I stumbled over the pile of rocks outside my little alcove and climbed to the top of the pumpkin hill. That morning, I was determined to find some way to make a fire. It wasn’t until I reached the little summit, bleary eyed and tired from a poor night’s sleep, that I realized I had another problem.
BlurghleRurgleSquirrrrrrg! My stomach was making noises at me. I reached down and rubbed my belly, wondering when I had last eaten. I honestly couldn’t remember. Thirst was gnawing at me too and I realized that my throat was dry, my tongue thick. My whole body was giving up on me. I grabbed a better stick from a nearby tree to help prop me up, then spun to survey the nearby land.
Using the sign as my compass, I noted some pine trees to the West, more meadows and scattered trees to the South, a thick, dark forest of tall trees to the North, and some sort of water to the East.
“Water…” I tried to say, but only a gasp came out. With the sun beating on me, my throat was beginning so feel like sandpaper. So East it was. I shuffled down the other side of the hill, noting its appearance before I left, and made my way for water. The trees here were short and leafy like on the other side, with scattered flowers underneath and the ground was scattered with fallen leaves. As I walked, I could hear the sound of moving water growing closer.
I licked my lips and started to speed up, then stopped hard in my tracks. The water wasn’t far now, but something ahead of me was moving. Instinctively, I dropped low to the ground and watched. Was it another zombie? My heart raced and my head swam as I watched the thing move beyond a patch of leaves.
Then it emerged into view and I laughed so loud it hurt. The creature was nothing more than a wild pig. Part of me thought, ‘food,’ but some distant corner of my brain said, ‘No, we don’t do that.’ Had I eaten only plants in my former life? That would have to change for now, I thought, slowly rising and moving toward the pig. I don’t know what I had planned. Thirst and hunger must have weakened my brain. I lunged for its head with my staff and it ran off, oinking into the distance. My meal had escaped.
I groaned, my throat aching, but at least there was water. Licking my lips, I shambled forward, straight to the edge of a wide river cutting through the forest. Without a second thought, I lower my face to the surface and gulped long and hard. It might make me sick, but the cool fluid felt good running down my throat. I drank and drank until I collapsed satisfied against the bank.
So water was figured out. What about food and fire? I stared from the forest floor up toward the sun. Its light shimmered through the canopy overhead. Noon hadn’t come yet, but it wasn’t far off. And beyond that lay the night.