That Time I Spent the Night in a Religious Compound Up in the Mountains

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Disclaimer: I’ve left out names and other identifying details, the photo isn’t of the actual compound, etc.

Back in 2012 I was coming back from an OKCupid date downtown on my scooter. How did it go? Well, I picked her up on an electric scooter. You figure it out. Anyways some douche stole my helmet while my scooter was parked so I was taking a backroads route in the hopes of not being stopped by cops.

What I didn’t plan for is that driving uphill on loose gravel is extremely fucking dicey, even in a car. On a two wheeler, I should’ve known better, but have a bad habit of learning lessons like this the hard way. I wiped out, the scooter sliding away from me on its side rather than falling on top of me thank goodness.

I was immediately more concerned about the scooter than myself. I’ve since read that this is typical. Adrenaline following a crash makes you feel 100% fine even if you’re seriously wounded, only when it wears off do you begin feeling the pain. I wasn’t seriously wounded but I did have a badly skinned knee that was oozing blood. Really nasty road rash, with little bits of gravel embedded in there like shrapnel.

As I was studying the scooter for damage (nothing much besides scratches on one side) a white pickup truck pulled up alongside me. Someone in the back called out “are you hurt?” I didn’t feel hurt so I shook my head. He and the driver got out anyways. They’d apparently seen me wipe out.

Good on them for not just taking my word for it that I was fine and moving on, because a few minutes later I was feeling woozy and the wound on my knee hurt like a bitch. They offered, albeit pretty insistently, that I let them load the scooter into the bed of the truck and take me to their home to rest.

I like my state. I feel very much in tune with the people here and am typically inclined to trust them. So I saw nothing sufficiently unusual enough about any of this to set off alarms in my head until their “home” came into view, a sprawling compound enshrouded by densely packed trees.

The driver of the truck identified himself as the owner, and explained that he bought this place so he’d have plenty of rooms where he could recuperate homeless veterans. His story checked out. Googling him revealed he was, himself, a veteran and made a bundle by founding a military contractor after his tour of duty was over.

He then used this money to take care of army buddies of his who didn’t fare so well following their return to civilian life. A noble project, no doubt about it. Still, the whole place kinda gave me the jeebs. There were huge portraits of Jesus everywhere. He was a big time fundamentalist, apocalyptic kind of Christian.

I found this out as he explained his interest in building survival bunkers for those who survived a nuclear war he believed was predicted by scripture. Presumably the bunker would protect people righteous enough that he didn’t believe they deserved to perish outside, but not righteous enough to be raptured.

He then excitedly described a new investment opportunity he’d been approached with. As he told me the details I quickly recognized it as the “permanent free energy magnetic motor” scam, and warned him about it. He seemed taken aback and skeptical. I showed him videos on Youtube debunking it, but he told me it was a matter for another day.

The focus was then on cleaning and dressing the wound on my knee. His wife brought me a soda. I accepted but did not drink it, feeling it unwise to drink anything handed to me in such a place. She inquired about my life story, my education, my ambitions. We got on very well. She said I struck her as a brilliant young man. I jokingly advised her to reserve judgement until I told her about some of my more dubious life choices.

I was invited to sleep it off, spending the night on their couch while the scooter recharged from an outlet in their garage. When I next awoke, the birds were chirping and the sun was just breaking free of the horizon. The scooter was charged, my knee felt better and I was in a hurry to get out of that place.

They were every bit the hospitable good samaritans. I can’t fault them on anything and remain thankful for the help they offered. Something about that place still made my skin crawl however. Maybe that’s just an irrational feeling, and unfair to that lovely couple who gave me a place to rest and recover in my hour of need.

Months later, I met with the man who owned the compound over coffee. I asked about his “free energy magnetic motor investment”. He looked away and didn’t say anything. As we caught up, I told him about the events leading up to the crash. We discussed his charitable endeavors, his time in the army, and his thoughts on the Bible and religion/God in general.

He seemed tickled by my views on the matter, saying only “You’ve put a lot of thought into this, haven’t you?” But it was by that point a casual meeting of friends, not a situation where anybody’s mind was likely to be changed. I pointed him to some websites where he could commission subterranean fallout shelters at the lowest going rate, he gave me his card and we parted ways.

I haven’t spoken with him since. Perhaps I should? Or perhaps it was fine for our paths to cross only momentarily, after which we resumed our divergent trajectories.

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