearance has already been linked by some to the local legend of the Screetown Screamer, and, despite reassurances from the mayor’s office and tribal representatives, several families appear to have fled the town.
TV65: Smithson County Local News 17/11/2014; 4:30 pm
Breaking News: All communication with Screetown has been lost due to blizzard conditions. The sudden arrival of strong winds and unusually heavy snowfall appears to have blocked roads and damaged telephone lines and radio towers in the area. Local military bases have already dispatched troops to aid the inhabitants. Viewers with relatives in Screetown are advised to contact the station for updates and further information.