Episode 2 – Ben Nilsson

During the spring of 2007, there was a surprisingly violent equinoctial storm. The power failed and rain and sleet lashed the windows. My family sat huddled in the kitchen surrounded by kerosene lamps….acutely aware of the intense darkness outside. I scanned the serious faces…my wife Frieda, fourteen-year-old Lars, and twelve-year-old Greta. We were third generation Americans of Swedish descent, all lean, blond and blue-eyed… except me who’d turned gray at 45.

“Do you think the creature’s lurking out there?” Greta asked.

My wife cut in, always cool, logical. “It’s just a legend,” she said. “The Bakers are the only ones who claim to have seen it, and they’re nuts.”

“But, it could be true,” Greta insisted.

“I doubt it. The Bakers have issues, and people like that can imagine anything.”

“But I’ve seen evidence,” Lars said. “Nobody’s been able to explain those big crunched-down paths leading from the spring. I think there IS a monster…or something.” Lars is a combination of my wife and me, logical, but excitable.

“It could be nothing,” my wife argued, “where the deer walk to drink.”

“No way. I know deer tracks.”

I kept quiet, not wanting to fan the flames, but was a believer too. For years, I’d heard something crashing through the adjoining swamp, and our Labs, Jenny and Sam, got inexplicably spooked…barked for hours and wouldn’t leave the house.

“Didn’t you see it once, Dad?” Greta asked.

It was true. I’d seen a huge form rise from the Otcon Spring, but whether it was actually the creature, or a combination of my imagination and the evening light, remained an open question.

“Your father wasn’t wasn’t sure what he saw,” Frieda said. “It was almost dark.”

I glanced at Lars, wondering if others saw what I did….handsome with chiseled, well-matched features and bright blue eyes. He’d sprouted during the past year and was past my shoulder, but whether he’d end up 6′ 4″ like me was something I wondered about. My father was short and stocky, but my mother was tall, so I prayed her genes would win out. I wasn’t too concerned, because both kids were tallest in their class.

What concerned me most about Lars was his nerdiness. He walked around like the absent-minded professor with his thick glasses halfway down his nose. “Loosen up,” I told him. “Get out, run, play sports,” but studying was his occupation of choice.

Greta was the opposite. Everyone agreed she was destined to be the family beauty. Her coloring was the same as all of us, but she had a je n’est ce quoi that distinguished her, whether it was the splash of freckles across her nose, the tiny mole at the corner of her perfect lips, her big green eyes, or all of that…combined into something special, but, appearance wasn’t the whole story…not by a long shot. She was conscientious to a fault, more so than Lars, who had so many interests, he couldn’t stay focused.

Greta’s love of animals had a lot to do with her personality. From the moment she could walk, maybe before, she was drawn to animals, as they were to her. It was amazing to watch her win the trust of a terrified animal, and day in and day out, she delighted in feeding the dogs, chickens and assorted goats, pigs and rabbits. She lived and died with them…empathized with them to an amazing degree, helped the strong and weak, and nursed the old and sick through their last hours…she’d seen how twists of fate change lives.

With people too, her gentleness set her apart. She never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings, and stood fearlessly in the face of cruelty and deceit. Where Lars agonized over minor details, Greta saw the big picture…recognized who could be trusted and who couldn’t.

Lars was classic ADHD and our doctor had been pressing my wife to try medication, but she was suspicious of drug companies…felt half the diseases were dreamed up.

There was a sharp gust of wind, and a branch snapped like a rifle shot.

“It’s the creature!” Lars whispered.

“No it’s not,” Greta exclaimed, eyes wide. “Why would anything be out on a night like this?”

“This would be the perfect night,” Lars said. “Scientists believe prehistoric creatures live in the deepest lakes, so if one did come out, it’d be on a wet night like this.”

“What scientists?” My wife asked skeptically.

“The ones that study rare creatures, like the guy who placed cameras in Loch Ness and got actual pictures.Scientists are constantly finding new species, especially in the deep ocean trenches. Lydia showed me an article last week…”

Greta grinned. “Lydia? Are you two getting serious?”

“Shut up, Greta.”

“I’m gonna check with my spies. She’s really nice.”

A light flashed outside the window…”What was that?” Greta gasped. “Somebody’s out there!”

“Maybe it was lightning.”

“It looked like a flashlight.”

There was a sudden knock at the door, and we jumped.

“Stay calm,” my wife said. “Monsters don’t knock, but who in the world would be out on a night like this? It must be something serious.”

To be continued… Read next episode!