Disclaimer: this story represents the author’s views and imagination and is a work of fan-fiction. This does not represent any story that Hinterland Studios is developing for The Long Dark game.
February 22nd – Day One
I knew it was a mistake when I did it, but I took her up anyway. That’s the last time I ignore my gut. Hell, ignore my reason, my instinct. Every inch of me was saying, “hey, bad idea; let’s not put five miles between you and the ground when every other plane crashed simultaneously four weeks ago.” But that’s what you do when you’re desperate, you stop using your God-given common sense.
If this does end up being read by anybody other than me, congrats! You are alive and I am dead. And you will probably be easier on me than I am being on myself. You might say, “Jack, you had to take that plane South. You were freezing to death. You had one good day to get the hell outta Dodge.” Well, thank you. Maybe you are right, but it is what it is.
Either way, my plane did what every other plane did: it crashed. By some combination of my incredible flying skills (and humility) and nothing short of a miracle, I put her down in a way that didn’t crush any of my bones or major organs.
I would take the time to tell you about all the crazy shit that’s been happening to the world lately, but if you are alive enough to read this, then you know damn well what’s going on. If, by some small chance someone deciphers this thing twenty thousand years from now, well…the world went to hell in a hurry. Some insane solar flare sent our magnetic field bonkers and managed to fry every piece of electric hardware ever (my plane is a rebuild from way back so no computer, lucky right?) Not sure what the warmer places in the globe are dealing with, but up north here the weather is about as predictable as a grapefruit squirt.
So, I’m not dead…yet. In fact, I had the good fortune of crashing and not dying in a place that had been inhabited not too long ago; that, and salvaging a few items that, like me, were lucky enough not to be crushed in my plane, I might actually have a chance. I guess I have to look at it that way so I won’t give up and die right now. What’s that saying? Expect the worst, hope for the best? Well, I don’t even know what to expect at this point but I’m sure there’s some other saying for how it can always get worse… actually, I think that’s it. Not the most creative people making these things up.
As for what to hope for…how about another sunrise.
Enough of the backstory, that’s not what journals are for and I better get to it anyway before either this fire goes cold or I pass out. Goddamn, I’m out of shape. Someone shoulda had the decency to mention the world was gonna end, I would’ve gone for a run or two. Who am I kidding? No I wouldn’t’ve.
* * *
It’s sometime mid-morning and I’m standing next to this wreck of a plane, scratching my head at how I’m not dead when I realize I might literally be freezing my ass off…like my actual ass might just fall off of me, land in the snow, and I might not realize it. So I manage to grab my survival pack with the few things I could salvage and I hoof it toward something that looks less mountain-ish and more building-ish in the distance (basically something more square and less pointy). I’m not really thinking thoughts at this point; I am just realizing how out of breath I am trudging about a hundred feet through snow and that if I stop to catch my breath I might become an icicle.
But would you believe it? A poor, insignificant bastard like me gets lucky, like jackpot lucky, twice in one day. There is a building, which means I might have actually crashed near civilization, which means I might not freeze to death, which means I might find something that will keep me from starving after I chow down on this energy bar. Hell, I might even meet another person, and they might not even want to kill me and eat me. I should be dead, anything could happen at this point.
I snapped a shot of the building with the magically uncrushed Polaroid camera I had in my pack, though I would trade this camera and my left pinky for a hot burger right about now. Screw it, I’ll give both pinkies for any amount of ground beef. Did I mention this is day one of me surviving out here? Not sure what limbs I’ll be willing to trade if I make it ten days. I guess I’ll let you know.
This thing is some sort of dam. I assume it’s hydro-electric, no one builds a dam without an opportunity to generate some cash flow from it. Ah, those were the days, when you could subjugate nature for your own personal gain. Well, thank you Mr. Dam-Builder you helped me live today.
By the way, I say I assume it’s hydro-electric now as I am writing this, but at the time my brain is still frozen and I believe I was thinking: “me cold, building less cold, me go.”
So “me went” and “me not freeze.” Me actually almost trip over a dead guy holding a storm lantern as soon as I enter the thing. I was horrified at seeing the corpse at the time, but it’s really crazy how different your brain acts when it knows you need to live. Let me clarify: when I’d realized I’d tripped over this corpse–this former person with a soul who died a terrible death that I might soon die–I was both horrified and relieved. Relieved because it was dark as hell and this guy is holding a lantern with fuel in it. I don’t know how he didn’t leave it on, I’m not sure how he died, but all I am thinking is, “thank the sweet Lord: I have light.”
Then, I turn the lantern on and see a giant gash in his side and a trail of blood and realize this guy made it about four feet in here before he passed out from blood loss. The snow outside must have covered whatever trail he left out there. But, I feel nothing. It wasn’t like the movies. I know I should have curled up in a ball and sobbed for the tragedy of it all. I should have puked because it’s a body and I don’t see those, but really, I’m feeling nothing. Call it shock. Call me a heartless bastard, but unless you have been there, you can’t know.
The things I should’ve been thinking (and not doing so nearly got me killed) was, “what made that nasty huge gash in that man’s side? Could it be a thing? A dangerous thing? Could it still be around? Do I need a weapon pronto so I don’t end up like this unfortunate gentleman?”
Listen, my fire is dying down. I don’t want to keep you on the edge of your seat, but I’m still alive, for today. I have enough stuff at the moment that I can write a bit in the morning before I have to go continue to try to live. I’m not sure why I care so much about writing this, but I hope if you are reading it you’ll… yeah, I don’t know what I hope.
It is what it is.