Whoa. So, yesterday and today I was reading in the Algernon Blackwood collection that I bought one of his apparently more famous stories called “The Wendigo.” The name sounded familiar to me, but I didn’t remember where I had heard it before. As I read it, I had the strangest sense of deja vu, that I had read this story before, but I knew I had never read any Blackwood stories before getting this book. I heard in my mind a haunting voice, crying out, “Da-Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay-go!” The name of the Indian guide in the story. Then, when the Wendigo came around and took DeFago away, DeFago cried out, “Oh, my fiery feet, my burning feet of fire…”
Then it hit me. I knew this story most definitely. It had appeared in a severely edited and truncated version in Alvin Schwartz’s kids book, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! By far, one of my favorite books when I was a kid! I loved these stories! I even had an audio tape of some. It was the book that accompanied me on sleepovers, campouts, and any Halloween event I went to. I was thrilled when he came out with a second volume, but it was not as good as the first. I am now impressed that Schwartz took this very literary tale by Blackwood and made it into a kids scary story. Genius! It was a weird story then and it is even weirder now that I read the original story, based on an Canadian Indian legend. In the legend, the Wendigo, a malevolent spirit, calls your name and comes to get you. When it takes you, it runs with you so fast that your feet burn off and your eyes bleed blood from the rush on the cold Canadian wind. You run farther an faster, covering huge distances and eventually you become the Wendigo. Not your traditional ghost story to be sure, but frightening nonetheless.
“Oh my fiery feet, my burning feet of fire…”