Afterwards: Chapter 9

It was mating season, and the wendigo were congregating where they once had to breed. They all knew the danger of their presence in such large numbers, but the biological imperative demanded it. The mating grounds happened to be in the centre of what had been a human city. Despite the change that had been wrought across the world, they could still sense what was underneath, and what had come before. It was strange, and their minds could no longer fully appreciate what they were trying to contemplate.

Instead, they rutted on streets and in destroyed store fronts, crashing through bars and clubs where their backs would rub against the ceiling as their bulk would fill them. The rooms were laced with smells from before the change, and they followed those. The wendigo that had chased Caitlin months ago was here, and had been fighting for a mate. She knew that it would be a long winter and it would be difficult to raise her first young. The thoughts were organized, however, and instead were fleeting feelings and impressions jostling through her mind without abstraction.

She brayed into the city, trying to find the optimal location for her sound to echo and attract both potential mates and challengers. Her plumes, long feather like growths that flattened against her back most of the time, rose up as her call went out. Brays, whoops, and roars bounced off of concrete and metal, warping and creating a cacophony within the city. From the din, she pulled and teased out a whooping call that signified a willing mate. She let out a long bray-like howl in response, and began to clamber across the metallic lumps that littered the roads. Finding enough food would be difficult, but with an strong mate her offspring would thrive.

Then the storm blew in. She was forced to run, to find somewhere to hide. The storms were terrible things, and brought out things that were far worse. Creatures from the ocean or who would be comfortable with the storm. They would hunt in the dark and try to ferret her out of her hiding place. She ran. Uphill, away from the city. She would find somewhere to hide, somewhere that would be safe. There were scent trails that she had left to where she had planned to make her den for her children. It was a basement of some old building, concrete and solid, that had an acrid smell in the air. It should hide her from those things.