Jonas returned to find an unmarked, brown, paper package on his doorstep quickly gathering snow. Without a second thought, he picked it up and brought it inside, setting it down next to his chair. By the warmth of the fire’s embers he took his boots and placed them into plastic bags, along with the rest of his clothing. They would all have to be burned as a precaution. The police never looked far when they suspected an animal attack, but Jonas was a careful man.
Sure, the first few times he had messed it up, and they had gone searching, but never far enough into the woods to find him. He always covered his tracks, and the trail to his cabin, if it could be called a trail, was largely thought as impassable. More often than not the police would claim a bear attack, even though bears were not known to frequent the area. Scientists would invariably call it a result of climate change adjusting natural hunting patterns, and Jonas’s work would get tossed by the wayside.
He picked up the bag of clothing and walked it to the back of the cabin where there was a large metal furnace disguised as a hot water heater. As the tossed the clothes in, he took a moment to breathe. The clothes caught fire, sending black smoke billowing up the chimney. Despite the number of times he had done it, the job never got any easier. There was a grey lump of sickening fear growing in his stomach, but he went to the kitchen, remembering that he had promised himself to drown it.
He poured an unmarked bottle of brown liquid into a dusty tumbler and carried it over to an easy chair that sat in front of the television. Getting working reception without a paper trail had been tricky, but it had been Jonas’s one condition upon leaving the city. He clicked the TV on and switched to the History Channel. Any news of mythological creatures or strange happenings were found there.
It had been the History Channel that had first sparked the idea of moving in Jonas’s head. That had been many years ago, but he still followed their cryptozoology programs religiously. As the program began Jonas took a long sip from the tumbler and savored the burning sensation as it dripped down his throat. The lump in his stomach disappeared instantly leaving nothing but a reserved calm. The worsening snow storm and howling gale outside were no longer ominous, but calming. “We’re doing the work of legends out here,” he remarked to the empty cabin.
Jonas turned his attention to the TV. “Tonight, mysteries of El Chupacabra. Rick Mansen and his team of cryptozoologists are heading out to the Mexican desert in search of a creature that has been killing local livestock and kidnapping children.” The program continued with some of the history of the chupacabra legend. Jonas could not help but feel a little jealous.
A few years back there had been a special on Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest and even a TV show called Squatch Hunters, but it had long since been cancelled. The man operating out of the Cascades was a hack, and easily spotted as forgery. The samples he had left behind were mostly composed of dog hair, and dismissed quickly as such.
“Hi, I’m Rick Mansen, and today we’re looking for signs of El Chupacabra,” boomed a handsome man in a ridiculous khaki suit. Even in the heat, his hair curled perfectly off to one side, and there wasn’t a drop of sweat on him. “My team and I have triangulated the most recent attacks to this region in the desert of Northern Mexico.” As far as Jonas was concerned, the Chupacabra had an easier gig. All he had to do was kill a few goats and kidnap some children. The children always turned up alright, their memories blurry of course, but their imaginations ran wild. This lent credence to the Chupacabra legend that Bigfoot had never had.
It didn’t help to see the organizations making a fool out of it either. Most Bigfoot enthusiasts were regarded as insane, and promptly terminated from any academic communities they operated in. This made chasing after the legend a dangerous career move, and one only the truly insane were apt to take up. Jonas sighed, the deck was stacked against him, but he would continue to do the job no matter what. Anything was better than going back. The thought of it made him drain the glass.
As a distraction, he opened the cardboard box that had been on the porch. Inside were a new set of boots, gloves, a new suit of fur, as well as other provisions for the week. Below these gifts was a rolled up newspaper with a note reading, ‘Keep up the good work.’ Beneath the note was a copy of the only tabloid willing to promote the truth about the attacks on the mountain, and Jonas could not help but grin at the headline.
‘Killings on the mountain continue to go unnoticed.’ Jonas opened the paper and continued to read. ‘Authorities report yet another attack on the mountain and signs of bears moving into new hunting grounds, yet no hikers or scientists have spotted anything. All signs indicate that the bear populations have not moved, with little evidence of their presence. Once again, we urge hikers to use caution when out late into the day and evening, as this is when most of the attacks have occurred.’
The paper went on to speculate that the beast may have been a sasquatch. The fur found at the scene of the attack matched no species of bear, or animal for that matter, but the authorities were far more comfortable writing it off as an adolescent prank than trying to investigate any further. The unbelievable nature of the true answer left it ignored.
Jonas’s heart raced with excitement at the end of the article. The author called for a full team of ‘monster hunting experts’ to come out and explore the area. That would be the day, thought Jonas. A team like that would finally draw more legitimate attention to the myth. Finally, at the bottom of the article was a picture of the female hiker who had been attacked, and a small tribute to her. Jonas tore this piece of the paper away and used it to stoke the fire.
He took one more look at the paper and noted the name of the author. ‘Shirley Codwell, senior correspondent for the Local Eye.’ “Thank you, Shirley,” murmured Jonas, getting up from his chair. He doused the lamp in the kitchen, threw his tumbler in the sink and collapsed into a creaky bed next to the furnace. He slept well, with thoughts of fame and glory creeping into his dreams.