Skookum — the word itself is one of Chinook origin. while synonymous with strength and power, the definition stretches further.
all words encompass the esk of the same name. over the many, many years since the small country town fell still, its name lost to time, local legends have sprouted and spread like weeds. whether a curious explorer who was brave enough to sift through the rubble, or hikers who merely rested in the red brome at a safe distance, all will say the same.
something’s still there.
by day, the existence of the sole groundskeeper many speak of is nigh impossible to prove. many have come and gone and seen nothing, brushing off the fear and paranoia as nothing more than a placebo effect. but by night...
by night is where the aptly named Skookum received its ill-fated title.
lost caravans looking to stop for the night. desperate gold miners hoping to strike rich. vandals and petty thieves. and, more recently, urban explorers and self-proclaimed ‘ghost hunters’. all different folk, with different intentions. all unwelcome.
just beyond the periphery of their lanterns, flashlights, campfires, and cameras, looms a shadow. the first fears are always of bears, but they quickly dissipate into horror of the unknown as the apparent intruder begins to move. the sheer size of it dwarfs even the largest bear — hell, it dwarfs all the houses that sit here rotting.
some will try to shine more light on the being, others brandish hunting rifles and shout and shoot — both attempts, to scare or discover, are futile.
in the darkness, mere feet from them, something snorts and rustles. it sounds like millions of blades of grass whispering against each other. there’s a heavy thump, then another — whatever this is, its footsteps are heavy and loud. it draws nearer, calculated enough to never be seen. those stupid or cocky or suicidal enough to approach, to try close the distance on their own terms, find themselves overwhelmed. by nausea. by melancholy. by dread.
when they sense the size of a monstrously large head inclined beside them, when their light source bounces back red from the tapetum of the shadowy beast, easily doubly large as their own head — only then do they realize the mistake they made in coming here.
this land belongs to something. and they are trespassing.
all turn tail and retreat by this point, if they haven’t already. those who can brave a glance over their shoulder find nothing. no looming, haunting shadow. no large eye. no heavy footsteps. it was like there was nothing there in the first place. but they don’t stop running. even if they can’t see the monstrous figure watching from the nearby clifftops, they can feel the weight of its gaze.
when daybreak comes, the land is still and silent. there are no footprints or similar evidence of a beast so large. but the trespassers do not return. they attempt to spread their story — nearby locals will heed this tale, they’ve heard many like it. the further away from the epicenter, the more people scoff, and the more the trespassers begin to wonder if there was anything there at all. film or photography reveals nothing: just empty space in the darkness. more evidence that they were just jumping at shadows.
few return. and fewer forget their experience. anyone who passes through the nearby towns years later will still hear the same story. nothing has changed.
something’s still there.