The Truth About My Work (pt.3)
Here's an exerpt from my notes:
Activity in the area has tapered out. No sighting, just dead dogs, cats, a couple of goats, and the 3 new attack victims in the vicinity around Borealis Park. After the three attacks, the thing seems to have disappeared entirely. New nightvision optics arrived this morning. Patrolling Park tonight. Plenty of snow on the ground now - should make tracking easier."
I can't express how boring things had become by now. Yes, three different people were killed. All in the span of about 8 hours, and all in the Borealis Park area of Fort McMurray. The park itself is beautiful (google it) but the victims themselves left people terrified. The news reported only one of the deaths as a bear mauling, and the other two weren't reported at all. The "crew" even went so far as to tranquilize a black bear, and release it near town so that the local authorities would find the culprit easily. Some time later, I'd learn that the autopsy revealed that the stomach contents included part of the "victims" clothing - none of which was true because I also later learned that the necropsy was done by one of the members OF the "crew".
Things were getting strange. How does a newly discovered, unnamed, highly aggressive killing maching just vanish? How does something that seemed almost inclined to prey on humans just stop? Yes, there's a lot of room to roam in the surrounding area, but with tendencies such as this, they're bound to resurface soon. On the other hand, I'd learned that the surviving attack victim from the previous month had made a full recovery, though his memory of the attack was blurry. He'd been quoted as saying that the attack happened so fast, that all he remembered was teeth. I found this particularly odd considering if I was attacked by something straight out of a horror film, and survived, I'd have a pretty vivid recollection of the whole thing.
For the majority of November, things on my end remained uneventful. There were online meetings with various others in the field across the country. Some places it was suspected that up to half a dozen U.A.P's were active - that was the Acronym given to these things, as nobody was ready to give this new species a name just yet, let alone go public about it. U.A.P stood for Unnamed Aggressive Predator. I learned I wasn't the only sharpshooter called back into service to hunt these things down, either. By Midnovember there were 14 different servicemen spread across the country, many with great tracking experience and a steady eye at long distances.
During this period there wasn't a whole lot of "discoveries" or "breakthroughs" going on. My first kill had been hauled off to a facility somewhere in British Columbia, where both American and Canadian scientists were, as I'd been told, working around the clock to figure out just what the hell these things were, where they may have come from, and how they were ending up with things like tattoos, piercings, and especially a glass eye at least one of them. Also, I wanted to note that for anyone who's interested in the finer details of my first kill, it was confirmed as a male.
Seeing as most of the activity, when it did occur, happened during the night or periods of low light ( dawn, dusk, severely cloudy days) I'd made a note that to me it seemed these animals were sensitive to high levels of light. Not light entirely, just very bright light. The day I had shot mine, it had been cloudy, unseasonably warm, and in late afternoon a fog had settled in. I had also been corresponding with two of the other trackers in the field - Marcus Humbolt and Neal Vandermeer. Neal and I had gone through basic together in Pettawawa, Ontario but had gone our separate ways afterwards. Marcus I didn't know, but had heard much about while overseas.
They're case was strange in of itself. They'd been sent to Edmonton - a major city with a population of roughly 900 000 people living in it. But sure enough, there had been attacks in the industrial park area. Two confirmed dead in just over 24 hours apart of one another. They'd been outfitted with a tactical vehicle disguised as a local police SUV, given state of the art night optics, and set loose to hunt the U.A.P down. Except now they had confided through email that based on what they were seeing, there might be more than one. As much as they could tell, the U.A.P(s) were using the network of commercial railway lines to travel to and from hunting grounds. By the time the guys showed up, the U.A.P(s) were gone, and the victims had been picked clean.
At the end of November, the story of the smaller U.A.P that had seemingly vanished came to an end. By then I'd also been cast into a disguise role as a Ministry Of Natural Resourses Technician there to study seasonal trends of animal-vehicle collisions. Any police responding to animal collisions had to call me immediately, and as per the job title, I was required to respond. On November 27, 2014 I responded to a call about a vehicle collision on Range Road at the southern end of Fort McMurray. The animal, though killed, was unidentifiable by the responding officer.
I arrived and though I didn't say anything about it, I could tell based on the remains that this was the second U.A.P that I'd been searching for. The carcass was about as smashed to smithereens as any animal being hit by a Dodge Ram could be. I identified it as a Grey Wolf and so the officer filled out his report, while I loaded the remains into the bed of my truck and called the clean up "crew". The woman on the other end of the phone asked my location, where the animal was now, and when I told her I had put the remains in the bed of my truck, she went off. In a stern tone, she firmly said that under no circumstances am I to touch the U.A.P's, and then ran me through a checklist of questions. Did I wear gloves while touching the remains (no), if I had any open wounds on my arms or hands (no), if I was able to immediately wash and sanitize my hands (thanks to the officer, yes). It was my own fault. This was, as far as I knew, a brand new species and there was no telling what kind of nasty shit might be hiding in its blood.
This small U.A.P measured from nose to tail at 3'11"though based on the condition of the carcass, I couldn't get an accurate measurement of girth,but it was definitely a female based on the pronounced nipples - 6 in total as far as I could tell. Her canines measured 3.1" in length, but I doubted that getting an accurate weight would be next to impossible. The clean up crew showed up just as the officer and owner of the vehicle left, and took the remains, asked me a few questions, and that was that. I didn't even have time to take any photos ( which, in case I failed to mention, was a big no-no. It had been stressed during the original briefing and again when we'd been assigned our specific A.O (Area of Operation) that we were, under no circumstances, to photograph any of the U.A.P's we found and killed. All documentation was left to the clean up crews.
November faded into December and seeing as how both of the U.A.P's were now dead, and no further activity had been documented, I figured that was it, and I'd be home in Ontario well before christmas. I contacted my superior for further tasks, and was told to hang tight. Keeping up with what was going on with Neal and Marcus, they'd sent various emails keeping me posted. December 1st, Marcus had tracked one U.A.P down and killed it in an abandoned factory, where it had been living in the lowest level of the building - they'd begun to refer to places such as this as "dens". The one Marcus shot was massive, measuring almost 5ft exactly, 4" canines, and almost 200lbs. They suspected it was a male, and found that it had 6 different tattoos on its back, shoulder, and forelegs, though they didn't mention any details regarding the tattoos themselves.
Despite Marcus' success, more attacks occurred in the industrial park area of Edmonton. One railway maintnance worker was killed on December 4th 2014, another on the 5th. Both were dragged away from the kill site and eaten, yet not as cleanly as before, which indicated to both Neal and Marcus that they were only dealing with one remaining animal. They'd been able to track the last one through the (unnauthorized) use of trail cameras, and hoped to do the same with the second.
Around this time, I thought about requesting to be transferred to their A.O. I figured at the very least, based on what I had seen here in Fort McMurray, I'd be able to lend a hand. But unfortunately it wasn't to be. On December 12 2014, I recieved an email from Neal, after not hearing from him for a couple days. I learned that they had figured out that the last remaining U.A.P had been "denning" in the Maple Ridge industrial area. They'd gone in to locate it during the day, and were ambushed by not one, but two different U.A.Ps. Both animals were shot and killed, but in the process, Marcus had been killed, too. He was 36.
Neal didn't go into further detail regarding the events, but wanted to point out that the second U.A.P didn't seemed to be deterred by the gunfire when they had dispatched the first. The time between each attack was, Neal figure, no more than 5 minutes apart, and during the first, Neal had been bitten on the left forearm twice, and Xrays confirmed his arm was shattered. He expressed that the jaw pressure was startling. He wasn't sure about how well his arm would heal, but he hoped for a full recovery.
I couldn't believe what I was reading. These were two highly trained, highly regarded servicemen who'd had a long history being badasses. One was potentially crippled and the other dead. I thought about Marcus and what his family was going to be told. He had three children with his ex-wife. Neal was, no doubt, being taken out of the field and heading home after a long, painful debrief.
The next day, I recieved confirmation of what I began to expect while laying in bed the night before - that I was Edmonton bound. It would not be the last time I saw Fort McMurray.
I arrived in Edmonton December 16th, the same day Chandra Kelly was killed while walking home from work. I hadn't even unpacked my vehicle. Her body was found down a back alley behind some dilapitated houses deep within the city center of Edmonton. An elderly woman walking a dog found Chandra Kelly's foot in the alley, having been chewed off and discarded. I wasn't sure how this was going to be kept under the radar from the public and press. When I arrived, there were 6 cruisers, all with lights flashing, and a crowd of people had gathered. I was still under the guise of an official with the Ministry of Natural Resources, so I suspected I might not be let into the crime scene, but to my surprised, I was ushered right in.
By now you know the drill. The clean up "crew" was called, they came, took the remains under a guise of their own, and that was that. Not so much as a word was reported on the subject when I watched the news that night.
Things stayed quiet for a few days. The next attack took place on December 21st, at exactly 9:33pm at the employee smoking area behind an energy plant in the Industrial area. It was snowing heavily that evening and Roy Arseneault simply vanished while alone on his smoke break. I found his body in a drainage ditch along the railway tracks about 150 yards away from the smoking area. Searching the area, the building had several security cameras along its perimeter. Securing that footage might be a huge breakthrough if any of them captured the attack on film, and so I requested the footage. At this time, I was also given option to take on the identity as a detective with the city of Edmonton if I felt it would help speed my own investigation along, and so I left the world of fake Wildlife tech behind for the exciting world of fake detective.