By Tara Roberts For inland360.com
I grab Jamies arm and point a mittened hand at the thing Ive spotted in the forest, about 50 yards beyond us: A tiny green tent with a slender, brown-furred creature huddled beneath a tree beside it. Do you see that?
She glances out. Please dont let it be another angry moose, she says, and when she sees its not, she shrugs. Must be skiers or something.
No, look. Next to the tent.
The dog? What about it?
Thats not a dog, I say. Im sure its not. Its curled up on the ground, but not the way a dog would be, nose on paws. Its lying on its side, its furry back to us, the clear shape of shoulders and tucked head.
Jamie doesnt speak, just veers away from the creek weve been following and starts through the trees toward the camp. I follow.
As we approach I see the creature is sleeping, its chest gently rising and falling. It reminds me of how my son sleeps, tucked up in a little ball. A small blue blanket pads the creature from the snow, but it hasnt covered itself from the biting cold. It is covered in silky, coffee-brown hair.
Jamie turns to me, her eyebrows scrunched together in something between concern and fear. Someone brought a chimp into the forest?
A hideous smell reaches us then sour and sharp, like sick dogs in a hot car. It doesnt seem to be coming from the creature, but surrounding the whole camp in a cloud. I gag and Jamie claps her hands over her mouth.
Something is wrong about this, she says, her voice muffled by mittens. Everything is wrong about this.
I hesitate it still feels strange to intrude on someones camp but Jamie steps closer. About 10 feet from the creature she freezes and waves frantically. When I reach her, I can see why.
Its not a chimp. It he is not anything Ive ever seen before. Not in a zoo, not in pictures. Hes a primate, with short, knobby fingers and toes. The thick hair covers his body, even the tops of his feet and his face, except for the wide mouth and closed eyes. He cradles a corner of the blanket against his rounded stomach. He sighs in his sleep.
Jamie and I stare at each other. Neither of us care anymore about the stench or the cold, or anything but the creature. Sasquatch. Bigfoot. A baby.
I notice, then, the thin chain tangled in the hair on his neck. It wraps around the tree, fastened with a thick lock.
Whoevers camp this is, they must be coming back soon, Jamie says.
I nod, unable to stop watching the Sasquatch. Are you going to record? Take pictures?
She pauses, and I realize shes already holding her phone in her hand. I dont know.
I understand. The story of the century is curled at our feet, but its so vulnerable. So small.
One picture, I say. With the camp in the background. Make sure its clear.
Jamie nods. Whatever we decide on later, for now we have to document what weve found before we do what I know we have to do.
To be continued next week Part 6: The Rescue
Roberts is a writer and mom who lives and works in Moscow and is very slowly pursuing her masters degree in English. She can be reached at email@example.com.