The thing about Japan, as Noah was quickly coming to realise, was that he did not speak Japanese. And no, regardless of what Amber, the editor of Cryptid Weekly, seemed to think, a semester abroad way back in university did not
make him ‘more or less fluent’, something he’d tried to tell her ever since being given this assignment. Of course, her response to that had been to just point out that he wasn’t meant to be talking
to the Kappas. Just, y’know. Looking for them. That begged the question though. Could
The thought gave him pause, before he pushed it away and kept going, almost like he hadn’t
stopped, mid stride as he made his way across Hakata’s busiest bus terminal. It was a warm day, and people were clearly busy, if the glares they were shooting in his direction were anything to by. He frowned, before pulling out the paper map he’d brought with him and opening it up where he stood.
It was heavily annotated, red sharpie lines carved swathes through the different districts, post it notes fluttered in the slight breeze, and the margins were filled with blue-black scribbles. Noah traced one of the lines across from where he was now to what looked to be a small hub of nightlife which had been heavily circled several times. Next to it, Noah’s own black biro scrawl outlined its significance.
Whoever this ‘Kappa Man’ was, Noah had a feeling he’d find more information from him than he would poking around some random river. The only trouble was, Noah had no
idea where to start.
His phone buzzed in his pocket,and he pulled it out glancing at the glowing screen. A text from Amber, two simple words spelled across the LCD screen - ‘Food Baka!’. His stomach gave a treacherous grumble, and he realised the Kappa Man would have to wait.
He grinned and shook his head, before tapping out a quick reply, and setting off to find somewhere to eat.
When Sarah told people she worked in HR, their reactions were almost too
easy to predict. The slight glaze over their eyes, the polite nod and smile, the instantaneous and blaringly obvious lowering of expectations. As depressing as it was to have her career be an instant turn off, it still felt like an inside joke, given what she actually did. Because yes, Sarah worked in HR, but she worked in HR for TERRA
, and that was an entirely different ball game.
It was a Thursday morning like any other, and she stared at the rolling bank of monitors at the end of the large office. Thousands of global press releases, only around half even in English. Everything from major diplomatic issues, to kitschy stories about local celebrations. There were operatives in charge of specifically combing the non-stop feed for anything relevant to TERRA operations, but Sarah’s team kept an eye out anyway.
Sourcing the exceptional, the weird, the too curious for their own good - Sarah personally had recruited well over a hundred agents into TERRA during her time. Some she kept in contact with out of personal preference, others out of professional obligation. The latter category was mostly scientists, those who kept an ear to the ground in their respective fields without actually working for TERRA directly. She made sure their info kept coming, and their mouths stayed shut
. If it got out what they did here… what they were keeping secret… Sarah didn’t want to think about it.
She leaned back in her desk chair, and booted up her PC, taking a sip of strong black coffee from the mug she’d brought with her from the kitchen. Her phone buzzed in her pocket, but she ignored it deliberately. It was probably, no, definitely Haley. The break up had been messy, but that was only half her fault, not that you’d know it from the endless stream of texts and missed calls she’d been bombarded with since. It’d die off soon, at least she hoped so. As much as she was a ‘stone cold bitch’ in Haley’s words, she didn’t want to block her.
Another buzz, and Sarah scowled, before pressing the power button down hard
. She was at work. Haley knew that. She pushed it out of her mind for now though, she had bigger fish to fry. Namely, a Ukrainian scientist just a bit too
interested in Egypt for Terra’s liking.
It was a late afternoon in the small village of Drumandochit, Inverness when it happened. The temperature had skyrocketed over the past couple of days, and in response, tourists and locals alike had turned out in droves to enjoy the rare good weather by the loch. Queues for the single ice cream truck had waiting times of over an hour, the Loch Ness Centre was so packed with people it was hard to see the exhibits, and boats full of people coursed chipperly over the calm, deep waters.
On one such boat, Timothy Johnson, four, was enjoying a day out with his parents and two younger siblings. His baby sister had been screaming for the better part of a half hour, and whilst his mother attempted to soothe her, his brother, comparatively new to the world of bipedal motion was running rings around their father, leaving Timothy comparatively unattended. And so, he’d decided to entertain himself with the cheap disposable camera his parents had gotten him for the trip. It had up to 100 pictures he could take, and when specialists at TERRA would later pour over the film, they would find most of them to be pictures of people’s sunburnt legs, the floor, and an unusually large number of interesting bushes.
One of these images, however, would prove to be quite a bit more important than legs and floors and bushes, because Timothy Johnson was pointing his camera at the water the exact moment the ground quaked. There, on a cheap disposable camera, was the moment Loch Ness monster exploded out of the water, snatched an unfortunate seagull in her pointy teeth, and retreated back beneath the surface, changing Drumandochit forever.