The car was running, the driver door was open but nobody was nearby. Mike was walking down the road when he came across the car. Shivers went up his spine when he saw a dark shadow running into the bushes. Running might be the wrong word, it was more like a wounded animal limping into the bushes dragging a heavy weight. It was a moonless night and there were no street lights but Mike was still able to see it. It was large, and seemed to be covered in hair. It quickly disappeared from sight and Mike was wondering if he had really seen what he thought he saw.
He walked over to the car and looked inside. The first thing he noticed was the overbearing smell of musk. It was so powerful, almost cutting off his wind. The car was empty, except for something on the floor. He bent down and felt something like a bag. He picked it up but when he got it out of the car, he immediately dropped it, turned and promptly lost his supper. He just realised that what he had picked up was a human arm, but without the rest of the body.
A short time later, Mike was sitting in the back of an ambulance, repeating for what seemed like the tenth time, the events of the night. It seemed so incredulous that even he thought it was far fetched and unbelievable . He could only imagine what the police thought of his account of what had happened.
Sleep did not come easy that night so the next morning, he called in sick. Sitting in front of the tv with a large cup of coffee, he tuned in the local news to see if there was anything about last night. The local news anchor glanced over the story, simply stating that there was a missing person and the police were asking the public for their help in locating her. There was nothing about the arm, nor about the strange creature, or whatever it was. He was starting to doubt what he had actually seen, it was so dark and everything seemed to be a blur. But no, he was sure of what he saw.
Feeling refreshed after an invigorating shower, he left his loft apartment and made his way to the municipal library. After finding the newspaper microfilms, he sat in front of the reader and started to look for anything out of the ordinary. Three hours later, he found what he was looking for. Buried in the last page of the newspaper was an article about a sighting of a strange hairy creature. The tone of the article left no doubt that the author didn't put much credence in the sighting. He made note of the author and left the library on his way to the local newspaper.
The newspaper office was located on Main Street, The Dover Gazette. The small town of Dover had a permanent population of 1,500 but during the summer months, the population nearly doubled because of all the cottagers spending time by the many lakes nearby. The newspaper had a permanent staff of three and a half. The half was Mrs. Wensel who had probably been with the newspaper since inception back in the early 30's. She normally came in midmorning and left just after lunch, thus the half person. She was as tiny as can be but feisty and you didn't want to get on her bad side. She was a fixture at the office and could recall almost all the newsworthy events in the past 50 years.
Mike opened the old wooden weather beaten door. It let out a screech from hinges that probably hadn't seen a drop of oil since before Mrs. Wensel's time. Mrs Wensel was at her desk and gave Mike a cursory glance before returning to the task at hand, the morning crossword puzzle. Mike stood there for what seemed like an eternity before she looked up and finally acknowledged his presence. All the townsfolk knew better than to disturb Mrs Wensel while she was doing her crossword. Mike inquired if Joe, the author of the article was in, to which she replied yes. Mike stood there for a minute in silence until she added, "Did you want to talk to him?" Mike thought it went without saying but didn't dare say anything for fear of incurring her wrath. "Yes please" he responded. A minute later, Joe emerged from the back and upon seeing Mike, flashed a big grin. Joe and Mike were friends since school started and probably even before then, having grown up on the same street just two houses down. But then, everybody knew everybody else in town, and Mrs Wensel knew everybody's business.
Joe invited Mike into the small coffee room and after pleasantries were exchanged, Mike came right to the point. He detailed the events of the previous night and it was obvious that Joe had some misgivings at first. When Mike mentioned the previous article that he found in the library archives, Joe got quiet for a minute as he thought back all those years, trying to recall the events of that day. "For years, I thought of what happened and tried to make sense of it" he said "but now, it only gets more confusing."
An hour later, Mike was on his way out the door to see old Mr. Evans. Mr Evans was going on 90 now and Mike hoped that he would be able to recall the events of that night so long ago. A short time later, Mike was pounding on Mr Evan's door, since he was hard of hearing and everybody knew that this was the only way he could know that someone was at the door. After what seemed like an eternity, a frail old man opened the door and smiled when he saw Mike. Mike explained what he was doing there and a few minutes later, they were both sitting in the parlour discussing at length what Mr Evans saw that night. Although it was quite a long time ago, it was obvious that his memory hadn't diminished with time and he vividly recalled the events of that night. When Mike outlined what he saw the previous night, minus the body parts, Mr Evans sat up ramrod and stated that it was the creature. He went on to tell me about the legend of the creature that was said to live in the woods, a legend that had obviously not been passed down to the more recent generation.
Two long hours later and Mike was now making his way to the local police office. First, he stopped by the diner for a quick snack and tried not to get into any long winded discussions of what had happened the night before. This was easier said than done but soon he found himself talking to Bill, the deputy. After laying out his theory for the better part of an hour, Bill sat back, looked him square in the eyes and said, "Are you shitting me Mike?" . Just then, Martin walked in the door. Martin was the Chief and had been with the force for almost 40 years now. Bill quickly retold the story, which he thought was full of baloney and was expecting Martin to come to the same conclusion but Martin turned to Mike and asked "Are you sure of what you saw?" . Mike shook his head yes and went on to relay what old Mr Evans had told him. Martin shocked both of them when he said "I'd heard of that old tale but just never put much faith in it, it was just a tale we heard when we were growing up back then and everyone thought it was made up to scare us young ones."
"Mike", he said, "let me think on this. A sighting is one thing but after what happened last night, this changes everything. When people start getting hurt, or dying, then we have to act."
Three days later when Mike was making his way to the office after a particularly heavy lunch at the diner, a convoy of four State Trooper cars were seen slowly driving toward the police office. Mike stood there for a minute watching the eight State Troopers disappear into the office before heading to work. Mike was sure this had something to do with the creature he saw. It wasn't long before the phone started ringing and Lacy, his secretary, was busy gleaning all the gossip she could about what four State Trooper cars would be doing in their small town. Rumors were running rampant, even UFOs were thrown in for good measure.
The following morning, Martin was up before sunrise and was having a breakfast of coffee, orange juice and muffins. Although the morning paper was lying on the table beside him, his mind was elsewhere, planning the day's activities. He made his way to the office earlier than normal, the eastern sky just beginning to lighten. Traffic was non-existant at this time of the day, most people still in their beds. There was no hubbub or rush like the big city here, things moved at a much slower pace and that's the way most people who lived here liked it.
Martin opened the door to the office and proceeded to fill the coffee pot. He had just barely turned it on when he heard the front door open. The eight troopers had arrived. Martin showed them to the small coffee room, which doubled as a conference room, interrogation room and any other function that was needed. Once the coffee was poured, Martin sat down and started to layout the day's plan. The plan was to systematically search the wooded area to the north of the city where the car was found. It was a rugged and hilly area but Martin had a good idea of where to search. During the gold rush boom, many tunnels were dug into the hills in the quest for gold. The gold was eventually exhausted and the miners departed, leaving the neighbouring hills pockmarked with many dangerous pits and mines. All the local folk knew about this and had warned their children never to wander into the woods. Also added to this was the tale of the strange creature that would eat you up if ever you wandered into the woods at night.
An hour later, Martin and the possee were making their way along the trail into the woods. Although parents warned their children never to go into the woods, there was still a well worn trail winding its way deep into the forest with plenty of broken beer bottles, cans and empty snack packages. Martin was surprised that there weren't more missing bodies in the woods.
The trail led deep into the forest and then started winding it's way uphill into the foothills. It was still easy going. Martin recognized this part of the trail. He had been up here before, a long time ago when the hills were still safe. He also knew what was waiting for him further up. Martin hadn't said anything about the creature earlier because he was afraid that they would catch him and put him in some sort of freak show. Martin hadn't seen his brother for over 30 years now and he dreaded what he would find in the cave, the cave where he and his brother would play and start little campfires when they were both a lot younger and before the accident that claimed his little brother's sanity.
Martin's mind went back over 50 years to a simpler time, a time when kids still played outside and weren't engrossed in their XBox or video games. It was another lazy summer day and it was hot and humid. Their father gathered up the two boys along with their mother and made their way to the small cabin on the lake. It was their favorite little getaway and every weekend, they were on the lake either playing a game of badminton, fishing or just dipping their feet in the cool water. Martin's little brother, Sam had just turned 7 and Martin was charged with keeping an eye on him. Sam was curious, as any 7 year old would be and always seemed to get into some sort of mischief. It was all Martin could do to keep his little brother out of trouble. However, this day would be different, this day would remain etched in his mind forever.
It all happened so fast, Martin turned for what seemed like a second and when he turned back, his little brother was gone. It was like he had vanished into thin air. A feeling of dread hit him like a rock and he started calling for Sam. Soon he was yelling at the top of his lungs. His father came running out of the cabin and instinctively ran to the water's edge. There was little Sam, lying face down in the water. There was no movement. Martin's father jumped in and quickly grabbed little Sam. A few minutes later, they were on their way to the local clinic. Doc Swanson did all he could but when he came out of the back room, his face told all, little Sam had gone too long without air and there was some brain damage. It was still too early to tell how bad it was and only time would reveal the true nature of the brain injury.
Back home, little Sam's demeanor changed drastically. Where once a smart and curious boy had been, now Sam was slow to catch on and seemed destructive. He regularly went on little rampages thru the house and broke anything he could lay his hands on, for no other reason than he could. No amount of sweet talk, discipline or anything else would stop his erratic behavior. As time went on, his actions started to become more violent. This was evident when he hung the cat outside on the clothes line, he had tortured the poor thing and had cut off its legs. When Sam turned 17, he left the house one day and was never seen again. Martin had a good idea where Sam had disappeared to but could never bring himself to tell his parents. He blamed himself for what had happened.
Martin could tell he was close now, there were tell tale signs along the trail, garbage strewn haphazardly everywhere and the smell of death. Just ahead was a small cave opening. Martin made a sign to the other troopers that what they were after was in that cave. It was the same cave where Martin would come with his little brother to escape the heat of the long summer. Martin was surprised that Sam would remember where the cave was. It had taken them the better part of two hours to reach the cave. Martin stopped just short of the cave entrance. He called out to Sam, hoping for an easy resolution but that wasn't to be the case. Martin heard feral growls coming from inside the cave and feared the worst, that his little brother no longer knew him.
Martin suddenly had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, somehow he knew what the outcome of this day would reveal. Eight troopers with guns drawn along with Martin heading the pack went into the cave. What they found turned their stomachs and was too much for two of them as they lost their meager breakfast. There in the back of the cave was what appeared to be an old man, almost naked hunched over what appeared to be the remains of a woman. Martin called Sam but there was no recognition to that name. Rather, the creature growled like a wild animal, lept up in a flash and was almost upon the nearest trooper when a shot rang out. Sam dropped to the ground, lifeless. Martin's service revolver was still smoking when he put it back in it's holster. Martin looked down on the lifeless body but there was no recognition of what he saw.
The next day, Martin was sitting on the deck of the cabin, a refreshing beer in his hand. He had been sitting there for over an hour and had yet to take a sip of his beer. His mind was still reflecting over the events of that day, blaming himself for his little brother's accident so many years before. There wasn't a night that didn't go by where little Sam would drop into his mind, a curious and energetic little boy.