The Maggot Men of San Bernardo

In 2006, Miguel Micheals was hiking in the sandstone hills surrounding the town of San Bernardo. The Arizonan night was quiet except for the chirping of crickets and promised to be a pleasant one. Little did Miguel know of the harrowing events soon to come. A wind blew from the west, bringing with it the smell of desert sand. The night was moonless, but the stars were out in force, allowing Miguel to navigate the rocky path without any other light source. After a three mile hike from San Bernardo, Miguel reached a cave he had yet to explore. Miguel, a 37-year-old software developer from Phoenix had a passion for cave exploration. He had spent years finding and spelunking the huge amount of caves and tunnels that honeycombed the San Bernardo hills. The cave that now stood before him was well off the beaten path. Not even the locals knew about it. When Miguel crossed the threshold into the cave, the light of the stars vanished. He clicked on his headlamp and proceeded deeper into the cave. He could still hear the wind whistling outside the cave mouth but the air inside was still and smelled of earth and dust. Miguel smiled, happy to be out of the wind. Miguel was both fascinated and terrified by enclosed spaces, a tension that drove his fascination with spelunking. As Miguel ventured further and further into the cave, he noticed an unpleasant smell. Nothing more than an occasional whiff at first, the smell of rot soon filled Miguels’s nostrils as he ventured deep into the recesses of the cave.


Less than an hour later, Miguel Michaels ran out of the darkness into the starlit night. He didn’t stop running until he was nearly hit by Sheriff’s Deputy Titus Quentin. As it happened, the deputy was just coming back from a call on the other side of the small county. The dirt road, lit up by the headlights of his squad car, was empty. Suddenly, a man sprinted into the road. Deputy Quentin slammed on the brakes and leapt out of his car. Miguel Michaels was in a panic, barely able to get out words. The deputy tried to calm the man down but this proved impossible. Michaels babbled. Out of the jumbled words and half-finished thoughts, the deputy heard an unbelievable story. Miguel Michaels explained how he had found a natural ramp of smooth stone in the depths of a cave. The ramp lead down to a wide cavern about the size of a church. The cavern reeked of rotting flesh. A sticky, tar-like substance was everywhere; clinging to the walls, dripping from the ceiling, and in huge pools on the ground. Miguel then described the hideous creatures that had risen out of the tar and tried to make contact with him. These creatures had the rough shape of humans, but their flesh was rubbery and pure white and they lacked faces of any kind. Michaels described them as maggot-men.

That is the first known time the “maggot men of San Bernardo” were ever mentioned.

Michaels described how this mass of eyeless creatures had seemed to try to communicate with him. There were many of them—half a dozen or more. Their wet bodies squelched sickeningly in the tar as they writhed together. They made unsettling, chittering sounds as their mouths gaped at him. Michaels had felt a pressure inside his head and had just begun to see things—split-second flashes of things and places he did not recognize—when his terror finally broke the spell over him and he ran from the cave.

Deputy Quentin, knowing Michaels’s story was crazy but that something had clearly disturbed the man, acted quickly. He drove Michaels to the sheriff’s office. The deputy found and searched Michaels car. Finding nothing suspicious, he drove it to the station. The deputy then organized a search party to explore the cave. Miguel told them where it was but refused to go himself. While the search part was making the three-mile trek up into the hills, Miguel regained some of his wits. He slipped out of the station and drove away in his car. Meanwhile, the search party reached the cave. Once inside the first thing they noticed was the smell. Then they found the ramp down into the cavern. Deputy Quentin’s flashlight cut through the darkness, illuminating a wide circle of the damp stone floor in front of him. As the search party stopped on the lip of a depression in the floor, the reek of pitch mixed with something else—something biological—assaulted them. Deputy Quentin found no trace of the maggot men, only the bowl-shaped depression filled with some sort of possibly industrial residue.

Deputy Quentin returned to the station and made his report. While he found the traces of tar puzzling, Quentin found very little else suspicious about the cave. Around 5 or 6 that morning, Miguel stopped at a Motel 6 off Interstate 17. He parked his car, a blue Toyota Corolla, in the parking lot, checked in at the front desk, and then fell asleep at once inside his room.

Five weeks passed. In San Bernardo, the incident with Michaels was completely forgotten. The town had under nine hundred residents and was very comfortable with its quiet rhythm of life. The sheriff chalked the whole thing up to either Michaels being on drugs or it was all was an elaborate story. Life continued in the small desert town as usual. On a hot Sunday afternoon, a local boy, Donny McCloud, was playing with two of his friends in a sandy ravine on the outskirts of town. During a game of hide and seek, Donny looked for a place to hide. He came to a steep gully at the foot of a rocky hill. The air was thick with a sickly-sweet smell. Donny wasn’t sure what the smell meant and he was curious to find out what was making it. As he peered over the lip of the gully, the smell grew more pungent. When his eyes saw the emaciated carcass lying in the sand, Donny started. At first thinking it was a human, Donny quickly realized that was impossible. The corpse has pure white skin and a bulbous head. He ran back to town and told his mother he had found a dead alien.

The sheriff and Deputy Quentin arrived on the scene. Both men were stunned at what they saw. For a moment, Quentin forgot the scorching heat of the sun which shone directly on him. All his attention was transfixed on the sun-dried corpse. The whole body was about five and a half feet in length and flecked with green-black flakes. The long, narrow torso was segmented like a worm’s. The arms and legs were strangely rubbery, even though the white flesh had been robbed of all its moisture. Then there was the head. It was huge compared to the body and nearly circular. A hole near the top of the head appeared to be the creature’s mouth and was lined inside with rows of small, sharp teeth. Two, vague depressions on either side of the cranium might have been eye sockets, though they were empty.

The body was carefully set inside a body bag and driven back to the station. The sheriff demanded absolute secrecy, since he didn’t want to shock his little town. Deputy Quentin called a lab in Phoenix, which agreed to send a crew out to examine the body and take it back to the lab. As the sheriff’s department waited for the medical crew to arrive, Quentin remembered Miguel Michaels. Michaels’ story had seemed insane at the time, but now… now the deputy understood. After thinking it all over, Titus Quentin was sure this strange, mutant corpse was one of Michaels’s “maggot men”. How the creature had come from Michaels’ cavern down to the ravine was a mystery. Though it was common knowledge that a huge network of erosion tunnels ran down from the hills and criss-crossed the entire San Bernardo valley.

The crew from Phoenix arrived. In the town morgue, Dr. Patricia Ivanov, the head examiner, watched in hushed silence as two men unzipped the body bag and lifted out the shriveled corpse of the unknown creature. Even though it had been preserved in a refrigerated environment, it stank with a nauseating mixture of pitch and rotting flesh. Quickly deducing it was definitely not human nor of any animal species she knew of, Dr. Ivanov and her team rushed the corpse back to their lab in Phoenix for further analysis.

Deputy Titus called Michaels’ home in Chandler but got no response. He called Michaels’ work and was told that Michaels was currently on a trip out of state. Quentin, frustrated he had let Michaels slip away, told himself to try him again later. So Quentin went back to waiting to learn of the laboratory results. A few days later, Titus was in Flagstaff at the police impound to drop off his cousin after a DUI. Strolling down the line of cars, Titus’s eyes passed over the assortment of vehicles. Trucks, rusted vans, sedans dusted with a light coating of sand; the impound had a broad selection. One car in particular grabbed Titus’s attention. It was a nondescript, sky blue Toyota Corolla that Titus swore he had seen somewhere before. Titus looked up the car’s owner to find it was none other than Miguel Michaels. The car had been found abandoned in the parking lot of a Motel 6 down the interstate. With an apprehensive feeling of having stepped into something much larger and more sinister than first thought, Deputy Quentin drove to the motel. With the desk clerk’s help, Quentin found the day when Michaels had checked in. Together, the clerk and Quentin spoke to the man who had been working the reception desk that night. According to him, it was the night after Michaels’ arrival that a black SUV pulled into the parking lot. Five men in suits climbed out of the vehicle. As four of the men hurried up to Michaels’ room, the fifth man marched across the pavement to the reception desk. The man wore a black suit and had close-cut hair. Once inside, the man flashed a badge and said he was from the FBI and that Miguel Michaels was a wanted criminal. While he spoke, the agent kept his dark eyes fixed emotionless on the receptionist. Behind the agent, the clerk watched through the windows as the other men quietly forced Michaels’ door open and all rushed in at once. They came out a moment later with a hooded and cuffed Michaels, who they stuffed into their car. With a warning to forget what he had seen for his own good, the man left.

Titus Quentin drove back to San Bernardo, a sickening feeling in his stomach for the whole ride. He kept wondering how far up this mystery went.

Deputy Quentin received a nasty shock when he returned to town. A few miles outside of town, the sheriff radioed and said there was a man in his office who wanted to speak to Quentin. Quentin was to come at once. Quentin rushed to the sheriff’s office only to find a man in a black suit and with dark eyes waiting for him. The man explained to both the sheriff and Titus that he worked for the FBI and he had been tracking Miguel Michaels for some time. Michaels was a criminal with cartel links, he explained. They had just searched his residence in Chandler and found that he helped cartels transfer money digitally without detection. Since Michaels had passed through San Bernardo, the FBI was here just to make sure Michaels hadn’t deposited any evidence in the town. The FBI agent was especially interested in the cave. The sheriff and Quentin showed the agent where the cave was in the hills.

Over the following days, black vans and unmarked trucks arrived in San Bernardo. The cave that Michaels had discovered was cordoned off and the townspeople were forbidden from getting within a hundred yards of it. The locals complained to the sheriff but there was nothing he could do at this point. What the mysterious agents found down in the cave and the extent of their investigations remained a mystery. From this point on in the story, Deputy Quentin halted his investigation. He never knew the ultimate fate of Miguel Michaels and if he really was a criminal or just a hiker who stumbled into something he shouldn’t have. Even the body which had been sent to Dr. Ivanov in Phoenix was lost. Unable to reach conclusive results on the creature’s exact nature and origins with her equipment, Ivanov had sent the creature to a lab in California. However, when she called weeks later to check on their progress, she was told they had no definitive results as of yet. She kept calling every few weeks but always received the same answer.

After more than a year, she stopped calling.

Late one evening, more than two weeks after the arrival of the black SUVs, a violent tremor shook the whole San Bernardo valley. Titus Quentin, who was at home watching TV, was thrown from his chair. Pictures fell from the wall; plates flew out of the cupboards and shattered on the floor; a pipe burst somewhere in the house. After thirty, frantic seconds the tremor passed. The nameless agent ordered the immediate evacuation of the town. More agents arrived the following morning alongside emergency service vehicles and National Guard troops to assist in the evacuation. The tremor was announced to be the foreshock of a massive earthquake, with San Bernardo right at the epicenter. The town’s residents were relocated to neighboring communities. Titus Quentin ended up resettling in Flagstaff, in the north of the state. It was only years later that he learned that San Bernardo had been demolished and a geological monitoring facility built where the town had been.

The story of the “maggot men of San Bernardo” might have ended here. There were rumors of course, particularly among the town’s former residents that the FBI agents had found all sorts of strange things in the cave network under the hills. Theories ranged from them discovering a colony of insect-men to a passage into the hollow Earth. But in 2013, an anonymous user on the website 4Chan wrote a post claiming to have been one of the technicians who had explored the caves in the immediate aftermath of the “earthquake”. In the post he made a number of interesting and outlandish claims, including:

  • The organization that ran the search wasn’t the FBI, but an agency much higher up in the United State’s intelligence community
  • That he helped explore and map out a vast network of tunnels and caverns that spanned the entire San Bernardo valley and went deep underground
  • Most of the tunnels were not natural. They were not the result of water erosion or volcanic activity, but were the burrows of huge, subterranean animals.
  • He had seen with his own eyes artifacts from ancient civilizations retrieved from certain caves. Among these were cave paintings, Hopi Indian artifacts, as well as artifacts from as far away as Egypt and ancient China.
  • The tremor had been engineered by the agency as an excuse to relocate the town’s inhabitants so they could build a base on the site for continuing research.
  • Living specimens of maggot-like humanoid creatures had been found in pits of tar throughout the cave network. Large nests and discarded carapaces suggested there had once existed much larger insect creatures
  • Finally, the anonymous poster claimed that research at the San Bernardo facility was ongoing and the caves, nicknamed ”the Anthill”, were still being explored to the present and new discoveries being made on a regular basis
A sketch of one of the supposed artifacts. Included in the original 4Chan post.

The poster included a number of pictures with his post. The post was taken down a week later, but fortunately it was up long enough for us to be able to find record of it. After researching this story and doing some sleuthing of our own, it seems undeniable that something strange happened in San Bernardo in 2006. You may believe that Miguel Michaels was a wanted criminal. That might explain his sudden flight from San Bernardo the night of his supposed discovery. The 4Chan poster gave no details about how exactly the government faked a severe tectonic tremor. In fact, the tremor was more than likely very real. San Bernardo is not far from the tectonically-active Mojave Desert region and had been known to get the occasional aftershock. Whether or not the anonymous 4Chan poster was really one of the investigators cannot be proved.

Depictions of the Hopi ant-men (

But what if Miguel Michaels really did discover something that cool, desert night in 2006? Some remnant of a primordial world. If the 4Chan poster is to be believed, it would appear that ancient creatures of insect origin lived for centuries, even millennia, under the surface of the San Bernardo valley. Calling the discovered specimen “maggot men” seems apt, not just because of their appearance but because they may very well have been the larval stage of whatever forgotten species they belong to. The Hopi Indians who have inhabited Arizona for thousands of years do in fact tell tales of cave-dwelling “ant-men” who aided their tribe in the distant past. The discoveries at San Bernardo aligned with similar, equally mysterious discoveries made at the Grand Canyon. Was Arizona once the realm of ant-men in the very foggiest reaches of the past? Or is this all a hoax concocted by over-imaginative dwellers of the Arizonan desert? Deputy Quentin and Dr. Ivanov stand by what they saw to this day. Who can say for sure. We here at Doom Truth simply present the facts as we have found them. Do with them what you will.

Just remember: the truth is out there.

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