Geelong Advertiser, August 23rd, 2017: Reports of infamous roaming big cats in You Yangs
Reports have cropped up again of big cats prowling the local area. Over the past twenty years, there have been numerous individuals claiming that they have seen the mysterious black cats. The individual, Nathan Hawthorne, claims he was climbing the You Yangs when across the valley on another cliffside he spotted the creature. His description, that of a cat roughly the size of a German Shepherd, match that of other similar reports across the state. So far, no substantial evidence has surfaced confirming the existence of this big cats.
Officer Whitcombe didn’t know what she expected. She had parked off Big Rock Road and was waiting for the ‘expert’. In the distance, she could see a red Ford Focus. It looked to be about ten years old. She fully expected the car to be a family, heading out to the You Yangs with their kids. She had often been taken hiking against her will in these hills as a child. As the Ford Focus came closer she spotted the two men sitting in the car. Her suspicions that one of these two might be the experts were soon confirmed when the car pulled up beside her.
‘Officer Sara Whitcombe?’ the driver asked.
She nodded. The driver nodded in turn and drove off the paved road to find a car park in the dusty area that could barely be called a car park. The two gentlemen parked the car and made their way to her on foot. The driver was an older bloke, with grey hair around the sides of his head and a large bald patch atop his head. He wore a loose blue polo shirt and khaki shorts. He wore a backpack with one of those tubes that are used for drinking protruding from it. The shorts had a dozen pockets. He reached into one of the pockets and produced a tube of sunscreen. He proceeded to lather his arms, legs, and face as he approached. An odd manoeuvre as it was a cool eighteen degree Celsius. It was also the middle of October.
The other gentlemen was a peculiar sight indeed. He dressed like a noir detective. He wore a striped, blue and grey three-piece suit. He even wore a beige trench coat. Though it should be noted that none of this ensemble was fitted to him. The vest was far too tight, bulging slightly between each button. The jacket was just a touch too big and hung loosely around his wire-thin physique. His pants were a touch too long and had become frayed at the back, presumably from being dragged along the ground. At least his shoes were sensible as he had chosen a pair of black and white runners.
The bald man extended a hand in greeting to Sara. She took his hand and shook it firmly but briefly. His hands were clammy, though whether that was from the sunscreen or his own perspiration she couldn’t tell. The bald man had already begun to perspire despite the relative cold. After they shook hands, he introduced himself.
‘Daryl Dickinson,’ he offered. ‘and this is my nephew, Darius.’
Darius offered a brief smile. He was particularly pale and had noticeable bags under his eyes. As the three began walking, Darius charged ahead, seemingly looking for clues. Daryl and Sara walked together, striking up a casual conversation
‘Forgive me, Officer, but it’s rather unusual for police to respond to such a non-issue’ Daryl fretted.
An odd sentiment from one of the experts. Sara couldn’t peg down why exactly she’d be sent. She’d been ruffling feathers at the precinct, perhaps that had caused it. Being sent on such a nothing assignment.
‘We’re just being thorough,’ she excused. ‘Why are you out here if you see it as a non-issue?’
‘Darius is the real one who’s interested. He doesn’t have a licence, so I take him where he needs to go. I owe it to his folks,’ Daryl explained.
‘Where are his folks?’ Sara asked.
‘Six feet under most likely,’ Daryl told her.
Open mouth, insert foot, Sara thought to herself.
‘I don’t mean to pry, but how did it happen?’ Sara asked.
‘They disappeared. Darius suspects those rogue cats as being behind it. Wants to prove their existence so they can be locked up, or killed. He says his parents were always going on about big cats.’
Somehow Sara had stumbled onto some sort of family drama. Up ahead, Sara spotted Darius disappear off the beaten track. Darius shouted out for Sara and Daryl to come quickly. They followed Darius’ voice to find him standing over a large paw mark, about twenty centimetres long. It was undeniably the shape of a cat’s paw. Sara watched as Darius examined the surrounding area for more clues. A broken branch, crushed underbrush, and so on.
Darius led the charge as Sara and Daryl tailed. Darius hopped from clue to clue, with the fervour of someone completing a quest. As they made their way through dense foliage, Sara looked up. There was a telephone wire running right above them. Sara began to disregard Darius’ frantic clue searching and followed the telephone wire. The wire shouldn’t exist. The visitor centre was nowhere near and nobody was allowed to live in the National Park.
She heard Darius’ wail behind her as his clues went cold. Daryl hushed him and then she heard the two tailing her. Soon enough, she spotted a small cottage in the distance. She grabbed Daryl and Darius and hid them behind the scrub.
‘Daryl. Do you have binoculars?’ she asked.
From his pockets, Daryl pulled out a micro pair of binoculars. Sara looked through the binoculars at the cottage. She had to assess the threat. A dark shape emerged from the cottage. Through the binoculars, Sara could see that it was something bipedal, covered in fur.
‘Well, there’s your big cat. Just a couple of furries hiding out in the park,’ Sara explained. ‘They shouldn’t be here. Can’t exactly build a home in a National Park.’
She emerged from the scrub and went up to the house. The man in the furry outfit grabbed some firewood and brought it inside. Daryl and Darius seemed to follow her. She soon reached the front door of the small cabin. Its white paint was flaking off the flimsy wood exterior. Sara knocked on the door.
‘Police, open up,’ she barked.
No response. She went to raise her leg to kick in the flimsy door when Daryl turned the knob. The door was not locked. In the doorway stood a six-foot-tall individual in a furry cat suit with the firewood in their hands. They stood in the middle of a shabby kitchen with twenty-year-old furnishings. The white stove was also flaking. The floor was hard concrete and the table to his side was mostly wood and metal bars. In the corner sat another individual, face in front of a computer. The standing individual dropped their firewood.
‘Diana,’ a deep voice warned from the cat suit.
The sitting individual, Diana, abruptly responded and stood with the other individual.
‘You aware this is a National Park?’ Sara asked.
The man who had spoken sighed and removed his cat mask.
‘I guess it’s over then,’ he said.
He was an older gentleman. His light brown hair had greyed at the temples. His scraggly stubble was shades of brown and white. His face was rather handsome behind all the wrinkles. The woman, Diana, removed her cat mask as well. She was roughly the same age as him. Attractive too. She had begun to wrinkle, just like he had. She had dark black hair with strands of white running through it.
‘Dave? Diana?’ Daryl interjected and pulled them in for a hug.
Sara had clearly missed a beat.
‘Hello, brother,’ Dave responded.
Sara’s mind clicked over and she turned to Darius.
‘Your parents?’ she asked.
‘What the fuck,’ Darius simply responded.
The five of them sat down at the rusted table. Dave and Diana began to explain. They had always been furries. Before the internet, both of them had felt incredibly broken. They were both into animalistic roleplay. Darius blocked his ears for half of this early conversation. Diana’s interest in the internet led her to a community who accepted them. Eventually, they felt they couldn’t be a part of society like everyone else. They set off into the wilderness, convincing everyone that they were just going on a hike. They never returned. Daryl was left to pick up the pieces after they left.
Sara had heard enough. This family drama wasn’t part of her jurisdiction.
‘I’ll leave the rest up to all of you. I am going to have you to relocate though. I think living in a National Park breaks some kind of federal law. I’ll give you a week to sort it out and then I’ll be bringing some more officers to shut this down,’ she explained to them.
She left the family there, sitting around a table, to reconcile. She had no intention of bringing this story to her superiors. Who’d believe her?