“Why exactly are you so interested in this?” asked John Ivans, standing uncomfortably in his doorway. His guest was Jarl Winslow, English multimillionaire and eccentric. Their Pacific town had never seen anyone of his stature and it made John quite uncomfortable.
“I need him for my private collection. It’s a big affair, very exclusive,” replied the sure, foreign tone of Jarl’s voice. He was overdressed, wearing a creme blazer and white pants, making him stand out that much more.
“Well, I’ve thought about it a lot since you last called, and I can’t really refuse.” He summoned up his courage for a moment. “I’m not honestly so into this whole idea, but if you insist, I’ll help you out.”
“Thank you very much. You will have no complaints regarding payment, that I can assure you.” Jarl slid two hundred-dollar bills out of his black shell cordovan wallet. “Your advance.” John took it carefully, regarding it as one regards a dying bear on a bear hunt.
“Are you sure?” he stammered.
“Extremely. I shall see to to-morrow,” replied the gentleman, tipping his hat briefly and departing.
- – – – – –
“I suppose this man is the best in the area, as far as his knowledge of the land goes. We will have a shot at success with him on our side,” said Jarl confidently.
“The Sheriff wouldn’t recommend anyone but him, I don’t think,” said Robert Crawford, private investigator. He sighed and watched the road as he drove. Crawford had served in Chicago for ten years, seen a lot of tough stuff, and developed skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Anything during this trip would be a total piece of cake. The Northwest was a joke compared to a Midwestern metropolis. Or so he thought…
- – – – – –
The next evening, before sunset, Winslow, Crawford, and Ivans took the long drive to the edge of the county, where the woods were so thick there was scarcely a house. This was the area where there had been several sightings in the past years.
“But you seriously have an actual mermaid?” asked John Ivans, barely believing his ears.
“That is a secret. You would have to see for yourself, but I do not let guests in often. Perhaps I will invite you sometime later,” replied Winslow. The car slowed down, kicking a few final pieces of dirt into the air before stopping entirely. Crawford got out of the driver’s seat and leaned against the hood for a minute, breathing in the fresh mountain air. The three men stood silently for a moment, then started to study the treeline.
“Well, I think I’ll take a look n’ see if there’s any tracks,” ventured John.
“Of course,” said Jarl Winslow, putting on his brush poncho to keep his blazer clean. They walked down the hill before the treeline and the tracker pulled out his special tools, a multicolored flashlight and a rangefinder. Crawford stayed behind, hand on the butt of his Ruger Redhawk forty-four magnum. Something about the woods didn’t seem quite right to him, although John Ivans seemed to think it was normal. The sun was almost brushing against the horizon already.
“I brought two trail cameras,” informed John, placing one strategically on a tree and marking it with yellow tape. “We can come tomorrow and see if they find anything.”
Crawford nodded resolutely. They traveled another hundred yards and put up the next camera, but Ivans did not see any tracks except for one belonging to a small rabbit. As night fell, Crawford found himself feeling a bit off, scared of the slightest things. Winslow seemed to be acting less exuberant but not as affected as Crawford. Ivans kept to himself, and no-one else could tell what he was thinking and feeling. They headed back to the vehicle, tense but relieved to be done for the night.
- – – – – –
Winslow had never believed in the beast until he was driving out in the country after a secret business meeting. There, in the middle of the night, he saw a coyote run by. After stopping the car and listening resolutely, he saw a dark figure rushing through the leaves and heard horrible, gruesome sounds emanating from the forest. The canine yelped, and a fearsome deep-voiced mammal grunted and roared. Whatever it was, it made him think the old Indian legend was true. From then on, he was determined to capture it.
– – – – – –
After checking the cameras the second day, the men saw nothing of value.
“I do not want to sound heavy-handed, but are you sure there are no other steps to take?” inquired a disappointed Jarl Winslow. John stared at him for a second, then a light slowly came on in his head.
“Wait– I know. There’s an old man that lives around here, and if anyone knows about this creature, it’s him.”
“Where does he live?”
“He’s in an old shack a mile past the end of old Mill Road. It will be a hike to get there. No-one else lives in that entire section.”
Half an hour later, the trio found themselves trailblazing through the underbrush on the way to the house. The land was desolate and wild, teeming with energy.
“What do you know about this creature, Mr. Ivans?” asked Jarl.
“Not a whole lot, aside from what my dad told me. The Natives called him Dvahamochak, and they used to tell them stories about him to keep their kids from going outside alone. It scared them pretty well. There were no sightings for a hundred years, but recently they’ve started up again. Nowadays, around here we call him Big D.”
Winslow laughed for a moment. “Do you know anyone who has seen him?”
“No, not personally. We’re almost there. I’m going to set up another camera that views his house.”
“Good idea,” said Crawford, who had been silent for ten minutes.
The shack was from the generation that made things the old way, by hand with local materials. Logs, not plywood; nails, not screws. It was not in the best of shape, however. Crawford wondered how anyone could live in such a tiny area. Winslow broke the nervous waiting feeling as they stood in front of the house by knocking decisively. It was silent again for a minute.
The door opened, revealing an old bearded man with a face full of wrinkles.
“Who is this?” he asked, surprised.
“Jarl Winslow, Detective Crawford, and John Ivans,” said the millionaire, sweeping his hand. “We’ve come to ask you some questions, if you don’t mind, about this local legend.”
The old man looked scared.
“Uh, what are you asking?”
“Well, Willie, we thought you may have had some sort of contact with this creature, living out here like this.”
He felt suspicious about the whole matter.
“No, I’ve never seen it. I’ve never even heard of it. There’s no Sasquatch around here,” he pouted, looking at the ground.
“You’re sure?” followed Winslow.
“Yes, darned right.”
Winslow caught a look at the interior of the house, which was a total mess.
“Mister Willie, if you would like, I could get you some new furniture, a new bed? It seems the current one is… not in such good condition,” offered Jarl.
“No. No! There’s no point in that,” snapped Willie, slamming the door abruptly.
The men left downtrodden, again, and even Winslow found himself feeling that there was barely a point in their continued search.
“What did you think of Willie?” John said to Detective Crawford.
“He was pre-ty weird,” he replied concisely. The journey back was easier since there was already a trail, and before long, they were back in town, forced to wait another night. Morale was low, but Winslow and Ivans decided to give the cameras one more chance.
- – – – – -
“Oh my gosh,” said John, staring wide-eyed at his trail camera. “Look at it.”
“That’s just Willie,” said Robert Crawford, unsure what to think.
“I don’t think so,” replied the tracker. “It’s as tall as the whole house! And it looks like it’s about to wait in front of the door or go inside!” He could barely believe his eyes. “And look at this one, he’s going in the opposite direction, and it looks like it could have even been inside the house!”
Crawford could barely believe their success, but Ivans had stunning evidence. Besides, the bipedal thing caught on film was much taller than a person, especially Willie.
“Something is not right here,” said Crawford. “Willie must be hiding something.” He grasped his revolver again. Ivans felt for his pistol in his pocket as well, just to be sure. Winslow had stayed in town, tired of their past failures and feeling a little bit under the weather.
“We have to go talk to him again,” declared Crawford.
They knocked on the door, but nobody answered.
“Open the door!” shouted Crawford. “Or I’ll kick it down!”
The detective got ready to bash the door down but John stepped in and turned the handle, opening it. Crawford looked slightly embarrassed. Willie was inside, sitting on a chair, staring directly at them.
“We want to know if…” said the detective, cut off.
“No! He’s never been in here!”
John flashed a quick glance at Crawford and nodded.
“We found pictures of something, it looks like–“
Willie stood up and ran past at the two men, pushing John off to the side and escaping through the door. Quickly, Detective Crawford was onto him. They collided and Willie fell to the ground. The detective pulled out his firearm and pointed it at the old man while yelling.
“Where the frick is Big D?”
“He was never here!”
“I’m serious, we have pictures. Why are you denying this?”
“You don’t understand,” whimpered the old man. He shouted into the woods in a bizarre way.
“We know it was around here.” John Ivans appeared behind the detective.
“Just calm down, put your gun away, and I’ll tell you,” said Willie, slowly getting up. There was silence for a few minutes, then Crawford obliged.
“See, me and him, we have… a relationship.”
The two investigators were stunned. Willie turned around, seeing something important, and ran off into the woods. Crawford drew his revolver and fired, the bullet bouncing off a tree. They lost sight of the old man.
“What the hell?” said Crawford. They followed after Willie, and after barely making it into the forest, they saw him standing right next to a gigantic lumbering ape-like creature, talking to it. They were barely twenty yards away. Crawford and Ivans stopped cold, amazed.
“I can’t believe it,” whispered John. The detective was silent.
Willie was talking to the thing, quietly at first. Then, the two men heard it.
“Go get them!” shouted the old man, pointing. Instantly, the beast gave chase to them through the woods and across the open field as Ivans and Crawford ran for their lives.
“Get your gun!” shouted Crawford, panicked. They spun around and fired at the beast as it got closer and closer to them. The detective emptied all six shots in his cylinder, and the creature dropped right at his feet at the last second. Behind it was Willie.
“Why… Why did you kill him?” he yelled, hitting the ground and pounding it. “He was my only friend!”
“That’s enough, Willie. You’re going with us.” Crawford walked over and handcuffed the crying old man. John stayed put, staring at the huge body of their target. It had barely been killed in time.
“The place for you is at the mental hospital, Mister,” said Crawford, walking behind Willie all the way to the car. What do you think Winslow is gonna think of all this?”
- – – – – -
In the red, carpeted room of Jarl Winslow’s private museum, the newest exhibit was receiving a lot of attention, more than anything else in years. Killed in a gruesome fight to the death with a Northwestern hunter, the body of a massive ape was displayed in all its viscous glory.Winslow billed it as one of the toughest, most heartless predators in the world.