A single hiss as the package flew through the air, a hard slap as it hit the surface, then a brief, rippling circle as it plunged down.
Then nothing: the loch was as still as if it had never been.
I gave a single, loud, angry cry. A flurry of birds lifted from the trees around me, disturbed by unusual human noise. They wheeled overhead, wings spread in a pattern of feathers and fuss, their calls a clamour of complaint.
I stood and watched, silently challenging their disapproval. I had as much right as they did to be here—maybe more.
I’d been summoned.
The water rippled again, but not from anything I had done. Not directly, at least. A dark, glistening dome rose above the tiny waves, then dipped again.
I knew by now not to panic. And just to wait.
The next appearance was nearer the shore, the head was now pointing in my direction. Eyelids blinked lazily, trails of loch water glimmering on its snout in the waning light. I knew the water wasn’t deep enough for it to come farther.
One of the small mercies I thanked many deities for.
“I did my best,” I called, loud as I dared. I had yet to discover how much English the beast actually understood, but this whole thing was so bizarre, why not talk to it normally?
Twenty foot away from the head, a slim tendril crested the water then plunged back down into oblivion. That was its tail. One of them.
“That was all I could find this week. It’s not like sheep are just lying around, dead, for me to pick up and deliver like a bloody takeaway. I can’t take too many from the same flock, either.” My righteous anger was warming up. “And have you ever considered the logistical difficulties? I don’t have a car, and I have a job in the daytime. So I have to creep about in the dark on my pushbike, dragging carcasses behind me like a low-tech body-snatcher.”
Another tail, ten foot away to the west, lifted sinuously from the water, then slapped back beneath.
“Yes. Well. Sorry just isn’t going to cut it, you know?” I could hear traffic on the distant road. It was tourist season and people would soon flock to the nearby Loch Ness in their thousands. I needed to get back—not only did I work the boats in the daytime, I tended bar at night as well.
To say nothing of my monster-hunting hobby—which was, of course, on hiatus at the moment, on account of me… Well.
I found myself smiling. Dammit. It wasn’t something I could pet, was it? Or take for a walk. But—better still—it was mine.
“Til next week,” I said, almost fondly. Bubbles rose to the surface as it began to sink.
I sighed, strangely satisfied.
Maybe I could get a summer job at the butcher’s.