AN: This is just a writing experiment of mine, a plot-bunny that wouldn't leave. Don't expect regular updates or that many updates at all. I just wanted to write a story where the main character was isolated from the main cast. Of course there will be interaction between the main character and the cast but the main character will be, for the most part, alone. Or mostly alone. I'm not going to be spoiling anything.
Also, just a disclaimer, this story is featuring an OC character, though it's not an insert. The story starts a few years before Senku wakes up.
Lastly, don't take any of the stuff I write as survival advice. I can barely feed myself in a city, much less alone in a forest. Most of my survival experience comes from video games and camping trips. This is somewhat referenced in my OC.
[ - [- Chapter 1 -] - ]
It was peaceful in the meadow. With a small rustle a deer timidly looked over a bush, small horns branching out from it's head. It flicked an ear as a bird chirped from somewhere afar and stepped out into the clearing.
The spear flew through the air, wobbling just a little, and rammed through the deer's side. It screamed and bucked once before bolting off into the trees, the spear still wiggling inside it's side.
I laughed as I stood up, my back cracking a little. I groaned and walked after the deer. I took my time, not wanting to tire myself out. I had to backtrack a few times as I walked past a snapped branch or a print in the dirt but I managed to find the trail well. Hunger had that effect of sharpening your senses. When your next meal depended on how well you tracked something you made sure to track damn well.
An hour later I had my spear again, albeit a bit bloodied, and I was hot on the deer's trail, still at a casual walk, though I tried to keep my footsteps quiet, my weight on the edges of my feet. Luckily it had rained last night so the leaves didn't crinkle while I walked.
I saw the deer again laying against the roots of a huge tree. I crouched down and crept as silently as I could around the sides of it. I was, after days of being stranded in the wilderness, been completely covered in mud, dirt, and even dung. My foot still felt a little slick. Gross. It covered my scent a bit, at least, and that might have helped in this case.
I got almost to the side of the deer before it noticed me, Looking straight at me with wide black eyes. I lunged and landed my spear deep in it's chest. It screamed again and leapt away from me. I was yanked along with the spear for a moment before it broke off and the deer stumbled before running away again.
Half an hour later I found it nearly catatonic on the forest floor. "Sorry, friend. Thanks for feeding me…" I whispered. My voice was hoarse from disuse. I had barely talked in days. I raised the broken shaft of my spear and jammed it through the deer's eye. I grimaced at the squelching sound but struck again. A few more strikes and I was sure that it was dead.
"… Now how do I cut you open?" I muttered to myself. I looked to stare at one of the stone statues littering the place. He didn't reply and nothing else did either.
[ - [- X -] - ]
It took time before I could properly gut the deer. I didn't know how but I knew enough. The intestines weren't for eating, the organs all went somewhere else, and everything above the head was useless. I had to bite through the skin and tear the skin open with my bare hands. It wasn't that much more disgusting than stepping in crap with your bare foot. I had always had a strong stomach in high school biology. It really was tested at that point.
Fire had been one of the first things I had figured out. There was plenty of rusted steel in the few remnants of human civilization around and flint wasn't too hard to find. I had woven together a whole lot of reeds and made a little sling to hang down my chest. It was where I kept a few sharp rocks, some woven reeds, and scavenged berries. That way I could always start a fire. The forest being wet made things a bit harder but I found some mostly dry moss under an overhang.
I laid down the slabs of meat on some large rocks and licked my lips. Hunting a deer was more of a spur of the moment thing for me. I just really, REALLY wanted meat. Berries, grubs, and wild mashed grains worked well enough but out of all the things I missed about modern civilization the food was the one that got to me.
Before the green flash I wasn't important, wasn't special. I was a college dropout that moved to Japan solely to get away from his family. That and some half-assed dream of traveling the world. I had picked up Japanese during my anime phase, which had hit me HARD as a teenager, and took some classes. Being half a world away from what felt like all my problems only made different problems crop up. Still, even when I hadn't amounted to anything I had access to vegetables, salt, spices, meat, condiments, and so much more!
And now, just a week later, biting into some poorly cooked venison was heaven.
"Oh… yeah." I murmured to myself. The meat was a bit charred but in this case charred was preferable to undercooked. I didn't know what I'd do if I ate something with parasites. Maybe mix together something poisonous and spend half a day in suffering. Flush my digestive system… hopefully that would work? I didn't want to find out.
Still, chewing on venison I felt kind of unfulfilled. I was in a crisis, right? As far as I had figured the apocalypse had arrived. I was the last man on Earth, or close enough to it. Everyone was made of stone now. I reckoned that about a quarter of humanity had died as of now. Wildlife, natural disasters, flooding, whatever, had broken down statues to dust or at least broken a few limbs off.
I mean, at least they were sort of safe. Here I was, naked, alone, and afraid chewing on a deer flank I had gnawed off of it. It wasn't even seasoned!
I swallowed a larger piece than I should have and sighed. Nevermind, seasoned or not this was bliss… I'd still kill for some salt, though.
I heard a growl not far from me and I froze. The growl returned and I quickly got up and into some sort of goalie stance. A black wolf was staring at me, hackles up and eyes hostile. Was I on their territory or something? Maybe it was the food. Wolves could smell for miles, like sharks on land. The lone deer had left a bloody trail through the forest. I guessed that they'd followed that.
Well fuck that. I wasn't fighting wolves. I wasn't worried about starting a wildfire. The land around my fire was mostly barren and everything was too damp to properly start a blaze. I tried to stuff some meat into my little sling and hissed when the strap came undone around my neck. Of course, I was a shit craftsman. I had never woven anything before in my life! I barely knew how to sew!
The wolf was joined by two more of it's kind, one more grey and another even darker colored than the first. I muttered a swear and quickly thought of what to do… were wolves like bears?
I grabbed a burning branch, barely big enough to hit something with, and waved it at the wolves. "Hah!" I screamed. "Back off! Fuck off!" My less than creative threats were ignored as they crouched low to the ground and began to circle around me.
I responded by backing off, shuffling backwards with my sling in one arm and my burning branch in another. The wolves paused and seemed to look at each other. The brave one on my left stepped a little closer to the deer carcass and another got closer to a slab of venison I had left on the stone by the fire.
I continued backing off and more wolves joined in with the others in eating the deer carcass. I counted seven in total. When they were good and distracted tearing into the deer, making ripping and snapping sounds as they ate, I got a little more relaxed and backed off quicker. A minute later I decided that it was safe to turn around and walk normally… scratch that, let's jog instead and eat that meat while I'm at it.
I didn't sleep well that night, tucked away in a nook in some tree branches. At least my belly was mostly full. It was progress from my previous days.
[ - [- X -] - ]
I spent a month wandering around, slowly making myself a kit of sorts. Clothes came first. The nights were getting colder and while I normally liked the cold that was when I had heat available to me so I could run inside when it got too cold to bear.
I killed a second deer and was mostly prepared this time. I had a stone I had sharpened on other stones and was able to remove the hide without damaging it too much. It was gross enough that I had to step away for a minute - goodness' sake the smell and fat… ugh - but I did it! I washed the skin in a stream and let it hang for a few days. I had played a game called The Long Dark where just leaving a deer hide indoors for some days did the trick of curing it, same thing for gut or other hides, but I didn't have an 'indoors'. Still, it was a better guide to curing a hide than anything I had. I propped up some wooden branches and hung the hide in a cave for a week. When I came back it seemed alright, definitely better than anything else I had.
End of it all I had a deer hide draped around myself, some woven reeds (much better than the stuff I was making a month ago) threaded between some holes to keep it secure around me. Sure like… half my chest was showing but it was all I had and I was damn proud of it!
I also made myself a bigger sling, taking nearly a whole day to find the best material to weave together into what was basically a fishing net that I slung over my back. I tried not to jostle it too much but I didn't think it would last more than another month without breaking.
Oh, and of course there was my spear. It wasn't much better than what I had before, just a really pointy rock wedged between a split branch and secured there with - you guessed it - woven reeds, the answer to all my problems. Before it was just a sharpened stick but hey! A spear's a spear. It works.
I had a lot of wants, though. I wanted clothing that covered more than two thirds of my body, shoes for my callused feet, soap, cloth, oh my god a knife! If I had a knife, even a little pocket knife… it would be beautiful. But I didn't and so I was working with sharp stones and yelling ooga booga. I just wanted something more than that. I wanted things.
And that was why I settled down after a month of seeing the sights.
[ - [- X -] - ]
I had seen a lot of beautiful things wandering around. A part of me wanted to see other humans. But after getting to the highest highs and the lowest lows I was ready to call it quits. I had seen hot springs, sulfur pits, rocky cliffs, and some of the best, starriest nights I'd seen in my life.
I had also made sure to keep my bearings at all times. I had run across the coast once and made sure to keep it in my mind. I knew my north, south, east, and west by the sun's rise and fall and there was no way I was going to lose it. I even built little cairns by the seashore so people would know that I had been there before. If I ever traveled back along the way I'd know how far along I was by the cairns. They were a little like breadcrumbs I was leaving behind me.
All that wandering I did helped me to scope out the best spots for houses. I had plenty of criteria. I wanted sustenance, natural shelter, access to a river, to be close to the ocean, a decent view, and good land so I could start a garden. I knew a few places.
I ended up a short hike up a river that fed into a small bay. There were three natural switchbacks up alongside a waterfall and that was where I had my house… sorry, where I wanted to build a house.
I knew how to build… sort of. Mud huts weren't that complicated. It was clumpy dirt, water, and some dead plant stuff. In my case I used leaves. I put some straight tree limbs in a large circle and made the mixture. The circle was more like a polygon with how I only had straight tree limbs available but that was just semantics. Then I had to get a TON of the mud mixture. Soil is heavy, did you know that? After hauling as much dirt as I could with just my two hands my arms sure knew it, though they were getting more muscled with this new lifestyle I had going for me. It took a week to finish the walls but in the end of it I could punch the walls and they would just crack a bit. Easily fixed with some mud-smearing.
My little mud hut was squat, ugly, and the roof barely held. But it was mine and from there I could begin to improve! I had so many plans in my head. I was going to get stakes and start a garden soon! I had seen my mother gardening plenty of times and I had run across wild carrots and potatoes before. I was sure that I could get it with some experimentation.
Also, my little bed, made of semi-flexible tree branches and a lot of grains laid out, was more comfortable than I thought. Cave-person furniture wasn't half bad.
[ - [- X -] - ]
I was walking around my new property, making sure to remember what I saw. So far I hadn't seen much. There was a meadow with a lot of berries but not enough to sustain me. I was having to travel farther and farther to find food. My garden was quickly becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. You never really realize how much food you eat until you're finding a lack of it. My days of pizzas and sub sandwiches were nothing more than a distant memory now.
Thankfully the little bay could probably sustain me. I could start a fish farm, maybe, if I could make a net big enough to put over the sandbar. That was how fish farms worked, right? I wouldn't just be starving the fish in the bay? I was going to try my hand at fishing, anyways. My spear and some berries in the water would do well enough, hopefully. It worked in Castaway, right? It should work here. The water was clear enough.
Maybe I could lay my net down under the sand and pull it up when a fish got into it? That would be awesome…
I was just walking along when I heard a roar from a ways away. I reached for my spear but only felt the fuzz of my deer hide. Right, I left it at the hut. Shit.
I waited for a second and didn't hear anything else. Was that a wolf? No way, bear? Brown bear? Not a black bear. I had seen one of those before. It was basically a big dog that ran away from humans. It was also too small to make such a deep roar. So brown bear…
They have bears in Japan?!
I ran back to the hut. I wasn't touching that adventure, nuh uh. I now had a new predator to fear other than the wolves.
[ - [- X -] - ]
Another month passed. Gardens, as it turned out, weren't that hard to cultivate. Or maybe I just had a green thumb. I checked on them every day, splashed them with lots of water from the river by my house, which was a little inconvenient since the river was like ten yards away in case of flooding, and I talked to them.
Hey, don't judge. I had spent three - now four - months alone without using my voice. I needed an outlet. My plants grew up listening to me prattle on about how green they were and how they were growing up so fast. I had potatoes, beets, carrots, and cucumbers in my arsenal, all separated into little pens. I hadn't managed to find anything else while I was out walking. I might have been missing some of the more discreet vegetables but I got everything I wanted so I wasn't complaining.
My berries, sadly, hadn't grown well. I didn't know if they didn't get enough water or if they didn't like the name Shirley I gave them. I resolved to do more testing later on when I made a pot. That was still a work in progress. I was on a hunt for clay but I hadn't found it just yet. I swore to get some clay dishes soon, though. I needed a way to transport water and something to make vegetable mash with. Maybe I could even mix in some grubs again for protein?
… That was a joke. Fuck eating insects. I hadn't been that desperate since those first few weeks.
On another note the fishing was going well too! Fish had a deadly weakness to a sharp spear, though I found that the plain wooden spear was better than the normal one. I even made a little mud hut near the bay in case I wanted a nap. It wasn't nearly as nice as my actual hut but it worked well for a nap. When my sunburns got too bad I would go lie in the cold sand in the hut. It felt heavenly.
Next to the tiny hut was a fish drying rack. I had taken to preserving some food since fish were surprisingly plentiful and I didn't want to fish every day. I had learned that I needed a table of some sort for gutting them too so I rolled a large flat rock near the hut and rack. I had vague memories of fighting with my dad and him showing me how to cut out a filet. I managed it with a sharp rock. I still cut my hands a few times, though.
I was out fishing one day, perched menacingly over a rock, a few crushed berries floating in the water, gently sitting on the bottom. That was fine. Sometimes it took ten or so minutes. I messed up the first few times, first because I casted a shadow in the bay, then because I couldn't hit the fish. Then there was my complete failure with the net. The less said about that the better.
Anyways, I was sitting on a rock staring into the water, just waiting, something I had gotten good at. Then I heard a clatter to my right. My head swiveled to the noise and I saw that my drying racks had collapsed. Down by one of the legs a black form was wriggling about, a fish in it's mouth.
"RAAAAARGHHH!" I roared as I ran to my racks. That was MY FISH! The little fox, clearly not quite an adult, took one look at me and loped off into the brush. I slowed and stopped, feeling like an idiot. I had screamed at the fox from halfway across the bay. What did I think was going to happen?
… My fish for that dinner was sandy.
[ - [- X -] - ]
That fox was a DEMON! No shit the little bastards were called trickster spirits sometimes! The fuck stole my fish, pissed on my mud hut, dug up my vegetable garden (thankfully the plants seemed to be hardy enough to survive), and when I caught it and it ran away I would swear that it was laughing at me with that little 'Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip!'. Fucker.
I couldn't keep it out either. My garden had a small fence and it just hopped over it, deciding to dig in the worst place possible even if it took actual effort. I raised up my fish drying racks and it would knock them down before it feasted. When I thought about it I started to suspect that it had been stealing fish before it knocked down the rack that day. It might have just been a little clumsy that time and gotten caught.
I had gotten pretty good at throwing my spear from some fishing and trying to hunt deer but the fox was fast. It could run almost as fast as I could throw my spear. I spent more than one evening murmuring uncharitable things about foxes while patting down the dirt in my garden or doing some extra fishing, straining my eyes.
And while my homestead was being menaced by the fox I didn't manage to get a lot done. Another month passed with me mostly breaking even. I provided for myself and lived mostly comfortably (thankfully foxes didn't eat vegetables. It just liked digging and making a pest of itself) but I only made one real improvement.
Clay! Yes, indeed, while wandering around I actually stumbled across it. Literally stumbled. I was walking up the river one day and I stubbed my toe on a rock. I swore quietly and sat down, taking a break for my toe. I sat down on a slope and reached out for the rock. I tossed it away and it clattered on the ground , breaking the silence of the forest. I rested my hand back on my knee and stopped.
Because when I looked at my fingers there was dust on them. Clay dust. "No way." I said out loud. I got up and looked at the rock again. It looked a lot like an ordinary rock, nothing special to it. But when I smashed it against the ground and it cracked in half I could smell clay, like art class all over again.
I thought, like some sort of dumbass, that clay was normally darker or more moist, like the bricks you saw in art class but dry. No, idiot, clay isn't any of those things. It's like a rock but more brittle. Solid dirt, kind of.
Point in case, after letting it soak in my net in the river for some time it was wet and ready to be molded. I threw it down the waterfall and yelled in frustration. I spent like two months looking for clay, damn it!
And then I sat there. Clayless.
After begrudgingly going to get more clay and soaking it I tried my hand at molding some. That was easy. I just used my hands and common sense. I was no craftsman but I could make a functional pot.
I made a reasonably sturdy pot and left it to dry on a rock for a minute while I got a fire going. It hadn't rained in awhile so that was easy. I made sure to get it extra large. Clay normally needs a kiln, right? Well… I don't. Robinson Crusoe just dropped his clay in a fire and it vitrified, right? So my fire should work.
I raised the wet clay over the fire and dropped it in. I walked up to get some more clay and brought it back. When I looked at the fire, mostly gone out by now, I saw shards of clay in the fire. Shards. Not a pot. Shards of clay.
Scowling, I tried the process again and heated up the wet clay, a thin plate this time and not a pot. After a few minutes the clay sort of 'popped' and exploded.
Clay can EXPLODE?! Why did nobody tell me this?!
I kicked a rock angrily and brainstormed a bit… when I did middle school art from so long ago it took about two weeks for my crappy clay art to get back to me. What was my art teacher doing? I had gone into the back of the arts studio one time and there was like… was the clay hardened and on the carts or was it sitting on that table? Ugh, I could barely remember any of that.
What the heck do I do to make clay fired correctly?! Maybe after I make some freaking pots I can get to making concrete or a rowboat or fishing nets - ANYTHING more than the basics!
I really just wanted to have pots already. I was so sick of carrying water to my garden with my hands.
[ - [- X -] - ]
I left some wet clay pots overnight and they turned a little bit pinkish. I felt like I was on the right track so I let them dry some more. Was the water evaporating off of them? That was the only conclusion I could come to. I did a little experiment, making three new pots a day and measuring how the color changed. Evaporation seemed to slow down after day two and stopped around day seven. So it took a week to dry out.
After two weeks had passed and I decided that I both had way too many pots in my house and that they weren't getting any drier I tried firing them. Everything except the pots that had dried out for at least a week was either cracked or exploded. Everything else was fine. At the end of the two weeks I had twenty one various pots fit for holding water, fish, or… anything really.
I went a little crazy and made an assortment of plates, pots, a basin, a vase, and some mugs for me to use. I stopped when I realized that I was honestly trying to figure out how to make a table out of fired clay. After two weeks of a few pots a day I was a decent potter, I liked to think, and my stuff wasn't ugly by any means.
Though I felt like a loser drinking water out of a mug. I needed some beer or something. Well that was why I had the vase. I had found grapes awhile ago but they were only for eating. Also, I had no idea where to even start making my own wine. I needed grapes and yeast… and I think I needed to strain it at some point.
I was putting that up to a WIP. Wine would come eventually. Just not today… or in the next several months.
Also, the fox had decided to start taking dumps on my lawn for no reason other than to be a dick. He is, I had found out, a he and not a her. I saw him taking a piss on the walls of my mud hut and got a good look… I was going to stab the shit out of that fox. I was even going to practice throwing my spears in preparation for the fox hunt.