Cold

byTodd172©

Working on two things at once can be confusing, I decided to accept Jezz Az's challenge in the 750 Word Project, but I'd already accepted an invite to participate in Behind the Walls of Sleep, the Gothic Horror invitational set for the 17th of March. That should be a fun event, over 40 writers have committed to it, PapaToad among others, and all of them are damn good. As a dedicated reader of H.P. Lovecraft and Poe, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of it.

I finished my 750 Word event story (that one is over in Romance) and began to concentrate on BWS. Then the weather changed and I suddenly ended up with a second 750 Word story clawing at the back of my skull. Only instead of a second warm Romance, I ended up with something a bit... Colder.

*****

"Cold"

It was Cold this morning.

Not the chill of a cool breeze. Real Cold. A taste of that brutal Arctic hell. Just two below zero, with a wind chill of about twenty below. Not as Cold as Chicago is dealing with, where the actual temperature is colder than that and wind chills will reach fifty to sixty degrees below zero.

I understand Cold. I grew up with those temperatures and those wind chills in the winter. But that's not where I learned to understand Cold. From that experience, I learned the modern understanding of Cold. We say "I love the winter," but what we really mean is "I love being proof against the winter." Hearty men with beards and axes love the winter, but only so long as they can retreat to warmth and comfort when they have to. "I love the winter" means "I love skiing in my weatherproof clothes with the promise of mulled wine and, perhaps, a ski bunny or two waiting back at the lodge." That's the Modern understanding of Cold. All wrapped up in Thinsulate and puffy warm artificial goose down.

No, I really understand Cold. The ruthless numbing and biting, with all the gnawing, unrelenting hunger that comes with it.

My grandfather told me about it.

Not my maternal grandfather, a 1st generation American, of solidly Prussian blood, who loved children and was never too busy to sit on the floor and play with them.

It was my father's father, a terrifying old man. If rumors were true, he'd been what was kindly referred to as a "tailgunner on a beer truck" during prohibition. One look in his eyes was enough to dispel any thought that he was a peaceful man. His bloodline was far less clear than my maternal grandfather's, he was a man of many races. More than anything you could see the Ojibwe in him.

He never played with children.

But once in a while when he'd had the right amount to drink, he would tell stories. Stories his grandfather passed down to him. Stories of the Cold.

Of the Winter.

Of the Wìdjigò.

The Wendigo.

Bone-thin and ravenous, ears and nose eaten away by the biting Cold, with remnants of blackened tattered lips hanging around always-bared teeth; the Wendigo is the incarnation of Cold and the starvation that goes with it.

The demon of winter, it can slide into a man who is Cold enough, a man who is desperate enough and who gives up to despair.

He can become the Wendigo, turn on his own family and devour them, and yet never quite quell the hunger that consumes him.

It starts with an itch in the back of the mind, a product of the never-ending hunger of winter. All things die in winter and food grows scarcer and scarcer. There's a sense of desperation that begins to grow in the longhouse when the supplies begin to disappear.

Nobody would take more than their share, but the stock of food seems to evaporate faster than it should and the itch begins to dwell on that, accompanied by the non-stop howl of the wind.

Some of the others seem to lose weight slowly, somehow staying sleeker and fatter than the rest. Or at least that's what the whispering itch says.

The wind speaks louder and coarser, but it says the same thing.

The same way the fine spray of spindrift off the Lake builds inches of ice on the shore, the voice of the itch needles and pricks its way to belief.

The belief leads to anger, and that leads to unspeakable things.

Violence and murder, yes, but also much, much worse as the ravenous hunger takes over.

So sit and stare out your double pane insulated window at the Cold and shiver at the sound of the wind. Turn your hot cup of coffee slowly around and look over at your nice winter coat.

Laugh it off. It's just Cold snap, after all. It's just a minor inconvenience. It will gone in a week.

Probably. Maybe. That's what the forecast says.

But Grandfather said the Wendigo is ageless, immortal and infinitely patient. It will remember us long after we make the mistake of forgetting about it.

Time means nothing to its mindless hunger and endless hate of all living things. It ruled most the world many Millennia ago and it knows that it's time will come again.

For all our confidence and clever tricks, the Cold is out there.

Waiting.

Post Production Notes:

This was slightly unconventional Gothic horror, more in tune with Lovecraft, I think, than with Poe or V.C. Andrews. I've always found the differences between cultures as to what constitutes true horror to be fascinating. Part of the Ojibwe tradition of horror is rooted firmly in cold, starvation and cannibalism. No sparkly vampires or muscular werewolves for them. Their terrors are truly monstrous, unrelenting, and unapologetically evil.

Thanks to laptopwriter for the inspiration for this, and to blackrandi and sbrooks103x for the short notice editing. Thanks to JezzAz for tolerating my sudden urge to throw two dice here instead of one.

And, of course to The Missus for all the support, wonderful ideas, and her tolerance for the madness.

Seriously, Behind the Walls of Sleep looks like it should be a blast. There are writers from all over Literotica: Goldenangel, Eidetic, JoeDreamer, Lovecraft68, as well as the amazing GirlintheMoon and the divine Ms. Chloe Tzang. You won't want to miss this.

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by Anonymous

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by Anonymous06/23/19

little ice age

There was a period called the little ice age. The Thames froze over and there were widespread famines and revolutions. It lasted from the early 1300s to the mid-1800s. The medieval warm period was justmore...

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by newtinmpls05/01/19

I like it...

I'd like to see more backstory... 'cause I know that it's itching somewhere in the back of your brain

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by Anonymous03/07/19

?

Where was the story?

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by CSD202/24/19

That Terrible Old Man

Needs his tale told. Seems he met this ancient evil up close and personal.

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by Anonymous02/17/19

Very cold

Look at some Wendigo art before you read this story. Your skin will get goosebumps and just crawl. Definitely grabs you.
Thanks!!

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