MYTHSTALKERS was originally published in comic form by Image Comics back in 2003-4. Due to bizarre creative issues and low sales, it only made it through eight issues of its planned 33-issue story. Here that story will be told in full for the first time!
Five figures stood on the shore of the lake as the mist rose. Finland in April was colder than even Kenneth, Lord Marston, found comfortable. Wrapping his scarf as tight as fashionably appropriate, he looked across Lake Kokar at the dolmen fading quickly into the fog. In moments, it was gone from sight.
“All right, gentlemen,” he said, “it seems that the fog has finally obscured the far stone. Time to handle our end and see if…”
“I researched the Sjotroll quite thoroughly, Lord Marston,” interrupted the portly man with the gold rimmed spectacles. Sir Charles Rutland Brown was nothing if not pedantic. “You see, it seems that the nearby villagers refuse to fish when the fog is so great that the two runic stones are obscured.”
There was a grunt of annoyance from the man with the prodigious white mustache, but whether it was from scorn or disdain, Kenneth wasn’t sure.
Sir Charles continued to exposit. “They believe that the lake imprisons a particularly foul troll, or, ah, ‘trow,’ as they call it, known as the Sjotroll. The magic of the stones keep the troll trapped in the lake, you see, and when they are both enshrouded by the mist…”
“Yes, yes,” the group’s sole woman said, her blue eyes rolling. “The troll comes out and eats them all. Very fascinating, Sir Charles.”
Colonel Augustus Durant, he of the mustache and impatience, hefted the elephant gun in his hand. From the stock, a curled wire ran to a large pack strapped to his back.
“May we please save the witticisms until we’ve bagged the beast, Mrs. Chatterton?” he asked with no less contempt.
The fifth member of the group finally broke his silence. “I concur,” he said with a faint Italian accent. “The sooner we finish wasting our time and resources on an obviously fabricated local myth, the sooner we can return to a more palatable clime.” Kenneth expected no less from his group’s newest member, Mr. Terranove, who was both a skeptic and, perhaps worse, a performer.
“I rather like the cold,” Sir Charles said to no one in particular.
Kenneth winced at the Society’s constant arguing. “Of course you do,” he sighed. The far stone was finally completely enveloped by the mist. It was time. “Sir Charles, if you please?”
The scientist nodded his bald head, his single forelock bobbing absurdly. Kneeling in the wet soil, he began to crank the handle on a contraption of a box with a large bugle-like appendage on the top. As he did this, a plume of man-made fog began to belch forth from the absurd-looking device.
Kenneth Valence, leader of the Society for Cryptozoological Research, smiled. For once, Sir Charles’ invention was working without complication. Even Colonel Durant’s huff at the sight of the expanding cloud was almost approving.
Slowly the artificial mist spread, sweat beading on Sir Charles’ brow as he continued to turn the crank. Within minutes Lord Marston couldn’t see the woman next to him, let alone the rune-carved obelisk on their side of the lake.
From somewhere to his right, Mr. Terranove chuckled. “There. Nothing,” he said. “I told you so.”
Kenneth closed his eyes. He had been so sure.
“No,” Colonel Durant said, his voice gravelly with sudden alertness. “Something’s here.”
Eyes wide open again, Kenneth turned towards the game hunter’s voice. Behind him, from the direction of the lake, came a low growl.
“I knew it!” cried Sir Charles with glee belying the unseen danger. As he stopped cranking, the wind began to blow the fog away.
Emerging from the lake was a squat figure, almost as wide as it was tall. Its grey skin was only covered with a waterlogged animal pelt decorated with skulls and bones. Kenneth knew enough science to know several of them were human.
Seeing the humans gathered for his meal on the shore of Lake Kokar, the Sjotroll screamed in malicious triumph.
“Dear Lord,” Kenneth gasped, “that thing smells!”
“Shoot it, Colonel Durant!” Mrs. Chatterton cried, drawing her own rifle to aim it at the beast.
Finally deciding that the closest food was the best food, the Sjotroll began to run towards Lord Marston and his distaff companion, teeth bared, muscular fingers twitching in anticipation of the imminent ripping of flesh.
“Desist your caterwauling, woman!” Colonel Durant barked. “I’m on it!”
Mr. Terranove stood furthest from the lake, frozen with panic. “It must be a freak,” he said to himself. “A giant.”
That was the moment when the troll reached Mrs. Chatterton. She stumbled backwards, just escaping the creature’s grab.
With a loud crack, the Colonel fired at the creature, but instead of a lead bullet, a steel clamp like a tiny bear trap shot forth, trailing a thin strand of wire.
Sir Charles huffed as he raced up the shore towards where Durant and Terranove stood, one hand desperately holding his hat in place.
“Now!” he cried. “Crank the generator!”
The metal trap had struck the Sjotroll on its shoulder, biting into its grey flesh. The wire ran from it back to Colonel Durant’s rifle. Still holding it aimed true in one hand, the Colonel began to turn a circular knob on the wooden stock. Sparks lit up the metal of the gun as it shot a powerful electric charge through the wire.
Kenneth reached down to help Mrs. Chatterton to her feet as the troll stopped in place, electricity coursing through its body from the nasty metal teeth in its shoulder. This was it, Lord Marston thought. They were going to take the creature alive!
That was when a spring snapped and the dial on the Colonel’s gun flew off. The electricity stopped.
The troll turned towards the three men, its eyes red with inhuman rage.
“Hmh, I suppose next time I should amplify the electrostatic output,” Sir Charles muttered to himself.
The troll rushed towards them, knocking the gun from the Colonel’s hands with one meaty paw.
With the other, it gripped the old game hunter by the neck and began to squeeze.
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.