Göran knew he shouldn’t have wondered so far from the hunting party. But the stag had been so close he could almost taste it and his horse was so much faster than the others’ he thought he would be ok. Now the sun was about to set, he had the stag flung over the flanks of his stallion, but he was a long way from home and he hadn’t seen so much as a cottage for the last hour or two. It was starting to look like he would have to spend the night out in the cold.
It didn’t take him long before he managed to find a spot where the trees branches were weighted down by snow almost like a tent. The trees here were very close together and he figured maybe, with the combined body heat of him and his horse he wouldn’t freeze overnight. He would have to get the stag carcass a little way away though so wolves wouldn’t kill them in the night. They could rather have the stag. He also found some wood and took out his tinderbox to make a fire. He lay down close to it but far enough to not be singed by the flying sparks.
He was almost asleep when he realized his horse was suddenly very nervous. He sat up to see what was causing it and saw a man at the edge of the firelight.
“You startled me, good man. Come, sit by the fire, get yourself warm.”
The man just stood still. Göran couldn’tquite make out his face but somehow felt the man was staring at him.
“Come my friend, no need to be coy. Sit down with me. I have a stag buried in the snow a few stonethrows away if you’re hungry.”
“Hungry”, the man repeated.
“You poor man, come sit by the fire. You must be very cold.”
“Cold”, the man repeated.
Göran was now starting to become worried. This was not the way an honest man acted – cold and hungry though he may be. Of course you heard stories about all sorts of things waiting in the frozen forest. But this was the 19th century for goodness sakes. No one believed in that sort of thing. On the other hand the man was acting awfully weird. Göran stood up to let the stranger know they were on an even footing here. It was then that the man took a step forward and Göran saw his face. It was all wrong. The features were human enough, although a little on the empty side as if no thoughts had occupied them for a while now. But the colour was definitely not human. The mans skin was a bluish grey is if he were frozen himself. Göran felt like a bucket of ice water had been poured down his back. A revenant, offered some memory of a story told him as a boy.
“Get away”, Göran shouted knowing it to be futile.
The revenant groaned “Cold. Hungry”
“Get away! I will hurt you!” Göran shouted a little more desperately. He reached for his musket if only to use as a heavy thing to hit with. The revenant charged at him as he did this and he only just managed to dodge. It hit a tree which stopped its charge and Göran hit it over the head with the but of his musket putting his entire bulk behind the strike. The thing seemed completely unfazed by both blows and lunged at Göran again. This time he was too close to dodge it. Its fist hit Göran like a hammer and he felt the icy coldness of its skin in his jaw as he went down. The revenant knelt down next to Göran before he could even think about getting up again.
Göran screamed to the empty forest as he felt the icy hands delve into his stomach and the last thing he saw was the revenant raising his bowels to its mouth.