by Frederick Kim © 2002

"No one's going to be able to see your face," said the cameraman.

Mike pulled off his facemask. "How's this?"

The reporter nodded. "That'll be fine." She turned to the cameraman. "Make sure you get Urquhart castle behind him in the shot, with all the protestors."

"I know, I know," the cameraman said, annoyed.

"Can we get on with this?" asked Mike. "I've still got a lot to do here."

"Sure," said the reporter. "Are we on?" The cameraman nodded, and she began. "We're here with Mike Perod, senior biologist at Recreational Genetics. Mike, how're you and your team feeling today?"

"We feel great, Jennifer. Everyone's really excited. It took a lot of hard work to get us to this point, and we've been looking forward to this day for a long time."

"You're not the only ones. A lot of the local schoolchildren are out here today, hoping to be a part of the show you're putting on."

Mike smiled. "The kids have been great; they've been sending us drawings and letters and they've followed the work from the very start. During all the rough times, when we thought we'd never overcome the obstacles, it was their enthusiasm that helped keep us going. And really, at its heart, I believe this project is for them, and their sense of wonder."

"Not everyone's as thrilled as you and the children are, though. As we can all see right behind you, there are a considerable number of protestors out here today as well. Their concerns are that release of your product into the wild today could be potentially harmful, and a lot of them feel that this is just 'unnatural,' that your creation is the equivalent of putting up a strip mall or a theme park here."

"This is nothing new, Jennifer, we've been through all this before. The situation here is nothing like the incident that occurred with the sabre-tooths in Oklahoma: Recreational Genetics has been in this game for fifteen years now, unlike the company that was involved there, and we've taken care to make sure we've got it right. As far as criticism that this just isn't 'natural' -- that's just hard for me to comprehend. The monster's been a part of Loch Ness for hundreds of years. I know that when Dr. Eaves publicized his work effectively debunking that myth, I personally felt as if the loch had lost something, and a lot of other people did too, as the decline in tourism proved. That's why the Tourist Board commissioned us to create Nessie. In a sense, we're actually restoring Loch Ness to the way it ought to be."

"Well, good luck with the release today, Dr. Perod."

"Thank you, Jennifer."

The reporter and the cameraman retired into the background, and Mike turned to supervise the lowering of the crane. Every time Nessie squirmed in her sling Mike felt his heart leap into his throat; he made soothing noises towards her and patted her rubbery hide reassuringly.

Finally, she was in the water. Mike put on his facemask and mouthpiece, and diving below the surface he coaxed Nessie to come out from the sling. It took a while for her to comprehend that she was free, but the moment she did she burst loose with a flick of her tail and quickly disappeared into the murky water.

Nessie was home at last.

x x x

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