Updated: Feb 9, 2022
A voice calls out to you in the night. A voice in distress. “Please, can you help me?” it pleads.
Curious, you open the door to the brisk night air, the darkness broken only by the pale moonlight. You notice the garage light, which usually illuminates the driveway, seems to have burned out. Another damn thing to fix on this house, you think.
“Is someone there?” you ask, peering into the darkness. The lawn has grown tall, and across the dirt road which leads to your driveway, you see the thick trees of the dark forest. Its high dense canopy is creating a shroud of shadow which cloaks your property’s perimeter in an abysmal veil.
“Please, can you help me?” the voice asks again. The tone and timbre remain eerily uniform, as if you are hearing a recording. Still, it sounds like a person needs help.
You close your door and gather a flashlight from the ‘miscellaneous’ drawer you’ve been vowing to clean out. Luckily, the flashlight still has a little juice in the batteries. You click it on and reopen the door.
Sitting in your driveway is a large coyote, almost large enough to be a wolf. You’re not a veterinarian, but you can see the blatant signs of ill health. Matted fur flakes from decaying flesh in ragged patches, exposing skin pulled tight over the canine’s prominent ribcage.
“Please, can you help me?” the coyote pleads. Its mouth doesn’t move, but the voice of a young, nervous woman comes out nonetheless.
Now, what do you do?
If this, or something remotely like this, has happened to you, then you might have attracted the attention of a dreaded skinwalker. Henceforth, I shall refer to it as “the creature,” as it is considered bad form to speak its name. I’m not going to risk attracting one of those hell-beasts any more than I have to. I suppose I could refrain from writing this blog post altogether, but it’s one of my favorite Native American lore, so I’m going to take my chances.
Many monster geeks already know all about “the creature,” but for those who don’t, they are evil entities that can take the form of animals and humans. However, most accounts depict them as appearing somewhat corrupted or decayed when taking alternate forms. Yet their most chilling ability is the power to mimic the last words or sounds of anything they have killed.
Since these are words uttered at the moment of mortal realization, they tend to be pleas for help, begging for mercy, or general sounds of terror and desperation. As you can imagine, those sorts of sounds and phrases are perfect for luring new prey into the darkness, where “the creature” can add to its stockpile of stolen identities.
“The creature” is a figure from Navajo lore. The enchanting and mysterious backdrop of the red canyonlands and deserts of the American southwest are are haunted by the presence of these “creatures.”
On common belief is that a skinwalkers are created when a medicine man who has committed acts of black magic and evil dealings with otherworldly or malevolent forces takes on the curse in exchange for eternal life. These acts commonly include sacrificing a loved one or family member. These cursed dealings or rituals grant eternal life and powers, but also the insatiable need to prey upon human beings.
Shape-changers have always appealed to me. Being able to blend into any crowd, disguise oneself in any skin, and absorb the thoughts and memories of others are all enticing powers, as is eternal life. The cost for these abilities, however, is surrendering one’s morality, severing all ties with humanity, and having to spend your life in a slightly decayed, corpse version of whatever body you possess.
Honestly, that bit will make it difficult to blend in with others. It may work on animals, but most people will avoid you unless you lure them into the darkness for the killing. Besides, you will essentially have the vocabulary of a Pokemon, only able to utter the same phrase time and again until you can kill a new victim to freshen it up.
So, would it be worth it to you? What would you give for eternal life? If faced with the situation at the start of this blog, what would you do next? I’d love to hear your answers!
Be sure to check out Instagram, where I hold monthly polls. You can vote for the creature you believe would win in a fight. Once the votes are tallied, I will proceed to immortalize it in prose.
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I hope you enjoyed this addition to the Cryptid Cagematch blog.
Until next time, thank you, and have a great week!
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