Tariaksuq

Long were the shrieks that rapped at the frost-cracked timber of the buckling shack door. Delsi watched from a corner of the dilapidated cabin’s gloom fearing that at any moment it would fly off its hinges. Raising her musket she tremored, her panicked eye scanning the walls that separated her from the pack of hulking shadows. Delsi’s heart drummed violently to the scrape and clop of hooves outside, their hot breath blew through the slits of the slackening window boards; their screws slowly turning anti-clockwise before knocking to the floor.

Looking across the ransacked room Delsi looked into the black, empty eyes of her husband who locked in sepia stood triumphantly over a trophy with his fellow trappers. He had strayed too far north and now so had she, looking down Delsi could see at the foot of the claw-marked cabinet her likeness in a bed of shattered glass. Shortly before dawn they came, she knew not who or what they were. By the din of their feet she knew they were many, by their bestial, unnatural wails she knew they were not human, but yet unlike any animal she had ever heard. It began when one entered in the night and loomed over her while she slept in her husband’s bed. Its hot musk and the bellow of its chest stirred her and with her knife she slashed at it. With an eerie, guttural shriek it galloped off across the moonlit tundra vanishing into the biting black. Fearing its return, Delsi quickly fashioned barricades, only to receive the nightmarish host as the first infant rays kissed the twinkling snow. Her husband and the Inuit who dwelt there had been missing for months now, all around her the signs of struggle; of horrors unknown. The walls were scratched and slashed, furniture lay broken, plates smashed and weapons taken, but despite all the evidence of fowl play no body lay in that bloodless crypt. As the door began to give Delsi summoned her courage and yelled a cry of defiance before preparing to charge off into the snow.

But when her hand met the rattling lock the door ceased to shudder. Holding her breath she kicked it open, a harsh gale blasted against her fur-wrapped body as she stepped out into the blizzard’s unforgiving embrace. Delsi’s eyes scoured all about her in a disturbed frenzy, but no creature lurked upon that desolate field. With a jolt Delsi heard the haunting call of the phantom mob, turning round the blood beneath her icy flesh froze when her gaze met the empty waste where the cabin once stood. Then, from out of the bone-white squall materialised the shape of a caribou, rearing its head back it let out a chilling whine before the ice beneath Delsi’s feet shattered, plunging her into the freezing depths. As she was dragged down with a bubbling scream she looked up through the shrinking hole. There above the ice stood the caribou staring down at her and as her heart slowed the crimson face of her husband pushed through the fur of the creature’s neck. He had strayed too far north she thought as the cold took her, they both had.

 

 

 

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