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"There is an old tale that has been passed down to us from our grandfathers, and to them from their grandfathers, and so on." The old man's dark eyes flicker in the firelight. His long, grey braids drape over his shoulders, bound with leather. "They tell tales of a kind of monster that holds an insatiable hunger for the flesh of humans. A hunger born of greed and gluttony." He pauses, leaning forward in his rocking chair. "Wendigo." He whispers. The flames cast haunting shadows on his copper colored face.

The girl shivers, inching closer to him across the wooden floor. She pulls her blanket tighter around her shoulders. The faintest smile dances across the old man's lips, but quickly fades as he goes on with his story.

"They say a Wendigo has skin pulled tightly over its bones, like a buffalo hide over teepee poles. It's bones push out from it's rotting skin, its color the ashen gray of disease, and its eyes shrunken deep into their sockets. His teeth are rotted and yellow, and what lips it has are tattered and bloody. Its flesh smells of unclean and suffering, a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition. The scent of death."

She moves even closer, practically sitting on his feet. The wind rattles the door, the desert breeze whispering into the open windows. The night is dark, and not one star dares to come out tonight.

She looks up at the old man with fear in her eyes, hoping he will invite her into his lap.

He chuckles softly, opening his arms. She hastily climbs into his lap, wrapping her arms around his rough, leathery neck.

"Not to worry, little girl. You can only become a Wendigo if you are bitten, of course." He pulls her from the embrace. "You had better get to bed, your papa will be angry if you don't get up on time tomorrow."

She swallows, nodding. She climbs off the rocking chair, kissing him goodnight.

"Goodnight, little rose."

CHEROKEE ROSE (D. DIXON)Where stories live. Discover now