Saturday, August 7
Aurora let Frank lead the way past the tracks he had shown her the Monday before. She noted once again that they closely resembled those produced by hoaxers using rubber monster feet. Her last investigation into the legend had involved recording journalists in the process of photographing and filming a frozen gorilla suit covered in possum guts. She smiled at the memory of mass credulousness. Frank wouldn’t have thought of something like that, she suspected. Just the usual foot prints of the unimaginative attention seeker. She observed, too, that his hunting techniques left something to be desired—the constant chatter alone would scare off serious game. She took it as a sign he considered her gullible.
Around midnight, the weather cleared for a brief period, and light from the full moon allowed them to find the caves with ease. In the distance, they heard music and saw flashes of light from the concert. Frank asked Aurora to sit on one of the many limestone ledges in the surrounding area, so they could wait for the sasquatch and watch what they could of the show.
“Hey,” Frank asked, “You think the Blue Man likes rock music?”
“Difficult to say. If he’s a human relative, essentially a type of great ape—”
“Oh, he’s not a man, more like a monkey?”
“Probably more sophisticated. You remember telling me he looked like a gorilla?”
“Yes, ma’am. He did!”
“But he was bipedal—walked upright?”
“Oh yeah, he walked real fast.”
“Some of our human ancestors had features resembling chimps or gorillas, but they walked upright. Some people believe these early hominids still exist and survive by hiding from humans. Now, it’s impossible to know whether such a creature would like all the noise and flashes, but my guess would be no. Primatologists have found that chimps whose habitats lie in war zones are much more prone to violence than those in peaceful areas. He might misinterpret what’s happening or feel that people are encroaching on his territory.”
“No shit? So if we see him, he’ll be seriously pissed?”
“I suspect so.”
“Well, then, guess it’s a good thing I’m here to protect you, pretty lady.” Frank sidled closer, put his arm around her shoulders, and leaned in for an open-mouthed kiss.
“What perfect timing you have!” Aurora sank toward him, but before their lips could touch, she grasped the hunting knife hidden in her boot and slid it into his neck. A wave of sexual energy swept through her as she watched his eyes grow wide and blood gurgle from his decaying mouth. As she withdrew the knife, more blood spurted from wounds on both sides of his neck.
“Oh Frank,” she said, “Now you’re really getting me hot!” Enthralled by the bubbling, squirting blood, Aurora unfastened the top button of her jeans and slid her hand in to heighten her pleasure. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this wet.”
Frank’s face contorted in a rage-filled grimace as he grasped at his punctured neck. With a sudden burst of energy, he lurched forward in counterattack. Aurora suppressed a giggle at his ungainly, blood-spewing stagger, leaned back, and kicked him squarely in the chest. He fell to the ground in a quivering, spasmodic heap. The fight was over. Oh, so soon, Frank? But I’m not done yet…She closed her eyes and caressed herself to the rhythm of the distant music. Oh yes, Rockin’ the O. Fine name for a concert. Flashes of lightening ionized the air, and Aurora threw herself into surging waves of rapture. Her body stiffened in orgasm, and she screamed at the intensity. In the stillness of the aftermath, she visualized her own laser light show of dark, viscous blood shooting in silhouette across the face of the full amber moon. When at last she opened her eyes, she saw Frank slumped in a pool of blood near the ledge. The sputtering discharge of his life force had ceased.
“What a mess. Well, the cleanup is never as much fun, is it? Come on, Frank, let’s get a few more shots for the album. Then I’ll get you to the cave to meet that Blue Man of yours.” Aurora took the camera from her satchel and snapped photos of Frank from several angles, still enthralled by the syrupy blackness of the blood. When satisfied with her mementos, she pushed his feet onto higher ground and dragged him toward the nearest cave, only a few feet from the ledge. It wasn’t one they had explored, but it would have to do. At the entrance, she took a small flashlight from Frank’s belt and directed the light inside. In the distance, stalactites dripped from the ceiling like icicles, and lowering the light, she saw that the floor sloped downward at a rather steep angle. She threw the rifles into the cave first. After the expected clatter, she heard a splash. Perfect. She returned the flashlight to Frank’s belt, positioned his body to roll and gave him a shove. The body disappeared into the darkness, followed by another splash. She imagined sightless fish in the depths and whispered, “Bon appetit.” Then she pulled a clean set of clothes, identical to those she was wearing, from her satchel and made a quick change. She wrapped the old ones in plastic and shoved them in the same compartment under her camera. Her business with Frank was done. The intermittent rain would take care of any remaining blood on the limestone ledge by sunrise.
Turning from the cave, she walked toward the concert site at a steady pace. The kill had filled her with a calm clarity, and she knew the best course of action would be to start interviewing groupies and concert goers. With her purpose established, no one would question the presence of her car on Frank’s property. Half a mile from the cave, she rediscovered the main path and broke into a run that turned into a joyous dance. Then she heard—or rather felt—a bark resonating like thunder above her head. Her twirling dance came to an abrupt halt as an enormous arm clinched her waist and lifted her several feet from the ground. Disbelief and panic sent adrenaline streaming through her veins as large, hairy feet took off running at an inhuman speed. Aurora closed her eyes and willed herself to think. The Blue Man is real. Frank wasn’t lying! So open your eyes and watch where he’s taking you....But don’t look him in the eye—an ape might perceive that as a threat. If he is an ape…Unable to see his face, Aurora focused her attention on the hairy, bluish black legs that flew soundlessly toward the caves. She couldn’t reach the knife in her boot and realized she didn’t want it.
In less than a minute, they reached the ledge of Frank’s execution. Aurora’s feet grazed the earth as the creature bent to touch the pools of blood made watery by the falling rain. She heard sniffing and then felt hot breath on the top of her head. Moments later, he set her on her feet. She crouched down to keep from passing out. He sat behind her, and his large hands gently stroked her hair. He’s grooming me—must be an ape. Just remain still. Maybe he’ll leave...and my satchel is missing…with my camera…with pictures of Frank spurting blood…and my clothes covered in Frank’s blood....have to get back on the road and find it a.s.a.p.…The creature showed no signs of leaving. Instead, he tugged on her shoulder to turn her around. Aurora allowed herself to be turned but kept her gaze firmly on the ground. Through her peripheral vision, she made out a hairless, dark face with a heavy jaw. The rest of the body was coated in bluish-black fur. As he lifted her face to his, he pulled back his lips in a smiling grimace and made a breathy, rasping sound. He’s laughing! Maybe I should groom him…If he’s relaxed, he might not notice if I make my way back to the path. With slow caution, Aurora touched a furry arm and began stroking it lightly. The creature clicked his teeth together repeatedly. She continued stroking, slowly working her way around to his back. Minutes passed, and the teeth clicking stopped. She continued stroking his fur a few minutes longer, but soon the fear of discovery pressured her to get back to the road. Just a few steps…Good, he’s not moving…Then a twig crunched under foot, and the creature turned. Their eyes locked, and it was too late for Aurora to look away. Before she could take another step, he had her in his grasp again. This time, he bit into her shoulder, and she screamed as the skin tore away.