Chapter 22 - The Analogy
"Kevin, it's about damn time that you showed up. We have a catastrophe on our hands and you take the scenic tour getting here." Jack lights a fire under his friends' ass but his smile at the presence of his old buddy belying his earnest demeanor. "You got here literally just in time, we were about to sit down and review the evidence we have,… and share some thoughts on how we should proceed."
Kevin is a big man, resembling Sheriff Wheeler in most respects accept that he has red hair streaked with grey that at a distance would look blond to most. Contrary to Jack, the years had been better to him, he kept a good diet over the years and a stringent regiment of exercising since their college days and it was obvious. His fiery light blue eyes were set under thick brows, surrounded by freckled skin and his chin boasted a full nearly blond beard.
The small conference room set next to the captains' office was just big enough to hold the six men. Pointing to the last open spot, Jack introduces those already seated, "Kevin, to your left is Deputy Mark Otto, I believe that you met him some years ago, he's my right hand man. Next to him Mr. Johnson our tracker, I invited him because we have seen that his involvement will be invaluable in this case. Dr. Baker at the end of the table and to his right, Deputy Lars Harris."
"Evening Gentlemen." Kevin's voice came across loud and clear, cut from the same drill sergeant material as the Sheriff. "I haven't got a clue what is going on here with the exception of the death of a hunter but things must be getting pretty involved if Jack is calling me in. What can I do to help?"
"Kevin, have a seat. We'll start with what we have, for the rest you will have to take a patience pill and swallow." Jack seats himself at the opposite end of the table from Dr. Baker laying out a folder with the written and photo materials gathered to that point where he elaborates on the details on the latest two deaths at the high school.
"Let me see those pictures again, the ones that Dr. Baker took up near the hunter, those next to the creek." Dr. Baker had come with his own set of documentation and had printed out large sets of the pictures and slides them across the short table to Kevin.
"There are two sets of prints,… I am just not sure what I am looking at. There are human prints, barefoot right next what appears to be print of,… something. That something was there after whoever made the normal prints. Are those from the hunter?" Kevin asks perplexed.
"No sir." Mark replying with his usual manners and beating Dr. Baker to the punch. "I was quite confused myself when we found the prints which is why we made castings not only of the animal print but of the human ones as well."
"Are you sure those are animal prints? And what about the human ones, a man or woman? It is hard to tell from these pictures", Kevin trying to make sense of what is going on.
"Well, we analyzed,.." Dr. Baker was interrupted by Sheriff.
"The good Doctor had sent out pictures of the prints to some professors and all replies state that they do not belong to any known mammal but closely resembles the front bone structure of a human foot 'except' that it is about twice the size of an average man. When looking at the depth of the imprint compared to the normal human prints taken at the creek and the site of the hunter, which we have confirmed to be most likely a man of about two hundred and fifty pounds, those of the 'animal' must weigh at least three to four hundred. And yes, the one human foot print found at the first crime scene match the ones found at the creek." The Sheriff has been in a few meetings with the Dr. and although the man can give a lot of insight on how the conclusions were made from the testing and analyzing and with what test methods, time was of the essence. Night has already fallen and their maniac was still on the loose.
"I have the Anthological reports if you need them." The doctor rustles through his papers pulling up a stack that have been paper clipped together. "I had also talked to a friend that has reviewed the photos and he had some interesting results that would indicate,…"
"Doctor, you have briefed us earlier on that conversation, we will address that information later in the meeting, Thanks." The Sheriff cut the Dr. short because he knew this information needed to be laid out more delicately for Kevin, a way that wouldn't end in ridicule.
Lars gets up extending a hand to the doctor, "Doc, I'll take those and make copies for our records."
Kevin eyes were on everyone at the table, "Okay guys, what else do you have for me?"
"This is going to sound crazy and I haven't heard all of it yet but even if seems out of this world, this theory has got something to it." Jack looks at Kevin, not sure if he really wants to continue the conversation.
"Spit it out. I have heard a lot of things in my time just like you have Jack." Sitting back in his chair, Kevin looks questionably around at the others.
"So, this is what I've got." Mark sits for a minute trying to formulate his next sentences so that he doesn't come off as a nut case. "The perpetrator is obviously strong and I would like to put his / its strength into perspective."
There were a couple of nods and the others were all ears.
Mark continues carefully choosing his words, "It is well known that primates other than Homo Sapiens have a much higher strength to weight ratio, the chimpanzee for example, although they can weigh as much as a full grown man,… they are known to have about seven times the strength of a comparable human. Even under the human species there are exceptions to the nor, the mentally retarded have been known to display strengths that would double that of a normal person. In events of high stress, car accidents for example, women and men have displayed superhuman strength turning or even lifting vehicles alone and unassisted to free a loved one."
Dr. Baker interjects, "It is in fact quite common and can be attributed to the large amount of adrenaline being pumped into the human body and it has been documented quite well over the last few decades."
"Thank you doctor. Mark, please go on." Jack is getting itchy to get the next plans laid out with Kevin, possibly to call in for more assistance and where to place those bodies so that a successful capture or kill might be accomplished.
"Alright, our man, can I say that? Do we all agree this is a man that we are looking for or is an animal attack still on the table?" Kevin asks, already expecting the answer to come.
"Yes, that is our thought at the moment." Mark answers but his eyes trained on the Sheriff looking for any doubt that may come from his direction. It was answered with a half shake of his head, not a "no" but not a "yes" either, just a simple almost confused acknowledgement. "Shall we move onto the next piece of evidence or are there any questions?"
"Please proceed Deputy", the answer coming from Kevin and Jack almost in stereo.
"The murders, I am using the word murder only because I do not believe that a true animal is involved. That is not to say that the person that committed the heinous acts is completely guilty though." Kevin gave Mark a questioning look but did not intervene. "There are diseases that have been recorded for centuries, psychological in nature where the afflicted believes that he is something other than human and acts accordingly. The American Indians referred to this disease as shape shifting, the early Europeans,… werewolves."
Kevin pushed his chair back a few inches from the table a question forming on his lips but taking a bit of time to fully unfold, "Are you trying to tell me that we are dealing with a true hairy, clawed and fanged individual?"
"No", Dr. Baker injects. "The individual believes that he has changed so much so that his body might be able to develop the strength to do what we have seen at the crime sites."
"That doesn't explain the animal like prints that were found?"
"Yes Kevin, we have also considered that aspect. One of the Anthropologists that was written to also has a fascination with the Big Foot phenomena" Kevins' eyes begin to roll. Mark continues trying to appear unfazed by the reaction he received. "And it is his assumption that some foot prints that are found are highly likely very good fakes, made by casting a foot print, making a silicon replica which is then stretched and recast so that it may be worn as a boot then used to make a trail that might fool anyone that finds them. That print would include all of the characteristics of a natural foot print albeit exaggerated."
"That would make sense. Has any connection been made to any of the victims and someone that might have experience in special effects?" That last sentence making a lot of sense to both chiefs at the table.
"There is no connection that we can find with respect to the victims but we have not had time to follow up since we just discovered the animal prints early this afternoon. We have, however found a connection to the foot prints. The one human foot print that was found next to the first victim, the hunter, matched those human prints found next to the creek and,… the animal prints were found to be nearly identical from the finger print structure with that of those human foot prints. That is they matched the front portion of the human feet, although those lines that comprise the complete print of the animal were stretched way out of proportion, the ridges and small scars of the balls of the feet do match the human prints and therefore may fall into the category of 'faked' as Dr. Baker had already elaborated on earlier this evening."
"So we have a man running around acting like a dog on steroids, is that what we have?" The Sheriff is starting to feel comfortable with the direction that Mark had taken.
"What we have is a man who believes when the moon is full that he will turn completely into an animal. If he believes in the earlier movies of the werewolf then during the time that the moon is not full he will be in control of his body, possibly 'turning' only when he feels it is necessary. During the full moon, based on what we have seen over the last two nights, he will turn regardless and if he can kill, he will." Mark has read many books on the cult and stated those last sentences with conviction.
Still perplexed, Kevin begins, "That wouldn't explain why he would need or purposely put on molded boots,…"
Dr. Baker had anticipated the question and cut the sentence short, answering, "Yes, that would mean that during those times when the man believes that he is turning that he would have to put on his fake shoes with the animal foot print. However, when in this state of mind, the afflicted person does not always realize that he is 'dressing' for his new role. He may not even have the recollection of making those items needed to complete his 'costume'. When the moon is not full, he may think that he is only partially turning and therefore not require the shoes at all or any other cosmetic materials if there should be more."
"Has anyone checked to see if any deaths had been reported last month around this time?", Kevin now following the logical path of thought.
The Sheriff's answer was a matter of fact, "No, until late this afternoon it was my opinion that this might be a freak accident with the hunter. Lisa has instructions to start that search in the morning when she is back in the office."
"That might be a little late Jack, I can give a call into my office have someone working on it right away if you are interested." Kevin's offer is accepted with a nod of the Sheriff's head.
The phone rings in the lobby, a tone that is seldom heard this late in the evening and the Sheriff has a bad feeling about it since this bad streak of events has fallen upon his community. "Lars, go grab that."
The conference fell silent as Lars took the call. "This is the Pennbrooke Police Department, Deputy Lars speaking, how may I help you." Even a corridor away from the front desk, those in the conference room could hear the desperate voice roaring into the Lars left ear.
"Yes, I understand. Do you have a description of it? Brown?... And Black…. It was heading north from there? Please give me the attendant." The others had left the conference room to converge on Lars as he was wildly writing down the information that he was receiving.
"Yes, you are the attendant of the gas station? Can I get your name please? Mrs. Laudry?" Lars continued to write and the others moved closer to peak at his notes, "Mrs. Laudry, do you have video cameras set up around your store? You do. Very good. We will have someone out there shortly to speak with you. Please keep the eyewitness from leaving, it will only take us about twenty minutes to get there. Thanks, yes, thank you we will."
Lars turns to others, "We have a large animal that ran across the grounds of the gas station, something that was described as possibly being a large scraggly bear or large wolf with dark brown or black fur. They said it was left the gas station running along the highway heading north."
"How could they tell it was running north?", Kevin skeptical yet again.
"It is a full moon and there are no clouds tonight." Mark answered as a matter of fact.
"Mark, I want you and Kevin to patrol the highway north of the gas station. That was the gas station on Highway 127 and 10, right?" Jack is visibly excited to have a tangible clue to finally go by.
"Mark, take the patrol car, Lars you will go with me. Mr. Johnson, could you take the doctor with you and round up your dogs? I hate to ask for your help this late in the evening but since you are here, we could certainly use your help. I will see to it that the city compensates for your time and expenses if you are willing."
"Sure Sheriff, where should we meet you?" Mr. Johnson, quiet during the whole meeting looked invigorated and anxious to be able to contribute.
"Old State road. Get moving people, this thing isn't going to wait around for us."