The Maggot Men of San Bernardo

In 2006, Miguel Micheals was hiking in the sandstone hills surrounding the town of San Bernardo. The Arizonan night was quiet except for the chirping of crickets and promised to be a pleasant one. Little did Miguel know of the harrowing events soon to come. A wind blew from the west, bringing with it the smell of desert sand. The night was moonless, but the stars were out in force, allowing Miguel to navigate the rocky path without any other light source. After a three mile hike from San Bernardo, Miguel reached a cave he had yet to explore. Miguel, a 37-year-old software developer from Phoenix had a passion for cave exploration. He had spent years finding and spelunking the huge amount of caves and tunnels that honeycombed the San Bernardo hills. The cave that now stood before him was well off the beaten path. Not even the locals knew about it. When Miguel crossed the threshold into the cave, the light of the stars vanished. He clicked on his headlamp and proceeded deeper into the cave. He could still hear the wind whistling outside the cave mouth but the air inside was still and smelled of earth and dust. Miguel smiled, happy to be out of the wind. Miguel was both fascinated and terrified by enclosed spaces, a tension that drove his fascination with spelunking. As Miguel ventured further and further into the cave, he noticed an unpleasant smell. Nothing more than an occasional whiff at first, the smell of rot soon filled Miguels’s nostrils as he ventured deep into the recesses of the cave.

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Less than an hour later, Miguel Michaels ran out of the darkness into the starlit night. He didn’t stop running until he was nearly hit by Sheriff’s Deputy Titus Quentin. As it happened, the deputy was just coming back from a call on the other side of the small county. The dirt road, lit up by the headlights of his squad car, was empty. Suddenly, a man sprinted into the road. Deputy Quentin slammed on the brakes and leapt out of his car. Miguel Michaels was in a panic, barely able to get out words. The deputy tried to calm the man down but this proved impossible. Michaels babbled. Out of the jumbled words and half-finished thoughts, the deputy heard an unbelievable story. Miguel Michaels explained how he had found a natural ramp of smooth stone in the depths of a cave. The ramp lead down to a wide cavern about the size of a church. The cavern reeked of rotting flesh. A sticky, tar-like substance was everywhere; clinging to the walls, dripping from the ceiling, and in huge pools on the ground. Miguel then described the hideous creatures that had risen out of the tar and tried to make contact with him. These creatures had the rough shape of humans, but their flesh was rubbery and pure white and they lacked faces of any kind. Michaels described them as maggot-men.

That is the first known time the “maggot men of San Bernardo” were ever mentioned.

Michaels described how this mass of eyeless creatures had seemed to try to communicate with him. There were many of them—half a dozen or more. Their wet bodies squelched sickeningly in the tar as they writhed together. They made unsettling, chittering sounds as their mouths gaped at him. Michaels had felt a pressure inside his head and had just begun to see things—split-second flashes of things and places he did not recognize—when his terror finally broke the spell over him and he ran from the cave.

Deputy Quentin, knowing Michaels’s story was crazy but that something had clearly disturbed the man, acted quickly. He drove Michaels to the sheriff’s office. The deputy found and searched Michaels car. Finding nothing suspicious, he drove it to the station. The deputy then organized a search party to explore the cave. Miguel told them where it was but refused to go himself. While the search part was making the three-mile trek up into the hills, Miguel regained some of his wits. He slipped out of the station and drove away in his car. Meanwhile, the search party reached the cave. Once inside the first thing they noticed was the smell. Then they found the ramp down into the cavern. Deputy Quentin’s flashlight cut through the darkness, illuminating a wide circle of the damp stone floor in front of him. As the search party stopped on the lip of a depression in the floor, the reek of pitch mixed with something else—something biological—assaulted them. Deputy Quentin found no trace of the maggot men, only the bowl-shaped depression filled with some sort of possibly industrial residue.

Deputy Quentin returned to the station and made his report. While he found the traces of tar puzzling, Quentin found very little else suspicious about the cave. Around 5 or 6 that morning, Miguel stopped at a Motel 6 off Interstate 17. He parked his car, a blue Toyota Corolla, in the parking lot, checked in at the front desk, and then fell asleep at once inside his room.

Five weeks passed. In San Bernardo, the incident with Michaels was completely forgotten. The town had under nine hundred residents and was very comfortable with its quiet rhythm of life. The sheriff chalked the whole thing up to either Michaels being on drugs or it was all was an elaborate story. Life continued in the small desert town as usual. On a hot Sunday afternoon, a local boy, Donny McCloud, was playing with two of his friends in a sandy ravine on the outskirts of town. During a game of hide and seek, Donny looked for a place to hide. He came to a steep gully at the foot of a rocky hill. The air was thick with a sickly-sweet smell. Donny wasn’t sure what the smell meant and he was curious to find out what was making it. As he peered over the lip of the gully, the smell grew more pungent. When his eyes saw the emaciated carcass lying in the sand, Donny started. At first thinking it was a human, Donny quickly realized that was impossible. The corpse has pure white skin and a bulbous head. He ran back to town and told his mother he had found a dead alien.

The sheriff and Deputy Quentin arrived on the scene. Both men were stunned at what they saw. For a moment, Quentin forgot the scorching heat of the sun which shone directly on him. All his attention was transfixed on the sun-dried corpse. The whole body was about five and a half feet in length and flecked with green-black flakes. The long, narrow torso was segmented like a worm’s. The arms and legs were strangely rubbery, even though the white flesh had been robbed of all its moisture. Then there was the head. It was huge compared to the body and nearly circular. A hole near the top of the head appeared to be the creature’s mouth and was lined inside with rows of small, sharp teeth. Two, vague depressions on either side of the cranium might have been eye sockets, though they were empty.

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