Anorak's Recollection

“Hey David, c’mere and check this out,”

David heard his colleague shouting at him across the bluff.

“I’ll be with you in a moment, I’m collecting samples.”

“No, c’mere, you need to see this.”

David sighed and rolled his eyes. Robert had always been excitable. When they were fording a river, Robert almost had a heart attack finding a pyrite deposit.

“Fine, what did you want me to see?”

David jogged over the bluff, his gear and backpack jangling with the movement. He mounted the top of the bluff, revealing the breath-taking view of the distant prairies. The grass rippling with wind, rolling like waves. Completely pristine, untouched by man, besides the savage redskins whose camps dotted the plains. David and Robert were explorers, along with the dozens of others that were hired by the American Government, to find hidden treasures and animals that might be worth more than a penny in international markets. The duo decided to head towards the Rockies, as that is where the hubbub in the last couple years seemed to be focused on. The large bluff David and Robert were exploring was at the base of the Rockies, where mountain and plain met. The bluff was a small mountain by itself, the vanguard of its larger brethren many miles to the west.

David was a self-proclaimed scientist, collecting wild flowers and redskin trinkets to study at his home and write essays proclaiming their worth. Robert was a prospector, heading west for riches and gold, the greedy miser. David and Robert were perfect foils of each other, David being a lanky, pasty man more accustomed to city life than the wild outdoors, While Robert was a squat, stout man with more hair on his face than there were people in Boston. David descended the other side of the bluff, where Robert and the Indian guide whose name neither the two men could pronounce, were waiting. David slowed his pace quickly when he saw both of their faces. Robert’s scruffy bearded face was pale beneath the hair, and the guide’s jaw was hanging somewhere between his neck and waist. A shovel was lying on the ground, forgotten for the time being.

“What’s got you two twisted in a knot?” David asked hesitantly.

Robert pointed to a large hole in the ground, near where David descended the hill. The hole was positioned underneath where a totem pole used to be, the pole laying on the ground after being dug up by Robert. The hole looked caved in, as if there was empty space behind the soil. When David moved closer to the hole, he was hit by a miasma of stench and decay, as if it were pent up for centuries before being released.

Through watery eyes, he could see wooden planks and boards, like scaffolding, supporting the tunnel the hole revealed. David turned to Robert, ranting.

“Why did you dig up that totem pole?” David asked angrily. “You could have destroyed it! This thing could be worth thousands of dollars if sold to the right people!”

Robert replied quietly. “The Injun said this mound was a building or sumthin. Said the pole was markin’ an entrance to a grave. Figgered I could find some jewry or sumthin valuable.”

David paused, thinking. He turned back to look at the bluff and stepped backwards evaluating it. He came to a revelation, and spun around, his anger forgotten. He addressed his comrades.

“This isn’t just a hill! It is a tumulus! This was a tomb for Indian chiefs and war heroes! This is an amazing find! Imagine all the priceless material hidden inside.”

Robert looked thoughtful. “Priceless, eh? I can work with that.”

The three went back to camp, waiting for the smell to air out. Their three tents were arranged in a triangle around the dead fire, where they were sitting, eating dried prairie dog for lunch they had caught a few weeks earlier traversing the plains. Throughout the men were silent, imagine the treasures that laid within, the amount of money they could garner from a such a find, and how much time they could spend in a brothel with the funds. Finally, Robert cut through the silence with a question toward the guide.

“So, whatcha think is in there, Chief?”

The Indian sat there, silently glaring at the man. After several seconds of silence, he replied.

“Only death is in there. That smell is the smell of the wachuge.”

Robert sat there, confused. “Whatcha mean, wachoo-gee? There’s only a coupla dead bodies in there. What is that anyway, some injun spice or sumthin?”

The Indian shook his head slowly. “No, it is not. In my tribe, the Kalispel tribe, when a man eats of another man, he turns into something… evil. Powerful. Too strong. Wachuge. He is smart, blessed, strong. But he commits sin and damned for it.”

Robert looked as pale as the moon, visibly gulping down some gopher that was caught in his throat.

David shook his head, disagreeing with every word. “That’s nothing but Indian myth, Robert, don’t believe him. These are identical to the ‘wendigos’ of Canada. Nothing more than stories to keep little children in line.”

Robert was barely calmed but calmed nonetheless. After they had finished eating, they walked the short distance to the hole. David brought a shovel and torch with him. He glanced at Robert, worried about his wellbeing. Robert was walking slowly behind the two men, looking fidgety and ill-at-ease. David noticed Robert brought his hunting rifle with him, slung over his shoulder.

They approached the tomb, and David was thankful for going back to camp. The air was clean, and the miasma had vanished. David and Robert both grabbed their shovels and set to digging, with the Indian standing a safe distance away, looking on with some trepidation. Ten minutes later, they had cleared the entrance of debris and could enter the hole with only having to slightly bend their neck.

The men stepped back and looked at their handiwork. David dropped his shovel. “Well, shall we go in?” he asked.

Robert responded, the labor having cleared his head, “Yeah, we should.” Robert grabbed his rifle and David lit a torch. With some urging and nagging, the Indian followed them reluctantly, and they entered the tunnel.

The light from the torch flickered off the walls, as the three entered deeper into the mound. The farther they went into the tomb, the larger the tunnel was, and before long the trio could stand tall and proud without brushing the walls or ceiling. The smell, although faint, was still present, and made the men gag with distaste.

Suddenly, they heard a noise up ahead, as if an animal was running through the tunnel. Robert quickly raised his rifle, scanning his surrounding for whatever had made The Noise.

“What was that!” He exclaimed.

“Probably nothing more than a prairie dog, now lower that before you make all of us deaf with the noise,” David admonished.

The three men traveled farther into the belly of the mound, and then the tunnel terminated in a huge round sanctum, at the center of the hill. The sanctum had an arched, rounded ceiling, supported by roughly hewn beams, made by the ancient peoples who built this mound. The ceiling stretched off, as high as an Old-World cathedral, hidden by shadows the torch couldn’t pierce. The room was so large, the shadows seemed almost solid, swallowing the torchlight as easy as Jonah was swallowed by the whale. Robert look around, confused. “This ain’t no tomb, what is this? Where was that smell coming from?”

David gazed at the sight, amazed and in awe. “There are probably tombs in here, somewhere. But this is an amazing find! There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world! I can’t believe such primitive peoples built this monstrosity, with their technology and abilities! We need to explore.”

David rushed around, tripping over unseen stairs in the dark, lighting torches scattered throughout the cavern. He ran throughout the sanctum, as giddy as a schoolboy. As more of the sanctum came into view, the men were utterly blown away. The sanctum didn’t look natural or made by a backwards people. The walls were as smooth as glass. The room was massive, easily as big as the Coliseum or the Pyramids. The tunnel they traveled through, was in fact one in many. The sanctum had eight tunnels branching off it like spokes of a wheel, leading deeper into the mound, and probably stretched into the Rockies. The tunnels all terminated at the halfway point between the floor and the ceiling, with a slope gradually descending to the floor, like an amphitheater with the seats smoothed away with sandpaper. In the center of the sanctum was a large hearth, surrounded by spits and beds, enough to fit and house all the tribes of the Northwest.

David handed the two other men torches and lit them. Robert fumbled slightly trying to maintain his grip on both the torch and his rifle and settled for gripping the rifle in the middle and holding it with one hand.

The three men split up and began pluming the depths of the complex. David went down the tunnel directly in front of the entrance, and discovered a storage room, full of rotten food and broken makeshift boxes. He heard The Noise again and was slightly alarmed. His travel up the tunnel was slightly faster than his descent into it. Robert traveled in another tunnel, and discovered the way branched, and led to several other, smaller hearths with beds and spits surrounding them. He found desiccated bodies lying on the beds, dried and rotten. He noted they seemed to be partially eaten. But that thought was swiftly forgotten as he discovered that most of the corpses had jewelry, and gleefully pocketed them. The Indian travelled down another tunnel, and discovered a large luscious garden, covered with crops and flowers, lit by a flameless lantern that glowed with no power, and an aquifer that flowed without a source. The plants had once been in orderly rows, probably cultivated and eaten. But that time had long since passed, and the plants had overtaken the room, swallowing it in nature. The Indian marveled at this, and swore to keep it to himself, travelling back up the tunnel.

The men met at the sanctum and shared their findings. Robert happily showed his treasure, and David shared his discovery with the food and storage. The Indian claimed to have found nothing but more rooms and beds.

Suddenly, the trio heard The Noise. Robert dropped his torch, and it fizzled out on the ground. He swiftly raised his gun, swinging it to and fro. The Indian and David both raised their torches, to seek out the source of The Noise, forgetting the sanctum was well lit with the torches David had ignited.

Robert exclaimed, frustrated. “Les just find the thing makin that racket and shoot it already.”

The Indian and David both silently nodded in agreement, no longer trying to reassure each other of the source of The Noise. They all heard a different Noise. Not rushed, like scurrying. But more like a pad, like an animal slowly stalking towards its prey.

Out of a fifth, unexplored tunnel, came the source of The Noise. It was a hideous, starving freak. Its skin was stretched over Its bones, Its skin was as white as snow. Its head was a deer skull, with a mouth with too many teeth gaping underneath. A red ring of wet blood circled Its mouth, as if It had just killed. Its fingers and feet were as black as the deep sea, and Its nails were rotted and falling off. It wore no clothes, showing the swollen belly and sunken skin of It. It moved towards the trio, walking off kilter, its head jerking back and forth, like a frog being electrocuted. It stopped, and It talked.

“Hungryyy…”

The Indian guide whispered, in a low, hushed voice. “That is a Wechuge.”

The Wechuge lept towards the Indian guide, biting deep into his throat. A fountain of blood sprayed up, as the Indian slowly sank to the ground. The Wechuge started eating and consuming the Indian, almost totally decapitating the Indian’s body by eating all his neck’s meat.

Robert made a strangled gurgling noise, raised the gun, and fired. The bullet hit the Wechuge’s should and blew Its arm off. Its blood was slow to flow, as black brackish fluid seeped and dripped from the horrific wound. The Wechuge screamed, and quickly stood up from Its meal and began to run towards the two men, who had retreated a fair distance away. Robert was already reloading another bullet into the chamber but fumbled with the cartridges. He cursed, and then the Wechuge was upon them. David swung the torch, and hit square in the head, underneath the deer skull. The Wechuge fell onto its side, and before it could right itself. A hole in Its chest appeared as Robert fired another round. The Wechuge flopped onto its back, as more black fluid oozed from its body.

Robert and David looked at each other, scared out of their wits. They then fled from the mound, never to return, leaving the Wechuge and the Indian to the flies.

All the while, the deer skull fell of the Wechuge’s head, and began to move. The skull was out in the open, where anyone could retrieve it.
































































110 YEARS LATER…

An intercom sounded in the testing chamber, “D-126221, please approach SCP-███.”