Do you remember that house in the woods? That one you were too scared to go into? That day you were out playing among the trees, happily dancing about and laughing. You delved deeper and deeper into the wood, believing the trees were benevolent, and might protect you.
Have you ever been more wrong? I wonder if you’ve ever told anyone what you found that day. The house in the woods.
It must have been beautiful once, a grand, great mansion. By the time you found it, the wilderness of the forest had overrun it again. All that was left was crumbing stone, breaking down, covering dark hallways and damp corridors. Faint traces of gold paint was the scent that inspired you to begin your hunt, small, worn patches of glittering colour. What were you expecting? Treasure? How fast your heart must have beat as you passed the leering gargoyles that hung from the roof, old and decrepit. Terrifying to a poor young child such as yourself. The candle you brought only made things worse, the small light throwing shadowy objects into grotesquely distorted monsters.
On you tiptoed, through the house. Through the house in the woods.
I still wonder if you'd dare to tell anyone the tale of what awaited you up the stairs. As you drew your candle closer to the door and found the star etched on the old wood, did your heart flutter? When you pushed open the creaking door and found it there, did you scream? If nobody is around to hear a child in a forest scream, do they make a sound?
It hung from ropes, strings, from all corners of the room. Like something from a horror movie, its entrails spilling from its slashed body and the old blood dried on the wooden plank floor. You never did tell anyone what you saw. Hearing a noise, you turned, only to find the door locked. No windows in this room, either.
Slowly your body responded, screaming out for sustenance. No amount of shouting and banging the door would get attention. Only I could hear you, watching from the other side of the door. Smiling. A starving man will turn aside from whatever values he holds dear, if he would otherwise die.
The body that hung at the centre of the room frightened you at first. Soon you began to think of it not as a source of terror, but a source of food. They say that a man who eats the flesh of his own kind will be cursed by the gods to be eternally hungry, ever eating yet never full. Their thin form is terrifying, with bones protruding almost through the skin. This is called a Wendigo. Have you ever heard of this legend?
The food ran out, of course. Meat does not last forever. They eventually found your body, in the old house in the woods. Can you imagine their shock and terror when they saw the door, locked from the outside? With no key to be found. Tearful days and sorrowful nights passed. They buried you in a graveyard, with a beautiful angel statue over your coffin. Much good that would do you, lying in the dirt, worms eating your flesh.
But that will all change now. Six months it’s been, but it feels so much longer. It’s night. I crouch beside your freshly dug grave. I whisper to you. “Time to get up, child.” Rise again, child. A Wendigo will howl tonight, its terrible hunger fuelling its anger. They say they first go for those it knew in life. It’s been six months, six long, lonely months.
Will your dear parents still recognise you?