“You have a very nice home, Roger. It’s a little cluttered and could use some cleaning, but, then again, this house is quite small,” Glenda said. “I noticed that you have four bookshelves and possibly a couple of hundred books.”
“Actually, I have a lot more book than that. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be so I now purchase all my books in the Kindle format. That way I can adjust the fonts and the brightness levels so that reading the text is comfortable for me,” Roger explained.
“You certainly are a well read man.”
“For sure. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I also like listening to audiobooks when my eyes need a break.”
“You are right though. This house is a bit too small, but it was even more cramped when my wife was still alive. We accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. I still haven’t given away much of Beatrice’s belongings. I get too emotional when I’m around her stuff.”
“I’m sorry to hear that your wife passed away. How long has it been now?”
“Over a year.”
“Are you over your grief now?” Glenda asked moving a little closer to the front of the couch. Roger was a little uncomfortable with how Glenda made him feel. He wished that less of her skin was exposed. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, Roger did find this strange young woman in his house to be somewhat attractive. It couldn’t be a sexual attraction. That was ludicrous. After all, Roger was sixty-five years old and this girl was only twenty-two. He was not a dirty old man. Roger had not even been sexually active with Beatrice during her last few years as she was too exhausted from her cancer treatments to have sexual relations with him. There was something else going on.
“Are you still grieving, Roger?” Glenda asked.
“Yes, it’s getting better with time, but at certain times of the day I still get very sad and will start weeping. Sometimes an old song that we both loved will be playing on the internet radio. That will have the same effect upon me. Beatrice and I had a very happy marriage. I can’t say that we did a lot of exciting things together. We didn’t do much travelling as we didn’t have much money. Beatrice was not healthy enough to work so we mostly relied upon my income. As we both liked our creature comforts and I have several hobbies we ran up a lot of debt. I had to take out a second mortgage on this house. This caused a great deal of stress in our lives, but we both enjoyed each other’s company in a quiet sort of way.”
Roger had now been retired for five years. He had been a high school English teacher for twenty-seven years. He was now receiving a CPP pension, a retired teachers pension and was about to start receiving Old Age Security Benefits.
Roger only returned to drinking alcohol for one year after his wife’s passing. After the one year was over Roger returned to his old Alcoholics Anonymous group and was welcomed back with open arms.
When he turned sixty-five Roger realized that he had to get back on his feet. One year of indulging in self-pity and substance abuse was enough. As he gradually accumulated more sobriety his once brilliant mind had started to function again and he became very introspective. He began thinking about what he was going to do with the rest of his life.
After all, Roger was only in his mid sixties. He realized that he could have twenty more years in store for himself.
Roger had kept physically fit before his drinking got out of control. He got back in the habit of going for a forty-five -minute bike ride each day. He also worked out at Shapes, his local gym at least three times per week. When he started going back to Shapes he started with performing a resistance training circuit. Within a few months Roger was looking significantly better. By means of his weight training program Roger was starting to regain most of his youthful muscle definition. He was still approximately seventy pounds over according to his doctor’s Body Mass Index chart.
A good part of the problem was that Roger could not get himself motivated to learn how to cook healthy meals. While Beatrice was alive she did the majority of the cooking. The only type of cooking that Roger enjoyed was barbequing using an old circular shaped charcoal barbeque. He was afraid of using the newer gas powered grills. Roger would barbeque hot dogs, hamburgers and steak practically every day during the summer. Occasionally he would even barbeque outside during the winter months.
After Beatrice died Roger had to learn to fend for himself. He realized that he would have to eat something so he started to think of all the meals he could prepare for himself without having to cook. One morning Roger sat down and made a list of all the meals that he could make on his own. The list that Roger came up with included toast, various types of sandwiches, dry breakfast cereals, large bars of cheese, pizza pops, raw fruits and vegetables, pepperoni sticks, hot dogs, raw fruits and vegetables. Spam and assorted canned foods.
Bobby O’Connor was in a daze. He was reliving his recent talk with his editor. A sinking, nauseous feeling had come over him. His reverie was broken when he started to overhear the conversation that Ryan and Monique had just had at the next table. The two fishermen that they were previously talking to had now left the Tim Hortons. Bobby O’Conner overheard the word Ogopogo mentioned. He was listening to Ryan and Monique recap their adventure today.
Bobby moved his chair closer to Ryan and Monique’s table. He extended his hand to Ryan. “I know I don’t know you guys, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I’m Bobby O’Connor.”
“Yeah, I recognize you from your picture in The Kelowna Daily Courier. You’re the sports reporter,” Ryan said shaking Bobby’s hand.
“That’s me. Can I join you? I’d like to hear more about what happened to you guys today.”
“Ryan and I were jogging along a trail that overlooked Lake Okanagan,” Monique said.
“Monique told me to stop and take a look at the lake. She said that she saw something strange in the water,” Ryan interjected.
“We looked out upon the lake,” Monique continued. “We saw a large black serpent like object moving quickly in our direction.”
“Right. It appeared to move by rapid undulations. It was obviously a living creature of some kind” Ryan said.
“It sounds like the most common descriptions people give of Ogopogo. Do you think it really was Ogopogo you saw?” Bobby asked.
“If it wasn’t, I don’t know what it was. It really shook us up to see it,” Monique said.
“What did the fishermen see?” Bobby asked.
“They saw something that looked like a fast moving log, but they were a lot further away than we were,” Monique replied.
“Yeah, we showed them the photos that Monique took. Unfortunately, the creature doesn’t look very big in the pictures, although in one of them you can see it raise its head and neck,” Ryan said.
The two fishermen were kind of arguing over whether or not our pictures were of Ogopogo,” Monique said. “Henry was skeptical but Harvey believes we really may have photographed Ogopogo.”
“Can I see the pictures you took?” Bobby asked.
“Sure,” Monique said handing the photos over to the reporter.
“These pictures are better than I thought,” Bobby said putting his reading glasses on to get a closer look at the photos. “Although the pictures are taken from a fair distance you can tell that there is definitely a strange object in the water that appears to be moving forward. You can tell by the wave patterns surrounding the creature. Do you mind if I borrow your pictures for a day or two? I’d like to get a photography expert to analyze them. I’ve got a friend who does this sort of thing.”
“So you believe that we really saw Qgopogo?” Ryan asked.
“Absolutely. After you’ve been a reporter for a while you can sense who is trust worthy and who is not and you guys are the real deal.”
Bobby O’Connor got up to leave but not before he got the phone numbers where Ryan and Monique could be reached.
Bobby jumped into his black 1997 Pontiac Grand Am and didn’t waste any time getting back to his office at The Kelowna Daily Courier. He sat in his chair and immediately phoned his friend the photography expert.
“What’s happening Bobby?” Mike O’Grady asked, “I haven’t heard from you in a while.”
“I need a big favor Mike. I need you to give me your expert opinion on the authenticity of two photos. I’ll need the photographs enlarged as well,” Bobby added.
“What are the photos of?” Mike asked.
“I’m not certain. That’s why I need you to examine the pictures for me.”
“This sound interesting. I’m home all day today if you want to bring the photos along.”
“I can be at your place within the next hour,” Bobby said.
“I’ll put some coffee on when you get here,” Mike said.
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.”
“Don’t worry about me, Ryan. I know what I’m doing and I’ll be careful. If I see something dangerous down there I’ll come right back up to the surface.”
“We are both proud of you,” said Ryan holding on to Monique’s hand.
Chapter One Hundred Seventy-Two:
Blake Riley’s boat took another bump from underneath the vessel. This time it was powerful enough to shake the whole ship.
“What the heck was that?” Blake said, turning in the direction of the ship’s captain, Peter Marks.
“Well, it isn’t a submersible. My guess is that it’s a very large living creature,” Peter answered.
“Such as Ogopogo?” Blake asked.
“It’s possible sir. I am not aware of another creature in Lake Okanagan that could give your ship a jar like that,” Peter stated.
“Get Dr.Hardyfor me. I think he’s below the main deck checking the sonar readings,” Blake said to Keesha, one of the university students.
Keesha didn’t have to go far as Lionel was already making his way to the main deck.
“Dr. Hardy, something very large has hit the boat twice already,” Blake said.
“I’m aware of that. That’s why I ran up the stairs to the main deck. The sonar readings I was getting suggested a very large object indeed, perhaps as large as fifty feet long,” Lionel said.
“Could it be Ogopogo?” Blake asked.
“I would hazard a guess that it is,” Lionel answered solemnly.
“Why does it want to attack our boat? I thought that Ogopogo is not an aggressive animal,” Blake said.
“At the present time we don’t have very much evidence concerning the creature’s aggression, one way or the other. There has been the odd report by a swimmer or a water skier in Lake Okanagan that claims that Ogopogo was pursuing them,” Lionel answered.
A third hit now struck the boat strong enough to allow some water to spray onto the main deck.
“Why is the creature doing this? What does it want with us?” Blake asked.
Ryan Richards walked towards Blake and Lionel.
“I have a theory,” Ryan said. The Ogopogo that is attacking the ship probably saw us capture the replica with our large fishing nets.”
By this time Kyle Winter had also stepped up to join in the discussion.
“Ryan’s right. Ogopogo likely thinks that we will try to capture him too. The creature is probably unaware that the replica wasn’t a real Ogopogo.”
“You guys could be right. My concern is how many bumps my ship can take before the creature causes some serious damage,” Blake said.
A voice was heard a few feet away. It was John Richards. “I’m worried about that too, but I’m also afraid that Ogopogo may try to climb aboard to rescue the replica.”
“So what should we do?” Blake asked, who was now looking anxious.
“My suggestion is that we throw the replica back into the lake,” John said.
“I agree. That makes sense to me. Maybe if Ogopogo thinks that we’ve set his friend free, he will leave us alone,” Lionel said.
Peter Marks was now set to take charge again. He grabbed a megaphone and said, “I need all hands on deck. We’re going to need lots of muscle power to lift the replica up and throw it back in the lake.”
Chapter One Seventy-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 Seventy-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 Hundred Seventy-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.
Rick had met her father when he went over to visit Misty one afternoon. Lloyd had long hair often worn in a ponytail, was tall, had a bit of a pot belly and was in his early forties. He bore somewhat of a resemblance to Pigpen of The Grateful Dead. Her dad played guitar and claimed to have been in a band in San Francisco. He said that his band was going to be signed by a major record label but his marital break-up had derailed these plans.
After the marital split he decided to move to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada as his parents lived here. Lloyd realized that he had a poor track record for holding down a steady day job and if things really got tough he would have his parents within easy access to bail him out. Lloyd loved his daughter but he was not a disciplinarian. That had been her mother’s strength. Lloyd was a libertarian at heart and had trouble even trying to discipline himself. That was likely the reason that Misty chose to live with him instead of her mother.
Rick was quite infatuated with Misty but she did not appear to have any romantic interest in him. She made it clear to Rick that he was not her type, but that she didn’t mind “hanging out” with him from time to time. Rick held on to a hope that at some point during that summer, Misty would change her mind.
In under five minutes four paramedics arrived on the scene. The paramedics in this city were very familiar with this facility and the surrounding neighborhood. It was not unusual for emergency personnel to pay ten to twenty visits per week to this facility. Many of the calls they received were, in
essence, false alarms. When the paramedics arrived at the scene they would
often find that the client was very intoxicated with either alcohol, drugs, or both being the culprit. Other times they would be called out due to a client complaining of being short of breath and or having chest pain. Other occasions the calls would be for residents experiencing anxiety attacks or going into psychosis. Two years ago they had been called to the scene for an actual fatal stabbing incident.
A young blond female paramedic in her twenties and her handsome young male partner were the first to attend to the resident in the stairwell.
“He’s not breathing and I’m not getting a pulse,” the female paramedic said to her co-worker.
“He’s feeling stiff and cold to to the touch,” added her male colleague.
Just then a young police constable and his senior partner arrived on the scene.
“How’s the man doing?” asked the younger police officer.
“He’s dead,” the male paramedic answered. “He has numerous contusions on his body and his neck could possibly be broken as a result of a fall or a push.”
“The medical examiner will need to determine the exact cause of death. I’ll call for the detectives,” the senior constable said to his young partner.
Within ten minutes a big , burly detective in his early fifties named Jeff Barnes arrived with his partner, Krista Holland, a trim, attractive, strawberry blond, female detective.
As all this was happening, the security guard, Jim Bellows, had called a code blue for the building. This meant that all available staff who were available were to respond to the site of the incident. The first residential care worker to arrive at the scene was a tall, thin woman in her late forties. She was instructed to stay where she was by the male detective.
After a brief introduction to each other Constable Redding asked the residential care worker to round up the rest of the staff of the facility and have them wait in the staff room until the detectives were ready for them.
The second staff to arrive at the scene was Rick Jennings, the mental health wing supervisor. Rick was a good looking, physically fit man who had just turned forty. He quickly identified himself to the detectives. When Rick asked what had happened, the female detective, Krista Holland, told Rick to wait in the staff room but not before informing the supervisor that a resident of the facility was dead.
The body of the deceased resident was taken to the city morgue after the
detectives had taken pictures of him and had taken notes on what the resident
was wearing and to make a record of any belongings found in his clothing.
After approximately fifteen minutes the two detectives went to the staff room on the second floor to talk to the staff of the facility.
The House of Hope was a four floor building that housed approximately seventy residents. It was the brain child of the government’s Health Division and was considered to be state of the art. There were two main treatment facilities located in the building. The fourth floor contained the substance abuse treatment center. The third floor was a rehabilitation unit for clients presenting with severe and chronic psychiatric disabilities. The second floor was for female residents that had previously been homeless or were escaping from abusive relationships and the first floor was occupied by impoverished men who didn’t have a safe and permanent place to live in the community. The administrators of The House of Hope were very proud of their building as it purported to meet so many divergent needs in the poorest area of the city. When a first time visitor came to The Center, they would first notice the offensive odor that only chronic and severe poverty can produce. There was always a strong smell of body odor present in and around the building.