Chapter 6: The beast
One afternoon while Josh was looking at the security monitors something appeared on the screen.
“Hey, Pete come look at this,” Josh yelled.
“What the hell is that, is it an animal?” I asked
“I don’t know, what kind of animal looks like that? “ Josh replied
What we were looking at through the surveillance system was a thing that looked like a man. It was about six feet tall, covered with white hair and walked upright like a human. At first, you would swear it was a man, but how could it be. We watched it for the time it was out there. One thing for sure the intense cold didn’t seem to bother it. We waited, as it appeared to be searching the area around the farmhouse. It was looking in the windows and at one point tried opening the front door. Ok, this was spooky. Neither Josh nor I had ever seen anything like this in real life. The closest thing that we could relate it to was those sasquatches on the Internet. We called the girls over to have a look at this thing and see what they said about it.
The thing seemed to be sniffing at the doorway to the house. As soon as the girls saw the beast, they both gasped and were at the point of crying.
“It must have wandered south from the arctic looking for food,” Josh said.
“It’s amazing, I wish I could get a picture of the beast,” I said.
The beast seemed to be sniffing around the bunker now. We had a camera pointed at the front entrance. We all watched as the thing sniffed at the front door and then we could hear it trying to open the bunker door. Luckily for us, we had used a Steel door with two good deadbolt locks. We had built the door securely for fear the Chinese would attack us. The door was strong enough to keep this brute out.
It seemed that we watched the beast for an hour. It tried the bunker door several more times and then made this howling noise. I’ll never forget that howl. It was spooky as hell. Eventually, the beast sauntered off. We watched him on the monitors, as he seemed to disappear into the open field.
I didn’t know it, but when Josh first saw the beast, he flipped the switch on for the security-recording machine. We now had a record of the creature. That night we watched the video over and over again. From now on the video recorder would be left turned on. It was on a twenty-four-hour continuous loop, recording five cameras at once.
That night, it must have been three thirty in the morning. The haunting howl started again. The beast must have been back on the property yet again. It’s like it was calling us. I went to the security monitor to see if I could see the beast. The screen was full of snow, like interference. Then all of a sudden an image started to appear, it was the beast he had his face up against the camera. He was trying to look into the bunker through the camera. The creature was big and strong, but he sure wasn’t brilliant.
I watched the beast for a while. As I watched it, I got the impression that it knew I was there. The creature made a point of going to all five cameras as if to make an appearance. The beast stuck around for an hour or so, then he left, going into the open field again.
Two months went by, and there was no sign of the beast. He must have moved further south where it was warmer. Life in the bunker was back to normal again. The one problem we had to come over was garbage. We had installed a kitchen macerator Which worked very well taking care of kitchen scraps and disposing of them into the septic system. Our problem was other waste items such as tin cans, bones, paper, cardboard, etc. and they were starting to pile up.
We had a meeting about the problem and decided that all waste not handled by the macerator would have to go outside. Josh and I would do this chore about once a week. It would take the two of us to do the job. One of us to take the garbage out, the other to stand guard, holding the door. We always kept one of the rifles close by the door, just in case.
The temperature had dropped to minus forty, Fahrenheit. The garbage had been collecting since we moved in, so there was a lot of it to go out. We flipped a coin to see who would be the first to take the garbage out. Of course, I lost the flip!
I got dressed in the warmest clothing I had and put a scarf over my mouth. The next thing I knew the door was open and I was carrying out boxes of garbage to a site about forty feet from the bunker. After all the trash was taken from the shelter, I poured old engine oil on the heap of garbage and lit it with a small propane blowtorch. The fire was friendly and warm, so I was able to stay out there for twenty minutes. I thought to myself “Hey this isn’t a bad job after all.”
When the fire was starting to die out, I radioed Josh that I was ready to come back inside.
“I’ll be waiting, how is it out there?” Josh asked
“It’s a pretty good, as long as the fire is burning.” I radioed back
“Maybe the two of us could do it next time,” Josh remarked
“I’m coming in,” I said as I turned toward the bunker door.
I had no sooner taken two steps, and there he was. The beast! He was between the bunker door and me. I froze in my tracks. Paralyzed with fear. I got back on the radio and without yelling said
“Josh, I’m in trouble.”
“What do you mean, did you catch fire?” Josh said sarcastically.
“The beast is standing between me and the bunker door,” I said with a shaky voice.
“Holy shit! What do we do now? Josh yelled.
“Come out, and fire a shot over its head, don’t shoot at him in case you just wound him,” I said
The door to the bunker opened, and Josh eased out slowly. He raised the gun and fired a shot high in the air. The beast was startled at first but then seemed to comprehend what was going on. He slowly moved away, leaving me plenty of room to go to the bunker door. Josh was now pointing the rifle at the beast just in case he charged at me.
The beast watched and seemed to be muttering to itself. Then he went over to the fire and picked out a couple of bones that had been in the ashes. He blew at them as if to dust them off, and then started eating the meat and marrow of the bones. It was always watching us out of the corner of his eye until it seemed finished. It made no threatening noises at us and never tried to attack us. We noticed it was a lot thinner than the first time we saw it two months ago. Because this was the first time any of us had gotten close to the thing, I noticed it stank. It was an indelicate aroma that smelled like rotting meat. It was enough to make a maggot gag, I thought to myself.
I went back into the bunker, and with Josh and the girls, we watched the monitors while the beast was outside. As soon as it finished gnawing at the bones, it let out one of those godforsaken howls and walked off into the field again. Whatever this thing was, it wasn’t afraid of man. It almost acted tame. Having said that I don’t want to be the one to go and pat him on the head.
The beast had long white hair. He had paws that were the size of a polar bear’s paws complete with claws that would tear a man to shreds. His feet were massive two and a half times the size of a man’s feet. He had a massive lower jaw, and his canine teeth protruded ominously. He had a blunt forehead with huge eyes and large bushy eyebrows.
That night after dinner, the beast was all we could talk about.
“It must have smelled the fire and came to explore what the smell was,” I said.
“Man it’s big isn’t it, and it stinks to high heaven” I stated.
“You know what I think, it is a he, so let’s call him Jethro instead of it,” Josh suggested.
“Good idea I’m tired of calling it it,” I said.
“I wonder if we should try feeding Jethro.” Said, Rhonda
“Can we spare the food?” Trudy asked
“There are some things of which we almost have too much. I can’t see us ever eating the canned meat we have. I mean we have one hundred and fifty cans of it.” Josh said.
“The trouble is, if he wants more than we can offer, he might come after us for his next meal. I guess we would have to shoot him then.” I said.
“Ok, then we can try this little experiment. Lets put out a can of meat and see what happens.” Josh suggested.
The next day we got a plate of food ready for Jethro. One can of meat. It was full of protein, fat, salt and other nutrients that would keep a human alive in a similar circumstance.
I opened the bunker door, and Josh took the plate over to the fire pit. There was some cardboard that hadn’t burnt the day before, so Josh relit it. We all retreated to the safety of the bunker.
Before very long there he was. Jethro had returned to see if there were any more bones to gnaw on, and he could probably smell the canned meat, as well. When he saw the food, he feasted on it. You could tell he was starving from the way he gulped the meat down. We opened the bunker door slightly, and I poked my head out and yelled over to Jethro
“There ya go, big guy, enjoy your meal,” I said. Jethro looked up at me away from the plate of food and grunted as if to say thank you. He stayed at the fire pit licking the plate for a while. Then he sauntered off into the field again.
I felt good about what we had done.
“We either made a friend or sealed our fate if he decides we might taste like that can of corned beef,” I said.
As time went on Jethro seemed more comfortable around us. Josh and I were able to get closer to him, in fact, Josh was able to hand him his plate of meat without getting torn to bits. I refused to go that close. He was still a wild animal and in my opinion unpredictable. The girls agreed with me.
It was almost a year and a half since the nuclear war with China. As it turned out, those of us living in the extreme cold were better off than people living in the warmer climates. According to the radio, the colder climates keep the radiation from doing any real harm until it had a chance to be washed away naturally.
The scientists were predicting that the dire winter conditions would be here for about another year. As the sky cleared, the temperatures would start to rise. We had enough food to last us until we could plant fresh vegetables. One thing for sure we won’t have any cravings for pickled vegetables after this is over.
Donald was over a year old and was getting big. We all took turns playing with the little guy. He was always a source of entertainment for us. The only trying times with Donald were when he was teething. But that was understandable I guess.
Jethro’s meat was starting to dwindle. We had about sixty cans of ham luncheon meat and only twenty cans of the corned beef. We were also saving all of our table scraps for him to supplement the meat. He had regained his weight and looked healthy. He would eat most of the meal left for him, but would always take almost half of the food away with him. We all agreed that he kept it for a midnight snack. The four of us speculated as to where he went after visiting us. Josh knew of some caves on the next property, which was by a small river. Maybe he lived in one of the caves.
The question we kept asking ourselves was: is Jethro alone or were there more like him. The simple answer was that he had to have parents, which meant there was more of his kind out there. If there were others where were they? You would think they would come with him to obtain food. Indeed the food he took away with him wouldn’t feed another male beast.
“So what are we going to do if Jethro shows up one day with five other hairy beasts with him. We can’t feed them; I can see them turning on us.” Said Josh.
“Maybe it was a big mistake feeding Jethro; it might backfire on us,” I said.
“I wonder what would happen if we stopped feeding him. Would he move on to somewhere else?” Josh questioned.
“I don’t know what would happen. The beast might turn on us.” I said.
“Well Josh, do you think we should try it, that’s the only way we can find out?” I asked.
We talked for an hour on the subject. One plan suggested that one of us try to follow Jethro back to where he lives to try and find out if there were more like him. The problem with that plan was twofold. Neither Josh nor I could survive outside, in thirty below zero temperatures, for as long as it would take to follow Jethro. The other problem was that if he discovered one of us following him, he would be able to catch us in seconds. Jethro was used to the conditions outside and could run as fast as a horse.
We decided to leave well enough alone. We would be able to feed Jethro for another few months, and hopefully, the weather will have started to change. That would drive Jethro back north again where he belongs.