You’ve all probably heard about the incident, but I need to tell my own story. Everything you’ve heard is wrong. I’m sick of the lies our Governor and the CDC has been spreading about what happened to us. I was there yesterday. I know what I saw.
Like most people, my family and I made plans for Memorial Day. Our plan was to go to Devil’s lake. It’s an extremely popular spot in Wisconsin for camping, swimming, and hiking. I’ve been there hundreds of times. Devil’s lake is unique because it doesn’t empty into a river. The water is what’s left over from a glacier getting stuck more than 10,000 years ago. The glacier also deposited debris, leaving behind 500 ft high rock peaks. They are literally just towers of boulders surrounding a huge pool of water. The lake is a little over a mile long.
I have no idea how it got its name. But it makes more sense to me now.
I took my three kids (Abby, Zach, and Kether) to the lake yesterday. We planned to do some light hiking and have a picnic. My husband Bill stayed home. Our family friends Ester and Claire (as well as their infant son Ezra) joined us. On any other day it would have been a totally normal summer outing.
I don’t know what happened to the lake. I don’t know what’s going on. I know for certain my friends are dead. And the baby…dear God I still have a hard time believing it. But I saw exactly what occurred and I know it’s true. The government is lying to you. The CDC is lying to you.
I’ll try to tell it exactly as I remember.
We got to the lake early but it was still crowded. That was no surprise. We left the food in the cooler and set off for a hike. We were planning to take the trail up one of the peaks. The kids loved the walk. Once you got up high enough you could see the entire lake. It’s beautiful. I have a dozen photos of the kids and me on the top of the mountain, the water sparkling below.
We trekked down again and spread out a picnic basket by the beach. Families were frolicking in the water. Some guys nearby were grilling. Abby pulled out the playing cards and they started up a game of crazy eights. Ester and I chatted as I made the sandwiches. Claire sat on the grass with the baby. Anyone looking in would see a perfect afternoon scene.
After lunch the kids put on their swimsuits and jumped into the lake. Claire and Ester put floaties on Ezra. They waded out with the rest of the families. I stayed on shore (I have never felt comfortable wearing a swimsuit in public). Plus I needed a good tan.
I remember my watch alarm going off. It was exactly noon. The sun was directly above us. It shone with fierce velocity onto the water. Everything glittered. I was supposed to call my husband and let him know when we planned to leave. But I was too caught up in the serenity around me. My kids were happily splashing each other. My friends were doting on their baby. Things seemed just right.
Is that how it always is, right before something goes terribly wrong?
A man started yelling. He was paddling about 100 ft from shore. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was clearly in distress. Another man, maybe his friend, swam over to him. There was a big commotion and everyone was staring. The other man started to yell. I stood up. “Kids, come here,” I shouted.
But the kids were busy watching the action. The first man kept bobbing up and down in the water. His friend attempted to keep him above the surface. I saw something red spiral from the two. Blood.
“Get over here now!” The mother in me made my voice stand out above the waves. Abby grabbed her brothers and they came to shore. Ester put Ezra on her shoulders and followed them to the beach. But Claire stayed in the water.
“Babe, come on,” Ester called to her.
Claire shook her head. “I think that guy needs help.” Claire was an avid swimmer. She was also the type of person to never run away from helping someone. She swum out towards the men. One of them was now completely underwater. The other was grabbing into the waves. Something white looked like it was floating. Blood pooled around them.
I got distracted from the scene when Ester started panicking. At first I thought it was about the blood, but she was staring at Ezra. “Fuck, fuck.” Ester’s hands shook. “What the hell is this?” I approached them and noticed something on the baby’s legs. They looked like yellow mosquito bites. I put a comforting hand on Ester’s back. “He probably just got bit by a bug,” I told her. But as I spoke the bumps got bigger. I swear as I looked they morphed from the size of a pinhead to a pea.
I turned and saw Abby on lying on the sand. She cupped her stomach in her hands. Large yellow bumps peeked above her bikini. “Mom, what’s happening to me?”
Swallowing my horror I went to her. “Does it hurt?”
She shook her head. “It just feels like pressure.”
I put my hand on one of the bumps. It was hot to the touch. I swear something inside it moved. Instinctively I retched my hand away. Abby’s eyes were scared.
“Me too mommy!” Just beyond Abby stood Zach. He pulled up his shirt and showed me the yellow bumps dotting his back. They were big – twice the size of a quarter. And growing bigger.
“I’m sure it’s just a bug bite, or maybe an allergy to something in the water.” I tried to keep my tone as calm as possible. I tried not to think about that thing I had read about– swimmer’s itch. Basically it was a worm that lived in lake water and crawled into people’s bodies. Unless you got it off you right away they borrow inside your skin. Luckily they can’t survive in humans, and end up dying. But the suckers itch like hell.
Looking at the grotesque yellow bumps I doubted they were worms. For one thing, swimmer’s itch takes a while to be noticed. And this rash came about almost in an instant. It looked more like boils. But the kids seemed to be otherwise fine. No pain.
I saw a woman close by begin to scream. She was on her knees, looking after her young son. He had a cluster of the bumps on his forearm. One of the bumps had popped and his mother’s face was covered in an oozing reddish pus. I nearly threw up. But then I saw what was really happening to the boy. The boil had ruptured, and something was crawling out. It was a maggot. But it wasn’t the tiny things you found in your garden. This thing must have been seven inches in length and half that in width. Its head was as big as its body. The thing wriggled, biting at the boy’s flesh. Its heavy black head was skittering left and right. The disgusting grub was filled with blood. It pulsed against its revolting white skin.
The boy was laughing. The maggot seemed to cause him no pain. Instead he was captivated by the bug, like any little kid might be. His mother slapped the grub off of him, squishing it beneath her foot. But more of his bumps began to burst. First slowly, then at fire speed. Fifteen maggots ate their way out of his body in the span of thirty seconds. They were so clustered that the flesh they consumed caused his muscle to fall off the bone.
His eyes closed quietly as he drifted off from lack of blood.
Screams were coming from all around me now. Adults and children alike were watching the horror happening to their loved ones. Ester stood over her child, covered in mucus. Six maggots had chewed through Ezra’s legs, leaving gaping wounds. He had no knees anymore. The blood loss was too much. Ester turned to me, horrified. That’s when I noticed the yellow bumps on her neck.
“Ester…” I could hear the first one pop. It sounded like balloon being slammed beneath a hammer. Slime splattered the ground. A huge grub freed itself and crawled down her throat. Ester tried to speak but her lungs were filling with blood. She collapsed onto the sand.
Suddenly my own children’s faces popped into my head. Abby was screaming, staring at Zach as the wriggling invaders made their way out of his body. Abby’s stomach had been obliterated. It looked like a shark had bitten half her midsection off. But she barely seemed to notice. She was yelling towards Zach, who had fallen face first onto the earth. All of his bumps had popped except one, located directly on the base of his spine. I was trying to find a way to bind Abby’s torso when the last one exploded. Mucus flew into the air and covered all of us. The maggot slowly continued eating, uncaring that there was so little flesh left to consume. Underneath it I could see Zach’s backbone.
Kether was crouched nearby, hugging his knees in fear. Abby’s blood soaked through the towel I had placed there. I called to Kether, “Honey, take my phone and call 911.”
He cried and rocked back and forth.
“Baby, please. Abby needs help.” I pointed towards my purse. Reluctantly Kether crept towards it. That’s when I saw the bumps on his hand. “Oh God,” I whispered.
Before Kether could reach the phone his pointer finger burst. The grub that crawled out was as large as the appendage it had destroyed. I was sobbing at this point. Abby had stopped breathing. My kids were either dead or dying and everyone around me was suffering the same fate. Kether stared at his mangled hand as two more maggots erupted through.
That’s when I heard the sirens. Someone had been able to call the police. The beach looked like a massacre. Bodies were strewn across the sand, fresh blood staining the water.
Claire and the others floated lifelessly on the waves. I could count under twenty of us still moving. I took Kether’s shirt off of him and wrapped it around his hand. I helped him hold it above his head. The policemen were unprepared. They called in backup. I clutched my child and cried.
Ester, Claire, Ezra, Abby, and Zach all died yesterday. Each died from blood loss. Kether was rushed to the nearest hospital. They amputated his pulverized hand but he survived. I’m still in the ICU with him. He is awake but a bit groggy.
Abby was only fourteen, and Zach just six. And Ezra…poor baby was only five months old. So many children died. And adults too. Almost every single person who had visited the lake yesterday. Kether was the only one to survive actually going in the water. The rest of us only lived because we stayed on the shore.
No one will tell us what the parasite was. I don’t think anyone knows. I’ve searched online and can’t find any grubs that large that could come from a water insect, let alone ones that grow so fast. No one seemed to realize they had been infected. Kether told me he felt no pain, even when the skin broke. I’m guessing the maggots chewed through the nerves. Or maybe infected the spinal column. They are still performing tests.
I was offered a large settlement to stay quiet about incident. I didn’t take it. I was told they could make life very challenging for me if I refused the money, but I have almost nothing left to lose.
I tried to call Bill, but he isn’t answering his phone.
The Governor is on the tv now saying it was a terrorist attack and that the water is perfectly safe. He said some ‘drug users’ are claiming it was caused by an insect in the lake. He called us conspiracy theorists and nutjobs. The CDC has officially cleared Devil’s Lake of any potential danger.
But I am warning you – don’t go in the water.
Once the maggots were done eating our loved ones, they all crawled right back into the lake.