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By Chester Harper
Annette swatted at the millionth mosquito of the night. Maybe if she burned some green limbs the smoke would keep them away. She had camped at the edge of the swamp and hoped beyond hope that she would see the famous Boggy Creek Monster. Her crew would arrive tomorrow and then the likelihood of seeing the monster would decrease significantly. If the beast made an appearance tonight, the motion activated cameras should capture an image and maybe, just maybe, she could get a shot with her digital camera.
She didn’t hear a thing before the attack. A hiss and a roar and she was being dragged toward the swamp by a huge alligator that had chomped down on her leg. She was helpless to do anything except scream. She frantically grabbed on to anything near her trying to slow the progression to the water. Once in the water, she was a goner. She pulled down lights and electrical equipment, and sparks were flying everywhere. Suddenly, the smell of ozone filled the air and she was released. It was a clear night with not a cloud in sight. Had a benevolent God miraculously saved her with a well-aimed lightning bolt? This sounded more like Zeus than the Christian God in whom she believed. She felt herself being lifted from the ground and smelled a musky, not unpleasant odor. The pain in her leg was excruciating and as she slipped into oblivion, she wondered how badly she had been injured and who had rescued her.
Blake arrived at the camp early the next morning to see if Annette had any luck with her solitary vigil. He came upon a devastating scene of violence. The tent was torn down and electrical equipment, as well as camp gear, was scattered everywhere. Most horrific was the dead alligator with a human leg in its massive jaws. Annette’s leg, judging by the well-worn hiking boot still on the foot. Blake swallowed the bile rising in his throat, called 911, and began the search for the rest of his colleague. The gator was dead. Where was Annette?
Annette awoke with vague memories of alligators, being carried, and hospital rooms. The room she was presently in bore no resemblance to any of that. She appeared to be in a small cabin with rustic furnishings. An equally rustic-appearing young lady was sitting in the chair next to the bed.
“Praise be, you are finally awake.”
Annette attempted to swallow the cotton in her mouth and cleared her throat. “Where am I?”
“You are in my home. You are safe and being well taken care of.”
“I was in the swamp investigating the Boggy Creek Monster. I remember being attacked by an alligator. The rest is really fuzzy. Something about hospital rooms and being carried.”
“You remember more than we thought you would. Tell me exactly what you remember.” The young lady smiled but Annette could see a glimmer of something else in her eyes. What was going on here?
“I remember the attack and then a strong smell of ozone. I was then picked up and smelled a musky odor and I think I was wrapped in a furry or fuzzy blanket. I blacked out and the next thing I remember was an operating suite manned by sasquatch. That’s really weird. Must have been a trauma or drug-induced hallucination.”
“Yes, well, you were grievously injured and lost a lot of blood. That can cause all sorts of visions and dreams.”
“Where, exactly, am I?” Annette emphasized the word exactly.
“As I said, you are in my home and you are safe. That is enough for now.”
“No, it is not enough. I am very grateful for all you have done, but I want answers instead of vague niceties.”
“Very well, the alligator traumatically amputated your left lower extremity. You were hemorrhaging quite severely when Samuel was able to disable the alligator and then achieve hemostasis with a strategically placed tourniquet. He then brought you to me and I further treated you.” The woman’s demeanor had changed and she seemed more like a medical professional than the country bumpkin of minutes before.
“You say my leg was traumatically amputated. I see I have both legs and no pain. Am I to believe that you reattached my leg out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“No, I did not reattach the limb. We regenerated the limb. It took quite some time but we are very pleased with the results.”
“You keep saying ‘we.’ Who is we?”
“I am Dr. Willow.” She smiled as she said, “Samuel, come and formally meet our guest.”
Annette’s mouth fell open and she didn’t know whether to scream or faint as a large hairy beast stepped into her line of vision.
“Hello, Annette. I am Samuel, Dr. Willow’s assistant.” The creature had a very deep voice and Annette assumed she was hallucinating.
“What kind of drugs have you given me?”
Willow laughed. “No drugs. Not yet anyway.” Her voice grew somber. “Dr. Annette Johnston, you have realized your greatest dream. You have seen a sasquatch. We will now, unfortunately, wipe your memory and then return you to your work.”
“Wipe my memory? No!” Annette went to jump from the bed and felt a sharp pain in her upper arm. She looked down at the needle and syringe as she went unconscious.
Annette awoke on the side of a two-lane road. As she got to her feet, she noticed that she had only one boot. Where was she and what had happened to her boot? The lights from an oncoming car caught her attention and she was relieved to see that it was a deputy sheriff’s patrol car.
“Thank you for stopping, officer.” Annette smiled. “I seem to have lost my way or something. The last thing I remember is being at my camp.”
“Dr. Annette Johnston, famous anthropologist and bigfoot hunter?”
“I prefer sasquatch. But, yes. Why are you staring at me? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Yes, ma’am. Please get in. I’ll take you into town.”
“Can you just take me back to my camp? My team will be here tomorrow.” Annette patted her pockets. “I seem to have lost my phone.”
“I’ll just take you into town and we’ll find someone to help you.”
Annette sat in the visitor’s chair of the sheriff’s office, drinking bad coffee and trying to remember anything about the last twenty-four hours.
The sheriff walked in and sat down. He had obviously been roused from sleep and was freshly showered. He smiled at Annette. “Dr. Johnston, we seem to have a slight problem.”
The sheriff looked at her with a puzzled expression. “What is today’s date, doctor?”
“That’s a rather odd question.” Annette returned the expression. “September 19, 2019. Unless it’s after midnight, then it would be the twentieth.”
“Dr. Johnston, it is November 17, 2019. You disappeared two months ago and were presumed dead due to evidence at the scene.”
Annette was eating breakfast the next morning, trying to figure out where the last two months of her life had gone, when Blake walked in with a look of amazement on his face.
“It’s really you.”
“Yep, the amazing reappearing anthropologist.”
“Where have you been?”
“I have absolutely no idea. The last thing I remember was sitting in my tent swatting mosquitoes.”
“You don’t remember anything else about that night?” Blake looked deep into her eyes. “Alligator attack. Electrical shock. Anything?”
“Has anybody filled you in on what we think happened that night?” Annette just looked up at him and shook her head. “OK, give me a minute.” Blake paced back and forth. “The camp was torn to pieces with floodlights and wiring everywhere. A huge alligator was lying there, dead. It looked like he had been electrocuted or something. That is the story the investigators came up with, anyway. There was blood everywhere and we assumed you had been dragged off and eaten by other gators. Now here you are standing on two good legs drinking coffee.”
“Why did you emphasize me standing here on two good legs?”
“We found a leg in the jaws of the alligator.” Blake looked into Annette’s shocked eyes. “Annette, if you are here on two good legs, whose leg was in the gator’s mouth … and why did it match your DNA?”
Please visit Chester on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/C-W-Harper-Author-101485477895994/