“The Wendigo, The Wendigo! / Its eyes are ice and indigo! / Its blood is rank and yellowish! / Its voice is hoarse and bellowish! / Its tentacles are slithery, / And scummy, / Slimy, / Leathery!”
— from “The Wendigo” by Ogden Nash
“What time is it Marshall?” It’s half past two. “How cold?” It’s cold enough. “Is he still out there Marshall?” I reckon he’s watching us right now, Davey.
“What if he sicks those wolves on us again?”
Then we fight.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Albertan tundra:
“It’s a nice day to hunt, Marshall,” Nick said, slinging his rifle over his shoulder as they hopped over the fence of the national park and into the wild. Nick and James came to hunt with each other while Marshall carried the provisions. Davey was just along for the ride.
The first few days went without event. Nick and James tried hunting some elk, but couldn’t find any. They couldn’t even find birds. “Very curious behavior,” James said. Nick grinned at Davey and leered, “Spooky, right?” Davey just tried to smile back. Both men unslung their rifles and sat by the fire. “Why you here Marshall?” Davey asked. Marshall spoke, “Legend has it that the Wendigo is a mysterious creature that feasts on human flesh, among other things. Think of a yeti, but less fur and more crazed. At one point it might have even been a man. A few hikers have gone missing in the past few months. My boss asked me to do a follow-up report and, if anything, take some time off. Things haven’t really been the same in my life since Dad died …”
A wolf howled. “There’s your wildlife James,” Davey said nervously. “Yeah, that’s weird. But —” James stopped. Another wolf began howling. Then another. Soon an entire chorus of wolves was howling. Nick took his gun back out. “I don’t like it,” he stopped. “There’s something else howling. Don’t you hear it? It’s not a wolf. It’s more like … a man?”
The howls got louder. Now they could hear movement. Marshall saw a wolf dart out. More than one.
James pulled out his gun and started firing as the wolves began to attack. He went first, wolves biting and tearing at his flesh, with the sounds of barks and screams mixed in. Nick aimed, shot one, was bit in the leg and then the arm until he was covered in snarling wolves. Marshall grabbed Davey, his backpack and Nick’s fallen gun, screaming for him to run. They ran for a few miles, but a lone wolf pursued. Davey tripped, screaming as a wolf slammed into him, biting his arm. “Help me!” he screamed. Marshall fumbled and dropped the revolver. He panicked and grabbed a fallen oak branch, clubbing and stunning the wolf until it didn’t move. Davey was bleeding badly. “Thanks Marsh, that was close.”
“It’s alright for now Davey, we need to keep moving and stop the bleeding on that bite.” He tore a strip of clothing and tied it tightly on Davey’s arm. He winced as it was tied on.
“Thanks man … Marshall, look.” Marshall turned around, as the wolf began to rise and growl at them. “Marshall, what should we do?” Davey asked. Marshall picked the branch back up and advanced on the wolf. It looked like it might have had a broken leg. “Marshall?” Davey queried. Marshall didn’t hear anything anymore, just a dull buzzing in his ears. He brought the club up above his head and brought it down on the wolf’s head with force. The hot blood splashed on his face and burned on his cheek against the frozen weather and into his soul. It felt good. Like fire in his eyes.
“We’ll hold up here Davey boy. I’m tired.”
“What if he sicks them wolves on us again?”
Then we fight.
The temperature was dropping. There were no more wolves howling. But someone was approaching. Heavy footsteps. Heavy breathing. Marshall could make out a large figure. It was at least 7 feet tall. It was hairy and muscular. Wolves walked next to it. The Wendigo attracted them through fear and power. It was intoxicating. The Wendigo approached him slowly, holding out its hands as if in surrender. It looked almost human. Its eyes? Could there still be a man inside? “There, there buddy.” Marshall said, reaching out his hands. Its eyes were sorrowful. What did it want? Only way to find out …
He grasped its shoulder, reaching for his pocket, wrenched out his knife and stabbed its heart. The Wendigo staggered back, collapsing to its knees. Marshall pulled out his revolver, pressed it up against its head and blew its brains out.
The wolves backed away meekly. He had power. They feared him now. Davey gulped, “You did it Marsh. You killed it.” Marshall couldn’t hear anything anymore, just a buzzing in his head. He picked up the oak branch and advanced on Davey. “Marshall?” Marshall swung and caved in Davey’s skull. The wolves descended on Davey as he walked away.
“I’m sorry Davey boy. But you don’t belong out here.”
He reared his head back and howled.
— Max Saucedo is a criminal justice freshman.