Mixsonian Larry

Sinkholes, Caves and the Devil’s Millhopper
A trip to hell and back

The Figure

Devil’s Millhopper got its name in early settler times because it is shaped like the hopper that feeds grain into the mill.  The Devil’s part came from old prehistoric bones and shark’s teeth being found at the bottom, which the settlers explained were from the Devil dragging animals down into the sink hole to be devoured.  The settlers said they sometimes heard strange screeching sounds at night coming from the sinkhole which they said was all the proof they needed.  In the late 1800’s it was rumored that one night, a man named Warren, who was struggling through tough times, went to the sinkhole to make a pact with the Devil in return for his help.  It was late October, what better time to meet the devil, Warren thought, than on Halloween night.  It was a cool but pleasant Florida evening when he arrived at the sinkhole just before midnight when he heard the cries of an animal coming from somewhere in the sinkhole before him, but he braced himself with a flask he had in his pocket as he looked down into the eerie dark depth of the sinkhole.  With that shot of courage, Warren procced down the steep slope under the dim light of a quarter moon, slipping and sliding, scratching his arm on a tree branch, with it getter much cooler as he descended. Upon reaching the bottom Warren saw a dark figure kneeling over a dead animal.  As the dark figure slowly stood up, Warren saw what appearing to be a hooded man wearing a black robe with silvery tints from the soft moonlight.   Warren froze in place; his arms and legs would not move, as the figure turned towards him and Warren saw two red eyes under the blackness of the hood, glowing like coals in a fire.   After a moment the figure lifted his robed arm toward Warren, extended a boney finger and beckoned Warren to come closer.  Warren gasped, not realizing that he had been holding his breath, and exhaled, his breath making a cloud of steam in the cool night’s air.  As scared as he was, Warren didn’t notice the feeling of warmth running down the inside of his pant leg.  Warren then found himself involuntarily taking a step forward, unsure if he was doing so himself or if he was being compelled to do so and, after a few steps, stops an arm’s length from the figure.

Being so close to the figure, Warren could only see only two red glowing eyes under the figure’s hood floating in a deep bottomless darkness. The figure then spoke, the words coming a mouth that Warren could not see and with a breath that made no steam like his own, “You have been watching me.” a statement not a question.  Warren still answered in a shaky voice, “Yes.”  After a pause, the figure then asked, “What do you want?” and Warren replied, "Your help.”   The red eyes glowed a bit brighter as the figure asked, “Do you know who I am?” “Yes.”  Warren replied, sure that it was the Devil himself.   “Why should I not devour you like this animal here.”  the figure says pointing his bony finger at the half devoured fawn laying at his feet.  “What do you have for me other than the fresh blood I smell running down your arm.”  Well, this was not going quite the way he expected, Warren thought as he saw the blood running down his arm from a scratch he got coming down into the sink.  Warren then stammers, “There has to be something else you want.”  and the figure’s eyes glow even brighter as he responds, “I will help you but then on your 60th birthday I will come to you and ask you for something precious and you must give it to me.”  Warren a young man in his twenties at the time thought that age 60 was a long time away and he would be an old man, perhaps not even living that long, so Warren agreed. 

The figure then said, “Follow me.” As he turned an opening to a cave appeared in the side of the sinkhole behind him.  Warren then asked, “Where are we going?” getting the answer, “To sign the paperwork.”  the figure replied with a slight chuckle. Warren, not knowing what else to do, followed the figure into the cave.  The cave sloped steeply downward in a spiral, but it was not totally dark, as Warren’s eyes adjusted, he saw there was a soft reddish glow that almost seem to emanate from a slight fog hanging in the air. As they proceeded deeper the glow got brighter as well as the temperature begin to rise, in a sharp contrast to the cool night air at the bottom of the sinkhole, Warren started to sweat. 

After going some distance, Warren began to question his decision and about where they were headed.  As they were descending, Warren had noticed an occasional side tunnel and when they passed the next one, he noticed a slightly cooler air coming from it.  The figure was a few paces ahead of him, for Warren had been walking a bit slower, when, fearing that he may not make it out alive, he stepped into the side tunnel and hurried as fast as possible down its narrow confines.  The tunnel soon began to narrow and become shorter, he at first had to stoop then soon was on his hands and knees crawling as fast as he could.  Fearing that he was coming to a dead end he heard a loud enraged voice from the tunnel behind him, “Where did you go? Where are you?” The tunnel narrowed even more, he was now on his belly crawling like a snake when he could go no further, he was stuck.  He cried, he wept, he prayed that if the good Lord would get him out of this he would be forever faithful, and he collapsed, all the air rushing out of his lungs which was just the thing he needed, he felt the squeeze lessen, letting the air out of his lungs gave him just enough space to pull himself a few inches further, but there was a problem, he could not breath and fill his lungs, so he pulled again, moving another few inches, he struggled for air, he moved another few inches, he was in agony, his lungs were burning, he moved another few inches and the tunnel expanded barely a half inch allow for a small gasp for air, he moved a few inches more and the tunnel begin to opened up and then he pulled himself through into a small opening.  He sat there for a moment gasping for air and said, “Thank you Lord.” Then he heard a long, but much creeper, wolf like howl coming off in the distance though the tunnel he had just crawled out of. 

Escape into Darkness