“Look kid, I’m calling this off right now.”
“You can’t! Shaggs is out here somewhere!”
“Kid, this is a dead <i>bear</i>! And whatever killed it made off with about 40 pounds of meat; if your dog ran into that, you don’t have a dog any more!”
“But we <i>have</i> to keep looking!”
“No we don’t. We’re going back to town now.”
“And you’ll tell the police why you took a 12-year old girl into the woods alone.”
“Only if I get my dog back.”
Chase had called me that morning to hire me to help her find her missing Saint Bernard dog. If it hadn’t been my first case in over two months I wouldn’t have taken it. Now I’m in the woods twenty miles from nowhere with a little blackmailer and the fresh corpse of a bear. In the words of the prophet, life sucks.
We keep going up the path; every minute or so she shouts out the dog’s name. Whatever killed that bear is gonna know we’re here.
Ten minutes later I’m sure we’re being followed. Chase doesn’t seem to have noticed, and that’s good. The last thing I need is for her to run off and get lost up here too. Ever since I got off on that inappropriate conduct charge a couple years ago the police have been waiting for me to screw up.
I hiss into her ear, “Can you keep it down? I don’t think we’re alone out here!”
She turns and screams.
I turn. There’s a monster in the tree.
I’ve heard of bigfoot but this isn’t him. It’s about the size of a person, white as a sheet, and skinny like that Gollum guy. It has six long spider legs, one in a cast, and it has tits. And its face and front parts are covered in half-dried blood. It stares at us wide-eyed, like we’re next on the menu.
While I’m going over all the variations on the word ‘disembowel’ in my future, the kid puts her hands on her hips and says, “Have you seen my dog?”
It tilts its head.
“I <i>said</i>, have you seen my dog?”
The kid’s pocket chirps. She’s got cell service here? She takes it out, looks at it, and starts texting.
“Kid, this isn’t really the time…”
“I’m talking to the spider.”
The thing climbs slowly down from the tree and starts looking Chase up and down while Chase keeps typing rapid-fire.
I don’t make any sudden moves.
“Yes!” Chase takes one of the creature’s hands.
“What the heck?”
“She knows where Shaggs is. Her friend Karen is taking care of her at their cabin near here. We’re going there now.”
“With that monster?”
“Monster? She’s a librarian where she’s from. Come on; we’ll go get Shaggs and then head home.”
As Chase and the monster skip down the path I follow. This Karen woman sounds like someone who needs a PI. And her monster's kind of cute, and has ti... nah, that's how I got in trouble the last time.