Perhaps you remember my last gripping story of survival, lost in the dense wilderness of what turned out to be Northern Idaho. There I fought nature tooth and nail, and narrowly won. Though dogged by cold and an overbearing bear, I made it to safety. I recovered, took a creative writing class, and then made the foolish mistake of deciding to reward myself with a tropical vacation. Now I am reunited with my old friend – a friend called Danger!
The boat ferrying me through the bastard Pacific Ocean encountered trouble of the explosive variety, sending me flying into the murderous sea as no more than some indiscriminate piece of shrapnel. What a monster the sea is, always waiting to devour man whole should he think himself smart enough to claim ownership of the entire planet. I write these scattered thoughts in a notebook fortune just happened to throw at me when the boat exploded. I am floating on a makeshift raft fashioned out of a block of adult diapers that must have been in the cargo hold. I thank the maker for supplying me with these life-saving adult diapers, but curse him for his overall cruel demeanor.
I counted no other survivors. I dutifully waited for signs of life for one hour before I erected a crude sail out of some salvaged tablecloths and some wooden poles. The pink-white tartan pattern of my sail was dissatisfactory, but I had little resources to work with. Now my new struggle for survival rests on making it to land or getting rescued and avoiding pirates and deadly squalls.
I have encountered my first deadly squall, but as luck would have it came just in time to gust me away from an approaching pirate ship. Fortune shined its crooked smile, sheltering me from one danger in the midst of another. The mighty winds raged and hurled my meager craft, which I christened the "HMS Survival," like an undesired lunch. I gripped tightly, sinking my fingers deep into the soft padding of the adult diapers. These diapers served me well, though a part of me wondered if the people expecting their delivery had a contingency plan.
More updates when it is less dangerous for me to write.
The storm has calmed, but unfortunately the HMS Survival is in tatters. These diapers were designed to withstand the full force of an adult's bowels and bladder, but not the full force of the raging sea and sky. The bladder of the sky is monumental, and the bowels of the sea never cease to be cleared. The poor girl is taking on water like a sponge, and my sail is full of holes. On the plus side a seagull smashed into it and died, providing me with my first meal: a delicious serving of hope. Land cannot be far away.
The day continues and no sign of land yet. The sun is beating me senseless. I look and all I see are burning white and blue. I can barely move my hands enough to stagger this pen across this paper... I am so tired... so tired. Could this be the onset of scurvy? I have had so little fruit in the past two days.
I am awake again. The HMS Survival crashed ashore on an unknown island, shredding itself to pieces amid razor-sharp coral scattered on the beach. I would mourn for her, but now that we are both on land I am no longer obligated to go down with the ship. I myself am snagged on the coral, and I am cold and wet. It is difficult to identify my surroundings in the dark of night, but I can see that the beach is at the base of a foreboding jungle that lurches onward for what appears to be numerous miles. Would I be cursed to journey through this jungle? I am quaking with all-encompassing fear at the prospect, an act that may help to save me by keeping my body temperature up.
I see a figure emerging from the jungle, a hulking figure. I will write more soon. My journey to safety may be over!
As fate would have it the mysterious figure was that of a Cossack manservant. He emerged from out of the jungle in a mighty struggle against gravity. He was my last memory on the beach, a brooding presence that moved like a casket full of jello, methodically staggering through the bush as though his feet where magnets at war with a metal floor. As soon as he was within talking distance, so too was the most dreadful odor I've ever had the misfortune of smelling.
He carried me to this shelter, this sprawling mansion he calls home. He fed me, tended to my wounds, and provided me access to a bathroom. After two days at sea, a bathroom is like heaven. The toilet is a mighty throne, and the tub is like a giant overturned turtle shell filled with nectar and ambrosia. I could have used the bathroom on the HMS Survival – hell the whole ship was a floating bathroom – but I was not about to surround myself with the stink of failure.
I am now in a parlor, waiting for the return of the Cossack's master. While there I eyed the Cossack suspiciously, for he was a menacing figure that looked to be no less than an amalgam of the world's ugliest men. He was a cacophony of flesh and limbs united by an armada of stitches and justified as a man only by virtue of a healthy beard. If not for the movement, there was nothing to indicate he was alive. This Cossack appeared to be no less than the survivor of one hundred different botched surgeries.
It has been hours since my last entry, and I must admit good reason for the delay. Not that the delay should matter, since by the time anyone reads this journal, my ordeal will be over. That's a good point I just thought of and I apologize for apologizing about the delay in updates.
I am afraid my situation has grown quite dim, even in spite of the momentary respite provided by the mysterious Cossack manservant, who I learned was called Frank. His master was a most disturbing figure, loitering in the shadows and speaking in a most elegant if not unnerving voice. When he spoke, his sharp fangs glistened in the light. While speaking with him I asked the Cossack to take down the minutes for posterity. Here's what was said:Frank: "Yes"At this point Count Dracula brooded out of the room. Frank handed me back my journal and now I'm writing this update. I am impressed with his penmanship, though his skills at taking minutes could use a little work.
Guest:" Well don't write that, I meant once I start talking to your master."
Master: "We have already started talking."
Guest: "Hang on one second, I want to get this in order."
Frank: "I'm good."
Guest: "Okay, sorry about that. About my situation here."
Master: "I am pleased to meet you, young boy."
Guest: "Thank you for the hospitality, kind sir. Now if you have a phone, I would like to call 911 to arrange for my rescue."
Master: "I'm afraid, dear boy, that there are no phones on this island. I'm afraid the only way off this island is by earning it."
Guest: "I believe I have earned it with my amazing struggle against the sea. Perhaps I should tell you that story since it's pretty good. I wrote down some notes in my journal, too. Frank is writing the minutes in it, so I suppose I could have him stop so you can glance over my notes."
Master: "I know all about you, young boy. I know how you get here too. I know about your struggle in the wilds of Idaho. That is why I arranged for your arrival here... Here on my private hunting grounds."
Guest: "While I appreciate your gung-ho attitude about providing me with a personalized hunting expedition, I don't appreciate your methods. In fact, sir, I don't see any method at all."
Master: "I don't think you know who I am, young boy. I am called Count Dracula, and this is my castle. I am known far and wide as the greatest hunter in the world."
Guest: "Your name seems vaguely familiar, but I can't quite place it. Anyway, what's hunting got to do with me?"
Master/Dracula: "I have brought you here to hunt you, young boy. I have brought you here because you are the most dangerous game!"
Guest: "Sir, I have too much self esteem to think of myself as a game, let alone allow you to play me like one. I will make use of your telephone and I will leave at once. Your Cossack friend will be coming with me, as he is clearly in need of immediate medical assistance."
Master/Dracula: "No, don't respond to that."
Master/Dracula: "Frank requires some new parts and I require fresh blood. He's hardly even a Cossack anymore, since so much of him comes from my prey. I believe your parts will do nicely, after I hunt you down and kill you."
Guest: "That's hardly fair at all."
Master/Dracula: "If you outwit me you win. That's fair. Say, those are some nice gloves."
Guest: "These are not gloves. These are my natural hands now."
Master/Dracula: "You have the entire evening to make yourself at home. I am going to prepare for the hunt. Once day arrives, you are free to roam the island. But as soon as night falls, I shall make haste chasing you down. That's right, I hunt at night. I am not favorable to sunlight."
I am going to get some rest in the guest bedroom. It looks very comfortable at least. Though I long to be sleeping back aboard the HMS Survival. Its softness was like a back massage from an angel.
Desperate words once more unite us. I am lost again in the wilderness, haunted by uncertainty. Today my flora dungeon is tropical and heat – not cold – dogs me at every turn. Survival is like the swinging of a pendulum, always teetering between the realm of safety and danger. Fate has cast me over the side of danger, leaving me no lifeboat save for my wits.
I have been in the jungle for hours, trying my best to find an adequate place to hide. When night falls, Count Dracula will be after me with bloodlust. The last thing I want is to get bitten by a weirdo and chopped to pieces and used for spare parts. Not after everything I've been through. Frank seems like a nice guy, but his master is cruel and unusual. I don't doubt there is some form of Stockholm Syndrome at play in their relationship. Should I defeat Dracula, Frank and I will no doubt have a fun summer project rebuilding the HMS Survival together.
As motivated as I am, morale is still low. I almost give up hope every time I stop to rest. If only fortune would shine some more on me. If only there was some equalizing factor here. Dracula undoubtedly knows this island like the back of his hand. I must become invisible. If I can hide from him, he can't kill me.
I am lucky enough to find a potato patch to raid for supplies. Come nightfall I will feast on potatoes in whatever crude shelter I manage to find.
It is now night and I am hiding in a hole I dug, surrounded by dense vegetation. I have heard a trumpet roar, followed by the sounds of barking dogs. The hunt is most certainly on, and Count Dracula is now after me. I am taking nervous bites from these potatoes, wondering if each mouthful will be my last.
I hear rumbling in the bushes. I must not write any further, for the sound of pen against paper is certain to reveal my location. I only fear that in writing that last sentence, I did not allow my enemy to gain the advantage.
Hours have passed and I was forced to change location. I have armed myself with a stick to protect myself from a pesky bat that has been chasing me around. I do not know why this bat has chosen to pester me, but it's the one thing I don't need at this point in time, aside from being shot and killed and torn to pieces by Dracula. That's definitely the number one thing I don't need. This bat is definitely number two.
It is the wee hours of my fifth day of struggling to survive. I am still fleeing from the merciless torment of Count Dracula, who popped out of some bushes that just happened to be the very same bushes I used the stick to whack that pesky bat into. The odds of that happening have to be at least one in two. Staggering!
I threw a potato at him and ran and I'm now hiding inside a fallen log. I was crafty enough to gather some bananas from a banana tree, but wasted an hour trying to carve a shiv out of one. It was too soft and pliable to penetrate anything, and fell apart when I sheathed it in my pocket.
The bat came once more, forcing me to give up the log that I had grown to know intimately over the course of the last hour. My mind can't help but think back to simpler times, when my biggest worry was breaking the heart of the bear I was living with in a cave in the untamed wilds of Idaho. A part of me wanted to go back and give that bear a big old hug, but first I would have to survive.
Fortune has smiled on me once more, giving me my first sign of hope. I looked up at the jungle canopy above me and saw a tattered cloth tangled in the treetops. I could see very little, but a scarce few bands of light managed to illuminate just enough. It was the pink-white tartan tablecloth sail from the HMS Survival.
The sea! The beach! I must get back to the sea and out from under this dark canopy. Night cannot last any longer than it has already, and daylight will protect me from the sun-conscious Dracula.
Running recklessly through the jungle, I made it to the beach. Free from the darkness of the canopy, I could now face Count Dracula on a more level playing field: direct sunlight.
I waited there on the beach, where razor sharp coral had shredded the mighty HMS Survival and scattered the milky white debris across the white sands. The debris rallied at my feet with each wave that crashed upon the shore. Survival was with me. Together she and I would defeat Dracula!
I hear the squeaking of a bat. I must quickly procure a stick. More to come later.
Good news at last, friends! The bat emerged from the jungle and I quickly whacked it with a stick. Amazingly, and to my complete shock and a dangerously high level of astonishment, the bat transformed into Count Dracula right before my very eyes. I squealed like a girl and jumped back several feet before regaining my boundless determination. Dracula staggered to his feet, used his arms to hold his cape up, and strafed around me. I looked up and waited for that quintessential threshold to be crossed: the exact moment night gives way to day. I tried to stall him.
"Dracula," I said.
"Yes?" he responded.
"I think I ate some of your potatoes," I said. As the last syllable of "potato" left my lips, the threshold was crossed. Night gave way to day, and victory was at last mine.
"No!" he screamed, sheltering himself under his cape.
"I ate a whole bunch of your potatoes," I said, adding insult to injury.
He was vulnerable! I had no time to lose. I quickly grabbed a lobster from the beach and hurled at him, causing him to yelp in pain. He staggered to his feet, flesh burning, to run back into the dark of the jungle canopy. I grabbed another lobster and threw it at him, this time knocking him to his knees. At this point I grabbed a wooden pole left over from the HMS Survival's sail and jabbed it into his chest.
He shattered into a million bats that flew into the jungle and then exploded. I took a bite from a potato still in my pocket, and savored the sweet taste of victory.
Danger once again called me out for a challenge, and I survived with flying colors. In times of great danger, when man preys on man, there is no substitute for ingenuity and dedication. A routine existence breeds little in the way of creative thinking, and in settling into a defined pattern of hunting, Dracula had set himself up for failure. In living a life in perpetual adversity to odds, I was all but guaranteed a victory in the end. Now that I have my very own private island and a Cossack manservant I would finally be able to enjoy the vacation I earned in the wilds of Idaho.
This is my final update. Soon Frank and I will rebuild the HMS Survival and sail home to the fair shores of America where the healthcare system will look after him. To all in similar situations: never give up. Danger is a dish that leaves many leftovers, so the struggle will last until death. Be prepared to fight your way to the grave and all will be well. Farewell and fare travels!
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