Day 101: Getting Deeper

Day 101:

In addition to turning toward the giant mountain (a direction I call “east” based on the sunrise) I’m digging deeper than ever before. The deeper I go, the higher the quality and volume of valuable stone like granite and andesite I’m hitting. I’m finding more iron ore, too.

I’ve got two baby chicks following me around as if somehow we’re going to find a corn cavern or something down in the lower ends of the pit. They’re much more eager than Bobby is… Bobby just kinds of lolls about as if to say “yeah, sure, let me know if there’s something interesting going on,” while the two chicks are like “HEY WHAT IS THAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING HOW ABOUT IF I STAND HERE IN THE WORST PLACE POSSIBLE WHILE YOU DIG?”

Babies. Ugh.

Line drawing of the artist trying to mine while the chicks stand on the rock the artist is trying to mine. Caption: Optimal position of baby ducken (according to them). 1. on rock I want to hit. 2. On my foot.

Day 100: 100 Days

Day 100:

If I hadn’t kept this log since arriving, I would’ve had no idea that today was any kind of special. And really except for humans’ obsession with base 10 and round numbers it isn’t special.

But it is day 100.

It takes less than 100 days to become a certified miner. Because the job is hazardous, dirty, and involves a lot of interstellar travel, it takes about 3 days to find a job after certification. Now that we use mining lasers and frictionless mining transportation, I could’ve taken this entire planet apart in less than 100 days had I the right equipment.  100 days means nothing in terms of mining.

It doesn’t even really mean much in terms of time. Earthers still keep to the old  30-day-to-a-month calendar, so 100 days isn’t even a round number of months in that system. It’s an overrun, meaning that whatever was supposed to be done in 90 days wasn’t finished on time.

But it’s a triple digit number. It means I’ve been here 100 days longer than I desire. It means my arms are always sore and my shoulders injured, my back aches, my legs are bruised, and I still sleep on a sheepskin in front of a fire in a glorified cave next to a yard full of very loud duckens.

(It occurs to me that I could probably make a feather bed. Why did it take until now to occur to me?!?)

I wonder how long it will take for me to totally adjust to my situation. Another few weeks? A year? Ten years? I’m already so tied up in my day-to-day that I rarely have time to get angry about it until I’m going to sleep, and then I’m blissfully too tired to care anymore.

I want to go home, but instead of a burning searing pain of knowledge of everything I’m missing every moment, it’s become an ache of longing for the things I remember. I’m afraid I’ll forget what it’s really like and at some point just miss it because I’m supposed to.

On the other hand, if you had told me 200 days ago that I would spend 100 days stranded on a planet by myself with no technological assistance, I would have bet all I had that I wouldn’t have made it 30 days, forget 100. I’m proud of surviving, if such a thing is allowed.

The sun has set and the zombies are starting to growl over the hills, so I’m going to dampen my fire and go to sleep.

Here’s to another 100 days.

Sketch of calendar pages with x's drawn over each day. Captioned: Day 100. I have no words.

Day 99: My map

Day 99:

Dug all day. Sore and tired. But the mapping is going well. Here’s a few sketches of where I’m at right now, one for each level I’ve made level enough to walk safely.

Level 1 is just the main chamber and the bathroom.
Level 1, closest to the sky.
Level 2 is the storage room under level 1, and also the entrance outside the lake.
Level 2, directly below level 1.
Level 3 is , significantly larger than levels 1 and 2, and connects the two through a series of six caverns.
Level 3
Level 4 is the biggest level yet, with 11 chambers. The westernmost ones go under the lake.
Level 4

Day 98: Protecting the flock

Day 98:

I came upstairs from a  tunnel I’m digging toward the big mountain to find a  horror squid standing in the middle of my duckens.

It immediately attacked me. I had to cower in a doorway that it couldn’t fit through to attack it back. From there I could slash at its lower tentacles where it couldn’t reach me. (I don’t know why they can’t bend over and attack but I’m grateful.)

I killed it, and only one of my duckens sustained minor injuries. They crowded around me afterward like I was some kind of magical mother hen…. which I guess I am.

I’m starting to get attached to this place.

Watercolor of a horror squid surrounded by duckens

2018 Young Explorers Adventure Guide now available in stores!

My favorite published story so far, “The Smell of Home”, is now available in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide.

You can also buy it on iTunes, at Barnes & Noble or at Kobo. Or ask your local bookstore to order it (if they don’t stock it already) — the ISBN is 978-1940924250.

There are a lot of really awesome stories in this book, and they’re all worth a read. It’s a middle-grades book, but then, so is Harry Potter. That just means everyone from middle-grades on up will enjoy it 🙂