Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills


Monday, November 03, 2008

The Walker Files: Hunting Bigfoot, Part 1

Back when I worked on the Sun tabloid some years ago, we ran a series of short "true adventure" stories ostensibly written by one of our reporters. Needless to say, that reporter was a figment of someone's imagination, as were his adventures. Well, for a couple months, the editor responsible for actually writing these tales – which, from the mail, a surprising number of our readers thought were real – was unable to fit the weekly feature into his schedule, so I was asked to take it over for a while. As I'm off on my two week road trip with my wife, I thought I'd schedule a few of these to post here, for the amusement of this blog's handful of readers.

I've changed the main character's name and added a line or two, here and there, but here's my first two-part adventure.

It's not all that great, frankly, but considering the the super short word count, very short schedule and the limitations of working with the character as established, I think it's it turned out okay....
"Iron" Mike Grayle was a world-renowned big game hunter. Over six feet tall and built like a linebacker, he had to be at least sixty years old, but not a single gray hair showed in his jet black, slightly Satanic goatee. His craggy face was the color and texture of sandstone, and his grip was still a bone crusher.

"Walker, old boy! Glad you could make it," he said, shaking my hand.

"Well, your letter was intriguing, to say the least. What’s this all about, Mike?"

"It’s a story, Walker! The biggest of your career." He grabbed one of my suitcases and led me out of the Portland, Oregon airport towards the short-term parking lot. There, he tossed my bag into the back of a gigantic, black Hummer.

My name is Joe Walker, and I'm a reporter for the Weekly Eclipse, a national supermarket tabloid. Our offices are in Miami, Florida, but I'm rarely there. At my paper's expense – and my editor's disgust – I spend most of my time on planes, boats, horses, donkeys and camels, travelling to the world's most remote and unappealing tourist spots, pursuing stories about the bizarre and unusual. I find both with surprising frequency.

Two hours after Grayle picked me up in Portland, we were sitting in front of a fire at his twenty-room "hunting lodge" sixty miles to the North, drinking coffee after a huge steak dinner. I lit up a Marlboro and said, "Okay, Mike. It’s a nice place you’ve got here and the meal was great. But I haven’t seen or spoke to you since Kenya, back in '82, when we had that run-in with the ivory poachers. Your letter was vague and you’ve been avoiding my questions all night. If you want me to hang around, you’re going to have to give me something."

"You still hunt, Walker?" he asked, a glint in his eye, as he put a match to an elaborately carved Meerschaum pipe.

"No, lost my stomach for it."

"Too bad. But I can understand it. It’s a different world now; the days of the ‘Great White Hunter’ have passed. The true game animals have been over-hunted by amateurs and poachers, and there are damned few places in the world left to really get out in the wild and pit yourself against nature."

"Right," I agreed, but he didn’t understand at all. It was the killing I’d lost my taste for. At one time, I’d been caught up in the excitement of the hunt, too; but after that trip to Kenya and witnessing the savage butchery of the great elephants simply for profit, I’d had enough. Clearly Mike hadn’t. "So, is that what this is about? You want me to join you on a hunt?"

"Exactly! But a hunt unlike any you’ve ever experienced. Follow me." He led me down the hall to huge, high-ceilinged room. It was his trophy room. The room was an impressive tribute to the taxidermist’s art: the heads of nearly every variety of antelope, deer, and buffalo lined the walls. A lion, tiger and a black panther had given their lives to become rugs, and a grizzly towered over a chair of horn and leather, frozen forever in a pose of attack. Glass gun cabinets circled the room, filled with virtually every firearm known to man.

Mike led me to a large wooden table in the middle of the room. A sheet covered something on top of it. "Look around, Walker. I’ve hunted virtually every game animal in the world. I’ve stood down charging elephants and stalked jungle cats. If it runs, flies or swims, I’ve made a trophy of it. After almost thirty years, the challenge was gone. I retired here to the Pacific Northwest, made a few investments, and started work on my memoirs.

"But now I’ve found a new challenge… and right in my own back yard!"

He pulled away the sheet to reveal six plaster casts. Each was nearly two feet long and they were all almost exactly the same. They were footprints. Huge footprints.

"You’re going to hunt Bigfoot?"

"No, " he said. "We’re going to hunt Bigfoot. These casts come from up in the mountains near here. I’m a partner in a new mountain lodge and restaurant – it’s one of those investments I mentioned. Construction started two months ago, and one morning the crew found some prints. They thought it was a hoax, but new prints have shown up almost every night."

"It probably is a hoax, Mike. Has anybody actually spotted a Sasquatch?"

"A couple of the crew claim to have seen things moving in the woods. Maybe it is a hoax, but if it’s not, it’s got to be the greatest challenge yet. Will you join me, Walker? Your readers will eat it up, and we’ll both be famous."

"I don’t know, Mike…" I picked up one of the casts. "If these are real, the creature’s going to be gigantic."

"I’ve had experts look at these casts, and they say we’re looking for a humanoid creature over eight feet tall, weighing around six hundred pounds."

"Something that big is going to be tough."

"It’s not so big. Besides, I have just the gun for the job." He walked to the nearest cabinet and pulled out a battered rifle. It had seen a lot of use. It was a Holland and Holland Royal Ejector model, made in the Fifties, its two twenty-six inch barrels chambered for the Holland and Holland .375 Magnum cartridge. The .375 Magnum delivers a 300-grain slug with over two tons of stopping power.

Yeah, he had the gun for the job, all right. I remembered that gun from Kenya."When do you plan to start this hunt?"

"Tonight. The Hummer’s been loaded with gear. We’ll set up camp along a lumber road a mile or so up the mountain from the construction site. Most of the prints seem to go in that direction. There’s a lot of caves up there, maybe that’s where they live. It’s a place to start, anyway.

"So, are you with me, Walker?"

"I’m with you. Let’s go find ourselves a Sasquatch."
To Be Continued

2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I like it. Captures the feeling of a dangerous hunt about to start.

Kevin said...

Chris,

Did you forget to tell us about a new editor we all know and appreciate? The story is up at Comics Continuum. Congrats!

Kevin