by Hugh Fox
We were on the Toba Inlet, a fjord north of the Powell River, just opposite the middle of Vancouver Island. About fifty miles inland.
It was early September, chill. Dusk. Heavy forest. The smell of pines, a slight breeze stirring the trees. A completely isolated world, an uninhabited cosmos that had never been touched by man. Used to cities, born in New York, having lived most of my life in Los Angeles, the ’emptiness’ bothered me. Even if I didn’t expect Ôsasquatches’ to be out there in the forest, I think I still would have been bothered by the complete absence of cars, lights, motors or any kind of ‘mechanical’ noise. The ‘presences’ of civilizaton are protective, the cutting up and piecing out of land, the laying out of streets, lights, buildings. It means a human order was put up against the UNKNOWN. But here our minds, bodies, our sleeping bags and equipment gathered together under the trees for the night were the only KNOWN quantities surrounded by a totality of UNKNOWN ‘out there’ around us, surrounding us.
The shadows, of course. We started a fire. I flipped on my radio, tuned in to Vancouver, kind of faint, but I could get it, then turned it off.
‘What’s wrong, don’t you want a little music?’ asked Joe.
‘I don’t know,’ I answered feeling fear creep into me like cold.
I wanted to be able to hear: to hear anything — everything — around me. No sound between me and the gathering shadows.
‘Cheer up, willya,’ said Joe, starting to cook some hot dogs over the fire.
‘I’m OK,’ I said looking out at the trees, the thick underbrush.
I was mainly thinking about the ‘poorness’ of our equipment.
A couple of .22 rifles, some canisters of tear gas, gas masks, nylon ropes, an anesthetic dart-gun that would knock out anything as big as an elephant — if you got it before it got you. We each carried .45 revolvers.
I hadn’t been able to get any ‘financing’ although I’d written to more than two hundred foundations. Joe was a chemist and I was a professor of American lit, although what we did at Cal State at Eureka had little to do with our basic interests. I had my undergraduate degree in Biology and had finished two years of medicine before I switched into English. And when I’d switched I realized I’d made a mistake, but it was too late, I hadn’t taken my
finals at the end of my second year, couldn’t get back in….so I got a Ph.D. in American Lit and read endlessly on anthropology, natural history, archaeology, anything to do with man’s nature, man’s past, whatever really (looking at it egotistically) would help to tell me more about who I was.
Joe had his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago, didn’t like research, had also been an anthropologitst-biologist as an undergrad, and since he’d moved to Eureka had gotten an obessive interest in American Indian legends. And it was his (our) encounter with numerous tales (so-called ‘myths’) about the Sasquatches that had prompted us to take a chance — even if we couldn’t get any funding. We were both rebels, in a way, kind of sick of institutional conservatism, both in our late thirties, kind of academic nobodys. A little sensationalistic publicity wouldn’t hurt either of our careers, and since reading Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision, we were more convinced than ever that myth wasn’t equatable with ‘fairy-tales’ or ‘sub-conscious fantasy,’ but was merely quasi- or symbolic HISTORY. If there were myths about sea-serpents it was because there were sea-serpents. If there were myths about cyclopes, with eyes in the middle of their foreheads, it was because there actually were foetal monsters with eyes in the middle of their foreheads. If there were Northwest Coast Indian legends about tall, hairy wildmen living in the forests, it was because there were tall, hairy wildmen living in the forests. We had even see the drawing of the Gin-Sung Asian Sasquatch in an eighteenth century Mongolian manuscript. And we knew what to expect, a ‘hominoid’ ape-like ‘man’ about seven to eight feet tall, weighing about eight hundred pounds, stronger than a gorilla and only slightly less intelligent than ourselves.
‘Come on, eat, man, eat,’ said Joe, handing me a hot dog.
‘I should have gone back with Reuben,’ I said, ‘he’s the smart one.’
Ever since Reuben, our American guide, had ‘dropped out’ the day before because — as he put it — ‘Sasquatch country from here on, and Sasquatches kill, break necks’, Rueben illustrated by karate-chopping his right hand into his left palm, ‘cut off heads.’ I’d been waiting for some ‘sign’ of the presence of the Sasquatches. Presumably they were nocturnal, and if they actually were out there in the forest around us, they had already sighted us, knew we were there, were merely waiting for dark to move in on us and destroy us.
‘We can go back if you want,’ said Sam, smiling, opening a can of beans, holding it over the fire with a pair of long tongs.
‘I’ll tell you something, pal,’ I said, watching the forest around us go darker, darker, darker, as if a black velvet curtain were being pulled around us…and on the other side of the curtain? ‘If we started back right now, tonight…and if they’re out there.’
I put my hand on my revolver. You couldn’t tell about the wind and the brush, there was always sound. I tried to project myself into their minds, if they were out there, hearung us hack our way through the brush, hearing us talking, smelling us maybe, seeing our fire. What were we to them? What was ‘man’ in relation to other animals or other men? Killers. We were killers, we’d practiced for months learning how to handle our guns. We talked about ‘science,’ ‘evolution,’ ‘myth,’ but we came with guns and were ready to use them. Only they KNEW, they understood, they weren’t gorillas, they weren’t like gorillas, they were men, they killed first. And they didn’t really need to be threatened in order to kill…
‘You want me to tell you something? I’d rather get killed than go back,’ said Sam, spooning out half the can of beans on a tin plate, ‘When I was twenty I believed in the future, when I got to be thirty and I’d gotten to the future, all I could think of was how dull it was. Now, as I move up to forty, dullness has become a way of life. I’m not going to discover any new compounds or dream up any new basic theories. If I make it to retirement I can tell you exactly how much I’m going to get. I can predict where my kids’ll be and what they’ll be doing. I can more or less tell you what my wife’ll be saying at breakfast twenty years from now. If there’s anything out there, though…’ He got up, handed me my beans, then facing the now solid darkness, ‘COME ON, YOU SONOFABITCH, COME ON GIN-SUNG, YETI, ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, SASQUATCH, UFTI, WHATEVER YOU’RE CALLED, WHATEVER YOU CALL YOUR SELF…COME ON….’
And he took his gun out of it’s holster, took off the safety catch and aimed it at the night sky as if he were going to shoot it. I got up, grabbed his arm, and a shot went off. Into the forest itself at a forty-five degree angle. Like a shout, a splash, parting water that then rushed back heavily in on our silence….
‘No shit, man, you’re really crazy,’ I said and could feel the darkness around us tense up with defensive, killer fear. I really expected an attack right then, took out my gun, stared at the trunks and needles illuminated by our small flickering fire, tried to see beyond, into the blackness, expecting, waiting for….
There was a rustling in the underbrush. Only not toward, away from us. We both stood waiting and then it was gone.
‘What was that, huh?’ Iasked.
‘Something small,’ he answered, then sat down by the fire, started eating again, added apologetically, ‘Listen, I’m sorry, but I really do feel that….. It’s crazy, I know it’s crazy, but, I don’t know, it’s everything around me, all the students turned on, expanding, wanting, doing what they want, and me, both of us, all of us…dead or dead on our feet.’
‘Yeah, sure,’ I answered. I agreed with him, but Holy Maholy, it wasn’t that I ever expected to get into Sasquatch territory unobserved, but I liked to kid myself that it might just be possible to co-exist with the goddamned things, like Krueger ( Living with the Great Apes) in Africa between 1965 and 1966, who actually had become a member of a gorilla tribe, learned how to talk Gorilla, went where they went, ate what they ate and acknowledged the dominance of the silver-backed male ‘Chief.’ If only they didn’t feel they were being invaded or threatened. But that was over, the shouting,the shot, goddam….,’Listen, why don’t you get a little sleep. I’m the nighthawk, remember, I’ll be good until abut three, you can have the three to dawn watch,how’s that?’
‘Up yours!’ said Sam with a smile and got up, urinated, then slid into his sleeping bag, adding, ‘I’m sorry, but, man, thnk, if they’re there they know we’re here…’
And he closed his eyes.
I put some more sticks on the fire, then sat back against the fire and faced the dark. Even that way, though, I kept glancing over my shoulder. If any of them were going to attack they could reach right over the fire. So I kept shifting around, tense, jumping every time the fire cracked or spit. Goddam Sam starting to snore.
Ten. I put some more wood on the fire. It was getting windy,cold, and the noise of the trees and brush in the wind got louder, more ‘ragged,’indistinct. I felt numb. I was tired, but beyond the possibility of sleep, I thought, even when I woke up Sam I’d still wait out the night.I wasn’t going to/couldn’t sleep with the possibility of being killed in my sleep by a Sasquatch. Of course in the legends and myths they were super-natural, but I knew they weren’t, that they were something like Neanderthal Man, Pithecanthopus or even Zinjanthropus. Maybe they were the Race of Giants in the Old Testament, the Titans in Greek myth – but still they were merely large ‘variant’ men.
That’s what I believed, but as the night lengthened on the whole black world around us, things began to change subjectively in my mind. I couldn’t be sure that I’d heard anytyhing (could ‘they’ have moved synchronized with the wind so that the sounds of their footsteps coordinated with the sounds of the wind-stirred branches), but I began to feel that there was something (some ONE) out there, like me, but not like me,a killer, pure and simple, nothing disguised or civilizaed about him, not like me pretending I wasn’t a killer but coming to kill, exposing myself to him just to give me the chance to kill should I be attacked. And that he was waiting,not because he was afraid, or not because he wasn’t going to kill, but simply because it wasn’t the moment. I was alert, waiting….he was going to wait until my alertness dulled and then descend on me like thunder.
I even scanned the forest-edge for eyes, a face. I felt ‘looked at,’ observed, and the longer I looked the more certain I was that out beyond the rim of the firelight someone was there. I even got up, flashlight in one hand, revolver in the other, and walked to the edge of the firelight, and probed into the outer darkness. Nothing. Not that that changed anything, because I still felt looked at. The underbrush was so thick it would have been almost impossible to see a dark-skinned ‘man’ whose body was covered with (as legend had it) long black hair.
I began to think they moved in tribes, they were bands, communities, like all primates. It was as if I wasn’t being stared at from one point any more, but that I was surrounded by observers, the whole forest perimeter closing in one me. I felt presences, was convinced I wasn’t alone. Perhaps some subliminal sounds that I hadn’t consciously heard activating instinctive areas inside me that had nothing to do with conscious, logical knowledge. I ‘knew’ without deducting or calculating anything — my arms, legs, bowels, ‘knew.’
I remembered sometmes on long car-trips when my eyes would be heavy, overtired and the highway was straight, I’d close them for a number of seconds, five, ten…count, one, two, three, four, five..then open, road ahead clear, close them, one, two, three, four, five…and now I started playing the same game here, eyes closed, one, two, three, four, five…open…nothing changed.
I felt number, split, dissociated. Tension and exhaustion. It was as if my arms, my head and my body had all been pulled apart. I felt dizzy, confused. I couldn’t be sure of anything. It seemed like I was hearing movement in the underbrush, the bending and twisting of branches, something walking across the heavily pine-needle-covered forest floor. Only my consciousness in a sense interferred with my instincts. It wasn’t enough to sense, feel, know on a gut-primate level, I had to be sure, I had to reason and think about reality, and the tug between my ego-knowing and my gut-knowing tore me apart in confusion.
I kept closing my eyes and counting….one, two, three, four, five…one, two, three, four, five…and slowly I began to realize that I knew, had known,was tuned in on presences not merely by sound, but….
I got up, shook Sam awake, waited for him to get calmly and completely aware of where he was and what was happening, and then told him.
‘Smell, Sam, just smell!’
He sniffed at the wind.
‘What have you been burning?’ he asked, looking at the fire.
‘It’s not from the fire,’ I said.
‘It smells like burning rubber, something like that. Christ, it’s awful…maybe it’s a skunk.’
I’d smelled skunks before. Lots of times. Out in the country.
‘It’s not a skunk, man.’
‘Whatever it is,’ said Sam, all of a sudden lowering his voice, taking his rifle out of its case, sitting with his back against me, ‘whatever it is, it’s close, man…it’s animal, it’s big, and it’s close…get your rifle, put the stupid pistol away, get your rifle…’
I got up, got my rifle and we kept sitting back to back, Sam throwing some more wood on the fire, the light flaring up,flickering across the underbrush.
‘We’re really stupid, you know, I mean, really, sitting in the light just waiting to be crunched while ‘it,’ whatever it is, hides protected in the dark just waiting to crunch us. What we oughta do is put out the fire, sit with our flashlights in our hands, and when we hear something, switch ‘um on and start shooting…that’d be smart,’ said Sam.
I interrupted him.
‘That’s your show, not mine, pal. You sit in the dark and I’ll build my own fire someplace else.’
‘I don’t say I’m going to sit in the dark,’ answered Sam,’It’s just that if we were smart we would….’
‘Only we don’t hear well, you’ve gotta burn rubber under our noses before we smell anything.’
So we waited. Twelve, twelve-thirty.
‘I’m gonna close my eyes a while, OK?’ I said at one. The smell was stilll there enclosing us like a tent.
‘Maybe it is a skunk,’ said Sam.
‘Yeah, sure, sure,’ I answered and tried, not exactly to sleep, but just rest. It didn’t work, though, and the next thing I remember was Sam waking me up in the morning with a cup of coffee under my nose.
‘Hey, baby, try this smell on for size.’
I took the cup, smelled the wind.Nothing there, just pines, the smell of the fire, and the coffee…
After breakfast I walked out (gingerly, cautiously) beyond the clearing and checked the underbrush for any sign of the night before’s visitor. Something had been there. I was convinced ot that. My’humanity’ had gone against my whole sense of ‘reality.’
‘See anything?’ asked Sam, getting together our gear.
‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘it looks like….’
And then I saw a huge pile of feces in front of me filled with flies. It was fresh, still moist and looked human, although bear and human feces are often very similar looking.
‘Sam, come here!’
Sam came, took a look.
‘Jesus Christ,’ he said looking at the enormous pile in front of him ‘Whatever it is, it’s gotta be eight hundred pounds at least. And even if it’s a bear, man…,’ then he stoppped, looked at the ground around the feces-pile, walked off a few paces, ‘Hey….’
It was a sandy bare spot uncovered by needles, and very clearly imprinted in the sand there were the toe-marks of an enormous foot. ‘Human’ in a way, but with a strange depression under the ball of the foot that must have been made by some kind of ‘pad’ or bone protrubance. The big toe was chunky, chubby.
Same went and got his camera and ruler, took some shots of the print, started measuring, sketching….
‘About sixteen inches long, seven inches wide. That’s about a size twenty shoe, man. I wear size nine. How about you?’ asked Sam.
‘Ten,’ I answered.
And neither of us was small. Almost six feet, over two hundred pounds. Double the shoe-size and the ‘thing’ would be…twelve feet tall? Four hundred pounds? Or didn’t it go that way?
Sam made a plaster cast of the prints, and then insisted that instead of continuing on directly inland the way we had been going, that we move in the direction of the tracks — North, North-East…
I agreed reluctantly. I really wanted to go back. I really had had enough. There was no question of the existence of the things in my mind now, and as far as I was concerned the case was proven. We had our plaster cast, pictures of the dung-heap and the footprint. But to follow the thing/or things, in a sense, track them down, what the hell, we’d been lucky, why press our luck.
‘We could go back,’ I finally suggest at about noon as the country got rougher and rougher, full of hills and gullies, thick undergrowth, heavily shadowed by huge trees.
‘Come on, come on,’ he answered, not paying much serious attention to my reluctance, what I considered my very reasonable fear.
I followed him.
No more tracks nor dung, but then at dusk, when we set up camp in the bottom of a kind of natural rock ‘ampitheater,’ the smell was there again. It was still light, that terrifying hour just before the final light disappears when everything seems to melt and disappear right before your eyes.
It was my turn to make dinner, if you could call opening a couple of cans making anything. More beans, a small can of dried beef, some raisins. As the light drained out of the sky like blood, we had a good fire going, but we sat around it eating I felt much more vulnerable than the night before.
They were obviously tracking us down. Roles were reversed…and they’d wear us down before we’d ever wear them down. They were ‘home,’ after all, they’d probably been in these forests since the last ice age, had emigrated across the Bering Straits from Asia, and they’d probably still be living here afer their more acaptable cousin, MAN, had destroyed himself with nuclear and chemical warfare, with his cities, his contamination, pollution, waste and residue suicide. How long would we be able to survive without our guns, can openers, lights, wool jackets and quilted linings, glasses and shoes and pots and pans.
‘You know our whole tactic is backwards,’ I finally said to Sam, layer after layer inside me panicking just with the presence of the heavy burnt rubber smell hanging on the air around us, floating out of the surrounding forest, ‘We’re not hunting them, man they’re hunting us.’
‘So? Any alternatives?’ asked Sam, irritated, bitchy. I’d been bitching myself all day, had communicated it to him. In fact at one point he’d shouted at me ‘Go ahead back if you want, just don’t expect me to go back with you!’
Of course I wasn’t as dissatisfied with life as Sam was. I was five years into a second marriage that was much better than my first. Had a three year old son and the three children from the first marriage were in high school in Los Angeles, came up to stay with me on vacations, had even wanted to come along with us on our Sasquatch adventure, but I didn’t want them to. I suppose I was more afraid of their mother than I was about their safety, but anyhow I left them back in Eureka with my second wife.
Sam, though, was married to a real bitch, a high school counsellor who carried on her counselling as long as she was awake, with anyone who happened to be within shouting range. His kids (two girls, one boy) were in college at Berkeley, and they hardly ever called him or saw him. They just weren’t interested, nothing more negative than that, but for Sam that was enough. He was bitter, dissatisfied,soured on life. Sometimes I felt he was less interested in anthropology and ethnology than in suicide.
‘Instead of waiting for them to get us, why can’t we get them, man. Like lob a couple of teargas cannisters out there and they start coughing and we start shooting. We’ve got flashlights, guns, tear-gas, and here we are sitting waiting to get slaughtered,’ I said just waiting at any moment, any moment, for themk to crash in on us and go for our throat.
‘What makes you think they’re gonna slaughter us?’ asked Sam, very suprior, pedantic, smug, ‘The great apes never attack unless attacked.’
‘Only these are men,’ I interrupted, ‘they’re like us. They kill just for the sake of killing.’
At least that’s the way the stories went. No one had attacked the Sasquatches. Only anyone who had penetrated and camped in the taboo forests was almost inevitably attacked, sometimes beheaded. More often they simply disappeared. The Forest Monsters hunted and killed to hunt and kill; they were vegetarians, didn’t eat what they killed but killed to kill. Emerged out of their safe dark world into the campsites of any intruders and utterly destroyed them.
Sam looked hurt, defeated.
‘Sometimes I think that if we stayed in here long enough, did our thing without tracking down or challenging anyone, tried to live off the land the way they do, gradually moved back to their state of truce with their world…and they saw we weren’t killers, weren’t different, weren’t invading, but co-existing, they’d come to us, like another pack, another unit of themselves. But just think how we look to them, with our fires and guns our whole attitude of mixed fear and aggressiveness…’
I shrugged my shoulders.
‘You wanna take the first watch tonight? Four hours sleep and I’ll be good for the rest of the night…’
I wondered if he really believed in his romantic fallacy that the Out There was benign if we’d only give it a chance. Certainly nothing in his own life justified such an attitude. It was almost as if his suicidal despair had sprung from his inability to cope with the Out There the way it really was. Or maybe he wanted the ultimate proof that the universe was benign, that if he approached it completely defenselessly it wouldn’t betray or destroy him but instead caress and cradle him. And all I felt, all I FELT, was the imminence of death.
‘Go ahead, sleep a while, I’m still wide awake,’ he said and I got into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes.
With my eyes closed the smell was even more terrifyingly penetrating. It was, in a way, like acrid, stale human sweat. Or like the ammonia formed out of urine. With my eyes open it seemed to be some distance away, but the minute I closed my eyes the stink enveloped and surrounded me. I felt it rush in on me. And I’d startle awake again…expecting….
Only nothing had changed. Sam was next to the fire facing the dark forest, and the forest itself was still blank, black, impenetrable. The firelight bothered me so I turned my back on it, faced the forest, could feel the fire-warmth on my back through the sleeping bag. Decided to sleep with my gun in my hand, but decided I had to sleep, that if I didn’t sleep, in a couple more hours I’d begin to slip away from any coordinated possibility of confronting reality. Already my mind had begun to stretch and yawn, and almost subliminal shapes had begun to be secreted by my brain to fill the threatening blankness of my surroundings. My fears had already begun to howl and scream inside me. Another couple of hours and I’d be shooting at the ghosts created by my own mind. I had to sleep, blanked out my mind, twisted my head around, relaxing the muscles at the back of my neck, touching my legs and feet against the inside of my sleeping bag, bringing me down into my flesh, my skin, out of the abstract mind-floating world of my species that had made us kill-die-suffer-torture for a ‘principle’ that had nothing to do with roots, water, trees, the piths and stalks of pants or any of our physiological needs. I remembered Marais in The Soul of the Ape talking about the burden of consciousness and how the baboon, the only other primate as far as he knew, who in some way approached this consciousness, would drug itself on semi-poisonous fruit just to escape thought. Thinking, brooding, raking over old ideas. How many nights had I lain awake until dawn?
Finally I fell asleep with vague threatening shapes moving through my dreams. The presence of the smell was creating monsters inside them, ‘things’, huge, heavy, bulky ‘things’ hovered over me, smelled at me, moved between me and the fire, shuffled and babbled. Could they talk?
Suddenly I realized I wasn’t dreaming and no hours had passed. It had only been a matter of minutes. I could hear them moving around, and they were talking. Words of long ‘O’s,’ short, fast, more grunted than spoken.
What about Sam?
No sound from him. No shot, scream…nothing…
I was afraid to open my eyes. What were they doing? Going through our packs, was that it?
I carefully flipped the safety catch off my gun and waited. Maybe they’d just leave…maybe they’d just leave…
The noise stopped, the gibbering stopped, the whole concentrated sense of presence great. They were between me and the fire. Surrounding me, weren’t they? They were all around me, their smell so strong I felt like gagging, held it down, forced myself to breathe slowly, regularly. I could hear their breaths, their movements, they were closing around me like a tightening noose. I felt a shadow descend down over my head. It wasn’t going to work, passivity, waiting. Sam was wrong, the ‘out there’ would destroy me if it had a chance. They were killers, they were men, they talked, they weren’t apes…
As the shadow kept descending suddenly I rolled over toward the fire and opened my eyes, pulled out my gun and fired up at the shadow that was descending on me.
It was about seven feet tall, huge arms, shell-shaped head, prominent supra-orbital ridge, had a large sharp-edged stone in its hand, kind of a primitive ‘cutter’ with a neanderthalish chipped edge, the edge full of blood.
I saw Sam lying over by the fire, on his back, dead, his head almost severed from his body, the blood from his ragged neck-wound covering his clothes….
And there wasn’t one of them, but four.
I had hit the one who was abviously about to get at my neck the way he’d gotten at Sam. He dropped his stone, his handless axe — that’s what it was, wasn’t it? — and grabbed at his stomach. The others, all of them covered with long copper-colored fur, longer on the head, but covering their entire bodies, seemed confused, unsure of what to do. I scrambled out of my sleeping bag, got Sam’s rifle and started shooting at them, my mind blanked out now, everything I did automatic, unthinking, blind, the months I’d spent firing at targets at Sam’s place outside of Eureka, all the careful and precise aiming, techniques, submerged under a white-blind-light-flash of KILL!
I wanted to get the big male who had threatened me first. Got at him. Over and over again. Into his stomach. At his head. Into his chest. Get him. Get him. He went down, roaring, screaming, trying to get at, get to me… down on the ground now, though, crawling, howling at me. I aimed for his face, his eyes, his mouth, shot, shot, shot, shot….
Blood gushing out of his left eye, out of his mouth, his howling now beginning to gurgle with his own blood, until finally he stopped altogether, no more sound, movement. The others waited. The one of them (second in command?) screamed something at them and they turned and fled back into the forest. Only I kept firing as long as I had shots left. Got my rifle now and tried to hit them, destroy them, should have had mortars, grenades. I wanted to destroy the whole world, destroy everything, destroy, destroy, destroy….
And even after they’d made it out of the firelight I followed their bloody tracks into the dark and kept firing, screaming at them.
‘You sons of bitches, I’ll kill you all, I’ll kill you all, I’ll kill you all, I’ll kill you all.’
Only then stopped. They might turn and wait, I didn’t want to chance that. They might turn and wait for me in the dark if I followed them in.
So I stopped and went back to the fire, put on some more branches, let it blaze up, felt like screaming, felt out of myself, felt exalted, exultnt, triumpant, felt like screaming….and screamed…
Slowly came back to my self, returned to my body, my fatigue, exhaustion, fear, sat down breathing heavily, rapidly, my heart beating irregularly, jumping twisted and grotesquely in my chest, thought, you stupid sonofabitch, Sam… you stupid sonofabitch… you wanted to die, so you’re dead.
Then I kicked out the fire. They’d had enough for one night, man. And they’d seen in me, a pudgy little whiteman, more fury, hatred and destructiveness than they could collectively muster together. It was my first kill and I loved it. Oh, I’d killed dogs and rats and dissected a human corpse in med school, but this was my first ‘man’-kill…and looking at Sam’s almost decapitated corpse in the light of the still-glowing coals, I even enjoyed imagining that I’d killed him too. I felt wildly, hysterically ‘liberated’ — even as exhausted as I was, my whole body-surface becoming ‘aware,’ my face ‘aware’ of the cold breeze, the rest of me ‘aware’ of my clothes, my shoes. I smelled the heavy rich pine-smell in the air more acutely than I’d ever smelled it before. And inside I was relaxed, unstrung, my fear, ambiguity, uncertainty, my whole tentative, squeaking, retreating world-view replaced by a delicious, tensionless, loose-jointed, loose-limbed calm and self-assurance.
I reloaded all the guns, took my pistol in my hand, placed the other guns around me on the ground, got into my sleeping bag and slept the sleep of the killer….
The next morning I buried Sam, then with the same knife I’d used to dig Sam’s grave, I cut up my Sasquatch, head off, arms, hands, heart, liver, lungs, rib cage, then the legs in two parts, upper and lower, feet, pelvis…put all the parts in little bags filled with formaldehyde, made a kind of sled out of five small pine trucks, and started back west, toward the coast, dragging the sled behind me.
It was eight o’clock. I’d moved up out of the ‘amphitheater’ we’d been in the night before. The Sasquatch must have weighed between seven hundred and eight hundred pounds, but the forest floor was covered with slippery pine-needles so it was difficult but not impossible. Anyhow, I could have buried the body in its formaldehyded bags, then climbed up on one of the trees and tied a ‘marker’ on top. Or just marked the spot where the body was and then come back. The ‘amphitheater’ wouldn’t be that hard to find. Or I could have dissected the whole body out right there, photographed it, step by step. As far as anthropological needs were concerned, there wasn’t much else that anyone would (could) do anyhow. If I’d been able to get one of them back alive, now that would have been something else again. Even linguistically…would their language be some kind of proto-Asiatic? What were their myths if they had any? What collective tribal memories would they have of their own origins? Did they know about the existence of other Sasquatches? One Amerindian myth talked about a constant war between two separate groups of ‘wildmen.’
Of course the whole science of anthropology would have to be readjusted to fit in our Sasquatch. Paleontology, archaeology, comparative mythology, sociology. One live Sasquatch would radically modify the whole contemporary man-science scene. And even a dead one would have the anthropologists chattering for decades. And my name, if I played it right, could become a permanent part of ‘the literature.’
And then I stoped. I could see Mount Baker off to my right, threw the nylon pull-ropes on the ground, took my pistol in hand, just left the ‘thing’ there and kept walking west.