.Night Shift

Not just another fish tale

I’m crammed into the back of my van in North Petaluma, dozing to the buzz of scanner chatter, when the evening’s first call comes in. I snap awake.

“North Bay Cryptid Watch. What’s your emergency?”

“Vixen, man, that you? It’s Bob, down in Black Point. Somethin’ huge just swam by my boat and went up the river at a clip. Wasn’t no fish; I seen tent-a-kleez and a big, red eye …”

Ugh, it’s Fish Man Bob, with his nightly tale of fantastic weird-ass-ery. “Pop a lude, dude, and quit taking up my bandwidth,” I snap, ending the call. Every evening’s the same with that freak. I don’t want fantasy. I want hard cryptid data.

Fifteen minutes later, a pulsating blip lights up the incident screen and a voice crackles on the radio.

“Vick, this is Petaluma PD dispatch. Henry One’s on assignment and we need your eyes. Incident at the Washington Street bridge.”

I hit some buttons and hear a whiz as my drone levitates off the van’s roof overhead. “Copy that, Petaluma PD. David 6 is inbound.”

I get calls from local police, SWAT, even National Guard, all the time. NBCW is an important local operation. Professionalism is the name of the game. I rub them; they rub me. We rub each other all over and things get done.

Scanner chatter starts up in earnest. Two cars went over the side of the Washington Street bridge and are floating in the river … a crowd is gathered along the promenade … someone is yelling about enormous tentacles waving in the air.

The monitor clicks on; David 6 is on scene. I watch the live feed. Yep, it’s just like they said. Holy crap. What the hell? I dial dispatch. “David 6 is live.”

“Confirming visual,” comes the response. “Two cars floating in the river, a crowd of people screaming from the riverbank. And … uh … seaweed? The cars are covered in seaweed. Maybe a wave washed them into the drink.”

“Uh, yeah,” I say. “Must have been a freak wave. And that King Tide last week could have pushed seaweed up from the Bay.”

“Roger that. We have frogmen and an ambulance en route. Petaluma PD over and out.”

I look at the monitor and notice the tentacle things—I mean seaweed—are gone now. A few more button clicks and the video feed turns off as David 6 heads back home.

Another strange but oddly logical local mishap. One of … hundreds. A few minutes later there’s a whir overhead as David 6 lands on the roof. I nod off. The second call of the night comes in.

“North Bay Cryptid Watch. What’s your emergency?”

“Vicky, man, that you? It’s Bob, in Black Point… that thing came back down the river; it hooked my boat with a tent-a-klee. Oh shit, two more! HELP! I’m takin’ on water. It’s got me! BOAT GOIN’ DOWN!”

“Keep your aquatic fantasies to yourself, freak!” I snap. “Only thing drowning tonight is my patience in your bullshit!” CLICK. Dude must be ultra-starved for attention. Never pulled that level of … desperation … before.

I sigh and double check the door lock. I keep a crossbow and a baseball bat in the van; you never know. Bob’s not the only freak in the North Bay. I hear from others all the time.

Half an hour later, the scanner crackles. Something about boat wreckage and a floater in Black Point. I shake my head. How come Bob didn’t phone in something of actual importance, like that? Then I smile. Hey, if I’m lucky, maybe he hit a rock and it’s him! Then I won’t have to listen to his bullshit ever again.

I lean back in my chair and close my eyes. Six hours till sunup. All these years and I’ve never confirmed an actual Bigfoot yet. Fuck me. But who knows? Maybe tonight’s the night.


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