The small lake lay silent in the early morning, wreathed by a dense layer of fog. Small poplars on the far northern shore rose above the soft blanket
of white, sprinkling tawny yellows amid dark pillars of pines. The surface of the water, calmed in the breathless air, laying silvered amongst the
stones...adding to the eerie motionless dawn.
Here, on the southern shore, the ground fell slowly to the waters edge in a thick copse of cedars. Their sweet scent filled the air as the cold dew
suffused with aromatic oils, pungent, strong and overwhelming. Below, a raccoon searched for clams in the shallows, hopping from stone to stone,
dipping his long fingered paws into the black muck in his quest. Upon a discovery, he would chirrup happily, commencing the arduous task of breaking
the shell to retrieve the cold wet prize within.
But the meal lay forgotten now, split upon the stones, the pink sweet flesh ignored. His hulking body trembled, shivering with fear, eyes glued
outward into the foggy wraiths hiding the deeper water. He was immobilized upon the stone.
A small ripple washed by him, and then another, followed by the sound of something swimming. There, in the deeper waters, something indistinct was
approaching slowly, bobbing closer with each passing moment. The raccoon could not move, as if impaled upon the rock, it stared silently as a feminine
human head materialized out of the whiteness. Long blonde hair trailed behind her, curling in the eddies of her wake, small sucking sounds accompanied
the strong push of arms and legs beneath the surface. Her eyes, cold and silvery, were focussed far away, past the small grey creature, as if
searching her path through the woods ahead.
The muffled sound of stones clunking together underwater stopped her forward movement and her head, no longer bobbing, turned slowly from side to
side, taking in the scene with a reptillian determination. Her eyes, resting for a moment on the raccoon quaking in fear, passed on into the
impenetrable wall of cedars. Pulling herself forward now, she crawled out upon the stone strewn shallows, raising herself to her feet. Ragged
remnants of sweater hung from her torso to the branch-torn jeans she still wore. Through the tattered clothes, a thick swath of dirty blonde hair
covered her arms, breasts and belly, flattened to her skin by water which poured from her in thick cold runnels tinkling musically into the lake.
Once again she stared down at the small creature paralized at her feet, her eyes seeing the blood in the veins pulsing in terror within its small
body. Reaching down with one hand and lifting it by the neck, she grasped its head with the other and wrenched it from the body, Her mouth, opened
wide, fastened itself on the bloody wound and then sucked the insides out as she mashed it to her face. Smeared with blood, her lips withdrew from the
unrecognizable mass of fur, and she let it fall into the water. Her mouth widened as she lifted her head and a gurgling sound began to spill into the
silence of the dawn. It rose slowly, the volume of her rage intensifying in strength, becoming a hoarse scream, rising again, becoming a clearer note,
building in intensity, an inhuman screech, a trumpet of hatefulness and wildness, ending in an electric buzz not unlike a cicada, echoeing through the
forest before her.
She did not know who she was. She moved only on instinct, one torn foot after another, following the north wind as it blew by her. Graceful as a cat
she flowed across the tumbled mass of fallen trees. Wherever she looked, she saw the warm blood flow in the tiny bodies of the creatures, immobilized
on branches, under ferns and cedar boughs. But she ignored them, searching for what she truly craved, wild with desire for human flesh, worming her
way downwind through the trees and bushes.
The silver pupils in her eyes reflected the dull orange of the rising sun to her left, revealing two smouldering fires within the space between the
lank damp strands of her wild hair. Small bits of cedar and pine needles stuck in the clots of blood drying within its tangles. Her throat gurgled
with ragged breaths as she forced her way through dense thickets, her naked hairy feet thumping on rotten logs, her arms and hands snapping branches
which barred her path. She was the bringer of death, her mind knew only hunger and the elusive prey of choice was nowhere to be seen. Once again she
stopped and raised her head to voice her rage in a drawn out screeching wail, echoing through the valley in the spreading light, borne upon a
All day she stalked, ever southward, the cold breeze at her back. All that night as well, never stopping nor swerving in her determined course, she
continued, passing terrified deer and moose, bear and eagle. All were stopped in their tracks as she had approached, unable to run, their terror
complete, but she ignored them.
She had sensed something new...something which quickened her steps, something which resonated in her belly, knotted her muscular legs and arms until
they creaked and snapped. She didn't smell them. She didn't see them. But, she knew they were ahead by the black joy that filled her heart. The
plodding pace she had kept now turned into a run and she howled as she charged with an unholy screeching which had no place in the throats of humans.
She crashed through the brush, ripping what shreds of the sweater were left, the lond hairs covering her body undulating as she navigated fluidly
through the bush.
Poplar Hill sat on end of the peninsula sticking out into Stout Lake. A collection of small buildings surrounded on three sides by water. It boasted a
police station and not much else for this quiet little camp, now mostly depopulated, except for a few tourists intent on the muskie fishing season. On
a good day, there might be a couple of hundred souls there, mostly bearing the same surname that Dan Meekis had. He and Orland were preparing for the
Windigo, gathering tinder and dry logs for huge fires. Every one there had thought they were crazy, except for the Elders, which was a good thing,
because their plan needed many willing hands.
Large heaps of cedar and jack pine deadfalls spanned the breadth of the peninsula between Poplar Hill and the northern woods. Laid out in a 'v',
they would funnel the Windigo into a trap, then the path behind her would be lit so she would be totally surrounded by fire.
"You sure this'll work, Orland? She's not gonna just go between the piles, is she?" Dan Threw another log onto the massive heap shaped like a
horseshoe at the midpoint of the 'v', closest to the town.
"Well, if she does, we're all dead meat, she won't go near fire if she can help it...it's the only thing she fears and it's our only chance to
Dan stopped for a second, looking inward at a memory, and Orland caught the young man's grief. Grunting with effort, the old man threw another chunk
of wood on top and went for the next. It seemed like every one was pitching in now, even though they all thought it was crazy. Once the Elders had
made their decision, though, there were no more guffaws or depracating jokes...grudgingly they had gone out and followed Orlands orders. Grudgingly,
that is, until they grew quiet, almost trancelike, as they went about the business of gathering and piling.
Something was changing. A concerned look began to creep into the eyes of everyone. Their minds sensed something fearful and it was closing. Furtive
glances to the Elders smoking and chanting on the porch of the OPP station were increasing. Their eyes became glassy, shining in their dark
complexion, seemingly confused.
The Elders chanted, remembering the old ways that were used, some fifty years before, at the Berens River, when they were all young men. The Medicine
man had beat the Windigo that time, but the way the old ways had been left behind, and, even though there were those among them who knew ancient
cures, in their hearts they felt inadequate. They smoked, mumbled on amongst themselves and cursed the day they were no longer able to set up the
Far away, in the distance, all could hear a drawn out wail and their world stood still.
"Dan", Orland shouted, "Go that way and tell them to light the outer bonfires, I'll go the other and do the same. Tell them to count to one
hundred before they light the next one"
The Elders now became agitated, their voices edged with the beginnings of panic. A few even looked to the boats tied to the pier, not wanting to show
cowardice, knowing if, indeed, this was Windigo, it would be hopeless anyways, for the white woman would hunt them down one by one.
Thick grey smoke began coil into the cloudy skies as the first fires were lit. The crackling snap of burning cedar filled the hushed camp as the fire
spread. Beyond, much closer now, they once more heard that otherworldly howling, and they grew stupified, slow in their work. It was as if a shock
wave had enveloped them. Their movements became sluggish, unsure. Men stood open mouthed, gaping into the drifting smoke. The Elders grew silent,
staring in fear as they sat. The officers in the Police Station, coming finally out of their office, looked incredulously into the smoke, befuddled,
When she came out of the smoke, they stood or sat here and, shaking in fear, were unable to move a muscle. Her dead metal eyes scanned them,
slowly, unhurried. The moment seemed endless, and then she crooned, her anguish and her torment at an end. Shambling up upon the first person she
could find, her hand lashed out, suddenly tearing the mans throat out. By the time he fell, gushing a torrent of blood, she was on the next, and the
next, and the next. Her throat loosened a shriek of terrible joy as she waded through the crowd.
Orland died quickly as his head was torn from his body. The Elders were ripped to shreds as they sat gaping at this creature dancing a tempo of death,
covered in gore, her metallic pupils reflecting their pain in moments of frozen time. She became a whirlwind, bounding, snarling, ripping and tearing
until she became a fiece red goddess of death and the ground beneath the useless woodpiles had became littered with tangled bodies.
Dan stood alone, trembling, tears streaking his soot stained face. He could not move his legs and yet he was very much aware. He had watched her
rampage through the crowd like a marauding bear, wreaking her havoc on his relatives, his family, his friends. His heart wished for a quick end to his
suffering, but, it was not to be. Riek was feeding now, gorging herself on the meat, ripping the muscles from bones and gulping it down.
She fed for an eternity as Dan watched helplessly. The bonfires were spreading, he noticed, catching the woods around them aflame. One by one, the
rest of the piled logs caught as well and a roaring heat washed over both of them. The Windigo, slow from her feast, became groggy near the building
wall of flame. Slowly, she went down to her hands and knees, swaying back and forth, moaning.
He saw the hair fall from her body in thick swatches, as if it was melting, falling to the ground with the weight of the thickening blood. She began
to heave, her body arching violently, vomiting up huge amounts of red gore, spewing the steaming mess to an unbelievable distance before collapsing in
a heap in front of him.
Her eyes, now seemingly bewildered, changed from cold chrome to watery blue as she raised her face to him and her eyes suddenly caught his.
"Dan?", she asked.