My gun was in my hand, aimed and fired faster than the eye can follow. Double tap. Two .50 caliber bullets struck the thing in the back. Big wounds going in, bigger wounds coming out. Blood and tissue sprayed all over the shed, which itself was splintering from the bullets continuing their flight. The monster slumped to its knees. From the wound placement, I’d have had to have taken out a lung. But, if this thing was supernatural, that might not mean a lot.
Sure as shit, it rose, the wounds starting to close. It spun towards me. Yup, pretty hideous. Still bleeding, it closed the gap to me in two strides. I got off another shot, this one in its belly. It slumped again. It looked up at me, and it howled. It was a terrible, unnatural sound, earsplitting in its volume. The thing grabbed my arms and stood up. Damn! This thing was stronger than me. Not strong enough to rip my arms off, which it was trying to do, but too strong for me to break its grip. Then it leaned in and sunk it’s teeth into my shoulder. That hurt! I’m not all that used to pain anymore. I just don’t encounter it all that often. I yelled in pain.
The beast released its bite, spitting and grimacing. It didn’t like the taste of me. I took advantage of this to kick him in his belly wound. More blood. The monster howled again. It released me. I dropped down into a crouch, and punched it in the dick. The monster dropped to its knees again, it’s eyes bugging out in pain, it’s mouth pursed in a tight “O” like it was sucking spaghetti. A soft “oh” escaped it’s lips.
Before I could empty my revolver into its head, the thing’s right arm swung a mighty backhand and sent me flying backwards into Whit’s home. Mobile homes aren’t very sturdy. They’re not put together too well. Most people don’t maintain them. That’s why they come apart in tornados, wind storms, fat guys farting… The wall I struck exploded in a shower of aluminum panels, plastic parts, cheap insulation, and bad paneling. I came to rest on their sofa, along with the TV and the stereo. Thru the gaping hole that was a wall, I saw the creature running away into the forest at great speed. I ran after it but lost it after 10 minutes. It clearly was better suited to being in the woods than me. I went back to the scene of the crime.
Whit Riley was still alive. He had a bad claw wound though. His wife had used the landline to call an ambulance. It would be an hour, coming out of Good Samaritan hospital in Corvallis. Due to Mrs. Riley’s hysterical demeanor and insistence a monster attacked him, the Benton County Sheriff’s Department had been notified by the 911 dispatcher. They would be there in twenty minutes. The kids were traumatized, especially the daughter.
Three deputies arrived. Luckily, they’d heard of me, so we got to circumvent that clumsy pointing guns at me phase of introduction. Having heard of me and believing are two different things though. Most folks think I’m some sort of kayfabe promotion like pro wrestling. They do it on purpose, it’s a human defense mechanism. Keeps them from having to accept the insane. But some people see it and accept it. The deputies were kind of in the middle. One said he’s seen Bigfoot, one saw a UFO one night. They were at least open minded. They applied initial first aid to Whit, took statements, as best they could, from the family., and took my statement. Then they talked to Grover.
Grover, as it turned out, hadn’t reported the finding of skeletal remains for fear they’d think he was crazy. County was never apprised that this was anything more than missing persons. Like I said, it’s human nature to deny, to try and minimize what they saw. But sometimes what you see won’t go away.
I led the deputies to the monster’s tracks in the wet ground. He was a heavy one. One of the deputies made some plaster casts. More deputies arrived, some with high powered rifles. One of them, Deputy Collins, introduced himself to me. Collins was a veteran hunter and tracker. He wanted to take a shot at tracking this thing. I insisted on going with. I reloaded, and starting from the prints that were cast, we began following the trail.
Between the huge footprints and the snapped foliage, following him wasn’t too hard. For the first mile or so, blood was splattered on leaves and on the ground. Collins called my attention to it.
“I’ve never seen that before.” He whispered. “Usually when they stop bleeding’ I find ’em dead. But this thing’s still going.” He gestured ahead with his rifle. “This aint no bear, and I’ve seen sasquatch tracks. This aint them. What are we dealing with?”
“Something I’ve never seen before.”
The tracks continued on thru the forest another half mile, and then they started shrinking in size, until they became the tracks of bare human feet. Collins looked at me in confusion. We followed these to the ruins of an abandoned homestead. Guns at the ready, we circled the semi-collapsed old house, but nothing was there. We could see the tracks entering the place, and then we found similar sized boot prints leaving the house to a spot where tire prints drove out to the road and were gone.
“Well, it’s gone.” I said.
Collins cleared his sinuses. “This can’t be happening. This isn’t real.”
“Collins, look at me.” I told him. I pulled at my rather prolific brow ridge. “See? This isn’t make up.” I rubbed my hands together and showed him my palms. “See? The gray doesn’t come off.” I pulled my hair back. “These metal studs are electrodes. They’re real. You’re talking to something that can’t be happening. I look more human than most things, so as long as there’s some kind of explanation or excuse or story for it to be attributed to, you can convince yourself it’s all just a hoax or a con job. But this is all real. I’m sorry. That thing out there is real, too. And it eats people.”
By the time we got back to Whit’s, the ambulance had arrived and already departed with him to the hospital. One of the deputies had taken his wife and kids to the women’s shelter in Corvallis. The Sheriff had arrived as well as a commander from the State Police. They were setting up a command post. The local Corvallis press and radio station were already there. Soon as word got out, and it probably already had, the network affiliates from Portland would be on their way. The Sheriff signaled me over.
“Mister Garrett, I’m Sheriff Abernathy,” he began, “I called the Chicago Police to check you out. They had me speak to Captain Magnison of their Special Response Unit. He told me you were the real deal. I also called the Point Pleasant Police. They assured me that what I saw on TV was real, and you fought a winged monster and defeated it.”
“Earthbound demon actually. It was going to destroy the bridge again on the anniversary of it doing it years ago.”
“I’ve got officers and forensic people from Corvallis, Albany, and my own department in the field right now going to the places where the skeletal remains were discovered. Grover didn’t retrieve most of them, and those are crime scenes. State assets are being sent here as well. Now, I’m in uncharted waters here. I’ve never conducted a monster hunt before. I really don’t know where to begin. But that’s why you’re here. Do you know what this thing is?”
“No.” Might as well be honest. “I’ve never encountered anything like this before. I know it’s a man that transforms into the monster. The man is aware of the transformation, he stashed clothes and had an escape vehicle waiting. It’s a cannibal. Big bore weapons can hurt it, but probably not kill it. It regenerates from its injuries. It’s very strong and very fast. I need to do some research. Any chance I can get a temporary library card to use their computers?”
“I’ll call ahead tomorrow morning. It’s starting to rain again. You going to stay here or get a motel room in Corvallis?”
“That fight took the wind out of its sails. I don’t think it’s used to opposition in its own weight class. He’s gonna lay low a bit, and think about it. I’ll stay here, just in case I’m wrong. I know he’s not a werebeast, he was transformed in daylight with no regard to the moon. I know it can’t enter a dwelling kind of like some vampires, but I don’t think he’s undead. I need to check out any local legends.”
“Alright. Thanks. I know my men will be more comfortable with you here.”
“It’s OK, Sheriff. Say… don’t be too hard on Constable Grover. Most people collapse when they see something like this. I know if I were normal, I’d be in a fetal position.”
The rain kept going between a light drizzle and heavier rain. I strung a tarp I recovered from inside the home as a rain shelter over the sofa, and sat down to wait it out. The media from Portland arrived around three. The Sheriff and the State Commander fielded questions. They were fairly honest as far as these things go. They told the reporters that there was an unknown creature at large, there had been several deaths involved, and I was there as a consultant. They just bent the truth a bit.
More police officers came into the area, slowly prowling up and down the roads and lonely Highways and logging roads. This kind of presence would force him to go to ground. Sure, with a vehicle, he could just drive somewhere else, but this is his hunting ground. He’s familiar with it. It’s no coincidence that serial killers and monsters share this psychological quirk. Anyway, if the creature is inactive, I’d have more time to find out how to kill it.
By five, a few police copters showed up. They ranged across the area, looking for anything that looked suspicious. A reporter from CNN arrived and asked me a few questions. They were actually fairly professional, keeping it on the matter at hand. Finally, she asked me why I did this.
“Well, Brenda,” I began, “it’s because I have to be the dumbest man that ever lived. I could get a contract with the WWE and make a hell of a lot more money than I do. No nights in the rain, no death battles in the sewers. But these things are out there. They always were. Look at the number of people that go missing each year. And there’s very few people out there that can do something about it.” She chuckled. They’ll spin me as a hoaxer.
I went back to talking to the cops.
At six, we were eating McDonalds I got for the officers. There wasn’t any sign of the beast, as I assumed there wouldn’t be. A pickup pulled up. I looked over. I’d seen this truck before.
“Jimmy?” Lizzy asked.” Jimmy is that you?”
Y’know, awkward and uncomfortable situations pop up in everyone’s life, but man, I lead the league. I stood, aware suddenly more than ever of my height. I told myself to get a grip. I nail kidnappers. I fight monsters. This aint nothing. She lived only a half mile away, I should have expected this.
I walked up to Lizzy. She looked the same, still pretty. I know I didn’t. I towered above her, and looked down at her.
“Miss Roberts,” I said, “nice to see you again.”
“My God, Jimmy, what happened to you? I heard you’d been hurt, but then I never heard anything again. Then I saw the news today, and they used you’re name. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Johnny Frankenstein, what the hell is that about? I mean, I saw Johnny Frankenstein on TV but I thought it was a joke!”
“Nope, no joke.” I replied. “Chemical spill mutated me, that’s what the doctor’s say.”
“That’s BS and you know it.” Lizzy said. “You always were a crappy liar.”
“Yeah, well, whatever the truth is, it doesn’t matter. So, it’s not safe out now. What brings you here?”
“I was worried about you. When I saw you on TV, I went online and saw the stuff on YouTube. It scared me, you messing with all this paranormal stuff.”
“Two things. First, paranormal is related to the supernatural like a beagle is to a dire wolf. I deal in the supernatural. Second, you kinda lost the privilege of worrying about me when you dumped me for a drummer back home in Illinois. That hurt more than any monster’s claws.”
“I’m sorry I just… I don’t know. You were 55 and prematurely gray and getting fat. I’ve known you a long time and you weren’t the man you used to be.”
“Yeah, and you kept the ring and traded up. Meantime, I became homeless and suicidal. And then fate stepped in and now I’m REALLY not the man I used to be. So, I’m a little pissed at you and the little drummer boy.”
“George was a long time ago.”
“Whatever. It’s dangerous around here until we nail this thing. Go home. Or better yet, drive to Eugene and book a flight back to Illinois. Go visit your sister in Villa Park until I kill this thing.”
“Jimmy, are you OK?”
“Lizzy, I’m Frankenstein’s F-ing Monster. Being OK is a thing that’s not part of my life anymore.” I put my hand on her shoulder. It was like an adult touching a child. “I’m serious. When this thing pops up again, it’s going to get real ugly. You really don’t want to be here when it does.”
Our eyes met. It was obvious. I was no longer part of her world, and she wasn’t part of mine.
She rubbed my hand. “Stay safe, Jimmy.” Lizzy got in her truck and headed home.
I returned to the officers, waiting on word.