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

Day 5: Sort-of bomb proof

Day 5:

I miss my clock. Never thought I’d say that, since I’m one of those people who’s always late for everything. But it’s hard to work without a clock when you’re underground for hours at a time, because underground doesn’t change. It’s always damp, gloomy, and covered in rocks.

I mined enough andesite to line my entire cave with the tough and polished mineral. My home, for lack of a better word, is now grey and shiny.

And still cold and damp. I think I’m going to try to make a bed out of something. Grass, a horse hide, something.

The excitement of the day today came when I was digging out the last of the cave’s interior to put up the andesite ceiling. I broke through to the sky. The sun shone down on me, and a hideous green explody thing stared into my cave then blew up.

The good news: the monster (I’m sorry, I know we’re not supposed to judge xenobiological life forms, but it charges at me and explodes, it’s a monster) didn’t leave much of a crater and the andesite held up. Also: apparently I bounce off the back wall without significant injury.

The bad news: the explosion did take out the dirt walls of my spring, so my cave temporarily flooded. Also, the monster’s twin sister was waiting out the front door when I went outside to find some dirt to fix the flooding.

I’m exhausted, hungry, bruised, and concussed.

I worry that perhaps all of this is a concussion dream, or that I’m somewhere in a coma.

Tomorrow I’ll look for some kind of soft bed. That has to make things a little better. I hope.

my now-stone cave, flooding
my now-stone cave, flooding

Day 4: Not a Girl Scout

Day 4:

Spent the whole day polishing diorite and using it to build stronger walls in the cave. My hands are so dry from handling all the stone that I’m soaking them hourly (or what passes for hourly since I don’t have a clock) in the spring in the cave to keep the skin from cracking further. Would do anything for a drop-shipment of hand lotion.

The spring’s going to become a problem soon. Right now I have it contained in a little grass hollow, but if I’m going to protect the cave correctly, I’m going to have to dig underneath the hollow to reinforce it. Not sure how I’m going to do that yet without flooding out the cave. And I’d really really enjoy a day of sleeping on something that wasn’t soaking wet the whole night.

If that were the only thing I saw today, I’d consider it the most successfully calm day that I’d had since arriving (assuming you excuse the panicked activity trying to reinforce the cave with polished stone to keep the monsters from blowing up as “calm”).

But throughout the day I kept hearing a whispered hissing noise, like someone was really really bad at calling their cat and wanted the whole process to be a really loud secret.

Around dinner time, I took a glance out my door (I was smart enough to put a small window in it with my meager glass supplies) and saw a spider.

I know what you’re thinking: whoopee.

I neglected to mention that the spider was the size of a pony. Or maybe a cow. It was roughly the size of the cows I’d seen earlier this week, who by the way are strangely missing.

And it was standing outside my door.

In case you were wondering, it was not here to sell cookies.

I don’t know whether it was frustrated because I hadn’t answered the door all day or what, but as I watched the sun dip below the horizon behind the spider, the beast turned nasty, and charged the door.

I am safe inside my cave. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I’ve still only carved out about a 10 meter by 10 meter space and roughly half that is lined with solid stone. The rest is still dirt (or worse, glass). I pray that the horrible green explody things don’t come in the night. I pray the spider doesn’t know how to dig. I pray my torches last until morning.

It’s still hissing. I doubt I’ll be sleeping tonight.

the view from my door of the pony spider, which did not bring cookies
the view from my door of the pony spider, which did not bring cookies