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All too often, my nights would end with a freezing walk to the nearest payphone to reach out to a friend for some help. My car was a piece of shit. To be brief and spare you the mechanical jargon, it had a nasty habit of dying on me. Being a native to mountainous regions of Montana, this was a death sentence come winter. The snowy roads that cut through the American wilderness had long distances between cities. You could drive for miles and miles without ever seeing a sign of another human being. If you were unfortunate enough to experience some car trouble along the way, you’d have quite the long, and potentially treacherous walk before you reached any civilized portion of the landscape.
Luckily for me, I was located in Baker, a small town with a great community, and everything you’d need to get by: a gas station, schools, and even a few stores, so I didn’t need to drive around much anyways. Baker is a quaint little place where people tired of the mundane city life dream of vacationing. The beauty of the rural Montana landscape could fill a thousand art galleries. Great as this town is, it’s just great as a vacation destination. Being such a simple place, Baker doesn’t offer its residents much. For me, growing up in a small rural town wasn’t all that I could have ever hoped for. I wanted to see towering skyscrapers, colossus stadiums, and experience the spectacular flashy lifestyle of big cities like Los Angeles and New York.
I was stuck in Baker though. I was twenty-two, and working in an oil field. I didn’t have some promising job that would send me all over world, or even out of the state for that matter. College was a no-go since my parents were of the working class, and the nearest college was hundreds of miles away from Baker. Things seemed bleak for me, until just a few weeks ago when an old childhood friend of mine, Dave had reached out to me. Somehow, Dave had made it out of Baker, put himself through school, and through some kind of business venture, had done quite well for himself. Now financially established, he was going to open a small diner in the much larger city of Billings, Montana. I couldn’t believe it. I can still vividly remember our childish conversations around the Nintendo 64, about the experiences we were going to have once we got out of Baker. At the time, our naïve promises held no real weight, but Dave stuck true to his dream, and he made it happen. Beyond that, after all of this time, Dave hadn’t forgotten about me.
The diner was set to open in less than a week, so Dave invited me to travel to Billings as soon as possible. Although it was a crappy fry cooking job at an even cheaper wage than I was getting paid at my current job, the prospect of traveling to a big city to work with an old friend was not a proposal I was about to wait on. After all, Billings had colleges, and so much more people to meet. The probability of finding an actual career or even finding someone to start a relationship with was an actual possibility now. I understand how wishful my thinking was to anyone who hadn’t come from a similar background, but coming from a place where opportunities like this were far and few, this was the break I had been dreaming of.
Since Billings was a little over two-hundred-and-twenty miles away, I thought it would be a good idea to ask a local friend to drive me there, instead of risking it with my own beat down car. He agreed, although a little bitter out of envy that I too had made it out of Baker. Later on that night, my ride Jacob, some family and friends, and myself had a little get together; a “going away party” of sorts. As the party died down, Jacob and I sat together on my front porch. He confessed to me that he didn’t want me to go. Even though we didn’t hang out much anymore, I understood. Good friends were hard to come by in a little town like Baker, and I would have been salty about it too if things had been the other way around.
The next morning, I knew that the next conversation between Jacob and I would be pretty awkward on account of the whole sappy, alcohol induced, “I’m gonna miss you” talks we exchanged with each other. Regardless of all that, my anticipation for new life experiences overshadowed my apprehension, and I gave Jacob a call around 4 pm. I expected Jacob to be just getting off of work, but to my surprise, he was still seemingly drunk from last night. He started to berate me, and put me down. “You’ll be back you fuckin’ loser. You’ll come back and I won’t be here for you.” I slammed the phone back on the receiver, and went to my room. I was so angry at my friend’s selfishness that I rounded up my things and threw them into my car. I didn’t care if my clunker could made it or not, I was at least going to try to get out of here. With all of my belongings packed up and ready to go, I started my car and began my two-hundred-and-twenty mile trek to Billings, Montana at around 5:30 pm. Since the sun sets about an hour earlier than that in the winter, it looked like I was going to make this drive in the dark. The thick snow that blanketed the surrounding landscape only further contributed to the riskiness of the situation.
After about twenty minutes of driving in my calculated, angry state, I settled down and recalled that this was a turning point in my life, and as such should be welcomed with a pleasant, peaceful journey. I put my anger behind me, reclined my seat a bit, and put on some soft music. Suddenly, the trip became a therapeutic godsend. I wasn’t even thinking of the new, exciting opportunities that awaited me in Billings, I just sat down, shut up, and appreciated the tranquility of it all. Before I knew it, I had arrived in Forsyth, Montana to fuel up and get quick bite to eat. I left home in such a hurry that I hadn’t gotten the chance to eat something before I headed out. Satisfied from a nice hot meal, I hit the road to tackle the remaining 100 miles or so left on my trip. Conditions were decent, and my car was performing much better than I ever could have hoped for. After driving uphill for quite some time though, that was no longer the case.
The weakened sound of my waning engine snapped me out of my euphoric state and brought about the gravity of the whole situation. Instantly, I processed all of the factors. The snow, lack of an emergency cell phone, and the immense emptiness of my surrounding area. My mind raced as I racked through my thoughts to remember the last time I had even seen another car: Not since Forsyth about forty miles back. Not a single car or person since then. My stomach dropped, revealing the surprisingly deep void in my gut. Immediately it had all come to me, this wasn’t some insincere teenaged statement you make to your parents by running away, just to come home a pathetic twenty minutes later. This was a full scale, absolute, life threatening situation. There was a very real potential that I could die out here. My terror escalated as I counted all of the possibilities, to the point where I found myself again afraid of childhood fears like the dark, and of monsters.
A mere eight miles after my epiphany, my car let out a thud, and then sputtered to a slow winding death. There my car and I sat, in the middle of the road in a blackened forest. The gently rhythmic pitter patter of the snow pellets appeased me into a hypnotic state of shock for a minute, maybe more. Gradually, the creeping cold that began to envelop me awoke me from my episode of comatose. Pellet by pellet, it came back again: reality. The danger. The fear. After some time had passed, I realized that I didn’t have time to be frozen by fear anymore. The time had come to establish goals, and act on them. My first goal was to clear my car off of the road. The visibility was quite terrible by this point, the last thing I wanted was for some innocent traveler to smash into my obstacle of a car, and render the both of us helpless out here. I removed my seat belt, grabbed my jacket, and hopped out of the car.
Upon examination of the scene, I saw I was on a slight incline, so negotiating this maneuver in the snowy blitz would prove to be quite difficult. I placed my car in neutral and began to slowly guide the car towards the side of the road. The weight of the vehicle and slipperiness of the sleet-laden road caused me to begin to lose my footing. Now running backwards at nearly full speed, I stumbled and lost my shaky grip of the car. I fell to the ground on my back, and quickly sat up to turn and witness what would become of my vehicle. In the darkness, all I could see was the reflection of the moonlight on my car’s glossy white exterior. The car bulldozed on and continued to accelerate down the slope until finally being swallowed whole by the darkness of night. I heard it continue to wind down the hill until the violent sound of a distant impact haunted my ears. I got up and ran over to the grizzly site. With the aid of my flashlight, I found that my vehicle had ended its ride at the trunk of a large tree.
In my survivalist state, I did my best not to dwell too much on the carnage that I had just witnessed. My next move was to gather my most essential supplies from the vehicle, and establish a safe way to wait for a passerby. I must have known in the back of my mind that my car wouldn’t make it because I had brought tons of water, hand warmers, flashlights, a magnesium fire starter, rope, you name it. I tried to pop open the trunk, but the wreckage had destroyed it, so I moved inside the car to gain access via the backseat. I folded down the backseat and reached my arm through the opening and retrieved my backpack of survival gear. Amidst this terrifying trial I was facing, I managed somehow to appreciate the surprisingly decent job I had done in preparation. Everything was neatly contained, and readily accessible from this one bag.
Since I was alone, and with relatively few supplies, I knew that staying inside the car was a bad move. The snowfall was getting worse, and I knew that nobody would ever find me if my car got completely engulfed by the snow. My best course of action was to wait outside my car and try to stay warm until I could flag someone down. And that’s exactly what I did. For over 2 hours I sat in the blistering cold and waited for any sign of another person. Not a single living creature passed me by. This land was completely vacant. I was losing hope, I couldn’t sit here and wait for much longer. I can’t say that I was surprised, I knew as soon as my car had died that I had made a fatal mistake, and that this was going be a fight for my life. But I have got to say, it’s a frightening thing to see your car begin to vanish right in front of you little by little. If I had foolishly chosen to stay in my car for this long, there’s a chance that I never would have made it out of that vehicle alive.
I was done sitting. It was time to move on, if nobody was going to find me, then I was going to find them. I decided to head back toward Forsyth, because I thought that I had seen a small rest stop just about six miles up the road. Making that kind of a hike for me would have been difficult in the best of conditions, and given the current circumstances this was destined for failure, but it was much better than just sitting there and waiting around to die. The first mile was easy. I was in full on survival mode, I couldn’t be bothered by any other thoughts, I was only thinking about what I needed to do next. I needed to trudge on, and find some way of contacting a loved one to come to my dire need of rescue. But my transition from survival mode back to normal scared and worried mode was coming through in waves. Terrified for a brief moment or two, then the horror would be cast out by my unconscious in order to make a productive effort at survival.
Nearing the second mile, I found myself again at the “terrified” end of the cycle. The adrenaline had departed far sooner than I was comfortable with. The expansive darkness that I found myself in was so unlike its daytime counterpart that it seemed to be an entirely different world. As a result, I found myself like a baby, scared of the unknown qualities of an unfamiliar new world. In the daytime world, I knew that monsters, ghosts, and all things supernatural did not exist, but under the veil of snow, and shrouded by the intense absence of light, I just didn’t know that with certainty anymore. Walking down the absent street, I swayed my flashlight from left to right.
First checking the foreground, then pushing my sight as far back into the brush as my flashlight would allow. From left to right, I repeated this process for three and a half miles, with nothing to occupy my thoughts but stories of ghosts, zombies, killers, and other staples of the horror genre. Each time I brought my flashlight to the opposite side, I flinched in fear of what my eyes might meet. After about three and half miles down the road, I had seen nothing, until finally my eyes laid upon an amazing scene. About three-hundred yards off the side of the road sat a small, dimly lit cabin. The billowing cloud of smoke that rose above the house’s chimney was such a sight for sore eyes that I could almost feel the warmth from this far away. In utter excitement that my trip could potentially end over two miles sooner than I had projected, I made a mad dash for the cabin.
As I drew nearer to the small structure, details that were unseen from afar began to come increasingly visible. The house was in a pretty advanced state of disrepair. The home was slouching to one side, and its wood was heavily distressed. I was beginning to fear that house was abandoned, but then I remembered that the house was lit, someone had to of been inside. This realization frightened me even more, because whomever or whatever was dwelling in the house was obviously not the owner. No homeowner could allow their house to become so crippled with neglect.
I was just scaring myself, I needed to pull it together. My next hope at finding someone was over two miles up the road, and I didn’t know how long I handle the freezing weather. I pushed my fear and doubts deep down inside me, and mustered up the courage to knock on the door. Knock! Knock! Kno- I shuttered in pain as a sliver of the decrepit wood splintered into my fist. I shut my eyes tight as I attempted to pull the fragment from my hand. After a few seconds of gnawing, I opened my eyes and realized that the door was creaked open.
I was sure that nobody had answered the door, surely they would have said something. Seeing the decaying state of the home, I realized that I may had accidentally broken their door. Balling up my fist in my sweater for protection, I proceeded to knock on the much sturdier door frame this time, and got to work conjuring up an apology for damaging the door. Much to my surprise, nobody came. Seconds turned to minutes, knocking turned to pounding, and calling became pleading. I walked around outside the home investigating to see if there were any other signs that someone was there. But still, nobody responded to me. The house was empty.
Within 30 minutes of arriving on the property, I was beginning to contemplate just walking in. If someone were to stumble upon my home in similar circumstances, and them getting inside could have meant the difference between life and death, then I would understand, I would have to. Besides, “Just look at this shitty home,” I said to myself, “The person staying here probably doesn’t even belong here. What’s the difference if I squat here too? At least long enough to get myself warm, so that I can make the long trip to the rest stop.” I continued to ration with myself. Five minutes later, I just couldn’t resist anymore.
After announcing, “I’m going to have to come inside, it’s an emergency!” I carefully pushed open the creaky door and stepped in. Immediately, a wall of warmth embraced me, and not long after, so did the smell. This place certainly was abandoned. It smelled like the people who lived here before had gone without clearing the fridge, or taking their pets with them. My face contorted in disgust, and I scrunched my nose in an effort to ward off the putrid stench. I swung my head from side to side, searching for the source of the grotesque odor. My slow, methodical footsteps came to a standstill when I realized the horrifying environment that I had found myself in. The shack in which I was residing was obviously occupied by some kind of dark summoner. Sacred jewels and pendants were abundant amongst the coffee table. Mysterious patterns of blood droplets filled pages scattered throughout the room.
At the farthest wall opposite the front door stood a large shrine with an indecipherable character at its peak. Candles, pages, and other offerings accompanied the perplexing altar. Taking in the scenery, I tried my best not to theorize where the aroma might have been coming from; I really didn’t want to know. My knowledge of the occult, witches, and all things supernatural was limited to what I had seen in horror films, and those silly, late night History Channel specials, but I was absolutely certain that whatever had been going on in this house was not something that I wanted any kind of involvement with. Standing in the middle of the small room, I peered around for a phone.
Along with the horrifying scene of bloody manuscripts and other cult paraphernalia, I observed that the house was only lit by the fireplace and candles. I concluded that it would be foolish to continue my search, as the house most likely did not have running electricity. I didn’t complain, I was just glad that I had yet another excuse to get the hell out of there. By this time, I had more than enough justification to turn around and freeze my ass off in even the worst of blizzards.
Suddenly, I heard a loud slam. I jumped. My heart pounded faster than I knew it capable of, and I whipped my head around to see what had caused the noise. The rhythmic crunch of feet on the snow scurrying away from the door filled my ears. I tensed up and attempted to process what was going on. Immediately, I realized that I didn’t need to know what was going on, I just needed to run. I threw my body around, and sprinted for the exit. A sensational feeling of satisfaction overwhelmed me as my shoulder reduced the feeble door to pieces. Keeping all of my momentum, my body flew out of the dreadful dwelling. In an instant that feeling was replaced by pain and terror as a hand emerged from the home and clutched a vicious hold on my head. The sharp, brittle nails buried themselves deep inside my scalp and extracted a handful of hair and tissue. The creature’s tearing jerk on my head pulled me back and caused me to lose all forward momentum. I fell to my back, striking the porch staircase with such force that all wind was sucked from my body in an instant. Panicked, I shot up to my feet, turned around and threw a punch with all of the vitality I had left in me. In the small window of time before my strike reached its target, my eyes caught a glimpse of the horrifying beast. Its body type was similar to a tall woman, about equal to my height, six-foot-one.
Its hair was matted and thrashed about, partially obscuring its face. The creature’s arms were unproportionately long for its already tall body. Its hands too, were long and thin, and dripped with blood from the havoc it had just wreaked on my scalp. The being did not wear clothing, its naked breast, and waist shape supported my inference that this monster actually used to be an ordinary woman. Although I only saw the abomination for a mere fraction of a second, my ability to recount its details is a testament to just how shocking its appearance was. Finally, my fist clashed with the creature’s face, and threw the monster to the floor. The unknown nature of this mysterious beast’s abilities convinced me that I shouldn’t stick around to find out. So immediately after impact, I turned around, and ran back to the road that I had walked in on.
I ran with such vigor, and determination that I almost didn’t recognize myself. Even in dire circumstances of life and death, I don’t think anyone else has ever dug down as deep as I had that night. I maintained a full sprint for the remaining two and a half miles until arriving at my destination, a small rest area with a gas station and a diner.
Upon arrival, both places were closed, as it was probably around 1am by now, but I was able to place a call to my parents back home at a payphone. They answered with a swift, “Hello?” after just a single ring. They were worried that I hadn’t called them by now, and felt that something had gone wrong. After my intentionally brief explanation that my car had broken down and that I was stranded, they told me that they were on their way. “Drive safe mom, love you,” I murmured before hanging up the phone. It was so hard to withhold my full experience from my mom, but I decided not to tell her. Not out of fear that she would think I was crazy; I really didn’t care what anybody believed, but because I didn’t want her to make a dangerous rush on the way over. The last thing I needed was for her to be so worried that she drove recklessly and got in an accident. I made it this far to reach my rescue, and I wasn’t going to let anything impede on me getting home safely this time.
For an hour and a half, I sat completely still at the bench next to the payphone. I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t freezing. I wasn’t exhausted. And I wasn’t scared. My mother pulled the car over nearby, and my father retreated from the vehicle and ran up to me. “What the hell are you doing sit right out in the snow? You’re gonna…” he exclaimed, my strong embrace interrupted his more than appropriate statement. I must have held him for too long, and too hard, because normally, he would have pulled away within a few seconds. But he didn’t. My mom exited the car, and I shared a passionate hug with her as well. Wiping my tears, I motioned them into the vehicle, and we pulled away from the rest stop.
The car ride home must have been incredibly difficult for my parents. The scenes that I painted, and the horror that I described was probably unlike anything they had ever heard before. I told them first about the car, then I told them about my walk to the shack, and finally, I told them about my experience with the witch-like creature. They must have thought I was crazy until I showed them the horrible mess that my head was. My mom nearly slammed on the brakes, and exclaimed that we needed to get to a hospital. I pleaded with her to keep going, I wanted to get far away from this place before we stopped and did anything. To my mom’s credit, she listened; we drove for an hour before I was comfortable with looking for a hospital.
At the hospital, they explained the dire situation I was in. I was suffering from blood loss, hypothermia, and frostbite on the skin where the monster had attacked me. And now I’d like to retract a statement that I previously had made, I actually did care what the doctors believed, so I decided not to tell them my story about the creature that had attacked me. These people actually had the power to institutionalize if they thought I was insane, so I told them that I had gotten attacked by a mountain lion. Somehow, I convinced my parents to give the same story if the doctors asked. Upon awaking after hours of treatment, a nurse informed me that a fragmented nail of the, “mountain lion” that had attacked me had been removed during reconstructive surgery. My jaw dropped. The possibility that I could have some real life proof of whatever that thing was, was staggering. “Can I keep it, please?” I shouted.
The nurse gave a puzzled look and said, “I’ll check with the doctor, but I can’t see why not.” Minutes later, she returned with the foreign material in a clear canister, and handed it to me.
“You sure that’s from a mountain lion? I have seen a few mountain lion nails in my days, but none of them ever looked like that,” said the nurse.
“No, I guess I must have been wrong, it was so dark out there, you know,” I replied.
“Whatever that thing was, you’re lucky to be alive,” she said.
“That’s one thing I can say for sure…” I said under my breath.
Back at home a few days later, the pain was subsiding, and I had a lot of questions that needed to be answered. I didn’t really know where to start, though. Even in a big city I’d imagine it’s quite difficult to find good information on this kind of thing. Not having much to go on, I set out for Susan’s house. Susan was the town nutcase, at least, that’s what her reputation was. My mother always told me and my friends to stay away from her when we were kids. I never thought that all these years later, she would be the person I needed to see the most.
I arrived at her front porch, and hesitated to knock. The last time I knocked on an unfamiliar door it ended with a monster tearing away at my scalp. However, I recalled that if I didn’t get in contact with this woman, I might never find out more about what I had encountered, or if I was in future danger. Like I said, my lack of knowledge on the vile creature left me unsure of its true ability. If I was ever going to have a chance at peace of mind, then I needed to talk with Susan.
I quivered, and proceeded to knock on the door. Knock! Knock! Knock! A few moments passed, and then I heard the sound of the door unlocking. An old woman creaked the door open some, and peered out through the opening.
“Yeah?” said the old woman.
“Um, are you Susan?” I replied.
“Yeah, why? Who are you?” responded Susan.
“Susan, you don’t know me, but I’ve been living in Baker a long time, and recently I had a very strange experience that I think you might want to hear.” She didn’t say anything back. Fearing that she would shut me out, I pleaded with her.
“Susan please, I hate to waste your time, but I have some questions to ask, I’m afraid for my life. You are the only person I could come to.”
With that the old woman shut her door and walked away. I was not about to give up though. I extended my arm, ready to knock on the door again. Just as I lifted my arm, I could hear footsteps again growing closer to the door. This time, Susan unlatched the door and welcomed me in. As soon as I entered her home, she made a command to stop with a motion of her hand, and I heeded her direction. From a nearby shelf, she produced a thin incense stick, and a small bottle that appeared to be some kind of potion. She handed me the container.
“Do not sip. It is bitter,” said Susan as she motioned me to drink.
I halfway thought she was kidding, but I was so desperate for answers that I didn’t mind the humiliation, I took the shot of liquid in my hand and swallowed it. The taste made me cringe. Susan then proceeded to take her stick of incense and blow in wisps at my head, heart, and each of my hands and shoulders.
“This is for my protection, not yours,” she explained.
I gave a nod in respect, and allowed her to continue on with various ritualistic gestures. When she had completed, she invited me to sit at the couch across from her.
“Tell me, what have you experienced?” asked Susan.
“On a trip to Billings, my car broke down and I was stranded in the woods a few nights ago.” I explained, “In an effort to find aid, I stumbled upon a peculiar shack that had ritualistic items like bloodstained scrolls, pendants, and a candlelit shrine. Upon realizing that I was in danger, I tried to leave, but a woman with long arms and sharp nails attacked me. I was able to escape, but I fear that this is not over. I am afraid she will come back and haunt me, or even worse.”
“How long ago was the attack?” Susan replied.
“About three days ago,” I answered.
“So you have been experiencing hallucinations, and other paranormal phenomena then?”
“No, I haven’t, but the fear that I am not out of danger keeps me awake at night.”
“Young man, you had an encounter with the Amwisak.”
“What is that?”
“The Amwisak are a group of dark summoners. They were once members of the Native American Chippewa tribe here in Montana, long ago. When a great snowstorm fell upon this region over two-hundred years ago, many children and infants within the tribe did not make it. Angered and desperate, a small group of tribeswomen prayed to the dark gods to revive the young ones who were lost. Their results were potent, and the children were miraculously revived. When the rest of the Chippewa tribe discovered the truth about how they were saved, they killed the children, and cast out the band of dark women. Now isolated from their former tribe, the women honed their craft and expanded their mystical capabilities. They used their powers to transform themselves into fearsome creatures that haunt, curse, and even kill. You have experienced firsthand how wicked they can be. Young one, though it may appear that my knowledge is omnipotent, do not be fooled, for I am puzzled.”
“You are?” I questioned. “Why?”
“People who are attacked by the Amwisak rarely live to tell about it, and above that, those who survive suffer curses and haunting dreams for the rest of their lives. But you tell me that you do not encounter the same hardships. How can this be?”
I racked my mind for reasons why I wasn’t having such challenges. I almost wanted to give myself the credit, as it was my determination and strength that helped to ward off the foe, and get back to safety. I quickly checked my ego, and rejected this idea. I couldn’t possibly be stronger than a group of women who transformed themselves seemingly through magic.
“Tell me,” she continued, “Did you take something from the beast. A sacred necklace? A scroll?”
“Certainly not!” I replied hysterically. “As soon as I understood the danger of the place I was in, I tried to leave.”
But then I remembered that I had taken something from the creature. Even if not purposefully, I had in my possession one of its own talons. “Wait…” I muttered as I reached into my coat pocket.
My hand touched the clear plastic container that encapsulated the monster’s nail given to me by the nurse at the hospital. I retrieved it from my pocket. “What is it?” Susan inquired with wonder.
“They found this in my scalp during the surgery,” I said, “I think that this is its nail.”
She looked surprised. I began to open the container when suddenly Susan stumped my action with a quick swat of her hand.
“Stop!” she exclaimed. “You mustn’t handle it. There’s no telling what mysterious powers this fragment can hold. One thing that is clear though, is that you must keep this piece safe with you forever. This claw is what saved you from her. Without it, she is incomplete, and therefore powerless.”
Suddenly it was all coming to me, Susan was right, this nail is what saved me from her. It helped me to find the strength to deal a shocking blow to the creature. It helped me to run the long distance to the rest stop with incredible quickness and endurance. It aided in calming me on my wait at the payphone, when normally I should have been consumed by fear and pain. And it saved me from being cursed or haunted for the rest of my life like the others. All of this I explained to Susan.
“It’s apparent that even after being severed from its keeper,” said Susan. “This object still possesses supernatural powers. Although I cannot prohibit you from experimenting with its energy—for you have righteously earned it, allow me to provide you with some sage advice: Beware things in which we do not fully understand.”
I left Susan’s house with a new sense of power, and peace of mind. All of my questions were not answered though. What was the shelf life of the witch’s nail that I possessed? Would it fade away in a matter of weeks? Or would it last forever so long as I did not touch it, and use its powers as my own? Although I understood little about its mystical qualities, I felt a sense of confidence that I was going to be okay. The Amwisak were scattered all over Montana, that’s a fact that I now had to live with, but I was convinced that as long as I kept this fragment in my possession at all times, the Amwisak could not harm me.
While my experience at the shack in the middle of nowhere undoubtedly changed me, it did not leave me crippled, haunted, or living with intense paranoia for the rest of my days. It helped me to experience a sensation that I’ve never had before: absolute power, endurance, and will. In the moment, I experienced relative numbness, but looking back, I feel proud at what I had accomplished. Having conquered this most extreme of trials, I was ready to continue on with my plans to head to Billings to create a new life for myself, now unafraid of what challenges I might face.