Mother Nature is a cruel woman.
A young man who fell into a boiling hot spring has become the poster boy for what happens when you don’t pay attention to warning signs.
Oregon-bred, Pacific University graduate Colin Scott met his demise after veering dangerously far away from a designated viewing boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park with his sister, Sable Scott.
Scott was attempting to test the temperature of a highly acidic pool in the Norris Geyser Basin area with his hand when he slipped and fell in. A ranger at the park said Sable ran to get help but officials couldn’t rescue him or retrieve his body because “there was a significant amount of dissolving” involved.
Just in case Scott’s demise—plus a memorable scene from the cinematic masterpiece known as Dante’s Peak—isn’t enough to thoroughly convince everyone to stop jumping into geyser basins all willy nilly, let me direct you to an essay by Chuck Palahniuk to terrify you submission.
An excerpt from “Hot Potting,” which you can find in its entirety in Haunted:
There were parts of Olson already gone. His legs, below his knees, cooked and drug off the broken ice. Bit and pulled off, the skin first and then the bones, the blood so cooked inside there’s nothing going off behind him but a trail of his own grease. His heat melting deep in the snow.
The kid from Pinson City, Wyoming, the kid who jumped in to save his dog. Folks say that when the crowd pulled him out his arms popped apart, joint by joint, but he was still alive. His scalp peeled back off his white skull, but he was still awake.
The surface of the seething water, it spit hot and sparkling rainbow colors from the kid’s rendered fat, the grease of him floating on the surface.
The kid’s dog boiled down to a perfect dog-shaped fur coat, its bones already cooked clean and settling into the deep geothermal center of the world, the kid’s last words were, “I f*cked up. I can’t fix this. Can I?”
That’s how Miss Leroy found Olson Read that night. But worse.
The snow behind him, the fresh powder all around him, it was cut with drool.
All around his screams, fanned out around behind him, Miss Leroy could see a swarm of yellow eyes. The snow stamped down to ice in the prints of coyote feet. The four-toe prints of wolf paws. Floating around him were the long skull faces of wild dogs. Panting behind their own white breath, their black lips curled up along the ridge of each snout. Their little-root teeth meshed together, tight, tugging back on the rags of Olson’s white pants, the shredded pant legs still steaming from what’s boiled alive inside.
The next heartbeat, the yellow eyes are gone and what’s left of Olson is what’s left. Snow kicked up by back feet, it still sparkles in the air.
The two of them, in the warm cloud of bacon smell, Olson pulsed with heat, a big baked potato sinking deeper into the snow beside her. His skin was crusted now, puckered and rough as fried chicken, but loose and slippery on top of the muscle underneath, the muscle twisting, cooked, around the core of warm bone.
His hands were clamped right around her, around Miss Leroy’s fingers, when she tried to pull away, his skin tore. His cooked hands stuck, the way your lips freeze to the flagpole on the playground in cold weather. When she tried to pull away, his fingers split to the bone, baked and bloodless inside, and he screamed and gripped Miss Leroy tight.
He was too heavy to move. Sunk there in the snow.
She was anchored there, the side door to the dining room only twenty footprints away in the snow. The door was still open, and the tables inside set for the next meal. Miss Leroy could see the dining room’s big stone mountain of a fireplace, the logs burning inside. She could watch, but it was too far away to feel. She swam with her feet, kicking, trying to drag Olson, but the snow was too deep.
Instead of moving, she stayed, hoping he would die. Praying to God to kill Olson Read before she froze. The wolves watching with their yellow eyes from the dark edge of the forest. The pine-tree shapes going up into the night sky. The stars above them, bleeding together.
Yep. The man who wrote Fight Club is a prophet who tried to warn us back in 2005. Sad that Colin Scott never read or heard about Palahniuk’s hot potting piece, considering they’re both from Portland.
The next time you find a beautifully steamy pool outside and feel tempted to soak your weary bones, remember that bones may be all you have left if you don’t turn your ass around and step away from the human crockpot.