Day 26: Watching the skies

Day 26:

The Company could be back to pick me up any time now. I’m trying to stay aboveground so they can find me. Trying to stay busy so I don’t spend all my time scanning the skies. Of course it’s cloudy and rainy today so I couldn’t see an approach if I wanted to… not that the blue atmosphere of this oxygen-rich planet would’ve allowed me to see much anyway. At night I’ve got a better chance, but being outside at night on this planet is just a really bad plan.

I cut down some trees today and used them to make charcoal. It’s tiring, dirty work, but not much different from mining except for the sun and the heat. (Not much of that deep underground.) But if I’m here a few more days I’m going to need the charcoal for more torches. Otherwise I could still be overrun by creatures sneaking in the back entrance to the cave.

I’m really looking forward to the ship. I’m really looking forward to anti-inflammatories and pain killers. I’ve fallen a couple of times in the cave, might’ve greenstick fractured my arm, hard to tell. Could just be soreness but the bruises mean it could be something more.

Don’t know what I’d do if I had to set a bone here. I’m trying to be careful enough not to find out.

When I’m done this six-month stint, I think I’ll take a year off before I re-up. Go home, see the family, maybe visit Grandpa’s grave and thank him for teaching me how to fish.

Two more days.

Sketch. Poorly drawn right arm, palm-side up. There's a big bruise on the left edge of the inside of the forearm, taking up about 1/2 the forearm, that darkens near the center of the injury. It is labelled "still learning to mix colors. That spot should be purple in the middle fading to brown on the edges."
It doesn’t hurt unless I’m awake.

Day 25: Another exit

Day 25:

Slept in. Ate some fish, then went down into the caves to look for ore.

Discovered that right behind one of the walls I hadn’t tunneled all the way through was a second entrance into my cave area. Or rather, an entrance into a cave area that I didn’t know existed, since I dug all of my cave area out by hand.

(Arms are still sore from yesterday.)

So that might explain how some of the worst fauna is getting close to my living quarters.

It doesn’t explain the horror squid walking through walls though.

Sketch, well, more like a map, as it's an overhead view. The right side is taken up by a lake. The left bottom quadrant shows the cave's main entrance, behind it a fenced-in area for cows and chickens and such, and just below the right edge of the lake an area marked "garden". from the cave, a dotted outline indicates the new cave entrance at the top of the sketch, near the lake.
If I was staying, I’d name the lake.

Day 24: Terror

Day 24:

Another horror squid got in the house.

I watched it walk through the wall.

It was there, and then it wasn’t, and a strange purple mist followed where it went.

It smells roughly of shoe leather and vomit, by the way. The corrosive acidic stuff that makes you wish you’d never eaten the night before. The kind that three hours later when you blow your nose reminds you why it is that you don’t try to digest things in your delicate nasal passages.

It stood in the corner near the stone I’m collecting for the company, belching that deep belching noise that shakes my lower ribs when it vibrates through the floor. It was…

I swear I haven’t gone off the bend even if I did say that I saw a monster squid that smelled like vomiting a shoe store after a bender walk through the wall of my basement.

It was coveting the stone. The granite, specifically.

For some reason, it can walk through the walls but it can’t open the wooden chests I’ve been carving out of the oak by the shore. It stood next to the chest full of granite and I could see the hunger in its face.

And when it realized that I had something to do with the chests, it turned on me.

I pulled the iron sword that I’d smelted and shaped with that little bit of ore I’d collected, and I attacked its legs. It got in some good licks and I think I’m just going to sleep tonight and see where I’m at in the morning. My back feels like I’ve taken thirty lashes, and I swear the beast only caught me twice. I managed to take it down, this time before it could knock me out.

When it died, it screamed a horrible cat-in-a-synthesizer-playing-mood-music scream, so horrible that it frightened the chickens, and then it burst into a pile of purple snow, and melted away.

Three days. I can make it three days.

I fed the animals before I locked up for the night, gave them enough to eat to hold them for a few days if need be. Not sure what I’ll feel like tomorrow but it won’t be good.

That’s when I discovered something’s been killing my cows.

I’m too tired, to bone-tired and exhausted and sad and wrecked to figure out what happened. I’m keeping the meat, though this wasn’t the way I wanted to have myself a steak. And now I’m going to bed and sleeping until I can’t sleep anymore.

Sketch. A room, white floor and walls. A brown box with "granite" written on the side stands in the center of the room. A horror squid, round head, purple eyes, no mouth or nose or ears, plus half its torso, two arm-like tentacles, and a portion of a leg-like tentacle, are extended out from the wall. Where the creature intersects the wall is a purple glow. The creature is reaching for the box.
Nobody wants this.

Day 23: Shovels

Day 23:

I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to have aching arms and legs. The Company always used laser mining pistols and hovercarts to move the earth. I’m using only me. I’ve lost a lot of weight, that’s for certain, and my clothes don’t fit so well any more. They’re tight in the shoulders and the calves, loose in the hips and thighs and rear. They’re starting to fall apart quite a bit too.

I lost weight when I joined The Company, but that was more because I couldn’t just wander into the kitchen and snack the way I did in high school. Those first few months were kind of grim, out on a ship in the middle of space with only three squares to fill me up. I used to try to get my crewmates to give me their bread rations. Oh, the cook’s bread was the best, so warm and crusty… I’d gamble for it, if they’d let me.

But that was weight loss and this is work. I think I’ve pulled something nasty in my left shoulder because my arm aches all the time, even when I’m not mining. I’m right handed so that shoulder’s never quite happy either. My back was giving me trouble the first couple weeks, but now it’s more my legs. I guess I figured out how to lift correctly or something.

You know, it’s funny, I don’t even miss the bread rations right now. But what I’d do for a thick juicy steak.

I thought about killing one of my cows, but I haven’t had the heart to do it. They, well, it sounds silly to say about cows, but I think they love me. They moo a lot and they let me hug them when I’m sad, and they look so silly when they eat. Just big noses and tongues lolling all over the place.

My sheepskin bed stinks. My clothes stink. I tried cleaning them in the spring in my cave, but it’s harder to clean things when you don’t have any soap.

Five more days and The Company should be here to pick me up. It’ll be nice to be in an antigrav bed eating proper food and wearing clean clothes.

Sketch labeled "self-portrait" but would be better described as a drawing dummy as it's all ovals and no facial features. The left shoulder, thighs, ankles are all labeled "ow". The right shoulder is labeled "less ow". The torso thighs and calves are called out for having more muscle.
Did I mention “ow”?

Day 22: What is with these saddles?

Day 22:

Fished most of the day because I was out of food again. One doesn’t really appreciate how much one eats until one has to go get it all the time, from something further away than the ship’s galley.

The fish here bite pretty regularly, which is nice. They’re dumb enough to bite without me baiting the line, which is even better.  It’s certainly not like it was fishing with Grandpa all those years ago. Man, you  had to virtually beat those fish with a snickers bar to get them on the hook.

The fishing is still a bit… odd… though. Like today I “caught” another horse’s saddle, and a bow. The bow glows funny, and seems to be much stronger than the one that I made. By “glows funny” I mean emits a slight purplish light, sort of like the horror squids’ eyes, but it’s barely noticeable until you’re trying to doze off to sleep and realize something purple is making the darkness slightly less dark.

Whoever lived here before me was quite powerful. I hope they don’t want their stuff back.

Found a little more diorite in the mine last night. If my crew chief were here, she’d use the ore detector on the walls to tell us which way to dig next, or whether the ore is truly depleted. Since she’s not here, I’m digging the shafts out neater and cleaner in hopes that I can prevent something from collapsing while I’m deep.

My best chance for something valuable is deep. I should have less than a week left here, so I want to make it count.

Sketch. Black background with uneven texture a bit light stars on a night sky. A simple brown longbow takes up most of the sketch. It has a white string, and a purple area around it representing glowing. The author is starting to figure out this whole "using color" thing.
Glowy bow is glowy.