Before I write anything else, I’d like to apologize for how long it’s been since I updated my blog. I’ve been pretty ill lately and I’m just now recovering from it. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do in all areas of my life.
That being said, I will need to start blogging on a biweekly basis, instead of every week. There are several reasons for this and they’re mostly very positive ones. First of all, the Telverin Trilogy’s first book “Struggling With the Current” releases next month, and preparing for that is taking up a lot of my time. Second, I’m editing the second book in the Telverin Trilogy, “Flirting With the Tempest.” Third, I’ve been chosen as a contributor for the second volume of the “Tales from the Year Between” anthology. Writing a full-length blog every week just may not be in the cards for a while.
Since it’s still Spooky Season and my last blog’s short horror story got such a great reaction, I decided to keep with the theme of all things dark and gruesome. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about wendigos lately and how similar they are to werewolves in many ways. It’s a curse that turns a person into a monster who kills humans, but somehow so much worse.
The Curse of the Wendigo happens to those who commit the ultimate taboo of cannibalism. It is usually the result of being snowed in with no food and going crazy with hunger. Once the curse is upon you, you must continue eating human flesh or die.
This is a North American tale that was prevalent among many of the First Nations and Native American people. Though sightings of them are less and less, it is still a story that gets handed down generation after generation.
Just as I did with werewolves, I decided to write a short horror story on this, as well. However, I’m experimenting with first-person point of view, which isn’t usually a strength of mine. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more blogs like this.
CONTENT WARNING: CANNIBALISM
The Curse of the Wendigo
“There’s nothing more forbidden than eating the flesh of another human,” Grandmother said that winter night.
My brothers, sisters, and cousins all stared at her with saucer eyes. Our hot cocoa grew cool in their styrofoam cups. We’d been so excited to receive them. Yet, so easily we forgot them as our dear Grandmother spun another of her famous yarns.
“For the moment you bite into your fellow man, the Curse of the Wendigo consumes you,” she continued. “No other food will give you sustenance or pleasure again. You will walk the earth ravenous and never satisfied unless you are tearing into any person unlucky enough to meet you.”
“Why would anyone want to eat a human?” I asked.
“Sometimes, people get snowed in like we are tonight and run out of food,” she answered. “Desperation overtakes them and makes them consider doing anything to survive.”
“Only the weak and selfish,” I responded and everyone else nodded.
I was right, but she shook her head. She said I didn’t understand; that I was spoiled by electricity and supermarkets. I couldn’t believe she would make such excuses for monsters, but it didn’t matter. The snow melted enough for us to leave in the morning for my mother’s house, where I could watch my cartoons and play my Nintendo games.
I’m nostalgic for those lazy snow days now, even the ones spent cramped with relatives. Now, a day off means cleaning the house and trying to keep my kids happy, while my wife is at work. The out-of-town conference felt almost like a vacation. Yes, I was working, but what a treat to spread out in my own bed alone and eat restaurant food in peace. My co-worker Josh came with me and we shared a room. I was a little bit jealous of the attention he got from the ladies at the hotel if I’m being honest, but at least it meant he was usually sleeping elsewhere.
Since we came in my car and it was my gas, I got to choose the radio station and the route home. So, it was 70s music and country roads the whole way back. I didn’t care if the thick blankets of snow took the scenic part of the drive out of the equation. I hated the interstate, and I was in no rush.
“Take the long way home,” Supertramp sang from my speakers.
I sang along with them. It was one of my favorite songs, and so relatable lately. There were only ten miles left to town, and I tried to come up with some reason to detour. Unfortunately, the snow was really coming down now. I was nearly blinded by the white around us, and my phone’s GPS thought I was in some lake to the east of the road.
“We need to get home fast,” Josh said. “No offense, man, but I’m not interested in getting snowed in this car with you.”
He was right and I knew it.
“So when the day comes to settle down,” Supertramp continued, “Who’s to blame if you’re not around?”
“Yeah, I get you,” I sighed and pressed my foot on the accelerator.
Within seconds, it became clear that this was the wrong decision.
“You took the long way home,” Supertramp taunted, as my car spun around like a top on the ice-slick road. “You took the long way home.”
I couldn’t even tell which direction we were facing when we careened into a snowbank that looked like a small mountain.
“You…long…home…” warbled through the radio while glass broke and metal folded all around me.
I don’t know how long I was out for, and I don’t know what time it was when I woke up because there was no light at all underneath all that snow, save for the glow of Josh’s digital watch, which read 88:88. I tried to wake him up, but he was even deader than my car’s battery.
Perhaps, the first thing I should have been concerned about was my wife and kids. Really, though, I didn’t think they’d miss me, except as an extra hand to get things done. What I really worried about was my job, and whether I’d still have one when I got back. After a while, though, it became less and less sure that I was getting back.
Have you ever really been hungry? Maybe your stomach has growled. Maybe it’s even hurt from emptiness. But, most of us haven’t experienced real hunger. I remember the smell of my vomit and the bloating of my stomach. I remember passing out from how dizzy I was. I remember the moment I knew for certain that I was going to die before that snow melted.
That’s when I started really looking at Josh. The cold was keeping his corpse from deteriorating quickly. He looked as fresh and pink as a Christmas ham next to me. All that meat, more than enough for a feast. You know those stories about cats eating their dead owners? Well, what else were they supposed to do? Die because the person they loved, the person that fed them died too? I didn’t love Josh. I barely liked him. I wasn’t even sad he was dead. Why should I die too? I had kids to take care of, right?
They say hunger makes the best gravy. Maybe that’s why it was the best thing I’d ever eaten. I couldn’t have been more grateful to Josh for dying. He was a way better meal than a coworker. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was never a big eater. I’m a cereal for breakfast, salad for lunch, kind of guy, but I couldn’t fill up on him. As tasty as he was, it’s like I just got hungrier for more with every bite.
There was light breaking through the melting snow when I finished up with him. I was so relieved, but not for the reasons I should have been. I should have felt happy that I was going to live. I should have been excited to get back to my life and my family. What did I feel instead? Hunger. The sounds of cars driving by outside meant more to eat. I pushed the door open, allowing some of the icy sludge to rain down on me.
“Over there!” I heard a woman’s voice say from a distance. “I see that snowbank moving! It might be them!”
Her hands felt hot against frozen skin. She smelled salty from her sweat. She was strong, too because she pulled me through the snow like it was nothing. I couldn’t believe how badly I wanted to tear into her long, lean muscles.
“Oh, God,” she whispered in astonishment. “You’ve turned grey from the cold, and your eyes are sunken in. You poor man. I can’t imagine how awful it was for you in here.”
I couldn’t say anything. I could only grunt at her sympathy. She turned to her companion and yelled for him to drive out to the rest of the search party a few miles down the road while she wrapped me in one of those tin foil blankets they give hypothermia victims.
“Wait right here,” she told me. “I need to get your friend out of the car.”
I didn’t try to stop her. I don’t know why. I guess I figured there was no getting out of it. She screamed when she saw Josh’s remains, but it didn’t matter. Her friend was long gone. As strong as she was, I was stronger. I was stronger than I’d ever been before, actually. It wasn’t hard at all to kill her with my bare hands and drag her away somewhere that I could savor every last bite of her perfect flesh.
There was no looking back after that. There was no returning to my job and my family. There was only the endless hunt, and the slow changes taking over me over the weeks. My greying skin peeled back to my bones. My teeth sharpened into fangs. My hair fell out and then fur grew everywhere. I was already much taller than I’d ever been as a man when the antlers sprouted. I’m sure I’m terrifying now because it’s just so easy to kill you. You stand there frozen by your panic and all I have to do is swing at you.
Nothing is forbidden to me, anymore.