You guessed it; a little green man made me an offer at the end of my life.
I was 45 and had a bad heart. I guess years of eating red meat, cheese and fried foods finally caught up with me. The doctors had been after me for a few years to go on cholesterol medication but I wasn't about to depend on a daily pill to keep me going. Damn drug dealers...
I was at work in my office when it happened. I was sitting at my desk and felt a twinge of pain in my left arm. I ignored it thinking maybe I had slept on it wrong but when it increased to absolute agony, I couldn't kid myself any longer. My breath was coming short and I reached out to grab the phone on my desk to dial 911. As I reached, the world started getting blurry and I had no strength to even make it the 18 inches to the phone. The last thing I remember was sliding down in my chair and thinking I would have a word with housekeeping about the dust bunnies under my desk.
Time seemed to slow and then stop. That's when Andso appeared. At least that's what he said his name was. I figured it was a male by the lack of breasts but what do I know? I was too busy looking at the little green alien in my office. I had a flashback to the movie E.T. I almost laughed but found I still couldn't breathe.
"We don't have long." Andso said to me. "I'm here to make you an offer you can't refuse."
He proceeded to let me know that my life on this globe was over (no shit) but he could offer me another life if I wanted. The offer was good right now and wouldn't be offered again. He could take me to his ship leaving a dead replica of me behind and remake me from scratch in any fashion I wished. After I was remade, I would be given a small supply of weapons, tools and clothing and dropped on a planet that they were colonizing with transplants from this and other worlds.
He explained that the world they were sending me to was extremely underpopulated and due to the creatures that inhabited the planet, they were behind schedule. Andso also warned me that they had high attrition rates with transplants from our world due to the creatures inhabiting the planet and they needed more earth people to populate that world.
Of course, I agreed instantly. What did I have here besides the high probability of a painful death, three grown children that lived in another state and never called, bad credit and a couple of failed marriages?
What seemed like moments later, I found myself in a room that wasn't white or black but more of a silver color like stainless steel. I was horizontal to the floor and floating in a sickly greenish light.
I heard, "Good. You are awake. We are cleansing and improving your physical body and genetic structure. When the light goes to purple the first step in the process will be complete."
"Uh, who is there?"
"My designation is SMH-1011," said the disembodied voice.
"I'll call you Sam if that's OK. Sam, that other guy, Andso, told me that I would be remade from scratch in any way I wanted. Is that for real?"
"How much time do I have to decide on how I want to be 'remade'?"
"We will give you three standard days from the time the light goes purple to select for yourself what you would like and to decide upon certain equipment and other goods you will need. It's standard protocol."
"And it can be anything at all?"
"Anything within certain parameters that will be discussed after this first step is completed. You should rest now."
I closed my eyes and drifted into slumber debating on what I would ask they change about me when I was remade.
A symphony was playing when next I opened my eyes. It was beautiful music and seemed familiar. Bach, I think. There was a purple hue to everything I looked at and I knew the interesting part of this journey was about to begin.
A circular hole opened up in the wall to my left and Andso walked in.
"You will be happy to know that the first step in the process is complete and you are healthier than any human being has ever been on your planet."
I said, "I'm still reeling and not sure if this is even real but I'm going to go for it. I really had nothing to lose anyway."
"Glad to hear it. Let me explain what we did in the first step of the process and let you know what we can do for the next phase."
He explained, "First, we cleansed your body of all toxins, dead cells and pollutants. Then we rewrote your DNA sequences to eliminate any genetic flaws. Following that, your physical organs were brought up to maximum health and we rewired your brain somewhat so you would be able to cope better with the coming changes. Do you have any questions Frank?"
"I was wondering why I felt so damn good. I feel like a teenager, full of energy and it looks like you took out a good bit of fat and added some muscles too. I haven't looked this good since I was in the Army."
"Your body was rejuvenated to be as it was when you were in the peak of health. It gives us a better template to work with and gives you a better chance of not rejecting any upgrades that you might like to apply in the next phase."
The little green man then explained that the world where I was being sent was hostile. The aliens had wiped out the "Remade" humans on the planet because they became violent and predatory but there were apex predators that would see me as a meal. The most dangerous were the cave lions as they were vicious and hunted in packs.
My prior military experience was a bonus but would not be as important as the woodcraft I learned from my grandpa and Uncle Jim. Andso said that the world I was being assigned to was basically the same as earth about 30,000 years ago but without the ice age. The plants and wildlife had a great diversity including large predators that had no fear of men. Additionally, there were "Starter" people on the world that hadn't been remade other than going through the first phase which I had just completed. These transplants had their minds wiped of everything but primitive survival, language and trade skills.
It was explained to me that I could make any changes to my physical body that I wished within the limits of physics and that I could have two mental upgrades and one exceptional skill. I was going to be given a set of goods that would help ensure my survival as I would be expected to survive. I was given three days to come up with a list of the physical things I wanted to upgrade.
The next three days were a blur. After I sent my first request and was told that being superman wasn't possible with simple physical augmentation I understood why I was given three days to come up with my list of requirements. Well hell, it was worth a try wasn't it? Who wouldn't want to fly, have laser beam eyes and be invulnerable? After meetings and arguments galore with my "Sponsor" Andso, we finally came to an agreement.
I was now 6' 3" tall with long black hair, green eyes, 10% body fat, weighing in at a svelte 245 pounds, perfectly coordinated, ambidextrous, was able to see in low light and hear better than a dog. I could run as fast as any predator (surviving doesn't always mean fighting) for a short time and was as strong as any 5 men.
Further, I was immune to poison, bacteria and diseases, highly resistant to aging and had somewhat tougher skin than most people with the ability to heal myself of all but the most grievous wounds. The upgrade I liked the best and couldn't wait to try out was new my 9 inches of cock with a pair of heavy balls. Hey, they wanted me to help populate a world and I was determined to do my part.
For the mental upgrades, I had originally picked telekinesis and clairvoyance but was emphatically told no with an explanation that it was too much power for one person and that I would be corrupted like previous "remade" humans. I settled for having perfect recall of anything I have ever seen, heard or read and the ability to tame animals with just a touch (mind control on humans wasn't allowed either).
My exceptional skill was the ability to build anything I could envision with wood and I got a bonus of being able to play any musical instrument.
I thought the hard part was out of the way but I was mistaken. Andso tried to send me to my new home with a basic survival kit. The basic survival kit consisted of a long spear tipped in flint, a flint knife, light and heavy furs, a stone axe, about 10 pounds of jerked beef, 20 yards of sinew for cordage, some salt and furs to erect a teepee. We clearly weren't on the same page as to what "Basic" meant so we began to negotiate.
"I don't see why you are being so obstinate about this! " Andso said. "You will be as well-equipped if not better equipped for survival than any person on the planet with the basic kit we offered you."
"You must be crazy!" I said. "How can you expect me to survive if you don't make allowances for my survival? I am not asking for a machine gun here but there are other items I feel are NEEDED."
"Such as what?"
"Well, a fire starter would be helpful, so would a cooking pot and some hand tools. I'll need METAL to survive"
"You have 1 hour to put a list together for consideration. At the end of that hour, we will review your list and I will decide if what you are asking for is reasonable for your survival." With a wink, he said, "Remember that you will have to be able to carry everything that you request."
The glimmer in the little green bastard's eyes let me know he was secretly cheering for me.
An hour isn't a very long time to come up with a list of items that will help you survive but I gave it my best try. I included the fire starter, cooking pot, throwing knives, buckets, a cart with wheels (thanks for the hint Andso), a shovel, a spade, an axe, drill and drawknife, a bow and arrows with broad heads, metal spear tips, a combat knife, compass and tarps. I also peppered the list with items I knew he would reject like an ATV, tractor, shotguns, pistols, bathtub, portable generators, flashlights, landmines and a bunch of other stuff.
Before I knew it, my hour was up. After a "tough" set of negotiations, I got the pull behind cart with 4 wheels, an assortment of tools, buckets, tarps and cooking pots and utensils, the combat knife, some axes and the throwing knives. The big win was the bow and arrows. The bow was a recurve and it was custom made for me with a hell of a pull. After three shots, with my enhanced coordination, I could hit damn near anything I aimed at. All of the additional kit I got in this round of negotiations was made of some alien alloy that was basically indestructible. As a parting gift, Andso gave me a wooden flute and some modern boots that he said would wear practically forever and not leave tracks.
I was shown to a room that had all of my items in it and was told to pack up as we were in position for the transfer. I loaded my cart with all of the things I had, put on the buckskin clothing with the fur cape, added my belt with my combat knife and a nice hatchet, put my quiver on my left hip and bow over my right shoulder.
"Well, I guess I'm as ready as I'm likely to get Andso. Thank you for this new life."
"You are welcome my friend and good luck."
There was a flash and I found myself in a prairie with mountains to the west and a small river running from the North. By the sun, it was late morning. I decided that my first objective was to find shelter.
I moved west toward the river and mountains pulling my cart and making sure to stay alert in case something decided to try to eat me. It was about 2 miles away. When I got close, I noticed there was a heavily wooded area further to the north that looked to have lumber for me to start on my cabin. It only took me about 30 minutes to get there as the ground was pretty flat and any ruts were easy to pull the cart across with my enhanced strength.
When I got to the wooded area, things got more difficult. The trees were pretty thick and I wished I had asked for a machete. Nothing for it, so I left the cart behind some brush and moved away looking for a suitable clearing for my new residence with an arrow nocked just in case.
I followed a circular path outward from where I left the cart. After about a half mile, I found the perfect setup for building my house. There was a shelf of rock sticking out at the base of a hill that had a clear, flat area under it. Upon closer inspection, there was a small opening in the rock that looked to have a cave behind it. I had found at least a temporary home. It was time to get my cart.
The rest of the day was spent making a path and dragging my cart through the trees to my new camp. I tried to get into the cave but the opening was too small. I tried brute force to pull the rock apart and open the entrance more but all I got was skinned fingers. Thank Andso that I healed pretty fast.
I gathered squaw wood enough for a night or more and started a fire with my nifty new fire starter. After some beef jerky and water (NOT my favorite meal) I played some Brahms on my wooden flute for a bit before I sacked out deciding that tomorrow I would try to figure a way to open the cave.
I woke once during the night, watered a tree and added more fuel to the fire hoping that it would get me through the rest of the night and keep away anything that thought I looked like a snack. I had to get a shelter and soon. The cave would be perfect. This is a good defensible spot. I could put up a palisade wall with spears sticking out all around the open area and the ledge makes a great shelter.
Should I look for another cave? After a short debate with myself, I decided that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. How would I open the cave entrance? I fell asleep wishing I had some dynamite.
Fresh, clean air, birds singing and sun in my face was a nice way to wake up the next morning. I went to the river to wash with my bow in hand. Upon getting there, I saw the biggest deer ever. I had seen renderings of these animals in a natural history museum once upon a time.
It was called a Megaloceros sometimes an Irish elk. I thought about shooting it with the bow but what would I do with that much meat? It had to be 7 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh close to 1500 pounds. I could move it with the cart but what then? I decided to let this one go. I would try to find smaller game for now and take larger game once I got a smokehouse built. I forced a cough and it jumped away into the forest.
Upon my return to my camp, I felt like something was different. The fire was burning and all of my equipment was in place but something had changed. I just knew it somehow. As I approached the opening that led to the cave, I saw what it was. There was a large and heavy sledge hammer sitting against the wall by the small opening. Thanks Andso.
Picking up the hammer, I realized that it was heavy even with my enhanced strength. This would do nicely. Picking my spot, I brought the hammer to bear on the granite wall. It took me a long time to get the opening tall and wide enough for me to fit through. I was drenched in sweat and my fire was down to embers. I was also starving.
"Gotta' get a drink and some food." I said to myself.
I got my fire built back up and jumped into the river to cool off and get a long drink. On my way back, I stopped at a deadfall and dragged the whole tree close to my camp. After sating my hunger, I took a burning branch wrapped tightly in dried grass and went to inspect the cave I had spent my morning opening.
It was bigger inside than I had hoped for. The entirety of the cave was probably 15 by 30 yards with the floor gradually sloping outward from a hump in the center. The ceiling was about 10 feet up and it was dry inside. There weren't even any bats in residence. With a sigh, I picked up the hammer again to widen the opening and make it as close to square as possible.
Several hours and a couple of breaks later, I had the doorway opened up wide enough to pull the cart through. Swinging a hammer all day long is tiring work. I grabbed an axe and walked into the woods to cut posts for a door. It was a lot harder than I expected it to be but a little after dark I got a rough door in place that would at least keep the big critters out. If there were any snakes around, they could still get in but no bear or big cat was getting through.
Out of curiosity, I started a small fire in the center of the cave. When it was going pretty good, I put some green pine boughs on the fire to make it smoke a lot. The smoke hung up and started filling the cave from the top down. I may be immune to poison but I could still die from smoke inhalation. I decided that as long as I used dry wood that I could live with the smoke. At some time in the future, I would have to try and find a way to open a hole to let the smoke escape. If it wasn't so big, I could use the cave as a smoker.
I opened the door and smothered the fire with a few shovels full of dirt. I was sleeping indoors tonight. I made a new fire ring about 5 feet in front of my new door and dragged my deadfall over. It took me about 10 minutes to get enough of the wood cut for the night. I stacked the logs on, went into my new cave and barred the door with high and low posts and crashed for the night.
The next morning I decided that I was going in search of fresh food. It took me a lot of searching but I finally came back with three birds the size of a pheasant, some wild onions, a root that looked and smelled like a sweet potato and a big bag full of walnuts. Roasting the birds over the fire with a bit of wild sage and salt made part of the best meal I had in ages.
When was the last time I had eaten fresh food? All I had on the ship were some kind of compacted food bar and water and I had been living on nothing but jerky since getting here. It seemed like so long ago that I had eaten fresh food. Must have been the night before I died but damn if I could remember what it was. It was probably something from MicD's. I ate there a lot off the dollar menu. Ha-ha! Shit probably killed me.
I had three metal buckets full of fresh water and no soap. I decided that a bath was in order.
Wandering down to the river, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a huge cat with long canine teeth coming right for me and maybe 20 feet away. I raised my bow and fired almost point blank into its chest and rolled to the left at almost the same moment. I hit it. The cat came down and tried to turn towards me for another run but found itself unable to continue the attack. As it dropped to the ground hissing and growling, I kept my distance until it got quiet. When it stopped panting, I moved in swinging the hatchet and chopped its head off in two clean strokes.
I now had a nice tan colored fur with dark stripes, several hundred pounds of sabretooth meat and some teeth and claws as trophies. I lashed the legs together, put the cat on my back and went back to camp. The bath would have to wait. Using my skill and an alien knife, I quickly had the skin off the critter and started butchering it. I was going to have to spend time either building a smokehouse or a lot of racks to dry the meat on. I had a good quantity of salt but I wanted to save it for trade.
I cut off a haunch and spitted it over the coals of my fire and tore out the back-strap for use in a soup or stew. Then I built a quick stretching rack, smashed the cat's brains in a smaller bucket I had reserved for just this eventuality, pissed in it and started tanning my new sabretooth skin. Once all of that was done, I finally had my bath, my dinner (the cat was delicious) and a long well-earned sleep.
Putting on my clothes the next morning, I decided that the smokehouse was a better long term plan than drying racks. After a nice meal of cat stew with wild onion and sweet potato, I emptied out everything in my cart and placed the items strategically around my domicile. I grabbed an axe, drill and shovel and went out to gather building materials.
I moved about 10 yards to the left of my front door and away from the river to begin working on the smokehouse. Many small trees were built into a vertical wall with cross braces first. Then I raised a wall of mud mixed with small stones and grass over the walls. Doing it all at once was a pain in the ass and I had a few starts and stops but eventually I got the walls and roof on the building. The roof was made using a triple layer of sod that I cut and ripped up in rolls of about 2' wide. It took me all day to build it and the hanging racks for the cat meat. Once I had everything hung, I started a small fire inside and went looking for some hardwood.
I found some pretty hard wood that I thought had a nice smell and added it and some more dry wood to the fire in the center of the hut and sealed the doorway. I adjusted the opening at the top to let the smoke come out at what I thought was the appropriate speed and monitored the fire off and on through the night. I wanted a deep smoke ring on all the meat so that it would last for at least a week or two.
The next day I pulled the ribs from the smokehouse in the morning and ate them. Man I wish I had some barbecue sauce but they were still pretty good and at least filled the hole in my gut. I packed a pretty good portion of the smoked meat away in some of the 5 gallon buckets with lids that Andso had given me in my improved basic kit. Glad I planned for needing to store food. The buckets were of some kind of metal and were very light. Supposedly the seal was air-tight. All together I had about 20 of them. One was dedicated to brains and piss for curing hides so I guess that left 19.