“Do you know how this container got in my study?” Isiah asked his little brother.
“Yeah, me and Rob and the rest of the gang went cray-fishing last night and caught a bucket full of these critters. I figured that I’d take one of them home with me,” Caleb answered.
Friday evening had finally arrived and it was crayfish season. Caleb walked to the family’s refrigerator and broke off a small slice of bacon and tied it on to a thread of string that was seven feet long. This was really all the equipment that he needed for a fun night of cray-fishing on the banks of the Red River.
Caleb heard a knock on his front door and as soon as he opened it he could see that Terrence, Aaron and Greg had their owns strings of bacon in their hands and were ready to roll.
“Let’s go Caleb. Ronny and Peter are going to meet us at the opening to the Monkey Speedway. The Monkey Speedway was a man- made or should I say a kid -made trail of trampled down mud, grass and brush that covered an area of the river bank.
Nobody remembers who originally named this terrain as The Monkey Speedway, but the derivation of its name likely belongs to a variety of boys who had tried to ride their bikes at top speed down this challenging path of brush. The ride itself could probably be compared to a smaller version of The Wild Mouse, a popular and scary roller coasting ride at the Red River Exhibition that arrived in Winnipeg every June.
Many of the boys who originally went for a test ride on the Monkey Speedway ended up being suddenly and violently ejected from their bicycles. When they shook off the temporary sense of disorientation resulting from their fall, they could cast their eyes upward only to see their partially mangled bicycles dangling from the branches of the nearby trees.
Some mischievous boys were not above setting potentially disabling and possibility fatally designed traps along the Monkey Speedway. Some adventurous children did indeed suffer injury resulting from these traps, but it was seldom worse than a bloodied and bruised elbow, a scraped knee requiring a few sutures at the local emergency ward or a fractured wrist.
Just let it be said, that the boys of the Norwood Flats were tough. I should more correctly say the boys and a certain girl, as there was a young lass named Tammy who was known to ask the boys if she could join them for a game of tackle football, one of their potentially life altering bike rides or a wild evening of Friday night cray-fishing.
The Crayfish That Destroyed Winnipeg
By Ken David Stewart
Earl Dawson rolled over on his side of the bed and through glazed and blurry eyes glanced over at his Sony digital alarm clock. Bright red numerals indicated that it was 3:03 AM.
“Oh shit,” Earl said as he rolled over in the king size bed that he shared with Edith, his wife of twenty years. It was July 25, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Earl and Edith owned a beautiful red brick home on Wellington Crescent in the wealthy area of the city. The successful couple’s home was flanked on each side by equally expensive houses. Wellington Crescent was populated by upwardly mobile professionals, doctors, lawyers and dentists and the like.
Earl rolled over toward his wife’s side of the bed. He knew from experience that this was likely to be a useless and frustrating course of action.
Sleep had not come easily for Earl during the last two weeks. He had recently turned fifty -eight and had not been enjoying the initial years on his journey toward old age. Wasn’t life supposed to slow down and get easier as one reached his age? Whoever told Earl this tidbit of wisdom was a fool. One’s body got older and slower, you had aches and pains that you never had before and you had less energy to fight your daily battles. This was an appropriate metaphor for Earl’s present life as he was increasingly feeling like he was a somewhat disabled soldier fighting in a war that he was no longer sure that he could win.
Recently, Earl Dawson had not experienced any slowing down in the speed of his life trajectory and the increasing number of serious issues that were crying out for his attention. After fitfully tossing and turning for nearly five minutes, Earl accidently rolled over onto his wife’s side of the bed. He had accidentally pressed his considerable body weight onto his wife’s left arm.
Edith, Earl’s wife of the last twenty years, greatly resented being startled awake from a deep and peaceful sleep. Edith had suffered from a frustrating inability to remain completely asleep over the total course of a night for most of her adult life. It was her pattern to have to get up and read for about one hour before attempting to fall back asleep again.
Episode Two- The Physical Presentation of Dr. Earl Dawson:
Edith stared angrily at Earl and began to unleash her wrath upon her husband, “Earl, this is the second time in three nights that you have bumped into me and have woke me up at this ungodly hour. What is wrong with you! I think that you should ask your business partner, David if he would take you on as one of his patients and provide you with some type of psychotherapy.”
“I am a psychiatrist, Edith. I’m more than qualified to diagnose and treat myself!” Earl snapped back.
“You know that you can’t psychoanalyze yourself, Earl. It is impossible for you to be objective about your own issues,” Edith argued.
“I would like to think that I know more about my personal issues than David does, with all due respect to his obvious professional abilities. Besides, he is not only a distinguished colleague of mine, David is also my business partner and best friend,” Earl stated as he stomped his left foot on the floor.
“Nevertheless, you need to be under the care of a professional therapist. Now that I consider the point that you made, I must concede that David Mylander is likely an inappropriate candidate for you, but you need to find someone who is.”
Earl got off the mattress and began to pace around the bedroom. At fifty-eight years of age, he still cast a vibrant and formidable figure. Earl was barrel chested but presented with a substantial amount of muscle mass. Although he was only five feet ten inches tall, he had thick muscular arms that he proudly displayed whenever he wore tank tops. His back and shoulders were also well developed often causing a casual observer to ignore Earl’s obesity.
Earl was very defensive about his excessive weight and didn’t like it being pointed out to him. He rode bike and pumped iron as much as his professional schedule and diminishing energy levels would allow him.
Earl was grateful for the fact that his entry into late middle age had not caused any significant hair loss. He had long snow-white hair tied back in a ponytail that ran half way down his back. Earl was grateful that his family doctor had prescribed the medication finasteride to treat his enlarged prostate. Earl was delighted when Dr. Lakewood informed him that finasteride worked like Propecia, the medication that delayed male pattern baldness. Earl was very proud of his long mane of hair and often strutted about like a peacock.
“This whole situation is ridiculous. My life is getting harder and crazier everyday. Its like it says in that Dan Hill song, “like a roller coaster riding out of control.” Earl Dawson complained while continuing to pace back and forth like the hyena he saw last year at Assiniboine Park Zoo.
I am fifty-eight years old and can no longer cope with my own life. I just want to get off this roller coaster. The irony is that my job is treating very mentally unstable people on a daily basis. I’m just asking for a decent night’s sleep occasionally. I don’t have to sleep well every night. My present sleep medication protocol is only marginally effective. During most nights I average only three to four hours of sleep. I’ve already reached the maximum dosage of my sleep management medication.
On the evening of July 27, 2017, Isiah Jacobs, the seventeen year old brother of Caleb Jacobs walks down the orange carpeted steps on his way to his basement rec room study. Elijah is a tall, scrawny red-haired teenager with a serious acne condition who looks like he could be the poster boy for a local chapter of Nerds United.
Isiah’s private study is in his family’s rec room. As he approached the door to his study, Isiah noticed that the door is slightly ajar. As he pushed the door open he sees a translucent, red colored rectangular Tupperware container on the right hand side of his expensive black office chair. He hears a loud, scratching sounds coming from the rectangular, plastic Tupperware container.
Isiah bent over and picked up the container for closer observation. He can now see past the glare emanating from the red translucent Tupperware container. He shivers with fright when a living creature attempts to move around. Isiah is so petrified that he immediately drops the container on the floor of his study. Two of Isiah’s fingers manage to lift off the lid of the container. Isiah notices that there is a narrow layer of what appears to be dirty river water occupying the bottom layer.
To his horror, Isiah sees enough to identify the species of the formerly imprisoned animal. It is a large, hideous orange crayfish.
Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Seven:
Susan Richards started to panic as she watched John dive into the lake. It was at that moment that she realized how much she still loved her husband. When she saw what had frightened her mother, Stephanie ran to Susan and threw her arms around her.
“Why is Dad going into the lake? The two divers haven’t come up yet,” Stephanie said sobbing.
Winston Standfield walked towards the mother and daughter.
“I think that your husband has more courage and integrity than you give him credit for,” Winston said.
“That’s right,” said Garry Hardy as he joined the group. “Your dad is a very brave man. He’s probably gone down to look for the other divers. Something must have happened to them.”
Stephanie hugged Garry and Susan clung to Winston as they waited for John to return to the surface of the lake. Within fifteen minutes they saw John Richards rise out of the water carrying one of the divers.
“Thank God John’s alive!” cried Susan. “Winston, take Stephanie and me to John. We have to make sure that he’s alright.”
Within a few minutes Winston’s boat pulled up to Blake’s and Susan, Stephanie and Wally climbed aboard the Viper.
Susan was the first one to run up to John. “John, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine, but the diver is not. The creature must have bit off his arm and the man has lost a lot of blood,” John answered.
The diver was lying down on the deck of the Viper. Blake and Jack Kimberley had applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
“We have to get this man to a hospital as soon as possible,” Lionel Hardy said. “We need to find out what happened to the other diver.”
“I didn’t see the other diver when I was down there,” John said.
Although the surviving diver was very weak, he still managed to talk.
“Troy is dead. One of the creatures ripped his body in half.”
“That’s horrible,” Blake said. “Let’s get this ship to shore so that we can get this man to the hospital. Someone call the Harbor Patrol and see if they can get this man some medical attention.”
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 Ten:
George Anderson was pulling a double shift at the sheriff’s office. His regular overnight deputy had phoned in sick earlier in the evening. George had just finished catching up on his paper work and was now finding it a struggle to stay awake. He got up from his desk and was now making a fresh pot of coffee. The sheriff really didn’t mind the solitude of the early hours of the morning. As George figured that he had worked hard enough for one day he decided to catch up on his reading. He was a huge science fiction fan and especially liked reading the old classics by authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Tonight he was reading his favorite science fiction novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau By H.G. Wells.
George had recently rented the video version of this novel and had enjoyed it immensely. Just as he’d settled back down in his office chair and took the bookmark out of his novel, his phone began to ring. The office had been so quiet that the sheriff was startled by the ringing of the phone. George sat up straight and picked up the receiver,
“Sheriff’s Office, George Anderson here. How can I help you?”
“This is Allan Hayes, the building supervisor from The Lake Side apartment complex.”
“What can I do for you, Mr. Hayes?”
“I know that this is going to sound very strange, but a few minutes ago one of our tenants moved a rather odd object out of his apartment. It was very large and was all covered up by the drop cloths that house painters use,” Allan said.
“So what exactly did he have under the drop cloths?” the sheriff asked.
“I didn’t get a very good look at it. All I could see was the part that wasn’t covered at its back end. It looked just like a long tail that you might see on an adult size crocodile or alligator.”
“I hate to ask you this, sir, but how much have you had to drink this evening?” the sheriff asked.
“Nothing. I don’t drink alcohol. One of our tenants, Mrs. Carson, witnessed the same thing I did. She was the first one to tell me that it looked like the tail of a full grown alligator or crocodile.”
“So, where was this tenant taking this thing?”
“I don’t know. My guess would be that he and a few other men were taking it to Lake Okanagan,” Allan answered.
“Now, let me ask you a question, Mr. Hayes. How would your tenant be able to keep an adult crocodile or alligator in his apartment with no one noticing it until tonight?” the sheriff inquired.
“It beats me, but somehow he did it.”
“Well as strange as your story is, you strike me as being a little too old to be pulling a prank. I’m just here by myself tonight, but I’ll get one of my deputies to investigate this when he gets here for the day shift.”
“Thank you Sheriff. I’m just concerned that there might now be two dangerous predators in the lake,” Allan said.
“What’s the other dangerous predator?”
Chapter One Hundred Nine:
Jack’s crew made Mike O’Grady as comfortable as possible as they placed him on Jack’s speed boat. They wrapped him up in blankets to keep him warm. Jack Kimberley and the rest of the crew followed behind them in the cabin cruiser. When they got to Jack’s dock they carefully placed Mike on the back of the flatbed truck. All of the crew went for the ride to the hospital. Jack stayed right next to Mike during the whole ride and tried to speak comforting words to his severely injured friend. While the flat- bed truck was on its way to the hospital, Jack gave instructions to his crew.
“Look gentlemen. When we get to the emergency ward at the hospital the medical staff is going to want to know what happened to Mike. We are not going to tell them anything about our encounter with Ogopogo. Let me do all the talking when we get there. I’m going to tell the doctor and admitting nurse that we were all out on the lake having a fishing party. At one point, Mike spotted a large fish near our boat. He leaned over the side of the boat trying to catch the fish with a net. He lost his balance and fell into the water. We didn’t get a good look at the fish, but it was possibly a sturgeon. We heard a blood curdling scream from Mike. We looked over the side of the boat in time to watch the large predator tear off most of Mike’s right arm with its razor sharp teeth. It was too late to save Mike’s arm, but we did manage to get him out of the water and back on the boat. Now, does everyone know the story now?”
“Some of Jack’s crew said ‘yes’ while the others nodded their heads in agreement.
“And one more thing,” Jack said. “In case anyone asks, we all deny that we had an encounter with Ogopogo. Are we all clear on that?”
Once again, all of Jack’s crew nodded their heads in agreement.
Chapter One Hundred Seventy One:
While all the passengers and the two criminals were arguing about Ogopogo, Kyle Winter and John Richards got behind Hawk and Razor. Kyle gave a hand signal to Garry Phelge and Wally Standfield to move closer to them. Hawk and Razor were too busy arguing with Dr. Phelge and Winston Standfield. By this time the other Ogopogo had managed to break free from its netting and was climbing aboard The Dream Catcher.
Kyle had his group form a huddle.
“Look there’s only two of those guys. Let’s charge them from behind and get them to let go of their weapons.”
The two adult Ogopogos were not happy about their children being stolen from them. They were determined to get the smaller ones back. They were undulating rapidly towards the two boats.
Kyle, John, Ryan, Garry and Wally all charged the two criminals. They were able to knock down Hawk and Razor and the force of their attack caused their weapons to fall to the floor. Kyle grabbed Hawk’s revolver and Garry picked up Razor’s semi- automatic. The balance of power had shifted and the two criminals were now held at gun point.
Hawk raised his hands in surrender, but Razor ran for the steps trying to get to the main deck. John fired a shot that hit Razor’s right ankle. Razor managed to make it up the steps even though he had been shot.
When he reached the main deck, Razor was met by the open jaws of the smaller Ogopogo that had escaped from The Viper. The Ogopogo got its sharp teeth into Razor’s left arm and with one quick shake of its neck the arm was amputated.
A few minutes after this happened the two adult Ogopogos started charging The Dream Catcher. With both adult animals pounding the boat, the vessel began to shake and the passengers and Hawk were thrown to the floor. Garry dropped the semi- automatic and Hawk picked it up.
Hawk ran up the stairs to the main deck. He just had time to watch the smaller Ogopogo mauling Razor like a cat playing with a mouse. As he watched this horrifying scene the large tail of one of the adult Ogopogos knocked Hawk into the lake along with his semi-automatic rifle.