It surprised Joe Clark, the ease with which he had accepted the impossible as reality. Sasquatch did exist. Including one that could talk (and liked to talk) and sing, too, in a beautiful lilting tenor. Parallel universes existed, and there were portals into and out of them. A man who had been dead could come back to life, just sit right up and open his eyes like waking up from a nice nap, when that Sasquatch with the voice of Pavarotti sang over his body in a language that sounded like a mixture of Clark’s own native Saulteaux and high church Latin.
It had all gone down easy, not sticking in his throat at all. But maybe that wasn’t so surprising. A man makes choices, is all, Clark said to himself. Back when his wife had died, Clark had planned, had every intention, of dying too. No sense in living. But Clark had made a choice. He’d chosen to go on living for his children and his grandchildren. He’d made up his mind to do it and he’d done it, simple as that. Same thing here. Either he could lose his mind, become a gibbering lunatic withdrawn from a reality he could no longer process or understand, or he could accept that reality and go on with his life. Same as when his wife died. He’d chosen to accept it and so he had, a new world, a new reality in which nothing, it seemed, was impossible. Now, what to do with that reality?
For the moment he stood back, watched and listened. He listened to the cold, sluggish wind moaning its way through the trees surrounding the clearing. Smelled the strange, earthy scent of the place.
“I’m coming with you, Beau!” said the pretty young Arly Youngblood.
“Non, petite. This here’s a blood hunt, now. This is between me an’ him.”
“I don’t care!”
“Arly, calm down,” the other man said. A lawyer, right? Said his name was—what? Corelli?
“Listen ta’ the boy scout, chere. You an’ him are gon’ take Kiersten back home. I’ll catch up with you later.”
“I can go home?” Kiersten Roth had tears in her eyes, tears of relief and joy, tears of grief as she had learned of her grandfather’s death. Joe Clark saw within this filthy creature the pretty girl she must have once been. But now she looked emaciated, hollow-eyed, and sickly. Patches of her curly blonde hair had fallen out. The girl had been through hell, no doubt about that.
“You don’t have to do this, Beau!” Arly said. “We found Kiersten. You did your job.”
“Somebody’s got ta’ stop that thing,” Saint said.
“It doesn’t have to be you!”
“But it’s gon’ be.”
The Sasquatch spoke next. “I will escort the four of you back to the point of your respective entrances to this realm. Then I will accompany Mr. Saint as we track down our adversary.”
“I don’ wan’ you in this, Songbird,” Saint said. “I’m goin’ after the bastard alone.”
Clark made a choice.
“I am a police officer,” he said, stepping up, “and I have a duty to uphold. I am going after this creature as well.”
They all stared at him.
“I would think our chances of success would prove greater, Mr. Saint,” Clark said, “if we go together, but I will press on alone if I must.”
“You’re a cop?” Saint asked.
“RCMP.” Clark felt no need to tell them he was retired. Besides, once a Mountie, always a Mountie. “And a Mountie always gets his man. Or monster, in this present case.”
Saint looked him up and down, not a pleasant experience. Clark had seen the exact same stare in the eyes of a wolf. Only wolves in the wild have a natural wariness of human beings. This man had no fear whatsoever in his eyes. He was pure predator. Clark held the man’s gaze and waited. A man makes choices.
Saint drew the .357 pistol from its holster. Clark didn’t blink. Saint turned the pistol around in his hand and gave it to Clark. “Reckon you’re gon’ need this, then.” Clark took it. “Jus’ so you know,” Saint said, “we’re not goin’ after that thing ta’ arrest it. You understand? Either it dies or we die.”
“I understand,” Clark said.
Saint nodded. “A’right, then. Let’s go bag us a trophy.”