In pursuing and investigating unusual creatures we have found that there are three choices when confronted by what is supposed to be our quarry: make a great deal of noise to either scare it off or establish our dominance, remain terribly still and hope to be ignored, or flee. The decision is usually made instinctively, and quickly. This was no exception. As the rest of the Collossal Death Newt’s blue black bulk slid smoothly out of the sea and its mouth gaped at us, we ran. For fear of separation I scooped up Maxwell even though his nimble cats feet are quicker than mine, and tried to keep up with Harvey’s fluid scuttle.
Before we knew it we had reached the other side of this isle and pressed on across the narrow sandy spit to the next, on which we saw lights and smelled cooking meat. The resort was fully occupied and families ate, played and slept in a broad clearing ringed with chalets. We had no choice but to lead the beast into their midst as we bellowed at them to run.
The creature flattened trees and cabins under the weight of its low-slung body. Its locomotion appeared to confirm Maxwell’s newt thesis, although unfortunately we had little time to examine it in detail. Our fears about the former inhabitants of the first island were confirmed as it made a point of snapping up screaming holiday makers, or knocked them down with its long tongue and sucked them in over its teeth. From our selfish perspective the holiday camp gave us good cover and we were in the lead as we continued our escape, dashing from that island to the next.
The Death Newt’s progress was quite evident behind us – not only was it huge enough to be readily visible but the collapsing trees, buildings and panicked people scattering outwards pinpointed it perfectly. It seemed intent on eating every person in its path. While it was busy we hopped across to yet another island and fell to the ground for a moment’s respite. Harvey still bore most of our equipment in the saddlebags strapped across his shell. Several of the bags were torn and others had been left behind in our scramble, but we still had the bulk of the photographic kit, specimen jars, and food. Our rather feeble store of weapons – a rifle, a pistol and some caving explosives were also intact. How I rued the butchering of our armaments budget.
Most importantly the radio was still present, and dry. With some haste I hailed Bob. His voice was a tonic. He had returned to the mainland and reported what little he could to the authorities. They were now in the important governmental stage of dithering. Meanwhile, yet more smoke was visible rising from the Holiday Islands and its population was rapidly diminishing. I explained that we were now ahead of the monster – a wholly undesirable outcome and were in urgent need of assistance. Bob was quite clear that he wouldn’t land anywhere near the creature, but he would come and fetch us – if we made it alive to the Petits Dansons island, the closest to Mongolith.
There was only forward (or South as the maps will have it) left to us and even as we set off we could hear the monstrous newt’s earth shaking tread behind us. Our expedition had degenerated into a blind race across islands and splashing through waist-deep water. It was constantly on our heels, except for whenever we passed through a holiday village or hotel resort. Then the behemoth would ignore us for a few minutes while it hunted down the luckless vacationers with its terrible flickering tongue. I soon gave up stopping to photograph the carnage. As Maxwell pointed out with the grip of his claws, those brief distractions were all that kept us ahead.
By the sixth hour of our flight Maxwell and I were beyond exhaustion and had taken to clinging onto Harvey’s panniers as he deftly wove through the foliage. Evening was preparing to condemn us to night when we burst through a final stand of shrubs. Before us there was only open water, and perhaps only a mile away – the mainland.
Quite why its prospect seemed any more secure than the ravaged islands I do not know. The amphibious terror would be equally at home mangling the thriving shore of Mongolith – but the port-town positively hummed with safety. I would of course wish to be a very long way inland, but nonetheless… to be away from the sea outweighed even my desire for a cup of tea.
The end – Part 5 coming soon….