I awoke the next morning to the whistle of a wren across the river. I jumped down from my perch and landed on my hands and knees. Last night was a chilly one. The temperature dropped considerably after the moon rose to the zenith. It was very clear and I was able to stargaze before I fell into a deep sleep. Now that I’m awake, I see that the clouds have come back and so has the heat. It was an overcast day with some rain every now and then.
I walked back to the Muskie and ripped off the canvas overhead to turn into a canopy. I tied some rope to the corners and hung it above my perch. I know it would have been useful over the fire, but my warmth and dryness anytime was essential. I moved my tackle box and firewood under the canopy and waited for the next break in the rain to attempt to start another fire.
I didn’t get that break, however. The day was over and it was dark before I got a chance. I knew that I needed the fire though. In a few hours, my squirrel would either be moldy, or infested with bugs. It would likely be both. I left my tree and went back to the bow of the Muskie to get more cotton from the chair. I began to rebuild a fire with the fairly moist kindling. It took longer than last time, but the sense of accomplishment felt good. I lashed two sticks together on an angle and repeated the process t create a spit for my squirrel. I took a wet stick and jabbed it down the squirrel’s mouth and shoved carefully until it came out the other end. I moved the squirrel to the middle of the stick and began to rotate it over the fire. When the fire burned the fur off, I took off one of its legs to find if the meat was cooked. When I verified that it was, I took a bite of the juicy leg. It was very gamey with an almost spicy flavor. It wasn’t long before I moved on to the next leg, then into the body. The squirrel was gone just as my stomach was satisfied.
I was almost asleep when I felt the most unbearable pain on my arm I looked down at where I felt the pain. On my arm was a deep gash about an inch long. To make matters worse, it was still growing longer, but there was no knife cutting it. I looked up and stared into a face. The face was that which belonged to death. It was just a skull floating around with black ribbons trailing behind it. I recoiled and jumped out of the tree. The lantern clattered to the ground but I didn’t care. I ran as fast as I could away from camp. It was difficult to see and I was getting whipped with sticks, but I kept going anyway. The thing made a wail and disappeared from behind me. I slowed down, panting heavily with my hands on my knees. I decided to slowly and carefully walk back. When I got back to camp, I grabbed the lantern and climbed back into the tree. Once I was at the top, I made a small cut in the canvas about six by one inches and wrapped it around my arm. It stung like hell, but it was essential for my survival. This time, before I fell asleep, I made sure that I was alone.
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