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The Big Beast

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Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

 

This is the city. Gravesfield, Connecticut. I work here. I’m a cop.

It was Tuesday, April 10. It was cool and overcast in Gravesfield. We were working the day watch out of robbery. My partner is Frank Smith. The boss is Captain Stanley. My name’s Friday.

10:04 a.m. We received a report of a disturbance at Robin’s Roast Café. Cap sent us out to investigate.

 

“This one sounds like a doozy,” Smith commented as Friday pulled into the town square. “Definitely a first for the book.”

“That book will never get finished. What’s the story?”

“Heh. You’ll love this. Apparently, some crazy lady bought a coffee, and tried to pay in something called ‘snails’.”

“Snails?”

“That’s what I said,” Smith shrugged.

“Never heard of a foreign currency called snails.”

“Maybe it’s some Euro-thing,” Smith shrugged again. “Who knows? Anyway, we’re here.”

 

10:34 a.m. We talked to Melissa Carter, 16, the counter worker. She informed us that an older woman who called herself ‘Marilyn’ had come in at 9:40 and ordered a cappuccino. When payment was requested, she presented a live raccoon and offered it as compensation. Carter was unsure where the woman had been keeping the raccoon.

When informed that currency was required, the woman threw the animal into the middle of the shop and escaped in the subsequent confusion.

 

“And that wasn’t the weirdest thing,” the clerk commented.

“Oh?” Friday asked.

“Yeah. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden, all the pastries and croissants in the display case kind of…well, flew out and started hitting people randomly. It was really nuts, you know? It took me about ten minutes to corral them and stuff everything in a trash bag. By that time, she was long gone.”

“What did you do with the food?” Friday asked.

“Put ‘em in the trash out back,” she answered. “I mean, we couldn’t sell them. Health regulations, you know?”

Smith nodded toward the ceiling. “You have surveillance cameras?”

“Oh yeah,” the girl nodded. “The monitor’s in back.”

“Can we see it, miss?”

“Sure thing. You’ll see, I was telling the honest truth.” She scowled. “And could you do me a favor?”

“If we can.”

She sighed. “Could you please tell my boss I’m not high, I’m not drunk, and I’m not lying. I don’t want to lose my job. You know?”

 

11:18 a.m. We reviewed the footage and obtained a clear image of the suspect. We then investigated the shop dumpster to obtain evidence of the tainted croissants. We were confronted by several rats, who refused to cooperate unless given additional food. We purchased several from inside, but the food was rejected as inadequate.

We returned to headquarters, sent the photo of ‘Marilyn’ to all available units, put out an APB, and sent the photo to the FBI for priors.

2:18 p.m. We received a report that a vagrant was rummaging through residents’ trash cans on Wittebane Drive. The patrolman investigating the situation confirmed the suspect in question was ‘Marilyn’. We went to investigate.

 

Friday cleared his throat. “Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Just a second,” the woman replied, continuing to dig into the trash receptacle. “Ah, here we go. This should get me a good price.” She retrieved a battered singing bass and shoved it in her shoulder bag, then looked up. “So, what can I do for you?”

“Police, ma’am. We’re investigating an incident at the town square coffee shop. Would you be Marilyn Rosenstein?”

The woman blinked. “Who? Sorry, guys. That’s not me. I’ve got no idea who that is. Good luck finding her, though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some more treasure hunting to do. Girl’s gotta earn a living, you know?”

“From rummaging through trash cans?” Smith said skeptically.

“Hey, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Times are tough, know what I mean?” She grinned, her gold fang glittering in the afternoon sun which had finally broken through. “Anyway, I’ve still got a few of these babies to root through, so nice talking to you…”

“Just a moment, ma’am.” Friday raised a hand. “We’ve got witnesses tying you to the incident. Would you mind coming with us?”

“Hmm. You going to buy me dinner first?” she smirked.

“No, ma’am. We’d like to take you to the station; we have some additional questions,” Friday replied.

“Well…”

 

The suspect triggered some sort of bright light or flash bang device; by the time our vision recovered, she was long gone. We returned to the station and waited for further developments.

8:37 p.m. We received a report of a wild animal prowling the back alleyway behind the Gravesfield Historical Society. Upon arrival, we were met by the curator, Jacob Hopkins, who showed us a picture of the creature in question.

 

“What do you think?” Hopkins said breathlessly. “Have you ever seen anything like it?”

“No sir, we haven’t,” Friday said neutrally. “You say you encountered it while taking out the trash?”

Hopkins nodded. “That’s right, officer. I don’t know what it was doing in there. From what I could tell, it looked like it was eating something. Anyway, I was pretty startled, but I grabbed a brick from that pile over there and threw it at the thing. I think I hit it, too—it bellowed and snarled at me, then ran off that way. But see here? It’s bleeding!”

“All right sir. Thank you for calling this in. We’ll take it from here.”

“But don’t you understand? This is something weird—maybe occult related! Maybe this thing’s from another realm or planet beyond our understanding! I should come with you and help identify it!”

“Thank you, sir,” Smith said firmly, “but as we said, we will investigate. Please remain here and don’t interfere.”

“But…but…”

 

8:58 p.m. We called K9 Officer James Harper and requested his assistance. He arrived with the department’s K9 unit; a German Shepherd named Sarge. Upon obtaining the animal’s blood scent, Sarge guided us to a nearby woods and an old shack. We found the creature there, cowering and growling at us while cradling a clearly-injured limb.

We contacted Animal Control and appraised them of the situation; they suggested we contact an on-call veterinarian who lived nearby. Smith offered to retrieve her while Officer Harper and I waited with Sarge.

 

“Joe, this is Doctor Camila Noceda,” Smith said. “Doctor, this is my partner Joe Friday, and I believe you’re acquainted with Officer Harper and Sarge?”

“Yes, I certainly am. Hello, Sarge,” she nodded, giving the delighted dog a few friendly pats. “So, what do we have here?”

“Well, to be honest, ma’am, we’re hoping you can tell us,” Friday replied. He shone a flashlight at the creature. “We’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“That’s very odd,” Noceda said slowly. “Wings and four legs? Strange. And it’s injured—how did that happen?” She took a slow, tentative step toward the animal. “There, there. It’s all right—I won’t hurt you. You poor thing, that must hurt so much, doesn’t it? Would you let me take a look at it?”

Much to everyone’s surprise, the creature allowed the vet to draw near and examine the injury. “All right. This may hurt a bit, but I promise to be as gentle as I can. Will you let me help you? Good, good. Now I need to clean and disinfect this—it may sting a bit, but I promise it’ll be brief, all right?”

The three police officers watched in amazement. “She’s good,” Friday commented.

“Oh yeah,” Harper agreed. “Sarge just adores her. Doc Noceda is incredible. Isn’t that right, Sarge?” A pleased, eager tail slapped his leg in response.

“Okay. Looks like Animal Control is here. Doc?” Smith called.

“Just about done here. I’m going to wrap this up in a secure bandage so it doesn’t get dirty or infected on you. That’s right, the worst is over, I promise.” She glanced up at the newcomers. “Why don’t I escort you to the wagon? She seems to trust me.”

“No problem, Doc,” one of them replied. “But how do you know it’s a she?”

“I checked while I was working on her,” Noceda answered, barely restraining an eyeroll. “Okay, if you’re ready…sweetheart, these nice people want to take you somewhere warm and comfortable, so you can get a nice meal and a good night’s sleep instead of wandering around in these cold, dark woods. Does that sound good to you? That’s right, take your time, I know that injury is still sore, so take your time, that’s it, good girl…”

 

We returned to headquarters and filed our report, then called it a night. There were no further sightings of the missing ‘Marilyn’.

8:52 a.m. I arrived at headquarters for my shift. Smith was waiting for me with updates on our two strange cases.

 

“From the look on your face,” Friday noted, “we’re going to have a long day, aren’t we?”

“You are not going to believe this.”

Friday sighed. “Let me get a cup of coffee first, okay?”

“Okay,” Smith nodded, “but I’m telling you, these are two for the books.”

“Two?”

“Yeah. First off, that critter we found? The one Animal Control took charge of? Get this—it’s missing.”

Friday almost choked on his coffee. “What?”

“Yeah, they’re at a complete loss. No sign of forced entry, but they walked in this morning to feed it, and the door was wide open and it was MIA. No explanation.”

“Lovely. What’s the other?”

Smith took a deep breath. “Doctor Noceda? The vet who treated that thing? Well, she called about ten minutes ago. She swears she saw our mysterious ‘Marilyn’ walking by her house about an hour earlier, heading into those woods. And that’s not the craziest thing.”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Remember that bandage she put on the creature? Well, according to her ‘Marilyn’ was wearing one on her right arm, same color and location as where that animal was wounded.”

Friday considered. “Yup.”

“What?”

“Definitely going to be one of those days.”

 

The story you have just read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.