Chapter 1



If you ask anyone who it happened to, you'll get a different answer about what really happened that day. Me, I think it was some kind of aliens. Others will say it was God or some unknown natural law. Hell, I don't really know and I can't see anyway to prove the matter, so I'm going to say it was aliens. The only thing everyone can agree on is that we were doing whatever we normally did one moment and the next moment we were here, wherever or whenever here is.

If you're reading this I better explain what I'm talking about, since the kids have never known anything but the way we now live. I'm going to bury this record in the hope sometime in the future they will learn what happened to us. My name is... I guess that's not really important anymore.

Here I'm called Mike. I was doing my morning run when suddenly I was standing in a field of tall grass and unfamiliar trees instead of on the sidewalk. When I looked around I was convinced I was having a hallucination.

I mean what would you think in a situation like that? I tried the old standby of pinching myself and it hurt, but I figured if I was having a hallucination then I could also hallucinate hurting when I pinched. I don't know how long I would have stood there wondering what was real when I heard a roar behind me. My instincts took over. I ran for the nearby trees and climbed one of them before I looked back. A fucking lion was walking across the field!

I was in California for God's sake! One thing I wouldn't hallucinate about was a lion. I hadn't even seen a lion in the zoo for more years than I want to think about. I certainly wouldn't hallucinate about the smell or the sight of a lion dragging what looked suspiciously like a human body. I watched from the tree as the lion continued through the field and disappeared into a copse of trees on the other side.

When I finally stopped shaking, I decided that hallucination or not, I would keep a close watch on everything around me. Let me describe myself at that time. I was 24 years old, 6 feet tall and somewhat overweight for my size. That's why I was running; I constantly fought my weight at that time. I was in fair shape, and some women thought I looked alright. I had gained some notoriety because of my being a pitcher in a minor league ball club being groomed for the majors. This required me to keep fit and I worked out most of the time. I had gained ten pounds over Christmas and I had been told to lose it before I showed up for spring training.

I was wearing my normal attire for running, a windbreaker, sweatpants, headband and running shoes. I was carrying my keys, a credit card, a water bottle and my Ipod. As I looked around I saw an arid landscape of trees and grass. I didn't recognize any of the trees or bushes. The open areas looked like bunch grass interspaced with cattail looking grass standing from half a foot tall to over three yards tall. I couldn't imagine anything more different from downtown Fresno where I had been running.

I wish I had a gun. After all, when things like this happen in stories on SOL, the hero always has one. I would have settled for a bat right now. Then it struck me, a bat was a refined club and I was sitting in a tree. Grabbing a handy branch, I started to pull it back and forth until it broke off. I looked around and seeing nothing, dropped to the ground. I swung the branch against the trunk to break off the protruding side branches; leaving me with a stout club with splintered stubs where I had broken off the smaller branches. I looked around for rocks but couldn't see any in the grass. Giving a mental shrug, I headed in the opposite direction the lion went. I don't know why I was so casual about the situation I was in. I would have thought I'd be having some sort of hysterical fit. That's why I think it was aliens, because I was too calm.

I made sure I kept close to the trees as much as possible, leaving their protection only after I made as sure as I could that it was safe. I quickly learned not to go through the tall grass. The edges are like razors and I cut my hand on one of the leaves when I tried to push through. My progress slowed as I had to hunt out passages around it. I tried to save as much water as I could, hoping that I would find a safe source before I ran out. I kept my eyes out for fruit or anything else that looked edible. I wasn't hungry yet, but I knew I would be before long.

I must have walked along the tracks for several feet before I realized what they were. Car tracks from someone trying to stop! I ran in the direction of the tracks hoping to find someone who could tell me what was happening. I ran through the pushed down grass and around several trees following the swerving tracks. I entered another field and found the car. They must have been driving at a high rate of speed before they got here because the vehicle was wrapped around a tree on the driver's side. I could see where the blood had seeped out of the door and dripped on the ground at the juncture of the tree and the crumpled side of the vehicle.

The air bags had deployed and I was hoping that someone had survived the crash. I hurried over to the uncrushed side. There was an older woman in the passenger seat but she was dead, her neck broken in the crash when she hit her head on the side window. I could see an older man in the driver's seat with his body against the tree. His head had hit the tree, and I could see he had died immediately. They hadn't been there long because the blood was still somewhat liquid.

I felt angry about the people dying before they could answer my questions. I then realized how stupid that was. I felt that I should do something to mourn their deaths and stood silent looking at them for a moment trying to remember any prayers. I thought about burying them but I didn't have any tools and I worried about keeping watch for danger while I tried to dig a grave. The car would make an appropriate tomb. I would mention finding the accident and the deaths if I found someone in authority.

I found the trunk release and decided that I would see if there was anything I could use in there. They must have been going on a trip because I found their luggage in the trunk. I felt guilty for robbing the dead but felt that my needs were greater. Besides the usual things one takes on a trip, I found a small Swiss army type of knife and some snacks that I figured would last me for several days if I was careful. My most welcome find was several bottles of water, one of which I drained immediately.

I hit the jackpot when I checked out the wheel well. They had an old fashioned jack with a jack handle. When I picked up the handle I felt a lot safer, even if it was a delusion. I tried to find something to make a fire with, but all I could come up with was some cotton balls that I figured would serve as kindling. I stuffed the snacks and water in a pair of pants and used the legs to tie it around my neck.

I was reluctant to leave the car. Even if they were dead, they were people and I felt so alone. It looked like it would be dark soon so I decided to climb a nearby tree and spend the night if I couldn't make a fire. I was sure I'd be able to make a fire. After all, I had done it before using a flint and steel in the scouts. I tried to start a fire by making sparks using the jack and some rocks I found near the trees. It was harder than I thought to find a rock that wouldn't just break apart whenever I struck it. I finally found a rock that would create sparks when hit with the jack handle and spent an hour trying to get a fire started. The sparks went everywhere except where I wanted them to. The few sparks that landed in the cotton died before I could blow on them. I finally gave up and climbed up the tree. It got cold after the sun set on the hot day. I decided that I would take along some of the clothing from the luggage to sleep under tomorrow.

In the dark, I became convinced that I was nowhere near California. There was no moon and I didn't recognize the star formations. I was used to the California wilderness, where usually the only sounds were those of human activity. Roars, chattering sounds, clicks, and rustling sounds surrounded me on all sides. I tied the jack handle around my wrist with a piece of cloth and tried to sleep. I might have gotten a couple of hours of sleep, but it was scattered between the times when my eyes strained in the dark trying to see what was making the particular sound that had woken me up this time.

When first light finally came, I could see some sort of animal around the wrecked car. I didn't recognize them and they left before it got light enough to make them out clearly. They looked dog like, but didn't really look like dogs, if that made any sense. When I could see clearly, all that was left were indistinct tracks that told me something had been there. Where the blood had been on the ground there was a hole where something had dug it up. There were marks on the passenger side of the car that reached to the top of the cab. I measured the size of the marks with my hand and whistled to myself. The marks were almost as big as my fist. I decided that whatever made the marks was something I didn't want to meet on the ground.

Picking up my club and putting the tire iron in the waistband of my sweatpants, I filled the rest of the pants I was using as a pack with clothing. I began to walk slowly in the same direction I had been going yesterday, hoping to find water or people. The day rapidly heated up and by what appeared to be noon I was sweating heavily. The trees were becoming thicker and I hoped that meant there was water around. I had drained two of the water bottles and worried about finding more. In the distance I saw animals moving around but couldn't make out what they were. All I know is they didn't look familiar. I hadn't seen anybody else since the car and that was several miles behind me. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever see another human again.

I had put several rocks I had picked up on my walk in my windbreaker pockets. Every so often I would throw one at a tree to practice my aim. They were nothing like a baseball, but I gradually began to hit what I was aiming at. I kept a lookout for any nearby movement and climbed a tree whenever I saw anything until I could determine that it was safe. I saw several animals during the walk and did my best not to come too close. I couldn't tell you what they were. For convenience sake I began to call the animals by familiar names, lion, dog, cat, deer, etc.

I heard a voice. I began to run toward the sound hoping to find anyone. When I entered a small meadow I found myself looking at a pack of dog-like animals that had treed someone. Whoever they had treed saw me because they began yelling. Grabbing one of the rocks from my pocket I threw it as hard as I could at one of the animals. It hit the side of one of the animal and knocked it to the ground. It slowly stood up again and the pack looked in my direction. I went temporarily nuts because I began screaming and swinging the club and throwing rocks while running at the pack. I must have looked dangerous enough that they felt threatened. After milling around for a moment they abandoned the tree and slunk off as I continued to scream and advance. I threw several more rocks to speed their exit.

Breathing heavily I stood under the tree and looked up. Looking down at me with frightened faces were two people, a man and a woman about my age.

"It's safe to come down now, but we need to get out of here quickly before they come back."

When they climbed down I could see that the man had been injured. His leg was bloody and the pants legs had been torn by something. I offered my hand but he refused the help, managing to get down by himself. The woman swung down after him and hurried to support his injured side. Angrily he pushed her away and introduced himself.

"I'm Jerry and this is my sister Mary. What's going on? How did we get here and where are we anyway?"

"I'm Mike. Let's get out of here first then we can talk."

I headed toward a clump of trees and looked behind me to see if they were following. I heard Mary tell Jerry, "Let's go. I don't want to be treed by the hyenas again."

I found a large rock outcropping surrounded by the tall grass with a clump of trees near it. It looked safe to rest on the ground and the trees were big enough to climb if we needed to. Turning around, I was going to say something when Mary interrupted me, "Do you have anything to drink? We haven't had any water since the hyenas treed us."

I pulled out the water bottle I had in my windbreaker. Jerry grabbed it and began to drink thirstily. I grabbed it back and handed it to Mary. "I only have a little water and unless you know where we can find more, we need to save it."

Mary took a deep drink and handed it back to Jerry, "There's a small waterhole about half a mile away. That's where we ran into the hyenas."

I looked at her, "You said you were treed by hyenas. Do you know where we are?"

Mary shook her head, "Not really. I had to call them something so I picked out hyenas, since they look like that to me."

"I've been calling them dogs", I admitted. "I don't know where we are either."

Jerry finished off the bottle and handed it back to me. "How did we get here? The last thing I remember us doing was walking to the store when suddenly we were standing near a waterhole in the middle of nowhere."

"I don't know. I was running when I found myself here. You two are the only people I've seen except for an older couple I found dead in a car wreck. That's where I found the stuff I've got."

"Where were you at? I mean what city?"

"I was in Fresno, California."

"We were in Oklahoma City."

I learned during our conversation that Jerry and Mary were siblings living together while they attended college. Mary was a student nurse while Jerry was a business major. The only thing we could find in common with each other was that the last date we remembered was Wednesday March 15, 20XX. Neither had any explanation of why they were suddenly here and they only had the normal items one would have when going on a short trip. I greeted with delight one thing Jerry did have; a lighter! Quickly I gathered some dry wood and lit a fire using a small piece of the cotton as tinder.

"Why didn't you light a fire to keep the animals away?" I asked.

"We didn't have time. Almost as soon as we got here yesterday the hyenas began following us; so we ran. Jerry had to help me get up the tree and that's when he got hurt while pulling himself up. We were stuck in the tree until you got there", explained Mary.

"You try lighting a fire in a tree and see how you do", Jerry said grumpily.

"Sorry", I apologized. "We need to help each other until we find out what's going on."

Mary scolded her brother, "Jerry! If he hadn't helped us we'd still be in that tree!"

"OK sis! No hard feeling, OK?" He offered me his hand.

"No hard feelings."

Mary looked at Jerry's leg. Tearing off a piece of her blouse she used a little water from the bottle and washed out the wound. I don't know what would have happened if he had been bitten. I compared Jerry's pants to ones I had taken from the luggage and they were a fair fit. I offered him one and he was quick to change into the clean pants. Using his belt, he managed to tighten it enough to hold the pants around his waist. The length was a little long but I pulled out the knife I had found and cut off the excess length.

"Can I use the tire iron?" Jerry asked. "I've never felt as helpless as when we were treed and I didn't have anything to protect us."

"That wouldn't have done you much good. We need something we can use from further away."

That's when Mary spoke up, "What about spears? We could harden the tips in the fire and tie a crosspiece on them."

I would have liked a bow, but I had only a vague idea on how to make one. I remembered something about needing to taper it and something about heartwood facing the shooter but that was all. Jerry carried the tire iron and I carried the club with several rocks and in a group we walked around looking for straight saplings. When we found one I tried to break it off. If I didn't manage to break it easily, Jerry and I bent it over to the side as much as possible while Mary cut the stressed side with the knife until it broke. When we had about eight staffs, we returned to the fire. There Jerry and I took turns putting on a point on the spears and placed them in the fire where we burnt off the limbs. Mary turned them every so often and pulled them out to scrape the points on the rocks. We used the knife to cut the torn leg from Jerry's pants into strips which we used to tie on a small crossbar behind the point about a foot back.

We left off the crossbar on four of the spears, and tried to see if we could hit anything when we threw them. They kept tumbling in the air until Mary suggested we tie small stringers of cloth to the end. That helped but we never were able to throw them hard enough to do much damage. Both Jerry and I found that we were much more successful throwing rocks. While Jerry couldn't match my speed and accuracy, he and Mary got good enough by the time we stopped to hit things within 10 yards with enough force to give most things pause.

Mary used some of the socks and filled them with smaller rocks and gravel until they were half full. She gave each of us one to use like a sap. I tapped the one she gave me on my arm and winched when I felt how hard it hit. She took Jerry's old pants after I complained that we didn't have anyway to carry enough rocks and cut a leg in two pieces. She then tied off the ends with a piece of rag to make bags for rocks. I sacrificed the drawstrings from the windbreaker to tie them around our waists. By this time we were starving and reluctantly I pulled out the snacks I had found and shared them. Tomorrow we were going to have to look for water and find something to hunt.

That night was just as noisy as the one before but I felt comforted by having someone with me. I took the first watch and woke up Jerry when I couldn't stay awake any longer. I closed my eyes and slept until just before dawn. When I woke up I found Mary was watching something moving around just outside of the light of the fire. She had a spear in her hand and looked like something out of a prehistoric picture. I sat up and grabbed the spear next to me. Without taking her eyes off the moving shapes, she spoke up, 'They haven't gotten any closer than this for the last three hours. I throw a new piece of wood on the fire and they draw back. You can go back to sleep."

I was wide awake now and sat by her. "How long have you been up?"

"Jerry woke me up about two hours ago when he couldn't stay awake any longer. He told me about the animals."

"Why didn't he wake me up?"

She replied in matter-of—fact voice, "You needed sleep as much as we did. Besides you need to tell us what to do. Jerry and I talked about it when he woke me up. Someone needs to be the boss and make quick decisions. We argue with each other too much for either of us to be the boss."

I didn't want the responsibility but I had to agree. We would probably run into situations where we needed to make a quick decision. I considered what we needed to do today. We needed to hunt, since the snacks I had found would be gone after one more meal. I didn't know what vegetation was edible and I doubted the others did either. We would have a better chance to kill something around the waterhole Mary and Jerry had found, but other predators would also hang around. Would it be better to wait around there or hang back a little ways and try and ambush something going to or away from the waterhole? In any case we needed to get some water to refill the water bottles. I shuddered to think about drinking the water straight from the waterhole. Who knew what was in it. Luckily we had the fire now and empty cans from the snacks I had found in the car to boil the water in.

Together Mary and I watched the sun beginning to rise. The shapes wandered away as the sun came up and by full light nothing was around. I woke up Jerry and we gathered up as many rocks as we could fit in the bags Mary had made for us. Carrying the spears we had made we began heading toward the waterhole. While she was on watch Mary had managed to create a small pack to carry the water bottles.

We found ourselves walking in a triangle formation as if by instinct. Jerry led the way toward the waterhole while Mary and I kept an eye out for movement from the sides and back. I began seeing game trails though the trees and soon afterwards we found ourselves approaching a fairly large waterhole. Jerry started to move forward when I held his shoulder.

"Let's watch for a while and see what's going on." He nodded and we sat for while observing the area. Across from us an antelope like animal came out of the trees and approached the water. It seemed nervous and looked around as it drank. I saw a movement in the water and the animal bolted away. As we watched we saw some sort of crocodile come out of the water and begin sunning itself on the bank. Soon several others did the same.

Backing up, we talked about what we had seen. We had to have water but none of us wanted to go anywhere near the crocodiles. It was Mary who came up with the solution.

"If there's water in the pond, then the area around the pond should be wet. Why don't we dig a hole and see if it fills up with water?"

We found a low area where water appeared to have flowed and dug down using the spears to pry apart the sandy soil and our hands to scoop it out. We soon ran into wet soil and about four feet down water began to seep into the hole. While we waited for the water to clear we began to think about finding something to eat. I asked but neither had any idea of what plants were edible.

All of us had hunted before but only with guns. None of us had any experience using spears and I had my doubts about our ability to get close enough to stab an animal with them. We decided our best bet would be to ambush something running along one of the game trails. We picked one where there were several trees overhanging the trail. Mary climbed a tree and Jerry and I hid in the brush to each side further down the trail. The idea was that Mary would drop out of the tree scaring the animals back in the direction where we waited. With luck we would be able to spear one when they stampeded past us.

We waited, getting hungrier. By noon I was willing to eat anything I could catch. I was considering trying to find large rocks to look under for grubs, I was so hungry. Finally I heard Mary yell and the sounds of things moving rapidly toward us. I shifted my hold on my spear and got ready. When the antelope appeared I wasn't ready for how fast it was moving. I thrust with my spear and missed. Looking around I saw Jerry on the other side of the trail cursing. He looked at me and shook his head. Together we headed toward where Mary had been, empty handed.

When we got there we found Mary still in her tree and waving at us frantically. We stopped and cautiously approached. There was a small cat of some sort snarling at her on top of one of the antelopes near the tree Mary was in. It had made the kill and thought that Mary was going to try and take it away. Jerry and I looked at each other and took out some rocks from the bags we carried. Together we threw rocks at the cat. It squalled and looked like it was thinking of attacking us. We shouted and came closer while throwing rocks. It gave a final hiss and abandoned the kill it had made.

Mary climbed down and together we looked at what we had taken away from the cat. It looked like an antelope but it also looked different. None of us were quite able to say why we thought that but all of us agreed. It didn't really matter though, if we didn't eat this we would starve. Using one of the spears we tied the antelope to it and carried it back toward the well we had dug. When we got back we had to figure out how to skin and cut up the thing. We had all cut up deer in camp but we had skinning knives and bone saws when we did. Here all we had was a small Swiss army knife, a tire tool and rocks.

. Mary boiled the water in the can and was straining it through some t-shirts into the bottles while Jerry and I skinned the animal. Getting the skin cut off wasn't too bad, but trying to do more than hack off small pieces from the sides was almost impossible. Jerry and I pulled the joints apart while Mary used the knife to cut. Finally we managed to get the antelope apart. We tried to get as much of the meat as possible, hoping to be able to eat it before it went bad in the heat. We placed the cut-up meat in the skin and cleaned up with water from the well. We decided to head back to our original camp as it felt safer than staying so close to the waterhole.

I had placed several large branches in the fire before we left and I was hoping the fire could be restarted when we returned. Luckily we found the fire still had quite a few embers when we returned. Jerry and I went looking for firewood while Mary restarted the fire and tried to figure out how to cook the meat. While we gathered firewood we talked about finding any other people who might be around and making a hut around the waterhole. Jerry suggested that we try sending up a column of smoke during the day to signal our location.

"I'd like to see what kind of people show up first before we meet them. We need to set up a meeting place that's away from where we live."

Jerry nodded, "Yeah, I wouldn't want some gang-banger or rapist around. What happens if they won't leave though?"

"We'll have to kill them."

This shook Jerry but after a moment he nodded, "I guess there's nothing else we can do, is there? It's not like we have a jail to put them in."

We traded off carrying the firewood, making sure one of us kept alert for danger. By the time we dropped off the last load, Mary had cooked several pieces of the antelope over the fire on sticks. I told her to cook all of the meat as it would not keep raw in this heat. We squatted and ate hungrily, grease dripping down our chins. I don't think I've ever had a better feast.

We told Mary about our plans to find people. She got a thoughtful look on her face, "I'd really like to find some more women, but I'm not too sure about letting too many people join us. An area can only support so many people through hunting."

"I was thinking that when the rainy season starts we can follow the streams toward the rivers and try and find the sea. We would be more likely to find people there and it would be easier to feed more people from the sea."

"Mike, do you think you could find the car again? We need to get everything we can use from it. There is not going to be any way to go to the stores for something we need."

"I think I can. It's about five or six miles away. We need to make sure we have water to make it there and back. I closed the car up so everything should be safe from the animals and the weather. To keep things safe we need to make some sort of shelter. I'd like to make a shelter near the well we dug, but it will take a while before we get it built."

Mary got a thoughtful look in her eyes, "Jerry, do remember that episode where they talked about houses on the Discovery Channel? Do you remember the brush hut they built?"

Now I had never heard of a brush hut so I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained, "We need to find a straight pole taller than we are and several shorter poles to use as sides. You place one end of the long pole on top of the rock here and brace the other end on the ground. You then place the shorter poles against the longer one and then pile brush on top of them, leaving an entrance. The more brush we put on the better. We can't have a fire in it, but it should be a lot safer anyway. The fire should keep the animals away, but I'd feel safer with something solid between them and me."

Jerry spoke up sarcastically, "Yeah, we learned a lot watching the Discovery channel. I wouldn't want to live in one permanently, but it will work for a while."

"I don't know. We should be able to use some of the stuff we saw on TV", Mary retorted.

We had seen a lot of dead trees and brush around this morning so finding materials shouldn't be too hard. "OK", I decided. "We'll build one until we can do better."

Not too far away from the rocks there were several dead trees that I thought we could use as the ridgepole for our brush hut. I insisted that all three of us go, as I wanted Mary to be on guard while Jerry and I dragged the materials in. We couldn't find a smooth straight log that was long enough so we finally settled on a smaller fallen tree that had several long roots on the bottom. Jerry and I managed to drag it but it was hard work. Altogether it took us over an hour's hard labor to drag the tree a little more than three hundred yards. When we finally got it braced and on the rock we were beat. The rest seemed easy in comparison after the effort the ridge pole took. We quickly managed to find a lot of thinner branches that we tied to the larger log using strips of antelope hide and rags Mary managed to cut. After that we took turns gathering brush and smaller limbs and throwing it on top. We had placed two of the longer roots down and used the space between them as our entrance. By dusk we had completed the brush hut. We gathered grass and placed it inside for bedding. We built up the fire in front and went inside. For the first time since I had gotten here I felt safe. We didn't go right to sleep tonight as we talked about various shows we had seen on TV, like Survivor and Discovery.

When we got up the next morning we had all thought about what we had seen on TV and our circumstances. I had several ideas of thing we could try and after looking at the thoughtful expression on the other two; I could see they had some as well. We didn't talk that much as we prepared to leave.

We ate some of the meat we had cooked last night and got ready to return to the car. We automatically fell into our triangle formation and headed toward the car. We moved a lot faster as a group than I did by myself. It took us about two hours to reach the car. The bodies hadn't begun to smell, which I at least was grateful for. I hadn't looked forward to moving the bodies if they had begun to rot. I thought that left alone they could eventually mummify, but we needed the materials of the car too much to leave them. I was reluctant to touch the bodies, but Mary had no hesitation in pulling them out of the car. She gave us a look that said we were worthless wimps when we didn't want to drag the bodies. Jerry and I reluctantly pulled them away from the car.

I popped the trunk open and Mary took out the luggage. There were four bags altogether and they were full. Try as I could I wasn't able to carry more than three at a time. She had me remove the rug from the back and considered it for a while then turned to Jerry. "Would you put holes here?" she asked as she indicated a triangular shape on the rug. "Mike, I need your help too." She directed me to pick up my spear and led me to some nearby saplings. "I need three poles, two long ones and one about this long", she said, indicating a length of about three feet. She waited until I had cut the saplings and returning to the rug she trimmed off all the branches. She ran the saplings through the holes to make a travois. She placed the luggage on the travois and demonstrated how she could carry all of it by herself.

I could see Jerry looking like I felt. We hadn't even thought about how we were going to get things back. Suddenly Jerry grinned, "Nice going, Sis. Mike and I are going to have to think of something good to keep up with you.

While Mary and I had been busy with the travois, Jerry had been going through the interior. He held up his find. Jerry had found a small tool kit in the glove box. There weren't a lot of tools in it but it did have a pair of pliers, screwdrivers and a small hammer among them.

While they were busy disassembling the inside of the car, I prepared something while I was on guard duty. Their mention of the Discovery channel reminded me of a show I had seen on the gauchos of the pampas. They used their bolos as hunting weapons at times. I pulled out the draw strings from some clothes to make a bolo. I was surprised at how easy it was to use. It only took a few practice throws to hit the tree I was aiming at. I didn't know how I would do with an animal, but if it worked we would finally have a distance weapon.

We had decided that we would spend the night here and continue to disassemble the car as much as we could. We debated about what to do with the bodies and finally decided that we would place them in a tree away from the wreck. Mary found a purse, but we decided that we didn't want to know their name. We already felt guilty about disturbing their bodies, but felt it would be even worse if we knew their name.

We found pictures of children in her purse, but we didn't know whether they were sons and daughters, grandchildren, or whomever. All we knew is that they were important enough to her for her to keep them. When we placed the bodies in the tree we put the pictures in her hands. Mary appropriated the purse as she had thrown hers away when they were chased by the hyenas. We never went back and I don't know what happened to the bodies.

We opened the doors on the passenger side and placed the tires in front of them. We gathered wood to make a fire and piled thorny brush around to make a barricade around the car to warn us if anything came close. We ate some of the remaining meat and I checked the water we had left. Tomorrow we would have to return before we ran out of water. I considered the weight of some of the pieces of the car and wondered how we were going to carry them. I had a thought and brought over a larger log with Jerry's help. I placed it where the middle would be over the fire.

We pulled out the back seat and put the travois over the top of the doors. We were worn out by this time and everyone agreed that we had done as much as we could for today. As it got darker I saw some sort of deer enter the meadow. They were wary of us but as long as we didn't move toward the herd they continued grazing. We discussed trying to drive some toward us, but I told them no. I still remembered the lion-like animal I had seen when I arrived. I held the bolo I had made and hoped one would come close enough to use it. We stayed still and gradually the animals came closer. Finally one came close enough and I swung the bolo out toward its legs.

It took off as soon as I swung. More by luck than skill, I managed to get one of the cords around one of the legs. Its own action trying to get it off swung the remaining cords around another leg causing it to fall. Jerry and I rushed out and using the spears we had made, stabbed it repeatedly.

We grinned at each other until we heard Mary's voice, "Have fun skinning it." We turned and saw her looking disgusted. "How are we going to carry that and the other things back?"

We looked at each other sheepishly when we realized she was right. "We'll only hunt when we need the meat from now on", I promised her. It took us until dusk but Jerry and I managed to skin the deer and cut off several portions for us to cook. The remainder of the body we dragged as far away from us as we could before it got completely dark.

We could hear crunching sounds coming where we had dragged the deer that night, but the brush and the fire kept away any animals. By mid-morning we had managed to take apart much of the interior of the car. We debated staying one more day but the water was so low we decided that we'd be better off coming back another day. I checked the log I had placed in the fire and was pleased to see that it had almost burned through.

I got Jerry to help me and we managed to break the remaining unburned wood in two leaving me a two foot section of log. I compared the log with one of the tires and saw that it needed just a little carving to fit the rim of the wheels. "What are you planning to make, a wagon?" Jerry asked.

"No, I'm not that ambitious." I refused to say any more. I left the items we weren't going to take with us inside the car and we loaded up the travois and headed back to our camp. We found that dragging the travois was easier than carrying everything, but it was still a lot of work. We traded off every fifteen minutes and finally managed to make it back. I ached in places that I didn't even know I had by the time we got back. We dragged the brush we had placed in front of the hut away and stashed everything inside, then headed to the well to replenish our water.

When we got there we found something we hadn't expected. Stuck in the well there was a small animal. I didn't know what it was and neither Jerry nor Mary had any idea either. I would have thought it was a baby because it was so small but it had well developed horns. We finally decided to call it a springer as it kept trying to spring up high enough to get out of the well. We didn't need meat right now so we finally hauled it up and let it go. The water had been fouled by the springer so Mary insisted that we dig another well further up the draw.

This time when we finished and had gotten water to show up we covered the well with branches. We had taken off the oil sump and burned it out at the car. We washed it out and used it to take water back to the camp. I thought we were finished for the day but Mary had other ideas. "I need spoons. Carve me some from wood."

That set the pace for the next two weeks. Every other day we would go hunting and gather enough water to fill the water bottles. The next day we would go to the car and take it apart. We ended up leaving the carriage and the engine block at the wreck as we had no way to reform them into something we could use. I had managed to carve down the log enough to get the rim of the tires on it. I bored holes to hold up two short poles that supported a platform I wove from branches to make a primitive cart. With this we were able to haul the heavier items back to the hut. After we got back we spent time building a hut by weaving saplings between trees near the well we had dug.

Gradually we learned how to survive where we were. We dug larger pits for capturing game near the water hole and began catching animals in them on a regular basis. We broke off pieces of the car frame and made them into tools and weapons using the tools Jerry had found and lots of sweat. Jerry and I managed to use some of the bumper to make a type of saw that we used to cut saplings which we used to make walls for a hut we built near the well. We never were able to cut teeth in it, but by hitting it with rocks on alternate sides we put a ragged edge that managed to cut faster than breaking the saplings off at the base. We even managed to make an ax out of one piece by binding it in a split stick which we tied up with rawhide. Jerry tried to make a crossbow from the car leaf springs. We never did figure out how to do that and we needed the metal for other things after a while. I tried my hand at making a bow but never did manage to make one that would last more than one or two times before it broke.

We kept hoping more people would show up but no one did. Finally we decided that it was time to signal our presence. We figured we would burn the wreck and wait nearby to see who showed up. The car took a while to start, but it gave off a thick black smoke from the grease and oil that I know was visible for miles. By this time we were carrying something similar to assegai we had fashioned out of parts of the frame in place of the fire hardened spears we had at first. With bolos tucked on one side of our belts and a cloth bag of rocks on the other we felt we could handle any animals. Our clothing was torn and dirty and we weren't much better. We had tried to keep clean but without soap and only limited hot water it was a struggle. Add the beards both Jerry and I were beginning to sport and we presented a savage appearance.

As we waited we speculated who, if anyone, would show up. I was afraid it would be men we might have to fight to protect what we had. Jerry was hoping for more women. Mary was silent about what she wanted, other than wishing for more people. We waited until the smoke stopped and decided to rebuild the fire and throw green wood on top to keep a column of smoke visible. If black smoke followed by white smoke didn't get any response than we were stuck on our own for a while.

We waited the entire day for someone to show up but no one did. Finally we decided that we would wait for one more day. Mary had been gathering the larger grass seed heads and she decided that today she would crush and boil some of them in a pan we had made. I was surprised at how much I anticipated the result. I had always been a meat and potatoes man, but eating nothing but meat for two weeks made me hungry for anything different. We talked idly as we relaxed. For the first time since we arrived at wherever we were, I felt confident that we would survive.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Science Fiction / Time Travel /