Day 16: Signs of life

Day 16:

My supplies of meat were getting low again, so I spent the day fishing.

I must have hit an old trash dump or something under the surf, because I didn’t just catch fish. I also caught my line on some leather, what appears to be a horse’s saddle, and, somewhat stereotypically a pair of boots.

If I was fishing on old Earth with my grandfather then I would only be surprised because we hadn’t pulled out a whole washing machine. But humanoid tools mean that humanoids are here — or at least, were here.

Maybe the zombies were actually intelligent (or at least non-homicidal-maniac) humanoids at some point. Or maybe the skeletons were. But there was someone, and they were here. And if I dig up enough stuff, I may be able to figure out where they went and follow them.

Side note: there are wild horses in the area. They’re so wild they don’t really care about me at all. I walked up to one and threw the saddle over it, and it yelled at me. So taming a horse is harder than that… which I knew, but it was worth trying.

Time to sleep. It’s been a few days.

black and white sketch of a right boot with no laces. includes the words: boot clearly for a hominid. no laces. all leather. unsure what the sole is. fluffy lining once?
They’re pretty solid boots, as random objects one finds while fishing go.

Day 15: More digging, and a theory

Day 15:

All I did was dig. I hit a vein of diorite that led to a vein of of granite that led to a vein of andesite that led… well, you get the idea.

I found some more iron ore, which is good because digging with stone tools kind of sucks, though it beats the wooden ones I was using two weeks ago.

I also found a few small coal veins, which is really good, because I think I’ve figured out how to protect myself here.

I think the monsters are afraid of light.

Ok, let me back up a second.

The skeletons and the zombies seem to catch fire if the sun hits them directly, so I think it makes sense that they’d avoid it. But the exploding things unfortunately appear to be unaffected by the sun (or hey, maybe they’re solar powered! Everybody likes solar-powered camouflage giraffe corgis that explode!).

I’ve seen a few other scary-looking shapes in the dark, but nothing close enough to do a formal identification.

Anyway, I found a zombie in my cave yesterday, in a dark corner. I still don’t know how it got in. Sometimes I swear they just, like, spawn in dark places.

But that’s a good thing, because if my theory’s right, just making enough torches to keep things bright should protect me from surprises in the basement.

I wonder what happened two weeks ago when I came here… I wonder a lot. Those first few days I was stranded I was way too busy just trying to stay alive, but now that I’m spending hours in the basement digging, there’s not much else to do but think. (Things have gotten so bad I’ve taken to singing sailing songs my dad taught me just to not go insane in the quiet.)

There have been stories of The Company stranding miners before, but all things considered, the reasons have always been rumored to be good ones. Thieves, in particular, because The Company isn’t stupid. But anyone who showed violence to their fellow miners, destroyed company property, or incited riots or unions have needed to watch their backs.

The thing is though that all those folks fall under the “You know what you did” clause, and if that’s why I’m here, I don’t know what I did. I’ve tried to be, well, maybe not the model employee because that’s the one that usually gets shunned by the others anyway, but at least someone just good enough to be considered for promotion and just human enough not to look like a kiss-ass. I certainly haven’t stolen anything or gotten violent with anyone.

So if the company didn’t strand me, what happened?

Here’s my going theory.

We usually come in at night, when it’s dark, so that if there are any natives, we’re harder to spot.

And we’re usually dropped a good distance above the surface, and use a combination of parachutes and antigravity hover boards to make our way to the surface and whatever caves we’re targeting.

It’s possible that we dropped into the field here by the shoreline, and immediately got attacked by the local fauna. The Company does look for any signs of large predators, but I’m not sure they would’ve checked strictly at nighttime for skeletons and zombies. And I’m totally sure they wouldn’t have been checking for exploding hell monsters.

I might be the only one who survived the first night. It would certainly explain my lack of memory if we were rocked by multiple explosions. Concussions are nobody’s friend.

And if I am the only one, there’s a good chance that The Company doesn’t even know there’s anything wrong, because radio silence is the norm.

Which means, in theory, they’ll be back in about 13 days, because a 28-day drop is standard protocol.

That means I can relax a little, do more to protect my position, and not constantly worry about missing The Company’s return.

And since everyone else has been killed and there’s absolutely zero sign of intelligent non-zombie non-skeleton life here, I can light as many coddamned torches as I can make and maybe have a monster-free night for a change.

Wish me luck.

Sketch of a floor with a torch embedded into it every 3 feet or so. Includes "Torches every few feet should keep the monsters away?" in the sketch
The torches end up being very close together which is a bit risky, but better than exploding fauna.

Day 14: Digging

Day 14:

It rained all day. When it’s dark and rainy, the local fauna tend to be more explodey than usual, so I stayed inside and dug holes.

It’s what I do best. And I enjoy it.

And when The Company arrives (maybe tomorrow), they’ll be quite happy with what I’ve dug up.

black and white sketch of a shovel, pickaxe, and box in a room . the box is labeled "rock box"
my supplies: some boxes, a pickaxe, a shovel. the boxes are easier to make than you’d imagine – all the trees split in straight lines. weird.

Day 13: And even more fences

Day 13:

Got up this morning to the sound of skeletons falling into my cow hole.

There’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter.

Also, maybe “half-covered back porch” would be a better turn of phrase than “cow hole”.

Anyway, went out and killed them and then realized that skeletons were going to just keep walking over the edge of the hole onto my porch unless I fenced it in. So I went up onto the roof and ran a fence around the chasm that leads to the back porch. I added some steps so that the cows could walk up onto the sod (besodded?) roof.

One of my chicken ducks followed me right up the steps, hopped across, and over the wood fence.

So now I have a double-decker wood fence around that area. All because I wanted to give my cows a little skeleton-free sunshine.

In other news, I mentioned recently that I’m carving out the space under my current cave.

  • It contains some nice stone
  • It contains some iron ore
  • It randomly contains those creepy giraffe corgis, that then explode and help the mining along, even if it’s at the expense of my skin.

With those facts being the case, squaring off the walls and putting in some doors seems expedient.

I understand a bit better now why The Company was so interested in this planet. Granite is everywhere! They could corner the market’s supply! So digging out the “basement” and filling it with chests so I can keep the stone sorted may help me when they come back for me.

They’re coming back for me.

I just don’t know when.

I wish it was soon.

Think I’ll go hug my cows again.

A sketch of my cow fence and stairs and cow porch

Day 12: Ranchers build good fences

Day 12:

There’s something innately relaxing about having a pet. It’s something about how we humans are wired I think; we’re more comfortable when we’re not alone.

I have three cows and four chicken-ducks now, all of which seem to be thriving in my cow hole just as well as they did out on the plains. The birds are laying eggs. The cows are mooing and wandering around contentedly chewing their cuds. I didn’t spend a lot of time with livestock when I was growing up, but I did read enough apocalyptic fiction to know that, at least in theory, these are good signs.

Not only are they thriving, but I’m feeling better too. If you can’t get a dog, hug a cow. It will disturb the cow mildly (don’t do it somewhere that the cow can crush you against a wall) but it will make you feel a lot better. The cows seem to genuinely be interested in me, although I admit it may just be because I’m the one feeding them. They’re more huggable than the chicken-ducks.

The chicken-ducks are friendly enough I guess, but they have a way of looking at me as if they can’t believe I’m here. “What are you doing with your life?” they seem to ask.

I’m a little bit glad they seem so condescending. It makes me feel a little better about taking their eggs. Nobody wants a thousand condescending chicken-ducks on their porch. But I do want a good omelette, made with fresh milk and cream and eggs and herbs from the garden. Might have some carrots for it soon too.

So: chicken-ducks, kind of jerks. Cows: friendly warm huggable sofas that are confused but respectful of my presence, especially if I bring food.

If the Company comes for me tomorrow, I need to remember to break down the retaining walls for my animals before I leave. I’d hate to think of them starving. Like the Company left me.

Starving is a bit more personal of a concept now than it was twelve days ago. It used to be a phrase I’d toss off for no good reason. “I’m starving for some french fries,” I said, before coming here.  I think it’ll be a while before I can glibly say “I’m starving” when I’ve eaten within the last 48 hours. I can’t say that feeling your stomach gnawing on itself for lack of food is a satisfying experience, and I’m really quite surprised I was able to make it as long as I did.

I still look forward to leaving, especially leaving the unfriendly members of the local fauna. But today’s the first day I can say I learned something from the experience of being here, and I suspect even if I wanted to, I won’t leave these lessons behind.

A very judgy chicken-duck thing