What a place to find yourself. Hunkered in a boulder field above a mountain pass, just below the clouds, with night sliding away down the fellside through all the blues. With snow falling in circles and the wind dancing a reel upon the tarn’s black water. Kim whistle-hummed, as yetis did. She was dauntless, and she was thickly furred.
She peeled back her mitt, pulled her phone from her near empty pack. It truly was over. She took a photograph of what she saw, as she had each day of the hunt, a clue for her pursuers. This picture was a perfect confusion of mixed precipitation, the landscape blurred into abstraction, maybe lunar. Time for her last post. Nobody had caught her. Nobody would collect the prize. What to tell them?
‘Where am I? Who am I?’ she’d asked the Wandering Yeti’s followers all month, ‘The hunt ends at dawn on Christmas Day.’ Not one correct answer from the tens of thousands who claimed to have figured it out, or heard from a friend of a friend. Nor from the hotchpotch handful who’d given chase in person for the sake of money she had bet. She scrolled down the latest speculation, the insulting guesses and those close to the truth. None close enough to clap eyes on her.
When she’d escaped the flatlands, as a yeti would, more than once she’d been seen from the corner of an eye, but she’d vanished into winter greys, drizzly uncertainty. The freedom of it. Creeping under truck tarpaulins to hitch a secret lift. A ride up a moonlit canal, prone beneath the stars on the bow. Stowed away between the wagons of a freight train returning empty. Following her nose into England’s farthest wilderness, the place where a yeti would hide. That was all over, she’d won.
She watched bright jackets move above her on the path to the summit. They watched for their footing, not her. She had not made the news, as she’d set out to make the news. Too few sightings. Nor was she discovered on Christmas Eve, when she had once planned to be discovered. Bright lights and recognition. A suitable seasonal item. Too well hidden, ambiguous clues. For days, she’d been seen only by ravens and buzzards and believed to be as she appeared, some shy monster making herself at home.
What to say to her followers, here I am? Then, climb to that famous summit, the highest in England, remove the mask, the furs, the many layers which made her large and warmed her. Reveal herself, be witnessed. Check in somewhere as Kim. Oh, roast potatoes. But, she’d never been less in need of comfort. And, after she’d given herself away, she would no longer be a yeti, and never would be again, not in the same way. She’d go back where she started, like a freight train returning empty.
Her furs were no longer cartoon white, but tawny as a wild winter. She’d worn them so long that she’d learned her own smell, and to accept it. Her yeti leather soles were rough, no longer slipped. In the nowhere unplaces between paths, she would never be found. Remaining as she was and becoming what she’d pretended to be. Either a myth or a hoax, and who was to say?
None but she, a yeti, would know. ‘Where am I? Who am I? The hunt goes on. The bounty is doubled.’