Day 10: Hey look! Double digits!

Day 10:

Hey look! Double digits! I’ve survived on this hellish rock for 10 days!

Crap, that means that The Company has left me stranded here for 10 days.

Well, now I’m depressed.

Didn’t do a lot today, mostly dug holes. That’s what we miners do: we dig holes.

The only good news of the day (and it was super exciting news until I wrote the date above!) was that, while digging out some space under my main residence, I hit a vein of iron ore.

ACTUAL IRON.

I’ve reinforced my fire into a forge, not an easy trick with stone I might add. I’d kill for some metal buckets. I made a wooden one but it leaks like a sieve, because I am a miner, not a woodworker. But since I lack good buckets, I’ve at least built a smelter good enough to turn this cubic meter of ore into a solid ingot. (Some of those classes I took on “what to do with the ore after you dig it up” paid off after all. I’m as surprised as you are.)

It’ll take me a bit of time, but in theory I should be able to turn this into some armor, which might slow the zombies down a bit. I had intended to make some leather armor out of cows, but honestly, my experience trying to tan the sheep hides was so bad I’m not looking forward to skinning any cows.

My bed has maggots. MAGGOTS.

Still softer than sleeping on rock though.

I vaguely remember reading something in one of those pioneer porn-style books I inhaled as a kid that you can use animal brains to tan hide.

I’d give anything for my network connection into the collective. Or even a good encyclopedia.

Ugh, now I’m sad again.

Let’s see, I’ve been here 10 days. I’ve been cut off from civilization for 10 days, forced to forage for my own food and build my own tools. I’ve dug an impressive amount of ore for someone working with stone, but at the same time, I’d’ve cleared this entire prairie in about four hours with a suitable mining laser and a transporter.

The Company has failed to contact me. I try to think positively; perhaps they’re held up in political negotiations with the ruling power. Perhaps they’re refueling or in danger themselves. It may just be a matter of time until they land and pick me up.

But at night when the fire’s banked low and the pony-sized spiders are hissing on the porch, I can’t help but think that something horrible happened, leaving them all dead. Or that they’ve left me behind for some infraction I don’t even remember making. Or they just don’t care enough to notice I’m gone.

Whatever. I have iron to smelt. If I can’t do anything else, at least I can prove I’m just as good as Laura Ingalls Wilder at protecting myself.

a sketch of my smelter.
a sketch of my smelter.

Day 9: Fish! Fiiiiiiish!

Day 9:

I dug for ore all night. Couldn’t sleep, there was a spider on the back porch (the cow hole) that was hissing all night. I would’ve attacked it, especially around 4 am when my patience was at its end, but some slightly sane part of me thought that perhaps stepping out into the dark when the giraffe-corgis sleep just to kill a loud spider might be a bad idea.

It was still haunting my space in the morning though. As soon as the sun came up, I attacked. (I attacked by standing in my doorway, waiting for the spider — which didn’t fit through my front door if you’re wondering about the size of these beasts — to attack me, and then hitting it with my wooden sword.)

(In other news, it may be time to upgrade from the wooden sword.)

Like many of the other creatures here, it exploded into dust when killed. This one, though, contained two solid thick ropes of what I assume was spider silk.

ROPE!

It wasn’t enough for me to do anything truly impressive (like maybe make a new shirt because this one is seriously starting to smell) but it was enough for me to tie to a solid branch and turn into a fishing pole.

I spent the rest of the day fishing, from sun up to sun down, and caught around 15 or so fish. (With some required dodging of camoflaged giraffe corgis.)

At one point, I was on the shore, all the way out on a sand dune. I heard footsteps behind me and froze. Was it a skeleton? A zombie? A horrible green exploding giraffe corgi?

“MOOOOO!”

I admit I jumped right into the ocean.

some of the fish i caught
some of the fish i caught

Day 8: No pushy

Day 8:

Today I learned cows are difficult to push.

While looking for ore, I dug out a chunk of the hill that my cave is in.

(I guess since it has 4 walls and 2 doors I should call it a house now?)

(Nah, most of it is still underground, and there are cows grazing on my roof. Still a cave.)

It was perfectly shaped to hold larger animals. And it was mostly under cover, but with just enough access to the sky to keep anyone from getting claustrophobic.

Technically I’m breaking Company policy, by the way. When we’re dropped into a planet, we’re supposed to enter the caves, mine the ore, take everything valuable inside, and get the heck back out without ever disturbing the surface. It should look like we were never there. The goal is to covertly do extractions without alerting the natives (or their government) that we were ever present.

I strongly suspect The Company is not properly procuring their intergalactic mining permits.

The problem is on a planet of polite flora and fauna, it’s easy to go into a cave, extract ore, and go home, especially with a team, and most especially with a team who has the right tools. On a planet of zombies and skeletons and flocking giraffe-corgis that explode, it’s important to build a shelter with a door.

I could have followed policy to a T by digging into the earth and covering my tracks and never surfacing, but:

  1. How would The Company find me, if I left no traces on the surface? It’s not like my radio’s here.
  2. I can’t make stone tools without wood handles, and trees don’t grow underground. (Well, so far. Nothing about this damn place would shock me anymore.)
  3. I’m hungry. My supplies are gone. If I hadn’t killed those sheep a few days ago, I’d be starved to death right now. Staying alive means growing food because as I am about to prove, I am a lousy lousy rancher.

So anyway, here I was with a great place to keep cows, and directly outside and above it, I had cows. They were walking on the roof of my cave house. All I needed to do was entice the cows into the cow house, and I’d have things like milk. Milk is filled with fat and protein, great food for miners, especially starving miners.

But the cows are bigger than me and heavier than me and they didn’t want to go in the cow house.

When a 140lb woman, even a miner, tries to push a 1,500 lb cow into a hole the cow does want to enter, the 140lb woman does not win. Also, the cow gets annoyed.

So today, Day 8 of my being trapped on a rock in the middle of nowhere, I annoyed cows.

Maybe tomorrow I will have something more interesting to write.

uncooperative cow. in this sketch you can kind of see why - i was trying to push it into a shallow chasm
uncooperative cow. in this sketch you can kind of see why

Day 7: Big Fungus

Day 7:

Even when your bed stinks of dead animal, a soft bed made of wool is light years better than a cave floor. Even a dirt cave floor, but especially a stone cave floor. I think today marks the first day I woke up relatively warm and dry since I arrived.

Today marks a week since I woke up on the shore. At least, a week of days here – it still only feels like a few hours Company Standard time.

I ate the last of the bread. I have some mutton left over from yesterday and one solitary fish.

Since everything here seems to grow faster than it does at home, today I decided to start a garden. Cut down two sizable trees from near the shoreline, made some fence posts, and fenced off a bit of the water so that I don’t have to worry about errant cows or horses or zombies or whatnot wandering through.

(I guess the pony-sized spiders are still a threat, but since that first day I haven’t heard any hissing, so maybe they’ve moved on? Would migrating spider ponies be better or worse than spiders that stake out a territory and stay put? At least the 2nd one I can kill off and keep clear?)

I planted some grass seed and one lone carrot that I found a few days ago. (I think a zombie dropped it?) No idea if any of it will grow. If I die tomorrow, at least the Company will see I tried to survive.

I also found a big mushroom. I mean big. Like it was the same size as the tree that I took down to make the fence posts. At first I thought it was fantastic! I could use it to make things! It was soft and squishy and… and gross, actually. Mushrooms are not building material. But it does appear to be edible.

Either that or I ate some the day I arrived on this planet, I’m with my crew, and this is all some momentous hallucination.

It seems as reasonable as the idea that the concussions from being blown up… four? times now? are causing me to dream this whole thing.

I used to be able to make a mean portobello burger. This giant mushroom is almost exactly the right texture, and the flavor seems ok too. But I ate all the bread and I don’t have any flour. Or ketchup. I haven’t seen anything even remotely like a tomato yet.

But! Soup! I bet I could carve a bowl out of a rock or a chunk of wood or something and make soup. Oh cod soup would be perfect for eating in the cave.

And now I miss tea.

And now I’m sad and lonely again.

what a giant mushroom looks like
what a giant mushroom looks like

Day 6: soft and warm

Day 6:

Woke up this morning with a screaming headache and aching body. Our ancient ancestors invented clothes and beds for a reason, and that reason is sleeping in a cave sucks.

I’m down to one loaf of bread and one fish. Supplies are low, I’m grouchy, I ache all over, and I’m getting hungry.

I figured the best way to work out the kinks was a long walk, and for a change, there was nothing waiting outside my door to kill me today.

Directly to my west (I’m calling it west – hard to tell with no map – but it’s the direction the sun sets and that was good enough for Earthers so it’s good enough for me) I found a few chasms in the ground, which are pretty disturbing. Generally means there’s an even bigger chasm or cavern underground. I’ll have to watch my step or I’ll plummet to my death on this codforsaken rock.

Beyond that, I came across a nice, deep forest. Inside the first I passed some pigs! Actual pigs! Or at least what passes for pigs here! And beyond that, sheep! With sheep I could gather wool and then with wool, I could make a comfortable bed!

I wanted to just shear the sheep but I had neither clippers nor electricity. I tried to shear them with the stone sword I’d made (it’s really more of a knife… well, it’s a sharp thing that keeps the zombies back a few feet, anyway.) but they don’t stand still very well and I, well, I cut their throats by accident.

Hauling a few hundred pounds of sheep, wool, and remains all the way across that chasm was no picnic. Took most of the day.

And I have no idea how to cure a hide or anything like that. It wasn’t part of our emergency training. I’m sure I’m going to mess it up and end up sleeping on rotting sheep carcass. With my luck, the sheep will zombify and its skin will strangle me while I sleep.

Beats getting blown up, I guess.

I also found a vein of coal, right outside my door, where the horrible green monster blew up yesterday. I mined out the coal (and some granite), which means I’ve got supplies for making torches and fires for a while.

Tonight I’ll roast fresh mutton, feast, then sleep in front of a hot fire on top of a sheepskin in my shiny cave. It’s ridiculous to feel like I’ve accomplished anything when all I’ve done is be stranded for six days. And surely tomorrow The Company will come to find me.

Surely I’m not to be left here for dead.

I hope.

mutton leg and my knife
mutton leg and my knife