They weren't packed for an overnight stay. The plan had been to stop at a drive-thru and pick up food on their way back home, but, obviously, "back home" hadn't happened as quickly as they'd hoped. They didn't want to stop at the homeless shelter, decrepit as it was so far from city limits, but they didn't have any choice in face of driving hail and gale force winds. The snow, bitter cold, blotted out the distant cityscape. The lights dimmed, the moon shuttered out, and even fire couldn't banish the permeating freeze. A crisp day isn't a bad one, by any means. In contrast to the stifling heat of previous days it was pleasant – but it halted travel home until roads could be cleared and salted. It was weeks until roads would be cleared and salted, and, unfortunately, they didn't have weeks left.
It was cold. So, so very cold. And the space heaters weren't strong, and the boiler barely worked, and the water froze in the pipes, and they were cold. But cold can be good too, and they decided to use it to their advantage, cuddling to share body heat. It was a way for the couples to be romantic, and even 'just friend' shuffled a little closer together. When there's no other choice than to risk frostbite and death, people do odd things.
The owner of the shelter was kind enough to give them an extra heater, but warned that anymore than two would likely blow the circuits in the room. Blowing the circuits in the room would likely lead to blowing the circuits in the building, and they couldn't risk that. If they did there would be no lights, no space heaters, nothing but cold, and dark, and death. They couldn't risk that – they wouldn't. To take such a risk wouldn't only put them in danger, but it would endanger every other soul in the building, and that wasn't something they could consciously do. Too many in one small area was dangerous anyway, they conceded. But that didn't stop them from feeling bitter about the apparent lack of insulation in the walls. There was a draft, slipping from a crack in the door, a not so closed window.
They managed to sleep, comforted by the thought that, come morning, they'd be halfway back to civilization. They'd have warm drinks and food in their stomachs, and sex would be wonderful back in their own beds. Television and music would be a wonderful luxury, one that they already found themselves missing in the deepfreeze of the old building.
"Tomorrow," they said. "Tomorrow we'll be home."
However tomorrow came, and went, and still they were stuck there – the end of the storm was nowhere in sight. Tomorrow came, and a homeless man on the first floor was dead, apparently having frozen to death in the chill of the night. Hey didn't know him, but his death gave them an excuse to drink. They drank a toast to the man with the scraggily beard and beat up army jacket, a toast to the love ones he left behind, a toast to getting home tomorrow.
But another tomorrow came, and went, and it was still snowing heavily. The snow was up to the doorknob, and there was no getting out. "Does anyone know this place exists?" they wondered, but even the owner of the shelter couldn't answer positively.
The only answer she could think of was a dismal, "Probably not."
Tomorrow the food ran low.
Tomorrow the water did.
Tomorrow the snow stopped, but the chill persisted and the food was gone.
Tomorrow he jumped out of the window with plans to go for help.
He fell wrong.
He broke his leg on the snow, compacted into a three or four foot layer of ice.
Tomorrow they still hadn't managed to get him back inside, but threw him some blankets so he could keep warm.
Tomorrow he died of exposure, and they had another reason to drink.
They drank to his great sacrifice, and to missing him for as long as they would live. They drank to his mother, and the fiancée he left at home. They drank to the life he may have lived, and the one he did. They drank to him, and realized that they were out of vodka too.
They'd gone three or four days without food.
They'd gone five.
They body, sitting outside in a natural freezer, looked absolutely scrumptious. If they cooked it right, they could even forget it was human.
They couldn't believe they considered eating their friend's body.
And no matter how they cooked it, they still knew its name, and that it was meant to be married in a few months. They knew it had a mother and father. They knew its favorite food, and baseball team. They knew it was human, but it would keep them alive for a few more days.
Unfortunately the consumption of another human being sometimes has to be resorted to in order to survive. Unfortunately the body had been that of their friend. Unfortunately they weren't the only ones who knew of the unholy act.
The Wendigo came.
And tomorrow never did.