Alpanon Oct 24th, 2017 (edited) 701 Never
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- Dawn came and the light of the sun began to warm the shivering wet figure of Arthur Stew, who had spent the better part of the night crying. When his raft had capsized the life-preservers had pulled themselves up to the surface right away, but this had left the canvas below water and the mast pointing downward. Too shaken by the fiery wreck of the Heyerdahl to care, Art had simply fallen on the raft and cried until his strength made him collapse. That’s where the dawn’s early light found him, wet and cold and apathetic. All throughout the night the Heyerdahl had filled the horizon with a red glow as flames erupted from it, and as the skies turned blue and the brightness of the day replaced the darkness of the night it wasn’t as magnificent a sight, but it kept Art in the pit of despair all the same.
- No one was coming to rescue him. He was on his own. He would die like this.
- The raft kept on bobbing along the waves and drifting further away from the ship. That was just as well; every sea monster within thousands of miles must’ve been heading to the wreck, their minds intent on satisfying their ravenous hunger. This at least meant none of them had any time to pay attention to Art. Ironically he would’ve welcomed the quick death of being consumed by sharks over what he faced now. He didn’t have the drugs to make his passing any easier, he didn’t have the will to hold his head underwater and drown himself. All he had to look forward to was suffering. What did he ever do to deserve this? How had the entire ship been compromised? Had any shuttles made it off? How many escape pods had made it out there? Supposing they each had at least one person, or two like they were supposed to have, it’d be… oh man, the fact that he’d taken off in one pod on his meant someone would have to be left behind, didn’t it? Or… no, he couldn’t remember if there were extras, or if the number of pods was just for the people who didn’t fit in the shuttles, and…
- Art found himself wondering about the vaults inside the Heyerdahl. How many people had sealed themselves in them when the fires began, only to find themselves trapped inside as the ship crashed? The wreck would eventually sink. Would the people die of starvation like he would, or from lack of oxygen? Or would they die because the fusion reactor blew up? How would being in a planet-sized ocean affect the exposed engine? Would it use the hydrogen to burn up the whole world? No, that was ridiculous; they used to make movies about that type of thing 60 years ago. 60 years before the ship left, that is. How many more years had passed since? Art’s mind was still a jumble from the stasis, and it was only now that he was beginning to fully realize how badly. He shouldn’t be out here in this condition. It would take at least three days of relative rest to get someone up and running after an extended stasis, and even then it would be a full week before physical performance reached a point where you could go on a bloody adventure at sea. He was, simply put, both physically and mentally UNSUITED for survival. Who could blame him for failing when everybody else did too?
- And why couldn’t those idiots put out a simple fire? How much stuff had fallen off the ship as it was burning? Spread across the entire circumference of Mare, lost into the depths. And what if there were escape pods out there, spread out over thousands of miles of water? They might be able to communicate with each other, and then one by one they would be found by the monsters and the others would wonder what happened until only one was left and they would know it all too late. Humanity had no future on this world, and they all would disappear without Art ever meeting a single one of them ever again.
- For a while Art continued wallowing in self pity, but there was one shimmer of sunlight in his life, and that was the actual sunlight. The nights didn’t get that cold out here, but his body had little to no protection against the cold after spending so long in hibernation, so Art had been uncomfortably chilly all night. Now the warmth of the summer sun was making his existence slightly less miserable, and soon his despairing, apathetic lounging around became the apathetic lounging of a cat. And like a cat, he too felt extra comfort would not be out of the question.
- The problem was of course that in order to not just lie down on the life-preservers he’d have to get in the water and turn the raft around somehow. Or… no, wait, wouldn’t it be smarter to untie the canvas and then just bring it up from under the preservers and re-attach it? Now why was it that he always thought of the dumbest solution first? Because of the confusion in his brain after the deep freeze, that’s the ticket. And if he hadn’t been all confused and had acknowledged the limitations of his mind and body he would’ve given some thought to his actions before and made a knife out of the metal of the lightning rod instead of messing about in the water and attracting undue attention from the locals.
- A bitter laughter, mixed with sobs, escaped from Art’s lips. Now why hadn’t he done that? The damn rod had been there all along, and he would’ve been able to defend himself at least a little with a knife. He might’ve been able to make a screw-driver or something to work on the damaged electrical components, too. But oh no, he hadn’t thought of that at all. He’d been too damn messed up to think properly or plan ahead and because of that he had no escape pod to protect him from the harshness of the weather should there be a storm and he’d gone through all that food and water so quickly without even rationing it and he hadn’t even gotten to eat half of it!
- “FUCK!” he shouted and sat up, his ass falling into the ring of one preserver. Indignant and upset, he felt like choking someone. But there was an up-side to all of this; he’d realized his mistakes, hadn’t he? Which meant his brain was working. And if his brain was starting to work, that meant he had hope of making the most of his situation, didn’t he? All he’d need to do was think about the conditions he found himself in and make some deductions.
- Like for one thing there was the fact that the Heyerdahl had fallen into the sea. On one hand this meant that his situation was hopeless and yadda-yadda-yadda, but on the other hand, as he had already realized, the ship probably caught the attention of every single monster within thousands of miles, maybe across the entirety of Mare since sound travelled so well underwater. So what that meant was that they wouldn’t be interested in his life pod anymore, now were they? What use was little old Death Trap when there was a much grander prize to be had? His heart went out to the poor bastards trapped inside the vaults of the Heyerdahl, but they were the ultimate bait.
- Feeling a surge of energy from his ingenious realization, Art began to look for his beloved Death Trap. Where was it?
- He realized rather quickly he had drifted a considerable distance during the night. He couldn’t see his pod. He couldn’t see it in any direction. But that was fine, he had one point in the horizon that wasn’t moving anywhere, and that was the Heyerdahl. He could use it to aid in his navigation. If only he’d put in the effort to memorize the stars and constellations, he might’ve been able to move around at night. Of course if he’d been reasonable last night he would’ve kept close to the pod and he wouldn’t need to find it. No use fretting about that though, he had to figure out his most immediate problem first.
- Art took hold of the fire extinguisher and began to pull on it. His line of reasoning was that he’d pull it up and then turn his mast upside down, then he’d get in the water and undo all the knows on the canvas. That would take a very long time, wouldn’t it? And then there was the one preserver that contained his entire water supply. The opening was now underwater, so he’d need to turn that around too. Would it really be easier to do it this way rather than to turn the raft upside down again? But how was he going to turn it around on his own? He couldn’t make massive waves on his own, and the buoyant preservers would seek to set themselves up at the top while the canvas would tend to sink no matter what he did, so it was better to just do this carefully and slowly. That was fine. As ling as the Heyerdahl didn’t sink, he’d know which way… the Heyerdahl was. He didn’t actually know which way he’d been drifting from his pod. Was he closer to the ship now, or further away? Which cardinal direction had he ended up in in relation to his destination, the Death Trap? Which way was he supposed to go?
- Again, a problem he’d figure out later. For now he was busy as a beaver, yes sir. No use taking on more stress from problems that weren’t immediate.
- …even though it was his lack of foresight that had brought him to this situation in the first place. Ah. Shut up, shut up, shut up! Work! Get that mast out of the water, and… and his mast was broken. The extinguisher was there, but the lightning rod had come off. His mast was once again too short to be useful.
- “Fuck it” Art said out loud and kept himself busy. Work kept his mind off of despair. Being busy, being active, that’s the key. Keep moving ahead towards a goal, that was how you survived.
- Without a clock Art had no accurate way to measure the flow of time, but he felt it took an uncomfortably long time to undo the tangled knots that kept the canvas attached to the preservers. It was also incredibly heavy and he could barely lift one end over the side of his raft. Every moment he was afraid something down below would grab him and drag him down. This HAD happened before so his paranoia was perfectly justified. And if the canvas went down, it would take down his flippers and snorkel with it, because he’d left those in the “tent” he’d made, and that was like a secure pouch now that it was upside down. He ha to believe that gear was still intact. Losing half his mast was bad enough. Please God. Please.
- It took even longer to get the canvas hauled up and attached properly, but once it was there Art felt a whole lot better. It had been busy work that didn’t really increase his chances of survival all that much, but the shade of the now much lower-ceilinged tent would help him manage his dehydration. There was no way in hell he was going to go through all this effort a second time without a proper meal, so he could only hope that the weather wouldn’t get too bad before he was safely inside his pod again.
- His pod that didn’t have any food in it, mind you. No, don’t mind that. Just get back there!
- As his final effort Art turned the water supply preserver around until he could drink from it and took several greedy gulps. Working had made him thirsty, very thirsty. His stomach was also empty of food, but he filled it with water instead. Nothing else to do, really.
- Having satisfied his baser needs he lied down and admired his last remaining possessions, the flippers and the snorkel and mask. With these he would be master of the sea, so he would. To make sure he’d never misplace them he put them all on right away, and then he lied down on his stomach and looked into the sea just in case there was something down there worth seeing.
- What Art saw down there was mostly water, and some rocks, and some schools of regular fish, and some drifting plant matter, and very little else. It was too deep here for him to see to the bottom, as bright as the water was here. No way he could dive down to retrieve the lightning rod if it had fallen there, that was for sure. What did that matter though; he was finally on a proper raft again. Now he’d need to figure out where to head.
- For some time Art tried to figure this out by starting at the Heyerdahl’s flaming wreck and the position of the sun. How distant had the ship been when it crashed? He had no clue since he’d been vast off his raft when it cam down and from there on out he hadn’t really been mentally fit to think about things. Post-stasis a man’s mind was prone for some extreme mood swings. He remembered this now as if it was just one of those facts everybody knew. After his extensive training it only made sense that he did remember it that well. But in the end he was only human.
- Maybe the only human.
- Shaking off the possible desperation of being the last man on Mare, Art decided he’d make his way towards the east, which was where the aft of the Heyerdahl was pointed. The ship had come from the north, or so he thought. He felt like going north-east would take him to the vicinity of the Death Trap. That seemed reasonable.
- Setting himself up on his back with his head facing roughly northeast, Art lowered his feet into the water up to his shins, as worried as he was of their fate, and began kicking slowly. He didn’t have the kind of strength to move the raft at any decent speed, and he while the sea was rather calm there was still the distinct possibility he’d be swept off-course by oceanic currents. Eh, if that happened then he couldn’t help it. He only had so much strength to go around until he found food – which his pod didn’t have any of – but for the moment getting to the Death Trap – which had no food – was the only thing he could think to do. He COULD have tried going to the Heyerdahl itself, but that’s the likeliest place for all the monsters to congregate too. They were probably preparing to wake old Cthulhu and Dagon back there already.
- After an unpleasantly long time spent kicking and momentarily getting up to check his course, something horrifying happened. A SOMETHING bobbed against his leg, and Art pulled his feet aboard the raft so quickly the whole thing rocked. He darted up and lifted his fists up, ready to bop every goddamn shark in the nose.
- Instead he saw something yellow and round in the water. A… ball?
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