's 2014 Horror Write-off:

"  Wendigo Weather "

Submitted by   Rahkshasarani

  “ this weather, you must keep everything covered.” the old man, following his own advice, was swathed head to toe in scarves, jackets, and gloves. He was so swaddled he looked like a tick. “A single exposed finger can snap off like a twig after half an hour. I once saw a man spit, only to have it freeze to his tongue.”

Probably a speech formulated for maximum effect on tourists. The family with him oohed in all the right places. Keith looked out the tram window. Once they hit the summit, Keith was going to snowshoe up to Hunter's lodge and would sadly miss the rest of his spiel.

The old man hunkered down. It was harder to hear him over the wind, his voice had whispery dry quality like crunchy leaves.

“You know, the Algonquins had a name for a cold like this. Wendigo.”

The tram rocked in the wind. The family leaned forward. A mom, a dad, two kids and a toddler that looked like a marshmallow in a snowsuit.

“Sometimes hunters would get stranded in the snow, had to take up in a cave. Sometimes they'd be there for weeks. Sometimes they'd have to do the necessary thing.”

The mother clutched the baby to herself. Keith hocked and spat.

“But that wasn't it. Eating others did somethin' to you. Made you wrong. You survived, but at a pretty price. Say you stumble back into a village after weeks in a cave. Frostbite et your feet, and you're missing your fingers. They didn't wear scarves, so most likely your lip and nose would be gone too. And you had a hankering for flesh.”

The father said “my god, is this a story for children?”

The old man laughed. “They might well hear it, and know what's in wait for them if they stray. You see, the braves who came down out of the mountains went a little mad. When the heat of summer came, they'd flee back up to the snowline where there was cold all year round. And they'd hunt their friends and family just like you'd stalk a deer. Their skin would blacken and they'd go numb to any pain, so fighting them was quite the ordeal.”

The family sat in a grim silence. The old man shook himself.

“But I'm talking through my hat, here. When we get to Veller's Hook, I'll show you where that surveyor team took a wrong turn and got stranded.”

Keith spoke up for the first time, “Veller's Hook. Ain't that impassible this time of year?”

The old man spoke condescendingly, “It's all sorted. You ask at the lodge.”

“The hell does sorting have to do with anything? The trails are under four feet of snow and you couldn't see where the cliffside ended.”

The old man remained insistent. “Ask at the lodge. They know me. Hell, I've been giving tours longer than you've been upright.”

The family looked uneasy. Keith was about to say something else, but the tram creaked to a stop. The old man ushered them out first, reassuring them, telling them not to pay no mind to the know-it-all geezer. Keith watched them grow small down the trail, their bright snowsuits trailing after the gray old man like kites.

Bart was manning the door when he came in. Keith dropped his gloves and stripped off his hat.

“Which one of you idiots is giving tours in this weather? The sky could go at any second.”

Bart looked genuinely surprised. “What tour?”

“The old blowhard, gives tours and talks about the Wendigo, talks up some Donner party shit.” But Bart was shaking his head.

“Keith, I'm telling the truth. There hasn't been a tour through here in twenty years. Not in the whole of my goddamn service.”

Keith got a few of the guys together and set out. The weather wasn't bad, but threatened to get worse. Every step they took sank into the powder, by the time they sighted the milestone their mustaches had frozen.

Keith hollered ahead of them. Someone hollered back.

“Guess they are still alive,” Bart said.

They pushed on through the drifts.

Up at the hook, their storm lantern hit on bright bundles arranged in a neat semicircle around a gray pile. Keith breathed a sigh of relief.

“You folks need a hand?” he asked. He put a hand on the nearest hat. The cold made him clumsy, and he knocked it. The clothes fell. Empty.

“Shit,” Bart said. Keith went through, knocking them over. The piles were arranged neat, like their owners had just vanished right out of their clothes. The old man had left layers and layers of wool. It didn't look like it had ever held a human being inside.

“The hell do we do now?” Bart asked Keith, “where'd they go?”

And then someone blew out the lantern.