The Nanuq village, located in the farther north parts of the Alaskan peninsula is not a very well-known place. In fact, you probably won't be able to find it anywhere, even online, due to the fact that it is a tribal village, consisted of only a few huts, and not a large and secured city such as Nome. However, the region that particular village is settled in interests paleontologists - many, even though partial fossils of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals alike have been discovered there, but, specifically, the village of Nanuq is only known by one small dig team, which has a camp on top of a small mountain nearby.
The day I arrived at the Anchorage airport was the 18th of February, and I would've frozen in place if I wasn't prepared for the harsh temperatures during the late winter. Me and a few friends, Forrest, Grover and Joseph, have been notified of the existence of Nanuq, since Forrest worked with the dig team and was allowed to show us around, with one rule: not to tell anyone about the village. After we safely passed customs and retrieved our bags and the singular suitcase we brought, we took a taxi to the address that was given to us.
The driver stopped us at a narrow road by the forest, looked back at us with a concerned expression and said: "You sure this is your stop? There's only one house around here, and I don't think anyone lives there."
Forrest cut him off, saying, "Yes, yes. This is our stop. Don't worry, mister." Forrest was usually correct with everything, from the number of sandwiches we packed for the trip, to even the exact amount of minutes we spent in the aeroplane (even though he did that as a joke).
Anyways, the taxi driver dropped us off, we took the bags out of the trunk very quickly, even though the bag with the hiking supplies was probably going to break my shoulder from how heavy it is, and watched the yellow car slowly drive down the hill until it disappeared with a left turn. From the road we had a glimpse to the sea, and in the early hours, it looked fantastic. Forrest broke the silence by saying he's going to call someone, and pulled out his old flip phone. As soon as the person he called picked up, he started speaking loudly to him:
"Yes, hello? It's Forrest."
"We're at the place, come get us!"
"Aight, in a few minutes, in a few minutes.."
He continued to mumble that sentence under his breath, until a heavy jeep arrived.
"Give it up for Jerry, everybody."
The man inside of the vehicle was around our age, and had a dense beard and curly hair, which almost entirely covered up his face. He opened the front window and we all shook hands with him. After that, we packed our things either on the back seat, or in the large trunk. The trip itself was much longer than the flight we took - Grover had us stop a few times in the middle of nowhere so that he could smoke a cigarette, and Forrest was constantly telling Joseph to stop doing things: "Lower your volume!", "Stop sniffing!", "Dude, you're cracking a cold one for the fifth time!" I honestly can't blame Joseph a lot - if it wasn't for my greater amount of patience, I probably would've had eight drinks by now. The pre-tundra scenery was the same old barren fields and dead trees, all the time. I feel asleep somewhere halfway into the trip, and woke up an hour or so later by the rocking of the jeep on the dirt road, and I felt an immense pain on the left side of my head, since it had been pressed to the cold window. Joseph was also asleep, Forrest and Jerry were telling jokes to each other at the front seats, and Grover was looking inside one of the bags.
"We there yet?" I asked.
"Twenty more minutes, pal," answered Jerry.
"Everything's here. I still hope we haven't forgotten something," exclaimed Grover with relief. He had checked on the luggage at least 5 times during the whole trip, and even got in an argument with the flight attendant, because he wanted to check up the suitcase during the flight.
Some time later, we finally reached our destination - the Nanuq village. It was in the middle of a forest, that was isolated from the rest of the naked fields and barren landscape. My body was glad, yet annoyed at the same time that it had to leave the soft leather seats of the jeep. My legs, now as useful as toothpicks to be balanced on, could barely hold my weight, and having to carry one of the supply bags wasn't going to help me. After walking a few minutes on a wet dirt trail, we reached the village - it consisted of several teepees, a campfire, and an old, mossy wagon, which probably wasn't used all that often. Forrest told us to sit by the campfire while he tells the other part of the dig team to come down from the hill. Everyone, except for me, fell asleep due to the warm ambience of the dying campfire, and of course, due to being tired as hell. After fifteen minutes of silence, Forrest arrived with five more people. I was mostly too tired to remember their names, but I was able to hear brief words such as "Frank, Benjamin, Agatha"... Grover, or whoever that was helped me stand up and led me to one of the teepees, which was empty. I curled up in a ball in between the furry blankets and drifted off.
"Hey, hey buddy! Wake up!" - Forrest's voice called out to me. I immediately stood up. My headache was fixed, and I was no longer tired now - looking at my watch then, it was 12:01, time for lunch, or at least for me - breakfast. I stood up and went outside to see everyone eating sandwiches and other snacks by the campfire(now a pile of steaming ash and charcoal). Joseph handed me a pretzel, which due to the fact it had stayed for over 12 hours in one of the bags, had now become as good as a shoe, even if it wasn't so bad after all. After some twenty minutes, a part of the dig team starts leaves the village and starts heading to a trail off to the right of the campfire, which presumably lead to the dig site. I was also standing up just then, when Forrest stopped me, saying we'll go a few minutes after them, since we have to unpack our hiking equipment.
After several minutes of intense struggles with taking out certain things out of our bags, we were finally ready to go - Me, Forrest, Grover and Joseph. The first 2-3 minutes of us walking up the trail weren't so bad - the leafless trees around us, along with the light gray sky created a bit of a comforting atmosphere, which was disturbed by the smell of wet soil, leaves and mud. After a few more minutes of walking, a different stench hit us. Not a smell, but a stench. Everyone started complaining and asking what ever the hell that horrible stench was, when we flinched at a sight we didn't expect.
Three, freshly slaughtered corpses laying scattered at the road. My first reaction was to run head first backwards until I reach the village, and so was that of my friends. I didn't look backwards, but I heard something massive picking up someone, and that someone started to shout until I heard another loud noise. I tripped on a rock and fell to the side of the road, feeling an excruciating pain in my knee - I had accidentally stabbed myself with my pocket knife. I tried to hold in my screams, and looked around. I looked up in the trees, and what I saw was mesmerizing - a massive crow-like bird had grabbed someone and placed him on one of the highest branches, where it fed on it's kill. The person's clothes were scattered around the branches, with their blood-stained coat hanged on one of the lower parts of the tree. The bird was ripping off the intestines of the disfigured and partially naked body, with yellow and red fluids spewing everywhere. The stench was so disgusting it made me tear up. The beast opened up it's wings to flap them in the wind, and unleashed a terrible, hoarse cry. That was enough to distract me from being silent, and I let out a helpless moan due to the growing and burning pain in my leg.
The thing saw me.