Transience

10/30/2000

Peter:

Saul and I got to the Vancouver campsite around 1am. I told him before we left yesterday, ‘you know, we could just sail up to Anchorage, I’ve got the equipment and it’d be a hell of a lot faster’, which of course he said no to because he loathes ships and is an impractical asshole sometimes. Driving up to Alaska to do a month-long hunt in a van! In that van! I told you before we left that I wouldn’t trust that thing to drive from here to Portland, but he insisted. When we freeze to death just know I told him so.

We’re camping with the Vancouver outfit for the night. Way bigger than Fireside’s. I told them, the last time I was on a hunt this far north, we had an outfit with upwards of 15 people and somebody still managed to lose a leg.

I haven’t been in the Arctic circle since my teens. Remember how I told you about the season I spent on a crab boat in the arctic? Beautiful, if nothing else. Someday I’ll convince you to shut the DCC up for a week so I can take you up there. I think you’d really like it.

There’s another couple days of driving ahead of us. I suppose by the time you get this, we’ll be camping…wherever we end up. Who knows. I’d give you a return address but I have no fucking idea where we’ll be except for somewhere in Northern Alaska. This thing was last sighted in Barrow. I’ll send you a letter or call you or something.

—Clay

11/2/2000

Peter:

The Anchorage DCC is fucking enormous. They converted an old boy scout camp in the middle of nowhere. Jesus. Lots of people, but hunting other shit. Campfires are always more lively with more people, so that was enjoyable.

I wish you were here. You probably know something about this Ijiraq myth the clerk compared this aberrant to when I talked to him. Probably have a book on it or something.

I gotta get some sleep. We’re rolling out tomorrow.

— Clay

November 6th, 2000

Clay,

I have no idea if you’ll get this in time. I suppose transience is part of the nature of Wayward hunts in an almost poetic sort of way, but it really /does/ become a pain in times like this. I could have sworn I heard mention of Ijiraq before, although I’m sure by the time you receive this you’ll have encountered something, or received more information of one sort or another.

The Ijiraq are an Inuit myth. They’re shapeshifters that avoid direct perception. It’s said they haunt the far northern reaches of Canada (‘haunting’ being a non-metaph term in this case) and are said to inhabit the in between spaces of our world and another. There are varied versions of how they became what they are, including that they’re metaph-like beings occurring from Inuit who wandered too far north to hunt, or a more cryptid-like existence bent on stealing children who get lost in the northern wilderness.

It’s probably best I’m not there, Clay. They play tricks on the eyes in terms of being perceivable only in human blind spots, and at the edges of our vision. I’ve seen things like that before, but I was 23 and badly needed my medication adjusted. I’m not sure I would trust my mind to be able to discern something like that, even in my current stability.

You’ll do alright. You’re rather keen on that sort of thing. I’ve included some photocopies from the records in case they’re any use to you.

Things have been awfully quiet around here without you. Bed is cold at night. Arthur’s been keeping me company at the DCC. I hope you all made it up to Barrow alright. I’ll send this ahead to the DCC up there and maybe you’ll get it.

Love you,

Peter

11/24/2000(???)

peter:

can’t write well but fuck if this isn’t the closest to a post office we’ve been in weeks. i’m bashed up bad but we’re both wrecked to hell. i know youre probably freaking out at how this went south and i am too. dont forget to take your medicine. this’ll be ten times worse if we’re both fucked up.

i miss you so much. i’m a lot more homesick than i thought i’d be but when i did these kinds of hunts when i was younger i didnt really care if i lived or died. hunting to feel something was more like it. weird how the years change you. or how you changed me. in a good way, i mean.

we’ve almost got the fucker. we almost had it last night but it doused the campfire and took out our last rations. it does this thing where you think it’s a coincidence and then it comes in the night and raises hell.

this trip is running late as shit. once i get back weve gotta do something. shut down the dcc for a bit and go fishing. gotta get this out of my head so i can get some real sleep. goddamn blair witch project bitch

—clay

December 18th, 2000

Clay,

I know I shouldn’t worry.

I really, really know I shouldn’t. I keep telling myself you’re alright, and that it’s a type red entity and if you two don’t stand a chance then I sure as hell don’t, not to mention that I haven’t been hunting since before my grad school days and for good reason. But I called the Barrow DCC and they say you all never arrived, and you know how I am. I can’t get it out of my head.

This is going to be a hell of a bad idea, but I’m going up there. Leaving Arthur in charge of the DCC, I’ll deal with the paperwork when I get back. Wondering if I can take a crossbow on a plane. Leaving this note here for you in case you get home before me. If I don’t find you I’ll come home.

Love you,

Peter

December 24th, 2000

This is Peter Whitteney, Clerk at the DCC of Fireside, Oregon, making a note for the record. I’ll be including all the correspondence between my partner and I leading up to these events in the file for context; my letter to him was sent back to Fireside unopened. A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I’ve always felt like writing is the best way to get all this out of my head.

I believe the last I made note of I was going up to Barrow. I could, indeed, bring a compound crossbow and 25 bolts on the plane. Brought a pistol with me too, along with the knowledge that I’m horrible at shooting. Landed in Anchorage and met the Clerk in town, who told me he hadn’t heard from them, and loaned me a truck. I thought to myself, it can’t be /completely/ impossible to find 2 Warders between here and northern Alaska. Good lord.

It was six hours to Fairbanks. Fairbanks is in the middle of Alaska. From Fairbanks, there’s a highway that runs 13 hours up to Prudhoe Bay, along the same shore as Barrow. I went to college in California, and it took me 12 hours to drive up from San Diego to Fireside when my parents died. Alaska is exceedingly large and I’m not sure why I didn’t absorb the implications of this. I started up the highway and 7 hours in stopped in Wiseman, which is on the edge of a large national park, during which I stopped for gas and I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

Now, I’ve never spoken about this before in any sort of Wayward document because it’s never been relevant, but I’m used to seeing things. I had my first psychotic episode when I was around 16. I’ve been admitted to my fair share of mental hospitals, although much less in recent years. The diagnosis is spotty; formally, I’m treated for schizophrenia, but the longer I live with it the more I think some other psychotic disorder might be just as possible. I suppose it doesn’t matter when it comes down to it.

I’m in my 30s now. I’ve been living with it for a very, very long time, long before I met Clay, and I think it’s safe to say I’m comfortable addressing and pulling myself out of the deeper enclaves of my mind now and again, but when you have a setup like the society, even when I grew up in the culture and was raised in a Wayward DCC and have a solid grasp on what abberants are abberants and what abberants are me, it’s easy to see how most of the time it’s best if I’m not out in the field. ‘Scio, Ergo Ago’ just doesn’t apply as well in my case. This was something my father was incredibly disappointed to learn.

But in this context, as I realized as I stood putting gas in the car, I was medicated. I’m on antipsychotics. I have been on antipsychotics for a very long time. I have regular things I see and hear that I’m used to. It dawned on me that maybe for once I know bullshit when I see it, and I really, really did not think that was bullshit, which segwayed perfectly into the mental dilemma that I’ve encountered many times before of wether or not I was correct in my assumption that it wasn’t bullshit or if I just had a /delusion/ that it wasn’t bullshit and it was, indeed, bullshit, which then brought me to examining the situation as I would in therapy, keeping in mind that my therapist knows nothing about Wayward and thinks I work as a park ranger, and I stood there for a moment, squinting at the pavement, horribly jetlagged, having an existential crisis in the parking lot of the 7/11, and then it attacked me and I knew it was not, in fact, bullshit. As it slammed my head onto the side of the truck and I sustained one hell of a concussion and felt somewhat relieved that the decision had been made for me.

It attacked quickly. It was all fur and bone, although I couldn’t seem to perceive it directly; extraordinarily large. As soon as I brought myself back around on the pavement it was gone again. Or ‘gone’. I scrambled up. Got into the truck. Took a second to do a deep breathing exercise, as one does in such a situation, I’m sure, and then I looked back outside. Nothing. It was the middle of the night. I started to think to myself, now Peter old boy, we’ve had a lot of episodes that start like something akin to this and never has it actually directly attacked us as opposed to just telling us to attack ourselves like an asshole. I looked at my cuts critically. Definitely looked like a wild animal. Oh, boy, I was not prepared for this.

And then, I remembered I was. I had my crossbow.

Again, it’s been a long time since I’ve been hunting. I was really holding onto the hope that I wasn’t lost in the sauce here. I figured, best case scenario this is actually an aberrant, worst case scenario I’m firing bolts into an empty parking lot in the middle of the night. Just as I loaded up the bow, the truck rocked to the left, and I knew for damn fucking sure I heard footsteps on the top of the truck. The noise wasn’t faint, it didn’t echo, and it wasn’t anything I’d heard before. Sounded like there was a bear up there. /Felt/ like there was a bear up there. Watched some shit fall off the passenger’s seat.

Carefully, I pulled back the sunroof so there was an opening about 3 inches wide. I figured, if the whole gimmick was making me not see the thing, maybe if I avoid looking at it it’ll stay where it fucking is. I tilted my head to the side, looked straight at the back of the truck, and sat the bow upright so the bolt stuck out. A moment later I heard a loud snarl, the sunroof smashed inwards, and I fired.

I must have hit it in the throat. I’ve never heard a screech like that. The truck rocked to the left, and I heard something fall to the ground like dead weight. I loaded another bolt into the barrel and fired down at it from the sunroof, but I shouldn’t have bothered. I could see it fully, then, laying on the asphalt next to the car. It was absolutely enormous, at least the size of a golf cart. I’ll attach some photos to this file. I fired a couple more bolts into it, mostly because I was shaken up at having somehow actually hit something I could not see after a little over two decades of periodic psychotic episodes, and then sat in the driver’s seat for a good five minutes, hands on the wheel, bleeding profusely with a large cryptid laying beside the truck, putting some additional serious consideration into whether or not I should admit myself to a mental hospital, because on one hand I loathe being hospitalized and mental facilities are a special hell in general, and on the other hand I most definitely just killed something. I probably would have been there for a few hours if Saul and Clay hadn’t left marks on the pavement pulling the van into the parking lot.

Clay has seen me in the throes of an episode one time before, around the time we met, when I was newly out of rehab with no idea of how to cope without 1. drinking or 2. causing myself some sort of bodily harm. I was convinced he wanted to kill me, as any completely rational and healthy person does, and had already shut down the DCC and locked myself in the upstairs apartment. He got worried and picked the lock, and would tell me later that when he stepped in the door I looked more terrified than he’d ever seen me, so much that he got the impression I was looking right through him. I’d never really known what he meant by that until the two of them got out of the car. They were speechless, covered in mud and blood and bandages, looking absolutely wild. My own speech didn’t come out coherent in the slightest, and after a few lines I apologized and said I was confused and tried again, after which it came out more logically but still incredibly disorganized. They still didn’t look like they knew what was happening.

As it turns out, this was what they had been following for a month and a half. This was what had been tormenting them. They were seeing it out of the corner of their eyes for weeks, kept attacking the van and their tents and camps, then got them lost in the wilderness at one point, apparently, before it snowed and they nearly died and crawled back to civilization, then spent /another/ week and a half chasing it through the woods in a van unable to sleep, absolutely beside themselves, and I shot it in a parking lot. They did not explain this to me just then. I put back the gas nozzle out and screwed the cap back on the gas tank. I asked if they needed gas, in a very jumbled fashion because I would not be able to speak in an ordered matter for the next few hours, and they did not respond, so I put the nozzle back in the slot. My glasses were cracked. Clay walked towards me and hugged me tight.

Now, it’s been a few days since then. We’re back in Oregon now. Clerk in Anchorage wasn’t too happy about the sunroof or the massive distorted monster prints in the aluminum top, but what can you do.

Mentally, I’m…alright. Not perfect. Since we got back a couple hours ago I’ve gotten my mind quiet enough I can function. The things that I’m seeing are much of the same I usually do, nothing new there. Had a lot of disorganized speech on the way back, and a few auditory hallucinations of the kind I usually get (distant cars honking, songs playing that aren’t playing, people talking about nothing constructive whatsoever, screaming, incredibly annoying beeping noises) and quite honestly probably shouldn’t have been driving, but the thing is that I’m faring much better than the other two. Saul barely spoke a word the entire way home. I almost think they’re being a bit dramatic, but I suppose if you haven’t experienced that sort of thing before, it’s harder to have a sense of awareness about what your mind is doing to you. Someday they will be able to look back at this and laugh.

Clay is…not in a good state, physically or mentally. A few broken ribs, cuts and gashes all over him. He’s still seeing things, and he’s convinced it’s in the house with us. It isn’t. It’s dead. I know it’s probably not a good idea to give him any of my prescriptions, but I gave him one of my sedatives from the medicine cabinet and he was out like a light. In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have given him an entire injection. The last time I had to use one it was one of the worst nights I’ve ever had with a psychotic episode, and I avoided using them for as long as possible due to the delusion they were full of tiny insect eggs (they were not, and conceptually I knew they were not, but at the same time it was quite the ordeal). I woke him up twenty minutes ago to get get him to drink some water, and needless to say he’s incredibly, /incredibly/ stoned. Poor thing. Gave me an opportunity to put a couple stitches in a deep gash on his arm, though. He just needs some rest now.

I had the raw pelt in the back of the van and knew for certain it was too detailed to be a hallucination, but I walked down to Arthur’s house with it just in case. He had no idea why the hell I was waking him up at this hour on Christmas eve, then backed his wheelchair down the hallway faster than I’ve ever seen him before. To be fair, it’s very large and has human hands as feet. I’ve got it laid out on the back porch for now. Hopefully no animals rip through the screen to go at it.

I’m…exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Trying to decide if I should share the bed with Clay or just let him have it to himself and take one of the cots in the DCC for the night. He’s definitely not going anywhere for the moment. We’re probably both going to sleep through Christmas at this rate, but to be entirely honest I’m just glad he’s home and in one piece. The bounty was $30,000. $15,000 for Clay and I and $15,000 for Saul, regardless. In Saul’s case, that’s enough to fix his van and get the carcass smell out.

That thing tore through my parka and ripped my sweater. Goddamn Blair Witch Project bitch.

Regards,

Peter

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