There was a building in my hometown that had been there as long as I can remember. It was located maybe five blocks from my old high school, and it always just seemed really out of place. It was called the Scuba Shack.
Now, keep in mind this ‘Scuba Shack’ was in the small farming town of Frederick Colorado, and about 800 miles from the nearest ocean. There was a small lake in the city, but if you swam in it, you’d probably come out with the bubonic plague or something.
It was a small shop, only maybe a thousand square feet or so and decorated on the outside by various water accessories like buoys and life rings. In the 14 years I lived there, I’d never seen a single person enter or leave the property. Never seen anyone inside, or maintaining the property in any way. As far as I can tell, no one has.
Kids at school used to spread rumors, saying it was a front for a drug operation, or the lair of some covert nautical pimp. Some people have even claimed it is a stop-off for a human trafficking ring, and claim that’s why it is so close to the local high school. Some kids claimed they had been inside, but they were lying. That became clear when we found out what it actually was.
One night me and a couple friends were at a house party nearby. It was loud, and it wasn’t long before the police rolled up to spoil the fun. In a drunken stupor, three of us fled the scene out the backyard.
We hopped several fences as the police swarmed the property. I heard them yelling as I hopped the last fence, but I never turned back. We ran, infused by the alcohol fueling our minds and the adrenaline coursing our veins.
We reached the main street soon after, the one that ran directly towards our high school. It was also the same street that the infamous Scuba Shack was located. My two friends and I continued down the road, hearing the sounds of sirens whirring in the distance.
A couple seconds later and our worst fears were realized. A cruiser pulled out onto the main road a couple blocks behind us. We took off running, exiting the main road and entering an alley behind a couple stores. I could hear the cruiser gaining on us as we ran.
“Over there!” My friend Tim yelled in a whisper. His arm outstretched and pointed towards an open door upon a small building. Without thinking the three of us rushed towards it. My other friend Carlos was the last one in, and he quickly shut the door behind him. We all stood there catching our breath as the cruiser rolled slowly by outside. The headlights drifted through the building, and illuminated the inside as we ducked in the shadows. It was in that moment, that I realized where we were hiding.
On the wall I saw an assortment of oceanic equipment. There were buoys and flippers, masks, boogieboards and wetsuits. Pretty much anything and everything related to ocean leisure, entertainment and exploration activities.
After all of the rumors I had heard about the place, I was a bit stunned to discover it actually appeared to be what the name suggested. Just a small store selling an assortment of water equipment. That struck me as really strange – because as I said earlier, this was Colorado. We’re not exactly known for our expansive oceans. A few lakes and rivers sure, but I doubt anyone scuba dives in them. How the hell did they manage to even stay in business?
“Oh shit… this is the Scuba Shack.” Tim said with a chuckle while gawking at a selection of boogey boards. The three of us looked around briefly, as the lights on the police cruiser faded further down the street.
“Alright let’s get out of here…” Carlos said, making his way to the door.
“Hold on dude…” Tim countered. Carlos whipped his head around with an annoyed look.
“Scuba shack dude… I’ve heard about this place.” Tim said taking a look at the walls.
“So what? If we get caught in here, we’re screwed.” It was Tim’s turn to look annoyed then.
“We’re not gonna get caught. Cops are busy with the party, don’t you wanna know what this place is up to?” Carlos shook his head.
“They sell bathing suits and shit dude. Mystery solved, do you really want…” Carlos spoke while stepping forward, but paused abruptly as a sound disturbed the argument. The floorboard underneath Carlos creaked in a way the others did not. He looked down beneath him and cocked his head. He pushed his weight down and it creaked again.
“What the hell?” Carlos asked as Tim and I stepped closer and tried ourselves. Sure enough, the creak continued. It sounded ridiculous to even think about, but my mind turned to a single concept. A false panel.
I took my pocket knife out and began to pry around at the wooden panel. Moments later it popped, and I dug my knife underneath. I pried at it, and the board popped upward and off the floor. Slowly, Tim and I moved the panel aside.
Underneath there was a ladder, dropping down about a dozen feet to a dirt passageway below. I lifted my phone and stared in disbelief as the flashlight revealed a dirt tunnel. It was probably five feet wide, and at least ten feet tall.
“Ho-ly shit…” Carlos muttered. Tim gave an excited laugh and bounced on his feet.
“Dude I knew there was something sketchy about this place.” Tim said excitedly.
“It’s gotta be a front for something.” Carlos added as his jaw dangled open.
“Something man… this is some jeepers creepers shit though…” Tim said with a laugh. Carlos slowly approached and peered down the passage. All the color seemed to drain from his face.
“So, who’s gonna be the first to go down?” My question was mostly rhetorical, and I really had no initial intention of acting upon it. Carlos and Tim both looked at me with a curious glance though, one which possessed less skepticism than I originally anticipated.
I can’t say why exactly we did what we did. Maybe it was the overconfidence of youthful metabolism. Maybe the unquenchable curiosity, or the drunken ambition that drove us on. One way or another, I ended up answering my own question a moment later as I began to climb down.
I reached the bottom a moment later, feeling the damp dirt squish beneath my feet. I shined my phone light down the tunnel, and saw nothing but a long empty passage. It smelled of mildew and wet soil, but there was no sign of anyone having been down there for a while.
“Wadaya see?” Tim called down.
“It’s just… a long tunnel.” I again shined the light further down, but saw only dirt. The tunnel appeared to curve to the left about twenty yards ahead of me. Behind me Carlos began to descend the ladder. He touched down and his face contorted into a grimace.
“Uggh smells like ass.” Carlos gagged and looked around the area. Tim began climbing down as well, and touched down a moment later. I only realized later on that he had slid the panel shut behind us.
“Damn… how far you think this goes?” Tim asked but neither of us responded. A thick silence then befell us, and in the distance, I thought I heard something. It was faint, but it sounded like dripping water further down.
“Dude I don’t know if we should go down there. This might be like a drug mule tunnel or something.” Carlos said pensively. Tim looked at him curiously.
“Underneath this ghetto-ass town? What would be the point?” Carlos shrugged.
“Exactly, no one would suspect it…” Carlos might’ve had a point, but for some reason, I felt we had stumbled upon something more. I imagine if the tunnel did have to do with drugs or sex trafficking or something else nefarious, then it would’ve been better guarded. The door to the shack itself was left wide open after all. Maybe someone being careless or maybe it was for another reason.
We were about to turn around and leave, when I noticed something further ahead in the dirt. It was filthy, and covered in mud, but as I knelt down to it, I realized it was a snorkel. I picked it up and displayed it to Tim and Carlos. Both of them looked puzzled. The three of us stood there a moment, before Tim lifted a finger. His head swiveled on his shoulders and he shone his light further down the tunnel.
“What is it?” I asked. Tim silently shushed me and kept glancing around.
“You hear that?” I didn’t hear anything. Tim crept further onward, and Carlos and I followed behind. Soon the entrance behind us disappeared in the dark. I began to feel a tinge of dread creep down my spine as ventured in further. I kept trying to listen for what Tim had apparently heard, but all there was were the sounds of our footsteps in the damp dirt.
Despite feeling as though it was a bad idea, we continued moving forward. We found more diving equipment strewn about randomly as we went. I counted a flipper, a pair of goggles and what looked like part of an old wetsuit. It just seemed to raise more questions the further we went.
Carlos began to protest heavily in favor of turning around, but by that point, both Tim and I were too curious. We had to see what the hell that place was all about. Tim rounded a corner in front of us, and audibly gasped. I picked up the pace and caught him, stopping as I saw what held his fascination.
In front of us by only about five feet was a massive chasm. It was like the ground just disappeared, and plummeted down by almost twenty feet. I shined my phone flashlight out as far as I could, but my light didn’t illuminate a wall on the other side. Down below us there was water, a lot of water. The surface was completely still, almost like glass. No ripples or flow of any kind. I couldn’t believe it, it was an actual subterranean lake beneath our town. Apparently a big one too.
To the sides of us the path widened into a sort of outcrop which skirted the perimeter of the water for a ways. I couldn’t see how far it went, but there were a bunch of rocks and boulders all around it. There were also other pieces of scuba equipment. A few pairs of suits and two tanks that sat against a rock. Most obvious was a large spotlight that sat there on a tripod stand. It was clear someone had been down there fairly recently after all.
Next to the tripod was a sort of bulletin board of some kind. A small one, with a piece of paper tarped across it. I held my flashlight up to it and curiously read it over. It appeared to be some kind of map which stretched the entirety of the three-foot wide posterboard. There were multiple branching paths, and several large open areas designated by letters. I thought it was a crude map of our town, but the more I stared, the more it seemed like a diagram of a cave system instead.
If the map was to be believed, then we were in the area designated as the antechamber. An area which split into three separate other chambers, which then went on to diverge into countless more. At the bottom of it was the most peculiar site of all. Several of the paths continued downward until ending at a single spot. It was a large open cavern, identified by a word I did not recognize. Hiintcabiit (heent-sab-eet).
“Dude… we need to leave.” Carlos suddenly said. I looked to him, and saw that his cheeks had suddenly gone a ghostly white.
“Why… what is this place?” I asked. Carlos said nothing, but I could see his eyes remain locked with that word. Hiintcabiit. By that point I was ready to leave as well, but before we could there was a sound in the distance. Splash.
The three of us whipped around towards the lake, shining or measly lights outward towards it. It barely illuminated anything, but I could see the ripples shimmer across the once still surface. Suddenly a bright light flashed through the grotto, illuminating a great deal of the vast body of water. I looked and saw Tim standing beside the large spotlight.
“Shut it off! shut it off!” Carlos suddenly shouted. He ran towards him, but my vision was trained on the lake. The ripples grew larger, and I saw bubbles rise from the depths. The two of them squabbled for a moment, and I saw something stir beneath the surface. An impossibly long slender shadow coiled in the murky depths. I saw it moving, rising towards the surface.
Carlos must’ve wrestled Tim out the way, because the light suddenly vanished once again. An immense darkness consumed us once again, and silence gathered. I could hear both my friends breathing heavily, before the water began to stir. I popped open my flip phone, and used the remedial light to try and reestablish my bearings. Tim and Carlos were already backing away from the lake, and I quickly joined them.
We backed up further toward the way we had come in, and I heard something breach the surface below. A low, droning hiss then emerged from the darkness, and the three of us began to back away quicker. In the dismal light, I saw a shape slither over the edge of the bank, and I could’ve sworn I saw yellow eyes staring back at me.
We panicked and ran like hell back down the tunnel. In the darkness I crashed into the wall, but retained my footing and kept running away. Finally, we reached the ladder, and Tim began to franticly climb up it as Carlos and I urged him on. He threw the false panel away soon after, and ascended back into the shack. Carlos then went up, with me hot on his heels as the hissing noise grew nearer.
It sounded like it was mere inches behind me by the time I finally crested the top of the ladder. I looked back down before Tim through the panel back, and saw it. It was only a split second, but I know what I saw. Fierce yellow eyes glaring hungrily back at me, as we resealed it’s prison.
We ran out of the Scuba shack, and back into the town. We didn’t speak a word that night about what had just happened, and eventually managed to all get home. The fascination never left me though.
For weeks I debated with myself about what I had thought I had seen down there. I thought maybe someone had slipped me some acid during the party and that I had hallucinated it or something. It was all so vivid though, and I had to know more.
I finally got to talking with Carlos a few weeks later. He was reluctant to say anything about the night, but after my continued insistence he finally caved.
“I never thought any of those stories were true.” He admitted.
“What stories? What do you know about that place?” I remembered then how petrified Carlos had looked when his eyes fell upon that word. Hiintcabiit.
Carlos took a deep breath and began to explain. He told me his family had Arapahoe heritage, and that quite a few of his relatives were still very active in their community. He said his uncle used to tell him stories when he was young, about the fables and folklore of the Arapahoe people.
He never really bought into it, but he remembered one story in particular when he saw what was written on that map. Apparently, Hiintcabiit is an old Arapahoe legend of a monstrous, horned serpent that lives in rivers and lakes. Some say it was just an animal, while others claim it used to be a man. Some say it is a demon that guards the doors to the underworld, while others think it’s more like a nefarious genie, capable of communication and making deals. One thing that remains the same throughout all the stories though, is that it is very dangerous.
I tend to be of the opinion that most legends began with something real. Someone from an old culture sees something strange, and ascribes mythologic status to it. The story is passed down, and simple beasts become gods or demons. There are a lot of cryptids within Native American folklore, and a lot of wisdom. I don’t think these stories just arise from nothing.
I know how all of this must sound, and believe me, if I hadn’t seen what I did that night, I wouldn’t have believed it either. I don’t expect people to unquestionably believe my account, but maybe someone will. Maybe someone else has seen it too.
As you may imagine, we avoided the Scuba Shack like the plague after that incident. I refused to go near it, going so far as to walk several blocks around it on my way home and greatly extending the commute. I had dreams as well, terrible dreams, usually involving me being pursued in an ocean by some horrible creature. Don’t know if it’s related, but they’ve never gone away.
I thought this story was over, that nothing would ever come of the incident. A couple years later though, something interesting happened. Back in 2013, we had this massive flood all across Colorado, any of you who live there probably remember it. A lot of roads got destroyed and many houses as well.
During that time, the town of Frederick was flooded due to a few local streams being simply overwhelmed by the amount of rain and snow runoff. The area around the high school was under four feet of water in some areas. That same area where the Scuba Shack once stood.
The cleanup was a mess, and went on for several months. During that time, the Scuba Shack was discovered to have suffered colossal damage to the structure. There was a gaping hole in the eastern wall, one which seemed unlikely to have been caused by the flood. Not trees had fallen on it, and nothing else appeared to have caused it. It almost looked like something had burst out from within it.
A couple days later, there was a story on the news in the neighboring town of Fort Lupton, a couple miles east of Frederick. The story involved two young boys who were walking by the Platte river when they saw something. They said they saw a cow alongside the river grazing, when something lunged out and grabbed it.
The boys who were both around eight years old screamed and caused others in the town to come take a look. By the time others arrived, the cow and whatever had attacked it were gone. The boys described the creature responsible as a giant snake with spikes on it’s back. No one believed them of course, no one except me, Carlos and Tim.
The Platte river where the incident occurred was flooded to almost double it’s normal height at the time. The river runs east, out towards Nebraska before eventually merging with the Missouri river hundreds of miles later. The Missouri then eventually runs out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of the Platte is very shallow, only a couple inches in many areas, but during those floods, it became swamped for months at a time. There would be more than enough room for something like the Hiintcabiit to have moved freely through it. There’s been more reports along that river regarding giant eels and pythons as well. There’s been a few accounts of attacks on people as well, but they’re harder to find.
The Scuba Shack was fully demolished after the floodwaters receded. Apparently, it was determined too far gone to repair. I’ve never been able to find out exactly who owned it, but I suppose now it doesn’t matter. The Scuba Shack is gone, along with whatever it was that was in that lake beneath it.
I know all of this must sound crazy, and hell, maybe I’m just paranoid about it. But at the same time, that was the perfect opportunity for that thing to get out. If it reached the Missouri river, then by now it could be anywhere. I hope I’m just being paranoid, but nevertheless it may be wise to avoid going swimming in any of the connected waterways for a while. You never know what’s really out there.