Art and words of Josh Burns.

Wendigo

In the frigid north where the wind can cut and the night can kill, a thing exists. The forests offer little respite from winter’s grip. Many men have fallen prey to its cold embrace. A sad few have resorted to unspeakable acts to survive in dire times. It is said that a man who consumes his fellow man will be haunted. The hunger that preceded the cannibalism would not be sated. No amount of gorging would stop it, and a chill that would cause your bones to ache would nearly always reside. The story-tellers who live in the far north call it the spirit of the wendigo.

Whether the condition is some form of virus, mutation or some malevolent spirit is unknown. What is known is that the wendigo is a dangerous and crafty creature. With the keen instincts of man and an unnatural strength and speed, the wendigo has remained a thing of myth to most. Reports very, but most put the creatures at around eight to ten feet tall with razor-sharp claws. their gray skin hangs off the limbs, and the skin around the face and forearms is dyed red from feasting. The abdomen is concave revealing the bump of the spine below, and the ribcage is expanded outward. The skin of the neck hangs loose all the way down to the clavicle. The eyes are pale and wide, and the jaw is massive, with teeth that continue up the side of the face making a sinister smile. Human meat is the wendigo’s main choice but in times where humans are scarce any wildlife will do. The site where the creatures have fed are easily identified. The snow is melted around where the feeding took place, and only the least edible parts of the prey remain. It is believed that the near instant metabolizing of the meal creates a massive amount of heat, and that is what melts the snow. When kill sites start to appear near populated areas, missing persons reports are soon to follow.

So much of the information about the wendigo are theories. No live specimen has ever been captured for study, and no viable corpse has ever been recovered. In the 1920 a group Russian scientists attempted to create wendigos what could be controlled. Not unexpectedly the project ended in the scientists brutal death and all of their research being destroyed in a fire. In addition five wendigos were let loose in the forests of Siberia. The only known reliable way to kill a wendigo is to burn it alive. Bullets don’t work and explosives leave an opportunity for escape. Electricity only works if it ends up lighting the creature on fire, and poisoned bait has no effect. Thermal imaging has shown the body temperature of the wendigo to be a few degrees below freezing when not feeding, so starting one on fire can be a challenge.

One account detailed a group of specialist who used a bungee pit style trap that used a human cadaver as bait. The pit was outfitted with a thermite charge. When the wendigo went for the bait the charge engulfed the creature in flames. Then a strange thing occurred, after about three minutes of thrashing around the wendigo stopped and crouched and burned for another fifteen minutes before dying. The creature appeared to be content. it’s theorized that after the initial shock of being on fire passes the heat of the fire resembles the heat produced while feeding. This sensation calms the creature and allows the fire to do finish the creature.

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