Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just One More Block

Day 69
     That’s a lie. I’ve lost track of how long I’ve been here, and it’s only because of my immaturity that I’ve given it that distinction. The days here pass into night and back into day without any sort of effort at all. I know it’s kind of a late start, especially because I think I’ve actually undersold the amount of time I’ve spent in this place, but I finally decided that I should record this for posterity in case it’s ever found.
    I awoke some time ago on the beach not far from where I’m writing this. No signs were evident in how I had gotten there, or who had deposited me. Before this, I was a college student, happy and safe at the University of Northern Iowa. One day I was studying for finals and the next, I’m on a beach, the ankles of my blue jeans soaked from the lake it surrounds.
     Immediately, I tried to get a bearing on my location, and climbed to the top of a hill near where I had awoke. Empty, seemingly untamed land stretched in every direction. However, I didn’t immediately go exploring because night was beginning to fall, and I didn't want to get lost or separated from the one piece of land that I had any familiarity with. Of course now I’ve scouted out some dozens of square miles around it, but on this night I was content with my beach and my hill.
     With the night came strange sounds in the distance. Howls and strange cries I didn’t recognize scared me stiff, and I knew that I did not want to spend any more time in the dark open than I absolutely needed. I grabbed a large log that must have washed up on the beach and began digging into the hill in an effort to give myself some shelter. To my luck, there was only a few feet of dirt before I found myself in a large enough cave to spend the night. Piling the dirt I had dug into a sort of barrier against the outside, I looked out into the strange night I had removed myself from.
    Whatever was shuffling around outside, I knew I wanted no contact with. What appeared to be giant spiders cavorted about seemingly aimlessly, searching for prey. Other four legged animals grazed in the grass, and a strange four legged creature I could not attach any label to also roamed around, and all other creatures avoided it. Scared, I retreated into my cave. I did not sleep on that first night.
    When the day broke, I poked my head out, and set out to find some way to improve my cave. First I found some thicker parts of the log that I had used last night to dig, and fixed a stone head on it to cut down a tree. It was hard work and I got numerous blisters that I had to nurse through that night. But now my shelter had a door I could hide behind.
    As the days went on, I grew more and more confident about leaving my cave behind to go looking for some sort of help. It was impossible. I didn’t, and still, to this day couldn't, find a single other soul besides myself, although I have found what at first glance appears to be natural caverns until you realize there are levels too neat not to be human-created stairs. At least I hope they were created by humans. I shudder to think what creatures put up with those dreadful spiders and four-legged monsters that come in the night.
     Occasionally I’ll find some precious materials in the walls of these caverns, and carefully pick them out with my trusty array of tools made from the surrounding stone. I don’t know why I do this. Who am I going to give all these diamonds and gold to?
     Through trial and error, I recently built a raft that would float on the lake, and a fishing pole to catch some food with. Speaking of food, several species of animals I recognize roam the landscape at all times of the day. It feels like a scene straight out of Lord of the Flies whenever I find one of these wild boars roaming in front of my cave. To cook this meat, I built myself a crude stone oven that I fuel with the wood from the surrounding trees. Not bad survival skills from some no-name sophomore from Iowa.
    I’m not kidding about that no-name thing. In all these days without any human interaction, I’m beginning to forget who I was. Occasionally, I see what looks like another person walking on top of my hill at night, silhouetted against the starry sky. But I shake my head and get back inside my cave before those spiders spot me.

Day 70
     The curiosity was too much. I had to find out what that silhouette was. I fitted myself a torch from the continuous fire that burns in the oven, lest I have to find more flint amongst the gravel, and iron inside the caverns. I also carried a weapon and fitted myself with a small leather helmet I had fashioned from my hunting kill earlier today, to protect me from the spiders.
    I spotted the silhouette again, and made my way towards it, careful not to make too much noise or travel too close to any hostile-looking shadows. I got close enough to recognize it was clearly another human. I called out to it, “Hey! What are you doing out at nigh-” when it cut me short by turning around. This man was not alive.
    I do not know what black magic propelled him, but he stepped frighteningly quickly toward me, drawn by my torch. I swung my stone tool and cracked him on the head. A low gurgle I recognized from my first terror-driven night sounded from his throat, but the dead man kept on coming. I swung again and again until finally, he collapsed. Breathing hard, I turned around only to find one of the giant spiders had snuck up during my battle. It pounced on me, and I flailed the stone… sword I suppose, I don’t have much of another word for it. I flailed the stone sword in a blind panic, striking in the eyes in an attempt to drive it off of me. I don’t know if it was poisonous or just ill tempered, but I was in no hurry to find out. Finally, the spider collapsed just as the dead man had, and I stood back up, shaken but mostly unhurt.
    I dusted myself off and began running back towards the safety of my cave. Closing the door, I leaned against it, head in hands. Suddenly, a snakelike sound reached my ears before I was thrown towards the back of my cave, by what felt like an explosion. Looking back, I saw my precious wooden door was blown to smithereens and rubble stood where the entrance to my cave had been. I piled the rubble into another barrier, as I had on my first night here.
     Now I sit and wait for the morning light to come, and write on my bamboo tablet to pass the time.
     Now that my cave is no longer a viable shelter, I’ll need to create another one.
     I’m thinking Skull Fortress. 
Skull Fortress: Home Sweet Home
Based on a true story,
Mick Dickinson

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