For Writer's Cramp Weekend Contest (no word limit)
|Winner of May 10-12, 2002 Writer's Cramp Weekend Contest.
PROMPT: You are somewhere in time. You should have been pushed to the future, but you find yourself in a place of dense vegetation an the place has the appearance of something out of the far far past rather than the future...
You are stuck. You have no idea how long you have traveled in time, or when in time you have arrived. All you have is the clothes you are wearing, a backpack consisting of 7 items including your journal. What are the other 7 items?
I would date this journal entry, but have no idea what the date is. I am so tired, so cold, so damp. I don't believe I have ever been so tired, so cold, or so damp in my life. I have no idea where I am, no idea "when" I am, no idea ...
I suppose I should start at the "beginning," in case someone finds this journal they'll know what happened to me, or at least know I was here, wherever here is, or ...? Oh, shit, I don't know, maybe I just need something to do to occupy my mind while I try to figure out what's going on and where I am and...
Okay, the beginning ... take a deep breath, write this down now before you forget it.
I took the day off work to go to Claire's science fair. Tom and Maggie couldn't go, so they asked me to go in their place. ("You ARE her godmother," Maggie had said when she noticed my hesitation). Well, I may be her godmother, but I am also the least scientifically inclined person in the universe! All I need to hear is "astro-physics" or "thermonuclear" and I'm out cold. But I went ... dear god ... I went!
Claire was still setting her display up, something about recycling and making houses out of old tires or some such thing, very Martha Stewart. <shudder> So I wandered around and checked out the other kids stuff. In spite of myself, it was pretty cool.
This one kid, he couldn't have been a day over 12, he had this Einstein Time machine thingie, which he was patiently trying to explain to me, something about bubbles and moving things forward in the future. I didn't really understand a word he was saying, but I smiled and nodded and pretended I did, and watched him make a stopwatch disappear and reappear a few seconds later without any seconds ticking by on it.
Pretty neat trick, actually. I leaned in closer to try to figure out how he did it, looking to make sure the stopwatch actually worked, that sort of thing. I figured I could get a good column out of this, and actually claim to have "worked" today.
The next thing I know, someone must have tripped or something, because some guy knocked me forward just as this kid was showing someone else the stopwatch trick, and I was pushed directly into the transporter light beam thingie. I heard some shrieks and screams, and I felt this hot searing pain shoot through my entire body, and then everything went black, and I woke up here ... wherever here is?
One minute I was in at the Long Beach Convention Center, and the next thing I know, I'm in some sort of tropical rain forest - god knows where. It's very damp and cold here, and if it weren't for all of the green leafy trees and plants and tropical island "feel" of this place, I'd think I'd landed in Ireland or England. It's literally been pissing rain since got here (arrived, landed, woke up, started this hallucination?) and I'm soaked to the bone.
Of course I panicked at first, freaked out and started screaming and yelling and making a general ruckus. Then I heard something screeching back at me, something distinctly NOT human, and I shut up fast and ran to hide under a tree with huge leaves that shielded me somewhat from the rain.
And there I sat, for who knows how long, trying not to cry and scream and wondering if I'd lost my mind and was really in some mental hospital somewhere and this was my psychotic break. Before hysteria set in again, I did some deep breathing exercises and tried to calm myself down, closed my eyes, focused my mind on my "special place" that my therapist and I created for those times I was most stressed out. And I did calm down somewhat, but then I heard that screech again and I was so startled that by it screamed back at it, which, interestingly, shut it up.
Then I remembered my daypack, and started rummaging through it to see what supplies I had with me, and was strangely reminded of Robinson Crusoe.
Here is the inventory:
-- 1 Journal with pen
-- 1 ciggie lighter (no ciggies, dammit!)
-- 1 bottle of Evian water, full (will have to ration myself on it since I have no clue if or where I'll find other water, and I may be here a while)
-- 1 package of pictures from my vacation (just picked up from Walgreens, haven't even had time to look at them yet)
-- 1 package of airplane peanuts (great, my entire food "pantry" consists of 7 peanuts)
-- 1 miniature X-Files style flashlight
-- 1 hairbrush (oh goodie, I can keep my hair nice and neat while I'm out here!)
-- 1 wrapped box, a late birthday present from Tom and Maggie (given to me by Claire) I will wait and open it later when I need a diversion.
After inventorying my meager possessions, I looked around and tried to get my bearings. I am definitely in some sort of tropical place, very dense green vegetation, though nothing I can identify. If I have indeed gone to the future, there sure are a lot of trees here, and those green peace environmentalist terrorist tree hugging nuts were wrong about good old planet Earth being dead in a few years.
Except ... this doesn't feel like the future, as if I'd know what the future felt like. It feels old, ancient for some reason I can't put my finger on. I keep expecting a T-Rex to come bursting through the trees, or a flying whatcha-ma-callit, or maybe a cave man dragging his woman by the hair. (I could maybe follow them and hide in their cave?)
I should interject here for the poor soul who might find this journal and read it -- this is a very serious situation, in spite of my seeming sarcasm and lack of proper seriousness. My therapist says I use humor too much too deflect my real feelings, and maybe she's right, but I'm definitely going to need keep my wits and my sense of humor about me or else I will just run off screaming through the jungle and let the screechy thing have its way with me!
Okay I'm getting a little nutso again, I just re-read that and I have to stop or I'll go to that hysterical place again ... write, write anything, don't think, just write ...
I'll write about me. I am Susannah Johnson, I am 36 years old, I am single (by choice, thankyouverymuch) and I am a successful syndicated columnist for the LA TIMES "Lifestyle" section. I write about my takes on life, things like why swallows REALLY return to San Juan every year, and why traffic in LA never gets better even after they widen the freeways to 30 lanes each direction.
Which explains why I keep rambling about shit while I'm sitting in the middle of this godforsaken jungle, instead of trying to find food or hike out or figure out where in the hell I am.
Much to my shock, I slept like a log last night. After realizing that writing in this journal was making me a tad giddy again, I put it back in my daypack, and decided to try to find a place to spend the night.
As luck would have it, not far from my tree was a large outcropping of rocks, and with a few of these tent-sized leaves and some rocks to hold them down, I was able to fashion a sort of rock-tent-cave thing that kept me mostly warm and dry. I had some water, ate the last of my peanuts, wrapped up in another one of the giant leaves, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit my daypack.
I was awakened by the sound of that screeching beast. I've decided it's some sort of tree-dwelling creature. It sounds like a cross between a bird and an elephant (size-wise). I woke up stiff and sore and wet (in spite of my fine lodgings) and hungrier than I've ever been in my life. But since I don't have any food, and I am not eager to venture outside of my little hole here, I decided to look at my vacation pictures.
I'd gone to Maui with my sister, and even though we weren't speaking to each other when we got on the plane to go home, it was a pretty good trip. The pics are the ones I took with a disposable underwater camera when she and I went scuba diving off Molokini. It was my camera, so most of them are of her, or of the coral, or of the colorful fish, or all three. In one of them she's flipping me off. Must have taken that one after I tied the food fish bag to her tank without telling her. But damn that was funny...
Next thing I know I'm crying like a big baby, and laughing, and crying, remembering my sister and I meeting those guys at the Hula Grill, remembering how we used sign language when we were diving, remembering that even though she's an incredibly selfish bitch I love her with all my heart and I'd give anything if she were here with me now.
I had to stop writing, I was getting too upset. So I got up, had the rest of my Evian, and then hiked around trying to find a drier, safer place to spend the night, if I was going to be here another day. It seems apparent to me that I'm most likely going to be here for a while, or at least another day or two or year.
Something must have happened with that time machine and I got caught in one of those transporting bubble things, and ended up here, wherever here is. Even though the kid said only future time travel was possible, I still have the creepy feeling I'm in the past, not the future. Or maybe the life on earth DID end, like the tree huggers said it would, and then started over anew.
I don't know, but what I do know is that when I was hiking around I found the largest pair foot prints I've ever seen before. You could park a Lincoln Town Car in them. In fact, I thought someone must have dropped a Lincoln Towncar right there, the indentation was SO HUGE, but for the toes and claws at the top of it. And I keep hearing these strange (animal?) noises, and I've seen a few birds or bugs or some strange shit flying around up in the trees.
I did find a cave finally. It's perfect actually, paradise if I weren't lost in some other time zone. There is a waterfall that falls into a huge pool of water, and right behind the waterfall is a cave dug deep into the rock. To get into the cave you have to go through the waterfall, which drenches you. But I'm already wet so I figured what the hell and went in and after scouting around with my trusty Dana Scully flashlight, I seem to have it to myself.
And miracle of miracles, I managed to find some dry wood outside the cave and build a fire. I know, a fire in a cave, dumb idea. But by this point I was so cold and wet I thought gassing myself would be a better alternative to being wet and cold for another second. Anyway, there must be some sort of chimney or ventilation in the rock, because the smoke goes straight up and disappears. It's a little smokey, but not too bad. I got some of the giant leaves and spread them on the floor of the cave, stripped down to my birthday suit, wrapped up in some leaves, and put my clothes by the fire to dry.
Then I opened my birthday present, hoping against hope they'd given me a turkey sandwich on rye or a Hickory Farms salami .... no such luck. They bought me a "Buddy Christ" (you know, the scrappy Jesus figure from Dogma - okay, maybe you don't know). Anyway, I laughed my ass off, then I cried when I discovered he wasn't made of chocolate, and fell asleep, naked, wrapped in bigass leaves, clutching Buddy to my chest.
I woke up later just as my clothes started to smoke, managed to save them. I'm so hungry ....
I drank some water from the waterfall, if it kills me, it kills me. Looked at the pics again, thought about food, cried, slept ... can't write anymore -- I made a promise not to write again until I find some food, so as soon as I get dressed I'm going to go out (get my newly warm, dry clothes wet again in the waterfall) and try to find something to eat.
Wish me luck!