“Did she know what was happening to her?” Stan asked.
“She had no clue,” Mr. Jarsdel turn to face them. “She was trapped in the never endless loop. She had no way of knowing what happened to her before and after she came back to life… by happenchance some one was able to put the pieces together. A stranger who had crossed paths with Athanasia. He saw everything.”
“What did he see?” Stan was intrigued.
“This particular stranger had coincidental met her more than once,” Mr. Jarsdel said. “The first time he was eight, his grandfather had owned various creatures and kept them as his personal servants. The grandfather was also known to abuse them.”
“Creatures?” Stan was lost.
“Humans,” Mr. Jarsdel explained, “that’s what the Wendigos called them, as they saw them inferior to their own kind. Wendigos were prideful beasts, especially those more prosperous. The stranger’s grandfather was egotistical and he was cruel to anyone inferior to him. Among his collection of humans was Athanasia, a young girl who never spoke. The stranger remembers her very well because he watched his grandfather slaughter her in front of him. Afterwards, as it was customary, her remains were cremated.”
“They cremated the bodies?” Stan was perplexed.
“Did you assume they threw the bodies in a pit?” Mr. Jarsdel grinned. “Wendigos might have been savages but they were not uncivil. If they left remnants of bodies laying around scavengers, mostly other Wendigos would have been a problem… The best way to be rid of the bodies was to cremate them. Ashes to ashes, Athanasia returned to dust. The stranger had witnessed all this, not long after she had been cremated, someone had noticed foot prints leading away from the oven, as if someone had climbed out of it. It was presumed that a scavenger was in the midst. Years later, the stranger was fifteen when he saw a familiar face. He wasn’t sure it was her, and soon after she was annihilated. Nevertheless, he saw her a few more times, in flesh in blood she would stand in his presence.”
“It could have been a coincidence,” Stan asserted. “We all have a Doppelganger. I have been confused a few times to being someone they recognize.””
“It could have been a coincidence,” Mr. Jarsdel said. “But, Athanasia wore a necklace baring her name and when the stranger called it out she answered to it. Every time he came close to knowing the truth she was killed and her ashes strewn among the other ashes. But perseverance paid off when he waited in an alley one night. He had watched her ashes being strewn outside the back door among a pile of white dust. He had looked away for a moment and almost had missed it when he heard something rustling. From among the cinders, she emerged, reincarnated from her own ashes, seeing is believing… She stumbled from the dust, naked and trembling with cold. He watched her as she wobbled down the deserted street. She found a purple petticoat lying around and covered her flesh with it, not far were a few trash bins were she scouted for food. She was ravaged by hunger that she couldn’t quite explain. Before she could finish, the stranger grabbed her and pulled her in the alley, telling her to be still, that there were other Wendigos approaching. If they found her, they would tear her apart. That’s where that story ends.”
“It ends?” Stan was bewildered. “What do you mean it ends? What happened next? You got to know.”
“The stranger lost her,” Mr. Jarsdel said.
“How did he lose her?” Stan raised his voice.
“The stranger, though a Wendigo, was well meaning,” Mr. Jarsdel said. “He took her home where he thought she might be safe, but someone had broken into his home and abducted Athanasia. He followed the trial of blood and lost track of her. He never stopped searching.”