Guest from the futureDisclaimer: All character, unless stated otherwise, belong to Impossible Pictures.Chapter 1
“Ah, the Canadian North – even in summer it is barely hospitable to human settlement and inhabitation, and those self-proclaimed ‘fans’ of the ‘great outdoors’ would be probably pressed hard to explain precisely what was so great about this place, as opposed to, say, the Niagara peninsula, or-“
“Clark? Shut up.”
The two men in the RCMP scout uniformed seemed to have nothing in common, except for their equipment and similar get-up. Clark Hill (no relation to Clark Kent, as he would always be eager to point out) was just over five feet in height, his naturally pale hair dyed in colours of reddish and black shades, his dark eyes rather small and beady, like a squirrel or a rat’s, located over a rather upturned nose and a short and scruffy moustache – to be brief, he looked mostly like a teenager who had just hit puberty, and no one else. In contrast, Grant Brook was around six feet in height, wore his dark black hair in a long ponytail, and had a face that seemingly had come straight from the Classic Roman senate but was now staying on top of a very powerfully built body instead.
And yet, despite the apparent mismatch of the pair, Clark and Grant worked well enough together, and often became a team – certainly more often than not, as the pair probably had the highest and the most detailed knowledge of the local landscape, as well as its’ natural history and nature in general. And since their boss was never the one to hold back when there was good PR to be had, he often sent his best men – namely, Clark and Grant – onto missions together, to double the chances of success and good publicity.
And such was the case now, really. The case seemed to be nothing grand or serious – just some missing animals made worse by a surge in local hysteria, yet the chief sent Clark and Grant apparently just for some good publicity, saying that if it is serious, the two of them were the best to handle it, and if it wasn’t, then they would have no problem wrapping it all up.
“So, let’s recap,” Grant turned to his partner, looking down due to his height. “Some time ago the chief began to receive complaints and reports about missing animals – pets, poultry, and even some horses – from this area. This was intermixed with reports and rumours of big dogs or dog-shaped animals – in other words, still dogs, the only question being here is: are they feral – strays, lost by campers, etc – or are being released on purpose?”
“You forget the reports about signs of dead or harassed wildlife, from moose and caribou down to fox and hare,” Clark said calmly, looking rather sober by his standards. “And also the trapper reports, about the disabled, destroyed or emptied traps, complete with oversized footprints of dogs next to them.”
“Some canny bastard figured that fancy shoes will make him smarter to catch, and, possibly, has several trained dogs on his side – or her side, I suppose. Got to give kudos to the political correctness and all,” Grand replied mildly.
“Yeah, yeah, political correctness and all – it certainly didn’t stop the natives going on about the Wendigo and-“
“Werewolves, Clark, the reports mentioned werewolves, not the Wendigo.”
“Oh, that’s right – why did I think about the Wendigo?..”
It was at that moment that the wind has changed direction again, once more somewhat scattering the local species of native gnats and horseflies, bringing to the RCMP agents’ the sound of human speech – “the Wendigo, the Wendigo, its’ colour’s pink and indigo, its’ hands are long and rubbery, it can look like just like shrubbery” – and the smell of cheap booze, poteen even.
“Well!” Clark said acidly to his partner, as the wind shifted again, now carrying away the smell of booze and drunken singing, “guess the locals’ fear of the werewolf or whatever may have been a tad exaggerated, wouldn’t you say, Big G?”
“I’ll handle it,” Grant shrugged, looking at the tight smile of his partner. “There is no reason for unnecessary violence or cruelty on this mission yet.”
“Yeah, but what it’s our boy?” the voice on the wind has been clearly masculine.
“Nah, it doesn’t quite fit the profile – if it is the boy, and not some local or trapper, celebrating his success or mourning his loss so early in the afternoon.”
“Oh fine, fine, you can go,” Clark wrinkled his stubby nose. “Just give the fellow the brief one and get back – we still have to figure out where to set tonight’s ambush and the like.”
Grant replied just by silently rolling his eyes and vanished in the Canadian boreal forest around them with hardly any sound, as it was their hard-engrained habit. Clark shrugged in reply and began to re-read their map, ignoring the buzzing of the flies and gnats, and thinking about his latest girlfriend instead. This activity was very consuming in terms of mental power by Clark’s standards, and so he kind of lost track of time, until a particularly persistent vermin bit him right behind one of his ears, causing him to snap out of it – and slap at it – hard.
“Whoa!” he said slowly. “It’s been over half an hour, eh, Grant? Grant?” His partner was still absent, and though the drunkard wasn’t singing out his damn ditty about the Wendigo either, but the smell of cheap poteen on the wind came on stronger than ever. “What the Hell – you are having a drinking party out there?!”
Despite Clark’s sarcasm, he knew that something was wrong – Grant was never the one to be distracted by cheap poteen or any other kind of equally cheap entertainment (unlike Clark himself, actually), he should’ve been back by now, if the drunk was as drank as he pretended to be.
Therefore – his frown deepening by the minute – he put the map into the pocket and followed the path that his partner had taken earlier. It was relatively easy going – the heavily conifer forest had little in terms of undergrowth to slow down a man even one as short as Clark and the path was going down at a sharp angle as well, so the main trick was to keep at it slowly, rather than quickly, and that was something that Clark hadn’t had any problems with at all – and the path evened out somewhat, and Clark didn’t have even that problem anymore, and all he had was to go along slowly, warily, hiding behind tree trunks and keeping a sharp look-out for anything suspicious, like the potential drunkard who was nowhere in sight, even though the smell of alcohol was coming up stronger than ever, although Clark’s trained nose could now detect a different scent underlying the poteen’s reek – blood.
Slowly, with every ounce of skill at stalking that he ever had and then some, Clark made his way through the forest floor. Everything around him quiet, save for several birds chirping in the higher tree branches above him, and a small owl looking at him with its’ unblinking yellow gaze. “How lovely,” Clark muttered, as he momentarily stared back at the owl and then turned back towards the direction from which the smells of trouble apparently originated. “Grant, I swear, if you’re not in trouble, I will make you wish that you were-“
Clark froze, and his mutterings vanished into the silence, as before him the tree line of the forest slowly parted to form a clearing, and at its’ other end was Grant. Or, to be more precise, the remains of Grant, primarily his upper torso, arms and shoulders, and his head hanging on the tip of some monumental bony hook or axe, even as the rest of him was lying scattered around the clearing in gory strips.
“No!” Clark whispered and whirled around, his every intent now being to run for help and/or contact their HQ before it was too late – but it was too late. As he turned around, he came face to face with-
“The wendigo!” Clark exclaimed, caught flat-footed and unawares probably for the first time in a long while, as his assailant slammed into him, easily bringing the much smaller man down in a hard tackle. But that, however, was the last thing that Clark Hill has ever uttered, as the wendigo, or whatever it was, tore out his throat instead.
The next moment the Canadian woods around or rather above the second corpse resonated with howls and crazy laughter – something new has arrived in the Holocene era, something that didn’t truly belong here...To be continued...