Day 33: cavernous caverns

Day 33:

I dug out all the ore in the area I mentioned yesterday and almost plummeted to my death. It appears the ore was on the edge of a great underground cavern, and I was digging into its ceiling.

Welp, this is why I use rope. I’d also use steel anchors, helmets, carabiners, and lifelines if I wasn’t here stranded with no supplies but instead, I do what I can with a rope harness and the ability to tie myself to secure parts of the cave, where such opportunities exist.

Note: they don’t exist very often in these caves. I’ve never seen so many underground lacking in stalactites and stalagmites but hey, maybe water doesn’t seem through the surface the same way.

Sure is flocking damp anyway.

The good news is that I did not plummet to my death.

The bad news is that the cavern held a nest of exploding giraffe-corgis, who were so happy to see me tunnel into their roof that they attempted to blow it off.  Couple of scratches, no major harm… wish I had eye protection.


I’ve been thinking about what my plan is once I have enough iron ore to make some proper tools. There’s a mountain blocking my view of the horizon to the…  south? we’ll call it south since we’re assuming the sun sets to the west. For all I know the natives here call it the Blargleboop. Right now the only ones I have to talk to are the zombies and their language consists of Grrr! Arrrgh! and Ow! so that’s not much help.

Anyway. Mountain. I want to head to the top of it and see if I can spot any settlements, but I’m pretty sure I can’t make a round trip to it in the daylight. As we have learned, dear notebook, traveling at night is a good recipe for being strangled by a zombie, shot at by a skeleton thing, blown up by a giraffe corgi, or beaten up by a land squid, so I’m not thinking that’s a good idea.

I thought about taking one of my horses (they let me ride them now! Well, mostly.) but a) horses aren’t fully trained, b) mountain will still take tons of time to climb, and c) if anything happens, I’m back to being stranded in the dark.

But I’m a miner! And these caverns I keep finding are in the same general direction as the mountain.

So this week’s plan is to tunnel in the direction of the mountain. It’ll be slower work than just running to it, but if I extend this tunnel that direction, fewer local fauna will be able to kill me at any one time than if I try an overland route.

Then again, if I hit multiple caverns of camoflage death corgis, I might not need to worry about it.

Very simple black and white sketch of a mountain (big curvy line), a lake, and some dotted lines indicating the author's progress toward the mountain. She's maybe 1/2 to 1/3 of the way to it via her underground caverns.
The mountain. Maybe I should name it too.

Day 32: Cavernous….and hot

Day 32:

Back to digging out that vein of granite I found under the KILLER PONY SPIDER the other day. My arms and neck and shoulders are sore even without the help from the local fauna.

BUT! The granite was sitting on top of andesite, and the andesite was sitting on top of iron ore, and the iron ore was sitting next to some coal, so all said the strange locked-up killer pony spider turned out to be the guardian to quite a haul of excellent rock.

BUT! the walls in this area of my cavern are warmer than they should be. I mean, I don’t have a thermometer, but I do have two years fieldwork in mining, and it seems to me that the stone shouldn’t be warm to the touch when I’m well below ground.

Plus, there’s this ominous bubbling sound.

(Side note: there aren’t a lot of sounds here that aren’t ominous and there are days where the only thing I want to do is blast the new age screamo prog rock bands I grew up on so loudly that I can’t hear this planet trying to sneak up on me to kill me.)

There’s a chance that this vein of ore I’m chasing is near a magma chamber. But that seems silly. Magma chambers aren’t usually this close to the surface unless we’re sitting on a volcano, and I would like to think The Company would’ve warned us during prep if we were going to be drilling into geologically unstable areas.

The growing cynic in me figures this is just par for the course – a new way for the planet to try to kill me.

(Second side note: whoever decided to name this snothole “Serendipity” should be fired out of an airlock at light speed.)

The one benefit, if there is a benefit to being inside a geologically unstable hellhole, is that at least I finally found a chamber that’s warm. I’m considering dragging my sheepskins down here to sleep on tonight. Might actually wake up with warm feet for the first time in a month.

Sketch and watercolors. Light brown background with a blobby shape taking up most of the middle. The blobby shape is brown at the leftmost edge, then green, then some red near the bottom, then grey. It is labeled (left to right) My sheepskin, mud and dirt, plant and grass stains, granite dust, probably some blood too, the clean end where I set my head.
What I would give for a sonic cleaner right now.

Day 31: cavernous

Day 31:

While attempting to seal up the back entrance to my cave house, I came across a small vein of iron ore. When I dug that out, I discovered a sizable cavern containing more ore.

And a pony-sized spider. How it got in there I don’t know. There certainly weren’t any holes for it to climb into. My best guess — and it’s totally a guess — is that the spider crawled into a cave opening and then there was a wall collapse or something. Either that or it was born there, but if it was born there how the heck did it grow to the size of a pony with no food?

As if that wasn’t weird enough, the spider was perfectly friendly and happy that I let it out of the cavern for about a half hour… then it decided to try to eat me. I don’t know if it just took that long for the pony spider neurons to determine that I was edible, or if I was getting some kind of pony spider grace period for freeing it.

I smashed it over the head with a shovel. I’m still not happy about killing the local fauna especially since The Company frowns on it so heavily. On the other hand, if the pony spider is going to try to eat me, I think surviving is the priority.

Black and white hand-drawn map of the location of the spider. From left to right shows the author's cave, a few empty caverns, the cavern with the 2nd entrance of the cave, then a cavern labelled "granite" with a spider in it. In the background, some hills, in the foreground a lake.
Surprise spider location

Day 30: Not home

Day 30

I fished all day.

When I was a kid, there were days when Grandpa and I would just go out for hours in the afternoon, fishing the cleaner creeks and streams in our area. We’d just stand on the shore, under a tree, or maybe sit if there was a grassy spot. We’d talk, figure things out, or maybe not talk. Sometimes we spent our whole time out there just cleaning up the shore. People are pigs, you know.  Other times, we caught sunnfries and troutlets and doublebass to take home and clean and eat. (Well, the sunnfries not so much.)

The point is, I can think when I’m fishing. And I’ve got a lot to think about, standing on the shore here after 30 days of pure hell. I still don’t know what happened that left me here. It’s crossed my mind that since The Company didn’t pick me up, I may never know what happened.

I may be stuck here for the rest of my life.

I’m surrounded by exploding camouflage giraffe corgis, mind, so “the rest of my life” might be the next few hours if I don’t get that hole in the back of the cave sealed up soon.

My death might be walking through the walls below me even as I write this.

Anyway, the point is I can’t sit around waiting for someone or something to save me.

I’ve got to assume that somewhere on this tiny rock there’s some kind of society, because if it was fully uninhabited we wouldn’t have done our initial drop at night because we  wouldn’t have needed to sneak in.

So now I have to figure out where there might be people, and head that way. But that also means I have to plan carefully because coddamn it, every flocking thing on this planet except the cows could kill me. It’s like the old stories of Old Earth’s Australia wildlife  but with exploding brown snakes.

I’ve decided that I’ll start tomorrow by tunneling down as deep as I can go, to see if I can find more iron ore. That’s probably at least a few days to a week of work, but I can’t risk being out in the middle of a field when some screaming land squid decides to have me for lunch. I need protection, and I need tools.

At least this compound’s pretty safe. I have fresh water, I have food, I even have a cow to hug. Things could be worse.

I fished all day, then I cleaned my catch and started drying it.

I’ll find a city here somewhere, then I’ll find my own way home.

Black and white line drawing of a cow (head and upper body) staring directly at the viewer, labeled "Bessie. Huggable."
My most huggable cow

Day 29: Home

Day 29:

when the sun came up and no one had come for me, i cried. i cried for most of the day. i cried while i fed my cows, i cried while i fed my chickens, i even cried so hard that a horse followed me back to my little house and into my little yard, and then another horse decided to join the first horse.

and i cried while i stacked up the fence posts i had cut up a few days ago around them, and i cried while i fenced in the horses and gave the cows and chickens a route to the little pond nearby.

so yay, i have horses.

and i’m not home

and it’s not fair

i just want to see my family again. i want to go back home and walk in New Amsterdinium (capital of 2nd Earth and proud of it!) and feel the warm cement underneath my bare toes while i play hopscotch outside the old house. i want to smell bus fumes and italian bread baking and listen to the neighbor cussing out the other neighbor for parking crooked on the street. i want to tour the old subway line museum during the heat of the day. i want to right the space elevator from the city to Moon Stop 1, look out, and see my planet, my big beautiful planet.

i want a hot shower.

i want to feel the liquid in my ears float in the antigravity pool while i work out.

i want to smell the awful stench of working in the sewage reclaiming system.

i want to use a real toilet again. even a space one would do.

i’m just so sad.

Sketch. A black background looking like a star field. In the center, a blue ball with green shapes on it resembling Earth, labeled "home".