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 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.”
Chapter One Twenty-Three:
Dr. Marsha Mitchell was in her office trying to catch up on some of her files when she heard her phone ring.
“Hello. Dr. Mitchell. This is Sheriff George Anderson. I’m calling to give you a heads up that you will soon be getting three more clients. I received a call from one of the surgeons at the hospital, Dr. Phillip Garvey. He told me that his first patient had died on the operating table. He was a man named Mike O’Grady. Mike had most of his right arm torn off by an unknown animal in Lake Okanagan. By the time his crew got him to the hospital it was too late. The poor man had lost a great deal of blood and was in very poor health prior to his injury. The doctor said that Mr. O’Grady died of from a massive heart attack while he was on the operating table.”
“That’s horrible. What happened to the other two men?” Marsha asked.
“They were DOA when they got to the hospital. These two men were criminals who stole an old couple’s boat, but they didn’t need to die in such a horrible manner. They were enjoying a couple of beers on the main deck when they were suddenly knocked off their boat by a very large green tail. The Harbor Patrol divers found the two bodies of the criminals. They were mauled very badly. One man’s leg was torn off above the knee and the other guy’s torso was almost torn in two,” Sheriff Anderson stated.
“One of the divers got a good look at the animal that caused the destruction. All he could tell me, on the record, was that the animal was an unidentifiable marine predator. Off the record, he told me he was sure that it was Ogopogo.”
“This sounds very similar to the Ida Rhodes case,” Dr. Mitchell observed.
Chapter One Hundred Twenty-One:
Cam McDougall didn’t waste any time getting to work on the photos and videos that Jack had provided. He called Jack over to have a look at some of the photos.
“Jack, these pictures you have are incredible. Considering that they were taken at night they show remarkable clarity and detail. I just have one question for you. Two, actually.” Cam said.
“Go ahead. Ask.”
“First question. Who took these photos and videos?”
“An old friend from my high school days, Mike O’Grady,” Jack replied.
“Would it be possible for me to meet him?”
“Unfortunately not. Mike passed away yesterday at the hospital. Mike got too close to the young Ogopogo and it tore his right arm off. Mike died in the operating room while he was being treated.”
“That’s terrible. His camera work was amazing.”
“We’ll miss him. That’s for sure,” Jack said sadly.
“Here’s my other question. Just an observation, but the smaller animal definitely appears to be an animate object, but something doesn’t look quite right with the larger creature. This is even more apparent on your videos. The little one appears to be moving around in a very life- like manner, but the adult creature looks stilted. The junior Ogopogo looks very much alive and appears to want to play with the larger one. The little one may think that the larger animal is its mother. The adult size creature doesn’t appear to be moving on its own. It looks like it only moves when the little one pushes on it,” Cam observed.
“The reason for that is that the adult size Ogopogo isn’t real. It’s made out of wood. Mike O’Grady designed, built and painted the replica of Ogopogo,” Jack explained.
“From what you have told me, this Mike O’Grady was a genius. Did he make a lot of money from his work?” Cam asked.
“Unfortunately not. Mike was getting older and suffered from numerous health challenges. He lived off his government disability cheque. He also made a little spending money by repairing other people’s computers. Mike died in poverty,” Jack said.
“Life is just not fair. That man should have died as a wealthy man,” Cam said.
“As brilliant as Mike’s work is, there’s going to be one major problem. It won’t take the experts long to figure out that one of the Ogopogos is a fake. That will start them wondering if the little one is real. People are going to suspect that all these photos and videos are a hoax,” Cam stated.
“The irony is that I originally planned for the replica to be a hoax played on Blake Riley. Then the real junior Ogopogo showed up and ruined all my plans to humiliate and disgrace Blake Riley,” Jack said.
Chapter One Hundred Fourteen
Blake Riley had finished speaking with Dean Anderson and Dr. Hardy. He had impressed upon them the necessity of getting out on the lake as soon as possible. Blake informed the two men that given all the recent publicity, they were likely to not be the only expedition searching for Ogopogo. He had also phoned John Richards to make sure that he and his son Ryan were ready to go. His last call was to Daniel to make sure that Peter Marks and his crew of professional divers would be joining them at the specified lake front location.
Within an hour all of Blake Riley’s crew had arrived and reported for duty. Although this expedition was supposed to be a university research exploration, it was clear who was really in charge. Blake Riley could not have succeeded in accumulating his considerable wealth unless he knew how to lead others. Blake knew instinctively how to take charge.
The university crew was the first to arrive at the lake front. This group of students including Ryan and Monique were already very excited. Dean Sanderson and Dr. Lionel Hardy were probably as filled with nervous energy as the young people were. The two men of academia were well aware that they were about to embark on a journey that could make history.
Not long after the university crew had arrived Peter Marks and his trained professional investigative unit arrived.
John Richards was the last to arrive, being somewhat delayed and upset by his recent telephone conversation with his ex-wife, Susan.
Blake Riley instructed the groups and individuals to board his cabin cruiser. To say that his boat was luxurious would be grossly understating the obvious. All that boarded the vessel were now talking about the beauty and functionality of Blake’s boat.
Once all were aboard Blake asked everyone to assemble on the main deck. With a huge smile on his face, Blake Riley began addressing all that were assembled on his craft.
“Ladies and gentlemen. We are about to embark on an expedition that is going to make history. In a few short minutes we will start heading out to the area surrounding Rattlesnake Island. As our two esteemed university professors are well aware, this is the location where the most sightings of Ogopogo have been reported. Some cryptozoologists believe that Ogopogo’s lair is to be found somewhere in the underwater caverns beneath Rattlesnake Island. As is the case with most, if not all of you, I am expecting at least one close encounter with this legendary lake creature. I am expecting that we will return with indisputable evidence of the reality of the existence of this exotic animal.”
Winston was just bringing lunch up to the deck. It wasn’t difficult for him to see the excitement on the faces of Wally and Garry.
“Did I miss something while I was getting lunch prepared?” Winston asked.
Winston carefully placed the food on a table on the main deck.
“That’s the understatement of the year,” Wally replied.
“We saw Ogopogo!” Garry exclaimed.
Winston was so excited that he almost knocked over the tray with the chili and fries on it.
“What! You actually saw the beast? How far away was it?”
“I’d estimate seventy-five to one hundred meters from our boat,” Wally answered, shivering a little from a strong gust of wind.
“That’s right. At first we saw a long row of birds on the surface and then they quickly flew away. Then we saw the humps rise out of the water,” Garry added.
“What that means is that the creature is not far from our boat. I need you guys to keep your eyes focused on the lake while I go downstairs to get some cameras and camcorders. You guys can put your chili into the buns while you are keeping a look out for the creature,” Winston said as he ran down the deck stairs.
Just as Winston reached the lower deck the long grey neck of Ogopogo rose about ten feet from the boat. Garry was frozen in his spot as he was mesmerized by his close encounter with the lake demon. The creature’s head resembled that of a horse. It had a beautiful dark green mane. The beast’s eyes were large and its mouth kept opening and closing. Ogopogo had a very angry countenance as it stared back at Garry. The young man let out a loud scream.
Startled by Garry’s voice, Wally turned around and also saw the creature. As he was in the process of making himself a chili burger, he dropped his paper plate and spilled his lunch all over his beige cargo pants.
Winston also heard Garry’s scream and ran up the deck stairs with two cameras and a camcorder. He gave one camera to each of the boys and told them to start taking pictures. With shaking hands Winston set up and adjusted the camcorder to its optimal settings and then started shooting a video of the creatures head and neck.
After about two minutes Ogopogo decided to submerge probably thinking that he’d given enough of himself away for one day. Winston, Wally and Garry all watched the lake’s water bubble and gurgle as the beast submerged. They all got soaked by the water that sprayed up on the deck of their boat.
Winston looked at the two young lads and said, “That’s enough excitement for today boys. I’m going to turn the boat around we’ll head for my place.
“Well, at least you’re not telling us that the large marine predator is Ogopogo, as I’m sure Kelowna Daily Courier reporter, Bobby O’Connor is going to imply to his readers,” Sheriff George Anderson said with a sigh of relief.
“I’m sure that Dr. Hardy could provide a more educated opinion on whether or not the predator was Ogopogo,” Dr. Mitchell said.
“What? Are you saying that you believe in Ogopogo?” asked the Sheriff with a look of astonishment. “You’re pulling my leg now, aren’t you doc?”
“No, I’m a medical professional and a trained scientist. I’ve learned not to discount any possibility until it has been conclusively ruled out. My father used to spend a lot of time on Lake Okanagan and he claims to have seen Ogopogo upon two occasions,” Marsha answered, in an undoubtedly serious tone of voice.
“Oh great. Just wait until Bobby O’Connor asks you for an interview and you tell him that,” George said, shaking his head and looking down at the floor.
“I would simply tell Mr. O’Connor what I have told you. If he asks if Ogopogo could be the unknown predator in this case, I would tell the reporter that anything is possible, but that it would be unlikely in this case. We, presently, don’t have enough evidence to go on,” Marsha stated.
“I can guarantee that O’Connor will ask you if you believe in Ogopogo,” the sheriff said.
“Once again, I would be very professional and careful in what I would say to him. I wouldn’t want to help him sensationalize his newspaper reporting. On the other hand, I don’t have any idea what Dr. Hardy is going to say to him. It is very likely that Mr. O’Connor will want to interview the professor,” Marsha answered.
“Oh, I think that’s a given,” interjected Deputy Bill Rollins. “The media’s first stop is usually Dr. Hardy’s office when something controversial happens.”
“And I’m sure that Hardy will tell O’Connor that an Ogopogo encounter is a distinct possibility. The professor is quite biased in his interpretations of paranormal phenomena. The only thing that we can be happy about is that he is considered to be a weird bird by most of his colleagues,” George said.
“A bit eccentric for sure, but he is still a darling of the media and the public in general,” Bill added.
“Let’s face it,” the sheriff said. “There is something within human beings that is attracted by magic, the mysterious and the extraordinary. They want to believe that there is something out there in the world that has not yet been discovered.”
“I didn’t know that you were so philosophical, Boss. Oh, there are so many things that you still don’t know about me Bill,” George Anderson replied with a chuckle.