Ahiga The Brave
Ahiga was walking through the forest one day with his friends, when out of nowhere he heard a rustle in the bush to his left.
Ahiga said, “Guys, did you hear that?”
“No, I didn’t hear anything", said Ian.
Ahiga was pretty sure he heard something but brushed it off as nothing more than his imagination. Ahiga and his friends kept exploring to local woods. Ahiga moved here from his tribal lands only a couple months before school started. He started eighth grade and made friends rather quickly. His best friends were Ian and Thomas. As the boys wandered through the woods they saw many tall trees and climbed over many tall rocks. Ian remembered something that his grandfather had told him about the spirits that lived in the woods.
“Guys, I heard from my grandfather that at the center of these woods are spirits of beasts that wander here at night,” explained Ian.
“Well then, we should check it out!” said Ahiga eagerly. He was always a fan of exploring and seeing new things. He heard tales from his grandparents of spirits of old that would strengthen warriors allowing them to become beasts themselves.
“I don’t know about that, guys. I do not want to come out here at night,” said Thomas.
“Me neither….I have kind of been avoiding coming here at night because it always freaks me out,” Ian said.
“I am going regardless of if you guys come or not! I’ll be here at midnight and I hope you guys will too,” exclaimed Ahiga adamantly. Ahiga walked home with thoughts of midnight and the spirits he may find.
At midnight Ahiga left his house when his parents were sleeping. He walked under the cover of night, and with the light from the moon, to the boys’ usual meet up point right outside the woods. He waited for what felt like ages, and then decided they weren’t coming. He entered the forest and walked in what he hoped was a straight line. He intended to keep walking until he got to the middle. When he got home earlier, he Googled maps of the forest and printed them out to aid in his search. When he arrived at what he thought to be the middle of the forest he stood still waiting for something to happen. He felt foolish for believing there were actual spirits dwelling in the forest. He decided to go back home and tell his friends what he found the next day. As he turned in the direction of his house, he heard a whooshing sound in the trees. His head spun back and forth trying to make out what was above him. Then suddenly as he spun in the opposite direction, he was met by a wispy outline of what could only be described as a wolf, floating at him. One second the wolf was there the next it was gone, and he was falling to the ground. He looked up through the trees and saw the moon shining above him. This was the last sight he saw until he faded into darkness.
When Ahiga woke up it was early morning and the sun was just beginning to rise. He ran home as fast as his legs would carry him. He hoped his parents were still sleeping as he made his way up the stairs quietly. He changed for school and set out to meet his friends at the bus stop. When he met up with his friends at the bus stop, he couldn’t contain himself. He told them all of what happened. They didn’t believe him and told him he must have been dreaming. The rest of the school day Ahiga’s mind dwelled on the events of the night before.
After school the boys went out to the forest to explore. When they were exploring, they heard a whistle and saw several men running at them. The men wore weird outfits and carried axes and bows. The boys, frightened, ran for their lives with the sound of dogs barking behind them. Eventually the men caught up and grabbed Ian who screamed loudly as the men took him to the ground. They bound his hands and feet. The man who looked like the leader yelled, “Grab the Skinwalker. I know it’s one of these boys. I can smell it.” Thomas and Ahiga frightened beyond belief ran faster away only to be cornered by a rocky hillside. Thomas was then captured by another one of them. Ahiga ran for his life and hid in an empty log. “What should I do…. I’m only fourteen. What can I do against these men?” Ahiga thought. Something within his chest rustled and called out to him. He was filled with a rage that he could hardly contain. A voice called out to him, “Kill them all. You have the power.” Ahiga jumped scared at what he had heard. Somehow the voice was right and Ahiga could feel it.
Out of the log Ahiga crawled and then sprinted in the direction of his friends. He ran faster than he ever had before. Before he knew it, he was on all fours with a bloodlust fueling his body. He knew what had happened and what he had become. His people told stories of men changing into beasts called naadlooshii or Skinwalkers. He ran into a clearing of trees and saw his friends tied up with men standing over them. He jumped onto the first one ripping and tearing at every piece of flesh he could get his claws and fangs onto. When the first man moved no more, he saw the other men pointing weapons at him and firing. He dodged left and right before jumping onto each and everyone slaying them mercilessly.
When the killing was over, he transformed back and worked on freeing his friends. They were so shocked and frightened they asked many questions about how he did what he did. He explained to them that it had happened last night. He also mentioned how he was a descendant from many great medicine men. He spoke about the spirit beast that came inside him. He explained since the beast mixed with his powers he was able to transform. He told them the stories that he was told from his grandparents about naadlooshii as they walked home. Ahiga lay in bed that night smiling to himself knowing that everything was about to change for him. For he was the boy that fights, or so his name would suggest. He would use this newfound power he had for good.
Author’s Note: I decided to base this story off of the lore surrounding Navajo Native American Skinwalkers. The Navajo people called these Skinwalkers naadlooshii because it means to be on all fours. In the original lore a Deity or creature would transform someone into a Skinwalker. Skinwalkers are also thought to be witches in lore. To become a Skinwalker they would need to kill someone close to them first. I decided to leave that requirement out for Ahiga. Skinwalkers would be able to transform into various beasts. The most popular among these transformations is a wolf. I decided to go along that road, but instead of a Deity I chose a creature to give Ahiga the power to transform. I also decided to pick a Navajo name that means “he fights”. I thought this would work well for a Skinwalker warrior. Usually Skinwalkers were evil in nature but in my story Ahiga is far from it. I decided however to go with werewolf hunters in my story. It is not originally in Skinwalker lore, but I felt it would be cool to have Ahiga square off with those that would try to kill him.
Photo Credit: Skinwalker by Steven Pierce