Hello everyone! Contrary to popular belief, I am not dead and I am not ignoring all of you. I was sick for most of last week, and now that I'm playing catch-up with all the blogs I follow, it's taking me a really long time to get everything done. So I want to apologize to everyone whose blog I read: I'm so sorry that I haven't commented on your posts. I do still love all of you. And I'm backed up on email too, so I'll be getting through all of those too.
Also, we have a winner for the super secret giveaway from Kate Walker's post! The prize is a signed backcopy of one of Kate's novels! Everyone who commented was entered automatically and thanks to Random.org, the winner is...
Desere, if you can contact me at marlena (dot) cassidy (at) gmail (dot) com with contact information, I'll forward it to Kate and you can claim your prize!
Okay! Let's get this Saturday Night Special started!
(For some reason, the formatting is going wonky, and I don't have the patience to keep tinkering with it. I apologize for the less than stellar visuals.)
Title: Unknown as of yet.
Length: 1089 words
Rating: TV-PG for circumstances
History: This is still fairly early on in the narrator's journey. It comes a bit after the last excerpt you read. At this point, she's camping out in the woods near the house where John C. Winston dropped her off, and this is definitely a major turning point in the action.
Nights out in the open were an interesting ordeal. That first night I dragged my sleeping bag out with the thought that I would sleep under the stars and achieve some sort of nirvana, but all that happened was that I was attacked and eaten by a swarm of the most persistent mosquitoes I had ever experienced before in life. They chewed me up so bad that I was a mess of itchy bumps for days. There was also a remarkable difference in night noises between there and Phillipsburg. In Phillipsburg, you hear cars, maybe a few cats rustling around, and the occasional owl and bat swooping in and screeching outside of the window. But in Oxford, out in the untamed woods, there’s a lot more to hear and a lot more to be afraid of. It sounded as if every branch of every tree was rustling with something alive and evil. I heard all sort of things scurrying around in the underbrush. I swear I heard a snake slither near the opening of my tent. It got so terrifying that I flailed over to the flap and zipped it shut. Crickets chirped and toads croaked and things flew above my head, and they all sounded like a thousand demons from hell exploding out of the gates to come take me away.
I was miserable that first night, and in all honesty, it only got worse.
The days were hot and boring, the nights long and nerve wracking. I ate a lot of canned beans and peaches and no meat because I hadn’t thought to buy a cooler or a stove. I looked for a job for three more days and then gave up because there was nothing available and no one to help me. I used the last of the money to buy more canned beans and some corn to change things up because the peaches were making me sick. When I was down to my last ten cans, I started making them last at least two days, eating a spoonful here or there when my stomach pains got too bad for me to stand. I remember losing a lot of weight and always feeling tired. Some days it was hard to just roll out of my sleeping bag and crawl out of the tent. My teeth hurt almost constantly.
There was a spring by my tent that I could get drinking water from, but I didn’t know how to filter it properly and it always tasted a little funny, sour almost, dirty. And there were snakes. The first one I saw was a harmless garden snake, and I tossed it away with a stick, but two weeks later, a water moccasin almost bit me, and that scared me away from the spring for a bit. I had drank all of my water and all of my emergency water before I went back there again.
At the three week mark, I started getting violently sick, throwing up what little I ate and lying in my tent, curled up in a ball, waiting to die. I had chills, then fevers, then chills again, and my knees hurt so much that at times I couldn’t bend them, or think to bend them. Other days I couldn’t straighten them out. I was tired all the time, sleeping throughout most the day into the afternoon and then falling asleep as soon as the sun went down. My throat swelled up to the point where breathing became difficult, and around then I started becoming delirious. I dreamed monsters were coming after me, eating up my feet and my legs, and I would wake up crying, half out of my sleeping bag, a fever wracking my body. During the day I saw what I thought were pixies dancing in the sunlight, and I would sit and watch them for hours, trying to catch them with my feet. Everything ached. Everything hurt. When the delirium passed for a bit and I could think lucidly, I wondered if I were dying. I should have been more frightened, but these lucid moments never lasted long and soon I was back in lala land, stumbling around the woods trying to escape the bat-like creatures I thought were chasing me.
Eventually, I ran out of food, and in desperation, I crawled out of my tent and made my way to the witch lady’s house. I was out of my mind with fever and had no idea what I was doing, but my body knew it needed food, and it was going to find some or die trying. I couldn’t walk. I had to crawl through the brush, and I thought they were claws digging into my skin so they could rip the flesh from my bones. I remember crying a lot, sobbing into the dirt. My face was scratched bloody, and I don’t think I had any shoes on. But I kept on crawling and crawling and crawling until I fell out into the open and rolled onto my back, gasping for breath.
The heat was unbearable. I felt it melting my bones, boiling my blood. My skin felt like it was on fire, burning away into a crisp. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I was horribly sick and needed help, but all I could think was that water moccasins were crawling up my legs and biting my calves, filling me with their poison so that I would explode in thousand tiny pieces. I might have been crying, but if I was, I didn't process it properly.
I couldn’t have stayed there on my back for more than a few minutes, five at most, but it seemed like an eternity before I rolled over and resumed my half-dead crawl forward. The ground smelled different here, nice, cooler. I wanted to bury myself in it. The short grass tickled my writhing stomach. I was so hungry that I couldn’t think or hear. The house loomed up ahead of me, made of crooked squares and parallel lines that met at every corner. It was a nightmare house, terrifying, and I shied away from it, shaking and snorting. A monster roared from somewhere near it, and I squeaked, tried to crawl faster.
My arm hit something soft, giving, and it exploded all over me. I grabbed with clumsy fingers, felt wetness, saw red, thought I was bleeding and panicked. I spasmed, rolled into creeping vines, squashed more things that I thought were horrendous boils sent up from hell to torment me. I covered my face in my stained hands, tasted something sweet, felt seeds in my teeth.
Food. Glorious, glorious food.