All the Cool Monsters At Once


James Alan Gardner


Ogopogo was the beginning.

He rose from Lake Okanagan at dawn on the first of May. He was seen by pretty much everyone in Kelowna, B.C.—it's hard to miss a bright green water-snake who's half the length of a football field. The monster emerged from the lake in City Park, then squiggled onto Highway 97 North (otherwise known as Harvey Street) and slurped straight through the middle of town.

Relatively speaking, Ogopogo was well-behaved. He ate a few squirrels that got in the way, and a yappy Pomeranian who didn't know when to shut up. But the snake didn't touch any people. He didn't do much property damage either...considering. When you're the size of a railway train and move in snaky curves, it's hard not to sideswipe cars as you slither down a main street. But the monster didn't go out of his way to cause trouble. He was clearly on some schedule, and didn't waste time going all Godzilla on the local populace.

The people of Kelowna stayed well-behaved too. Ogopogo was a city mascot: a tourist attraction, even if most people hadn't believed in him. Besides, back in 1950 someone talked the B.C. government into protecting Ogopogo under the provincial Fisheries Act. Sure, that was only a publicity stunt, but it was still illegal to shoot or otherwise endanger the monster. Best to leave the giant snake alone. People stood back and took photos, then scooped up souvenir dollops of slime that fell off the creature as it passed.

Within minutes, the photos were on the web and the slime samples were on eBay.

* * *

The Kelowna office of the RCMP called Vancouver to ask for instructions. Mounties in Vancouver assumed their Kelowna colleagues were playing a joke; but after seeing the monster on somebody's webcam, and listening to feverish news reports from the Kelowna TV station, Vancouver RCMP did the sensible thing: they phoned Ottawa and said, "This is a federal matter."

Hours passed as bureaucrats fought over who did and didn't have to deal with the situation. By the time the smoke cleared, responsibility had been handed to a committee consisting of General Richard C. Briggs (Canadian Armed Forces), Paulette Leblanc (Deputy Minister of State), and a nondescript man from CSIS named Mr. Smith.

They were just getting together to discuss Ogopogo when a boatful of pirate ghosts appeared near Oak Island.

* * *

Oak Island lies off the southern coast of Nova Scotia...just a tiny piece of land, but it holds one of Canada's biggest mysteries. In the middle of the island, someone long ago dug a "money pit": a booby-trapped hole that may or may not contain buried treasure. Stories say that a famous pirate—maybe Blackbeard or Captain Kidd—buried tons of stolen loot in the pit. Nobody knows for sure, because no one has ever dug to the bottom. The sea always floods in first, mixing with the soil to form a quicksand that's killed a lot of treasure hunters. Other diggers have been killed in strange accidents, and even in fights over who'll get the gold once it's found. All these deaths have made some people think the treasure is guarded by a curse. Only a few trinkets have ever been recovered; but every few years, someone else tries an excavation. Who can resist pirate gold?

The island is private property, but sightseers sit in boats offshore and look at the pit with binoculars. Imagine their surprise when they saw a ghostly ship, flying the Jolly Roger, rise out of the hole like a submarine surfacing. The ship righted itself, then sailed across the meadow surrounding the pit—as easily as if the ship were on the sea. When the pirates reached the ocean, they headed west through Mahone Bay.

Dozens of boaters saw the ship. They took pictures of its tattered sails and the crew of skeletons walking its deck. Someone phoned the Weekly World News and said the ship was just like Pirates of the Caribbean. The editor of the News was giddy with excitement, till he found out the story was true. Sadly he said, "We can't publish the truth. It would set a bad precedent." Instead they published a piece on Bat-Boy marrying a 900-pound woman with Elvis as the best man.

* * *

The committee of Briggs, Leblanc, and Smith weren't amused by the sudden appearances of Ogopogo in the west and pirate skeletons in the east.

"Now Quebec will want monsters too," said Briggs.

Leblanc glared at him.

"I'm just saying," Briggs told her. "This sort of thing always gets out of hand. Alberta will want three monsters, Ontario will want four, Newfoundland will ask for subsidies because it doesn't have any..."

Mr. Smith cleared his throat. "Isn't the more serious problem what these monsters want? If it was just Ogopogo, we could probably keep him happy by airdropping a few tons of fish. But what do we do with phantom pirates?"

"Give them phantom pieces of eight?" Leblanc suggested.

"Hard to come by," Smith replied. "And who knows what phantom cannons might do to maritime shipping?"

"The military has real cannons," said General Briggs. "We can blast the pirates and bomb Ogopogo."

"You can't bomb Ogopogo," said Leblanc. "He's an endangered species. And he's popular. This committee isn't authorized to do anything that would hurt the government in opinion polls. Besides, Tourism B.C. would scream blue murder. Do you know how much money they make off Ogopogo each year? Ogopogo dolls, Ogopogo postcards, Ogopogo bumper stickers..."

"Tourism B.C. shouldn't complain," said Smith. "Thousands of people are rushing to see Ogopogo even as we speak. Every hotel from Victoria to Trail will soon be full. If nothing else, every major news service in the world is bound to send reporters."

"We'll bomb the reporters too," said Briggs. "That's what I call a win-win scenario."

Leblanc glared at him again.

"Neither the snake nor the pirates are causing immediate trouble," said Smith, "apart from traffic jams of gawkers trying to get a peek. But I worry about the big picture."

"What big picture?" asked Leblanc.

"Why these supernatural creatures are coming out of hiding," said Smith. "And which monster's going to show up next."

* * *

Next was the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay. He woke.

If you thought Ogopogo was big, consider a man made of stone who can be seen from fifty kilometers away. When he got to his feet, a lot of people took notice. On the plus side, he soon waded into Lake Superior. On the minus side, he was big enough that his head stayed above water, even with his feet on the bottom of the lake.

The giant spent a few minutes washing off the moss he'd acquired since the last Ice Age, then he clambered out of the water and headed west along the Trans-Canada.

* * *

In Ottawa, General Briggs growled, "We can't take any chances. I say we blast the Wawa Goose before it gets up too."

"Finally," said Leblanc, "something I can agree with. All in favour?"

* * *

The first sasquatch was sighted north of Regina. Tourism B.C. cried foul: "Everyone knows the sasquatch is native to the Rockies. A sasquatch in Saskatchewan must be fake." Alberta supported B.C. until another sasquatch was sighted in Medicine Hat; then Travel Alberta told Tourism B.C. to go pound sand. The Medicine Hat sasquatch was immediately nominated to represent Alberta in the senate and invited to be Grand Marshall of the Calgary Stampede.

More Bigfoots showed up all over the west: one riding the ferry from Nanaimo to the mainland; one hitching a ride south from Fort McMurray; a male-female couple crossing University Bridge in Saskatoon; more in Moose Jaw, and Brandon, and Buffalo Jump.

Within a day, you couldn't drive the Trans-Canada anywhere in the prairies without seeing big hairy men, women, and children trudging eastward, either singly or in packs. Often, they had scruffy dogs trailing behind them, and behind the dogs, anthropology professors frantically taking notes.

In response to the west's outbreak of Bigfoots, Northern Ontario went wild with Windigos. Kenora (called by some "The Windigo Capital of the World") had a parade of the shaggy white beasts slouching along 2nd Street South: two dozen of them leaving frozen footprints in their wake. Buildings on either side of the street were quickly covered in ice. Parked cars got buried under snowdrifts two meters deep...which was uncommon for May, though not unprecedented.

More Windigos trekked through Sudbury; the intense chill of their bodies opened up cracks in the Big Nickel. Some emerged from the uranium mines outside Elliot Lake—they were just as cold as other Windigos, but had an awesome radioactive glow that made them easy to track by helicopter, even at night. Others were reported in Timmins, White River, and Kapuskasing: some flying on the wind, some swimming down streams, some surrounded by their own personal blizzards.

Considering that Windigos are famous for cannibalism, photographers switched to telephoto lenses, and anthropology departments sent grad students instead of professors. "But we have no reports of violence," Deputy Leblanc told Briggs and Smith. "Creatures that spread ice and snow aren't popular, but we're talking about Northern Ontario. Those people can handle low temperatures; they just lock themselves inside and listen to Shania Twain albums."

Briggs said, "We could still bomb the monsters, just to be sure."

Leblanc, as usual, glared at him. "Does our air force even have bombers? Or are you just going to toss sticks of dynamite out of a Hercules?"

"What bothers me," said Smith, "is why the Windigos aren't eating people. Cannibalism is a Windigo's standard M.O. All our profilers agree. So if legendary cannibals have suddenly changed their ways...why? What's going on?"

Leblanc said, "One of the sasquatches ate a cat in Portage la Prairie."

Briggs scoffed, "Everybody eats cats in Portage la Prairie. Cats are called 'Manitoba Chicken.'"

"Eating a cat is not the same as eating people," said Smith. "I'm grateful no human has been hurt, but it makes me worry when a leopard changes its spots."

"Leopards?" Leblanc asked. "We don't have leopards in Canada."

Smith said grimly, "Not yet."

* * *

Quebec's first monster was a loup-garou in Chicoutimi. At dusk on May 3, she was a middle-aged woman drinking coffee at the Tim Horton's in Place Saguenay; then the full moon rose, and the woman sprouted fur. Her nose grew, her ears turned pointy, and her fingers mutated into claws. Ten more seconds and she was three meters tall: a giant wolf-thing who threw back her head and howled before sprinting off into the night.

Shortly afterward, a bunch of Goth teenagers showed up and ordered the same kind of coffee.

* * *

"So this woman," said Briggs, "just turned into a werewolf..."

"A loup-garou," Leblanc corrected him.

"What's the difference?"

"Bill 101."

"Fair enough. So this woman turned into a loup-garou and just ran out of town without hurting anybody?"

"She mauled a few people," Leblanc said. "One man in particular—"

Mr. Smith interrupted. "CSIS files indicate the man was wearing a Maple Leafs cap."

"Oh," said Leblanc. "Then forget I mentioned it."

"But the point still stands," Smith said. "Why didn't she act like a normal werewolf—"

"Loup-garou," Leblanc said.

"Sorry. Why didn't she act like a normal loup-garou? Why didn't she go on a rampage? Why aren't the Windigos eating people? Why is Ogopogo simply slithering along the highway as fast as he can go?"

"He's still on the highway?" Leblanc asked.

"He took 97 north to the Trans-Canada. Now he's heading east. Look at the map."

Briggs, Leblanc, and Smith were sitting in a small command centre in the East Block of the Parliament buildings. Like any good command centre, it had a map on the wall with flag-pins stuck into it. Each pin marked the known position of a monster, colour-coded according to type: blue for big things (like Ogopogo and the Sleeping Giant), red for habitual killers (like the Windigos and the loup-garou), black for undead (like the pirate ghosts), and green for "weird but harmless" (like the sasquatches). The country was beginning to look like a rainbow pincushion.

"Have you noticed," said Briggs, "that everything out west is moving east, and everything in the east is moving west?"

"You think they're trading places?" Leblanc asked.

"Or meeting in the middle," said Mr. Smith. "Right around Winnipeg."

Leblanc said, "What would monsters do in Winnipeg?"

Smith replied, "What does anybody do in Winnipeg?"

"Uhhh...I'll get back to you."

* * *

Newfoundland finally got on the board with fifty headless fishermen. Apparently, decapitation is a major occupational hazard in the fisheries: in story after story, someone falls overboard and gets sliced through the propellers before anyone can do anything. Sometimes, the body floats and the head sinks. Sometimes, the body disappears but the head gets caught in the nets. One way or another, head and body get separated...which is why every village in the province has a story about some poor guy whose body was recovered but whose head was lost, or vice versa. "And now on stormy nights, the headless fisherman wanders the shore, waiting for his head to float back to him."

Hence the fifty headless fisherman who appeared in St. John's harbour and wandered into town. They stank of the sea, they were wet and bloody, and most had been nibbled by fish during their time underwater...but they were greeted with cheers and applause. "Finally!" said someone. "The Rock's got monsters of its own."

Taverns all over the city opened their doors in case the deceased wanted to wet their (truncated) throats after so long in the deep. But the fishermen just staggered zombie-like through the streets till they reached the Trans-Canada. There they turned west, and joined the great supernatural migration toward the centre of the country.

* * *

"Maybe it's a protest march," Leblanc suggested. "The monsters plan to put on a political demonstration."

"Why?" Smith asked.

"Why does anyone in Canada go on protest marches? To demand better health care." Leblanc nodded to herself. "Yes. It makes sense. Those headless fishermen obviously need good medical treatment. And the Windigos...they probably only eat human flesh because of some vitamin deficiency. Yes, that must be it. These monsters are coming out of the woodwork as a cry for help."

Smith looked at her. "You honestly think they're marching for better health care?"

Leblanc's face fell. "No. But I understand protest marches. I don't understand monsters."

"Maybe the monsters intend to fight each other," Briggs suggested. "They're gathering for a great big battle. Or a sports tournament. East versus west...English versus versus dead. Maybe they won't choose sides till they actually meet. Ogopogo and the Sleeping Giant will be captains, and they'll take turns choosing players—"

Smith interrupted. "What kind of sport can you play with headless fishermen?"

"Luge. Having no brains is a plus in Luge. And bobsledding too. Maybe the monsters will hold a full Winter Olympics. The loup-garou could probably speed-skate on her claws. The sasquatches can play hockey, and those Windigos are probably tremendous skiers."

"Skiing?" Smith asked. "In Winnipeg? In May?"

"Windigos make their own snow," said Briggs.

"In Winnipeg, they'll have to make their own hills too."

"You never heard of cross-country?"

"Stop arguing," Leblanc told the two men. "If we're sure these monsters are heading for Winnipeg, we need a plan for what to do when they all come together."

"Bomb Winnipeg!" said Briggs. "Then blame it on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers!"

Leblanc buried her face in her hands.

* * *

In Toronto, hundreds of albino alligators poured up from the sewers. Nobody paid much attention, but you'll see the gators show up in a dozen American TV shows that were filming around the city.

* * *

Up in Whitehorse, a flaming Sam McGee was seen walking hand in hand with Hila, an Inuit ice spirit. (Gives new meaning to the phrase "polar opposites.") Other Inuit spirits were spotted across the Territories, along with half-human walruses, talking polar bears, and seals that never lost their legs.

Around Ungava Bay, a flock of thirty million ookpiks—the stuffed toys, not real arctic owls—flew over the region in a gigantic cloud that darkened the sky for hours and left the tundra littered with fluffy droppings. One observer said, "They were very very creepy. But cute."

* * *

Outside Moncton, people started a vigil at Magnetic Hill. It was, after all, New Brunswick's most famous oddity. No one was sure what kind of monster would show up there—maybe a giant horseshoe magnet would rise up out of the earth, or the entire hill would sprout legs and walk away—but whatever happened, Magnetic Hill was considered the province's best bet for joining Canada's supernatural shenanigans.

As it turned out, however, New Brunswick's first leap into the unexplained was the Coleman Frog: a giant frog on display in a Fredericton museum. Supposedly, the frog was real—grown to a meter and a half wide by daily drinks of buttermilk, but accidentally killed in 1885 and kept on display ever since. Visitors to the museum often remarked how much the frog looked like a not-very-good papier-mâché model...but sometimes life imitates art, doesn't it? On the evening of May 4, the frog gave a mighty croak, smashed out of its glass display case, and hopped away into the darkness.

New Brunswick's legislative assembly met in emergency session to discuss if they really wanted the province to be famous for a big fake frog. They decided no. In fact, the legislature embarked on a new tourism campaign announcing that New Brunswick was the one place in Canada that didn't have monsters: YOUR MARITIME HAVEN OF PEACE AND SANITY.

Then a giant horseshoe magnet rose out of the earth at Magnetic Hill. It waddled off westward, using the two bottom ends of its horseshoe as legs.

* * *

The people of PEI have always denied that Anne of Green Gables was a vampire. When others suggest that Anne strongly resembles an unaging demon who's taken the form of a spunky young girl in order to lull victims into a false sense of security, experts from Charlottetown point out that Anne actually did age over the course of several books and not once was she depicted as lusting for human blood. The province has three dozen lawyers on call twenty-four hours a day, ready to fly anywhere in the world to sue anyone who even speculates that Anne might have been a loathsome creature of evil whose famous pigtails were actually tentacles that could hold strong men in an unbreakable grip while Anne tore out their throats.

So it is mere happenstance that the suspiciously sweet-faced Anne materialized from mist on the front step of Green Gables precisely at midnight on May 4. We should draw no conclusions from the fact that she immediately pounced on an after-hours tourist and dragged him into the shadows from which he emerged, much paler, a few minutes later. It's only coincidence that a giant red-haired bat with pigtails was seen taking wing from the Green Gables property immediately afterward, flying (of course) westward.

Anne didn't appear because she was a monster. She's a legend. There's a difference.

* * *

On the morning of May 5, Briggs, Leblanc, and Smith were all late in getting to their command centre, thanks to an outbreak of urban fantasy all around Ottawa. The Wild Hunt was raging down 417, goblins terrorized motorists on Riverside Drive, and the Unseelie Court had held some kind of feast in the National Arts Centre before trashing the place and heading west.

"The prime minister is very displeased," said Leblanc. "Sussex Drive was invaded by Faerie Black Dogs and the PM's lawn is a mess." She paused. "On the bright side, Rideau Hall got visited by pixies. They did quite a nice job repairing the governor-general's shoes."

"Don't worry about the Faeries," Smith said. "Most of them are already moving fast toward Manitoba. The others will presumably leave once they've had their fun." He looked at the others. "Anything else to report?"

"The Sleeping Giant reached Winnipeg," Briggs replied. "Then he turned north to a place called Grand Beach Provincial Park. It's on the southeast shore of Lake Winnipeg. The giant has settled down there like he's waiting for something. Sasquatches are in the area too, and we expect Manipogo to join up with them by late afternoon."

"Manipogo?" asked Leblanc.

"Another snaky lake monster," Briggs said. "This one's from Lake Manitoba. Pretty much an exact copy of Ogopogo, though Travel Manitoba denies the rip-off."

"They would, wouldn't they," said Smith. "Although...what if Ogopogo is male and Manipogo is female? If they're getting together to breed..."

"Bomb 'em," said Briggs. "Bomb 'em now."

Ignoring the general, Leblanc said, "We have another problem. The prime minister's office has received an official complaint from the American embassy. They're annoyed that Canada has monsters but the U.S. doesn't. They say we've violated NAFTA."

"Are there monsters anywhere else in the world?" Smith asked.

Leblanc made a face. "There've been claims from Loch Ness, Transylvania, the Bermuda Triangle, and several other places that depend on superstitious idiots for tourist dollars. As far as we can tell though, they're all just hoaxes—people dressed up, or pictures faked with Photoshop. Canada is the only country with real verifiable monsters."

"So why does the weirdness stop at the Canadian border?" asked Smith. "Sasquatches, for example—they're supposed to live all over the Rockies, right? So why haven't any shown up in Washington state...or Oregon or California?"

Briggs muttered, "Maybe because the U.S. Air Force isn't so stingy with bombs."

Leblanc sighed. "I've spoken with the prime minister and he's prepared to authorize a single bomb: to be dropped on the monsters if and when they all assemble at Lake Winnipeg, if and when it seems they're doing something that threatens the country. But all three of us have to agree the bomb is necessary."

"Yes!" said Briggs, pumping his fist in victory. "I'll call Comox and tell them to pull our bomb out of mothballs."

* * *

All that day, ticket-takers at Grand Beach Provincial Park stayed busy with a steady stream of incoming "guests." Half were supernatural: the monsters we've already mentioned plus phantom hitchhikers, platoons of flying witches, numerous dinosaurs that avoided extinction, and a few obscure oddities like the Tobacco Monster—a leafy-green beast from Ontario tobacco country that spits stinging juice into the eyes of anyone working in the tobacco harvest. None of these eerie visitors were charged admission. How could a ticket-taker stand in front of Ogopogo (or even worse, Anne of Green Gables with a tiny drop of blood on her pinafore) and say, "That'll be five dollars please."

Besides, the park raked in oodles of money from non-supernatural guests: people who'd heard Grand Beach was Canada's Bizarreness Central and who wanted to see the freak show firsthand. They couldn't get close to the monsters—the Windigos sat on the edge of the gathering, blowing subzero gale-force winds at unwanted spectators—but people could still stand beside any park road and watch outlandish creatures arrive. Ghosts. Woolly mammoths. Shapeshifting animals. Walking corpses. Hundreds of beasts from aboriginal tales: some comical, some talkative, some fierce.

A few monsters even spent time with the onlookers. Coyote chatted up several good-looking women, and Crow tried to pick spectators' pockets. The Oak Island pirates let children walk the plank for ten bucks a head (provided the price was paid in loonies, which looked enough like gold doubloons to keep the pirates happy). Several witches opened fortune-telling booths, and the loup-garou agreed to bite a few Goths in exchange for raw meat.

Everyone had a pleasant day. None of the park-goers realized that the Canadian Armed Forces had transported their one and only bomb from Comox to Winnipeg in a rattletrap CC-130. By nightfall, an air crew was only awaiting orders before making a bombing run.

* * *

"Ready anytime you give the okay," said Briggs.

"There's a large civilian presence on the ground," said Mr. Smith. "You can't bomb them."

"The monsters have kept their camp separate from spectators. Drop the bomb in the middle of that camp, and we'll get all the beasties without touching anyone else."

"But not yet," said Leblanc. "The monsters haven't done anything to deserve being bombed."

"Those pirates were drinking rum in a provincial park," said Briggs, "and not in an authorized camping area."

"We need a better excuse than that," said Leblanc.

"The sasquatches don't have their dogs on a leash."

"Not good enough."

"The Faerie Lords are hunting without a license."

"What are they hunting?"

"Other Faerie Lords."

Leblanc scowled. "Faerie Lords aren't protected by Manitoba game laws." She stared at the command centre's map. All the flag-pins were crammed into a tiny region on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. "There's an obvious potential for trouble, but we aren't justified in bombing all those creatures unless something truly bad happens."

* * *

Something truly bad happened.

An anthropology grad student who'd been drinking rum with the pirates decided to sneak into the main part of the monsters' camp. His intention was to record any "folk music" the sasquatches might sing around their cook-fires. Twice the drunken grad student was driven off by Windigo blizzards. The third time, he got in his car and drove into the camp, pressing forward despite furious snowstorms sent by the Windigos to force him back. The car got inside the Windigo defenses, where it was immediately seized by the pull of the giant horseshoe magnet. The grad student jumped from the car as soon as he realized he'd lost control...but the car continued faster and faster toward the magnet until it accidentally sideswiped the flaming Sam McGee. In accordance with urban legend, the car instantly exploded. Neither Sam nor anyone else was injured, but the thunderous burst of flames was seen by military helicopters spying in the night.

* * *

"An explosion in the camp!" Briggs cried. "The monsters are going on the attack!"

"We don't know that," Leblanc said.

"No," Smith agreed. "But can we afford to take a chance? Those monsters could kill thousands of innocents under cover of darkness."

"They could be eating people even as we speak," said Briggs. "Human meat is the new Manitoba Chicken."

"We have watchers in the area," Leblanc said. "Can't they see what's happening?"

"No. The Windigos have spread a blizzard over the entire park."

In fact, the Windigos had created the blizzard to put out flames from the explosion. Unfortunately, all of Grand Beach was hidden by the clouds of snow. Briggs, Leblanc, and Smith had no idea what was happening inside the clouds. As Briggs had suggested, the monsters might be eating all the people camped nearby. In fact, nothing sinister was going on, but the command centre in Ottawa didn't know that.

"We have no choice," said Smith. "Better safe than sorry."

He and Briggs turned to Leblanc. She looked unhappy, but she nodded. "All right. Drop the bomb."

* * *

The plane was already in the air. It had been circling the area, waiting for the go-ahead. Now it changed to a course that would pass over the monsters' camp in five minutes.

On the ground, sasquatches fought through the blizzard to see if the anthropology student was all right. Headless fishermen did the same for nearby campers caught in the sudden storm.

Four minutes...

The Sleeping Giant picked up the student's car and giant magnet (which were now locked magnetically together). The giant yanked the two apart and gently placed the car back into the nearest parking lot.

Three minutes...

The pirates handed out rum to warm up anyone caught in the blizzard. For those who didn't want liquor, the witches brewed up tea.

Two minutes...

Ookpiks surrounded cold people with their fuzzy bodies, like blankets. Anne of Green Gables offered to hug people too, but no one took her up on the invitation.

One minute...

With the fires now out, the Windigos let their blizzard subside. The skies cleared. The loup-garou (who had superb night vision) pointed up at the approaching plane.

Thirty seconds...

Then suddenly, zoom! The UFOs arrived.

They came at light-speed from all over Canada: from Gander, Shag Harbour, Summerside, Miramichi; from Rimouski, Shawinigan, Deep River, Port Hope; from Falcon Lake, Swift Current, Camrose, and Suffield; from Duncan and Dawson, Yellowknife and Alert. Some had bits of winter wheat clinging to their bottoms after making crop circles. Some had gill nets slung over them, and lobster pots dangling below. Some were scraped from where they'd brushed against mountains in Jasper; others had dents from collisions with the Cape Breton highlands or bumpy landings on the Canadian Shield. Many were still wet from leaving their underwater lairs: Atlantic, Pacific, Hudson Bay, the Great Lakes. All were as bright as the Northern glistening and perfect as an ice surface after the Zamboni.

The silver spaceships (now surrounded by a yellow haze like the sun) stopped directly over the assembled monsters. Ogopogo raised his massive head and said to the anthropology student, "They're taking us away. It's your world now."

"Don't go!" cried the student. "I still have so many questions..."

"I'm sure you do," said Ogopogo. "We're made of questions. But not answers. Good-bye."

The shores of the lake exploded with light. To this day, witnesses can't agree if the light was like a bomb going off or hundreds of alien transport beams dragging thousands of monsters up into spaceships. But when the light faded, nothing was left behind but people staring into the dark.

* * *

Epilogue: Two years later, something large and green was spotted briefly in Lake Okanagan. Stories sprang up that Ogopogo hadn't really left with the UFOs; at the last moment, he slipped into Lake Winnipeg instead. Cautiously traveling only at night, he'd made his way home.

Sasquatches have also been sighted from time to time. And ghosts. And decapitated fishermen waiting for their heads to float in.

Maybe those Goths who were bitten by the loup-garou now turn into wolves on full-moon nights.

Or maybe those are all just myths.