The Long Dark: Let there be light
Muted light on my eyelids causes me to crack open my eyes. Forgetting where I am for a moment, I turn my face upwards only for large puffs of snowflakes to land on my face. Why is there snow on my bed?
With a groan, I uncurl myself from the ball my body was in, my muscles protesting the whole way. My memory bubbles back to the surface slowly. The freezing walk, finding the small workcamp, the hypothermia…but I’m still alive. It’s snowing again, my sleeping bag is covered in snow, I’m chilled and exhausted, but I’m alive. At this point, that’s all that really matters.
My breakfast is a cold can of peaches and a half-frozen can of pop. It’s a lot of sugar but sugar means energy, something that I’ll need for my body to stay warm. I just wish I had a more substantial meal.
It’s hard to get up and start moving but I remind myself that I’ll get warmer that way. I decide to search the trailers again, this time more thoroughly and without a clouded mind. It’s a good thing that I did back one of the first things I find is a storm lantern along with a jerry can full of fuel. Using the lantern, I’m able to light the darkest corners in the trailers and scrounge up even more food and drink. I figure I have enough for several days now.
I feel like I should keep moving with the amount of daylight I have but I’m still so tired from the yesterday’s ordeal. So instead, I decide to stay relatively close to the camp, walking just around the bend to see what’s ahead of me.
There’s half-covered train tracks ahead, next to which lay two frozen corpses: one a man, the other a deer. I just feel hollow inside as I look at the man. What is it that they say? “One is a fluke, two is a coincidence, and three is a pattern.” That’s three dead humans in as many days since I crashed. There is something horrible that happened…or is it still happening? Either way, there are no clues that can tell me one way or another. Even as I numbly search the body and find only some matches.
Determinedly focusing my thoughts on my own survival, I turn to the deer. It looks like its stomach has been ripped open and some of it has been chewed on by something, a wolf or a stray dog maybe. Remembering the hunting knife in my pack, I pull it out to see how much I can salvage.
The haunches and shoulders are mostly untouched so I manage to carve out a few good sized pieces of meat. It’s hard work to saw through frozen flesh so when I’m done, I decide to head back to camp.
I just want to lay down and sleep but I’m starving and the thought of freshly cooked meat is more tempting than anything else. With that in mind, I take some time to break down a few branches for firewood.
Then it’s back to the stove in the collapsed shed. Soon I have a fire roaring away in it and the venison sizzling on top in a pan. The smell of it is almost making me drool.
The hunting knife comes in handy again to cut off pieces as fast as I can and swallow them greedily. I burn my tongue a few times in my eagerness but this couldn’t be more worth it. More squashed rose hip tea to wash it all down and it isn’t long before I just can’t eat anymore. There’s even some cooked venison left over, which will be easy enough to preserve given that I’m living in nature’s freezer right now.
Warmed by the fire and the hot meal, I drowsily make my way into one of the trailers for the night. I move all of the blankets in the trailer to one bunk and cocoon myself in them for the night. I didn’t get very far tonight but the cooked meal seems to make up for it somehow. Tomorrow…tomorrow feels like it’ll be a better day.