Something in the Water
by Matias F. Travieso-Diaz



Star-Tribune Staff, September 8, 2048. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Denver field office have arrived in Cody to take part in the investigation of the explosion and fire at the Lost Trails Saloon in Wapiti that took the lives of an undetermined number of people last Wednesday evening. Park County Sheriff Neal Stewart described the FBI presence as a welcome addition to the local and state team that is seeking to unravel the causes of the mysterious event, the deadliest in Western Wyoming since the 1940s. As previously reported, the explosion occurred in the early evening, in the pre-Labor Day week. Because of Wapiti’s proximity to the eastern entrance to Yellowstone, the park and the surrounding area has been teeming with holiday visitors, making the work of the investigating team particularly difficult. The Star-Tribune has learned that a potential person of interest is being held for questioning, but no details have been released by the authorities.



Agent Eric Brady, Federal Bureau of Investigations (EB): Please state your name for the record.

Joseph Weda (JW): Joseph Carlos Weda’

EB: How do you spell that?

JW: It depends. The Shoshone word has an “h” at the end, but in dealing with white people we spell it W-E-D-A.

EB: Mr. Weda, before we started this interview, I apprised you of your Miranda rights and you declined to have an attorney present and agreed to proceed with the interview. Is this correct?

JW: I don’t care for them lawyers.

EB: And you understand that this interview is being taped and a record is being made of the questions and your answers. Is that correct?

JW: Yeah.

EB: And that this record may be used in future proceedings?

JW: What’s proceedings?

EB: Court cases and the like.

JW: Yeah.

EB: Mr. Weda, are you a Native American?

JW: My father was Shoshone, my mother Mexican.

EB: What was your place and date of birth?

JW: Am born on the Wind River reservation in Fort Washakie, south of here, on November 2, 2023.

EB: What is your current address?

JW: Was Lost Trails Saloon in Wapiti.

EB: Where else have you lived since your birth?

JW: I left the reservation when I was 13 years old, on account there was too much crime there, and my mother sent me to live with her sister in Meeteetse. I stayed there until I graduated from high school in 2041, but there was no work, so I been moving around looking for jobs since that date. I done lived in Dry Creek, Dumbell, Willwood, even here in Cody, and finally got a job at the Saloon and came to Wapiti.

EB: What was the job that brought you to Wapiti?

JW: Guys from back East bought the Saloon three years ago and began fixing up the place with an aim to reopen it. The Saloon had been shut down and was in bad shape. The new owners put an ad in the Cody Enterprise asking for a live-in server to help with the upkeep of the saloon. The pay was ten bucks an hour, and I figured that and the tips and having my meals and housing taken care of, it would be alright… but not… great, you know, so I got my buddy Herman to lend me his pick-up and I came out to Wapiti and applied in person, and was hired.

EB: Who hired you at the Saloon?

JW: One of the owners.

EB: What was his name?

JW: I dunno know his first name, everyone called him Mr. Inman.

EB: Who were the other owners?

JW: I am not sure who they all were, owing that they kept coming in and out. There was Mr. Sawyer, Mr. Walker, Mr. Bowers, Mr. Miller, Mr. Skinner, and Mr. Yates and a couple of others that I can’t much recall.

EB: What do you mean by coming in and out?

JW: Peoples showed up every once in a while, in ones and twos, always puttin’ on airs. They ate and drank and never paid for nuthin’, and just sat in the saloon for hours on end. Mr. Inman was chummy with them and often would sit at their table to shoot the breeze.

EB: What did they talk about?

JW: I never paid them much mind, I was always busy with one thing or another. It seemed they talked about things that mostly didn’t make no sense.

EB: Did Mr. Inman and the others treat you well?

JW: I reckon’. They never called me injun or half-breed or queer or anything, and did not hit me or pushed me around all that much. Mr. Inman called me stupid when I did something he didn’t like, but that was it.

EB: You are not tall and don’t seem that strong. Did people mistreat you at work at the Saloon?

JW: No, Sir. Like I said, sometimes Mr. Inman said I was stupid, and he and the others shoved me around a bit, but nuthin’ major.

EB: Did you have any complaints about your job at the Saloon?

JW: No, Sir. The pay wasn’t that great and tips were few except in the summer, but I had little expenses and was saving some for when I was to move away, like to California or sumthin’.

EB: What was your work schedule?

JW: Eight am to eleven pm every day, and got Wednesdays off.

EB: What did you do on your days off?

JW: Herman would usually pick me up and would drive us to Cody. We would walk around and go to the Buffalo Bill Museum or the Gun Museum or one of the other places in town, hang around the stores, you know. He had an apartment and we would go there in the afternoon and watch TV and have a few beers. He would drive me back to the Saloon in the evening.

EB: How did they manage on Wednesdays while you were off?

JW: The Saloon was closed on Wednesdays. Charlie, the cook, was also off that day.

EB: Was the Saloon closed this last Wednesday?

JW: Yes, Sir.

EB: So, what did you do that day?

JW: Herman came to pick me up and we drove back to Cody. We had breakfast at Wendy’s, which was passing fair, went to the Old Trail Museum, and had lunch at Annie’s, and back to Herman’s apartment.

EB: How long were you at Herman’s apartment?

JW: I guess it been five or six when Herman drove me back to Wapiti.

EB: Wasn’t that a little early?

JW: Well, we both had a lot to drink and I was passing tired.

EB: What happened when you went back to the Saloon?

JW: Like I said, the place was closed, so I let myself in and was on my way back to my room at the rear of the building when I heard sumthin’ that seemed like voices, though there was no one in the restaurant. I stopped to track down the noise, which came from near the back wall, where there were a bunch of long tables used for big parties. Only them tables had been moved to the center of the room and the floor had been cleared out. I approached on tippy toes and noticed a trap door on the floor that had always been covered by a rug.

EB: Did you know the trap door was there?

JW: No.

EB: Please continue.

JW: I got on my knees and placed my ear against the door to listen. I couldn’t make it out well, but then I noticed a heating register, sorta like a grill, a few inches away, and the sounds seemed to be coming out louder through the register. I scooted over and was able to pick up the voices much better.

EB: What were they saying?

JW: I recognized several of the voices, like that of Mr. Yates, and also Mr. Inman’s. When I started listening, someone, I think it was Mr. Skinner, was givin’ a talk.

EB: What was the talk about?

JW: He said he had continued to work with the people at a place called Cold Harbor Laboratory.

EB: Do you mean Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory?

JW: I guess so. He, Mr. Skinner, had guided them to the discovery of a method for replacing sumthin’ called “the X sumpthin'” with a “Y sumpthin'”. I didn’t understand what he said, but he repeated twice that by doin’ this replacing it would be possible to breed only boys, no girls.

EB: Was he talking about people?

JW: Yessum. I thought he were talkin’ about cattle but I gather from the ways he talked he surely meant peoples.

EB: Did he say how this would work?

JW: He said that Mr. Sawyer had made a chemical that women who were preggers would take early on and would turn one of them X things of an unborn baby into a Y.

EB: But if the baby was already bound to be a boy?

JW: That was what the Cold Harbor folks was working on. Them was makin’ sumthin’ called an inbitor that would recognize a boy was cookin’ and make the main chemical inactive.

EB: You mean inhibitor?

JW: I dunno.

EB: So there were two things in the chemical, one that changed the sex of an embryonic baby girl into a baby boy, and another that would nullify the effect of the first if a baby boy was being produced?

JW: I guess.

EB: But why would a National Laboratory want to engage in that kind of work?

JW: Mr. Skinner said he had convinced the Cold Harbor folks that this research would help with countries like India where there were over two billion peoples.

EB: What else did they say?

JW: Mr. Skinner shut up and someone else spoke. I ain’t catch who. I thunk he said that a factory near the Ofhair airport, was done finished and was ready to start mass production. He said he could deliver fifty thousand packs a day and fly’em out of Ofhair to all parts of the world. Mr. Walker then said he had peoples in a hundred places to have the stuff given out.

EB: But how were they going to get customers to sign up for the program before it was even made public?

JW: They wasn’t no signing up. Mr. Walker said his teams would dump the stuff in the water supply. The chemicals would dissolve in the water and the water would be drunk by pregnant women.

EB: What were they trying to accomplish, do you know?

JW: When Mr. Walkers got finished, Mr. Yates said like: “We may need to do this several times, but in a generation or two there’ll be no women left. Mankind will disappear from the face of the earth.” Mr. Inman added: “Maybe sooner. As mens are left in this planet without women they will turn on each other. There’ll be wars, revolutions, all sorts of things. Boys and young men will have to serve older ones, and many will revolt.”

EB: So their purpose was to kill off the entire human race?

JW: Yeah, each and every one of us.

EB: But why would anyone want to do that?

JW: [In a whisper] Because them ain’t humans.

EB: What do you mean?

JW: [In a whisper] Them is aliens that want to take over this world without firing a shot.

EB: But don’t they look human to you?

JW: [In a whisper] They be disguised.

EB: Have you seen them out of disguise?

JW: No. Wednesday was the first time I found out this was going on.


EB: What did you do when you heard this conversation?

JW: I left the Saloon and sat on the ground, in a corner of the parking lot, outta sight from the building, feeling scared and trying to figure out what to do. I thought of going to the police, but who would believe me, an ignorant redskin queer from a bar in the middle of nowhere? And I could not confront them, because them would kill me. Then I reckoned I had to get them before them got us.

EB: What did you do?

JW: I knew our stove ran on gas, and there was a line that ran from there to the outside of the Saloon and connected to an underground pipeline. I crept back into the Saloon, went to the kitchen, and with a meat cleaver cut the gas line. I stood at the back exit, waited a while, and threw a match into the escaping gas. I was blown away by the explosion. When I picked myself up, I was bruised and a little burned up, but the entire Saloon was in flames.

EB: So you deliberately set fire to the Lost Trails Saloon, and caused the death of a number of its occupants?

JW: Yeah. None of them roaches escaped, I hope.

EB: And you did this deliberately and with full knowledge that in setting up the explosion and the fire you were likely to cause the death of one or more persons?

JW: There was no persons there.

EB: What did you do after the explosion and the fire?

JW: I was kinda dizzy. I kept on walking in circles ’til the fire truck and the police arrived.

EB: Were you taken into custody then?

JW: Yes, after a while the Sheriff arrived and took me in to the Detention Center in Cody.

EB: Did they take a sample of your blood at the Detention Center?

JW: I don’t recall.

EB: Mr. Weda, do you ever consume alcoholic beverages?

JW: Yeah, a bit.

EB: Last Wednesday, when you arrived at the Lost Trails Saloon, how much alcohol had you consumed?

JW: I guess three or four beers, I got thirsty during my fight with Herman.

EB: And do you use any drugs?

JW: You mean medicines?

EB: No. Hallucinatory drugs or opiates like heroin or cocaine?

JW: Herman and I do meth together sometimes.

EB: Last Wednesday, had you taken meth before returning to the Lost Trails Saloon?

JW: Yeah.

EB: How much?

JW: Not sure. Half a gram, maybe.

EB: Is there anything else you want to state for the record?

JW: No.

EB: For the record, this interview was completed on September 5, 2048, at 3:35 pm, Mountain Daylight Savings Time.



This is a most perplexing case. There is no doubt as to Mr. Weda’s responsibility for the events at the Lost Trails Saloon. Not only has he confessed his crime, but our investigation has confirmed that the gas line to the building was deliberately severed and ignited, causing the explosion and the subsequent fire.

Also, a separate interview with a Herman Padilla of Cody has established that there was significant alcohol consumption and sometimes drug use during their encounters. Mr. Padilla also confirmed that on Wednesday, September 2, the weekly encounter between Mr. Padilla and Mr. Weda was cut short due to some quarrel between them. Prior, during, and following that meeting, both of them consumed large amounts of liquor and used a significant amount of methamphetamine. Mr. Padilla believes that when he dropped Mr. Weda at the Lost Trails Saloon, Mr. Weda was highly intoxicated (“high as a kite” were the words he used). He said that, on the way to Wapiti, Mr. Weda complained, as he often did, about having to go back to that “dump” that he hated because he was “treated like a dog.”

Mr. Padilla also indicated that Mr. Weda had a flair for the dramatic and enjoyed drawing attention to himself. He cited an instance two years ago when Mr. Weda allegedly showed up at the Park County fair drunk and wearing clown makeup, a three-cornered hat and yellow baggy pants, and proceeded to regale fairgoers with what Mr. Padilla described as “zany tales,” although he did not recall what these were about. We could not confirm Mr. Padilla’s story.

Blood samples taken from Mr. Weda late in the evening of September 2 determined a blood alcohol concentration of 0.2%, more than double the level considered intoxication under Wyoming law. Likewise, there were significant levels of methamphetamine in his blood.

Based on the foregoing, a strong case can be made for the proposition that Mr. Weda arrived at the Lost Trails Saloon in a highly excited, perhaps hallucinatory state, that he set the Saloon afire in a fit of anger, and that the conversations that he allegedly overheard are deliberate lies or a fantasy manufactured by his addled mind. In particular, the scheme for depopulating the planet that he describes is highly improbable. One would think advanced aliens would have more efficient ways of doing this.

But please consider the following:

  1. There was an underground room in the Saloon with capacity for over a dozen people.
  2. A person located on the trap door above the room could listen in on conversations in there through the HVAC register, particularly if those were conducted at elevated voice levels.
  3. No recognizable human remains were discovered in the underground room, but many large partly melted pieces of a plastic-like substance of unknown composition were strewn throughout the room.
  4. Traces of beverages of unknown composition were found on the surface of a cupboard that was only partially damaged by the fire.
  5. No reports of missing persons have been filed since September 2 that match the names or descriptions of the individuals named by Mr. Weda.
  6. Real estate records for Park County reflect that the property known as the Lost Trails Saloon was purchased in March 2045 by a Mr. Waylon Inman from New York City. Mr. Inman paid $125,000 for the property, including the saloon and the surrounding five acres of land. According to the sales contract file with the deed, Mr. Inman apparently paid in cash and assumed the title free of any liens or encumbrances. A preliminary review of tax and police records in New York City finds no entries for any person named Waylon Inman.
  7. Wapiti is an isolated community, but is so close to the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park that it sees a constant inflow of out of town visitors. It could be a fine place for hiding in plain sight.
  8. There are no assurances that, if a secret cell of aliens like the one described by Mr. Weda existed, there may not be others elsewhere.
  9. I did some checking on the internet. There are articles reporting a slight decrease in the last couple of years in the number of females born in the United States and Western European countries.
  10. It is therefore possible (though not plausible) that, despite his deranged state of mind, Mr. Weda may have eavesdropped on a conversation among aliens bent on humanity’s destruction.
  11. The level of risk is the product of the probability of an event occurring times its anticipated consequences. Here the story told by Mr. Weda is improbable, but if true, the consequences of the alleged plot being carried out are devastating. For that reason, I suggest that the scenario described by Mr. Weda presents a level of risk that should be investigated.
  12. Even if Mr. Weda’s story is not confirmed, he should be commended for acting on what he perceived as a grave threat to humanity, and for seeking to protect us all from that threat. No prosecution or other legal action should be initiated against him. Instead, he should be recognized as the hero he tried to be.

In conclusion, I recommend that the Bureau follow up with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, look into suspicious new industrial activity in the vicinity of the O’Hare International Airport, and take such other measures deemed appropriate and prudent.

Signed: Agent Eric A. Brady

Handwritten note to the margin of the September 15, 2048 memorandum from Mr. Brady to Mr. Todd:

“Recommendation noted and denied. Robert Todd, September 16, 2048.”