Bob Reynolds, professor of geology at the University of Georgia, has teamed up with clergy, including a specialist from the Vatican, to investigate the recent discovery in sleepy Delia, Georgia, of a portal to hell.
According to police reports, local amateur spelunker Eugene Puckett inadvertently broke open the fissure while carving his initials into the wall of a local cave. Puckett was then swallowed up and is presumed to be dead and possibly suffering for eternity. Several days later, a group of teenagers heard strange wails coming from the cave and decided to investigate. While their female friends remained on the surface, seventeen-year-old Joshua Hicks and sixteen-year-old Kenny Nesbitt climbed down the near-vertical opening chamber with only improvised equipment.“It was super dark and creepy,” said Hicks, “and really hot.” After conducting a field sobriety test on the boys, and investigating the site, officer on the scene Nate Mackelroy had few other explanations for the phenomenon than what proved to be the case. “I mean, it looked like what you think of when you think of hell,” said the officer.
Word got out to local churches before Reynolds became aware of the anomaly, but his team was able to begin their investigation quickly. Sadly, Reynolds lost one of his Ph.D. candidates during his team's first descent into the cavern. “I was just too intrigued and excited,” said Reynolds. When asked his scientific opinion of the portal, Reynolds hypothesizes a very ancient volcano under the flat Georgia field land. “This whole region used to be an ocean, so an active volcano could have been covered over by thousands of years of geological changes. But that wouldn’t explain the secondary effects.”
“Secondary effects” is Reynolds’ term for the non-geological phenomena associated with the portal. Reports include intense darkness, wails that sound human, animal, or disturbingly otherwise, glimpses of strange beings, and an overwhelming urge to leap into the fissure. The latter symptom recedes if one leaves the cave and experiences kind gestures from another human being. These effects, even Reynolds admits, are better left to the religious authorities.
“We told everybody it was like that. How many times’d we tell them it was like that?” comments local preacher Randall “Randy” Sneidel. “I don’t know why everybody’s surprised when the Bible’s right about something.” Other ministers, like Episcopal priest Rev. Dr. Joseph Stuart, find evidence of a literal hell unsettling: “I guess there’s no harm in saying now that I really didn’t think it existed. But of course the existence of hell doesn’t imply its occupancy.”
There is confusion over who exactly owns the cavern—and if, indeed, anyone can claim a deed to the portal to hell. However, three churches have made public and astronomical offers for the land. One theme park company has also joined the bidding.
Jackson Culpepper grew up in south Georgia and now lives in east Tennessee with his wife, Margaret, two dogs and two horses. He recently got the Death card in a tarot reading about his writing, but it's about rebirth more than flat-out ceasing to be, so that will be interesting. His website is http://jacksonculpepper.wordpress.com/.