A Man vs. Wild fan-fiction
Bear Grylls sat in the helicopter hovering roughly four hundred feet above the untamed wild of northern Saskatchewan, Canada and prepared himself for yet another week of pushing himself to the absolute limit. He ran himself through all of the scenarios he’d considered when planning the expedition: what to do if and when the temperature dropped below freezing or if what the plan of action would be should he happen across a hungry grizzly bear preparing for its hibernation. Of course these were things he’d dealt with plenty of times in the past but still he felt the need to focus and refresh himself before making his final descent. But focus had been difficult to find given his present company.
“Beautiful, is it not?” asked the elderly Native American man sitting across from Bear in the helicopter. He had introduced himself to Bear earlier that day as Benjamin White Cloud, an expert on the area that his producer’s had hired on as a technical advisor.
Bear took a moment to look down at the forest below and thought that it was indeed beautiful. The frost of early winter had already settled on trees as if Winter had hoped to warn of it’s impending arrival without killing their color.
“Yes.” Bear affirmed. “It is.”
He’d argued for nearly three hours with the network’s team when they first approached him with the idea of working with a “guide” but it was no surprise that they’d won out in the end. He’d clashed with the men and women of The Discovery Channel plenty of times since the show’s inception several years earlier but this time was different.
“It is a great shame…” White Cloud began. “Those unfortunate souls… What happened here last winter…it can not happen again.”
The “unfortunate souls” to which he referred were Daniel and Kenneth Loggerman – A set of American twins who had decided to celebrate their 30th birthday with a trip to northern Saskatchewan and never returned. It was exactly why the network had suggested hiring old White Cloud in the first place. Bear had insisted that he wouldn’t need anyone’s help, reminding them that he was an expert survivalist and was far more well-equipped than a pair of idiot Americans. But they wouldn’t listen and thus, White Cloud was brought on board.
“You’ve no need to worry, my friend.” Bear told him. “I’ve been doing this my whole life.”
“And what is it that you’ve been doing, you say?” White Cloud asked.
“Surviving.” Bear replied.
“Ahh,” said White Cloud. “But we are all surviving.”
“Not like I am.” Bear said with a grin. He looked again to the forest below, now growing closer and closer as the helicopter slowly began its descent. He couldn’t help but feel a little bit like a god.
“I’m Bear fucking Grylls.”
White Cloud grinned and let out a chuckle. Bear laughed a little himself.
“My people tell a story of a beast who was once man…” White Cloud began. “A hunter who became lost in the woods. On the verge of death in the middle of a freezing cold Canadian winter night, the hunter was forced to take desperate measures…”
“What kind of desperate measures?” Bear asked, figuring he’d humor the old man.
“He killed his hunting partner in his sleep and ate the meat from his bones.” White Cloud replied. Bear squirmed, a little horrified by the scene now playing out in his head. “And for doing so he was punished with the curse of the Wendigo.”
“Wendigo, eh?” Bear asked. “So what is that, like, Canadian Bigfoot or something?”
“No…not Bigfoot….” White Cloud answered.
“Then what?” Bear demanded.
“Let us hope that you never find out.”
Bear stifled a smile. At first he had thought the old man was just playing a joke on him but the look on White Cloud’s face suggested otherwise. Perhaps he’s trying to scare me, Bear thought. Maybe this is his way of proving to Bear that he was worth whatever he was being paid.
The helicopter gently lowered into a clearing lying several miles within the edge of the forest. Bear zipped up his coat and took a deep breath, preparing him for the harsh cold. He hopped out of the chopper and tossed his backpack around his shoulders. He looked one final time to White Cloud, still calmly seated.
“Thank you, old man.” Bear said as he extended his hand. “But I think I got it from here.” White Cloud took shook his hand and looked deeply into Bear’s eyes.
“I will pray to forest spirits and ask that they are kind to you.” White Cloud told him.
“Uhh… Thanks.” Bear said.
White Cloud said nothing, choosing only to stare down at Bear as the helicopter began to rise back into the sky. However, As he watched the helicopter disappear into the horizon, he would’ve sworn that he could hear White Cloud’s voice whispering in his ear.
“Beware the Wendigo…”
That crazy old fool thought Bear. He actually managed to get into my head.
He hiked up his bag and began his trek into the forest, forcing any lingering thoughts of White Cloud out of his mind. He’d appreciated the story but he was far too experienced to allow himself to be intimidated by such a ridiculous fantasy. The old man’s tricks may have worked on a less mature survivalist but he doubted that White Cloud had ever met anyone like Bear Grylls before.
* * *
The forest was dense and thick with brush but still Bear found that he could navigate through it with ease. His first task would be to establish a route, an improvised hiking trail to the forest’s true edge. He’d also need to consider the possibility of discovering other camps along the way though he felt it unlikely – ever since the disappearance of the Loggerman brothers, campers, hikers, and fellow survivalists had all stayed well away from the forests of Saskatchewan.
In the distance Bear could see where the earth began to climb and the flat ground of the forest gave way to ridged peaks. With the winter fast approaching, scaling some of the higher hills would be difficult be Bear knew that they’d give him the best view of the forest and would therefore allow him to develop his route. Besides, it’d mean plenty of climbing and he loved to climb.
Before he began his ascent he’d need to create a makeshift axe of some kind, something sharp but firm that he could use as a hold for tough to reach spots. He began to scan the forest around him in search of something to use. Ideally he’d find a rock or rather several rocks – one to use as his pick and the others to sharpen it. But alas, the forest had no rocks to offer him. Instead he’d have to find a hardened piece of wood – a fallen branch perhaps, though it’d have to be that had only recently fallen to avoid risk of it snapping mid-climb due to rot. It’d be hard to find exactly what he was looking for but Bear was feeling optimistic – surely he could find something.
He began to wander along the perimeter of the ridge, scanning his surroundings for anything he might be able to use. It took a few moments before Bear noticed anything of interest but when he finally did, it took him by surprise. About a hundred yards or so from where he was standing he could see that an entire tree had been collapsed to the ground and given the color of the exposed bark, he knew it had to be recent. It was likely that the fallen tree would give him exactly what he needed though he couldn’t help but wonder what fell the tree in the first place. As far as he knew it’d been years since the forest had experienced any kind of lightning and the jagged edges along where the tree had been split looked far too rough to suggest the use of any man-made tool.
As he neared the fallen tree, he began seeing prints embedded in the forest floor. The claw marks looked vaguely like that of a bear although larger and more spread out. Whatever had left the prints, Bear felt that it was likely responsible for the destruction. His suspicions were all but confirmed when he found the carcass lying just beside the tree.
The meat of the animal had been almost entirely consumed, leaving little more than bone and a few chunks of rotting flesh. The left antler had been broken off in whatever battle had lead to the beast’s death but Bear was still able to recognize it as a Manitoban Elk – one of the larger species of Elk and the only one native to Saskatchewan. But what really caught Bear’s attention was the fashion in which the elk had been demolished. What little bone it had left had been crushed with fracture lines running throughout from head to toe.
“Christ…” Bear said, struggling to keep himself from retching from the acrid smell of death. “What in God’s name happened to you?”
At first glance he’d figured that the Elk would have no use to him. With all of the edible bits gone and the rest exposed to whatever disease the Elk’s killer may have carried with it, eating it was out of the question. But as he looked to the remaining antler sprouting from the thing’s mangled head he began to form an idea. Perhaps he could do better than a fallen branch…
Bear went to work on the corpse, smashing the Elk’s skull into the trunk of the fallen tree until he had created a strong enough fracture on the antler. He was careful not to use to much strength – there’d be no point in exhausting himself to get his pick if he was too tired or weak to scale the ridge. But soon he was able to rip the antler free and within a matter of minutes he was burying it’s tip into the side of the rising Earth.
The climb was strenuous but Bear thoroughly enjoyed the workout. He stabbed the severed horn into the ridge’s surface and swung his way from hold to hold, twisting and flipping his body like an expert acrobat. Ever since he had scaled Everest, everything else just seemed like child’s play. It wasn’t as much of a challenge as he’d hoped for but the day was young.
It took him close to twenty minutes total to reach the top but reach it he did. He took a moment to catch his breath and admired the beautiful view he now had of the forest. Seeing it from the helicopter had been one thing but being right in the thick of it was an entirely different experience. It was as he was searching for a route that he began to notice something – peppered throughout the surrounding woods were more fallen trees, each one seemingly ripped from the ground in the same manner as the one he’d seen before. As he considered their relation to one another he began to see a path forming like a seemingly endless wake of destruction trailing deep into the forest.
What could this mean? He thought to himself. Perhaps it was a disease – some kind of bacterial infection specific to whatever family of tree this was…but then what about the demolished Elk? Was it truly just a coincidence? Or was the same disease not specific to plant life alone? Or could it be that old White Cloud wasn’t as crazy as he looked…
No. Thought Bear. Those were just silly stories meant to scare me. He figured then that maybe White Cloud knew well what the real cause of the destruction was and that his stories of cannibalistic monsters were just a way for him to use the fallen trees to scare Bear into fleeing. He can’t scare me that easily. Bear thought to himself, though before the thought had even finished forming in his mind he began to doubt himself. He had gone into the forest feeling confident but now he couldn’t help feeling as if perhaps he truly was in danger…
* * *
After forcing White Cloud’s nonsense out of his mind, Bear found that he could move through the forest with ease. The cold air had grown more and more bitter since he’d began the trek but aside from the occasional short climb or having to rip apart some branches to form a path, the whole thing felt like child’s play. How the Loggerman brothers could have possibly gotten themselves lost in all of this was beyond him. Idiot Americans he thought. Will they ever learn?
The sun was beginning to set and he still had at least a half day’s hike ahead of him. The sky was growing dark and soon he’d be unable to see at all through the dense fog of trees. He knew he’d need to make his camp soon but first – he hungered.
He had yet to spot a living creature within the forest but the tracks ran everywhere. With the day coming to a close, Bear hoped that the elk would reveal themselves under the cover of darkness. The thought of a fresh elk steak made his mouth water. The elk would be fast, Bear knew, so he would have to be faster. On foot, he wouldn’t stand a chance but perhaps if he could strike from a distance… before the plan had even finished taking shape within his mind he sprang into action.
First he would need to assemble a variety of sticks and fallen branches – One large, preferably curved tree limb and bevy of twigs that were both thin and strong. He’d managed to find them with relative ease, amassing a small pile within a matter of minutes. Using the severed antler that he’d stored in his pack, he went to work carving little slits into the edges of the curved branch and whittling the twigs into sharp points.
The next part would be hard – not difficult so much as strenuous. He searched through the surrounding trees until he found one with exposed bark. Then, with horn still in hand, he began to carve away at the bark, carefully cutting off thin strips until he had a handful of tree shavings. He then twisted the strips of bark into rope like strands and tying them together. It had taken all of his concentration not to throw the bark to the ground in a fit of rage as it continued to rip and come apart until finally he had created enough string to complete his makeshift bow.
“Fuck yes.” Bear mumbled to himself, as if too excited to realize he was speaking aloud.
He moved through the trees until he found a clear enough patch of ground so that his view was not distorted. He found the strongest, sturdiest tree of the bunch and did what he did best – climb. He quickly got settled into position and readied his bow.
“Now we play the waiting game…”
And wait he did. Were it not for cold air keeping him at edge, he might’ve fallen asleep. But such was the nature of the hunt and patience would always be his greatest weapon. After nearly an hour of waiting, his patience paid off. An Elk buck and his mate, neither much larger than the corpse he had discovered earlier, emerged into the clearing. Bear could sense their hesitation as they carefully searched the surrounding area for any food of their own, almost as if they knew he was there.
He removed the sharpest of his arrows and knocked it into position in his hand-crafted bow. He took a deep breath, pulled the arrow back and then-
A MIGHTY ROAR ripped through the forest. The sound was inhuman, unlike anything Bear had ever heard before. The elk couple immediately sprang into action but it was too late – their fate had already been sealed.
The beast ripped through the forest with terrifying speed, ripping trees from the Earth to clear a path to his evening meal. It’s white fur shimmered in the moonlight, it’s body resembling some kind of cross between wolf and ape. Standing on it’s hind legs, it stood at ten feet tall and boasted fearsome claws and a set of razor sharp teeth. Bear couldn’t believe his eyes, the words of White Cloud flooding back into his memory. He’d never seen anything like the creature before but he knew immediately what he was looking at.
The Wendigo! he thought to himself. White Cloud was right.
He watched in horror as the Wendigo launched itself at the fleeing elk, grabbing the doe by its hind legs before hurling her into her mate, knocking both to the ground. Bear winced as the injured animals cried out in pain – but the cries would not last. The Wendigo quickly went to work on his prey, ripping meat from bone in a flurry of gnashing teeth and swinging claws.
By the time it had finished eating, the Wendigo’s fur had been soaked in the crimson red blood of its meal. Finally sated, the beast abandoned the corpses like he had done the one Bear had seen before and began to sulk back into the woods…until it stopped and lifted it’s nose to the sky. Bear’s eyes grew to the size of dinner plates as he watched the Wendigo’s snout flare.
Bear looked down at the arrows in his hands. Did he dare provoke this beast? He thought of the speed in which it had taken down the elk. There was no way he was going to be able to outrun the thing and there was little use in hiding now that it had caught his scent. This could be his only chance.
He knocked his arrow, pulled the string taunt, and took aim.
“Fuck you, you big hairy twat.” Bear muttered under his breath. The Wendigo stopped dead in his tracks and turned. Bear let loose.
The Wendigo’s mighty roar was cut short as Bear’s blade dug itself into the beast’s abdomen. He watched with childlike delight as it crashed to the ground in a heap of blood and leaves. Could it have really been that easy? A mortal wound on the first shot?
He felt the earth shake as the Wendigo roared in reply. Bear quickly snapped another arrow into place and raised the bow but the Wendigo was already coming towards him at full speed. He let another arrow fly but his aim was no match for the Wendigo’s speed.
“Bloody hell.” Bear protested from his perch.
The Wendigo charged at the tree holding Bear the way a linebacker would go after the QB. With a sickening snap, the tree was torn from the ground. Bear was forced to abandon his bow and arrows as he prepared to leap from his doomed hiding location. He set his sights on the nearest tree, swung from his branch, and launched himself forwards – only to fall crashing to the forest floor.
“AGGH!” Bear cried out in pain as his ankle broke upon impact. He summoned every bit of adrenaline that remained within him to pull himself to his feet and run. But the Wendigo was only a few yards behind him and soon death would be upon him.
“North!” Came White Cloud’s voice.
Bear turned to see White Cloud standing before him, beckoning to come forward.
“White Cloud?” Bear asked. “Is it really you?”
Suddenly Bear felt numb, as if his body had been taken from him. His legs beat against the ground as he felt himself hurled forward, running at speeds he had never achieved before.
The Wendigo let out a mighty roar as it gave chase. Bear could tell he was moving fast but definitely not fast enough to outrun the Wendigo…not for more than a few 10 or 15 yards at least.
“More like just a few steps…” Came White Cloud’s voice again.
“What?” Bear asked.
Then the ground gave way beneath him and Bear realized that he had run to the edge of a canyon within the forest. He tried to stop himself but it was too late. He fell, smashing into the side of the canyon as he hurtled through the air.
The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was the Wendigo falling just behind him.
* * *
Bear awoke several hours later to see White Cloud standing before him.
“Where are we?” Bear asked weakly. White Cloud only grinned.
“The real question is where are you?”
Bear tried to pull himself to his feet. He let out a howl of pain as he remembered his shattered ankle – not to mention a bevy of new injuries he had sustained in the fall.
“Shhh…” White Cloud spoke. “Rest now. You have been hurt badly.”
Bear nodded, the pain coursing through his body too great to conjure up actual words. As the world began to shift into focus around him he could see that he had been brought to a cave. He could see that a fire had been assembled in the corner of the cave, casting it’s light and heat upon Bear’s bruised and tattered body. But above all else, he could see the withered skeleton lying next to him, covered in tattered winter clothing.
“Where have you brought me?” Bear asked.
“It was not I who brought you anywhere…” White Cloud replied. “It was him.”
Bear followed White Cloud’s finger to the rotting corpse lying next to him. Bear looked closely at the tag of the dead man’s jacket, the name “Loggerman” scribbled over the label.
“Daniel Loggerman. The man truly responsible for saving your life.” White Cloud said.
“It was me, indeed….” Came a strange voice. Bear wasn’t sure if he was just hallucinating due to the extreme pain he was in but it seemed as if the voice belonged to skeleton.
“What the fuck is going on?“ Bear asked, desperately seeking White Cloud’s sage advise but alas – when he turned White Cloud had vanished.
“It is only you and me now…” The corpse said.
“That…thing out there…” Bear began. “It killed you and your brother?”
“Not exactly.” It spoke. “I will tell you my story…”
The world seemed to melt around him as Daniel told his story. Gone was the cave he had woken up in. Instead he found himself back in the woods, watching as a pair of hikers made their way through the thickly wooded forest. The men were strong, well-built, and looked nearly identical to one another save a haircut and a beard trim.
“My brother and I came here to celebrate. “ came Daniel’s ethereal voice. “But we were ill equipped.”
Day turned to night before his eyes and Bear found the brothers now deep within the forest, exhausted, desperation burning in their eyes. Their flesh had become icy pale, the tips of their fingers already beginning to turn purple.
“It wasn’t long before we realized we were doomed…”
Through clenched teeth and with aching bones the brothers argued, hurling insults and accusations into each others’ face. Bear watched wide-eyed and fascinated, completely unseen by the two men.
Then, as if appearing out of thin air, a familiar figure began to take shape. White Cloud. He beckoned the brothers to him.
“The Indian man…” Daniel said. “He appeared before us and lead us here…to this very cave.”
Bear once again found himself back in the cave but the corpse was gone. In its place were the two brothers, huddling around a small fire and relishing in its warmth.
“We had found shelter,” Daniel began. “We were safe from the cold but there were other troubles to be had. Our bellies were empty, crying out for nourishment. But there was none to be found.”
“And hunger often breeds irrationality…”
The arguing began once again, soon growing physical now that some of the brothers’ energy had been restored. The burlier of the two men, the one Bear figured to be Daniel, hurled a hefty punch into nose of the other man – the man Bear assumed was Kenneth. Kenneth fell to the floor, blood pouring from his nostrils, eyes red with primal fury. But Kenneth didn’t fight back.
“The hunger became too great for my brother…”
Hours passed in an instant and Bear found himself hovering over Daniel, still very much alive, sleeping soundly in the cave. A shadow fell over him and Bear looked up to see Kenneth staring down at his brother. Wrapped within Kenneth’s fist was a rock – one both sharp and heavy.
“And he did the only thing he could think to do. He found food.”
Kenneth lifted the rock high over his head and brought it down on his brother’s skull, repeating the action over and over again until he could be certain that his brother was no more. It was then that he removed a stick from the fire and began to cut hunks of flesh from Daniel’s body.
“He….” Bear mumbled, horrified at the scene playing out before him. “He ate you…”
“And for a time he felt sated…” Daniel replied. “But there was a hunger still growing inside me. He began by cutting off small pieces of me at a time but soon began devouring me limb by limb until there was nothing left of me. But the hunger hadn’t ceased.”
The days passed before him and soon Bear was watching in terror as Kenneth nibbled the last bit of flesh from his brother’s bones. As Bear drew nearer he realized that Kenneth had changed – that his eyes now burned a hideous crimson red and that his veins bulged through his skin.
“And the transformation was already under way…”
Kenneth let out a mighty roar and Bear backed away, forgetting momentarily that it was only a vision. He watched as Kenneth grew larger, as his body re-shaped itself into something more animal than man. His hair begin to thicken and pale, slowly transforming into a coat of white fur. His hands were molded into razorsharp claws. His teeth seemed to multiply as they transformed into fangs.
“The Wendigo…” Bear said. “Your brother…Kenneth. He is the Wendigo.”
“That is what White Bear’s people call it, yes.” Daniel replied. “But that thing…it is not my brother. Not anymore.”
Again the Wendigo roared as it focused in on it’s next victim. Despite knowing full well that none of it was real, Bear couldn’t help but feel as if the monster was looking directly at him. The Wendigo bared its fangs and left – only to evaporate into thin air as the scene again began to change.
Bear again found himself in the cave, the throbbing pain in his leg confirming that he was back in his own body. But the corpse was gone…
“You know what you must do.” Said Daniel Loggerman, now standing before Bear – skin and all.
“How do I get out of here?” Bear asked him.
“You have no other choice…” came Daniel’s reply. “You must kill him.”
“But how?” Bear said. “Have you seen how fast that thing is? I can barely feel my leg and I haven’t eaten in nearly twenty-four hours. I don’t stand a chance against Kenneth. Or the Wendigo or whatever in the bloody hell it is.”
“Only when the sun sets does his transformation begin. You have wounded him. Find him in the daytime and he will be as easy to kill as any other man.”
“There must be another way.” Bear pleaded. “How many hours until the sun sets? I can find my way out of this forest before he starts to turn again.”
Daniel grabbed Bear by the collar of his jacket and shook him, his eyes lighting up with a furious desperation.
“Listen to me, Bear!” Daniel said. “There is no other way. Do you understand me? KILL HIM OR SUFFER MY FATE!”
As Daniel’s pleading reverberated throughout Bear’s brain, his body began to vanish. Again, Bear was left alone with Daniel’s corpse. The bones remained silent but Daniel’s warning continued to echo in Bear’s brain. He couldn’t stay still for long.
* * *
It had snowed heavily during the remaining hours of the night and Bear was surprised to see that the forest had been transformed into a full fledged winter wonderland – one in which a monster awaited him. The forest was now more beautiful than he’d ever seen it before but in truth the snow was an element likely to make his quest all the more difficult.
He thought of little other than Daniel’s story as he pulled himself through the thick white sludge. The tragedy that had befallen the brothers was far greater than Bear had realized; if only White Cloud had known the greater details beforehand Bear might have actually listened to his sage advice. But what plagued Bear more than anything was the thought of having to face the beast that remained of Kenneth Loggerman. Bear’s injuries were starting to take their toll in a big way and he had little hope he’d have any chance of escape should the Wendigo find him. His leg was starting to go numb but Bear had only to look down at his mangled bones to realize the pain that he was truly in. His entire body was sore from his fall and he felt it was likely he had broken more bones that he had yet to discover. But worst of all was the nearly 24 hours with no food and little water other than the condensation. The fear and panic and anger he felt were nothing to the horrible sense of weakness that he had – and he was only getting weaker.
He’d crawled nearly a mile from the mouth of the cave when he discovered blood in the snow. Not thick puddles of the stuff like he’d seen at the murder scenes of the elk but more of a thin stream of it, a trail made from a bleeding wound. Bear looked to the wood ahead of him, certain that he was only a few more hours from escape.
“You know what you must do…”
Bear took a deep breath, prepared himself, and started upon the trail of blood.
The crimson trail grew thicker and thicker as Bear made his way deeper into the forest. Did I really hurt it this badly? Bear thought to himself as he made his way along. He knew he’d injured the beast and that his aim had always been true but the Wendigo certainly didn’t seem that hurt when it chased him off the side of the cliff.
He’d followed the trail for almost an hour before he heard wheezing. The sound sent a chill down Bear’s spine. Other than the ghostly musings of White Cloud and the spirit of Daniel Loggerman, Bear had yet to hear another human voice in the forest.
He carefully, slowly, worked his way to the end of the trail of blood where he found a burly, bearded man lying naked and clutching at his bleeding abdomen. The man’s face had gone pale from the loss of blood and he barely noticed Bear as he approached.
“Kenneth Loggerman.” Bear said, as if to confirm what he already knew.
“Who…” Kenneth started. “Who are you?”
“You don’t remember me?” Bear asked him. “You tried to kill me last night.”
“Ahhhh.” Kenneth said as he began to understand. “So that was you. You’ll have to forgive me, my memory gets a little hazy when I’m hungry. But wait, how did y-“
“I spoke to Daniel.” Bear stated. “He showed me everything.”
“You spoke to my dead brother?” Kenneth said. “I suppose the desolation of this forest effects all of us differently. And what exactly did my dearly departed brother have to say?”
“He told me you killed him.” Bear said. “And then you ate him like the savage thing that you are.”
Kenneth smiled, amused by Bear’s bold attitude. But the smile quickly waned as Kenneth was reminded of his horrible deed.
“I did what I had to do to survive.” Kenneth said. “That’s something I’d imagine you’d understand. Yeah that’s right, Bear Grylls, I know who you are. Daniel and I were big fans – part of the reason we thought to try this little trip anyways. So thanks for that.”
“Do not blame me for your follies.” Bear said.
“Nah, I don’t.” Kenneth said. “But I hope you’d return the favor by not blaming me for the actions of that…thing….the monster that now lives inside me.”
“Whether it’s you inside that thing or not…” Bear told him. “It was your own selfish, murderous actions that lead you there in the first place. Thus is the curse of the Wendigo.”
“The curse of the what?” Kenneth said. He let out a hearty chuckle. “Well I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about friend but I suppose you’re right. Guess you came to kill me then, huh?”
“I don’t want to.” Bear said. “But-“
Bear was unable to finish the sentence as Kenneth tackled him to the ground in an immense display of strength. Bear could feel the warm blood of Kenneth’s wound soaking onto his clothes as Kenneth wrapped his hands around Bear’s throat.
“DIE YOU MOTHERFUCKER!” Kenneth screamed.
Had Bear’s energy not been so low he may have been able to wriggle free but in his current state he was an easy kill. Kenneth tightened his grip and the air slowly began to seep from Bear’s lungs. It was just as he was about to lose consciousness that he felt something poking his leg – something sharp and spiny in his pocket.
He reached into his pocket as slowly as he could, careful not to let Kenneth notice as he finished choking the life out of Bear. With seconds left before imminent death, Bear grabbed the antler and summoned every bit of strength left within him to plunge it into Kenneth’s throat.
“GAAAGH” Kenneth cried, blood already gurgling from his lips. He backed away, clutching at his blood-soaked neck. Bear pulled himself to his feet, still recovering from the loss of air, and stumbled forwards.
“I’m sorry.” Bear whispered as he forced the tip of the antler beneath Kenneth’s rib-cage and stabbing it through the man’s heart. With one last desperate wheeze and with a wild and furious terror in his eyes, Kenneth Loggerman breathed his last breath and collapsed to the ground.
Bear, exhausted from the fight, collapsed beside him. As his eyelids grew heavy, Bear wasn’t sure whether he was about to pass out or if he too would soon join Kenneth in death. Regardless, he let sleep come.
* * *
He woke several hours later, relieved and still a little bit horrified to find that Kenneth’s body was still lying beside him. The sky had once again grown dark and Bear realized that he had little hope of escaping the forest before the light came. He’d lasted this long right? So what was a few more hours?
But the pain that coursed throughout Bear’s entire body was starting to become unbearable and worst of all was his hollow belly. He felt exhausted, weak, and incredibly hungry and without food he wasn’t sure if he’d survive the night.
He looked to the fresh corpse lying beside him as an idea came to mind. Bear knew the thoughts taking shape were wrong but he could see no other way. Besides, his actions were just, were they not? Certainly he would not fall victim to the same fate as Kenneth…right?
Gone were the whispered words of White Cloud and Daniel’s ghost. Now the only voice that remained was the angry growl of Bear’s stomach.
With tears in his eyes, Bear grabbed the antler and once again buried it into Kenneth’s flesh. He sliced off a meaty hunk of flesh from the recently deceased Loggerman’s belly and lifted it to his lips.
Tonight, he would not go hungry.