Now that all the humans are hiding indoors, the average forest animals aren’t the only ones coming out of the woods.
I peered through the blinds idly, wondering if I’d see anything today. We’ve been under quarantine for forty days now and this was the extent of my entertainment. Sad but true. Quarantine life moved slowly and there were only so many things for me to do indoors. Without the ability to go out and buy new things I was dependent on online ordering services and deliveries. Those delivery services were prioritizing those deliveries by importance and I knew that my boredom did not hold any rank. Usually, I got my things around the two-week marker. So, the model planes I ordered to help keep me occupied were in limbo somewhere and I was desperate for entertainment. I’d watched all the Netflix I could stand, and I longed to be outside. I’ve always been an outdoors type of person. I wanted to be close to nature and that’s why I bought this house on the outskirts of this huge forest.
Before quarantine, I would take daily hikes and explore. It was the one thing that I loved the most. One day I found myself staring out of my back window imagining myself out there in the forest. I was staring so intently at the tree line that I realized there were animals lurking there. My brows furrowed in confusion. That couldn’t be right. I squinted my eyes and looked harder. I still couldn’t believe it. I needed to see up close, so I went in search of my binoculars. When I got back to the window and looked again what I saw astounded me.
There were about four deer standing there looking around curiously. They started to venture into my yard but stopped short. At that moment, a loud delivery truck sounded in the front of the house followed shortly by a loud bang on my door. Figures! Now I get the delivery and scare off the animals. I was highly irritated. I didn’t even know I was receiving a package today. That’s how it went through. Sure enough, after I opened it, I realized it was the three planes I ordered two weeks ago. Well, at least I had something to do. I set it down on my table and went back to the window. Just as I suspected they were gone.
I was disappointed but I knew there was nothing to do about it. I just hoped they’d come out again. Over the next few days, I kept watch, but nothing changed. Two weeks went by when I finally saw them again. This time they boldly walked into my yard without fear. I watched them intently and marveled at what was happening. I loved being able to watch them and witness nature from my window. It brought back some of that peace that I was sorely missing.
Every morning I woke up to something new. It gave me a reason to get up in the morning. I kept a journal filled with dates, animals, and little sketches of them in action. I even had my camera set up on a tripod at the window to snap pictures. Two weeks went by when I noticed something different lurking at the tree line. I had cataloged so many different animals already and couldn’t immediately place the animal. At first glance, it seemed like a larger than normal fox with its reddish color and long tail, but upon closer inspection, I realized it was not. I snapped a few pictures with my camera as I felt my pulse pick up in pace. This thing did not look natural. As I studied through my binoculars, I saw two sets of eyes assessing the yard. Thick black claws extending out from its paws that looked like it could tear the flesh from your bones. It stared at me as if it could see me. I stood stock still under its scrutiny. When its head snapped to the side, I let out the breath I was holding. I shook my head at my own stupidity. There is no way that thing could see me inside the house. I peered through the lenses once again and could plainly see this was not a normal fox. Down its back where its spine would be was black spiked bone that cut through the flesh. The color contrasted greatly with its fur. I wondered how I didn’t see it before.
There must’ve been something else in that forest that stole its attention. Its body stood rigid and alert. I felt my own body mirror the unease of the fox creature. What in the world was this creature looking at that would have it frightened? What walked out next made me drop my binoculars and step back in shock. Maybe I was too tired and was now seeing things; because whatever the thing was that stepped out of the forest couldn’t be real.
It stood upright like a human but had antlers on its head and was gaunt to the point of emaciation. Its skin looked desiccated as it stretched tightly over its bones breaking through in places. The creature’s complexion was a dull gray and its eyes pushed back deep into the socket of a skull that looked more like a wolf than a human. There was something hanging from its lips that was tattered and bloody. I gasped and took a step back from the window.
I’m not a superstitious person, but I’ve heard the stories around here. Hard not to when there is a huge forest nearby. Always the talk was the same hushed whispers of the lost hunter. The man who went hunting during a brutally cold winter and got lost. He couldn’t find any prey to hunt which drove him to cannibalism. After feasting on another human’s flesh, he transformed into a crazed man-beast, roaming the forest in search of more people to consume. Wendigo…
The first time I heard the story I scoffed at the person telling it. What a ridiculous thing to believe in. Then of course you had those who had sworn they’d seen one deep in the forest. Which always begged the question; if you saw the creature how did you manage an escape? I shook my head in disbelief. I picked up the binoculars again. When I looked through the glass the creature turned towards the house and stared at me. Once again, I knew it couldn’t see me but still, I was frozen in place. It never dropped its gaze from me as it started walking towards the house. I dropped the binoculars and backed away from the window. Once I hit the wall to my kitchen I couldn’t move.
I could see it on the other side of the back door. It bent down from its unnatural height to peer through the little window in the door. I knew I needed to run but my feet wouldn’t move. They seemed to be glued to the spot as my brain screamed at my body to run. I watched with terrified fascination as the creature tried to figure out how to get inside. Once the doorknob started to jiggle that’s when my feet finally obeyed.
Gun! Gun! My body flew to where I kept my trusty Remington as I heard the door jiggle again. By the time I rounded the corner to get to the closet where the gun was kept, I heard the loud bang on the door. It was locked and my home intruder was getting frustrated at not being able to open it. I pulled the rifle out of the closet and grabbed a box of ammo and shoved it in my pocket. I checked the chamber to make sure she was ready. As I made the confirmation the glass in the door window broke and I heard the door unlock from the inside followed by the door swinging open.
The thing let out a guttural scream that sounded very much inhuman. I wanted to run out the front door to get to the car but didn’t know if I could get there unharmed. I knew it was still in the back and I had a fifty-fifty shot at getting out. I didn’t think too hard and just ran. I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I ran. All those rumors about its inhuman speed were true. It reached the door before I could. I raised my gun to shoot but I was too close. It grabbed the barrel of the gun and yanked so hard that I fell forward with the gun still gripped tightly in my hands. I used the momentum to turn and land on my back while letting a shot fly. With so many variables in play, I couldn’t be sure my shot would make purchase but to my surprise, I hit the creature in the shoulder area. It stumbled back as it screamed in agony. I rose to my feet and took aim when I heard a growl to my left. I had almost forgotten about the strange fox creature.
Shit! I was well and truly fucked. My brain scrambled for an exit option and kept coming up empty. I was backed against the wall and creatures flanking me on both sides. Well, fuck it. If I was doomed to die, I was going to go down fighting. Now to choose how to die. One would surely tear me to shreds the other would feast on my flesh while still alive. I think I’d prefer a quick death over being eaten alive. Just as I was about to pull the trigger the Wendigo jumped me and knocked me down to the ground, but instead of eating me like I thought it would, it held me still and started into my eyes with those black pits. It was an unexpected and unnerving thing to be captured by a supernatural creature with no idea what to expect. Soon I found my curiosity gave way to acceptance and before I knew it the black took me.
I woke up in darkness and completely confused. I had no idea what was going on or where I was but felt extremely hungry. I had visions bouncing in my head but none of it made sense. Then I remembered and gasped out loud. No! It couldn’t be. The gasp alerted the others that I was awake, and they turned on the lights. There were several other Wendigos in the room as well as a table with all I could want to eat. The odd thing was I didn’t want it. My stomach rolled at the smell. When I turned to the side, I saw a man tied to a chair unconscious. The smell coming off him was delicious. My mouth watered, which confused me. Why did the man smell so good? It was then I heard a voice in my mind, “choose.”
I looked at the creature that was standing the closest to me and cocked my head to the side. I heard the same command in my head again. That’s when I felt the second round of hunger pangs. I’ve never felt this kind of all-consuming hunger before. It scared me. I felt like I needed to give into it. My mouth started to water as I took in a deep breath. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was horrified at where my thoughts lead. I didn’t want to eat anything from the table of food; I wanted to eat the man tied up in the chair. My head snapped back to the creature standing in front of me. I’m not sure what they did to me or why. I knew at that moment I had two choices. You see the choice was not what I would eat, they already knew that the table would hold no sway for me. It sat there in all its glory mocking me. The choice was to eat the man or starve to death. They were letting me choose to become one of them or die a human.
My eyes watered as I considered my options. I didn’t want to become one of them, but I wasn’t ready to die. The hunger pangs hit me again as I considered. It was so intense that I doubled over to hold myself back from giving in to what my body wanted. It was wrong on so many levels. I didn’t think I could give up my humanity and become this monster, but I was weak. I wasn’t strong enough to resist. As if my mind knew the answer before my subconscious would accept it, I felt my teeth grow into elongated fangs as my fingernails morphed into razor-sharp claws. The hunger intensified and I had to eat. I launched myself at the unsuspecting man with strength and grace I previously never possessed and bit into him. When the saltiness of his skin and the metallic taste of his blood hit my mouth, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. It was at that moment, after the first bite that my body took on the change. After the excruciating pain abated, I looked over my new body and shrugged as I dug into the man with new vigor. Who would’ve thought that the disease we were hiding from during quarantine wouldn’t kill me, instead it turned me into a monster that I was sure didn’t exist.