It happened on a day just like today. A group of teenagers were hiking through the hills and exploring the caves around the town. No one had ever mapped them or marked them, so it was impossible to actually how many there were. A few people had gone in to explore them and came back saying they were pitch black and never seemed to end. Farmers around town told stories of stray cattle wandering in and never coming out. Others said they claimed to hear strange noises coming from them at night. Parents and teachers said it was just wild animals, a bear or mountain lion or something, making noises and hunting. But some of the older members of town thought it was something different.
The teens had heard the old legend. That the caves were used as burial places for a tribe of people who lived there before the town was founded. It didn’t help that the town had also used the land near the caves as a cemetery. Most people left the caves alone, but tonight was Halloween and the tradition was to see who was brave enough to get closest to the big cave overlooking the cemetery without getting scared.
Jesse didn’t want to be there. Unlike a lot of the others he actually believed the old stories, but he knew if he didn’t go he would never be invited to do anything with the group again. He stood in the back trying hard to laugh and joke despite how nervous he was. He was hoping no one would notice he didn’t take his turn to step up. Just as he thought he was off the hook he heard his name. “Jesse, get up there. Don’t be a momma’s boy.”
Jesse walked slowly toward the cave. They had come out around sunset, with still plenty of light left. But it had got dark faster than Jesse had realized. He got to the mouth of the cave and stopped. “All right, good enough for me” he said and turned to come back.
“No, man you gotta take one step inside the cave and turn around” came a yell back. It was more than Jesse wanted to do, but one step wasn’t bad. He’d still be able to see the group. He took one step in and turned around. As he turned he slipped on some rocks and fell back in the cave. The group laughed at first, but when Jesse didn’t pop back up some of the girls got worried. A few had brought flashlights and walked up to see if Jesse was okay, but he wasn’t there.
“Jesse are you okay? Come on out dude.” The answer they got was a low growl. “Jesse, that’s not funny man”.
They shown their flashlights deeper into the cave, but too afraid to actually go in. Then someone thought they heard rustling from deep in the cave. From around a corner they heard footsteps coming their way. They saw the eyes first, glowing bright like a full moon. Then they saw the body, as Jesse stepped into the light. He seemed different. He seemed taller, looked stronger. And no one remembered him being that fast as he ran at the first boy, tackling him and smashing his head against a rock.
The group ran. They didn’t look back. The screams from Jesse in the cave were too much. When they got to town they flagged down the first police officer they could find. Immediately several officers went up to investigate. They found the body of the boy with Jesse still standing over it. They managed to wrestling him to the ground and handcuff him, but once they had him sitting up he broke the cuffs and ran back into the cave screaming.
A search party tried to go in and find Jesse, but after several hours came back empty handed. The caves were too large. It could take hundreds of volunteers a year to search all of them and by that time Jesse could have escaped. The only problem was at night you could still hear him screaming and see him wandering among the graves, his eyes glowing even when there was no moon or stars in the sky.
A year went by and an evangelist came passing through town. As he got to the edge of town where the town’s welcome sign was, he was forced to come to a stop. Jesse stood in the middle of the road. Nearly naked from his clothes shredding on the cave walls, the broken handcuffs still on his arms, and his eyes glowing white. The preacher came forward through his entourage.
“What do you want preacher?” Jesse spat. The preacher reached out his hand and Jesse cowered. “Please don’t hurt me”, he pleaded.
“What is your name?” the preacher asked
“Legion” Jesse replied
“Because there are many demons in this body, and the body is ours.” Suddenly the voice wasn’t that of a man anymore. It has an echo like a thousand voices speaking in unison.
“No,” responded the preacher sternly “That body is not yours. Come out!”
“Don’t make us leave this place,” the voices pleaded “send us into the cattle”
The preacher nodded his head and as Jesse’s body slumped to the ground, the demons possessed the herd in the field. Immediately the herd began to stampede, burst through a fence, and over a cliff overlooking a lake and drowned.
Within a few hours it seemed like the entire town had heard about what happened and came to meet the preacher. But it wasn’t a warm reception. Fear over who or what Jesse was and anger over the loss of millions of dollars of cattle told the preacher he wasn’t welcome there despite what the sign said. Jesse could stay now that he seemed in his right mind, but the preacher had to go.
To this day the town still tells the story of Jesse and his demon possession every Halloween. The police closed off the cave entrance by the cemetery and the ritual of standing by the entrance is a thing of the past. But on nights like this, you can still hear the screams echoing through the hills, as Legion looks for another body to take control.
Based on the Mark 5:1-20