You may remember I participated in a writing contest a few months ago. Well, last week we finally got the results. There were more than 200 participants, mostly from Holland & Belgium. Twenty seven of those stories are now published in a book. I ended up at the 36th place with which I am actually very happy since it was my first story in dutch and my first short-story overall. I am currently translating it to english and I will share it with you in two or three parts. (I must add that it’s not entirely the same since I will continue the story and have more freedom on the lenght of it.) After all three parts of the story are posted I will put a link to the original dutch version that I submitted for those that would like to read that as well. The dutch title of the story was “De Wendigo Roos”
For hours on end Malin had been riding through the dark woods guided only by the low light of the great moon. It felt as if she was all alone in the woods tonight. The trampling of the hooves on the marshy underground must have scared all the critters on her path away. Through fog banks, muddy puddles and over fallen tree trunks, she didn’t hold back. She felt so foolish for trying out a presumable shortcut, only to end up lost and at the wrong side of Lake Verdun. Opposite the lake she could see the hardened path she should have been on.
She pulled the reins, hoping to make more speed and reach the end of this dark and scary road faster. Her horse Juno however, thought differently. Instead of riding faster, Juno slowed down with every step, up to the point where they were barely moving.
“Come on Juno, don’t do this to me…” She begged her horse while giving it a friendly pat on the neck. Juno shook her manes but refused to move any further. “You stubborn girl!” Malin complained after which she started smiling. She had learned to live with the horse’s tempers and her strong will was one of the reasons why she liked Juno so much. A small break wasn’t a such a bad idea here anyway. While her horse was drinking by the lake, Malin checked the parchment map from her backpack. How could she have been so stupid to take the wrong way? She was still a long way removed from her destination while she should have already been there by now. As she looked over the lake in desperation, a bone chilling scream sounded over the lake. Juno panicked as if she had heard ghost and galloped out of sight before Malin could grab her reins to calm her down. Cursing herself again she realised she was even further from home now. Grabbing all her courage together she moved on along the path, in the direction where Juno ran off, wondering what that sound could have been. It had sounded like a death shriek of some sort. Her dagger was in the bag attached to the saddle so she grabbed a wooden stick from a dead tree to protect herself.
Minutes went by without any sign of Juno as suddenly she noticed something in the distance along the path. At first she presumed it was her beloved horse but as she came closer she noticed it looked more like a man that was standing there in the middle of the path. Reluctant to move any closer she hid behind a nearby bush. The man was bending over something that was lying on the floor. Maybe he needed help? Maybe they were attacked by a wild animal and his wife was lying there. Malin knew she could probably help with her knowledge of medicinal herbs.
Grabbing all her courage together she got up again and moved closer. It appeared as if the man was half naked, his white back reflecting in the faint moonlight. Suddenly he turned around as if he had heard her. What she saw was not a man but a tall and slender creature doing its best to look like a man. She froze in her steps, her heart beating in her throat. Would it have noticed her? It just stood there, looking in her direction with dark hollow eyes and red liquid dripping from its blood covered mouth. As she strenghtened her grip on the wooden stick she could feel the cold sweat between her fingers. The creature just kept staring at her for what seemed almost an eternity before it disappeared into the bushes. Malin was breathing heavily, barely managing to suppress her instinct to run for her life. Her father had always taught her never to run from a wild animal, but face it instead.
She scarily looked around to guarantee that the creature wasn’t sneaking up on her through the bushes. She lit the stick on fire in the hope it would scare the creature off before she moved closer. On the path where it had been standing there was a body lying in a puddle of blood. Not a human body, but that of a young deer, not much bigger than a large dog. Throat ripped open as if killed by the cruelest of animals, fear captured in its dead eyes. Before she could step over the dead carcass the torch’s flame went out. Behind her she heard the crack of a breaking twig and felt a warm gust of air in her neck. Scared stiff she barely managed to turn around, armed with an extinguished torch in her hands.
There it was, right in front of her, with a wicked grin on its pale white face, towering above her. Before she could run away or even scream, it blew a strange kind of red dust in her eyes and everything turned pitch black…
To be continued…