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  • I pulled into the little mountain town at about 10:30 A.M. I looked at the thermostat on the dash of the new Dodge. It read a bone-chilling -24 below. I pulled into the nearly-abandoned campground and found the 5 arctic-grade tents that I recommended for this hunt. Me, Shelby, Jake, and Sarah would all get one of the 4 smaller, private tents to ourselves while agent Jones would stay in the larger tent that would double as a headquarters and cafeteria for this hunt.

    I unloaded the 40 huskies out of the custom-built dog box on the back of the Dodge and set up a lean-to structure that would serve as their house for the next couple of weeks. I then made my way to the H.Q tent and check the fire burning in the wood-burning stove; It was nearly out. I mentally questioned my team's basic winter survival abilities while I patiently built a roaring fire to warm the tent. I was enjoying the warmth of the fire when I heard the black S.U.V pull into the campsite.

    "Whoa, nice ride," Jake commented on the new truck.

    "I thought you drove an old Ford?" Sarah questioned.

    "I did" I replied while looking sharply at Jones

    Jake, putting two-and-two together, jokingly questioned "You bought him a truck? where's my bonus?"

    Jones, always serious answered, "I... we... we needed dogs and... do you know another musher with a security clearance?" Shelby then broke into our conversation

    "C'mon the pizza is getting cold".

    We went inside and ate, then Jones broke the small talk. We all knew why we were here but Jones finally explained in detail what happened. Turns out that a group of 5 snowmobilers went into the backcountry for a weekend trip. They were found dead the following Tuesday, or I should say, What was left of them was found dead, the bodies were severely mutilated, eaten by some strange beast. The bodies were found in their campsite, which had been completely trashed by whatever had done this. All 5 snowmobiles were found at the campsite unharmed, in operating condition. Meaning that whatever happened, It happened so fast that they couldn't run to there machines to escape. There where no tracks found do too high wind having blown away the tracks. The locals had removed the bodies but had not disturbed anything else, So we decided to head to the crime scene early the next morning to asses the situation properly.

    At daybreak I Hitched teams of dogs to the 4 dogsleds I had brought with me, two racing-style sleds to be used to move quickly if needed, (nicknamed the "corvette sleds" by Jake) a large freighting-style sled, for moving bulk gear, (the "trucker sled") and a multi-passenger touring style sled (the "station wagon"). I gave everyone a crash-course in dog mushing and assigned everyone a sled, I was to lead the way on a corvette sled, followed by Jake on the trucker sled, then Jones and Shelby on the station wagon, then Sarah in the rear on a corvette sled. The trip was pure hell for me, Jake complained constantly about not getting a corvette sled, and Jones couldn't keep from falling off, Shelby grumbled nonstop about the cold. In fact, the only person who seemingly enjoyed the trip was Sarah, who learned the difficult task of steering the sled with ease, Never once complaining, she was pretty impressive for a rookie musher, and I'm not easily impressed.

    We arrived at the murder scene after a couple of hours. They had picked a good spot for a camp, surrounded on three sides by trees, but still in the heart of the mountains, perfect riding country. I quickly surveyed the small campsite. There were three small arctic-grade tents, equipped with small propane heaters for warmth. Apparently, the victims had been a group of two women and three men. The tents were collapsed from the snowstorm on the night of the murder, But upon entering the last semi-standing tent I found about a dozen beer cans on the scattered on the floor of the tent, with another 12-pack in the corner. I kicked around in the snow and found the remains of a campfire. It had burned to nothing but ashes, telling me it had burned out on its own and was not put out, so the campers must have been awake at the start of the attack.

    Jones approached me "What do you think happened?"

    "Whatever it was hit so hard and fast that they couldn't even get to there snowmobiles, and it didn't help that these folks were probably drunk. Sitting around the campfire, not paying attention."

    After a brief silence, Jones spoke up.

    "I got a couple of things to fill out here, and I want to take some pictures of the scene."

    I thought of the best thing to do and responded: " I'm gonna go search around over there in the trees, the wind wouldn't have hit them so badly and maybe I could find some tracks." The group of trees was roughly 1,000 yards up the mountain to the north, further away from the town in the valley below. The most likely spot for a...animal?... to retreat to.

    Jones looked at the trees and replied "Them trees look a good distance away. Take your radio and Jake." I nodded in agreement and found Jake sitting on one of the dog sleds."

    "Hey Jake, you wanna take a look up there in that group of trees," I said, motioning to the said trees.

    He slowly rose from his seat, glanced up at the trees up ahead and said, "Sure, I guess"

    "You got your rifle?" I casually asked.

    "Nah, I left it back in my tent." He answered.

    "Got a sidearm?" I questioned, hoping he wouldn't have been foolish as to come to the backcountry unarmed.

    "Yeah I got my Glock" he answered.

    "Oh okay, do you carry a 40 S&W or 45 A.C.P?" I curiously replied, slightly relieved.

    "9x19mm Parabellum, what about you?" he asked

    "9mm! what the hell you gonna do with a 9mm?" I asked, quite aggravated.

    "What do you mean?" he asked, completely bewildered.

    "I mean, we're not fighting people. Whatever we are out here hunting ripped three people apart before anyone of them could do a damn thing about it. You think you're gonna put what did that down with something that takes multiple shots to kill a person?" I stated now quite angry at his ignorance.

    He returned my anger in kind, "Go to hell Josh. Who the hell do you think you are. I'll carry what I damn well, please. You like to walk around like you're in charge or something but hear me now, you ain't my superior."

    For a moment I considered knocking his teeth out for his ignorance, and attitude, but before I could act Jones stepped between us.

    "Settle down you two," he said angrily, "I didn't make this team fight against ourselves dammit!" he shouted. Pausing for a moment, then continuing, "Shelby, why don't you go with Josh."

    "Fuck that, I'll godammit" Jake responded. Jones looked at me for confirmation, I just nodded once.

    "Jake go ahead and jump on Sarah's corvette sled. The snow is hard on top but icy, We'll have to put booties on the dogs to protect there feet." I directed Jake. He nodded once in confirmation.

    I quickly put the booties on the dogs and looked up to see Jake on the runners of his sled, and off we went.

    We arrived at the treeline and quickly anchored off the dogs. I walked over to help Jake and seem a small spec of blood on one of his leader's paw; also noticing that her one of her booties was missing, "Goddammit." I said with clear aggravation.

    "What?" Jake asked. Upon closer inspection, I found he had put several booties on wrong so that they could easily fall off.

    "You put the damn booties on wrong" I answered.

    "Excuse me," Jake said sarcastically.

    I shook my head and replied "I think, I'll fix it, would have worked better"

    "Kiss my ass" was his reply.

    I started to head into the woods and he soon started to follow. We searched for a couple of hours in an uneasy silence. Until I found a track.

    "Hey, come here" I motioned for Jake.

    "What in god's name is that from?" He asked.

    "I...don't know," I said. The track was about 2 foot long and 1 foot wide, With long toes ending with 6 inch long claws. They were fresh, fresher than they should have been.

    "They're heading north", I said. "But I want to see where they came from, follow the tracks backwards to find out." I told Jake.

    "Sure." He answered.

    "And take my rifle, wouldn't want this thing to shove that 9 mil' up your ass." I mocked

    "Ha-Ha fucking funny" he replied, obviously annoyed.

    I began following the tracks northward, chuckling lightly to myself. What kind of fool would come up here with a damn peashooter? Jake didn't strike me as an idiot, but now I found myself questioning my teammate. Even if he carried a small pistol and an adequate rifle, He would at least be able to walk safely, but no, the dumbass left his rifle at camp. So now I am left with nothing but my 45 colt, while adequate, it lacked the range and sheer knockdown power of my 45-70.

    My internal rant was inturrupted by the slightest movement out of the corner of my eye. I quickly spun towards it, crouched, and focused my sight on it. The beast was climbing up a steep bluff 250 yards to my 10 0'clock.

    It was too far to accurately tell, but it looked to be at least 10-14 feet tall. with what looked like 3-foot antlers growing from its head. It finally reached a small ledge, and stood, looking on the valley below him.

    I slowly pulled my pistol from its holster, knowing it would be useless at this range, but the familiar weight in my hand was reassuring. The beast luckily did not see me, and turned and ducked into a low cave.

    I quickly made my way back down the mountain with extra caution. Finally, I made my way to the two parked dog-teams. Where Jake was waiting for me.

    "Where the hell have you been?" He questioned, handing back my rifle.

    "I saw it," I replied.

    "Seen what?" He asked with curiosity.

    "To hell, if I know," I replied.

    We quickly readied the dogs and made our way to the ruined campsite where everyone had been waiting. On our arrival, Jones started questioning.

    "You two get lost?"

    "No, we found something," I replied.

    "Found what?" He asked

    "Tracks, Coming from that ridge," Jake answered, pointing to a tall bluff about a mile to the west.

    "Fresh, only about an hour or two old" I added

    "My guess is you followed them?" Jones asked me.

    'Yeah, I followed them" I answered.

    "What did you find?" He asked again.

    "I... don't really know," I answered.

    He nodded quickly, "Sarah !" He yelled.

    I quickly described the creature to Sarah while we packed our gear to go. Answering any and all questions she had. Then we quickly returned to our campsite. I started a fire in Jones's tent. (No one else could) While Sarah started to research what I had seen. I decided to ask Jake more about what he saw.

    "Hey Jake, You mentioned that you followed the tracks that lead to that ridge. What can you tell me about them?" I asked.

    " Yeah, them tracks led right to that ridge and, well it looked to me like it was...watching." He answered.

    " Watching us, huh. It must be pretty smart. " I stated.

    " Wonder why though," Jake asked no one in particular.

    " When wolves return to a kill, they'll sit back and watch before they'll come back in on the carcass, to make sure that nothing has disturbed it. If they see something wrong, they leave it alone, too risky for them." I answered

    " Yeah, if this thing is anything, it's smart," Sarah commented as she re-entered the tent.

    " What do you have on it? " I questioned.

    " It's pretty scary. From what you described to me, I think it's what they call a wendigo." Sarah answered

    " What's a wendigo." Jones asked.

    " I have heard a little from some of the native guides. They say a wendigo is like a... spirit of forest or something. They say that a wendigo represents the evil of cannibalism. That if a person eats another they become a wendigo, they say that a wendigo can drive a man mad and then posses him, making him crave human flesh. Wendigo often can represent extreme hunger, cold, and any sort of evil really. But I was always told it was just a legend." I informed the group

    " But our buddy didn't possess anyone, and nobody ate no one so that doesn't cover it." Shelby pointed out.

    " Science tells us that most legends are really just exaggerated versions of the truth," Sarah said. "From what I've learned about them is that they are a lot like the yeti, but a thinner, taller version." She added.

    " So... Bigfoot's Eskimo cousin?" Jake asked assuredly.

    " Pretty much," Sarah confirmed.

    " So how do we trap it?" Jones asked.

    " It's a cave-dwelling creature, So the thing to do is wait until it leaves its cave, set your trap in the cave, and simply wait until it returns. One problem though." I stated.

    " What is it?" Asked Jones.

    That cave-trap method, it works with a bear or wolf when they leave to go hunting, but this thing leaves to hunt people." I answered.

    "We'll close the whole area to people. Blame avalanche danger or something." Said Jones. "Josh, Draw up some design for a trap, I'll have a local start building it immediately, Then I need you to head out into the backcountry and tell everyone to go home. I don't need anyone else getting killed. Take someone with you."

    He issued me the order and I simply nodded my head and went to work, it was a good plan. I drew up an easy design for a large cage-trap and sent Jones on his way, I thought about who to take and quickly decided on Sarah as she was the best musher of our team, making for a much quicker trip.

    " Sarah, you busy?" I asked.

    "No, not really, why?" She answered.

    "I need someone that can actually ride a sled to help me evacuate the area, I was wondering if you would come?" I said.

    "Sure, let me grab my gear," She said. She went into her tent then re-emerged a few minutes later with her winter gear and a pistol on her hip.

    "What are you carrying?" I asked.

    "Oh, just my dad's old 357. Mag" she answered nonchalantly.

    I smirked to myself as we were heading out, knowing Jake would be embarrassed to know that even inexperienced Sarah knew to carry a large pistol.

    We searched the surrounding Maine countryside. We found a few different groups of snowmobilers and sent them home. Some gave trouble, but no one argued once I showed them my F.B.I badge Jones supplied me.

    Things took a drastic turn when we were on our way back to camp. We were mushing along a trail that ran on top of a steep bluff that sloped down into a heavily forested valley, and eventually a frozen river. That is where we saw it, the beast was following the river north, the opposite way we were traveling. I stopped the team and anchored the still-fresh dogs off to a nearby tree. Quietly instructing Sarah to do the same.

    "Do you see it?" She whispered.

    "Yeah," I responded, pointing at it through the various trees. I retrieved my rifle and my binoculars from my sled-bag to try to get a better view. As I said, the creature was heading north along the river, so I figured that it was probably leaving its den. As it's den was located to the southwest of our position. It was probably hungry and looking for food. I couldn't find it.

    "You got your phone?" I asked.

    "Yeah" She answered.

    "Call Jake and Shelby, tell em' to haul ass out here," I commanded.

    "What about Jones?" Sarah asked.

    "Call him after Jake," I answered.

    "What are you gonna do?" She asked.

    "This thing is killing and eating people. I've got no choice." I answered.

    She shook her head slightly in approval, although I knew she was disappointed. "I know" she sighed.

    I quickly found the creature in the valley below. Still oblivious to our presence. The wind was coming from the north-west, Definitely in my favor. I strapped on my snowshoes and began descending down the cliff. I made my way down along the river and silently started north. When I last saw the beast, it was a little over a mile ahead of me, but because the snow was deep it was moving slowly, much slower than me with my snowshoes.

    It took me over an hour, and it was almost dark when I found it. It had stopped at an unfrozen spot of the river to get a drink when I spotted it. So I silently laid on the ground and slowly crawled through the snow, it's cold stinging my face, to a nearby ice-covered log. I steadied my rifle on the log, taking aim, then slowly cocking the rifle's hammer with a metallic click. the beast must've heard the click because it suddenly turned and stood just as I fired. The bullet hit the animal in the upper hip, knocking it to the ground on its stomach.

    The creature let out a pained howl, as it struggled fruitlessly to get to its feet. I rose from my shooting position and approached the beast intending to put the damn thing out of its misery. Just as I shouldered the rifle and worked its lever action, I heard Sarah scream.

    "WAIT!" she yelled.

    I turned and looked down the river to see Jake and Sarah about 100 yards away approaching quickly on the station wagon. They pulled up beside me and stopped the sled.

    "Tranq darts," Jake said, Holding up an air-powered dart gun. He walked over and shot the animal with one, and within a couple minutes it was out like a light.

    "Do you think it will live?" Jake asked.

    "It should, I shot it in the hip," I answered.

    "Yeah, about that," Jake said, smirking.

    "It moved at the last second" I explained.

    "Uh-huh," Jake answered, still smirking.

    "At least I brought my rifle." I retorted with my own smirk.

    "Ok, fine," Jake said, chuckling slightly.

    "How are we gonna get this thing outta here?" I wondered out loud.

    "Jones is on his way with a helicopter and some agents, they'll take it from here," Sarah answered.

    Two hours later I was helping to load the still sleeping cryptid in the back of a semi-truck to be hauled of to...who knows. after we finished up Jones approached me.

    "You did another excellent job here Josh." He complemented

    "Just doing my job," I answered.

    "So can I count on you for more hunts in the future?" He asked.

    "Of course, anytime," I answered

      Loading editor
    • I pulled into the little mountain town at about 10:30 A.M. I looked at the thermostat on the dash of the new Dodge. It read a bone-chilling -24 [24 what?] below. I pulled [you used “pulled” twice, one sentence after the other] into the nearly-abandoned [don’t hyphenate] campground and found the 5 arctic-grade tents that I recommended for this hunt. Me, Shelby, Jake, and Sarah [Shelby, Jake, Sarah, and I...] would all get one of the 4 [four – if it’s less than ten, type it out] smaller, private tents to ourselves while agent Jones would stay in the larger tent that would double as a headquarters and cafeteria for this hunt.

      I unloaded the 40 huskies out of the custom-built dog box on the back of the Dodge and set up a lean-to structure that would serve as their house for the next couple of weeks. I then made my way to the H.Q tent and check the fire burning [delete ‘burning’] in the wood-burning stove; [full stop] It was nearly out. I mentally questioned my team's basic winter survival abilities while I patiently built a roaring fire to warm the tent. I was enjoying the warmth of the fire when I heard the black [an] S.U.V pull into the campsite [how would he know it’s black just from sound?].

      "Whoa, nice ride," Jake commented on the new truck.

      "I thought you drove an old Ford?" Sarah questioned.

      "I did" I replied while looking sharply at Jones

      Jake, putting two-and-two together, jokingly questioned "You bought him a truck? where's my bonus?"

      Jones, always serious answered, "I... we... we needed dogs and... do you know another musher with a security clearance?" Shelby then broke into our conversation

      "C'mon the pizza is getting cold".

      [I didn’t understand a word of that exchange. Who pulled up? What ride is nice? Who bought who what? Did someone pull up in the narrator’s car that… that they had just driven in? It’s very confusing.]

      We went inside and ate, then Jones broke the small talk. We all knew why we were here but Jones finally explained in detail what happened. Turns out that a group of 5 snowmobilers went into the backcountry for a weekend trip. They were found dead the following Tuesday, or I should say, What [what – capitalisation] was left of them was found dead, the bodies were severely mutilated, eaten by some strange beast [how do you know it’s a strange beast?]. The bodies were found in their campsite, which had been completely trashed by whatever had done this. All 5 snowmobiles were found at the campsite unharmed, in operating condition. Meaning that whatever happened, It [capitalisation] happened so fast that they couldn't run to there [their] machines to escape. There where [were] no tracks found do [due] too [to] high wind having blown away the tracks. The locals had removed the bodies but had not disturbed anything else, So [so – capitalisation] we decided to head to the crime scene early the next morning to asses [assess] the situation properly.

      At daybreak I Hitched [hitched] teams of dogs to the 4 dogsleds I had brought with me, two racing-style sleds to be used to move quickly if needed, (nicknamed the "corvette sleds" by Jake) a large freighting-style sled, for moving bulk gear, (the "trucker sled") and a multi-passenger touring style sled (the "station wagon"). I gave everyone a crash-course in dog mushing and assigned everyone a sled, I was to lead the way on a corvette sled, followed by Jake on the trucker sled, then Jones and Shelby on the station wagon, then Sarah in the rear on a corvette sled. The trip was pure hell for me, Jake complained constantly about not getting a corvette sled, and Jones couldn't keep from falling off, Shelby grumbled nonstop about the cold. In fact, the only person who seemingly enjoyed the trip was Sarah, who learned the difficult task of steering the sled with ease, Never [never] once complaining, [full stop] she was pretty impressive for a rookie musher, and I'm not easily impressed.

      -

      I’m not gonna do a full review because I’m a bit stuck for time, but already I think we can dive into the main issues since they’re not going anywhere.

      Mechanical issues – loads. Just so many. Way too many. So many that any random reader is going to find your work an absolute chore to read. You’re sabotaging yourself. You’re shooting your racehorse before it even gets out the gate. People are gonna scan the first few lines, see the mechanical errors all over the place, and skip. Give yourself a chance and make sure you post a polished version of your story. Grammarly and MS Word can help with these things, but only to a limited extent. Mixing commas is one thing, but I’m glancing down at the next paragraph and I’m seeing words capitalised in the middle of the sentence. At the end of the day you just need to read and re-read your story and if possible find a friend or two to read over it as well.

      Style issues – So I can see what you wanna do. You want to write a B movie. But, short stories have some serious limitations. Let’s say you wanna have a geek. B-movies will often have The Geek as a character. In a movie you can just show that guy rock up with a neck-beard, acne, and a MLP t-shirt and everyone instantly knows the character archetype. In a short story you need to describe the guy’s appearance and slow the plot down. Information about the character can’t be absorbed visually while the plot keeps going on like it can in a film. That means you need to be dedicating huge amounts of word real-estate to each character you introduce. Realistically, anything less than 5000 words shouldn’t have more than two meaningful characters. After two, all the other characters need to be very, very, very distinct. I’m talking things like “the fat scientist” or “the chirpy barista”, not “James Sitterton, one of six mid-level managers we’ll be talking about today”.

      Also, in a story you don’t have the benefit of a character being represented with a distinct visual style. We can’t just “look” at the character and remember them. That means you can’t just list off character names like you do here. Julie, Emily, Anne, Bob, Phillip, Robert, Greg, Matthew, James, Richard, Catherine… on and on and on. That’s what it feels like you’re doing to us. You’re just reeling off names and expecting us to… what? Keep a cheat sheet? Note them down? We aren’t playing Simon Says here so don’t expect a person to go out of their way to remember anything. It’s your job to drive any relevant information into the reader’s head like an epipen through the rib-cage. That means characters need to be snappy, stereotypical, and easily remembered. It means that you should absolutely not be relying on a roll call with the hope that your reader remembers who “Shelby” or “Jake” are.

      A rule of thumb I use is this: for every new named character you add, throw a thousand words onto the expected word count.

      And that’s not even counting main characters, or anyone who is supposed to actually matter. For a story like this, I honestly think you should be looking at 5-7000 words. A talented writer could get it down to 5000 maybe, but it depends on the person.

      Here’s the thing. Every single word you write (every. Single. Word.) needs to do one of the following five things:

      It needs to move the plot forward.

      Develop character (naming someone isn’t developing character)

      Develop the setting (you already nail this)

      Build mood or atmosphere (you do this)

      And if it isn’t doing at least one of those things, delete it.

      What you’re trying to do is ambitious. Having a large complex cast of characters is very, very difficult. And at this stage my advice would be to just focus on nailing the simpler challenges of writing. That means one or two characters facing off against a threat. Think clearly about how words limit you, and what they let you do that films don’t (like seeing a person’s inner thoughts directly).

      Here’s what you do well by the way: you nail the details. The story feels authentic, you make mundane acts like setting out the huskies sound interesting, and honestly I think you could write a great survival story. But before you do that you’re gonna need to pull back a little and focus on something a little simpler than this kind of multi-character story. Try writing some stories less than 2000 words with simpler set ups and let us spend more time with people who light fires, tie up huskies, set up sleds, and fight bone-chilling temperatures. This isn't an insult by the way. You will rarely find short stories that use the same story structure as a full-blown movie. I've seen it pulled off maybe once in my entire life with the story Carbon River by Mike MacDee. 

      I look forward to seeing more of your work.

      Oh, and for the love of God, proof read.

        Loading editor
    • It reads like a bad action flick where the filmmakers get a bunch of facts wrong because it's cooler or they don't know better. You can't fit 40 huskies like a decent owner into a single SUV, the dogs are too big. For example. 

      The story kind of drags on at points which does indicate it needs some trimming. 

      On top of that, I think you've lost the setting of your story too, or the interval between stories is so long that I've forgotten the setting. 

      The characters are mostly flat, aside from the main couple, which at points come off as stupid as well "an eskimo cousion of the yeti" 

      The premise is decent, however, the execution is too drawn out for a short story. If you'd like to write a whole novel, the chapters as they are now are too light on the content and the characters are somewhat underdeveloped. So my suggestion would be either add more meat to each chapter and make everyone and everything important (as Christian said, every word has to count) or cut this thing into a basic short story and make it feel deeper with less verbal content. 

      The ending section is all over the place, first we start of with the "Im the hero of the people" motif which is just random. They came to hunt something, that should be their objective all along. That is, unless this morality schtick sticks throughout the plot and develops further. Then we get to the scene where the thing is shot, it's like I'm reading about an experienced hunter who shoots a buck for meat and misses. It has no emotional value at all. "You've missed man!" "Ah shit..." If you encounter a cryptid you should feel something, it's scary or exciting or something other than "well imma shoot this now." Missing the shot should also cause some reaction, especially with the whole "it's killing people - I must put it down" from earlier. It's just dry and not very reliable. If the characters don't care, why should I? 

        Loading editor
    • So, Do you guy's think this story is worth fixing, or should I just scrap it and start over? I do agree with Bloodyspgetti on the ending after reading again and I totally agree with ChristianWallis on the fact that it really needs cleaned up,(more character datails etc...) but at the end of the day do you think it has the potential?

        Loading editor
    • A FANDOM user
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