She wept with relief when they found her, hidden behind the closet door in a hole-in-the-wall apartment.
It was six years ago when it started in a lonely, boring town in Alaska.
Just a group of kids playing with a ouija board. Then pendulums. Then seances and channelling.
And then she found The Book: an old, leather-bound tome that had fallen down behind the stacks at the library so many years ago. The pages were dark with the scrawl of half a dozen hands and twice as many languages. Yellowed slips of paper jutted at every angle, covered with comments and notes, strange diagrams. Sometimes so arcane they almost seemed written in code.
Poring over the pages, using musty 50-year-old dictionaries and the internet to find meaning in the pages was dorky, maybe, and a little weird. But to bored teens in a small town who had already shocked parents and peers with goth styles and vampire personas it was the best. Puzzle. Ever.
When at last they started to make progress in their translation, they tried one of the rites they deciphered, thinking of it as just another LARP.
But it worked, and the thrill of discovery made them want to try more.
Again and again they tried: first flashes of light, then a mysterious moaning voice. Then action at a distance. And boils to plague that girl.
And then they did it.
They wanted revenge.
He'd touched her, threatened her. Made her do things. He was a bad person. But The Book told them there was a way he could be punished. A summoning.
They tried it, and the thing that came plagued their nightmares for days afterwards.
But it worked, as horrible as the punishment was to watch. And there were others who had scores to settle. Other knives to grind.
So they did it again. And again.
But what they didn't know was that the things they had woken, the things that came when they called and seemed to do their bidding were old.
They were hungry things that had dwelt in the sunless steppes of the arctic since before humans had come to this land. They were the dark things that even the Elders had feared.
They were wendigo, and now that they were awake they were hungry.
And they didn't really care about the sins of their prey.
They just. Wanted. More.