In the early era of American colonization, alongside the ambitious, the indentured, and the enslaved, there were the convicted. In 1717 the British Parliament began to subsidize the shipment of convicted felons to the colonies as an alternative to their execution. The colonies were furious that they were being used as a dumping ground for criminals and murderers. In an article published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Benjamin Franklin proposed that we exchange British felons for American rattlesnakes. Their danger was greatly exaggerated Franklin argued, and they could be comfortably resettled in English gardens.
In time the policy was abolished, but not before the damage had been done. Between 1718 and 1775 the British Empire shipped over 50,000 felons to the colonies. 80% of them went to Maryland and Virginia in ships used for the tobacco trade. When felons were tossed from these ships they were inclined to head west to avoid unwanted attention, and begin a new life.
Europeans felled the first virgin trees here in the 1740s, and built their home beside what is now Schaeffer Road, the road leading directly to the Screamplex. During that time this area was known as "The Sugarloaf Hundred," for the number of families that lived here.
Living on the frontier of the new world it was not unheard of for a child to disappear. Wolves, mountain lions, bears, and rattlesnakes abounded. But when 11 children disappeared in two short months during the summer of 1764, the community of The Sugarloaf Hundred knew that they had been joined by an evil presence. Grim tales of witches and daemons, werewolves and spirits spread, and paralyzed the town with fear. Few among them voiced the belief that perhaps, among the thousands of criminals, killers, and psychopaths freed and heading west from Maryland's shores, one among them was calling this forest home.
Children were ordered not to play near the edge of the woods, and ushered inside at dusk. Even the men made sure not to hunt alone. For a time this seemed to work. Though they lived in fear, plagued by perpetual nightmares, they lived without incident. Until one day two young brothers, forgetting their nightly warnings and terrible dreams, wandered down one of the old mill roads into nearby woods.
At dusk a search party found their mutilated corpses. The search party erupted into a mob. With pitchforks, knives, and muskets the villagers swarmed into the forest. The father of the dead boys was the village blacksmith. In anticipation of the unknown, the unnatural, he loaded his musket with a silver bullet. When the mob gained on the fleeing silhouette of a man, they fired. Legend has it that the man was struck many times, but the only gun that brought him down was the one bearing the silver bullet. The villagers abandoned the body to the darkness and went home. The next day some of them returned to the scene of the shooting to get a look at the man who was responsible for so much evil. They found only a bloodied patch of leaves crusted to the ground.
For decades afterwards the silhouette of that murderous creature thrived in the nightmares of the townspeople, adults and children alike. Some say that the murderer wasn't a man, but something else. Something that reaches out to the minds of the people, and speaks to them, lures them into the forest through their nightmares, where it still haunts, still preys.
People come to the Nightmare Scream Plex thinking that it is of their own accord, when in fact they are merely victims of the same creature. It has appeared to you before in your dreams, your subconscious. You were frightened, terribly frightened. And terribly curious.