He watched with anxiety as she took the first nibble. When nothing usual happened, he felt much of the tension draining away.
“Tastes better than I thought it would,” she eventually responded. “No unusual urges, no fangs or blood lust. Sorry Dave, don’t think your theory holds up.”
“The creature slumps on the hilltop, hunched over like it’s suffering a degenerative spinal condition. Maybe it is, given the condition of the rest of the body. It turns to sniff the breeze, and those yellow pulsing orbs lock with my eyes. Its upper lip curls and it growls aggressively at me through bared fangs dripping gore. Antlers tilt back, nose raised to the sky, it howls a hunter’s fury and gallops down the hill toward me.
“The forelimbs are twice as long as its hind legs and they end in massive rending claws. The rotting flesh of its barrel chest exposes internal organs. The hind legs are deer-like, knee bending backwards, ending not in hooves but in almost human feet covered in pitch-dark fur.
“This twisted, distorted zombie-elk-thing is galloping down the hill at enormous speed. It leaps in the air, I cover my eyes, and I wake up screaming in terror. Worst of all, I awaken with an unnatural hunger, an insatiable desire that must be fulfilled.”
Rebecca leaned back, letting Dave’s breathing calm and return to normal before flipping on the desk lamp.
“What sort of hunger, Dave?”
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“It seems to be at the center of this dream that’s haunting you.”
“It’s taboo. And it’s illegal.”
Dave said nothing, and just clenched his jaw. Rebecca tried another angle.
“You say this thing in your dream has a name, Dave? What’s it called?”
Dave murmured something, too low to hear.
“It’s a Wendigo damn it!”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what that is.”
Dave talked to the carpet. “Wendigo. It’s an Algonquin curse, a half-beast creature. A malevolent spirit possesses a specific type of person and causes a physical transformation. It’s always a guilty person, the very worst sort of criminal.”
Rebecca scrawled a note on her pad, giving Dave time to work up to it.
“Wendigoes only possess cannibals”
“Here we are, Dave. I’ve shared dinner with you, and you can see no one is transforming into a malevolent creature. No insatiable hunger, no desire to run Mr. Simon upstairs through a wood chipper, right?”
“The Wendigo psychosis is a myth. There aren’t any cannibalistic nightmares roaming the back woods, and you don’t need to feel guilty about whatever you had for dinner last week. Human flesh was just what you were expecting, not any part of the actual dishes. You aren’t a cannibal or any mythic demon-monster. You’re just Dave.”
After seeing Dave off for the evening, Rebecca looked in the mirror, and saw the shadow of antlers.
“Maybe you were onto something,” she growled. “Now, about tasty Mr. Simon…”
498 words. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (#3-5).