Kyle, Jasmine, Ian and Keesha, all university students, were sitting at their usual table at the University of British Columbia’s pub. They are all good friends and are taking a break from their classes. The students had established a routine of meeting in the afternoon when everyone’s last class of the day was finished. Jasmine and Ian both had an evening class that started at seven PM, but they decided that a couple of drinks wouldn’t interfere with their learning.
Ian was reading a copy of the university’s paper. The university’s pub was painted a bright, flaming orange color and along with the dark lighting added to the ambiance of the students’ favorite watering hole.
“Man, these stories are lame. I’m bored out of my mind reading this rag,” Ian said reaching for his glass of Bud Light. With his other hand he tossed the latest edition of the university’s paper across the large round table.
“Yeah, it’s a waste of paper and a waste of our student union fees,” Jasmine said.
“The problem is their reporters. They can’t seem to come up with any interesting articles for the paper,” Keesha said.
“Yeah, they could really use a really sizzling story for their next issue,” Ian said.
“They allow students to submit stories to the paper, don’t they?” Jasmine asked, moving her chair closer to the table.
“Why don’t we submit a story?” Kyle asked leaning back on his chair.
“On what topic?” Ian asked.
“It would have to be a high interest story,” Keesha said, brushing a strand of auburn hair out of her beautiful blue eyes.
“What is British Columbia the most famous for? “ Kyle asked.
“Probably the Vancouver Canucks,” Ian said.
“No, probably the Rocky Mountains,” Jasmine said.
“You’re both wrong,” Kyle said. “It’s the monster in Lake Okanagan.”
“You mean Ogopogo?” Ian asked.
“What else?” Kyle answered.
“You guys don’t really believe Ogopogo exists, do you?” Keesha asked, taking a sip from her grasshopper cocktail.
“Well, lots of people claim to have seen it,” Ian said.
“Kyle’s got a great idea,” Ian said. “All we’d need to do is go on the internet and do some research. There’s got to be plenty written about Ogopogo and maybe we can find some photos and videos.”
“I believe there’s at least two documentaries on Ogopogo,” Keesha said.
“If I remember correctly I think that Arlene Gaal has written a few books on Ogopogo,” Ian said.
“Yeah, we could go to the library and look up sites like Wikipedia, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and maybe Animal Planet,” Ian said.
“That’s not really what I have in mind,” Kyle said. “My idea is for an actual monster hunt, a real expedition. Then we do our own documentary about our hunt for Ogopogo. That way we’ll not only get a fantastic article for the university paper, we’ll also make a documentary video that just might help pay down our student loans. Anyone interested?”
“We would also have gathered the material for a book about our expedition,” Jasmine said.
“Where would we get the money for an expedition? The equipment alone would probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Ian asked.
“We have plenty of options. For example, the university itself could help with some of the funding for our project. And we could always look for money from private benefactors,” Kyle said.
“We will need a lot of funding,” Ian said. We’ll want professional divers, photographers and boats. We’ll have to make a list of all the equipment and the specialized personnel we’d need to pull this off,” Ian said.
“I think I’m hearing some interest here, guys,” Kyle said, as a smile crossed his face.
“Let’s think about the university first,” Keesha said. “Which department and what faculty would most likely be interested in a project like this?”
“That’s a no brainer. Professor Hardy from the Biology Department,” Jasmine answered. “He’s the faculty member the media contact every time there’s a reported sighting of Sasquatch or Ogopogo.”
“That’s right,” Ian said. “Dr. Hardy often tells his students about how much the subject of cryptozoology interests him.”
“Yeah, but have you seen Professor Hardy lately? He’s in very rough shape,” Ian said.
“I’ve heard that he’s still pretty messed up about his wife’s death,” Jasmine said.
“A project like this might be just the thing to get the professor’s mind off his personal troubles,” Kyle said, feeling the call of nature and getting up to head for the men’s washroom.
On his way to the washroom Kyle spotted Dr. Hardy sitting at the bar, drinking a Heineken. As soon as Kyle had finished with the washroom he sat in a vacant bar stool to the left of Professor Hardy.
The professor looked like a man deeply engrossed in some heavy contemplation.
“Hello, sir. I’m Kyle Winter. I’m taking one of your biology classes this term.”
Lionel turned around slowly in his seat as he broke out of his reverie.
“What did you say your name is, son?” Lionel asked.
“Kyle, sir, Kyle Winter. I’m in slot two of introductory biology.”
“I think I recognize you Kyle, but I can’t be sure. There’s one hundred and twenty students taking that course.”
“Of course, sir, I understand. If you don’t mind sir, I need some advice on a research paper I want to work on,” Kyle explained.
“You’re a step ahead of me son. I have just started a one year sabbatical today. As a condition of my continuing to receive a pay cheque during my leave, I need to submit a proposal for a research project of my own,” Lionel said. “Of all the professors in this university, why did you pick me? From what I’ve been hearing I haven’t been winning any student popularity polls lately.”
“No one else has your knowledge, experience and expertise, Dr. Hardy,” Kyle answered.
“Okay, I’m half way through my second bottle of Heineken and now I’m curious. Do you smoke, Kyle?”
“Yes, I do, sir,” Kyle said.
“Why don’t we take our drinks and move outside to the court yard tables. I can remember a time when you could smoke practically anywhere. In the good old days we could even smoke in our offices and in the classrooms,” Lionel said. “Oh, where did I leave my manners? What can I get you to drink?”
“A Jack Daniels and a Coke would be great,” Kyle said settling himself into his outdoor chair.
It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and a refreshing breeze.
“Well, Kyle this is my first day of sabbatical leave and here I am still talking shop,” Lionel said.
“If you would like to talk about my research project at a time more convenient for you, that’s not a problem sir,” Kyle said.
“Well, when I first got here my intention was to sit by myself and get completely hammered. But now it’s time for Plan B. I want to hear what you have in mind for your research project, so fire away,” Lionel said, carefully packing his Borkum Riff tobacco into his favorite white Meersham pipe, the one with the king’s head carved on the outside of the bowl.
“I want to do an in depth investigation of Ogopogo, sir,” Kyle said.
“Well, that topic will be a challenge. It’s been quite well researched already. And as you probably already know, or will quickly find out, the scientific community as a whole does not take the study of sea serpents and lake monsters very seriously. What they want to see is a captured live specimen,” Lionel said taking a few quick puffs from his pipe.
“But how about you, Dr. Hardy? Do you believe Ogopogo could exist in Lake Okanagan? Kyle asked.
“Not only could, it does. But there is more than one Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan. There needs to be a whole family of them to keep reproducing,” Lionel said taking a generous gulp from his glass of beer.
“How can you be so sure that Ogopogo exists?” Kyle asked lighting up a Player’s Extra Light cigarette.
“One of these days I’ll tell you, but not today. I have to build up some trust in you first,” Lionel said flicking a small ash from his tweed sport jacket.
“How are you planning to go about your research? You can find quite a bit of information on the internet alone. There have reported sightings, a blurry picture or two and a couple of amateur videos, as I seem to recollect.”
“No, professor. I’m getting a group of students together to plan and execute a proper search for Ogopogo,” Kyle said.
“You sure have ambition, son, but do you have any idea how much something like this might cost? Not to mention the amount of man hours required,” Lionel said, trying hard not to show any interest in Kyle’s project. The truth was that Dr. Lionel Hardy was already getting excited about Kyle’s plans.
“I fully realize that this will be a massive undertaking, but I’m hoping to put together a crew that will be up to the challenge.” Kyle said.
“But how about the money? Do you have any idea what an expedition like this might cost? The first thing you and I need to do is make a list of all the crew members, divers, and specialized staff that we will need. Then we have to find out what it would cost to rent some boats and some video and audio equipment.”
“So you’re going to join our expedition, Dr. Hardy?” Kyle asked unable to contain his excitement.
“Hold on. All I’m saying now is that, but I’m willing to help you with the planning.”
Chapter One Hundred Seventeen
“Well, the human carcass is definitely that of the old woman, Ida Rhodes. According to the veterinarian’s report the decomposing body of the dog that washed ashore was most likely the pet that belonged to the deceased woman,” Dr. Marsha Mitchell answered.
“What will you officially declare as the cause of death?” Sheriff George Anderson asked.
“In my professional opinion, my most likely conclusion is that the elderly woman and her dog were the victims of a fatal attack by a very large marine predator. My assessment is based on the bite marks on the remaining flesh of the two victims. I have measured the length of the bite marks and they appear to indicate a very large mouth with sharp jagged teeth. They most closely resemble the type of distinct markings that would be left on a piece of fabric cut with sewing shears. They suggest that the attacking animal had at least two rows of very sharp jagged teeth,” the medical examiner replied.
“What species of large marine predator are we talking about?” Deputy Bill Rollins asked, wanting a more definitive answer from the doctor.
“At this time I cannot hazard a guess as to what kind of marine animal the predator might be. An expert in marine biology might be of more help in making a more precise determination,” Marsha answered. “My personal recommendation would be that you consult Dr. Lionel Hardy, the marine biology professor at The University of British Columbia.”
“Isn’t that the professor who believes in the possible existence of ufos, aliens, Bigfoot and the like?” Bill Rollins asked.
“Yes, Dr. Lionel Hardy does have a well-known interest in cryptozoology,” Dr. Mitchell said.
“What kind of zoology?” asked the sheriff.
“Cryptozoology, the study of unknown and undiscovered species,” was Dr. Mitchell’s answer.
Chapter One Hundred Eighteen:
“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.
Episode Nine of Infinite Realities:
“Come join us,” a freak said. He appeared to be about fifty. He had long grey streaked hair tied back in a ponytail. His beard was salt and pepper. He blew out a smoke ring from his Sweet Caporal cigarette. He wore a black tank top that displayed his protruding pot belly. This guy must weigh close to three hundred pounds. “Can I offer you guys a cigarette?”
Rick Chandler thought that if this guy was living in 2015 he wouldn’t be offering people free cigarettes. Certainly not at today’s outrageous prices. But this was 1969 and a pack of cigarettes sold for only sixty-five cents.
A space was made in the circle where Rick and Athena could sit down on the freshly cut grass.
“Greetings my friends. My name is Hog. You guys must be wondering what an old bugger like me is doing in Memorial Park hanging out with a bunch of young people?”
“Thank you for the warm welcome. My name is Rick and my friend is Athena. I was kind of wondering about that to tell you the truth.”
Hog let out a loud belly laugh. “I thought so. Most people do think it’s odd that I don’t mix with my own demographic. The fact is that I find most people my age to be kind of boring. I’m a history professor at The University of Manitoba so I get to meet young people every day. This generation is so much more interesting than mine. All my peers talk about is new renovations that they’re having done to their immaculate houses in the suburbs. Sometimes they’ll get real daring and will talk about the cottages they own or the next dream car they want to buy. They are all in debt up to their eyebrows but they have lots of stuff. Frankly, they all bore me to tears. Now, this group of young people here they’ve always got some interesting topics to talk about.”
“Thanks Hog,” said an attractive girl wearing a tie dyed tee shirt. Athena noticed that part of her pinky finger had been amputated. She was looking at a copy of Rolling Stone magazine. Rick looked at it enviously. This was 1969 when Rolling Stone looked like an underground, anti-establishment newspaper. Rick had long given up on the corporate piece of trash that the magazine had morphed into in 2015.
“Hi guys. My name is Tinkerbell. Did you hear about what happened in Altamont in December?”
Unfortunately, John Richards was no longer a teenager or a star athlete. He still kept himself in good condition by riding his prized black Giant mountain bike and he still had at least three workouts per week at the gym, but these were solitary recreational activities without adoring fans to cheer him on.
During his adult years John felt like he had let his father down. He attended university after he graduated from high school. John quit his team athletic endeavours altogether when he started university. For some reason his heart was no longer in it. He very much enjoyed the freedom that comes with being a university student.
John quickly became popular with both his fellow students and his professors. He was always ready to start up or join in a class discussion and his professors loved him for it. Most of his peers also were happy to have John liven up a potentially, long boring lecture.
John liked everything about the university environment. He especially enjoyed the social life that the university setting provided him. In high school John had to spend the great majority of his time studying in order to make decent grades. The rest of his time was devoted to playing high school team sports. All through high school he didn’t have a girlfriend. In fact, he couldn’t remember ever having been on a date.
While in high school, because of his diligent study habits John was able to maintain a B average. Since that time John realized that he wasn’t academically gifted and that he would need to be a plodder if he were to survive academically with his university courses. John had assessed his abilities very accurately. He had to keep his nose to the grindstone in university as much as he had to in high school. In university John had to work hard to maintain a C+ grade point average.
First of all, I would like to relieve you all by telling you that I am not going to give you a long, scientific lecture on Ogopogo. For those who are interested there are a few authors who have written about Ogopogo in their books and have proposed their theories on the existence or non -existence of this phenomena. These books are very likely available in your public library or, alternatively, may be ordered through Amazon.ca. There are also numerous blogs on the internet that debate this topic.
Furthermore, there is much debate upon what kind of species this animal might be. Presently, some of my students are working on intensive research upon both primary and secondary sources on the subject of Ogopogo.
There is some scientific speculation that Ogopogo may be a surviving member of a species of primitive whale that was thought to move in a serpentine manner. Many of our modern day sightings have indeed reported that what these individuals saw was a very large serpent like creature that moves along the water in an undulating manner often exhibiting hump like shapes.
Unfortunately, the few purported pictures of Ogopogo that have been professionally analyzed are very inconclusive. The photos are usually taken from quite a distance and have a grainy appearance making any kind of conclusive identification of the object in the water to be impossible. And as Dean Sanderson has already noted there are always those individuals who try to perpetuate hoaxes. Also, as the dean has pointed out the Ogopogo is also a historical phenomenon that was first reported in the legends and stories of what our First Nations peoples called the Lake Demon.
“I must apologize for my somewhat impaired vision. Last year I, unfortunately, required emergency surgery on my left eye as a result of a detached retina. As I did not get to the surgeon’s within the recommended window of time, he was unable to save much of the vision in my left eye, This being the case, I now require enhanced lighting and increased magnification when I am required to read or to refer to my notes. This is why I have the large round magnification device around my neck. I will be using it whenever I have difficulty reading my own notes,” explained the professor.
As many of you know I have had a particular interest in what is known as crypytozoology for a long time. I like to think of myself as a scientist who keeps an open mind about things we don’t yet fully understand. Simply put, cryptozoology is a science that studies the possibility of undiscovered, unknown species whose existence has not as yet been scientifically proven. To provide undisputed evidence of the existence of even one of these phenomenon would vastly increase the respectability of any scientist.
I will be very honest with you and will state upfront that this is one of my major goals in taking on this project. As many of you know the last couple of years have not been among my best. I have been bombarded with various attempts that seriously question my competence and reputation as a respected man of science. I suppose that making myself so available to the media has not helped my cause. However, I have made full use of the media as it is my belief that the public has the right to be made aware that there are still many things in the world that are still a mystery to science. I am hoping that the outcomes of our expedition will help to bolster my sagging professional reputation among my critics. With that being said, I will ask Dean Sanderson to come up to the podium and address you once again.
Winston Standfield arrived at The Kelowna Mental Health Center promptly at 7:00 PM on Friday evening. Wally and Garry were waiting eagerly for him and ran out to meet Walter who was inside his 1994 white Ford Tempo. Winston had bought the Ford Tempo at a rather shady looking used car lot two years ago. He managed to buy the car for two thousand dollars. Winston had always liked old Fords but had no idea why. It certainly wasn’t because of their reliability. He also owned his beloved white 1997 Ford Taurus. This car was constantly in need of repairs but Winston knew had to do most minor repairs himself. He would go to Canadian Tire and pick up the year and model for the car’s repair manual and would figure out the rest from there. Winston opened the back passenger door for the two young men.
“Hi Grandpa this is my friend, Garry Phelge.”
“Pleased to meet you Garry. Are you related to Lionel Phelge, the professor of marine biology?” asked Winston.
“Yes, he’s my father,” answered Garry.
“What a small world. Lionel and I go back a long ways. We’ve known each other since our university days. We’ve kind of lost contact the last few years, but I would certainly like to meet the old boy again. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
“How’s your dad doing these days?” asked Winston.
“I really can’t say,” answered Garry. “My dad and I really haven’t been in touch for about two years now. Around this time I foolishly stopped taking my meds and caused my family a great deal of embarrassment in the neighborhood where they live. Since that time my mother has passed away and my father doesn’t want me staying with the family anymore.”
“I’m sorry to hear that son. I also knew your mother. She was an esteemed scholar of English literature.”
“Yes, both my parents were very educated people. I, unfortunately, could not carry on the family tradition when I became ill with my first episode of psychosis.”
“I know something about that illness with Wally being my grandson.”
“Gramps also knows a lot about schizophrenia as he has researched the disease extensively,” Wally interjected.
“As The University of British Columbia will be one of the sponsors of this project I would like to see a great deal of research compiled from an academic perspective,” said Dean Sanderson picking up his cup of coffee.
“This is a given, Edward. I will assign research tasks to all of the UBC students involved in this project and perhaps even to Ryan and Monique if they are interested,” said Dr. Lionel Phelge.
“We would love to be part of your research team, Dr. Phelge. Monique and I are willing to do anything to help,” said Ryan.
“Ryan didn’t even bother to ask me but I am in full agreement with him,” said Monique giving Ryan a teasing grin.
“I need to find out who is interested and best suited to each research assignment,” said Lionel. “I am opening the floor to suggestions.”
“I would be interested in keeping a daily log or journal on our project starting with this meeting,” said Jasmine. “I am already recording the minutes for today’s session.”
“That sounds good to me,” said Lionel. “Edward, may I borrow your easel chart to start writing down these individual assignments?”
“Be my guest,” said the Dean.
“I would be interested in searching for and putting together research that has been done up to this point in time on Ogopogo.” said Ian. I will need one or more volunteers to help me with this part of the job.”
“I could help you with that,” said Keesha.