Skin Walker

The elderly man woke with an intense burning in his right leg. It felt consumed with fire and heat. His dry mouth ached with thirst as he sat up. He was no longer at the abandoned campsite. The man scanned his surroundings, looking for anything recognizable. A grape vine, climbing a wooden trellis, caught his eye. 

The man recognized the vine of desert grapes from the day before. This was the small house rented by the missing woman. Groaning, the man struggled to stand. Pain and dehydration overtook him, forcing him down to the hard earth. 

Closing his eyes, he waited for death. His mouth was too dry to call for help, and the property looked deserted. Snakebite victims didn’t last long without medical attention. He knew that only too well. 

Moisture touched the man’s parched lips. Opening his mouth, he swallowed the cool, sweet drink offered to him. Opening his eyes, the man saw the form of a woman kneeling beside him. The woman looked familiar. He knew her face.

Placing the man’s hand around the drinking vessel, the woman spoke. “Drink as much as you can. It will dull the pain.”

“I’ve been bitten,” the man uttered weakly in between sips of the cooling liquid. The burning in his leg began to lessen as he drank from the vessel.

“Yes, I know,” she returned, her voice serious. “I’m the one who bit you.”

Started, the man studied the woman’s face again. This was the missing woman he had been searching for. His eyes drifted from her face to her long, slender arm. A snake effigy bracelet hung loosely around her wrist. 

The curtain of confusion lifted from the man’s mind as he muttered the Navajo name for the woman who stood before him. 

“Yee Naaldlooshii.”  Skinwalker. 

The End

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