The next day, I drove into Corvallis. I grabbed breakfast at a diner, and when the library opened, went in. I could tell I scared the librarians, but as the Sheriff told them I was coming, they thankfully didn’t scream. They logged me in as a guest and I started searching the internet.
I love the internet. I was a child of the 70’s, man of the 80’s. We didn’t have the internet. Back then, I’d have to select books from the shelves and hope I’d find something relevant. But now, wow. When my search for “legends of Oregon” didn’t point me in the right direction, I took the suggested search of “Native folklore of Pacific Northwest”. I searched thru the various links for what seemed like hours. Wolf spirits, bear spirits, Bigfoot, waheela, shunka waraken, and then I found something. Wechuge. Supposedly a man eater. An evil being feared by tribes of the northwest. Then there was a list of the tribes. The Kalapuya were listed. They’re the former inhabitants of Benton County. There’s only about four thousand of the tribe left, living at the Grand Ronde Reservation in Yamhill and Polk Counties.
The reservation’s about 28 miles north, not too bad a drive. I’d want to get as much info as I could before I’d be forced to go there. Native Americans can be really resentful about white guys (or gray guys) showing up unannounced and asking questions about monsters. Would you blame them? Do Italians from Chicago get tired of people asking them about Al Capone? If I could avoid going there, I would.
Wechuge. I searched “Wechuge”. Wikipedia came up as the first link. I clicked it, and went to the page for… Wendigo. Oh shit. Now those I’d heard of. Wechuge is what they call a Wendigo in the Pacific Northwest. Big monster, a cannibal, once was human, fast, strong, ferocious. Fond of wearing antlers. Yup, right here, can change back to human form. Can’t enter a home uninvited. Nothing on what hurts them or how to kill them. I was going to need to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Now, most decent size cities will have book shops and other venues of commerce that are in the know, and really know what they’re talking about. You need info on voodoo or Santeria? Find a Botanica. Of course, not every city has a Creole or Cuban neighborhood. For Chinese ghosts or ofuda spells, you have to go to Chinatown, and hit up a Chinese “Apothecary” in the back alley shops. And not every occult bookstore is the real deal. Most of ’em are filled with scented oils, crystals, books on spirituality or Theosophy, and dream catchers. These are peepee caca no substance. I checked. There’s no real shops in Portland. In Chicago, the only real one is the Black Cockrell, located in Old Town, right across the alley from Neo’s night club. It’s shelves are lined with spell books, grimoires, treatises on various entities, jars of real stomach turning spell components. So I went outside. Corvallis is lower altitude than Alsea. My cell phone had bars. So I blew in a call to the Black Cockrell.
“Black Cockrell. Books, curses, spells. We do it all. This is Gert.” Came the bored monotone greeting. Gert’s the owner, She’s a witch. Not a wiccan. Not a white witch. She’s a hag, a witch. Mean as a honey badger. It’s been debated on and off if Gert’s ever baked children in a pie.
“Gert, it’s Frankenstein.”
“Saw ya on CNN this morning, Johnny. Whatcha step in this time?”
“Wechuge, local name for a Wendigo. This one’s aggressive. How do I kill it?”
“Why not ask the local Indians? They probably got a bunch of info.”
“The reservation is almost thirty miles away, besides, to be honest,” I explained, “they usually don’t share info with whitey. Bet they’d be REAL happy to see me. Also, they historically have Stockholm syndrome with the things that prey on them. Sasquatches have been kidnapping their daughters and eating their babies for centuries and they’ve done nothing about it. It’s part of that whole “one with nature” thing.””
“True, true, except you’re gray and I’m green. No one could accuse either of us as being anything with nature. Now… let me see.” Gert was an early adapter. Her research files are all on her server. She’s got links to all kinds of hidden web sites that deal in the dark community. All her spells are on her PDA. I could hear her typing on her keyboard.
“Ah, here we go… Yeah, stories passed down from mountain men, trappers…” A few minutes passed, and then she said “OK, fire. Fire hurts them. They’re afraid of it, so it’ll probably kill it. Probably.”
“How ’bout “definitely”?”
“Elk antler. Used like a stake. Ram it into its heart. Silver. Says here on two different occasions trappers used silver bullets to kill one. I’d go with the silver bullets, considering that goddam cannon you carry around. And it’s gotta be a kill shot.”
“That’s great, Gert! What do I owe you?” I asked.
“Cash I’ve got, Cubs tickets I need.” She halted, probably taking a draw off her cohiba. “I got a feeling this is the year.”
“Why? You break the curse? OK, Cubs tickets then.”
“Frankenstein. Be careful with this thing. It’s a mother fucker.”
“Gotcha, Gert. See ya when I see ya.”
I hung up, went back to the Denali, and drove back out to Alsea. At least the rain had stopped. As I drove, I could see the mists gathering about halfway up the mountains. It reminded me of that line from The Thirteenth Warrior, “they come with the mists.” It would be foggy when I got there.
I’d gotten Grover’s address during downtime the previous day, and the Denali’s GPS walked me there. Grover’s squad car was parked out front. I walked up to the door and rang the bell. A woman in her mid-thirties answered the door and froze in s=terror. It’s OK, I’m used to it by now.
“Mrs. Grover? Hi, I’m Johnny Frankenstein. Your son Robbie wrote me. I’ve been working with your husband…”
She stood there, gaping. Grover arrived, taking her by the arm. He began to lead her to the kitchen.
“It’s OK, Bernice. He’s a friend. He works with the police. He’s here to help.”
Grover came back, handing me a cup of coffee. We sat down. I could tell this has weighed heavily on him. Like I said, most folks never ever see anything strange. Then you got those that do. About half of those convince themselves they didn’t see anything or it was swamp gas or a bear or something. The other half admit to what they saw. But usually, that’s just a fleeting glimpse of a UFO or some cryptid. It’s the one’s that get a real good look that freak out. Grover was coming off freaking out. He was experiencing fear, and awe, and shame for not doing something.
“How’s it hanging?” I asked.
“Been better. They got me doing patrols midafternoon to evening. School’s been cancelled. Kids are all home. No one’s supposed to be outside. I, seeing that thing gain, in broad daylight, it was scarier than the first time.”
“Look, Grover, I don’t want you to blame yourself. Normal people were never meant to deal with predators like that. That’s why there’s people like me. Grendel was terrible, a man eater, but it took Beowulf to kill him and his mother. It took Saint George to slay the dragon. There’s been entire families of monster slayers. The Van Helsings, the Belmontes… “
“I didn’t even shoot at it.”
“That little .38 wouldn’t have hurt it. Hell, that caliber just impacts flat on my skin. You’re just a normal man, Grover. You’ve got a wife and kids, which is more than I ever had. More responsibility than I’ll ever have to bear. This will be over soon. I have a favor to ask you.”
“This thing is a man, or at least it once was. It’s a man that sinks to cannibalism, and something evil possesses him because of it. It usually happens during the dead of winter in areas where there’s no stores or McDonalds, and starvation kicks in. It doesn’t get that bad here in the winter, and we’re not too far from a grocery store. So the guy we’re looking for just came to the area, or just came back from someplace remote. Might be a hunter or a trapper or a lumberjack. Especially a lumberjack, the lumber companies around here are always hiring. I need you to check around for someone who fits that description. Odds are, that’ll be our guy.”
I became aware of little heads peaking around the corner.
“That’s the boys.” Grover said. “Robbie, Peter, Stevie, c’mon in here.”
The three boys came into the room. 10, 8, and 6. They stared at me wide eyed but unafraid. Kids and dogs aren’t afraid of me. The terror doesn’t start until girls hit puberty and boys hit adulthood. I don’t know why. The oldest started to speak.
“I wrote you. You got my letter?’
“Yes I did, Robbie, and unlike Santa, I answer my mail. How you boys doing?”
I spent the next half an hour answering questions from the boys, having them show me their favorite toys. I assured them that Godzilla isn’t real. I avoided having to tell them that Dracula is. Finally, I rose to leave, assuring the boys their dad was going to find the bad guy, and then I was going to lay the smack down on him. I left them each with a personally autographed photo.
I passed the diner I ate flapjacks at, and saw a black helicopter sitting in the clear cut field next door to it. We got company, I thought. I drove on, arriving at the wreckage of Whit’s home, the police command post. In addition to several county squad cars and a state trooper’s vehicle, a black Cadillac CT6 sedan with Federal plates sat out front. I walked into the big command tent the state troopers set up.
“Hello, Carla.” I smiled at her.
“Good afternoon, Jim. I heard you were researching this problem?”
“Uh, you know Agent Smith, Mister Garrett?” the Commander asked. Agent Smith. Wow, these guys need better writers.
“Yeah, Agent… Smith and I have met before. You could say she’s my handler. And yes, I did some research. I found out what it is and how to kill it. That’s half the battle.”
I poured myself some coffee. Mmm mmm mm. It was real good, probably Allann Brothers. They have real good coffee in these parts. I miss it. Of course, they can’t make a good pizza to save their lives, and I’d miss that more.
“What we’re dealing with is a Wechuge, which is what the Kalapuya call a Wendigo. A Wendigo is a man that commits an act of cannibalism and becomes a big ugly man eating monster. It’s big and strong and fast. Silver can kill it but you have to make it a killing shot, not just hit it. So, considering the size of this mutha’s chest, you need big bore rifles, like the kind you shoot elephants with. Not to mention that in real life, silver makes a rotten bullet. It’s hard, it breaks apart and fragments in flight the more force behind it. Not that it matters but lycanthrope hunters usually use silver plated bullets in .308 from a scoped rifle at a distance. I imagine getting rifles for the cops is no problem, but there’s not enough time to get enough silver plated bullets. I’ve got six in .50 caliber in a box in the back of my rental, along with some tear gas grenades.”
The officers and deputies and state troopers looked at each other nervously. I continued.
“Fire. Fire will hurt it, maybe kill it. Fire’s unpredictable. Throwing Molotov cocktails around or converting bug sprayers into flame throwers means collateral damage, and this thing’s going to be up close to other people.”
“So what do we do with it?” the Sheriff asked.
“This thing changes back and forth to human form. It’s how he gets around. We do know he uses a vehicle.” I snagged a donut. “We got anything on that?”
“Firestone Destination AT’s. Size LT235 slash 75R15. Standard tires for a 1982 Ford F150 four-wheel drive pickup truck,” the Sheriff began. “There’s wear patterns suggesting this guy drives a lot of miles, and rides his brake. This info, along with copies of the tire prints have been made available to all patrolling officers. So, what do we do when we find him?”
“You keep an eye on him. Follow him. Alert me. I confront him. I’m the only one who can stop this thing. I’ll need a walkie talkie and car charger. On your frequency,”
“All right, Mister Garrett. I hope you can,”
I turned towards Carla. Same black outfit, same shades, same severe bun, same nice legs. She and the rest of the spooks she works with all work for the NSA. I jokingly call them MIB’s, but yeah, among other things, they respond to UFO incidents. And monsters. And Satanic cults. And extradimensional incursions. They sweep it all under the rug as best they can. Flush the evidence, threaten witnesses. They don’t really have neurolyzers.
And then I came along. After the fight with Mikey, after defeating a necromancer at Mt. Carmel cemetery, and cleaning out the ghouls beneath Oak Park, the spooks had been keeping an eye on me. The Destination America cable channel hired Hal and me to investigate the Beast of Bray Road in Elkhorn Wisconsin. We didn’t find anything at first, just interviewed witnesses, after they got over the shock of meeting me. We were about ready to close up shop when we encountered it. A Lup Garou. Most powerful, most vicious type of werewolf there is. We had a hell of a fight. Hurt like hell. I ended up choking it out. We hogtied it, not knowing what to do with it. By morning, it was back to human form but still unconscious. The police arrived and after some explanation, and showing them the videotape, they hauled him away, identifying him as a local, Paul Jankowski. The video team split, and Hal and I went home. I found out after the fact that “government people in black suits” took possession of Mister Jankowski. The show aired in October 2010 for Halloween.
Then came Point Pleasant West Virginia, and my knock down drag out with Mothman. In December, the 15th in 1967, the Mothman capped off a month of sightings , pet disappearances, and mental assaults on the public by the Mothman and his human alter ego Indrid Cold, the demon sabotaged the Silver Bridge, causing 37 deaths. In November 2012, Point Pleasant started having Mothman sightings again. Destination America smelled ratings and hired us again. We got there December 10th, and spent our time chasing after sightings, interviewing witnesses, and trying to deprogram the victims of Indrid Cold’s mind zapping. We saw it in the air a couple of times, the video crew catching it on tape. The cops weren’t happy about us being around. They were deep in denial.
I figured that the demon was looking to reenact it’s damage from ’67. So, the morning of December 15th found me trying to be inconspicuous high in the bridge rigging. Mothman landed on the bridge and began spitting some sort of acid on the supports. I attacked him and held on so it couldn’t fly away. It spit acid on me that hurt a lot, and took the nannites a week to fix. But in the end, I clubbed it into a coma with a steel beam I yanked out of the bridge. Destination America, and the local TV and press, got the whole fight. This time, the agents were on scene out of nowhere. They had a containment truck for the bug, and a spokesman telling everyone all is well. Carla was there. Due to our initial interaction, she was assigned to be my “handler”. In exchange for them dropping any attempts to “acquire” me, they confiscate any items and individuals I take care of, alive or dead. They also don’t bother Doctor Goldman’s facility, and in return they get a copy of the Frankenstein papers. I also get “cases” directed my way by them.
Carla was standing with her partner Brock Connor. Connor initially tried to shine me on by saying his name was “Agent White”. I wouldn’t talk to him until he gave in and gave his name. He has to be a former military man the way he talks and moves. He’s not thrilled with the assignment, or the NSA not snatching me, and the agency making a special consideration by assigning me a handler. That and me knowing they’re names. The other two spooks were undoubtedly the pilot who flew the copter and the guy who drove the car down here from Portland.
“Mister Garrett, I see the public has been made aware of the situation, as usual.” Connor said in a flat monotone. There’s no way for this situation to be minimized. Just like every situation you get involved in.”
“Connor! I didn’t see you standing there. Still wearing the latex underpants?” He bristled. “Naw, there’s all kinds of vampires and ghouls and witches and stuff that I deal with that you guys never find out about.”
“Agent Connor, go see if new donuts are required.” Carla ordered. “Jim, take a walk with me.”
We walked outside. The mists had lessened, but were still there. We walked down the shoulder of the road, past the loose panels and broken frame of the Riley home.
“Is this thing that bad?” she asked.
“Yep. I put two shells into it at close range. It hurt it but it started healing. Even while wounded it was able to fight. It’s stronger than me. Faster running thru the forest, but I think I can run him down in open terrain. I’ve got to get in close, shoot him in the heart or the brain with a silver bullet, or stab him in the heart with an elk antler. That means I have to take damage to get in the killing blow.”
“Is your head in the game? I know you saw your ex yesterday.”
“A little closure never hurt anybody. I’m good.”
“No chance on containing it?”
“Not this one. It changes at will. It’s evil, not a victim of a curse. This one’s going to go down fighting.”
“Do you need anything, Jim?” she asked.
“Just an antler, and that’s easy enough to come by here. Y’know, when this thing’s over, want to grab a beer with me? There’s this place in Corvallis called Squirrels. It’s all beers and ales, kind of popular with the kids at OSU. Might not be your cup of tea, I know.”
She stopped and looked at me. Damn shades, they keep me from seeing her eyes. I can read a lot from eyes.
“OK,” she said, hands on her hips, “you survive this AND kill the monster, I’ll have a beer or two at this Squirrels.” Connor was going to shit himself when he heard that.
We walked back to the Command Post. The press was still here, parked in cars and vans and campers across the street, the land leased by RL and Sons Logging behind them. Way on the other side is Alsea Deadwood Highway where Lizzy lives, along with three small farms, and an elderly couple. Last I knew there was a total of 12 kids on those farms ranging in age from 8 to 17. Of course some years had passed since then. Still, farmers have to work their farms, farm kids have to help their parents, and there’s too much forest to hide this thing.
Connor walked over to us. “So, everyone sits back and watches you deal with this thing? I’ll get some popcorn and milk duds.”
“I got some topping for your popcorn, and it’s nondairy.”
Connor’s mouth gaped. My guess to get this post, he’s ex-Delta, a bad mf. Not used to people treating him that way, or not being able to do anything about it.
Sunday was coming, and luckily Benton County is listed officially as the least religious county in America. There wouldn’t be throngs of church goers to worry about. The police did provide me with a walkie talkie. Days passed, with fruitless patrols, on and off rain, and boredom. Slowly, the media started leaving. First CNN and the other big boys. The networks left next, content to rely on their local affiliates. Soon, only the newspapers were there. That was good. Less potential victims. After a week, the police were starting to worry that the creature had fled the area. The local cops left first, then the state trooper contingent got downsized to one. The county kept a couple of deputies in the area, but the rest went back to normal duty. I, however, was convinced that the monster was still in the area.
Carla and the spooks relocated to the Galaxie Motel in Philomath. I did manage to get an elk antler, and sharpen the points. School started again, with Constable Grover following the bus every step of the way. I’d went with him to a local gunsmith with some of his wife’s mother’s silver, had it melted into buckshot, and loaded into six shells for his Mossberg 500. Five in the magazine, one in the chamber.