Like so many Portlanders, I am first and foremost, a runner. I subscribe to the church of those giants that came before me: Knight, Bowerman, Fennis, and Smith. I go to bed before most so that I can wake up and take advantage of the day. I run beneath the early hours of dawn before the pollution of cars and dogs and, well, human beings can take hold. I wouldn't say I'm a loner.
I would say that I don't particularly like most people though.
Maybe that's why I took to running during high school. I find solace in that quiet huffing of lungs and bone working in perfect harmony. My running shoes have covered nearly every inch of this city. From Sellwood to Government Island, Bybee Lake to Tualatin. But lately, I've been burning cycles on Mt Tabor.
Like every other kid that grew up in Portland, I heard the stories about the Fish People that called the Mt Tabor reservoirs their home. For those of you that never had the pleasure, or maybe you just moved here, the story go like this: back when the area was still wild and untamed, settlers in Astoria reported sightings of fish-like humanoids that inhabited the shores of the Columbia River. Doing what humans do best, they attacked the native river creatures and drove them inland. How the fish people ended up in the reservoirs all these years later is unclear. Like so many other legends, the details are conveniently vague.
I'll admit, while I am first and foremost a runner, I am, second, a proud reporter of the Portland Drab. So my motivation for spending time on Mt Tabor is driven by a natural curiosity as much as it is an urge to exercise. Especially after the Drab recently got a tip that an incident took place at the reservoirs just a few weeks ago.
According to a trusted source, a group of Portland teenagers was recently attacked by what one of the teens is describing as a "small militia of Lovecraftian fish-people, akin to the creatures of Innsmouth."
Sound like anything you've heard of before, Drabbers?
Police, of course, have "no record, no file, and no knowledge of this incident.” However, this hasn’t stopped The Portland Drab from exhausting all its resources to investigate the incident further. I spoke with one of the alleged victims, Janice Gorman, who gave us a first-hand account of what happened: “It was midnight. We snuck out—four of us—and met at the upper Tabor reservoir.” When asked what they were doing on Mt Tabor that late, the witness declined to answer.
“We were walking around, and that’s when we started to hear this strange hum. There was a bright green light, and the next thing I knew, my friends were climbing the fence and wading into the reservoir. It was like they were completely different people. They wouldn't listen to me. They wouldn't respond at all”
And that's when the witness says she saw them: "monstrous, scaly fish-people emerging from the water. Their eyes glowing. I couldn't look away..."
The details of the story get less concrete from there. Gorman says she and the others woke hours later, soaking wet, and unsure of what had taken place. When asked what she thinks happened to him and her friends, Gorman is clearly uncomfortable. Prior to the incident, Gorman's mother said the teenager was "full of life" and spent most of her time playing video games and volunteering at a local animal shelter. But ever since that night, Gorman's withdrawn from the world. She's quiet. Distracted. As we spoke, she looked at me with a subtle kind of suspicion, almost as if she was unsure I was who I claimed to be. She had a particular interest in my eyes.
I spend a lot of my time thinking about Gorman and her friends. As I run laps around the lower Tabor reservoir, I have to admit, there's something hypnotic about the way the water gently laps at its concrete shores. And though I've yet to experience anything that comes close to a reptilian abduction, I really do believe Gorman. I believe she saw what she saw, and furthermore, I'm confident the story doesn't end here.
Note: At the time of this story's publication, Janice Gorman has stopped returning my phone calls. Her mother tells me she spends nearly all her time alone, obsessively taking showers or baths. Stayed tuned for further updates regarding the Fish People of Mt. Tabor.
Written by Alice Lauphington, RIP
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