Whatever curse this town had was so deeply ingrained that no one but the elders knew the truth. As the last of the employees left, each claiming their final check of the summer, Jimmy grew a little alarmed at the cars pulling in. He knew each car now parked in the lot, his heart racing when the first occupant stepped out. Jimmy hated this shit. They trusted him to handle the beast for all these years, but just because some dumb kids went wild, he was no longer trusted. It hurt him a bit, but fuck them. They could wrangle that thing now. After tonight, he washed his hands of it all. Little did Jimmy know, this wasn’t a social visit, and he was the one they washed their hands of and relieve of his duties.
“Lock it up,” Daniel said. Directing the demand to Jimmy, the ten men waited, talking, and formulating a plan. All of the high ranking members in the society waited as the older male pushed the padlock together, yanking it a few times. A flip of the outside switch and the beautiful lights dimmed, Jimmy watching them, but this time, it was different. It was his time being the caretaker of the pride and joy of the town. Families traveled across the state to come to this little park. There was no way that the press could ever find out what happened once a year. The feast was a private matter that was always handled discretely until now.
Exhaling, Jimmy walked out, standing alongside the men, waiting for whatever they brought upon him tonight. As long as that Hightower kid was dead, that’s all that mattered to Jimmy. He hated the little shit. Maybe because he was disrespectful, or because his Mama turned him down one night in a bar. The flirty bitch pissed him off.
“Let’s go. Jimmy, show us where you last saw the kids. We need to get them the hell out of there before that thing rips them apart, and we can’t cover this up. One kid, okay. Four, Jesus Christ, the FBI will come, and there will be hell to pay,” Daniel added.
Pointing to the park entrance, Jimmy shuffled his feet as he walked, grumbling under his breath. He should be home right now. Jimmy hated those little bastards. Hell, he hated these fuckers too. All of them could eat dirt as it would bother him one bit. “God damn son of a bitch, this is bullshit, and you know it, Daniel. You knew that thing was getting stronger. I told you at the last meeting,” Jimmy said, turning before walking any farther. If this was it, he was going to have his say in the matter.
“Shut up, Jimmy. Shut the hell up and walk. You knew the rules. You knew this was your responsibility, and you screwed up,” Daniel said. “Don’t blame this shit on any of us. You knew,” Daniel added, his voice elevated.
Years ago, Jimmy chose to take this responsibility on. He was face to face with the creature. Jimmy and Frank Hightower ran across the animal in the woods while deer hunting. To save himself, he pushed Frank into the beast’s clutches, taking over Wendigo’s care. He didn’t know that before him, Frank was the one to care for the creature. When Jimmy caused the death of the caretaker, the honor went to Jimmy. One he never wanted. Another reason for Jimmy to hate that Hightower kid. First, his old man, and now him causing Jimmy grief. All he could hope for was that thing sent him straight to hell with the father he always thought abandoned him.
Unable to control his anger, Daniel charged the older man, grabbing him by the throat with a death grip. He wouldn’t kill Jimmy. That was not how this game would play out. Daniel only wanted to snap him back to who and what he was. A zookeeper of sorts.
“Move it. Now, Jimmy. We have a mess to clean up, and it’s only a matter of time before those four are reported missing,” Daniel said.
From the group of men, one stepped forward to offer his two cents to the situation. He was a well-respected Doctor in the community and the tracker of the group. His left cheek held the scars of his encounter with Wendigo. One that he would never forget.
“Doc, there is something out there. What the hell,” one man whispered.
“Shh, it’s only the wind,” Doc said.
“That’s no wind,” the hunter added the moment the creature came into view of his scope.
Deer hunting, the two men sat in the blind, both drinking too much as they waited for daylight to break. Night hunting wasn’t legal, but it was the first day of the open season, and they had spotted a lot of fat deer on Doc’s land. It would have been easy pickings if not for Wendigo. His scent alone drove the wildlife away, and his hunger made sure those fat pickings were now scarce.
“Doc, oh fuck, Doc,” the male screamed, popping a shot off at the approaching beast. All that did was anger the thing. Missing the animal, the male proceeded to use the butt of his rifle to beat the creature. One snap and the male was gone. His neck was broken in three places. Doc escaped with a huge gash on his head’s left side, but his friend, he was the next meal of Wendigo.
“I’ve heard enough of this conflict. Those kids don’t deserve to die because of your negligence, Jimmy. The longer we stand here, the longer those kids are out there. There are ten of us and one creature. I’m growing tired of this back and forth,” Doc added.
Jimmy looked up, his face ashen, “Let’s go. I can get him to come to me.”