Last week The Wendigo, Part 1 by C.W. Thornton was released. If you didn’t read it, make sure you catch up by clicking here prior to reading Part 2. The final part of the classic campfire story retelling will be published next week (the day before Halloween)!
The Wendigo, Part 2
The next day we packed up camp and headed out again on the snowmobiles. We didn’t see a single caribou, and Jeremy began complaining.
‘This is a rip off, if you ask me. I knew we should of gone to our usual spot but my brat of a sister suggests here ’cause it was easier for him to get here from Chicago.’ He jabbed a thumb in my direction. We had stopped and set up camp again, and we were scouting for caribou. Akaitcho was out in front when Jeremy turned to Red and whispered, ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m not paying this snow-spick a dime if we don’t get at least three bucks a piece.’
Suddenly our guide stopped and listened, holding up his hand for us to be quiet. A panting noise was coming from the trees to our left, and Akaitcho led the way between them. We began to notice blood staining the snow. We came into a clearing and saw a wolf curled beneath a tree. I stammered back into Red and was prepared to run until I noticed the trail of blood led to the animal, and that its viscera lay on the snow before it. Between its panting it would bury its snout in its guts and devour bits of itself.
‘I’m gonna be sick,’ Red said as he turned to leave the clearing to puke behind a tree.
Akaitcho raised his gun and the disgusting sounds of the wolf eating itself stopped with an ear splitting crack as he shot the animal in the head.
‘This is a bad sign.’ Akaitcho said, almost angry, but mostly terrified. ‘I heard you last night. I heard you speak of the Wendigo. And now he is here, I’m certain.’ The wind picked up, shaking the trees surrounding us.
We followed Akaitcho back to the camp where he retired to his tent without another word. The long gloaming was deepening already. We prepared our own meals that evening and went to bed without much discussion. When we woke up, Akaitcho’s tent and snowmobile were gone.
‘What a Goddamn disaster,’ Jeremy roared. ‘We never should’ve trusted that drunk Eskimo.’
‘Maybe we should go back,’ Red suggested, ‘get another guide and do it right.’
‘I agree with Red.’ I said.
‘No one cares what you think,’ Jeremy shot back. ‘You’re just spooked by some lame ghost story, your opinion doesn’t count.’
‘Look, we haven’t even seen any caribou.’ Red was more sober-minded since Akaitcho’s departure than I’d ever seen him. ‘The only animal we’ve seen out here was that disgusting wolf. I don’t even hear any birds for Chrisakes.’
‘Fine. If I’m outnumbered by the bitch-patrol, then let’s go on back and call the whole week a wash.’ Jeremy threw his gun on the ground in frustration and jumped backward when it discharged.
I instinctively covered my head and closed my eyes, and when I opened them Red was screaming on the snow, holding his left leg below the knee. Jeremy stared wide-eyed. I approached in disbelief before snapping back to reality and quickly stuffing my gloved hands over the bullet wound.
‘Oh God oh God oh God,’ was all Red was saying, over and over, as I took off my belt and tied a tourniquet above the wound on his calf. Jeremy was sitting on a log nearby, silent, hands on his head, as barely coherent as the friend he inadvertently shot. Red’s leg was mess, the size of a grapefruit and shooting bright red arterial blood onto the snow.
‘Jeremy.’ I said. No response. ‘Jeremy!’ I yelled. He looked over at Red and me. ‘We need to load him up on a snowmobile and get moving back to the lodge. We’re only two days out. We can get back in time to save his leg.’ The bleeding had slowed to an ooze, but Red needed a physician quickly.
Jeremy moved as in a fog and helped me sit Red on my snowmobile. We hastily threw our supplies together and looked around the clearing until we found Akaitcho’s snowmobile tracks and began following them.
We rode for hours, following the faint lines through the snow our guide left, quickly fading now that flurries were blowing through the trees.
‘This can’t be right,’ Jeremy said, his first words since shooting Red. ‘None of this is familiar. We didn’t come this way.’
‘Of course we did, why wouldn’t Akaitcho go back to the lodge?’ I asked.
‘The sun has been behind us all day. We’re going farther north.’
‘Shit. That would have been nice to know a few hours ago, Jeremy.’
‘Are you kidding me?’ Red exclaimed. ‘We’re going the wrong way? Oh God I’m going to die out here because of you!’
‘Because of me!’ Jeremy exploded out of his fog. ‘If it weren’t for my sister we’d be in Newfoundland like every other year! If he didn’t come with us!’
‘Stop it, both of you.’ It turned out that I would have to be the adult that got us out of this mess. ‘The sun is going down. Red isn’t bleeding anymore, but he can’t be exposed, out in the cold overnight. I say we set up camp here and go back the way we came in the morning.’
We built a fire, and I carved a blaze on a tree so we would know in the morning which way we came. I left Jeremy and Red at the camp and, with what little light was left over the horizon, I followed Akaitcho’s tracks further to see if he was camped up ahead. A few hundred yards beyond our camp the trees broke and I emerged in a wide, empty meadow. A few dozen feet beyond the trees Akaitcho’s snowmobile tracks stopped. I search all around where they ended and found no other tracks or footprints. I stood in the freezing cold, the wind whistling through the trees behind me, staring across the meadow at dusk. A chill ran up my arms and neck and I quickly turned and headed back to camp.
When I got back, I claimed that Akaitcho’s tracks became obscured amongst the trees. I kept the truth of what I saw to myself. If we made it back to the lodge we would send help for our guide, but I doubted there would be anything left of him to find. I began to believe the campfire stories.
Being alone in a dark, snowy forest is pretty scary. Where’s some place you wouldn’t want to be caught alone?