When the first rays of light shone through the branches, I awoke to find myself covered in mosquito bites. I looked at them for a minute, and then they started to itch. I resisted as best I could, but temptation took the best of me. I scratched at one of the particularly itchy ones until it bled. Only then did I tell myself to stop.
It took me a minute to stretch out and get ready for the day before I opened the black drawstring bag that had everything that I was going to need to survive. Last night I had just shoved stuff in here so I had no idea what I brought. Inside was a box of worms, the fish I caught, the kerosene lantern, a box of .35 caliber rifle bullets to go with the gun that I had, and a birthday card addressed to me. I read it out loud, “Happy 40th birthday Johnny!”
It was the best thing I had received for a birthday in years. It wasn’t a Hallmark card, but for a family who never had anything, it was a lot. The only other thing I grabbed off the Muskie was my tackle box. Inside the tackle box was a spool of fishing line, a variety of hooks and bobbers, a fish de-scale device, two knives, a DIY pole repair kit, an empty jar, and a pipette.
I didn’t have very many clothes on either. I did have a pair of sneakers and some rubber boots with me but it was mid-summer Virginia in the Dismal Swamp and I was sweltering. But now, I realize that I could use all the fabric I could; it makes a great fire-starter. My stomach growled and I realized that I actually needed a fire to cook my fish. I started to look around for dry wood, but being a swamp, everything is fairly damp. Not to mention that it rained two days ago.
I did manage to find some dry wood, but most of it was still a little damp. I looked up at the perch that I still had up in the cypress tree that was both the one that saved me, and the one that ruined me. Up on the tree, saw my lantern. In the bottom was about a quart of flammable liquid. I climbed the tree to grab it, but looked down and saw the boat. I looked at it for a moment, then opened my tackle box, grabbed the shorter of the two knives, the pipette, and the jar. I slipped on my rubber boots and ventured over to the Muskie where I cut into the driver’s seat and found dry cotton. I cheered, but I still had another job to do without being killed by some wild animal. I ventured over to the rudder and took it off the stern. I brought it back to the front were it was still dry to sit down and examine the gas tank. I opened the tank and saw that it was about half full. I took out the pipette and the jar and slowly sucked the gas from the tank into the jar. I left about two thirds of the remaining liquid in the tank in case I managed to build myself a raft. I brought the motor ashore and set it at the base of my tree. I also grabbed the anchor from the stern and wrapped the nylon rope attached to it around the tree to keep the partially sunken Muskie from floating down the stream. Then I went back to the wheel and found my para-cord from the box near the dashboard.
I know how to survive out in the middle of nowhere. Any survivalist will tell you that it is amazing to have a coil of rope, and I had two. I wanted to do my best to get a fire going without using the gasoline, so I pulled some bark off a nearby tree, set it down in the middle of a clearing, and also some twigs, and wood shavings that I got from whittling a stick down to a point. I had all that I needed ready, but no igniting method. Then I remembered the matches, I dug into my pocket and was reminded that I didn’t have enough to get a small fire going and survive for many more days. I looked around and saw the coil of rope. I took that and two sticks, as well as another smaller piece of bark, tied the rope to the ends of one stick so I had a taut bowstring. Then I wrapped the bowstring around the other stick and held it sideways so that the stick was vertical. I put the cotton and wood shavings beneath a pile of smaller twigs on top of the bark plate. I held the smaller piece of bark on top of the vertical stick and pushed down as I waved the bow side to side. In a minute or two, I had a little smoke, then, in a few more seconds, I had an ember. I picked up the bark and blew on the smoldering ember until I got a flame. I quickly put it down and started to add kindling to the mix of crackling wood.
From here, survival was going to be easy…I hope.