Alligators in the Sewers A Novel by Ken David Stewart
Russ Bridges was enjoying a long, restful nap on his new black leather couch. He was startled out of a deep sleep when he heard a loud pounding on his front door. Russ had just turned sixty-six was enjoying his first year of retirement as the former superintendent of sewers for the city of New York. It was 2:05 PM on June 11, 2017. He had been reading the novel It by Stephen King. It was not unusual for Russ to fall asleep on his couch while reading in the mid afternoon. Stephen King was Ross’s favorite author and It was his favorite novel by the most popular horror writer of the century. This was usually how people defined Stephen King as a writer, but the author hated this limited, restrictive view of his writing.
As the pounding on his door became louder, Russ managed to lift his substantial bulk off the couch. When Ross opened his front door he saw Sean Webb, the new superintendent of sewers. Sean took over Russ’s position when he retired. Sean looked very anxious when Ross opened the door for him. “Can I smoke in your house, Russ? I’m all stressed out and I need to talk to you.”
“Sure. Come on in Sean. Yeah, you can smoke in my house. I gave up smoking about ten years ago. Now I just vape like the young people do. You really look agitated. What’s up?”
“Thanks for seeing me on such short notice or rather no notice,” Sean said as his trembling hand reached into the front pocket of his shirt for his pack of Marlborough cigarettes.
“I got a serious problem at work and I really need your advice, Russ. Have you ever heard or seen anything to do with alligators in the New York sewer system?”
“Yeah, I know quite a bit about the problem, but I haven’t told anybody about it. Before I retired from your job, I had to sign a bunch of papers swearing me to secrecy concerning that topic,” Russ answered.
“Why don’t you find a place to park yourself in my living room, Sean?”
Sean was feeling faint so he was relieved to have a place to steady himself. He spotted a bright orange Lazy Boy chair in Russ’s living room. It was the first time that Sean had been in Russ’s house and he found it odd that Russ would have been orange easy chair and wondered where Russ got it.
“Where did you find in orange easy chair, Russ?
“On eBay. It’s a rare color for an easy chair but don’t ask me how much I paid for it. Would you like some coffee to go with your cigarette?”
Russ reached over to his fireplace mantel and took a very weird looking ashtray from the top of it. The ashtray was a beige color in the shape of an alligator. Russ placed it on the glass coffee table in front of Sean’s chair.
“You are starting to freak me out Russ. This ashtray looks a lot like a white albino alligator. This is like a prophetic symbol of why I’m here to meet with you,” Sean said.
“What do you like in your coffee? Some coffee creamer and Sugar Twin would be great if you have it.”
“You’re in luck. That’s exactly what I put in my coffee. My favorite flavor is hazelnut. What’s yours?”
Sean managed a nervous laugh. What a coincidence. That’s my favorite too.”
“My wife gets on my back quite a bit about using Sugar Twin. Ruth’s a nurse and she never fails to tell me that artificial sweeteners cause cancer. I told her that I don’t worry about that because I want to die before she does. I’m being serious, too. I don’t know how I would manage to get along without my wife.”
Russ hated the aging process. He didn’t like the fact that he could not do all the things that he was able to do at age forty. Russ had been somewhat of a high-energy freak of nature when he was younger. He was still trying to make a difficult adjustment to his new life as a senior citizen. This was not an easy transition for him. Since his retirement started he had put on about twenty very unnecessary pounds that he did not need that were causing him to slow down in his daily life activities. Russ found that with each passing year he seemed to either reduce or had to eliminate one of the activities that he had enjoyed doing the year before. Life wasn’t fair. A man of Russ’s intellect and drive could not understand or accept the inevitable fact that he was being forced to slow down in his senior years.
Russ wasn’t very happy with his life now that he was retired. It bothered him that he no longer knew how much time he had to live. His father had passed away at age forty-two after suffering a massive heart attack. This really shook Russ up, and he started thinking about his own longevity.
Russ had a lot of regrets even when he was in his prime. He had a poor self-image. He knew that he had excelled in his work for the city of New York, but felt that in most areas of his life he had been a failure.
Sean’s hand was still shaking as he took a long way drag from his Marlboro cigarette. “I’d sure like to hear any information you have, Russ. I feel like I’m going crazy. Sure, I heard some stories about alligators in our sewer system, but I thought it was just an urban legend. So did most of my coworkers until they started claiming they actually saw alligators while they were performing their sewer maintenance duties.At first, I didn’t believe them when a couple of my staff told me about their encounters with these reptiles. I just figured that seeing that I was their new supervisor they decided to tell me these stories as sort of an initiation prank.
Nessie Lives! By Ken David Stewart
John Richards awoke with a thunderous scream. He sat straight up in bed and started to shiver, partly from fright and partly because his new Homer Simpson pajamas were soaked from a cold sweat. John shakily got out of bed and opened the blinds of his bedroom window as if he was on auto pilot. As bright sunlight shone through the glass, John could see a beautiful red cardinal perched on the window ledge. This was certainly a welcome sight in contrast to what he had just seen in his nightmare.
The night terrors were back. John had not had any for almost two weeks and he thought was done with them. What was this? Post traumatic stress disorder or night terrors? What would his psychiatrist, Dr. Janey, come up with as a diagnosis? John had already been diagnosed as having recurrent unipolar depression. The depressive symptoms had already lessened since John had broken out of his writer’s block and started writing his new novel about his adventures searching for Ogopogo this summer.
John had been experiencing nightmares where he was getting attacked by lake monsters for over two months.
Episode One Hundred Eighty-Eight (Conclusion):
The Harbor Patrol arrived and managed to transport the maimed diver to the closest hospital but unfortunately, the man died at the hospital. By this time Bobby O’Conner had found out about the aborted mission to capture a live Ogopogo. Before conducting his interviews with the key participants the veteran reporter decided that he would do the right thing and would inform William Everett, the head of the Fisheries Department and Sheriff George Anderson of the day’s events. Bobby figured that if he didn’t the Harbor Patrol surely would and he wanted to say on good terms with the authorities.
The major leaders of the expeditions collectively agreed to call a halt to their investigations. On talking it over at an undisclosed meeting sight, Blake Riley, Jack Kimberly, Dr. Lionel Hardy and Winston Standfield came to the conclusion that it was too dangerous to continue their mission to capture a live Ogopogo. They all felt that the human cost was too high to proceed any further at this point. They also knew that they would have to wait to find out if criminal charges were to be brought against any of the expeditions’ participants. They agreed that their mission was not a complete failure. A preponderance of new research data had been collected and the photographic and video evidence all pointed to the proof of Ogopogo’s existence.
John and Susan Richards decided to go out for coffee to discuss how recent events were going to effect their relationship. They both concluded that they should end their separation and give their marriage another chance. The decision on where to live was settled at a Richards family meeting. Ryan and Monique shared that they wanted to continue living in Kelowna as they both wanted to pursue their academic studies at The University of British Columbia. Stephanie informed her family that she too, wished to reside permanently on Kelowna as she wanted to continue her relationship with Garry Hardy.
Wally Standfield and Garry Hardy both decided that they would return to The Kelowna Mental Health Center to complete their therapeutic programs. Upon graduation, Winston Standfield suggested that the two young men should live with him.
As for the Ogopogo family, legislation was passed that ruled that any future research projects that involved either searching for or attempting to capture the creatures would be declared illegal.
Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Six:
After suiting up for his dive John Richards descended into the depths of Lake Okanagan. He travelled a long way down before he saw anything. John was both startled and grossed out to see a dismembered bloody arm drifting towards him. Common sense told John that he should head back to the lake’s surface. He dismissed the thought as he felt that if it was possible to save the two diver’s lives he should make that attempt. He drifted down quite a distance further when the underwater caverns of Rattlesnake Island came into view.
John could see an adult size Ogopogo coming out of one of the cavern’s openings. The creature was carrying one of the divers between his jaws. John could see the stump of the diver’s missing arm. The Ogopogo stared at John and for some unknown reason released the injured diver from its mouth. It proceeded to turn around and swim away from John and the diver. John knew that this was his opportunity to rescue the diver. He called to the ship from the communication device in his helmet.
“Does anyone up their copy?”
“Yes, we copy,” Blake answered.
“I’ve found one of the divers and he is seriously injured. If I can get him to the surface there may still be a chance that we can save his life I’m going to grab a hold of him and I need you guys to bring us up immediately. I also spotted an Ogopogo. He is gone now and may have disappeared into one of the cavern openings. I don’t know how much time I’ve got until the creature reappears.”
“Don’t worry John we are bringing you up as we speak,” answered Blake.
Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Five:
After lunch Blake Riley had a serious chat with Jack Kimberley and Dr. Lionel Hardy.
“Well gentlemen, we all know for sure now that Ogopogo is alive and well in Lake Okanagan. To be more precise we know that there is a family of Ogopogos in the lake. We all are aware that the most likely spot for the creatures’ lair is in the deep caverns below Rattlesnake Island.”
“You are right about that Blake. Aboriginal people have long believed that Ogopogo’s home base is Rattlesnake Island,” Lionel confirmed.
“So how are we going to get to these underwater caverns?” Jack asked.
“We are not going to get to them but my divers will. I’m going to send them both into the lake in a few minutes,” Blake replied.
Within ten minutes two of Blake’s specially trained divers were descending in Lake Okanagan. The divers found that their visibility was relatively good on their way down. The water was a translucent green color and they spotted many varieties of colorful fish.
As they neared the bottom of the lake, the divers suddenly lost a great deal of their visibility. Something very large had stirred up the sediment on the bottom of the lake. All the divers could now see was clouds of dust. One of the divers alerted Captain Marks that they couldn’t see anything down below.
“I want you two men to come back to the surface immediately. We have lost sight of you guys on our monitor. All we can see is clouds of sediment. It’s too dangerous to stay down there any longer,” Peter said.
Peter Marks called over Blake Riley, Lionel and Jack. By this time the two divers were not responding on their audio devices.
“Our divers are in serious trouble. I’ve lost both video and audio communication with them.”
Blake asked Peter. “Do we have anyone else who can dive underwater?”
John Richards had heard the whole conversation. “I can dive under water,” he said. “It was part of my training during my stint in the navy.”
“Would you be willing to go below surface and look for my two divers? I’m getting very worried about them. They should be back up at the surface by now,” Blake said.
“I’ll do it. I’ll try to find the two divers,” John said.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lionel asked. “This is extremely risky. We don’t know what the two divers encountered down there,” Lionel said, trying to talk John out of risking his own life for the sake of the two divers.
“I’m willing to take the risk. I didn’t know if I could be of any use to you people on this expedition. Now I found a way I can.”
Ryan and Monique both ran up to John. Ryan said, “Dad please don’t do this. Those two divers are probably dead by now. It’s not worth the risk.”
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Five:
Bobby O’Connor decided to call Sheriff George Anderson. He believes that there is now less animosity between him and the sheriff. Bobby imagines that because of his cooperation during the recent demonstration he may have won him some brownie points with Sheriff George Anderson.
“Hello Sheriff. This is Bobby O’Connor. I want to thank you for allowing me to report on the demonstration in the town commons.”
“No problem, Bobby. I was glad to have you spread the word about my speech to the crowd. For the most part it has been successful in keeping the Ogopogo hunters off the lake,” the sheriff said.
“You said ‘for the most part’. Have there been any violators of your warnings?”
“I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that there has,” the sheriff answered.
“It has recently come to my attention that a man was attacked by a marine predator. The witnesses claim it was just a large fish, perhaps a sturgeon, but I have serious problems with their stories. I am not aware of any large fish such as a sturgeon that could cause this type of injury,” Sheriff Anderson said.
“What kind of injury are we talking about, specifically?” Bobby inquired.
“A very severe one. Most of the victim’s right arm was amputated.”
“You mean torn right off?”
“Could I speak with the victim? Has his condition stabilized enough that I could talk to him?”
“No, he’s dead,” the sheriff replied. “The man was in very poor health prior to the injury. He had a major heart attack while he was in the hospital.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Bobby said.
“What do you think really caused the man’s injury?”
“I don’t know, but our medical examiner, Dr. Marsha Mitchell, will be looking into it,” George replied.
“Have there been any other similar incidents of late?”
“Yes. Dr. Mitchell is looking into another recent incident. Two criminals who had stolen a couple’s boat were reportedly knocked off the boat by a creature with a large green tail.”
“What kind of animal knocked them into the lake?”
“The Harbor Patrol saw the whole incident. Two of their divers went into the lake to look for the two men. What they found was two badly mangled bodies. One man’s torso was almost ripped in half.”
“What kind of animal could have done this?”
“We don’t know. One of the divers reported seeing a very strange, menacing creature that correlates with people’s reported sightings of Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“How do you intend to follow up on these incidents?” Bobby inquired.
“I have asked Dr. Marsha Mitchel to call me as soon as she has any more information about what could have attacked the victims. After that I’m going to take my law enforcement staff along to find Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“Wow! So you really believe that Ogopogo attacked the victims?”
“What else could it be?”
“When you go out to look for Ogopogo, could you take me along?” Bobby asked.
“I don’t see why not. I’d just have to get it cleared by the Harbor Patrol,” the sheriff said.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Four
Susan Richards felt both shocked and honored by Winston Standfield’s invitation to join him on his expedition. She feared for Stephanie’s safety, but also realized just how much being on this this expedition meant to Stephanie. Susan also could not help but notice the attraction growing between her daughter and Garry Hardy. She knew that if she denied this expedition to Stephanie, her daughter would probably hold a grudge for the rest of her life. Let’s face it, this scientific expedition was an opportunity to make history.
Susan had to admit that she, too, was getting excited by this once in a life time chance to be a part of something that could turn out to be really significant.
It was getting late but Susan was still continuing her conversation with Winston. She was asking him detailed questions about Ogopogo and about his methodology in his search for Ogopogo.
“The pictures and videos that we took turned out very well. The video taken with the camcorder is a bit shaky because of my combination of excitement and fear when I saw Ogopogo. I am sure that these photos and videos will be very important in establishing Ogopogo’s existence. However, my goals go beyond just having photographic and video evidence. I want to find out what kind of animal Ogopogo is. I want to know if he is a previously unknown, undiscovered creature, or if Ogopogo is an evolved version of a previously known prehistoric animal. The marine biologist inside me needs to know the answers to these questions,” Winston said.
“How do you plan to determine this?” Susan said, starting to feel sleepy.
“Susan, I can see that you’re getting very drowsy and you’ve had a long day. I have another spare room in my cottage for you and Stephanie. I will show both of you to your rooms so that you can have a good night’s rest,” Winston said.
“Thank you, Winston. I greatly appreciate this.”