Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Your lights are too bright.”
The fresh-faced lady looks nonplussed. The bearded man behind her taps something into the rig on his wrist and the brightness cuts by half. He gives me a thumbs-up. I nod.
The suited man who looks so out of place in my cabin taps his watch.
“Live in three, two, one…” He points at the fresh-faced woman.
“This is Charlene Mason of KBTX, your realtime online news source. I’m here in Manitoba Springs with Clinton Wilkes, a man who knows the Ectarra like no-one else.”
She points the microphone wand my way as the camera drone swings through a half-circle to bring me into view.
“So, Mister Wilkes, you’re an Ectarra expert?”
I shrug: “Wouldn’t go that far, Charlene. Just been researching them for a while. Come to a conclusion that isn’t popular.”
“We at KBTX are always interested in presenting well-researched alternate views, Clinton. Your work caught our attention and we think it deserves to be shared. So, please, take us through it. But first, for those who may not have heard of Ectarra, would you please give us an introduction?”
“First sightings happened in Scotland. Would’ve been dismissed as Kellas cats, except the pelt colour described was purple, not black. That got some attention. I’ll admit to being one of those who said them people who reported were drugged up. Until it happened to me.”
She raises a hand to interrupt: “You’ve actually seen an Ectarra?”
I nod: “My first thought was that it looked like a wolf and a leopard had a purple-furred baby. Has short fur, mottled with paler spots excepting flanks and face, which have faint black stripes. Its legs end in big pads of feet. I never saw claws, never saw the red eyes blink. I saw it, it saw me, it was gone.”
“That’s where your research started?”
“Yes. Was local sensation for a couple of days. While other people’s interest moved on, mine didn’t. In the eight years from then to now, I’ve followed as many reports, sightings, and videos as I can.”
“You’ve exposed a dozen hoaxes and a smuggling ring while doing it. What else have you discovered?”
“I got the impression of intelligence when I gazed into its eyes. Thought I was a mite touched, then my research brought me to an odd theory.”
“Which is?”
“Ectarra are usually only glimpsed on the move. Videos show them moving with purpose. It struck me they were hunting. Three-quarters of sightings occur close – in time and location – to reports of ‘a bubbling pool of muck’ being discovered. Those so-called spills are attributed to various causes, but are always gone within a few hours.”
“I’m not sure I see the connection.”
“I’ve got no proof of one, Charlene. But you wanted my interpretation, so here it is: they’re not a rare hybrid or laboratory experiment – well, they might be either or both, but they’re not from Earth.”
“You’re saying they’re aliens?”
“Yes. Earth creatures can’t teleport. I saw, and refused to accept for five years. It didn’t ‘dive into the undergrowth’. It wasn’t moving, then it wasn’t there. As for why they’re here: they kill things that collapse into stinking puddles. I’m sure the Ectarra are protecting us. We urgently need to find out from what, and why.”
I stare into the lens: “Got so much data I can’t get through it quick enough. So, if one of the secret government research teams out there could get in touch, I’d be obliged.”
Charlene looks nonplussed, again.
The man in the suit looks nervous.