At the end of "The Famine King", we are given the impression that Irene is delusional and that everything that relates to the windigo is actually just imagined:

“Where did that bruise come from?” Az pointed to my throat. A purplish streak marked the curve below my chin. I understood why she was concerned. It resembled a self-inflicted injury, the impression of a makeshift noose. But much like the face print Mr. Botello left on my childhood window, the bruise was evidence of monsters. Real monsters. During my psychotic thrall, while I imagined wendigo conspiracies, ancient ghosts wrapped a sheet around my neck. I must have faith in my little specks of proof, because the alternative is too terrible. Above all, I fear that my life is one endless hypnopompic nightmare.

However, she seems to believe that it's all real. And there's one thing that makes me suspect that she's not delusional - the opening.

The story opens with Irene having a sleep paralysis vision of her neighbor at her window:

Face pressed against the glass, it said, “Hey, Irene. I have a secret for you. People rarely starve like they used to.” It sounded like a shrill parody of the neighbor, Mr. Botello.

“Go away,” I thought. “Stop.” Though young, I was accustomed to hypnopompic nightmares projected on reality, hallucinated monsters and voices without mouths.

The silhouette withdrew, leaving marks where its skin had touched, where its hot breath had fogged, and where its nails had pawed the cold glass. As it dissolved into the 2 a.m. shadows outside, it called, “The hunger is still here.”


Sometimes, I heard my tattooed window repeating “the hunger, the hunger, the hunger” behind its curtain shroud.

However, that same neighbor did at that time did commit murder suicide, killing his wife and children.

Also, these "hunger" delusions seem eerily similar to what she would later encounter after seeing the trailer for The Famine King.

Does this mean that she wasn't delusional after all, or is she too much of an unreliable narrator for us to tell?


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