Wen-di-go

by Lisa M. Griffiths

Wen-di-go

by Lisa Griffiths

When I look in the mirror, the face that stares back is unrecognizable to me. Gone is the shine from my eyes and the smile from my lips.

 

The creature that I see in the reflection is gaunt, its skin stretched over its bones; the eyes appear sunken with a perverse hunger emanating from them. It looks starved, as if its insides are collapsing in on themselves.

 

I look like an addict. I feel like an addict, but it’s not any drug that I’m craving. It’s human flesh.

 

Two Weeks Earlier

 

After filing applications, and hoping beyond hope, I was excited to read a letter of acceptance for a summer internship cataloging recent artifacts unearthed at a Native American reservation of the Menominee tribe.

 

I was in my second year of grad school studying the societal transition of the Great Lakes’ tribes. Spending six weeks in northern Minnesota with fresh air, pine trees, and a million mosquitos sounded perfect. Plus, it would be great to add to my resume.

 

There were seven students in all studying under Dr. Miriam de Bruyner of the University of Minnesota. Her reputation preceded her if you wanted to believe former students’ blogs; she was known to encourage competitiveness among her interns and favored those who weren’t afraid to be aggressive. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of battling my fellow students for recognition, but I’d experienced enough dog-eat-dog situations in some of my old classes that I was confident that I could hold my own.

 

Three days in, my confidence began to slip. I felt that Dr. de Bruyner was pitting each of us against each other in the subtlest of ways. I was hard-working and diligent; I knew I was smart and didn’t hide it. But she kept hinting that I wasn’t quite doing enough.

 

One day at the end of labs, she said, “I can see that you’re smart, Audrey. But what else have you got? Smarts will only get you so far. Impress me.”

 

Two days later, we were all invited to meet with the tribe’s elder council. Dr. de Bruyner emphasized how critical this meeting was to our project: we needed permission to examine newly found pottery pieces and possibly human bones.

 

The meeting was a methodical push and pull between their chief and our professor. In the end, the tribe leaders said they would put it to vote and let us know in a few days’ time. Then they offered us to share in the blessing of the council by taking a spoonful of some prepared soup from a bowl that was passed around.

 

One of my classmates, Tim, leaned close to me and said, “I’m not touching that crap. Who knows what’s in there?”

 

I silently agreed with him. But I saw how Dr. de Bruyner didn’t hesitate to step forward, dip the spoon in, and drink it. She turned to the rest of us. The look she gave spoke volumes. Another student stepped up to take the spoon from our professor. Soon, the rest of us, including Tim, followed. My mind raced with endless scenarios of cross contamination. I swallowed my spoonful with as straight a face as I could. It tasted like dirt.

 

With the meeting over, we were allowed to follow a guide over to where the dig site was. The area around the excavation was taped off and we were told that we couldn’t get closer. It was disappointing; I was sure that whatever lay in that ground was a game changer for our project.

 

As we rode back to our camp, Dr. de Bruyner said, “If we could just get a look at one piece, just one. It would make a difference in how much I can request for funding.”

 

“What if they come back and say no?” asked Tim.

 

“We’ll just have to change their minds. There’s always another way.”

 

That night, as I was getting ready for bed, a knock came at the door. I opened it to find Carla, a fellow student, in her pajamas.

 

“What’s up?” I asked.

 

She rolled her eyes. “Do you have any Pepto Bismol or something? Dean is throwing up and shitting his brains out. Tim’s trying to help him out, but I don’t have any of that stuff. I said I’d ask around.”

 

“I might have some. Come on in while I check.”

 

She came in and revolved slowly, looking at everything in the small cabin. “You’re kind of a neat freak, aren’t you?”

 

I felt annoyed by her. “I guess,” I called from the bathroom. I emerged with a container of Tums. “This is all I’ve got. Not sure it’ll help him.”

 

“Anything’s better than nothing.” She held out her hand for the Tums while still taking in the room.

 

“I hope the stomach flu isn’t going around.”

 

“It’s more like food poisoning. Apparently, there were ground up human bones in that soup we had. It’s their tradition or something.”

 

“What?” I was startled. “That can’t be true.”

 

 

“I guess it can because de Bruyner told Kevin this afternoon. He told everyone else and now Dean’s sitting on the toilet. What a wimp. I’ve eaten worse.” She rolled her once more and left without saying another word.

 

I stood there without moving for a long time. Why on earth would the tribe let us partake in their ritual if it included something like that? And why would our professor not tell us?

 

My sleep was fitful. I dreamt of skeletons half submerged in a muddy swamp. And all the while a voice beside me kept saying, “Impress me.”

 

*

 

I awoke the next morning with a clear head. I felt a determination taking hold inside of me.

 

Something told me I needed to go back to the reservation.

 

Not wanting anyone else to know what I was doing, I rode a camp bike into town, and then rented a car. The drive didn’t take too long. I parked the car and went into the main office of the reservation.

 

“Hello,” said a young man. He looked close to my age.

 

“Hi,” I said. “I’m a student with Dr. de Bruyner’s camp. We visited out here yesterday.”

 

He laughed warmly. “I can see that you’re a student. No one who lives around here dresses like that.”

 

My smile fell, and he quickly apologized.

 

“I’m sorry, I mean you don’t dress badly. I just meant that I can tell you’re not from our tribe or a rancher.”

 

“Oh, it’s okay.” I smiled again.

 

He was blushing slightly, and something made me take advantage of it.

 

“So, you probably know everything about the dig and artifacts. Would you mind if I just ask a few questions?” I leaned closer to the desk that he sat behind.

 

He blinked. “Well, yes, a little bit but it’s still under wraps. We haven’t finished. And I’m not sure I can talk about it.”

 

“I understand completely. I don’t want to ask you to do something you don’t want to do. So, no questions. But,” I continued in a softer voice, “do you think you could just show me some of what you have already? I promise I won’t tell anyone. I’m just trying to get an idea of how we should proceed when, if, we get permission to excavate.” I smiled while looking directly into his eyes. I could see his soul struggling.

 

“Well,” he said as he looked around the room, “I guess I could show you a few things. Follow me—uh, what’s your name?”

 

Audrey Saint John.” I held my hand out.

 

“I’m Wesley Hart.” He took my hand in a firm grip, holding on longer than he needed to.

 

He let go, and I followed him out of the office, down a long driveway to some out-buildings. He was still looking around. At the second building, he unlocked the door, and we went inside. There were three rows of eight-foot tables covered with canvas, with several pieces from the dig spread out. It was a gold mine. My eyes raked over everything, landing on what I knew to be bones.

 

“Go ahead and take a closer look,” he said. “Just don’t touch anything.”

 

I circled the tables, taking mental notes of the excavated inventory. “These are wonderful.

 

Thank you so much for showing these to me, Wesley.” I let his name roll slowly off my tongue.

 

He stood there, staring. Then he jerked and cleared his throat. “You know, we have a whole drawer full of arrow tips over here,” he said as he crossed the room toward a large wall of drawers.

 

The moment he turned his back to me, I snatched up one of the small bones from the table and pocketed it. In that same instance, a battle raged in my mind: Do I dare steal this? For it was plainly stealing and could cost me dearly if I were caught. I could hear my professor’s voice. Well, this would certainly impress her.

 

I didn’t stay long after that. Wesley showed me the arrow tips, with much flirting going on between the both of us. I was noncommittal about meeting again. I just needed to get out.

 

The drive back into town went by in a blur, as did the bike ride to camp. I only had one thing on my mind—getting the relic that was burning a hole in my pocket to my professor as soon as possible. I laughed out loud at the thought of stealing, something I’d never done in my life.

 

Back in my cabin, I took a quick shower, changed into fresh clothes, and went out in search of Dr. de Bruyner. I found her in the tent that was set up as our makeshift lab. She was sifting through some dirt, and briefly looked up when I walked in.

 

“Well, look who decided to show up today,” she said. “You missed your lab time earlier. Did you have a date with your toilet?”

 

Now that I was in front of her, I began to sweat. I was lucky that we were alone in the tent. My brain jammed up; nothing was coming out of my mouth. My hand instinctively went to the pocket that held the bone. It was as if a light went on.

 

“I’m sorry I missed my lab work, Professor, but I was doing something important.”

 

“More important than this internship?”

 

I walked slowly toward her, carefully taking out the tissue-wrapped bone. I laid it on the table.

 

“What’s this?” she asked.

 

“It’s a bone fragment from the dig site at the reservation. Someone let me borrow it.”

 

“They let you borrow it? We haven’t gotten permission from the council yet. How is that possible?”

 

“I can be convincing when I need to be,” I said. “But I promised not to let anyone else know. He could get into trouble. I told him I’d bring it back after we examine it.”

 

She picked up the relic and unwrapped it. Her eyes lit up and she smiled. “I must say, Audrey, I am impressed. I’ll keep this under wraps and take a good look at it later. We should be hearing back from the council in the next day or so.”

 

She wrapped it up and put it away in a locked cabinet. “I’ll see you later at dinner.” I knew I’d been dismissed and went back to my cabin.

 

Once there, I found I was ravenous. I dug through a grocery bag full of granola bars and chips. I chose a peanut butter oat bar. After a couple of bites, I felt sick. I threw the rest of it away in the trash.

 

My stomach growled. I took a look inside the small portable refrigerator; there were only three bottles of Rekorderlig cider inside. Disappointed, I began rummaging through my desk drawer hoping to find some candy or a beef jerky stick. Instead I got a papercut on my index finger.

 

I immediately put it in my mouth to suck the blood off. It tasted salty and metallic. I pulled it out and squeezed the cut so that it bled again. When the droplet of blood appeared, I popped it back into my mouth. This time I savored the taste.

 

What the hell am I doing?

 

A knock on the door made me jump. I opened it to find Tim.

 

“Hey, Tim, how’s it going?”

 

He stared at me for a minute before answering. “I came by earlier and you weren’t here. And you didn’t show up for labs. I thought you might be sick like Dean.”

 

I liked Tim okay but not if he was going to be nosy. “I’m fine. I just had some things to take care of in town. I already squared things with de Bruyner.”

 

He kept staring. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you haven’t slept in a while.” I was pissed. “You’ve got a lot of nerve saying that to me.”

 

He had his hands up. “Audrey, hey, I’m sorry. Don’t get mad. It’s just that I see you everyday and today you look off. I’m just concerned that something might be going around, that’s all. Please don’t be angry.”

 

It was as if someone pulled a cotton ball out of ear; I actually heard the heartfelt concern in his voice.

 

 

“Look, I’m not mad. Yeah, I didn’t sleep all that well last night, but I swear I’m fine. I don’t have what Dean has.”

 

He looked relieved. “Oh, good. I guess I’ll see you at dinner then. Bring your appetite because I heard that Texas Dave is making some killer barbecue.” He waved and was off.

 

I waved and closed the door. My stomach growled again.

 

I walked to the bathroom, turned on the light, and looked in the mirror. Tim was right; I did look off. There were dark circles under my eyes and my skin looked pale. I couldn’t remember looking like this earlier.

 

*

 

Dinner at camp was always served buffet style. There was one cook hired to make breakfasts and dinners, but once a week, students signed up to take a turn preparing the main course for dinner. This week, Dave wanted to show off some of his recipes from Texas.

 

I usually didn’t eat too much at dinner; I was concerned about the weight I’d gain since most of my days were spent sitting in front of a computer doing research. Tonight, I filled up one plate with sides—mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, baked beans—while slapping a huge steak on another plate.

 

At the table, I helped myself to biscuits, which I drenched in butter. Someone brought a few bottles of wine, and I enjoyed those as well.

 

The conversation was lively. Even Dr. de Bruyner seemed to be enjoying herself at the head of the table.

 

When I cut into the thick steak, it gushed with bloody juices. The inside was pink. Normally, I wouldn’t have touched it. Today, I dug right in. It tasted wonderful. I cleared both plates in a matter of minutes and got up to fetch seconds.

 

I picked out the least cooked piece of meat, brought it back to the table, and tore through it. I voraciously stuffed my face with everything in front of me; I ate enough for three people.

 

After dinner, we thanked Dave and the cook for the great feast. I passed Dr. de Bruyner on the way to my cabin; she gave me a knowing smile. I reached the cabin but not before Tim caught up with me.

 

“Hey, Audrey.”

 

“Tim,” I said and turned toward him.

 

He had a hopeful look on his face. “You want to go get a beer?”

 

“Uh, not tonight. I need to get some sleep so I’m going to turn in early. I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow. Maybe another time.”

 

“Oh, okay. Good night then.”

 

“Good night, Tim.”

 

Inside the cabin, I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I was finally full and felt exhausted. After throwing off my clothes, I tumbled into bed and quickly fell asleep.

 

Bad dreams dogged me. In one, I was chased by a hideous creature through the woods. It stood ten feet tall, had a wolf-like snout with huge teeth, and its body was skeletal. I ran forever, all the while listening to the raspy breath behind me. I came to the reservation gates and screamed for help. One of the elders stood on the other side and shook his head. “We don’t help your kind,” he said.

 

I woke up drenched in sweat. The clock read 2:40 AM. I got up and headed to the bathroom to drink some water from the tap. Before I could reach the sink, I was doubled over with abdominal pain. It took my breath away. I switched on the light and waited for my eyes to adjust.

 

It was the strangest sensation. I couldn’t quite figure it out, but it wasn’t nausea.

 

The pain gripped me once more. With dawning disbelief, I realized I was hungry—no, starving. How could that be? I’d eaten so much at dinner.

 

With my hands shaking slightly, I stepped in front of the mirror. My eyes looked wild, my cheekbones sticking out noticeably from my once round face. I touched my skin. Was I still asleep?

 

My stomach growled, and I winced with fresh pain.

 

Staggering out of the bathroom, I searched for food, trashing everything in my path. Finding the bag of snacks from yesterday, I tore open the wrapper of a granola bar and began to eat. The taste was like ash in my mouth. I spat it all out. I tried the potato chips, but they tasted the same.

 

I felt my sanity slip a notch. None of it made sense to me. I just couldn’t understand how I was still hungry. And why did I look so bad? Had I picked up some kind of parasite?

 

After an hour of doing my best to ignore the pain in my gut, I finally fell back asleep, curled into a fetal position.

 

*

 

Over the next two days, I barely ate at our meals, unless the dinner included steaks cooked on the rare side. I was beginning to understand that the meat, the less done the better, helped calm my hunger pains.

 

I rode my bike into town, not noticing anything but the road in front of me and headed straight for the butcher shop. Much to my disgust, I purchased six pounds of raw steak. Like an addict, I told myself that this was just to get me to a place where I wasn’t starving, so I could think clearly and figure out how to stop the craving. I took the package of raw meat to the edge of the woods and devoured each piece. My fingers were stained with blood. I felt ashamed and confused but couldn’t stop myself.

 

Afterward, I cried while trying to make myself throw up. Nothing happened. I rode back to camp, bumping into Tim before I could hide in my cabin. “Audrey, where have you been? Are you all right?”

 

“I just went into town to get some medicine. I think I’m just a little under the weather. Need some sleep.”

 

“We got the news, we have permission to start excavating tomorrow.” “That’s great. Hey, I’m just going to lie down for a bit before dinner.” “Okay, but de Bruyner’s been looking for you.” “Can you tell her I’ll come and see her after I rest?” He looked concerned. “Sure.”

 

 

Tim was still standing there when I closed the door to my cabin. My stomach growled. I fought the urge to cry out loud.

 

I knew I’d be unable to rest. I needed to figure out what was going on with me. I scrubbed my hands in the sink, purposely avoiding my reflection in the mirror. Then I sat down with my laptop and searched for causes of craving raw meat. The sites that popped up were numerous, so I narrowed the search.

 

I thought hard about what I had done that was different over the last week. The council meeting came to mind; I had tasted the soup after all. Maybe I was having a reaction to it? But everyone else tasted it and no one looked like I did. Dean did get sick that night, but he’d recovered and looked just fine. Could it be that only I was having the weird cravings and hunger pains? Did I even want to bring it up with anyone else?

 

The only other thing that I did was visit the reservation. I hadn’t eaten anything. But I did take the bone. Maybe there had been some chemical or organic residue on it? I dismissed that idea.

 

I typed in raw meat cravings in Native American folklore. What came up was disturbing. There was a legend among the Algonquin tribes, to which the Menomenee belonged, about a creature that members could become due to greed or murder. It was known as a Wendigo, and it was cannibalistic.

 

Was there any possibility that I could be turning into this thing? I hadn’t murdered anyone. And I didn’t consider myself a greedy person. But what if the greed meant something else? What if it meant taking the bone without permission? And all to win the favor of Dr. de Bruyner.

 

I needed to speak to her. I found her in the lab tent.

 

“Dr. de Bruyner?”

 

“Audrey, come in,” she said. She did a double take when she looked at me closely. “Are you okay? You look ill.”

 

I was trying my best to keep my hands from shaking. I knew I must look like a junkie in need of a fix. “I haven’t felt well the last few days. I think I just need some sleep. Or it could have been something I ate.”

 

As if on cue, my stomach growled.

 

“Well, I hope you’ll be well enough to participate at the dig site. I’m sure you heard we got permission.” She paused, then continued in a whisper, “The little gift you brought is fantastic. I’ve just about finished with my notes.”

 

“I was going to ask you about that. I really should return it. I don’t want anyone to get in trouble because it’s missing.”

 

“I’ll finish with it tonight. You’ll be able to return it tomorrow when we arrive at the site.” She returned her attention to her notes. “Get some rest, Audrey. I’m expecting great work from you tomorrow.”

 

I felt bile beginning to rise, and I left quickly. Walking back toward the cabin, I ran into Tim.

 

“Hey, did you see de Bruyner?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I just came from talking to her.”

 

“So, are you feeling any better?” he asked tentatively.

 

“Um, a little bit.”

 

“Well, let me know if you need anything. I guess I’ll see you in an hour for dinner.” He smiled and walked away.

 

Dinner was uncomfortable. Everyone was talking excitedly about the upcoming dig. I was trying to eat all the meat on my plate, and the seconds that followed, without drawing attention. I was both starving and nauseous, but the hunger was strongest.

 

Afterward, Tim sought me out and insisted on walking me to my cabin. We reached the door. I turned around, ready to rebuff any invitation he might suggest. But when I saw his bright eyes and easy smile, a part of me softened.

 

He stood there, perhaps waiting for me to ask him inside. He was wearing a faded flannel shirt with the top few buttons opened to show his neck and chest. His skin—no, his flesh— looked so healthy. My stomach growled.

 

“Do you want to come in for a while?” I asked.

 

His face lit up. “Sure.”

 

We walked inside. I closed the door and turned on the light revealing a disheveled room.

 

“Sorry about the mess,” I said as I picked up some clothes and threw them in a corner.

 

“No worries,” he said and took a seat on the futon.

 

“Want a drink? All I have is cider.”

 

“Cider’s fine with me.”

 

I took two bottles out of the fridge, removed the caps, and handed one to Tim. I sat down next to him.

 

He took a swig and put his bottle down on the crate I used as a coffee table. “So, what do you think of de Bruyner?”

 

After slowly sipping my cider, which tasted almost too sweet, I put my bottle down. “Well, she definitely likes to lord over everyone and everything. I think she just loves power in any form.”

 

“Yeah, she’s got her favorites too.”

 

I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Was he accusing me of being a favorite? In the end, I chose not to say anything. Instead, I emptied my bottle.

 

He mimicked me, his bottle making a loud clunk on the crate when he placed it there. We stared at each other for an undeterminable amount of time. He smiled and leaned into me.

 

We began to kiss, softly at first; soon it intensified. His lips were full, and I could taste the cider on them as if it were a garnish. Our breathing became heavy. I was ready to lose myself completely.

 

Just then, I pulled away, so I could look at him. His eyes were slightly closed, and he had a dazed look on his face. I unbuttoned the rest of his shirt and slid it off his shoulders. He looked so good to me. Pushing him down on the futon, I crouched over him, letting my lips and tongue touch his skin starting at the base of his neck. He let out a soft moan. He was running his hands all over my body.

 

My mouth came to his right clavicle and stopped. I could feel the rush of blood pulsing through my head. I began to suck on the skin covering his bone there, the smell of him intoxicating. Without thinking about it, I bit down. His blood was sweet.

 

“Ow! Audrey, the what the hell!” He sat up quickly.

 

I was brought back abruptly to my senses, but not before swallowing the blood left in my mouth. My stomach growled in pain, and I doubled over. I got off the futon and stumbled to the bathroom where I began to dry-heave into the sink.

 

 

Tim came to the bathroom door. I glanced at him and could see that he held a dish towel over where I’d bit him.

 

“Audrey, what was that? Are you all right?”

 

I splashed water on my face and started shaking. “I’m so sorry Tim. I really didn’t mean to do that. I think you’d better go. I don’t feel good.”

 

“Maybe I should stay with you.”

 

“No,” I said a little too harshly. “No, I’ll be okay. Just need to lie down. I’ll see you tomorrow. We all have to be up early.”

 

I walked him to the door, still slightly bent over holding my stomach. He left. I closed the door and locked it, made it to my bed, and dropped onto it. My sobs went on forever, muffled by the pillow.

 

*

 

A knock on the door jolted me awake. I leapt from the bed and opened the door expecting to see Tim. It was Dr. de Bruyner. The sun had yet to rise.

 

“Professor, I…”

 

“Here you are, Audrey,” she said and handed me the wrapped bone. “I’m done with it. You can give it back to your friend today when we get to the site.”

 

“Thanks,” I croaked. I closed the door. I turned on a table lamp, put the bone on the crate, and stared at it. Was that the cause of my pain? Could I return it and perhaps reverse whatever I was becoming?

 

The memory of the previous night came back to me along with a wave of disgust and fear. How could I have done that to Tim? I felt contaminated. I needed a long, hot shower.

 

I debated back and forth about showing up for breakfast. I knew Tim would come to check on me, and I was afraid to be alone with him, afraid I’d do something else to him. Besides, Dr. de Bruyner would expect everyone to be at the table.

 

Tim caught my eye as I moved along the buffet line. He joined me.

 

“Hey, how are you feeling?”

 

I could barely speak for the lump in my throat. “I’m okay. I’m still so sorry about last night.”

 

With my eyes averted, I heard him sigh and chuckle. “Well, it started out pretty nice. Maybe we can try again.”

 

He didn’t get it; there couldn’t ever be a next time. As long as I was being controlled by this urge to eat flesh, I couldn’t be trusted.

 

 

I avoided any more conversation by eating quickly and retreating to my cabin. I readied my gear for the dig site. The van ride to the reservation didn’t take long. Dr. de Bruyner spoke to us the entire time, filling us in on our expected conduct and responsibilities.

 

My mind was elsewhere. I was solely focused on returning the bone and leaving this horrific chapter of my life behind.

 

We parked out by the excavation site, got out, and unloaded our gear. It took a solid hour to set up everything. Once we did, we set to work. I welcomed the distraction of meticulously sifting through small piles of dirt. From time to time, I would look in the direction of my backpack to reassure myself that the bone was safe.

 

After three hours, we took a short break for lunch. We resumed working for another four hours until Dr. de Bruyner told us to stop for the day. We packed up our tools, cleaned up, and prepped everything for the next day’s work.

 

One of the council members came by to invite us to eat dinner with them in their cafeteria. No one answered right away, perhaps remembering the soup from last time. Dr. de Bruyner answered for us, and we all headed to the main building.

 

I grabbed my back pack and took it with me. Tim fell into step beside me. I had nowhere to go to avoid him. Thankfully, he only spoke about the dig. During a quiet pause, my stomach growled loudly.

 

“Sounds like somebody’s hungry. Let’s hope we’re not having soup.”

 

We reached the building and stopped at the restrooms to clean up. As I exited the women’s restroom, I saw Wesley. He had a concerned look on his face and came over to me.

 

“Hi, Audrey, how have you been?”

 

Before I could answer, he continued, “Can I talked to you for a minute? In private?”

 

“Sure,” I said warily and followed him to an empty room. We stood just inside the door.

 

“Hey, I don’t want to accuse you of stuff, but we’re missing a bone fragment from one of our tables. We noticed it was gone a couple of days after I showed you around.”

 

I began to shake slightly. My stomach growled again, and I fought the pain that came with it. Reaching into my pack, I pulled out the wrapped bone and handed it to him.

 

“Wesley, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have taken it. I just wanted to look good for my professor. I hoped to get some information documented about it quickly, so I could get it back to you.”

 

He stared at me with his mouth agape. “I almost lost my job because of you. How could you do that?”

 

I wiped tears from my eyes. “I don’t know. It was wrong. I’ve been a mess, I’ve been sick since I took it. I have these awful stomach pains, and strange cravings.”

 

He took a step back. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Look at me, Wesley. I look like I’m on drugs, but I’m not. I can’t eat any normal food, it tastes horrible. I only want to eat raw meat. But I’m still hungry all the time.”

 

His eyes were wide. “Oh, Audrey, no. Have you ever heard of the legend of Wendigo? It’s what happens when you take something from the tribe without permission.”

 

I froze. I remembered the information I had read online. “But I’ve given the bone back. Doesn’t that cancel everything out?”

 

He shook his head.

 

“What do you mean?” I asked desperately.

 

“It doesn’t work like that. You can’t just reverse it. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do.” He was slowly backing away from me.

 

My mind was reeling. I wanted to grab Wesley and shake him.

 

“Is there a problem here?” It was Dr. de Bruyner. “You’re late for dinner, Audrey.”

 

I gave Wesley one last pleading look then turned away.

 

I couldn’t touch any food. I barely kept down the water that I sipped. Tim tried failingly to hold any eye contact with me. I avoided him on the ride back to camp by sitting next to someone else in the van. I wore my headphones and closed my eyes.

 

After quick good nights, we all went to our cabins. It took all my strength not to run. I thought I’d made it when Tim grabbed my arm.

 

“Audrey, wait, talk to me.”

 

I shook his grip off. “Don’t touch me, Tim. Just leave me alone. Last night was a mistake.” I started crying.

 

“Hey, don’t say that. I’m sorry for grabbing you like, that but I’m really worried. I think you need some help. Tell me what I can do.”

 

I looked up into his eyes. In a different life, I might have enjoyed spending time with him, having a relationship, going out to clubs and movies. “It just won’t work. I like you, Tim, but you don’t understand. You can’t help me. Please leave me alone.”

 

He looked hurt. “Audrey, you know you can ask me for anything. You know where to find me.” He turned slowly and was gone.

 

Inside my cabin, with the door locked and the curtains pulled closed, I once again read through the information on my laptop regarding the Wendigo. There was no way to reverse the condition. The evil spirit of the Wendigo had become one with the human. The only way to rid the creature was to kill it.

 

 

 

So here I stand in front of the mirror, somehow coming to terms with the hideous reflection that I see. It’s useless to wonder how things might have been if I’d decided not to steal the bone. I can’t change what happened.

 

But I can change what happens from now on. I will choose to not let this sickness take control over me. I will choose to make sure this creature never hurts anyone again.

 

As I leave my cabin, I know what I have to do.

If you want to download the pdf of this short story, click here.

Lisa's Writings

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Books by Lisa M. Griffiths

Creepy Shorts book by Lisa M. Griffiths

Creepy Shorts

by Lisa M. Griffiths

Who doesn’t love a bit of a scare, especially at bedtime? Creepy Shorts, a new collection of original ghostly and ghastly tales, will keep kids...

The Traveling Coin: Margeaux's Secret book by Lisa M Griffiths

The Traveling Coin

Margeaux’s Secret

by Lisa M. Griffiths

Ever wonder what it would be like to travel back in time? Twelve-year-old Alice Hammond is about to find out...

The Traveling Coin: Partners book by Lisa M Griffiths

The Traveling Coin

Partners

by Lisa M. Griffiths

A normal, hot summer stretched before thirteen-year-old Alice Hammond. She’d made a promise not to touch...

Helena Goes to Hades book cover

Heléna Goes To Hades

by Lisa M. Griffiths

READ SNEAK PEEK!! Heléna Katsaros has a great life that allows her to travel and meet all manner of interesting people. So, when she meets the...
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Eyes and coat as black as the devil’s heart
With sturdy body and long, thick mane
It stood tall and proud with legs firmly apart
This gorgeous creature was far from plain.

-from “The Ride of His Life,” by Lisa M. Griffiths

Lisa’s Writings

Succumbed to the Sandman

He tried and tried to make me understand
The evil that lurked beyond the trees
“A spirit,” he said, “who commands the sand
“And brings the strong down on their knees.”

Moon Over Bourbon Street

Many people stopped to watch her go by, looks of awe upon their faces. An older gentleman strumming a guitar on a corner inclined his head, doffed his cap, and said, “How do…

On the Trail to San Wileo

Joining the coyotes, the wind did howl
While the stars up above shown bright
Pilar was scared for pumas on the prowl
“I hope we make it safely through this night.”

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