In the United States of America, in the state of Ohio, about forty-five minutes North West of Cincinnati, there is a large, but sparsely populated farming community known as Oregonia. Some of you who have an interest in Motorcycles may have heard of it before, as the community is famous for its hills and holds the annual “Devil’s Staircase Hill Climb”, where motorcyclists ride their bikes up a very steep hill. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, and it brings in a lot of money and excitement to what is normally a very boring area.
Oregonia is actually a pretty interesting place for being so small and secluded. The guy who invented pop tabs, the thing on top of soda cans that open them, lived there. He was an industrialist by the name of Ralph J. Stolle. There were also a few interesting experiments held at the farm; it was one of the first to try and breed “beefalo”, Cattle/Buffalo hybrids that were supposed to be healthier, reproduce faster, stuff like that. This story is about a similar experiment.
If any of you pass through Oregonia, you can confirm this story with the locals, but you’ll have to the press them somewhat. The older folks won’t talk about it, but people between fifteen and thirty will have a story or two. Ask them about the unmarked, unnamed, gated off road above Turtle Creek Cemetery. Ask them about the facility at the end of that road, and what it used to be used for. Ask them about Baboon Lane.
Mostly, you’ll hear the official story. The facility at the end of baboon lane was a research lab that specialized in studying the effects of various diseases on Baboons, who are closely related to humans, and so the research is viable. Another story says that Stolle had to do something with his money, so he bought a bunch of animals but couldn’t properly care for them, and just locked them in there. The younger kids will tell you different local legends; my favorite is that it’s a storage facility for some kind of government black ops organization storing something like the Arc of the Covenant or something. The occasional ghost haunting story is to be expected, so are aliens and such. It is a farm, after all, and I’m sure I believed one of those stories at one point. But on a rare, rare occasion, someone will know, and be willing to part with, the truth. And when they do, you’ll understand why its so rare.
My story starts as many of my childhood stories start: My cousins were over at my grandparents’ home. At the time, Oregonia had little to no internet or Cable. We actually had to play outside back then. There were six of us. My cousins Matt, Shane, Ethan, Tory, and Monique, and me. I was the youngest, only eight when this happened, But my older cousins usually treated me well and made me a part of everything, if not only because I lived there with my parents just up the road from my grandparents house. I knew all the trails, the hills, the valleys, the places to play. Without me, they would get lost, and they did pretty often if they didn’t take me or got separated.
When we were all there together, we would usually grab a bunch of toy guns and play soldiers; even the girls, because there wasn’t much else to do. Sometimes we’d grab sticks and fight, and sometimes we’d play tag, or hide and seek in the woods, but I always won, so we didn’t play that often. This story was soldiers. We were all dropped into Normandy to fight Nazis.
D-Day was in the morning, just after we ate breakfast. By the time noon rolled around, we were in Vietnam, and after dinner, when the sun was setting, we were out of wars to fight. The oldest of us, Matt, looked to me and asked,
“Is there anything else we can do?”
I thought about it, and replied. When I remember this story, this is the part where I wince, like watching that part in a movie where a character makes a stupid decision that gets someone killed. I didn’t get hurt, but there are things you just don’t want to know, and the deal with Baboon lane was one of them.
“We could check out Baboon Lane.” I said. They seemed interested. I don’t remember exactly when I heard about it, but I remember holding onto the knowledge until asked, because I wanted to impress them. I told them the local legends, and with the sun setting, we all agreed it’d be cool to explore. None of us wanted to admit we were scared, me least of all, being the youngest and the most to prove.
If they are told of Baboon lane, every child is told not to go near it. I was given the same warning, but my cousins weren’t. I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble, as we always went places we weren’t supposed to go. Abandoned warehouses, caves, construction sites, and so on, and nothing bad ever happened.
We finally got there just as it got dark. We didn’t have to be home for another two hours or so, so we had time. We checked the area for security guards or cameras, but didn’t find any. The door was locked, but a window was broken out, so we just snuck in.
There were a few buildings. The smaller buildings were just offices and storage, but the biggest one is what this story is about. It was a big, long building, separated into portions. Inside the first portion of the building was just a normal office. It was like a reception area and some desks. We didn’t stay there long, as there was a big sliding door opposite the front door. We went through.
It was the size of a warehouse (in fact, I think they may have cleaned it out and use it for storage nowadays). The right wall was lined with cages. We looked at those first. Each cage was about five feet tall, two wide, and maybe two deep. Matt tried to get in; he was fourteen, and too tall for it, having to bend his head slightly. There wasn’t enough room for him to sit, either.
The left wall had a lot of equipment on it. Big machines that you see in old black and white pictures of military instillation. Beakers, test tubes, big industrial sinks, and other lab equipment. There was a second floor. We poked around, and didn’t find anything.
In the next section were offices, but more like work offices rather than some kind of reception. The next was a kind of loading dock and warehouse. We poked around the work offices, breaking into desks. Whoever worked there had cleaned out in a hurry, as most of the contents of the desks were still there. That’s when we found it.
It was in the biggest office, on the second story; it had a window overlooking the bigger, laboratory section. The desk wasn’t locked; just rusted shut. Inside were a few cigar boxes, and in one of them was a book. It was one part personal journal, one part official logbook. Some of the sheets had a kind of inventory, others looked like chemical formulae, and finally the journal entries. Most of the entries were illegible; some water had gotten in at some point and messed up the ink. Some were fine, though. My cousin Shane laid it out on the table and read what he could out loud. Most of the dates were from late 1959 to early 1960.
“Shipment of sixty baboons came in today from all over the country.” one of the first one’s said. Quite a few of the first entries were like that. They had to have had a few hundred, but they could probably only hold twenty or so at a time.
“Baboon 19-5 was restless today. Side effect of 020.1” there were a few like this. I remember another one was “Baboon 42-1 died of 020.2.” and so on.
But the journal wasn’t finished. It was only about three quarters full. Whoever was writing the journal had probably a dozen more, finished, in storage somewhere. Some of the last entries were pristine. I can still see Shane reading them with Matt and Monique peeking over his shoulder with their flashlights.
“Baboon 53-3 asked for a preacher. He knows he’s dying.”
“Baboon 38-2 and 22-4 escaped. 22-4 died of the cold near the lake. 38-2 is still at large.”
“Police stopped by the facility today. 38-2 may have talked to them.”
“Baboon 38-2 was returned to us. Police weren’t happy, but they had orders from high up. I told him he belonged here. He was doing more help to us than rotting in some prison. One of the officers said that nobody belonged here. I told him that 38-2 should’ve thought about that before raping a white woman.”
It was somewhere around there than Shane stopped. Everybody got real quiet. We left. Nobody talked much, and everyone seemed sick. I was just curious as to how a baboon could talk. I didn’t piece it all together until someone told me about the Tuskegee Experiments when I was in college.