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Big Foot
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It was Ben’s last weekend in Oregon, and his older brother Jack wanted to take him skiing on Mount Hood. Ben didn’t want to go.

Both of you hauled all the way up here, Jack said, and every day he’s hiding in the attic.

There’s supposed to be a bad snowstorm, his mother said, warming her hands by the wood-burning fireplace. Ben told me it’s global warming.

And how’s it snowing more if it’s warming? Jack said.

You don’t believe in climate change?

Climate’s always been changing. But my brother and those screens? Same as always, all those humming hours doing God knows what.

She looked at her first son. The near decade since she had moved away with Ben, since Jack had dropped out of high school, had turned his body into a sequoia. Monolithic and mottled, bristling with pine needle hair.

He’s coding a game, their mother said. He’s really smart, Jack. Top of seventh grade.

Smart’s not wise, Jack said. The world’s out there. I won’t let him squander his life.

Ben bounded down the stairs, almost tripping and dropping his phone and glasses.

Mom, could you get me some orange juice?

Ben, Jack said. I’m going up to Mount Hood for the weekend. And you’re hitching along.

But I’ve almost got the latest build compiled!

You’ll ride shotgun, Jack said, standing. He was more than ten years older than Ben and towered over him. Trust me. It’s champagne powder out there, never been better.

It will be good for you two to really get to know each other, their mother tossed in.

Ben teetered on the stairs.

Did you know, Jack said, stooping down. Last week they saw Bigfoot on the mountain?


The next day Ben was the first one at the truck. Jack loaded up the bed with overnight clothes, sheepskin blankets, and his ski boots.

Sasquatch could ski in those! Ben said.

Jack smiled. Custom job. Cost a pretty penny. We’ll sort out your rental at the cabins.

Ben climbed in the passenger seat with a backpack stuffed with snacks: Fruit Roll-Ups, Gatorade, bagged apple slices.

You boys be safe, their mother said. And remember, Jack, about the blood sugar.

You bet. We’ll be back before Monday noon.

Jack fired up the truck and pulled out of the driveway. Ben tapped away on his phone.

Gimme that, Jack said. No technology allowed.

But I was just researching.

You can research all you like at our first stop: the Bigfoot Museum. 

Ben’s eyes widened. A whole museum?

That’s right. For now, the big screen’s right there. Feast your eyes.

Ben crossed his arms and looked out the windshield. Shards of cold light fell across the passing frosted evergreens. They veered onto a long highway and way down in the distance Mount Hood loomed above the ragged tree line, the peak like a shark tooth biting the blue sky.

I’ve seen better.


I’ve been to the ISS in VR. On the Oculus.

Jack hesitated. Keep this up and U-R about to get a major A-S-S whooping.

Ben laughed and then got quiet as the tires screeched against the asphalt. They sat in silence for four exits before Ben started beeping.

When did you, Jack said, you know?

Last summer. Ben looked up. It was scary. I had a seizure on the basketball court.

A seizure?

Yep. But Coach Brown was there. And I’m all good now. Ben lifted his shirt and patted a black device attached to his abdomen. I’ve got my pods. My friends think it’s pretty cool. I’m basically a cyborg!

He laughed and Jack laughed too. A cyborg, that’s something.

The road kept rolling away. The radio coughed white noise.

So, Jack said. Mom says you’re making a game of sorts.

You really wanna know about it?


It’s called Star Survivor. It’s a whodunit, Ben said. In space!

In space!

Yep, it’s all procedurally generated. Earth suffocates and you’re put in hypersleep on the last ship out. But when you wake up, everyone’s dead. So you’re scrounging the cosmos for a new home, piloting the ship, figuring it out. The twist, Ben said, eyes gleaming, is that you killed them. Oh, and there’s aliens.

You believe in aliens?

I’m certain we have been visited by non-human entities. You can’t trust the government.

I think we’ll get along.

On their right, a sign with a big green footprint approached.

Oh, Jack, Ben said, tugging his arm.

Quit it, Ben. I could swerve.


The Museum was an oversized woodshed of cryptids and conspiracies. Atlantean, Egyptian, lunar, presidential. Ben spent a while reading.

They’re all inclusive here, huh? Ben said. Wendigo, Yeti, is that a wax JFK?

Newspapers plastered the pine walls with headlines like HAIRY HOUDINI and BIGFOOT VS ALIENS! A sparse group took turns snapping selfies with a stuffed replica. 

Ben stepped up beside it to the Foot-O-Meter. His Converse barely filled the cut out.

You’re getting there, Jack said. You’ve got a lifetime to fill those shoes. 

Your turn!

Now I don’t think—

But Ben was pushing him and so Jack stepped up. He almost filled the outline entirely.

My! The resemblance is uncanny!

Knock it off, Jack smiled.

Do you think he has a brother called Littlefoot?

If he does, he’s probably hiding out in his cave all day stacking rocks.

Ben punched Jack’s arm and they headed outside. In the gravel parking lot, there was a cluster of guys in camo jackets standing around smoking and holding hunting rifles. One with a gnarly nose bridge scar and a campaign hat nodded to them.

A little late in the season, isn’t it? Jack said.

Not for the big game, the hunter said. We’re after the Sasquatch. 

That seems bad for business, Ben said.

The hunter grinned. Depends who’s business. That pelt is our ticket outta here.

He patted his gun, and his friends hefted theirs. Don’t worry, we’ll see to the monster.

Ben crossed his arms. He is not a monster.

Oh yeah? the hunter said.

He’s a Neanderthal who got frozen. His whole species is extinct. Imagine waking up and a thousand years have passed and everyone you love is dead.

Listen, kid. The hunter got close and crouched down. I’m just keeping everybody safe.

Jack stepped in front of Ben. That’s enough.

The hunter sized him up. 

Fine, fine, the hunter said, ditching his cigarette in the gravel and stamping it out, his men doing the same. But if you see him out there, you let us know, will you?


They got back in the truck and drove some more. They had spent longer in the museum than Jack wanted. Ben was plowing through his snacks as the sky clotted with clouds and the radio crackled to life muttering of restless winds.

Should we head back? Ben said.

No sir. You’re hearing about the coast, we’re far from there.


This is our last chance for this trip, Jack said. Before you haul off. And I can feel it in me when a storm’s fussing. Bone deep. I’ve been out here long enough to know. Do you trust me?

Ben nodded slowly. But people can make incredible predictions with computers. They can make models of whole weather systems. Ever heard of Lorenz’s attractors?

I’m telling you, Jack said. This day is just like the day Dad took me up to Hood when I was as young as you.

I don’t know much about Dad, Ben said.

I know, Jack said. He stared ahead at the white mountain in the distance.

Let me tell you ‘bout him. When he passed I was a bit older than you now. But he would take me out here, after Mom had you. It’d just be the two of us, up in Mount Hood, staying in the old cabins. My first time, I’d barely skimmed the bunny slope and he said I was ready for a black diamond. Can you believe it? Black diamond on my first run? So we hop on the lift and my legs are dangling and I’m peering down at the snow sea and the folks below looked just like little birds. Little ravens that didn’t matter none. And when the lift topped out we slid off and Dad gave me a nudge and I was bolting down the slope like a rifle shot. Nothing but me and the white and the wind. But you see, I didn’t know how to stop. No one schooled me on pizza and french fry and all that. So I went so fast I swear I lifted up off the ground and I flew. It was a miracle. The best damn feeling of my life. Could’ve wiped out, slammed into the pines, but I didn’t. Glided all the way to the bottom, touched down smooth. And there was Dad coming up behind me, grinning ear to ear like I’d never seen.

Jack hadn’t been looking, but Ben’s eyes were shut.

Ben? You good?

Something inside his shirt beeped. Ben opened his eyes and unlocked his phone. 

It’s the pod, Ben said. I’ve got high blood sugar from eating all my snacks.

What does that mean?

Ben laughed. Quit worrying, It’s no big deal. I’ve just got to use the backup needles.

I can do that, Jack said. I can do that. I’ll pull over.

Jack flicked on the hazards and stopped the truck on the shoulder. Ben dug a Ziplock out of his backpack and fished out the syringe and insulin vial.

Where do I stick it? Jack said.

I can do it myself, Ben said.

Let me help you.

Ben hesitated. Then he dabbed the spot on his belly with an alcohol wipe and Jack stuck the needle in and when it was done he put an alien plaster over it.

OK, Jack said. Let’s get a move on.

The truck trundled down the road and Ben stuck out his hand. At first it was shaking but as the minutes went by it stilled and Jack smiled, but outside the wind howled.

We’ll beat it, Jack said.


They did not beat it. The snow fell hard and fast like white fusillades against the windshield.

We’re jumping to hyperspace! Ben said.

Jack flipped the wipers on max and cranked the heat up. They were thirty minutes alone. The daylight had dimmed and the truck was losing grip on the ice-rimed road.

I’ve got no signal, Ben said. Also I’ve got to pee.

Dammit, you can’t hold it in? Jack said.

Ben shook his head. I’ve got to go, right now.

Jack glanced ahead at the short stretch of road visible in the headlights.

Alright. We’ll go together, but we have to be quick.

Ben slipped on the big orange puffer and they stepped out of the truck. Jack slammed his boots into the asphalt, gritting his teeth at the cold. He surveyed the long white road. Both ways stretched into nothing. Ths sun hung somewhere hidden beyond it all.

To either side of them the pine trees shook in the roaring wind. Ben took a few steps forward and Jack faced the other way while he did his business.

Thank God it didn’t freeze, Ben said when he was done.

Jack laughed. Looking at his brother, Jack realized again how young he was, standing there in the birthing blizzard with his rosy cheeks and round glasses and orange puffy jacket.

Let’s get you back in the truck, Jack said.

He hoisted Ben in his arms and set him gently in the passenger seat and settled in himself. But when he twisted the keys, the truck coughed and then went silent. He tried again, no luck.


What’s wrong? Ben said.

I don’t know. The cold could have bled the battery, or maybe the fuel lines froze. Or the oil got too thick for the engine to turn over.

I thought you didn’t like technology, Ben said, smirking.

Car’s ain’t technology, Jack said. I’m getting out again, OK? I’ll have it fixed in no time.

Ben got out his phone and played chess against bots while Jack heaved himself back into the snowfall. When he closed the door, he screamed motherfucker into the howling wind. He should never have shut off the engine, he should have left it running, why did he stop it?

The gale stabbed right through his clothes and sunk deep in his bones, the chill twisting in his guts like a worm. He trudged through the sleet and lifted the hood of the truck.

It was as he expected. He kicked the ground hard and hurt his foot. He hauled blankets and hand warmers out of the bed and got back in.

What happened?

We got to get a jump, Jack said. From somebody else.

There’s nobody else out here, Ben said.

I saw someone pass, Jack said. 

I didn’t see anyone.

Let’s just wait a little while and we can flag someone down. Help’s not far off. But you need to stay warm. So keep the doors and windows shut, OK?

OK, Ben said. 

They sat there in the truck as snow piled up on the windshield until it was so dark they couldn’t see. They shook hand warmers and cocooned themselves in blankets and after thirty minutes still no one had passed. Outside the wind moaned like something dying.

Jack was sorting things out in his head. No signal. Couldn’t call anyone. But someone was bound to be along soon, right? He took stock of their supplies — they only had a quarter of a bottle’s worth of water and Ben didn’t have any snacks left.

Tell me about your classes at school, Jack said, all of a sudden.

My classes? Ben paused. Well, my favorite is computer lab. With Mrs. Lovelace. She helped me build my simulation of the solar system for Star Survivor.

You know, Jack said. There’s no finer place on earth to stargaze than right here. When we get to the cabins on Mount Hood I’ll show you.

Jack, Ben said. Why didn’t you come with us to California?

Jack said nothing. They were sitting now in leaned back seats in the darkness, shivering beneath blankets, staring up at the ceiling of the truck.

Is it something I did? Ben said. Or Mom? That you didn’t want to be near us?

Ben, Jack said. It’s not like that at all. After the divorce I just couldn’t leave Dad here alone. I know what he did to her ain’t right—

That’s not what I meant. I mean, why didn’t you come when he died?

Jack was silent.

I just, I don’t know. My brain can’t handle all the noise, it’s too much for me. And besides, I’m much happier on my own, where I can’t let anybody down. Things smudge where I tread. And Mom’s found somebody new, she doesn’t need her past stalking around.

We miss you, Ben said, yawning. And I miss Dad. Is that weird? I never knew him, but I miss him.

Not weird at all, Jack said. I’ll tell you, in blizzards like these, before Mom got the job and the house in Santa Cruz, Dad would brave the storm with a frying pan and cook eggs on the barbecue. Could you believe it? He called them snow scramblers, and he said the hikers on Everest would eat them sometimes. Don’t know if that’s true. I’d love to go to Everest one day.

I’d love some snow scramblers, Ben said. I eat a lot of eggs now. Must’ve had every type.

No kidding, Jack said. Listen, how are you feeling?

I’m OK. I’m cold.

I’m sorry.

Sorry for what?

Just, sorry. At your age, you shouldn’t have to worry about being your own organs.

It’s no big deal.

Your life, Jack said, is like this big road here. You’ve got so much ahead of you. All the paths are open. You’re not like me, Mom told me. You’re really smart. You’ll go off to a great school and you’ll do great things, I know that.

Oh stop it, Ben said.

You will! You and your cyborgs will take over the world. Just leave me Hood, alright?

Ben giggled. The cold was creeping in now and running off the heat. So they leaned closer to each other to share their body warmth. At some point their shoulders touched, and they didn’t stop them.


Hey, Ben said. There’s headlights behind us. Look, there’s headlights!

Jack clambered up and leapt out of the truck and jumped and waved.

The van pulled over to the side of the road next to them. Inside was the hunter and his men from the Bigfoot Museum.

Hey, the hunter in the campaign hat said over the wind. You’re that fella from before.

Yes, Jack said. Listen, our truck battery’s dead and we need a jump.

The hunter glanced at the other men in the car, and they made a conversation of eyes.

We’d be happy to help you, the hunter said. He smiled and his eyes gleamed.

Jack told Ben to stay in the truck while he fished the cables out from under the seats. The men pulled the car over to the shoulder. A couple of them held out a tarpaulin for the snow and the hunter connected the wires to the terminals. On the third try, the truck sputtered to life.

Jack cried. But it was too cold to cry and the tears froze as soon as they fell from his eye and so he became half blind.

Can’t say how much this means, Jack said. Thank you, God, thank you. Have you got any food or water?

None of that, the hunter said over the storm. But you’re welcome. Always nice helping fellas out. Provided you get help in return.

The other men held their guns.

Jack paused for a moment, looking at each of them. They all smiled as the wind whistled.

We saw some nice skiing gear in that trunk, didn’t we? the hunter said.

I need it for this weekend, it’s custom—

Let’s have it.

Jack hesitated, but he slid the boots out of the bed and handed them over.


His hands delved in empty pockets for his wallet.

I don’t have any money on me.

Is it in that backpack?

Jack froze dead still. You can’t have that backpack.

And why’s that?

All of the men had gotten out of the van. One of them held up a rifle.

Jack lunged and struck the hunter in the face. He toppled as two men ran over and Jack swung again. A shot fired in the air and Jack’s hands were seized from behind and someone kicked him to the ground. Jack fell to his knees and three men were on him, holding him down.

The hunter’s face was bloody when he emerged from the dark and the snowfall pointing his rifle at Jack’s forehead.

You’re a big fella, the hunter said. But I’ll bet you’re smart. If you’re gone, who’s driving your kid home?

Jack clenched his jaw. They stood there for a long few seconds. And then the hunter took Ben’s backpack from him and flashed red snaggleteeth.

It’s nothing personal. We all gotta make a living.

The men climbed back in the van, and the hunter revved the engine. Tomorrow’s the Squatch’s reckoning, don’t you forget. After a storm like this? He’ll be out there. You can trust it.

They sped off into the darkness.


Jack swept the snow off the windshield and turned the key in the ignition. We’re gonna get to those cabins and the fucking hot cocoa. We’re gonna ski that goddamn mountain.

We’re gonna ski it, Ben said.

Heat poured back into the truck and they were driving again. It was nearly pitch black except for the twin beams of the truck’s brights against the mist. Jack was going fast.

Those guys saved us, Ben said.


The blizzard raged on.

Jack, Ben said. Where’s my stuff? I haven’t had anything to eat in a long time since you gave me that insulin shot.

I don’t know.

I’m starting to feel weird.

Weird how?

The weird I get when I haven’t eaten in a long time. I need sugar. Where are my tablets?

Jack didn’t respond. He drove faster. The road was whitewashed and the signs were unreadable. The snow fell as fast as the wipers could sweep it away.

You have no idea where you’re going, Ben said. The mountain is gone.

I can see it. We’re going to make it.

I’m shaking, Ben said. He held out his hand. Look.

I can’t look, I’m driving. He slammed his foot on the gas pedal.

I think you gave me too much.

I gave you the right amount, Jack snapped. I swear it.

You gave me too much, Ben said.

I did not, Jack shouted. The speedometer flickered. I gave you the perfectly right amount, and I did not mess it up. You watched me.

Where’s my backpack, Jack? I need the glucagon.

They fucking took it from me, OK? Jack screamed. I couldn’t do a goddamn thing.

I should never have come with you.

Jack turned and glared at him, and in that moment the tires slipped and the truck skated across an icy patch of asphalt and they spun. The world was a snow globe shaken, tossed, shattering.



When he opened his eyes in the woods in the dark he reached out to touch his brother beside him. Cold thunder muttered and snow fell in dead constellations. Airbags hung desiccated. 


He pried open the door. The truck and tree had smashed together and the hood was crumpled into bark. His leg screamed and blood soaked his pants as he staggered through the ash and smoke to the passenger’s door. He had no idea how long he had been out.

Can you hear me?

He opened it and found his brother limp, face burned from the airbags but he was not bleeding, nothing broken, only twitching.

He’s cold. I’ve got to warm him up.

He put layer upon layer of blankets on him. But the blizzard was restless and the windows obliterated. His brother still shook violently.


He picked him up in his arms and carried him out of the truck. His boots left big footprints as he looked for somewhere, anywhere better to put him. He laid him down in the snow under a great pine tree. His brother was convulsing.

He hit the pine trunk with his fist, trying to shake the snow off. With his bloodied fingers he snapped off shards of bark with his hands. He pawed at the sap but it was frozen hard.

His brother writhed in the ice and the dirt.

He knelt to the ground and flung off his jacket and swathed him in it, whispering in his ear. We’ll get to the mountain. You’ll see the sun on snow and everything bright. You’ll feel the cold burn in your heart and the wild in your soul. And you’ll know why I stayed.


The night was long and he did not want to survive it but still he stirred to the faint morning light next to the boy resting in his snow angels.

In the dream from which he’d woken he was trekking through a vast wilderness. He was a colossus in a cave by a bonfire, painting the walls blood red with his hands. He was peeking through trees as a figure who could not stop flew down alabaster slopes toward him.

His clothes fell in tatters as he rose and took the boy in his arms. He slung him over his shoulder and together they walked.

This was a moonscape, craters in greyscale, an icy black silence. He followed the twin lines tracing the ground like rover tracks, lurching beside them with freeze-dried wounds. Every step was a leap in this deep gravity, every breath a blade in the vacuum. But still he moved.

He finally made it to the edge of the hill and began to climb. It was the hardest thing he had ever done, carrying the boy up. Icicles stabbed through his legs as he took limping step after step. He groaned and he bellowed but he did not stop.

He made it up the hill and onto the road. But there was no mountain in that sky. He knew he should shout for help, but language had slipped from his tongue. He was a mammoth in ice. There was no one in this desolation, only him and the boy and he could walk no longer.

He fell to his knees. Strange birds cried and slid like black diamonds across white clouds.


I see him!

You don’t see nothing, Patty said, peering through the mist.

There! On the highway, Joel said. He’s racing off into the woods!

Goddammit you’re right, the hunter said. And he’s attacked someone. Call an ambulance, and get the rifles. The hunter smiled. 

He’s not getting away this time.

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About the Contributor
Liam Betts
Liam Betts, Prose Editor, Contributor
Liam Betts (he/his) is a senior double majoring in computer science and English. He is originally from Portugal, but now lives in the Bay Area.

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