All right gents, story time, because why not
After high school I didn’t really have a lot going on in my life. I was trying to save up for college, but didn’t really know what to study. I was into electronics but not in a do-it-professionally-forever kinda way.
I was working a pretty shitty minimum wage job at a hardware store and pretty much just played video games, drank way too much, slept, and occasionally tinkered with simple electronics, basic soldering. bread boards, etc, nothing too fancy.
This was kind of in the earlier days of the internet (late nineties early twenty-aughts), but I did have a computer that was running Windows ’95 that could connect to the internet. Since I was up all night every night, it worked out, because no one was making calls that could interrupt my internet access at two in the morning. Yes I am that old.
Anyway, back then it seemed like there were forums of all shapes and sizes for every possible subject. I guess people were just excited to talk about shit across the internet, it was more novel. I floated around a few classics, like something awful and TOTSE, and a couple others that died forever ago. Generally I hung out around ones for hobbies (like electronics, but also diy chemistry, fossil hunting, etc) and games. One of these sleepless nights I came across a discussion regarding diy geiger counters and geiger counter kits, which was kind of interesting. After lurking for a while I eventually decided to order one of the cheaper ones that were being discussed. I figured it would be fun to put together, and then maybe I could see how radioactive the desert was.
Getting a little off track, I’m not going to go too far into details about where I was at the time, because I don’t want to get into trouble. Basically, I trespassed on gov’t property, though it was entirely accidental. I’ll just say that there are some old (like 50s-70s) nuclear reactors way out in the sagebrush, and leave it at that.
anyway, it arrives a few weeks later, after I’d basically forgotten about it, and put it together.
I guess the way geiger counters work is there’s a tube filled with neon, and when radiation enters the tube, it shaves off electrons from the atoms that make up the neon and they trip the gauge and speaker, which is kind of cool.
It was only like five or five thirty so I decided to go outside and see if I could pick up anything, maybe find a chunk of uranium or something. Unfortunately, nothing so interesting. I decided to go on a ride on the dirt bike I had at the time while I was out and about before it got too dark.
I had a few different paths I would take, and one of them ended at a lava tube that went on for a couple hundred feet. I didn’t know anything about geology or whatever, still not really, but I thought maybe I could find something radioactive in the cave, so I went that way, pretty much on a whim.
It was about a fifteen minute ride, until this big hole came up out of the ground. These lava tubes really can open up pretty suddenly, hidden in the sagebrush as they are. I had this dinky little keychain light that I used to see. When I was at the bottom I switched on the geiger counter and was surprised to see that it had spiked. Can’t remember exactly how much, or what unites of measurement, but it was higher than normal. The needle climbed steadily as I neared the end of the tube, but I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary, just your average lava rocks and empty beer bottles.
I went back up and decided to follow the direction the tube went on the surface, and the gauge climbed just as it had before.
I kept going until I reached the edge of a little cliff, only about twenty feet, and the geiger counter was clicking pretty loud. By this time it was starting to get dark, so I decided to come back and investigate on my next day off.
a few days later, on a wednesday iirc, I remembered the incident and figured poking around beat drinking another six pack and playing Doom (although that sounds like fun right now desu), so I grabbed a few things I thought I might need, like a little shovel, gloves, my leatherman, etc.
I went back out to the same spot as before and this time went around to the bottom of the cliff. I kept walking around, basically treating the geiger counter like a metal detector, trying to figure out which spots had the highest spikes.
I found that if I went off in a straight line, the needle climbed a little higher, so I started hoofing it that way. Some hundred or so feet I almost tripped on some rusty ass barbed wire buried in the sand. I didn’t really think much of it, that sort of stuff is pretty common out in the sagebrush. Not too far after that I came across what I thought at first was another lava tube, but upon closer inspection, I realized was more of a shallow ravine, maybe five feet deep at the deepest and thirty feet or so long. The dirt down there was almost completely free of any grass, moss, sagebrush, or any life at all really. At this point my geiger counter was maxed out. This didn’t bother me because the kit I had ordered was geared toward pretty low radiation anyway, meaning it wasn’t all that hard to max out. The clicking was getting pretty annoying, though, so I just switched it off.
Tiny shovel in hand, I hopped down and began scraping around at the dirt, trying to see if the blade would hit anything other than gravel.
eventually I just started digging, ocassionally switching the geiger counter back on only to see it still maxed out, though as I kept digging the clicking got louder.
Some three feet further down, my shovel hit something that gave a dull thud.
I spent some more time excavating until a 3 ft x 3 ft platform of wood was at my feet.
Obviously, whatever this was had been out here a long ass time, but the wood, though worn, was still very tightly held together.
I dug out around the sides, trying to pull out the whole chest or crate of whatever it was, but stopped when I realized it would probably be another hour or more of digging.
The good news, though, is that while I was digging, I discovered that that wood platform was actually just a lid. I didn’t see a padlock or anythuing, so, like anyone would do, I opened it, using the shovel blade as a prybar to lift it.
I shined my little light in and, well, couldn’t really process what I was seeing. Like, my mind just wouldn’t accept it for several long seconds.
Within the crate, nestled at the bottom, was an assortment of bones, scraps of cloth, and bloodstains. The bones were not, however, bleached white, as you would expect them to be, a lot of them still had bits of flesh clinging to them. I guess I should specify that the bones were definitely human. It was a long time ago, but this isn’t the sort of thing you forget.
There was one skull, a couple sets of hands, a three femurs, and a number of finger bones.
Oh yeah, and the insides were lined with lead.
Now, I don’t consider myself to be unusually intelligent by any means, but you don’t need a phd in nuclear physics to figure out what was going on, and neither did I. So I fucking booked it.
I wanted to close the lid and rebury the thing, but ultimately didnt want to risk spending any more time around that shit.
Now you’re probably wondering, as I was, how the fuck these bones weren’t picked clean. Like I said, it was obvious that crate had been there forever.
Well, a little later on, after doing some research, I learned that radiation, incredibly high doses, liken fucking Chernobyl doses, and sterilize flesh and dramatically slow the decomposition process.
Question: i wonder if they were people/cadavers that were used to test the effects of nuke radiation on flesh then again couldn’t they just used animals?
Answer: I don’t think so. The amount of radiation that was lingering in there reeks of a meltdown of some kind. I know there were a few in that area in the 50s and 60s.
I’m no an expert, but I do know that when people die in nuclear accidents, they will often cut off the more heavily irradiated parts so they can be buried fairly normally, though obvs without an open casket.