A crisp, cool air blew off of Lake Superior, giving Dr. Shawna Russell a chill as she pulled onto Highway 23. She'd only seen glimpses of the water
that she'd been sent to investigate, but what she had seen, reminded her of the ocean.
It was mid-July, and a comfortable 78 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but the chill off the water was so different from the warm salt winds; that she dug
in her backpack for a sweater. Shawna, a marine biologist, had been in waters all over the world - so she looked forward to exploring the Great Lakes
mysterious depths. She was only sorry that she wasn't able to see the Mackinaw Bridge. Instead she'd landed in Flint, Michigan and opted to take a
long winding journey along Lake Huron, up past Mackinaw Island, where she had to ferry her vehicle across.
Michiganders were still shaken by the devastating earthquake that had rocked the upper peninsula three months ago. They mourned the loss of hundreds
of lives that had plummeted to a watery grave, as the Mackinaw Bridge crumbled into the lakes that terrible day. The resulting tidal waves of the
Great Lakes, further devastated towns and harbors all along the Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, and Canadian coasts.
She had been contacted, when reports of boats began disappearing on Lake Superior. Soon those reports began to include tales of sea monsters, gaining
national attention. Crypto-zoologists flooded the area, along with enthusiasts and reporters. Shawna chuckled, recalling the ferry ride across Lake
Michigan. She'd been approached by several reporters asking her of her occupation and interest in visiting Michigan. She supposed it was her dark
Florida tan and sun kissed golden blonde hair that gave her away as a visitor. However, she'd managed to dodge the reporters - knowing the government
didn't want her talking to them about their interest in lake monsters.
Her phone rang and she pressed her blue tooth, and took the exit to Houghton. "Dr. Shawna Russell", she answered customarily.
"What's your ETA, Doctor? There are a lot of important people here waiting to start the debriefing." Edward Finch's nasally voice droned in her ear.
She cringed, cursing her rotten luck. Dr. Edward Finch was another leading marine biologist in her field, and a bane to her existence. They never
liked one another, or rather he didn't like her, after she'd rejected his advances. She should have known Admiral Braddock would call in another
specialist to look into the sightings and disappearances.
"I'm just pulling off the exit now, Edward. I'll be at the marina within a half hour." She cut off the call, unwilling to hear his voice in her ear
again, and followed the directions given by her vehicles GPS. There were several people waiting for her outside, when she finally arrived at her
There was an intensity in the air, that Shawna was immediately aware of. What in the world was going on here?
An attractive man, rugged and smiling tensely, came forward with his arm extended. "Dr. Russell, I'm Officer Noah Mallory, Sheriff hear in Houghton
and Harbor Master." He took her hand firmly and shook it. "Follow me, we'd like to get things underway.
She was led into a large building, a warehouse really, that was converted into a base of operation of sorts. She'd paused, stood dumb-founded really,
when she realized how many people were present. The military, coast-guard, and several scientists she'd hoped to someday meet - all milled around the
"What have I walked into, Officer Mallory?", Shawna asked, her voice wavering slightly.
Noah looked at the young woman's green-blue eyes, so much like the sea. "I'm not sure I can answer that. Here, sit down. You look like you've seen a
ghost, and call me Noah."
She sank into a chair that Noah held out for her, and the room began to get quiet as everyone took a seat at. "Everyone, Admiral Braddock will be here
momentarily - until then, I've been asked to give you the information we do know." Noah flipped on a projector.
"On April 23, 2015, a devastating earthquake caused massive damage and cost us 213 lives. In late May of 2015, we received our first bizarre report of
- well for lack of a better term, a Lake Monster.", Noah paused as several scientists scoffed, and people chuckled.
"Since that first report, I've had hundreds more. 12 boats with 46 people, missing. Fishing is down, and local wildlife has been acting, well strange.
We've had 6 fatal attacks by what experts are saying is a cougar, possibly bear - in the last month alone. That's a number we see, maybe - over a
years time nationally. The last occurrence happened a week ago, when a commercial liner, and a crew of 5 disappeared. I've alerted the public that
the Great lakes are closed, but with it's size, there just no real way to keep everyone away from the water. Which is why Admiral Braddock is here. He
may possibly need to declare a state of emergency." Noah finished, his voice hard and edged.
Noah turned to the projector. "This first image is wreckage that washed up on the shores from one of the first boats to be reported missing back in
May. No survivors have been found." He flipped to the next photo.
"The next photos are a bit disturbing. However, they demonstrate the unusual behavior of the animals around the lakes." Noah said.
Shawna had to turn her head away. The graphic pictures, of mutilated humans, caused a hush to fall over the room. Another woman, rose to her feet and
neared the projector, examining the pictures closely. "It isn't a bear attack. Do you see these slashes here? They are too close together to be from a
bears claws. I'd say we were looking for a very large cat."
Noah nodded, "Everyone, our area expert on the wildlife in the region, Dr. Emma Pratt."
"Are there any large cats indigenous to this area?", a man in a military uniform asked.
Emma Pratt pushed her glasses up on her nose, a nervous habit, and nodded. Her brown hair, pulled back in a ponytail, bobbing with the movement. "Yes,
we have lynx, bobcats, and the occasional cougar migrates in from the west. However, it's very unusual to get attacks on humans from these animals.
It's so rare that we have maybe - one or two attacks yearly, across the entire nation! In fact - we have more injuries and deaths with big cats at the
zoos than we do in the wild. Regardless, the attacks are unprecedented and bizarre."
"What do you mean by bizarre?" Shawna asked.
"The attacks all happened along the water, and not even in one locale. Three attacks have been along Lake Superior - one on Canada's side, with the
other two in the Upper Peninsula, while the remaining attacks happened along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Lake Huron in Michigan's thumb region. A
distance as great as 400 miles between the attacks. So we know it's not a single animal, but a group." Emma explained.
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