Chris Mackenzie looked out at the still waters of the Loch. He probably wasn’t the first person to stand on its edge, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed Loch Ness Monster. He was different though. He had history on his side. His great-grandfather had reported seeing the monster. He was one of the first. The fact that he had only mentioned it after the famous ‘surgeon’s photograph’ made it questionable. Chris believed his great-grandfather though and he’d travelled to Scotland to prove something.
He’s a fool. Full of high-minded ideas about his ancestry.
He turned away from the Loch for today and made his way back to the Loch Ness Inn where he’d be staying for the week. This was his first night around Loch Ness and he wanted to see the lake before he checked in. He walked back to his hire car, a sky-blue Fiat 500, for the trip. Chris was thankful that the UK drove on the left side of the road, just like his home country of Australia.
Most everyone in Drumnadrochit knows the monster is a tourism boon and that’s it.
It was a short five-minute drive back to his accommodation. He signed in at reception and took his bags up to his room. From there he headed down to the bar. He opened the door. Like everything else, it was warm and welcoming. His eye was drawn to the redhead at the bar talking to the bartender. He swaggered over to the bar and sat down next to the woman.
‘What you drinking there, lass?’ he asked her.
Her face was hidden by her wild curly red hair. From within the hair, he heard a response.
‘Don’t call me lass’ she told him bluntly.
Chris realised he’d heard that voice somewhere before.
‘Claire?’ he asked.
She turned to face him. She hadn’t aged a day since they last saw each other six years ago.
‘Fancy running into you, here,’ he noted.
‘I told you I was from Inverness. I’ve got more Scottish blood in me than you have,’ she berated him.
The bartender came over and took their drinks order. A scotch for him, though they just called it whiskey up here. A spiced rum for her.
‘Claire was just telling me about your quest for Nessie,’ the bartender informed him.
She chuckled slightly at the bartender’s mention of this. The bartender was smiling too.
‘No one’s been able to find this supposed Nessie in eighty-five years. What makes you different?’ the bartender asked.
‘History’s on my side. My great-grandfather saw it,’ Chris defended.
Claire and the bartender released a torrent of laughter at this idea.
‘The human eye sees what it wants to see,’ Claire told him.
‘That and the fact that this has to be one of the most photographed and surveyed lakes in the whole world,’ the bartender chipped in as he brought their drinks to them.
‘Exactly. Everyone wants some mystery in the world but no mysterious that it can’t ever be discovered. We traversed the globe and discovered there were no dragons on the borders of the world. All that remains is to dive in the deep waters of the world, searching for something,’ Claire lectured.
‘Whatever caused those original accounts is probably dead by now. Not many animals live as long as all that,’ the bartender concluded.
‘Sounds like you’ve got this bit rehearsed,’ he said, exasperated.
‘We’ve seen it all before,’ Claire explained. ‘Do yourself a favour. Take a tour, visit the gift shop and then go sightseeing somewhere else. There’s enough mad monster hunters in the world.’
Chris took one last big gulp of his drink and turned to the two of them.
‘You’ve given me a lot to think about,’ he said as he made his way to his bedroom.
Some hours passed and Chris made his way to the bar to order some food. For dinner, he had a delicious lamb shank. He ate slowly and quietly, thinking about what Claire had said. Why had Claire’s words affected him so deeply? He and Claire had only dated for a brief while in the summer of 2012. He had taken a gap year after school and she was exploring Down Under. They travelled together for a bit and then she was gone. Out of his life as soon as she was in it. After he finished his meal, he went upstairs to his room. He glanced at the clock on the wall. By this point, it was about 8:30pm so he decided to settle and relax in his room.
At the stroke of midnight, he got up from the couch where he’d been lounging and made his way to the hire car. He went for a drive around the Loch and found a spot to pull over. The spot that he’d chosen was a small bank that seemed to slowly ease into the waters below. He had one piece of luggage that he hadn’t taken into the inn. He unzipped the suitcase to reveal his wetsuit. The oxygen tank was hidden underneath a blanket. He quickly suited up between the lake and the road. Once he was suited up, he waded into the Loch and disappeared beneath the waves.
The next morning, the town was abuzz with the news of an abandoned sky-blue Fiat 500 on the shoreline of Loch Ness. Claire took a drive down to the site where the car had been left. The police were already there and setting up a perimeter. Claire caught the attention of one of the officers, Dale, who told her what they knew. The car’s engine had gone cold. There was no sign of the owner. Claire called the Inn and gave Dale the tip that all of Chris’ luggage was still at the hotel. Claire wondered aloud if Chris had ‘done a Harold Holt’ as they would say back in Australia. After Claire clarified the meaning, Dale cursed.
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