HATCHET GARY PAULSEN'Plausible, taut, this survival story is a spellbinding account.' —Kirkus (starred review)Thoughts of his parents' divorce fill Brian Robeson's head as he flies in a single-engine plane to visit hisfather in the Canadian wilderness. When the pilot suffers a massive heart attack and dies, Brian mustsomehow land the plane by himself and then, left with only the clothes he is wearing and a hatchet hereceived from his mother as a parting gift, Brian must put thoughts of his past behind him and try tofigure out how he can stay alive...'A heart-stopping story...something beyond adventure, a book that plunges readers into the cleft of theprotagonist's experience.' —Publishers Weekly A Newbery Honor Book An ALA Notable Book Booklist Editor's Choice 1.BRIAN ROBESON stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below. It
was a small plane, a Cessna 406—a bush-plane—and the engine was so loud, so roaring andconsuming and loud, that it ruined any chance for conversation. Not that he had much to say. He was thirteen and the only passenger on the plane with a pilotnamed—what was it? Jim or Jake or something— who was in his mid-forties and who had been silentas he worked to prepare for take-off. In feet since Brian had come to the small airport in Hampton,New York to meet the plane—driven by his mother—the pilot had spoken only five words to him.'Get in the copilot's seat.' Which Brian had done. They had taken off and that was the last of theconversation. There had been the initial excitement, of course. He had never flown in a single-engineplane before and to be sitting in the copilot's seat with all the controls right there in front of him, allthe instruments in his face as the plane clawed for altitude, jerking and sliding on the wind currents asthe pilot took off, had been interesting and exciting. But in five minutes they had leveled off at sixthousand feet and headed northwest and from then on the pilot had been silent, staring out the front,and the drone of the engine had been all that was left. The drone and the sea of green trees that laybefore the plane's nose and flowed to the horizon, spread with lakes, swamps, and wanderingstreams and rivers.Now Brian sat, looking out the window with the roar thundering through his ears, and tried tocatalog what had led up to his taking this flight. The thinking started. Always it started with a singleword. Divorce. It was an ugly word, he thought. A tearing, ugly word that meant fights and yelling, lawyers—God,he thought, how he hated lawyers who sat with their comfortable smiles and tried to explain to him inlegal terms how all that he lived in was coming apart—and the breaking and shattering of all the solidthings. His home, his life—all the solid things. Divorce. A breaking word, an ugly breaking word. Divorce. Secrets. No, not secrets so much as just the Secret. What he knew and had not told anybody, what he knewabout his mother that had caused the divorce, what he knew, what he knew—the Secret. Divorce. The Secret. Brian felt his eyes beginning to bum and knew there would be tears. He had cried for a time, butthat was gone now. He didn't cry now. Instead his eyes burned and tears came, the seeping tears thatburned, but he didn't cry. He wiped his eyes with a finger and looked at the pilot out of the corner ofhis eye to make sure he hadn't noticed the burning and tears. The pilot sat large, his hands lightly on the wheel, feet on the rudder pedals. He seemed more a ma-chine than a man, an extension of the plane. On the dashboard in front of him Brian saw dials, switches,meters, knobs, levers, cranks, lights, handles that were wiggling and flickering, all indicating nothingthat he understood and the pilot seemed the same way. Part of the plane, not human. When he saw Brian look at him, the pilot seemed to open up a bit and he smiled. 'Ever fly in the copilot's seat before?' He leaned over and lifted the headset off his right ear and put it on his temple, yelling to overcome the sound of the engine. Brian shook his head. He had never been in any kind of plane, never seen the cockpit of a plane except in films or on television. It was loud and confusing. 'First time.' 'It's not as complicated as it looks. Good plane like this almost flies itself.' The pilot shrugged. 'Makes my job easy.' He took Brian's left arm. 'Here, put your hands on the controls, your feet on
the rudder pedals, and I'll show you what I mean.' Brian shook his head. 'I'd better not.' 'Sure. Try it. . . ' Brian reached out and took the wheel in a grip so tight his knuckles were white. He pushed his feetdown on the pedals. The plane slewed suddenly to the right.'Not so hard. Take her light, take her light.' Brian eased oft', relaxed his grip. The burning in his eyeswas forgotten momentarily as the vibration of the plane came through the wheel and the pedals. Itseemed almost alive. 'See?' The pilot let go of his wheel, raised his hands in the air and took his feet oft' the pedals toshow Brian he was actually flying the plane alone.'Simple. Now turn the wheel a little to the right and push on the right rudder pedal a small amount.' Brian turned the wheel slightly and the plane immediately banked to the right, and when hepressed on the right rudder pedal the nose slid across the horizon to the right. He left off on thepressure and straightened the wheel and the plane righted itself. 'Now you can turn. Bring her back to the left a little.' Brian turned the wheel left, pushed on the left pedal, and the plane came back around. 'It's easy.'He smiled. 'At least this part.' The pilot nodded. 'All of flying is easy. Just takes learning. Like everything else. Like everything else.'He took the controls back, then reached up and rubbed his left shoulder. 'Aches and pains—mustbe getting old.' Brian let go of the controls and moved his feet away from the pedals as the pilot put his hands onthe wheel. 'Thank you. . . ' But the pilot had put his headset back on and the gratitude was lost in the engine noise and thingswent back to Brian looking out the window at the ocean of trees and lakes. The burning eyes did notcome back, but memories did, came flooding in. The words. Always the words. Divorce. The Secret. Fights. Split. The big split. Brian's father did not understand as Brian did, knew only that Brian's mother wantedto break the marriage apart. The split had come and then the divorce, all so fast, and the court had lefthim with his mother except for the summers and what the judge called 'visitation rights.' So formal.Brian hated judges as he hated lawyers. Judges that leaned over the bench and asked Brian if he under-stood where he was to live and why. Judges who did not know what had really happened. Judges withthe caring look that meant nothing as lawyers said legal phrases that meant nothing. In the summer Brian would live with his father. In the school year with his mother. That's what thejudge said after looking at papers on his desk and listening to the lawyers talk. Talk. Words.Now the plane lurched slightly to the right and Brian looked at the pilot. He was rubbing his shoulderagain and there was the sudden smell of body gas in the plane. Brian turned back to avoid em-barrassing the pilot, who was obviously in some discomfort. Must have stomach troubles. So thissummer, this first summer when he was allowed to have 'visitation rights' with his father, with thedivorce only one month old, Brian was heading north. His father was a mechanical engineer who haddesigned or invented a new drill bit for oil drilling, a self-cleaning, self-sharpening bit. He wasworking in the oil fields of Canada, up on the tree line where the tundra started and the forests ended.
Brian was riding up from New York with some drilling equipment—it was lashed down in the rear ofthe plane next to a fabric bag the pilot had called a survival pack, which had emergency supplies incase they had to make an emergency landing—that had to be specially made in the city, riding in abush plane with the pilot named Jim or Jake or something who had turned out to be an all right guy,letting him fly and all. Except for the smell. Now there was a constant odor, and Brian took another look at the pilot, foundhim rubbing the shoulder and down the arm now, die left arm, letting go more gas and wincing. Prob-ably something he ate, Brian thought. His mother had driven him from the city to meet the plane at Hampton where it came to pick up thedrilling equipment. A drive in silence, a long drive in silence. Two and a half hours of sitting in thecar, staring out the window just as he was now staring out the window of the plane. Once, after anhour, when they were out of the city she turned to him. 'Look, can't we talk this over? Can't we talk this out? Can't you tell me what's bothering you?' And there were the words again. Divorce. Split. The Secret. How could he tell her what he knew?So he had remained silent, shook his head and continued to stare unseeing at the countryside, and hismother had gone back to driving only to speak to him one more time when they were close toHampton. She reached over the back of the seat and brought up a paper sack. 'I got something for you, for thetrip.' Brian took the sack and opened the top. Inside there was a hatchet, the kind with a steel handleand a rubber handgrip. The head was in a stout leather case that had a brass-riveted belt loop. 'It goes on your belt.' His mother spoke now without looking at him. There were some farmtrucks on the road now and she had to weave through them and watch traffic. 'The man at the storesaid you could use it. You know. In the woods with your father.' Dad, he thought. Not 'my father.' My dad. 'Thanks. It's really nice.' But the words soundedhollow, even to Brian.'Try it on. See how it looks on your belt.' And he would normally have said no, would normally have said no that it looked too hokey to have ahatchet on your belt. Those were the normal things he would say. But her voice was thin, had asound like something thin that would break if you touched it, and he felt bad for not speaking to her.Knowing what he knew, even with the anger, the hot white hate of his anger at her, he still felt badfor not speaking to her, and so to humor her he loosened his belt and pulled the right side out andput the hatchet on and rethreaded the belt. 'Scootch around so I can see.' He moved around in the seat, feeling only slightly ridiculous. She nodded. 'Just like a scout. My little scout.' And there was the tenderness in her voice that shehad when he was small, the tenderness that she had when he was small and sick, with a cold, and sheput her hand on his forehead, and the burning came into his eyes again and he had turned away fromher and looked out the window, forgotten the hatchet on his belt and so arrived at the plane with thehatchet still on his belt. Because it was a bush flight from a small airport there had been no security and the plane had beenwaiting, with the engine running when he arrived and he had grabbed his suitcase and pack bag andrun for the plane without stopping to remove the hatchet.
So it was still on his belt. At first he had been embarrassed but the pilot had said nothing aboutit and Brian forgot it as they took off and began flying. More smell now. Bad. Brian turned again to glance at the pilot, who had both hands on his stomachand was grimacing in pain, reaching for the left shoulder again as Brain watched. 'Don't know, kid...' The pilot's words were a hiss, barely audible. 'Bad aches here. Bad aches.Thought it was something I ate but. . . ' He stopped as a fresh spasm of pain hit him. Even Brian could see how bad it was—the pain drove thepilot back into the seat, back and down. 'I've never had anything like this...' The pilot reached for the switch on his mike cord, his hand coming up in a small arc from his stomach,and he flipped the switch and said, 'This is flight four six...' And now a jolt took him like a hammer blow, so forcefully that he seemed to crush back into theseat, and Brian reached for him, could not understand at first what it was, could not know. And then knew. Brian knew. The pilot's mouth went rigid, he swore and jerked a short series of slams into the seat, holding his shoulder now. Swore and hissed, 'Chest! Oh God, my chest is coming apart!' Brian knew now. The pilot was having a heart attack. Brian had been in the shopping mall with his mother when aman in front of Paisley's store had suffered a heart attack. He had gone down and screamed about hischest. An old man. Much older than the pilot. Brian knew. The pilot was having a heart attack and even as the knowledge came to Brian he saw the pilot slaminto the seat one more time, one more awful time he slammed back into the seat and his right legjerked, pulling the plane to the side in a sudden twist and his head fell forward and spit came. Spitcame from the comers of his mouth and his legs contracted up, up into the seat, and his eyes rolledback in his head until there was only white. Only white for his eyes and the smell became worse, filled the cockpit, and all of it so fast, soincredibly fast that Brian's mind could not take it in at first. Could only see it in stages. The pilot had been talking, just a moment ago, complaining of the pain. He had been talking. Then the jolts had come. The jolts that took the pilot back had come, and now Brian sat and there was a strange feeling of silence in the thrumming roar of the engine—a strange feeling of silence and being alone. Brian was stopped. He was stopped. Inside he was stopped. He could not think past what he saw, what he felt. All wasstopped. The very core of him, the very center of Brian Robeson was stopped and stricken with awhite-flash of horror, a terror so intense that his breathing, his thinking, and nearly his heart hadstopped. Stopped. Seconds passed, seconds that became all of his life, and he began to know what he was seeing,began to understand what he saw and that was worse, so much worse that he wanted to make hismind freeze again. He was sitting in a bushplane roaring seven thousand feet above the northern wilderness with a pilotwho had suffered a massive heart attack and who was either dead or in something close to a coma.
He was alone.In the roaring plane with no pilot he was alone.Alone.
2 FOR A TIME that he could not understand Brian could do nothing. Even after his mind began working and he could see what had happened he could do nothing. It was as if his hands and arms were lead. Then he looked for ways for it not to have happened. Be asleep, his mind screamed at the pilot.Just be asleep and your eyes will open now and your hands will take the controls and your feet willmove to the pedals—but it did not happen. The pilot did not move except that his head rolled on a neck impossibly loose as the plane hit a smallbit of turbulence. The plane. Somehow the plane was still flying. Seconds had passed, nearly a minute, and the plane flew on as if nothing had happened and he had to do something, had to do something but did not know what. Help. He had to help. He stretched one hand toward the pilot, saw that his fingers were trembling, and touched the piloton the chest. He did not know what to do. He knew there were procedures, that you could do mouth-to-mouth on victims of heart attacks and push their chests—C.P.R.—but he did not know how to do itand in any case could not do it with the pilot, who was sitting up in the seat and still strapped in withhis seatbelt. So he touched the pilot with the tips of his fingers, touched him on the chest and couldfeel nothing, no heartbeat, no rise and fall of breathing. Which meant that the pilot was almost certainlydead. 'Please,' Brian said. But did not know what or who to ask. 'Please.. . ' The plane lurched again, hit more turbulence, and Brian felt the nose drop. It did not dive, but thenose went down slightly and the down-angle increased the speed, and he knew that at this angle, thisslight angle down, he would ultimately fly into the trees. He could see them ahead on the horizonwhere before he could see only sky.He had to fly it somehow. Had to fly the plane. He had to help himself. The pilot was gone, beyondanything he could do. He had to try and fly the plane. He turned back in the seat, feeing the front, and put his hands—still trembling—on the controlwheel, his feet gently on the rudder pedals. You pulled back on the stick to raise the plane, he knewthat from reading. You always pulled back on the wheel. He gave it a tug and it slid back toward himeasily. Too easily. The plane, with the increased speed from the tilt down, swooped eagerly up anddrove Brian's stomach down. He pushed the wheel back in, went too far this time, and the plane's nosewent below the horizon and the engine speed increased with the shallow dive. Too much. He pulled back again, more gently this time, and the nose floated up again, too far but not as violentlyas before, then down a bit too much, and up again, very easily, and the front of the engine cowlingsettled. When he had it aimed at the horizon and it seemed to be steady, he held the wheel where itwas, let out his breath—which he had been holding all this time—and tried to think what to do next. It was a clear, blue-sky day with fluffy bits of clouds here and there and he looked out the windowfor a moment, hoping to see something, a town or village, but there was nothing. Just the green of thetrees, endless green, and lakes scattered more and more thickly as the plane flew—where? He was flying but did not know where, had no idea where he was going. He looked at the dash-board of the plane, studied the dials and hoped to get some help, hoped to find a compass, but it was
all so confusing, a jumble of numbers and lights. One lighted display in the top center of the dash-board said the number 342, another next to it said 22. Down beneath that were dials with lines thatseemed to indicate what the wings were doing, tipping or moving, and one dial with a needle pointing tothe number 70, which he thought—only thought—might be the altimeter. The device that told himhis height above the ground. Or above sea level. Somewhere he had read something about altimetersbut he couldn't remember what, or where, or anything about them. Slightly to the left and below the altimeter he saw a small rectangular panel with a lighted dial and twoknobs. His eyes had passed over it two or three times before he saw what was written in tiny letterson top of the panel. TRANSMITTER 221, was stamped in the metal and it hit him, finally, that this was theradio.The radio. Of course. He had to use the radio. When the pilot had—had been hit that way (hecouldn't bring himself to say that the pilot was dead, couldn't think it), he had been trying to use theradio. Brian looked to the pilot. The headset was still on his head, turned sideways a bit from his jammingback into the seat, and the microphone switch was clipped into his belt. Brian had to get the headset from the pilot. Had to reach over and get the headset from the pilot orhe would not be able to use the radio to call for help. He had to reach over... His hands began trembling again. He did not want to touch the pilot, did not want to reach for him.But he had to. Had to get the radio. He lifted his hands from the wheel, just slightly, and held themwaiting to see what would happen. The plane flew on normally, smoothly. All right, he thought. Now. Now to do this thing. He turned and reached for the headset, slid it fromthe pilot's head, one eye on the plane, waiting for it to dive. The headset came easily, but the micro-phone switch at the pilot's belt was jammed in and he had to pull to get it loose. When he pulled, hiselbow bumped the wheel and pushed it in and the plane started down in a shallow dive. Brian grabbedthe wheel and pulled it back, too hard again, and the plane went through another series of stomach-wrenching swoops up and down before he could get it under control. When things had settled again he pulled at the mike cord once more and at last jerked the cordfree. It took him another second or two to place the headset on his own head and position the smallmicrophone tube in front of his mouth. He had seen the pilot use it, had seen him depress the switch athis belt, so Brian pushed the switch in and blew into the mike. He heard the sound of his breath in the headset. 'Hello! Is there anybody listening on this? Hello...' He repeated it two or three times and then waited but heard nothing except his own breathing. Panic came then. He had been afraid, had been stopped with the terror of what was happening, butnow panic came and he began to scream into the microphone, scream over and over. 'Help! Somebody help me! I'm in this plane and don't know... don't know... don't know...' And he started crying with the screams, crying and slamming his hands against the wheel of theplane, causing it to jerk down, then back up. But again, he heard nothing but the sound of his ownsobs in die microphone, his own screams mocking him, coming back into his ears.The microphone. Awareness cut into him. He had used a CB radio in his uncle's pickup once. You had toturn the mike switch off to hear anybody else. He reached to his belt and released die switch. For a second all he heard was the whusssh of the empty air waves. Then, through the noise and static he heard a voice. 'Whoever is calling on this radio net, I repeat, release your mike switch—you are covering me.
You are covering me. Over.' It stopped and Brian hit his mike switch. 'I hear you! I hear you. This is me...!' He released theswitch. 'Roger. I have you now.' The voice was very faint and breaking up. 'Please state your difficulty andlocation. And say over to signal end of transmission. Over.' Please state my difficulty, Brian thought. God. My difficulty. 'I am in a plane with a pilot who is—whohas had a heart attack or something. He is—he can't fly. And I don't know how to fly. Help me. Help...'He turned his mike off without ending transmission properly. There was a moment's hesitation before the answer. 'Tour signal is breaking up and I lost most of it.Understand... pilot... you can't fly. Correct? Over.' Brian could barely hear him now, heard mostly noise and static. 'That's right. I can't fly. The plane is flying now but I don't know how much longer. Over.' '... lost signal. Your location please. Flight number ... location... ver.' 'I don't know my flight number or location. I don't know anything. I told you that, over.' He waited now, waited but there was nothing. Once, for a second, he thought he heard a break inthe noise, some part of a word, but it could have been static. Two, three minutes, ten minutes, theplane roared and Brian listened but heard no one. Then he hit the switch again. 'I do not know the flight number. My name is Brian Robeson and we left Hampton, New Yorkheaded for the Canadian oil fields to visit my father and I do not know how to fly an airplane and thepilot...' He let go of the mike. His voice was starting to rattle and he felt as if he might start screaming atany second. He took a deep breath. 'If there is anybody listening who can help me fly a plane,please answer.' Again he released the mike but heard nothing but the hissing of noise in the headset. After half anhour of listening and repeating the cry for help he tore the headset off in frustration and threw it tothe floor. II all seemed so hopeless. Even if he did get somebody, what could anybody do? Tell him tobe careful? All so hopeless. He tried to figure out the dials again. He thought he might know which was speed—it was alighted number that read 160—but he didn't know if that was actual miles an hour, or kilometers, Orif it just meant how fast the plane was moving through the air and not over the ground. He knewairspeed was different from groundspeed but not by how much. Parts of books he'd read about flying came to him. How wings worked, how the propeller pulled theplane through the sky. Simple things that wouldn't help him now. Nothing could help him now. An hour passed. He picked up the headset and tried again—it was, he knew, in the end all he had—but there was no answer. He felt like a prisoner, kept in a small cell that was hurtling through the skyat what he thought to be 160 miles an hour, headed—he didn't know where—just headed somewhereuntil... There it was. Until what? Until he ran out of fuel. When the plane ran out of fuel it would go down. Period. Or he could pull the throttle out and make it go down now. He had seen the pilot push the throttle in to increase speed. If he pulled the throttle back out, the engine would slow down and the
plane would go down. Those were his choices. He could wait for the plane to run out of gas and fall or he could pushthe throttle in and make it happen sooner. If he waited for the plane to run out of fuel he would gofarther—but he did not know which way he was moving. When the pilot had jerked he had movedthe plane, but Brian could not remember how much or if it had come back to its original course. Sincehe did not know the original course anyway and could only guess at which display might be thecompass—the one reading 342—he did not know where he had been or where he was going, so itdidn't make much difference if he went down now or waited. Everything in him rebelled against stopping the engine and falling now. He had a vague feeling thathe was wrong to keep heading as the plane was heading, a feeling that he might be going off in thewrong direction, but he could not bring himself to stop the engine and fall. Now he was safe, or saferthan if he went down—the plane was flying, he was still breathing. When the engine stopped he wouldgo down. So he left the plane running, holding altitude, and kept trying the radio. He worked out a system. Every ten minutes by the small clock built into the dashboard he tried the radio with a simple message: 'I need help. Is there anybody listening to me?' In the times between transmissions he tried to prepare himself for what he knew was coming.When he ran out of fuel the plane would start down. He guessed that without the propeller pulling hewould have to push the nose down to keep the plane flying—he thought he may have read thatsomewhere, or it just came to him. Either way it made sense. He would have to push the nose downto keep flying speed and then, just before he hit, he would have to pull the nose back up to slow theplane as much as possible. It all made sense. Glide down, then slow the plane and hit. Hit. He would have to find a clearing as he went down. The problem with that was he hadn't seen one clear-ing since they'd started flying over the forest. Some swamps, but they had trees scattered through them.No roads, no trails, no clearings. Just the lakes, and it came to him that he would have to use a lake for landing. If he went down inthe trees he was certain to die. The trees would tear the plane to pieces as it went into them. He would have to come down in a lake. No. Onthe edge of a lake. He would have to come down near the edge of a lake and try to slow the plane asmuch as possible just before he hit the water. Easy to say, he thought, hard to do. Easy say, hard do. Easy say, hard do. It became a chant that beat with the engine. Easy say, hard do. Impossible to do. He repeated the radio call seventeen times at the ten-minute intervals, working on what he would dobetween transmissions. Once more he reached over to the pilot and touched him on the face, but theskin was cold, hard cold, death cold, and Brian turned back to the dashboard. He did what he could,tightened his seatbelt, positioned himself, rehearsed mentally again and again what his procedure shouldbe. When the plane ran out of gas he should hold the nose down and head for the nearest lake and tryto fly the plane kind of onto the water. That's how he thought of it. Kind of fly the plane onto thewater. And just before it hit he should pull back on the wheel and slow the plane down to reduce the
impact. Over and over his mind ran the picture of how it would go. The plane running out of gas, flying theplane onto the water, the crash—from pictures he'd seen on television. He tried to visualize it. Hetried to be ready. But between the seventeenth and eighteenth radio transmissions, without a warning, the enginecoughed, roared violently for a second and died. There was sudden silence, cut only by the sound ofthe wind milling propeller and the wind past the cockpit. Brian pushed the nose of the plane down and threw up. 3GOING TO DIE, Brian thought. Going to die, gonna die, gonna die—his whole brain screamed it in thesudden silence. Gonna die. He wiped his mouth with the back of his arm and held the nose down. The plane went into a glide, avery fast glide that ate altitude, and suddenly there weren't any lakes. All he'd seen since they startedflying over the forest was lakes and now they were gone. Gone. Out in front, far away at the horizon,he could see lots of them, off to the right and left more of them, glittering blue in the late afternoonsun. But he needed one right in front. He desperately needed a lake right in front of the plane and all he saw through the windshield were trees, green death trees. If he had to turn—if he had to turn he didn't think he could keep the plane flying. His stomach tightened into a series of rolling knots and his breath came in short bursts... There! Not quite in front but slightly to the right he saw a lake. L-shaped, with rounded corners, and theplane was nearly aimed at the long part of the L, coming from the bottom and heading to the top.Just a tiny bit to the right. He pushed the right rudder pedal gently and the nose moved over. But the turn cost him speed and now the lake was above the nose. He pulled back on the wheelslightly and the nose came up. This caused the plane to slow dramatically and almost seem to stop andwallow in the air. The controls became very loose-feeling and frightened Brian, making him push thewheel back in. This increased the speed a bit but filled the windshield once more with nothing buttrees, and put the lake well above the nose and out of reach. For a space of three or four seconds things seemed to hang, almost to stop. The plane wasflying, but so slowly, so slowly... it would never reach the lake. Brian looked out to the side and sawa small pond and at the edge of the pond some large animal—he thought a moose—standing out in thewater. All so still looking, so stopped, the pond and the moose and the trees, as he slid over them nowonly three or four hundred feet off the ground—all like a picture. Then everything happened at once. Trees suddenly took on detail, filled his whole field of visionwith green, and he knew he would hit and die, would die, but his luck held and just as he was to hithe came into an open lane, a channel of (alien trees, a wide place leading to the lake. The plane, committed now to landing, to crashing, fell into the wide place like a stone, and Brian
eased back on the wheel and braced himself for the crash. But there was a tiny bit of speed left andwhen he pulled on the wheel the nose came up and he saw in front the blue of the lake and at that instantthe plane hit the trees. There was a great wrenching as the wings caught the pines at the side of the clearing and broke back,ripping back just outside the main braces. Dust and dirt blew off the floor into his face so hard hethought there must have been some kind of explosion. He was momentarily blinded and slammedforward in the seat, smashing his head on the wheel. Then a wild crashing sound, ripping of metal, and the plane rolled to the right and blew through the trees, out over the water and down, down to slam into the lake, skip once on water as hard as concrete, water that tore the windshield out and shattered the side windows, water that drove him back into the seat. Somebody was screaming, screaming as the plane drove down into the water. Someone screamed tight animal screams of fear and pain and he did not know that it was his sound, that he roared against the water that took him and the plane still deeper, down in the water. He saw nothing but sensed blue, cold blue-green, and he raked at the seatbelt catch, tore his nails loose on one hand. He ripped at it until it released and somehow—the water trying to kill him, to end him— somehow he pulled himself out of the shattered front window and clawed up into the blue, felt something hold him back, felt his windbreaker tear and he was free. Tearing free. Ripping free. But so far! So far to the surface and his lungs could not do this thing, could not hold and werethrough, and he sucked water, took a great pull of water that would—finally—win, finally take him,and his head broke into light and he vomited and swam, pulling without knowing what he was, whathe was doing. Without knowing anything. Pulling until his hands caught at weeds and muck, pullingand screaming until his hands caught at last in grass and brush and he felt his chest on land, felt his facein the coarse blades of grass and he stopped, everything stopped. A color came that he had never seenbefore, a color that exploded in his mind with the pain and he was gone, gone from it all, spiraling outinto the world, spiraling out into nothing. Nothing. 4THEMEMORYwaslikea knifecuttingintohim. Slicing deep into him with hate.The Secret. He had been riding his ten-speed with a friend named Terry. They had been taking a runon a bike trail and decided to come back a different way, a way that took them past the Amber Mall.Brian remembered everything in incredible detail. Remembered the time on the bank clock in themall, flashing 3:31, then the temperature, 82, and the date. All the numbers were part of thememory, all of his life was part of the memory.Terry had first turned to smile at him about something and Brian looked over Terry's head and saw her. His mother. She was sitting in a station wagon, a strange wagon. He saw her and she did not see him. Brian wasgoing to wave or call out, but something stopped him. There was a man in the car. Short blond hair, the man had. Wearing some kind of white pullover tennis shirt. Brian saw this and more, saw the Secret and saw more later, but the memory came in pieces, camein scenes like this—Terry smiling, Brian looking over his head to see the station wagon and his
mother sitting with the man, the time and temperature clock, the front wheel of his bike, the shortblond hair of the man, the white shirt of the man, the hot-hate slices of the memory were exact. The Secret. Brian opened his eyes and screamed. For seconds he did not know where he was, only that the crash was still happening and he was goingto die, and he screamed until his breath was gone. Then silence, filled with sobs as he pulled in air, half crying. How could it be so quiet? Momentsago there was nothing but noise, crashing and tearing, screaming, now quiet. Some birds were singing. How could birds be singing? His legs felt wet and he raised up on his hands and looked back down at them. They were in the lake. Strange. They went down into the water. He tried to move, but pain hammered into him and made his breath shorten into gasps and he stopped, his legs still in the water. Pain. Memory. He turned again and sun came across the water, late sun, cut into his eyes and made him turn away. It was over then. The crash. He was alive. The crash is over and I am alive, he thought. Then his eyes closed and he lowered his head for minutesthat seemed longer. When he opened them again it was evening and some of the sharp pain hadabated—there were many dull aches—and the crash came back to him fully. Into the trees and out onto the lake. The plane had crashed and sunk in the lake and he had some-how pulled free. He raised himself and crawled out of the water, grunting with the pain of movement. His legs wereon fire, and his forehead felt as if somebody had been pounding on it with a hammer, but he couldmove. He pulled his legs out of the lake and crawled on his hands and knees until he was away from thewet-soft shore and near a small stand of brush of some kind. Then he went down, only this time to rest, to save something of himself. He lay on his side andput his head on his arm and closed his eyes because that was all he could do now, all he could think ofbeing able to do. He closed his eyes and slept, dreamless, deep and down. There was almost no light when he opened his eyes again. The darkness of night was thick and for amoment he began to panic again. To see, he thought. To see is everything. And he could not see. Buthe turned his head without moving his body and saw that across the lake the sky was a light gray, thatthe sun was starting to come up, and he remembered that it had been evening when he went to sleep. 'Must be morning now...' He mumbled it, almost in a hoarse whisper. As the thickness of sleepleft him the world came back. He was still in pain, all-over pain. His legs were cramped and drawn up, tight and aching, and hisback hurt when he tried to move. Worst was a keening throb in his head that pulsed with every beatof his heart. It seemed that the whole crash had happened to his head.He rolled on his back and felt his sides and his legs, moving things slowly. He rubbed his arms;nothing seemed to be shattered or even sprained all that badly. When he was nine he had plowed hissmall dirt bike into a parked car and broken his ankle, had to wear a cast for eight weeks, and there
was nothing now like that. Nothing broken. Just battered around a bit. His forehead felt massively swollen to the touch, almost like a mound out over his eyes, and it wasso tender that when his fingers grazed it he nearly cried. But there was nothing he could do about itand, like the rest of him, it seemed to be bruised more than broken. I'm alive, he thought. I'm alive. It could have been different. There could have been death. I could havebeen done. Like the pilot, he thought suddenly. The pilot in the plane, down into the water, down into the bluewater strapped in the seat... He sat up—or tried to. The first time he fell back. But on the second attempt, grunting with the effort,he managed to come to a sitting position and scrunched sideways until his back was against asmall tree where he sat feeing the lake, watching the sky get lighter and lighter with the comingdawn. His clothes were wet and clammy and there was a feint chill. He pulled the torn remnants of hiswindbreaker, pieces really, around his shoulders and tried to hold what heat his body could find. Hecould not think, could not make thought patterns work right. Things seemed to go back and forthbetween reality and imagination—except that it was all reality. One second he seemed only to have imag-ined that there was a plane crash that he had fought out of the sinking plane and swum to shore; that ithad all happened to some other person or in a movie playing in his mind. Then he would feel his clothes,wet and cold, and his forehead would slash a pain through his thoughts and he would know it wasreal, that it had really happened. But all in a haze, all in a haze-world. So he sat and stared at the lake,felt the pain come and go in waves, and watched the sun come over the end of the lake. It took an hour, perhaps two—he could not measure time yet and didn't care—for the sun to gethalfway up. With it came some warmth, small bits of it at first, and with the heat came clouds of in-sects—thick, swarming hordes of mosquitoes that flocked to his body, made a living coat on his ex-posed skin, clogged his nostrils when he inhaled, poured into his mouth when he opened it to takea breath. It was not possibly believable. Not this. He had come through the crash, but the insects were not possible. He coughed them up, spat them out, sneezed them out, closed his eyes and kept brushing his face, slapping and crushing them by the dozens, by the hundreds. But as soon as he cleared a place, as soon as he killed them, more came, thick, whining, buzzing masses of them. Mosquitoes and some small black flies he had never seen before. All biting, chewing, taking from him. In moments his eyes were swollen shut and his face puny and round to match his battered forehead.He pulled the torn pieces of his windbreaker over his head and tried to shelter in it but the jacket wasfull of rips and it didn't work. In desperation he pulled his T-shirt up to cover his face, but thatexposed the skin of his lower back and the mosquitoes and flies attacked the new soft flesh of hisback so viciously that he pulled the shirt down. In the end he sat with the windbreaker pulled up, brushed with his hands and took it, almost cryingin frustration and agony. There was nothing left to do. And when the sun was fully up and heating himdirectly, bringing steam off of his wet clothes and bathing him with warmth, the mosquitoes and fliesdisappeared. Almost that suddenly. One minute he was sitting in the middle of a swarm; the next, theywere gone and the sun was on him. Vampires, he thought. Apparently they didn't like His clothes were wet and clammy and there was a feint chill. He pulled the torn remnants of hiswindbreaker, pieces really, around his shoulders and tried to hold what heat his body could find. He
could not think, could not make thought patterns work right. Things seemed to go back and forthbetween reality and imagination—except that it was all reality. One second he seemed only to have imag-ined that there was a plane crash, that he had fought out of the sinking plane and swum to shore; that ithad all happened to some other person or in a movie playing in his mind. Then he would feel his clothes,wet and cold, and his forehead would slash a pain through his thoughts and he would know it wasreal, that it had really happened. But all in a haze, all in a haze-world. So he sat and stared at the lake,felt the pain come and go in waves, and watched the sun come over the end of the lake. It took an hour, perhaps two—he could not measure time yet and didn't care—for the sun to gethalfway up. With it came some warmth, small bits of it at first, and with the heat came clouds of in-sects—thick, swarming hordes of mosquitoes that flocked to his body, made a living coat on his ex-posed skin, clogged his nostrils when he inhaled, poured into his mouth when he opened it to takea breath. It was not possibly believable. Not this. He had come through the crash, but the insects were not possible. He coughed them up, spat them out, sneezed them out, closed his eyes and kept brushing his face, slapping and crushing them by the dozens, by the hundreds. But as soon as he cleared a place, as soon as he killed them, more came, thick, whining, buzzing masses of them. Mosquitoes and some small black flies he had never seen before. All biting, chewing, taking from him. In moments his eyes were swollen shut and his face puny and round to match his battered forehead.He pulled the torn pieces of his windbreaker over his head and tried to shelter in it but the jacket wasfull of rips and it didn't work. In desperation he pulled his T-shirt up to cover his face, but thatexposed the skin of his lower back and the mosquitoes and flies attacked the new soft flesh of hisback so viciously that he pulled the shirt down. In the end he sat with the windbreaker pulled up, brushed with his hands and took it, almost cryingin frustration and agony. There was nothing left to do. And when the sun was fully up and heating himdirectly, bringing steam off of his wet clothes and bathing him with warmth, the mosquitoes and fliesdisappeared. Almost that suddenly. One minute he was sitting in the middle of a swarm; the next, theywere gone and the sun was on him. Vampires, he thought. Apparently they didn't like the deep of night, perhaps because it was too cool, and they couldn't take the direct sunlight. But in that gray time in the morning, when it began to get warm and before the sun was mil up and hot—he couldn't believe them. Never, in all the reading, in the movies he had watched on television about the outdoors, never once had they mentioned the mosquitoes or flies. All they ever showed on the naturalist shows was beautiful scenery or animals jumping around having a good time. Nobody ever mentioned mosquitoes and flies. 'Unnnhhh.' He pulled himself up to stand against the tree and stretched, bringing new aches andpains. His back muscles must have been hurt as well—they almost seemed to tear when hestretched—and while the pain in his forehead seemed to be abating somewhat, just trying to standmade him weak enough to nearly collapse. The backs of his hands were puffy and his eyes were almost swollen shut from the mosquitoes,and he saw everything through a narrow squint. Not that there was much to see, he thought, scratching the bites. In front of him lay the lake, blueand deep. He had a sudden picture of the plane, sunk in the lake, down and down in the blue with thepilot's body still strapped in the seat, his hair waving...He shook his head. More pain. That wasn't something to think about.
He looked at his surroundings again. The lake stretched out slightly below him. He was at the baseof the L, looking up the long part with the short part out to his right. In the morning light and calmthe water was absolutely, perfectly still. He could see the reflections of the trees at the other end ofthe lake. Upside down in the water they seemed almost like another forest, an upside-down forest tomatch the real one. As he watched, a large bird— he thought it looked like a crow but it seemedlarger—flew from the top, real forest, and die reflection-bird matched it, both flying out over thewater. Everything was green, so green it went into him. The forest was largely made up of pines and spruce,with stands of some low brush smeared here and there and thick grass and some other kind of verysmall brush all over. He couldn't identify most of it—except the evergreens—and some leafy trees hethought might be aspen. He'd seen pictures of aspens in the mountains on television. The countryaround the lake was moderately hilly, but the hills were small—almost hummocks—and there werevery few rocks except to his left. There lay a rocky ridge that stuck out overlooking the lake, abouttwenty feet high. If the plane had come down a little to the left it would have hit the rocks and never made thelake. He would have been smashed. Destroyed. The word came. I would have been destroyed and torn and smashed. Driven into the rocksand destroyed. Luck, he thought. I have luck, I had good luck there. But he knew that was wrong. If he hadhad good luck his parents wouldn't have divorced because of the Secret and he wouldn't have beenflying with a pilot who had a heart attack and he wouldn't be here where he had to have good luckto keep from being destroyed. If you keep walking back from good luck, he thought, you'll come to bad luck. He shook his head again—wincing. Another thing not to think about. The rocky ridge was rounded and seemed to be of some kind of sandstone with bits of darkerstone layered and stuck into it. Directly across the lake from it, at the inside corner of the L, wasa mound of sticks and mud rising up out of the water a good eight or ten feet. At first Briancouldn't place it but knew that he somehow knew what it was—had seen it in films. Then a smallbrown head popped to the surface of the water near the mound and began swimming off downthe short leg of the L leaving a V of ripples behind and he remembered where he'd seen it. Itwas a beaver house, called a beaver lodge in a special he'd seen on the public channel. A fish jumped. Not a large fish, but it made a big splash near the beaver, and as if by a signalthere were suddenly little slops all over the sides of the lake—along the shore—as fish beganjumping. Hundreds of them, jumping and slapping the water. Brian watched them for a time, still inthe half-daze, still not thinking well. The scenery was very pretty, he thought, and there were newthings to look at, but it was all a green and blue blur and he was used to the gray and black of thecity, the sounds of the city. Traffic, people talking, sounds all the time— the hum and whine ofthe city. Here, at first, it was silent, or he thought it was silent, but when he started to listen, reallylisten, he heard thousands of things. Hisses and blurks, small sounds, birds singing, hum ofinsects, splashes from the fish jumping—there was great noise here, but a noise he did not know,and the colors were new to him, and the colors and noise mixed in his mind to make a green-
blue blur that he could hear, hear as a hissing pulse-sound and he was still tired. So tired.So awfully tired, and standing had taken a lot of energy somehow, had drained him. He supposedhe was still in some kind of shock from the crash and there was still the pain, the dizziness, thestrange feeling. He found another tree, a tall pine with no branches until the top, and sat with his back against itlooking down on the lake with the sun warming him, and in a few moments he scrunched down andwas asleep again. 5 His EYES snapped open, hammered open, and there were these things about himself that he knew, instantly.He was unbelievably, viciously thirsty. His mouth was dry and tasted foul and sticky. His lips werecracked and felt as if they were bleeding and if he did not drink some water soon he felt that he wouldwither up and die. Lots of water. All the water he could find.He knew the thirst and felt the burn on his face. It was mid-afternoon and the sun had come over himand cooked him while he slept and his face was on fire, would blister, would peel. Which did nothelp the thirst, made it much worse. He stood, using the tree to pull himself up because there was stillsome pain and much stiffness, and looked down at the lake. It was water. But he did not know if he could drink it. Nobody had ever told him if you could orcould not drink lakes. There was also the thought of the pilot. Down in the blue with the plane, strapped in, the body... Awful, he thought. But the lake was blue, and wet-looking, and his mouth and throat raged withthe thirst and he did not know where there might be another form of water he could drink. Besides,he had probably swallowed a ton of it while he was swimming out of the plane and getting to shore. Inthe movies they always showed the hero finding a clear spring with pure sweet water to drink but inthe movies they didn't have plane wrecks and swollen foreheads and aching bodies and thirst that tore atthe hero until he couldn't think. Brian took small steps down the bank to the lake. Along the edge there were thick grasses and thewater looked a little murky and there were small things swimming in the water, small bugs. But therewas a log extending about twenty feet out into the water of the lake—a beaver drop from some timebefore—with old limbs sticking up, almost like handles. He balanced on the log, holding himself upwith the limbs, and teetered out past the weeds and murky water. When he was out where the water was clear and he could see no bugs swimming he kneeled on thelog to drink. A sip, he thought, still worrying about the lake water—I'll just take a sip.
But when he brought a cupped hand to his mouth and felt the cold lake water trickle past his crackedlips and over his tongue he could not stop. He had never, not even on long bike trips in the hot sum-mer, been this thirsty. It was as if the water were more than water, as if the water had become all oflife, and he could not stop. He stooped and put his mouth to the lake and drank and drank, pulling itdeep and swallowing great gulps of it. He drank until his stomach was swollen, until he nearly felloff the log with it, then he rose and stagger-tripped his way back to the bank. Where he was immediately sick and threw up most of the water. But his thirst was gone and thewater seemed to reduce the pain in his head as well—although the sunburn still cooked his face. 'So.' He almost jumped with the word, spoken aloud. It seemed so out of place, the sound. He triedit again. 'So. So. So here I am.' And there it is, he thought. For the first time sincethe crash his mind started to work, his brain triggered and he began thinking. Here I am—and where is that? Where am I? He pulled himself once more up the bank to the tall tree without branches and sat again with hisback against the rough bark. It was hot now, but the sun was high and to his rear and he sat in theshade of the tree in relative comfort. There were things to sort out. Here I am and that is nowhere. With his mind opened and thoughts happening it all tried to come inwith a rush, all of what had occurred and he could not take it. The whole thing turned into a confusedjumble that made no sense. So he fought it down and tried to take one thing at a time. He had been flying north to visit his father for a couple of months, in the summer, and the pilot hadhad a heart attack and had died, and the plane had crashed somewhere in the Canadian north woodsbut he did not know how far they had flown or in what direction or where he was... Slow down, he thought. Slow down more. My name is Brian Robeson and I am thirteen years old and I am alone in the north woods ofCanada. All right, he thought, that's simple enough.I was flying to visit my father and the plane crashed and sank in a lake. There, keep it that way. Short thoughts. I do not know where I am. Which doesn't mean much. More to the point, they do not know where I am—they meaning any-body who might be wanting to look for me. The searchers. They would look for him, look for the plane. His father and mother would be frantic. They wouldtear the world apart to find him. Brian had seen searches on the news, seen movies about lost planes.When a plane went down they mounted extensive searches and almost always they found the planewithin a day or two. Pilots all filed flight plans—a detailed plan for where and when they were goingto fly, with all the courses explained. They would come, they would look for him. The searcherswould get government planes and cover both sides of the flight plan filed by the pilot and searchuntil they found him. Maybe even today. They might come today. This was the second day after the crash. No. Brianfrowned. Was it the first day or the second day? They had gone down in the afternoon and he hadspent the whole night out cold. So this was the first real day. But they could still come today. Theywould have started the search immediately when Brian's plane did not arrive.
Yeah, they would probably come today. Probably come in here with amphibious planes, small bushplanes with floats that could land righthere on the lake and pick him up and take him home. Which home? The father home or the mother home. He stopped the thinking. It didn't matter.Either on to his dad or back to his mother. Either way he would probably be home by late night orearly morning, home where he could sit down and eat a large, cheesy, juicy burger with tomatoes anddouble fries with ketchup and a thick chocolate shake. And there came hunger. Brian rubbed his stomach. The hunger had been there but something else—fear, pain—had held itdown. Now, with the thought of the burger, the emptiness roared at him. He could not believe thehunger, had never felt it this way. The lake water had filled his stomach but left it hungry, and nowit demanded food, screamed for food. And there was, he thought, absolutely nothing to eat. Nothing. What did they do in the movies when they got stranded like this? Oh, yes, the hero usually found some kind of plant that he knew was good to eat and that took care of it. Just ate the plant until he was full or used some kind of cute trap to catch an animal and cook it over a slick little fire and pretty soon he had a full eight-course meal. The trouble, Brian thought, looking around, was that all he could see was grass and brush. Therewas nothing obvious to eat and aside from about a million birds and the beaver he hadn't seen animalsto trap and cook, and even if he got one somehow he didn't have any matches so he couldn't have afire... Nothing. It kept coming back to that. He had nothing. Well, almost nothing. As a matter of fact, he thought, I don't know what I've got or haven't got.Maybe I should try and figure out just how I stand. It will give me something to do—keep me fromthinking of food. Until they come to find me. Brian had once had an English teacher, a guy named Perpich, who was always talking about beingpositive, thinking positive, staying on top of things. That's how Perpich had put it—stay positive andstay on top of things. Brian thought of him now— wondered how to stay positive and stay on top ofthis. All Perpich would say is that I have to getmotivated. He was always telling kids to get motivated. Brian changed position so he was sitting on his knees. He reached into his pockets and took outeverything he had and laid it on the grass in front of him. It was pitiful enough. A quarter, three dimes, a nickel, and two pennies. A fingernail clipper. A bill-fold with a twenty dollar bill—'In case you get stranded at the airport in some small town and have tobuy food,' his mother had said—and some odd pieces of paper. And on his belt, somehow still there, the hatchet his mother had given him. He had forgotten it andnow reached around and took it out and put it in the grass. There was a touch of rust already formingon the cutting edge of the blade and he rubbed it off with his thumb. That was it. He frowned. No, wait—if he was going to play the game, might as well play it right. Perpich wouldtell him to quit messing around. Get motivated. Look at all of it, Robeson.
He had on a pair of good tennis shoes, now almost dry. And socks. And jeans and underwear and a thinleather belt and a T-shirt with a windbreaker so torn it hung on him in tatters.And a watch. He had a digital watch still on his wrist but it was broken from the crash—the littlescreen blank—and he took it off and almost threw it away but stopped the hand motion and lay thewatch on the grass with the rest of it. There. That was it. No, wait. One other thing. Those were all the things he had, but he also had himself. Perpich used todrum that into them—'You are your most valuable asset. Don't forget that. You are the best thing youhave.' Brian looked around again. I wish you were here, Perpich. I'm hungry and I'd trade everything I havefor a hamburger. 'I'm hungry.' He said it aloud. In normal tones at first, then louder and louder until he was yellingit. 'I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry!' When he stopped there was sudden silence, not just from him but the clicks and blurps and birdsounds of the forest as well. The noise of his voice had startled everything and it was quiet. He lookedaround, listened with his mouth open, and realized that in all his life he had never heard silence before.Complete silence.. There had always been some sound, some kind of sound. It lasted only a few seconds, but it was so intense that it seemed to become part of him. Nothing.There was no sound. Then the bird started again, and some kind of buzzing insect, and then a chat-tering and a cawing, and soon there was the same background of sound. Which left him still hungry. Of course, he thought, putting the coins and the rest back in his pocket and the hatchet in his belt—of course if they come tonight or even if they take as long as tomorrow the hunger is no big thing,People have gone for many days without food as long as they've got water. Even if they don't comeuntil late tomorrow I'll be all right. Lose a little weight, maybe, but the first hamburger and a maltand fries will bring it right back. A mental picture of a hamburger, the way they showed it in the television commercials, thunderedinto his thoughts. Rich colors, the meat juicy and hot... He pushed the picture away. So even if they didn't find him until tomorrow, he thought, he would beall right. He had plenty of water, although he wasn't sure if it was good and clean or not. He sat again by the tree, his back against it. There was a thing bothering him. He wasn't quite surewhat it was but it kept chewing at the edge of his thoughts. Something about the plane and the pilotthat would change things... Ahh, there it was—the moment when the pilot had his heart attack his right foot had jerked down on the rudder pedal and the plane had slewed sideways. What did that mean? Why did that keep com- ing into his thinking that way, nudging and pushing? It means, a voice in his thoughts said, that they might not be coming for you tonight or even to-morrow. When the pilot pushed the rudder pedal the plane had jerked to the side and assumed a newcourse. Brian could not remember how much it had pulled around, but it wouldn't have had to be muchbecause after that, with the pilot dead, Brian had flown for hour after hour on the new course. Well away from the flight plan the pilot had filed. Many hours, at maybe 160 miles an hour. Even if itwas only a little off course, with that speed and time Brian might now be sitting several hundred miles
off to the side of the recorded flight plan. And they would probably search most heavily at first along the flight plan course. They might go outto the side a little, but he could easily be three, four hundred miles to the side. He could not know, couldnot think of how far he might have flown wrong because he didn't know the original course and didn'tknow how much they had pulled sideways. Quite a bit—that's how he remembered it. Quite a jerk to the side. It pulled his head over sharplywhen the plane had swung around. They might not find him for two or three days.He felt his heartbeat increase as the fear started. The thought was there but he fought it down for atime, pushed it away, then it exploded out. They might not find him for a long time. And the next thought was there as well, that they might never find him, but that was panic and hefought it down and tried to stay positive. They searched hard when a plane went down, they usedmany men and planes and they would go to the side, they would know he was off from the flightpath, he had talked to the man on the radio, they would somehow know... It would be all right. They would find him. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. Soon. Soon. They would find him soon. Gradually, like sloshing oil his thoughts settled back and the panic was gone. Say they didn't comefor two days—no, say they didn't come for three days, even push that to four days—he could livewith that. He would have to live with that. He didn't want to think of them taking longer. But say fourdays. He had to do something. He couldn't just sit at the bottom of this tree and stare down at the lakefor four days. And nights. He was in deep woods and didn't have any matches, couldn't make a fire. There were largethings in the woods. There were wolves, he thought, and bears—other things. In the dark he would bein the open here, just sitting at the bottom of a tree. He looked around suddenly, felt the hair on the back of his neck go up. Things might be looking athim right now, waiting for him—waiting for dark so they could move in and take him. He fingered the hatchet at his belt. It was the only weapon he had, but it was something. He had to have some kind of shelter. No, make that more: He had to have some kind of shelter andhe had to have something to eat. He pulled himself to his feet and jerked the back of his shirt down before the mosquitoes could getat it. He had to do something to help himself. I have to get motivated, he thought, remembering Perpich. Right now I'm all I've got. I have to dosomething. 6Two YEARS before he and Terry had been fooling around down near the park, where the city seemedto end for a time and the trees grew thick and came down to the small river that went through the park.It was thick there and seemed kind of wild, and they had been joking and making things up and they
pretended that they were lost in the woods and talked in the afternoon about what they would do. Ofcourse they figured they'd have all sorts of goodies like a gun and a knife and fishing gear and matchesso they could hunt and fish and have a fire. I wish you were here, Terry, he thought. With a gun and a knife and some matches... In the park that time they had decided the best shelter was a lean-to and Brian set out now to make one up. Maybe cover it with grass or leaves or sticks, he thought, and he started to go down to the lake again, where there were some willows he could cut down for braces. But it struck him that he ought to find a good place for the lean-to and so he decided to look around first. He wanted to stay near the lake because he thought the plane, even deep in the water, might show up to somebody flying over and he didn't want to diminish any chance he might have of being found. His eyes fell upon the stone ridge to his left and he thought at first he should build his shelter againstthe stone. But before that he decided to check out the far side of the ridge and that was where he gotlucky. Using the sun and the fact that it rose in the east and set in the west, he decided that the far side wasthe northern side of the ridge. At one time in the far past it had been scooped by something, probably aglacier, and this scooping had left a kind of sideways bowl, back in under a ledge. It wasn't very deep,not a cave, but it was smooth and made a perfect roof and he could almost stand in under the ledge.He had to hold his head slightly tipped forward at the front to keep it from hitting die top. Some ofthe rock that had been scooped out had also been pulverized by the glacial action, turned into sand,and now made a small sand beach that went down to the edge of the water in front and to the rightof the overhang. It was his first good luck. No, he thought. He had good luck in the landing. But this was good luck as well, luck he needed. All he had to do was wall off part of the bowl and leave an opening as a doorway and he would havea perfect shelter—much stronger than a lean-to and dry because the overhang made a watertight roof. He crawled back in, under die ledge, and sat. The sand was cool here in the shade, and die coolnessfelt wonderful to his face, which was already starting to blister and get especially painful on his forehead,with the blisters on top of the swelling. He was also still weak. Just die walk around the back of the ridge and the slight climb over the tophad left his legs rubbery. It felt good to sit for a bit under die shade of the overhang in the cool sand. And now, he thought, if I just had something to eat. Anything. When he had rested a bit he went back down to the lake and drank a couple of swallows of water.He wasn't all that thirsty but he thought the water might help to take the edge off his hunger. It didn't.Somehow the cold lake water actually made it worse, sharpened it. He thought of dragging in wood to make a wall on part of the overhang, and picked up one pieceto pull up, but his arms were too weak and he knew then that it wasn't just the crash and injury to hisbody and head, it was also that he was weak from hunger. He would have to find something to eat. Before he did anything else he would have to have some-thing to eat. But what? Brian leaned against the rock and stared out at the lake. What, in all of this, was there to eat? Hewas so used to having food just be there, just always being there. When he was hungry he went to the
icebox, or to die store, or sat down at a meal his mother cooked. Oh, he thought, remembering a meal now—oh. It was the last Thanksgiving, last year, die lastThanksgiving they had as a family before his mother demanded the divorce and his father moved out inthe following January. Brian already knew the Secret but did not know it would cause them to break upand thought it might work out, the Secret that his father still did not know but that he would try totell him. When he saw him. The meal had been turkey and they cooked it in the back yard in the barbecue over charcoal withthe lid down tight. His father had put hickory chips on the charcoal and the smell of the cooking turkeyand the hickory smoke had filled the yard. When his father took the lid off, smiling, the smell thathad come out was unbelievable, and when they sat to eat the meat was wet with juice and rich andhad the taste of the smoke in it... He had to stop this. His mouth was full of saliva and his stomach was twisting and growling. What was there to eat? What had he read or seen that told him about food in die wilderness? Hadn't there been something?A show, yes, a show on television about air force pilots and some kind of course they took. Asurvival course. All right, he had die show coming into his thoughts now. The pilots had to live in thedesert. They put them in die desert down in Arizona or someplace and they had to live for a week. Theyhad to find food and water for a week. For water they had made a sheet of plastic into a dew-gathering device and for food they ate lizards. That was it. Of course Brian had lots of water and there weren't too many lizards in die Canadianwoods, that he knew. One of the pilots had used a watch crystal as a magnifying glass to focus the sunand start a fire so they didn't have to eat the lizards raw. But Brian had a digital watch, without a crystal,broken at that. So die show didn't help him much. Wait, there was one thing. One of the pilots, a woman, had found some kind of beans on a bushand she had used them with her lizard meat to make a little stew in a tin can she had found. Bean lizardstew. There weren't any beans here, but there must be berries. There had to be berry bushes around.Sure, the woods were full of berry bushes. That's what everybody always said. Well, he'd actuallynever heard anybody say it. But he felt that it should be true. There must be berry bushes. He stood and moved out into the sand and looked up at the sun. It was still high. He didn't know whattime it must be. At home it would be one or two if the sun were that high. At home at one or twohis mother would be putting away the lunch dishes and getting ready for her exercise class. No, thatwould have been yesterday. Today she would be going to see him. Today was Thursday and she al-ways went to see him on Thursdays. Wednesday was the exercise class and Thursdays she went tosee him. Hot little jets of hate worked into his thoughts, pushed once, moved back. If his motherhadn't begun to see him and forced the divorce, Brian wouldn't be here now. He shook his head. Had to stop that kind of thinking. The sun was still high and that meant that he had some time before darkness to find berries. He didn't want to be away from his—he almost thought of it as home—shelter when it came to be dark. He didn't want to be anywhere in the woods when it came to be dark. And he didn't want to getlost—which was a real problem. AU he knew in the world was the lake in front of him and the hill athis back and the ridge—if he lost sight of them there was a really good chance that he would get turnedaround and not find his way back.
So he had to look for berry bushes, but keep the lake or the rock ridge in sight at all times. He looked up the lake shore, to the north. For a good distance, perhaps two hundred yards, it wasfairly clear. There were tall pines, the kind with no limbs until very close to the top, with a gentlebreeze sighing in them, but not too much low brush. Two hundred yards up there seemed to be a belt ofthick, lower brush starting—about ten or twelve feet high—and that formed a wall he could not seethrough. It seemed to go on around the lake, thick and lustily green, but he could not be sure. If there were berries they would be in that brush, he felt, and as long as he stayed close to the lake,so he could keep the water on his right and know it was there, he wouldn't get lost. When he wasdone or found berries, he thought, he would just turn around so the water was on his left and walkback until he came to the ridge and his shelter. Simple. Keep it simple. I am Brian Robeson. I have been in a plane crash. I am going to find some food. Iam going to find berries. He walked slowly—still a bit pained in his joints and weak from hunger—up along the side of thelake. The trees were full of birds singing ahead of him in the sun. Some he knew, some he didn't. Hesaw a robin, and some kind of sparrows, and a flock of reddish orange birds with thick beaks. Twentyor thirty of them were sitting in one of the pines. They made much noise and flew away ahead of himwhen he walked under the tree. He watched them fly, their color a bright slash in solid green, and inthis way he found the berries. The birds landed in some taller willow type of undergrowth with wideleaves and started jumping and making noise. At first he was too tar away to see what they weredoing, but their color drew him and he moved toward them, keeping the lake in sight on his right,and when he got closer he saw they were eating berries. He could not believe it was that easy. It was as if the birds had taken him right to the berries. Theslender branches went up about twenty feet and were heavy, drooping with clusters of bright redberries. They were half as big as grapes but hung in bunches much like grapes and when Brian sawthem, glistening red in the sunlight, he almost yelled. His pace quickened and he was in them in moments, scattering the birds, grabbing branches,stripping them to fill his mouth with berries. He almost spit them out. It wasn't that they were bitter so much as that they lacked any sweetness,had a tart flavor that left his mouth dry feeling. And they were like cherries in that they had large pits,which made them hard to chew. But there was such a hunger on him, such an emptiness, that he couldnot stop and kept stripping branches and eating berries by the handful, grabbing and jamming theminto his mouth and swallowing them pits and all. He could not stop and when, at last, his stomach was full he was still hungry. Two days without foodmust have shrunken his stomach, but the drive of hunger was still there. Thinking of the birds, andhow they would come back into the berries when he left, he made a carrying pouch of his torn wind-breaker and kept picking. Finally, when he judged he had close to four pounds in the jacket he stoppedand went back to his camp by the ridge. Now, he thought. Now I have some food and I can do something about fixing this place up. He glanced at the sun and saw he had some time before dark. If only I had matches, he thought, looking ruefully at the beach and lakeside. There was driftwoodeverywhere, not to mention dead and dry wood all over the hill and dead-dry branches hanging fromevery tree. All firewood. And no matches. How did they used to do it? he thought. Rub two stickstogether?
He tucked the berries in the pouch back in under the overhang in the cool shade and found a coupleof sticks. After ten minutes of rubbing he felt the sticks and they were almost cool to the touch. Notthat, he thought. They didn't do fire that way. He threw the sticks down in disgust. So no fire. But hecould still fix the shelter and make it—here the word 'safer' came into his mind and he didn't knowwhy—more livable. Kind of close in it, he thought. I'll just close it in a bit. He started dragging sticks up from the lake and pulling long dead branches down from the hill,never getting out of sight of the water and the ridge. With these he interlaced and wove a wall acrossthe opening of the front of the rock. It took over two hours, and he had to stop several times becausehe still felt a bit weak and once because he felt a strange new twinge in his stomach. A tightening,rolling. Too many berries, he thought. I ate too many of them. But it was gone soon and he kept working until the entire front of the overhang was covered savefor a small opening at the right end, nearest the lake. The doorway was about three feet, and when hewent in he found himself in a room almost fifteen feet long and eight to ten feet deep, with the rockwall sloping down at the rear. 'Good,' he said, nodding. 'Good...' Outside die sun was going down, finally, and in the initial coolness the mosquitoes came out againand clouded in on him. They were thick, terrible, if not quite as bad as in the morning, and he keptbrushing them off his arms until he couldn't stand it and then dumped the berries and put the tornwindbreaker on. At least the sleeves covered his arms. Wrapped in the jacket, with darkness coming down fast now, he crawled back in under the rockand huddled and tried to sleep. He was deeply tired, and still aching some, but sleep was slow comingand did not finally settle in until the evening cool turned to night cool and the mosquitoes slowed. Then, at last, with his stomach turning on the berries, Brian went to sleep.
7'MOTHER!' He screamed it and he could not be sure if the scream awakened him or the pain in his stomach.His whole abdomen was torn with great rolling jolts of pain, pain that doubled him in the darkness ofthe little shelter, put him over and face down in the sand to moan again and again: 'Mother, mother,mother...' Never anything like this. Never. It was as if all the berries, all the pits had exploded in the centerof him, ripped arid tore at him. He crawled out the doorway and was sick in the sand, then crawled stillfarther and was sick again, vomiting and with terrible diarrhea for over an hour, for over a year hethought, until he was at last empty and drained of all strength. Then he crawled back into the shelter and fell again to the sand but could not sleep at first, coulddo nothing except lie there, and his mind decided then to bring the memory up again. In the mall. Every detail. His mother sitting in the station wagon with the man. And she had leanedacross and kissed him, kissed the man with the short blond hair, and it was not a friendly peck, but a kiss.A kiss where she turned her head over at an angle and put her mouth against the mouth of the blondman who was not his father and kissed, mouth to mouth, and then brought her hand up to touch hischeek, his forehead, while they were kissing. And Brian saw it. Saw this thing that his mother did with the blond man. Saw the kiss that became the Secret that hisfather still did not know about, know all about. The memory was so real that he could feel the heat in the mall that day, could remember the worry
that Terry would turn and see his mother, could remember the worry of the shame of it and then thememory faded and he slept again... Awake. For a second, perhaps two, he did not know where he was, was still in his sleep somewhere. Then he saw the sun streaming in the open doorway of the shelter and heard the close, vicious whine of the mosquitoes and knew. He brushed his face, completely welted now with two days of bites, com- pletely covered with lumps and bites, and was surprised to find the swelling on his forehead had gone down a great deal, was almost gone. The smell was awful and he couldn't place it. Then he saw the pile of berries at the back of theshelter and remembered the night and being sick. 'Too many of them,' he said aloud. 'Too many gut cherries...' He crawled out of the shelter and found where he'd messed the sand. He used sticks and cleanedit as best he could, covered it with clean sand and went down to the lake to wash his hands and get adrink. It was still very early, only just past true dawn, and the water was so calm he could see his reflec-tion. It frightened him—the face was cut and bleeding, swollen and lumpy, the hair all matted, and onhis forehead a cut had healed but left the hair stuck with blood and scab. His eyes were slits in the bitesand he was—somehow—covered with dirt. He slapped the water with his hand to destroy themirror. Ugly, he thought. Very, very ugly. And he was, at that moment, almost overcome with self-pity. He was dirty and starving and bittenand hurt and lonely and ugly and afraid and so completely miserable that it was like being in a pit, adark, deep pit with no way out. He sat back on the bank and fought crying. Then let it come and cried for perhaps three, four min-utes. Long tears, self-pity tears, wasted tears. He stood, went back to the water, and took small drinks. As soon as the cold water hit his stomachhe felt the hunger sharpen, as it had before, and he stood and held his abdomen until the hungercramps receded. He had to eat. He was weak with it again, down with the hunger, and he had to eat. Back at the shelter the berries lay in a pile where he had dumped them when he grabbed his wind-breaker—gut cherries he called them in his mind now—and he thought of eating some of them. Notsuch a crazy amount, as he had, which he felt brought on the sickness in the night—but just enoughto stave off the hunger a bit. He crawled into the shelter. Some flies were on the berries and he brushed them off. He selectedonly the berries that were solidly ripe—not the light red ones, but the berries that were dark, maroonred to black and swollen in ripeness. When he had a small handful of them he went back down to thelake and washed them in the water—small fish scattered away when he splashed the water up and hewished he had a fishing line and hook—then he ate them carefully, spitting out the pits. They were stilltart, but had a sweetness to them, although they seemed to make his lips a bit numb. When he finished he was still hungry, but the edge was gone and his legs didn't feel as weak asthey had. He went back to the shelter. It took him half an hour to go through the rest of the berries and sortthem, putting all the fully ripe ones in a pile on some leaves, the rest in another pile. When he was
done he covered the two piles with grass he tore from the lake shore to keep the flies off and wentback outside. They were awful berries, those gut cherries, he thought. But there was food there, food of somekind, and he could eat a bit more later tonight if he had to. For now he had a full day ahead of him. He looked at the sky through the trees and saw that while therewere clouds they were scattered and did not seem to hold rain. There was a light breeze that seemedto keep the mosquitoes down and, he thought, looking up along the lake shore, if there was one kindof berry there should be other kinds. Sweeter kinds. If he kept the lake in sight as he had done yesterday he should be all right, should be able to findhome again—and it stopped him. He had actually thought it that time. Home. Three days, no, two—or was it three? Yes, this was tile third day and he had thought of theshelter as home. He turned and looked at it, studied the crude work. The brush made a fair wall, not weather tightbut it cut most of the wind off. He hadn't done so badly at that. Maybe it wasn't much, but also maybe itwas all he had for a home. All right, he thought, so I'll call it home. He turned back and set off up the side of the lake, heading for the gut cherry bushes, his windbreaker-bag in his hand- Things were bad, he thought, but maybe not that bad. Maybe he could find some better berries. When he came to the gut cherry bushes he paused. The branches were empty of birds but still hadmany berries, and some of those that had been merely red yesterday were now a dark maroon toblack. Much riper. Maybe he should stay and pick them to save them. But the explosion in the night was still much in his memory and he decided to go on. Gut cherrieswere food, but tricky to eat. He needed something better. Another hundred yards up the shore there was a place where the wind had torn another path. Thesemust have been fierce winds, he thought, to tear places up like this—as they had the path he hadfound with the plane when he crashed. Here the trees were not all die way down but twisted andsnapped off halfway up from the ground, so their tops were all down and rotted and gone, leavingthe snags poking into the sky like broken teeth. It made for tons of dead and dry wood and he wishedonce more he could get a fire going. It also made a kind of clearing—with the tops of the trees gonethe sun could get down to the ground—and it was filled with small thorny bushes that were coveredwith berries. Raspberries. These he knew because there were some raspberry bushes in the park and he and Terry werealways picking and eating them when they biked past. The berries were full and ripe, and he tasted one to find it sweet, and with none of the problems ofthe gut cherries. Although they did not grow in clusters, there were many of them and they wereeasy to pick and Brian smiled and started eating. Sweet juice, he thought. Oh, they were sweet with just a tiny tang and he picked and ate and picked and ate and thought that he had never tasted anything this good. Soon, as before, his stomach was full, but now he had some sense and he did not gorge or cram more down. Instead he picked more and put them in his windbreaker, feeling the morning sun on his back and thinking he was rich, rich with food now, just rich, and he heard a noise to his rear, a slight noise, and he turned
and saw the bear. He could do nothing, think nothing. His tongue, stained with berry juice, stuck to the roof of hismouth and he stared at the bear. It was black, with a cinnamon-colored nose, not twenty feet from himand big. No, huge. It was all black fur and huge. He had seen one in the zoo in the city once, a blackbear, but it had been from India or somewhere. This one was wild, and much bigger than the one in thezoo and it was right there. Right there. The sun caught the ends of the hairs along his back. Shining black and silky the bear stood on itshind legs, half up, and studied Brian, just studied him, then lowered itself and moved slowly to theleft, eating berries as it rolled along, wuffling and delicately using its mouth to lift each berry fromdie stem, and in seconds it was gone. Gone, and Brian still had not moved. His tongue was stuck tothe top of his mouth, the tip half out, his eyes were wide and his hands were reaching for a berry. Then he made a sound, a low: 'Nnnnnnggg.' It made no sense, was just a sound of fear, of disbeliefthat something that large could have come so close to him without his knowing. It just walked up tohim and could have eaten him and he could have done nothing. Nothing. And when the sound washalf done a thing happened with his legs, a thing he had nothing to do with, and they were runningin the opposite direction from the bear, back toward the shelter. He would have run all the way, in panic, but after he had gone perhaps fifty yards his brain took overand slowed and, finally, stopped him. If the bear had wanted you, his brain said, he would have taken you. It is something to under-stand, he thought, not something to run away from. The bear was eating berries. Not people. The bear made no move to hurt you, to threaten you. It stood to see you better, study you, then wenton its way eating berries. It was a big bear, but it did not want you,' did not want to cause you harm,and that is the thing to understand here. He turned and looked back at the stand of raspberries. The bear was gone, the birds were singing, he saw nothing that could hurt him. There was no danger here that he could sense, could feel. In the city, at night, there was sometimes danger. You could not be in the park at night, after dark, because of the danger. But here, the bear had looked at him and had moved on and—this filled his thoughts— the berries were so good. So good. So sweet and rich and his body was so empty. And the bear had almost indicated that it didn't mind sharing—had just walked from him. And the berries were so good. And, he thought, finally, if he did not go back and get the berries he would have to eat the gut cherriesagain tonight. That convinced him and he walked slowly back to the raspberry patch and continued picking forthe entire morning, although with great caution, and once when a squirrel rustled some pine needles atthe base of a tree he nearly jumped out of his skin. About noon—the sun was almost straight overhead—the clouds began to thicken and look dark.In moments it started to rain and he took what he had picked and trotted back to the shelter. He hadeaten probably two pounds of raspberries and had maybe another three pounds in his jacket, rolled ina pouch. He made it to the shelter just as the clouds completely opened and the rain roared down in sheets.
Soon the sand outside was drenched and there were rivulets running down to the lake. But inside he wasdry and snug. He started to put the picked berries back in the sorted pile with the gut cherries butnoticed that the raspberries were seeping through the jacket. They were much softer than the gutcherries and apparently were being crushed a bit with their own weight. When he held the jacket up and looked beneath it he saw a stream of red liquid. He put a finger init and found it to be sweet and tangy, like pop without the fizz, and he grinned and lay back on thesand, holding the bag up over his face and letting the seepage drip into his mouth. Outside the rain poured down, but Brian lay back, drinking the syrup from the berries, dry and withthe pain almost all gone, the stiffness also gone, his belly full and a good taste in his mouth. For die first time since the crash he was not thinking of himself, of his own life. Brian was wondering ifthe bear was as 'surprised as he to find another being in the berries. Later in the afternoon, as evening came down, he went to the lake and washed the sticky berry juice from his face and hands, then went back to prepare for the night. While he had accepted and understood that the bear did not want to hurt him, it was still much inhis thoughts and as darkness came into the shelter he took die hatchet out of his belt and put it by hishead, his hand on the handle, as the day caught up with him and he slept. 8 AT FIRST he thought it was a growl. In the still darkness of the shelter in the middle of the night his eyescame open and he was awake and he thought there was a growl. But it was the wind, a medium windin the pines had made some sound that brought him up, brought him awake. He sat up and was hitwith the smell.It terrified him. The smell was one of rot, some musty rot that made him think only of graves withcobwebs and dust and old death. His nostrils widened and he opened his eyes wider but he could seenothing. It was too dark, too hard dark with clouds covering even the small light from the stars, and hecould not see. But the smell was alive, alive and full and in the shelter. He thought of the bear,thought of Bigfoot and every monster he had ever seen in every fright movie he had ever watched,and his heart hammered in his throat. Then he heard the slithering. A brushing sound, a slithering brushing sound near his feet—and hekicked out as hard as he could, kicked out and threw the hatchet at the sound, a noise coming from histhroat. But the hatchet missed, sailed into the wall where it hit the rocks with a shower of sparks, andhis leg was instantly torn with pain, as if a hundred needles had been driven into it. 'Unnnngh!' Now he screamed, with the pain and fear, and skittered on his backside up into the corner of theshelter, breathing through his mouth, straining to see, to hear. The slithering moved again, he thought toward him at first, and terror took him, stopping his breath.He felt he could see a low dark form, a bulk in the darkness, a shadow that lived, but now it movedaway, slithering and scraping it moved away and he saw or thought he saw it go out of the door opening. He lay on his side for a moment, then pulled a rasping breath in and held it, listening for theattacker to return. When it was apparent that the shadow wasn't coming back he felt the calf of hisleg, where the pain was centered and spreading to fill the whole leg.
His fingers gingerly touched a group of needles that had been driven through his pants and into thefleshy part of his calf. They were stiff and very sharp on the ends that stuck out, and he knew then whatthe attacker had been. A porcupine had stumbled into his shelter and when he had kicked it the thinghad slapped him with its tail of quills. He touched each quill carefully. The pain made it seem as if dozens of them had been slammed intohis leg, but there were only eight, pinning the cloth against his skin. He leaned back against the wall fora minute. He couldn't leave them in, they had to come out, but just touching them made the painmore intense. So fast, he thought. So fast things change. When he'd gone to sleep he had satisfaction and in just amoment it was all different. He grasped one of the quills, held his breath, and jerked. It sent pain signalsto his brain in tight waves, but he grabbed another, pulled it, then another quill. When he had pulledfour of them he stopped for a moment. The pain had gone from being a pointed injury pain to spreadingin a hot smear up his leg and it made him catch his breath. Some of the quills were driven in deeper than others and they tore when they came out. Hebreathed deeply twice, let half of the breath out, and went back to work. Jerk, pause, jerk—and threemore times before he lay back in the darkness, done. The pain filled his leg now, and with it came newwaves of self-pity. Sitting alone in the dark, his leg aching, some mosquitoes finding him again, hestarted crying. It was all too much, just too much, and he couldn't take it. Not the way it was. I can't take it this way, alone with no fire and in the dark, and next time it might be somethingworse, maybe a bear, and it wouldn't be just quills in the leg, it would be worse. I can't do this, hethought, again and again. I can't. Brian pulled himself up until he was sitting upright back in the cornerof the cave. He put his head down on his arms across his knees, with stiffness taking his left leg, andcried until he was cried out. He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner ofthe dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was thatfeeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was consideredincorrect. It was more than that—it didn't work. When he sat alone in the darkness and cried and wasdone, was all done with it, nothing had changed. His leg still hurt, it was still dark, he was still alone andthe self-pity had accomplished nothing. At last he slept again, but already his patterns were changing and the sleep was light, a resting doze more than a deep sleep, with small sounds awakening him twice in the rest of the night. In the last doze period before daylight, before he awakened finally with the morning light and the clouds of new mosquitoes, he dreamed. This time it was not of his mother, not of the Secret, but of his father at first and then of his friend Terry. In the initial segment of the dream his father was standing at the side of a living room looking at himand it was clear from his expression that he was trying to tell Brian something. His lips moved butthere was no sound, not a whisper. He waved his hands at Brian, made gestures in front of his face asif he were scratching something, and he worked to make a word with his mouth but at first Brian couldnot see it. Then the lips made an mmmmm shape but no sound came. Mmmmm—maaaa. Briancould not hear it, could not understand it and he wanted to so badly; it was so important tounderstand his father, to know what he was saying. He was trying to help, trying so hard, and whenBrian couldn't understand he looked cross, the way he did when Brian asked questions more thanonce, and he faded. Brian's father faded into a fog place Brian could not see and the dream was almost
over, or seemed to be, when Terry came. He was not gesturing to Brian but was sitting in the park at a bench looking at a barbecue pit andfor a time nothing happened. Then he got up and poured some charcoal from a bag into the cooker,then some starter fluid, and he took a flick type of lighter and lit the fluid. When it was burning andthe charcoal was at last getting hot he turned, noticing Brian for the first time in the dream. He turnedand smiled and pointed to the fire as if to say, see, a fire. But it meant nothing to Brian, except that he wished he had a fire. He saw a grocery sack on dietable next to Terry. Brian thought it must contain hot dogs and chips and mustard and he could thinkonly of the food. But Terry shook his head and pointed again to the fire, and twice more he pointed tothe fire, made Brian see the flames, and Brian felt his frustration and anger rise and he thought all right,all right, I see the fire but so what? I don't have a fire. I know about fire; I know I need a fire. I know that. His eyes opened and there was light in the cave, a gray dim light of morning. He wiped his mouthand tried to move his leg, which had stiffened like wood. There was thirst, and hunger, and he ate someraspberries from the jacket. They had spoiled a bit, seemed softer and mushier, but still had a richsweetness. He crushed the berries against the roof of his mouth with his tongue and drank the sweetjuice as it ran down his throat. A flash of metal caught his eye and he saw his hatchet in the sandwhere he had thrown it at die porcupine in the dark. He scootched up, wincing a bit when he bent his stiff leg, and crawled to where the hatchet lay.He picked it up and examined it and saw a chip in the top of the head. The nick wasn't large, but the hatchet was important to him, was his only tool, and he should nothave thrown it. He should keep it in his hand, and make a tool of some kind to help push an animalaway. Make a staff, he thought, or a lance, and save the hatchet. Something came then, a thought as heheld the hatchet, something about the dream and his father and Terry, but he couldn't pin it down. 'Ahhh...' He scrambled out and stood in the morning sun and stretched his back muscles and hissore leg. The hatchet was still in his hand, and as he stretched and raised it over his head it caught thefirst rays of the morning sun. The first faint light hit the silver of the hatchet and it flashed a brilliantgold in the light. Like fire. That is it, he thought. What they were trying to tell me. Fire. The hatchet was the key to it all. When he threw the hatchet at the porcupine in the cave and missed and hit the stone wall it had showered sparks, a golden shower of sparks in the dark, as golden with fire as the sun was now. The hatchet was the answer. That's what his father and Terry had been trying to tell him. Somehowhe could get fire from the hatchet. The sparks would make fire. Brian went back into the shelter and studied the wall. It was some form of chalky granite, or asandstone, but imbedded in it were large pieces of a darker stone, a harder and darker stone. It onlytook him a moment to find where the hatchet had struck. The steel had nicked into the edge of one ofthe darker stone pieces. Brian turned the head backward so he would strike with the flat rear of thehatchet and hit the black rock gently. Too gently, and nothing happened. He struck harder, a glancingblow, and two or three weak sparks skipped off the rock and died immediately. He swung harder, held the hatchet so it would hit a longer, sliding blow, and the black rock ex-ploded in fire. Sparks flew so heavily that several of them skittered and jumped on the sand beneath therock and he smiled and stuck again and again.
There could be fire here, he thought. I will have a fire here, he thought, and struck again—I will havefire from the hatchet.
9BRIAN FOUND it was a long way from sparks to fire. Clearly there had to be something for the sparks to ignite, some kind of tinder or kindling—but what?He brought some dried grass in, tapped sparks into it and watched them die. He tried small twigs, break-ing them into little pieces, but that was worse than the grass. Then he tried a combination of the two,grass and twigs. Nothing. He had no trouble getting sparks, but the tiny bits of hot stone or metal—he couldn't tellwhich they were—just sputtered and died. He settled back on his haunches in exasperation, looking at the pitiful clump of grass and twigs. He needed something finer, something soft and fine and fluffy to catch the bits of fire. Shredded paper would be nice, but he had no paper. 'So close,' he said aloud, 'so close...' He put the hatchet back in his belt and went out of the shelter, limping on his sore leg. There hadto be something, had to be. Man had made fire. There had been fire for thousands, millions of years.There had to be a way. He dug in his pockets and found the twenty-dollar bill in his wallet. Paper.Worthless paper out here. But if he could get a fire going... He ripped the twenty into tiny pieces, made a pile of pieces, and hit sparks into them. Nothinghappened. They just wouldn't take the sparks. But there had to be a way—some way to do it. Not twenty feet to his right, leaning out over the water were birches and he stood looking at themfor a full half-minute before they registered on his mind. They were a beautiful white with bark likeclean, slightly speckled paper. Paper. He moved to the trees. Where the bark was peeling from the trunks it lifted in tiny tendrils, almostfluffs. Brian plucked some of them loose, rolled them in his fingers. They seemed flammable, dryand nearly powdery. He pulled and twisted bits off the trees, packing them in one hand while he pickedthem with the other, picking and gathering until he had a wad close to the size of a baseball.
Then he went back into the shelter and arranged the ball of birchbark peelings at the base of the blackrock. As an afterthought he threw in the remains of the twenty-dollar bill. He struck and a stream ofsparks fell into the bark and quickly died. But this time one spark fell on one small hair of dry bark—almost a thread of bark—and seemed to glow a bit brighter before it died. The material had to be finer. There had to be a soft and incredibly fine nest for the sparks. I must make a home for the sparks, he thought. A perfect home or they won't stay, they won't makefire. He started ripping the bark, using his fingernails at first, and when that didn't work he used the sharpedge of the hatchet, cutting the bark in thin slivers, hairs so fine they were almost not there. It waspainstaking work, slow work, and he stayed with it for over two hours. Twice he stopped for a handfulof berries and once to go to the lake for a drink. Then back to work, the sun on his back, until at lasthe had a ball of fluff as big as a grapefruit—dry birchbark fluff. He positioned his spark nest—as he thought of it—at the base of the rock, used his thumb to makea small depression in the middle, and slammed the back of the hatchet down across the black rock. Acloud of sparks rained down, most of them missing the nest, but some, perhaps thirty or so, hit in thedepression and of those six or seven found fuel and grew, smoldered and caused the bark to take on thered glow. Then they went out. Close—he was close. He repositioned the nest, made a new and smaller dent with his thumb, andstruck again. More sparks, a slight glow, then nothing. It's me, he thought. I'm doing something wrong. I do not know this—a cave dweller would have hada fire by now, a Cro-Magnon man would have a fire by now—but I don't know this. I don't know howto make a fire. Maybe not enough sparks. He settled the nest in place once more and hit the rock with a series ofblows, as fast as he could. The sparks poured like a golden waterfall. At first they seemed to take, therewere several, many sparks that found life and took briefly, but they all died. Starved. He leaned back. They are like me. They are starving. It wasn't quantity, there were plenty of sparks,but they needed more.I would kill, he thought suddenly, for a book of matches. Just one book. Just one match. I would kill. What makes fire? He thought back to school. To all those science classes. Had he ever learned what made a fire? Did a teacher ever stand up there and say, 'This is what makes a fire...' He shook his head, tried to focus his thoughts. What did it take? You have to have fuel, hethought—and he had that. The bark was fuel. Oxygen—there had to be air. He needed to add air. He had to fan on it, blow on it. He made the nest ready again, held the hatchet backward, tensed, and struck four quick blows.Sparks came down and he leaned forward as fast as he could and blew. Too hard. There was a bright, almost intense glow, and then it was gone. He had blown it out. Another set of strikes, more sparks. He leaned and blew, but gently this time, holding back andaiming the stream of air from his mouth to hit the brightest spot. Five or six sparks had fallen in a tightmass of bark hair and Brian centered his efforts there.
The sparks grew with his gentle breath. The red glow moved from the sparks themselves into thebark, moved and grew and became worms, glowing red worms that crawled up the bark hairs andcaught other threads of bark and grew until there was a pocket of red as big as a quarter, a glowingred coal of heat. And when he ran out of breath and paused to inhale, the red ball suddenly burst into flame. 'Fire!' He yelled. 'I've got fire! I've got it, I've got it, I've got it...' But the flames were thick and oily and burning fast, consuming the ball of bark as fast as if it weregasoline. He had to feed the flames, keep them going. Working as fast as he could he carefullyplaced the dried grass and wood pieces he had tried at first on top of the bark and was gratified to seethem take. But they would go fast. He needed more, and more. He could not let the flames go out. He ran from the shelter to die pines and started breaking off the low, dead small limbs. These hethrew in the shelter, went back for more, threw those in, and squatted to break and feed the hungryflames. When the small wood was going well he went out and found larger wood and did not relaxuntil that was going. Then he leaned back against the wood brace of his door opening and smiled. I have a friend, he thought—I have a friend now.A hungry friend, but a good one. I have a friend named fire. 'Hello, fire...' The curve of the rock back made an almost perfect drawing flue that carried the smoke up throughthe cracks of the roof but held the heat. If he kept the fire small it would be perfect and would keepanything like the porcupine from coming through the door again. A friend and a guard, he thought. So much from a little spark. A friend and a guard from a tiny spark. He looked around and wished he had somebody to tell this thing, to show this thing he had done.But there was nobody. Nothing but the trees and the sun and the breeze and the lake. Nobody. And he thought, rolling thoughts, with the smoke curling up over his head and the smile still half onhis face he thought: I wonder what they're doing now. I wonder what my father is doing now. I wonder what my mother is doing now.I wonder if she is with him. 10HECOULD NOT at first leave the fire. It was so precious to him, so close and sweet a thing, the yellow and red flames brightening thedark interior of the shelter, the happy crackle of the dry wood as it burned, that he could not leave it.He went to the trees and brought in as many dead limbs as he could chop off and carry, and when hehad a large pile of them he sat near the fire—though it was getting into the warm middle part of the dayand he was hot—and broke them in small pieces and fed the fire. I will not let you go out, he said to himself, to the flames—not ever. And so he sat through a long
part of the day, keeping the flames even, eating from his stock of raspberries, leaving to drink from thelake when he was thirsty. In the afternoon, toward evening, with his face smoke smeared and hisskin red from the heat, he finally began to think ahead to what he needed to do. He would need a large woodpile to get through the night. It would be almost impossible to findwood in the dark so he had to have it all in and cut and stacked before the sun went down. Brian made certain the fire was banked with new wood, then went out of the shelter and searchedfor a good fuel supply. Up the hill from the campsite the same windstorm that left him a place to landthe plane—had that only been three, four days ago?—had dropped three large white pines acrosseach other. They were dead now, dry and filled with weathered dry dead limbs—enough for many days.He chopped and broke and carried wood back to the camp, stacking the pieces under the overhanguntil he had what he thought to be an enormous pile, as high as his head and six feet across the base.Between trips he added small pieces to the fire to keep it going and on one of the trips to get woodhe noticed an added advantage of the fire. When he was in the shade of the trees breaking limbs themosquitoes swarmed on him, as usual, but when he came to the fire, or just near the shelter where thesmoke eddied and swirled, the insects were gone. It was a wonderful discovery. The mosquitoes had nearly driven him mad and the thought of being rid of them lifted his spirits. On another trip he looked back and saw the smoke curling up through the trees and realized, for the first time, that he now had the means to make a signal. He could carry a burning stick and build a signal fire on top of the rock, make clouds of smoke and perhaps attract attention. Which meant more wood. And still more wood. There did not seem to be an end to the wood hewould need and he spent all the rest of the afternoon into dusk making wood trips. At dark he settled in again for the night, next to the fire with the stack of short pieces ready to puton, and he ate the rest of the raspberries. During all the work of the day his leg had loosened but itstill ached a bit, and he rubbed it and watched the fire and thought for the first time since the crashthat he might be getting a handle on things, might be starting to do something other than just sit. He was out of food, but he could look tomorrow and he could build a signal fire tomorrow and getmore wood tomorrow... The fire cut the night coolness and settled him back into sleep, thinking of tomorrow. He slept hard and wasn't sure what awakened him but his eyes came open and he stared into thedarkness. The fire had burned down and looked out but he stirred with a piece of wood and found abed of coals still glowing hot and red. With small pieces of wood and careful blowing he soon had ablaze going again. It had been close. He had to be sure to try and sleep in short intervals so he could keep the firegoing, and he tried to think of a way to regulate his sleep but it made him sleepy to think about it andhe was just going under again when he heard the sound outside. It was not unlike the sound of the porcupine, something slithering and being dragged across thesand, but when he looked out the door opening it was too dark to see anything. Whatever it was it stopped making that sound in a few moments and he thought he heard somethingsloshing into the water at the shoreline, but he had the fire now and plenty of wood so he wasn't asworried as he had been the night before. He dozed, slept for a time, awakened again just at dawn-gray light, and added wood to the still-
smoking fire before standing outside and stretching. Standing with his arms stretched over his head andthe tight knot of hunger in his stomach, he looked toward the lake and saw the tracks. They were strange, a main center line up from the lake in the sand with claw marks to the sideleading to a small pile of sand, then going back down to the water. He walked over and squatted near them, studied them, tried to make sense of them. Whatever had made the tracks had some kind of flat dragging bottom in die middle and was appar-ently pushed along by the legs that stuck out to die side. Up from the water to a small pile of sand, then back down into the water. Some animal. Some kindof water animal that came up to die sand to... to do what? To do something with the sand, to play and make a pile in the sand? He smiled. City boy, he thought. Oh, you city boy with your city ways—he made a mirror in his mind,a mirror of himself, and saw how he must look. City boy with your city ways sitting in the sand tryingto read the tracks and not knowing, not understanding. Why would anything wild come up from thewater to play in die sand? Not that way, animals weren't that way. They didn't waste time that way. It had come up from the water for a reason, a good reason, and he must try to understand thereason, he must change to fully understand the reason himself or he would not make it. It had come up from the water for a reason, and the reason, he thought, squatting, the reason had to do with die pile of sand. He brushed the top off gently with his hand but found only damp sand. Still, there must be a reasonand he carefully kept scraping and digging until, about four inches down, he suddenly came into asmall chamber in the cool-damp sand and there lay eggs, many eggs, almost perfectly round eggs thesize of table tennis balls, and he laughed then because he knew. It had been a turtle. He had seen a show on television about sea turtles that came up onto beachesand laid their eggs in the sand. There must be freshwater lake turtles dial did the same. Maybe snappingturtles. He had heard of snapping turtles. They became fairly large, he thought. It must have been asnapper that came up in the night when he heard the noise that awakened him; she must have comethen and laid the eggs. Food. More than eggs, more than knowledge, more than anything this was food. His stomach tightened androlled and made noise as he looked at the eggs, as if his stomach belonged to somebody else or hadseen the eggs with its own eyes and was demanding food. The hunger, always there, had been somewhatcontrolled and dormant when there was nothing to eat but with the eggs came the scream to eat. Hiswhole body craved food with such an intensity that it quickened his breath. He reached into the nest and pulled the eggs out one at a time. There were seventeen of them, eachas round as a ball, and white. They had leathery shells that gave instead of breaking when hesqueezed them. When he had them heaped on the sand in a pyramid—he had never felt so rich somehow—he sud-denly realized that he did not know how to eat them. He had a fire but no way to cook them, no container, and he had never thought of eating a rawegg. He had an uncle named Carter, his father's brother, who always put an egg in a glass of milkand drank it in the morning. Brian had watched him do it once, just once, and when the runny part ofthe white left the glass and went into his uncle's mouth and down the throat in a single gulp Brian
almost lost everything he had ever eaten. Still, he thought. Still. As his stomach moved toward his backbone he became less and less fussy.Some natives in the world ate grasshoppers and ants and if they could do that he could get a raw eggdown. He picked one up and tried to break the shell and found it surprisingly tough. Finally, using the hatchet he sharpened a stick and poked a hole in the egg. He widened die hole with his finger and looked inside. Just an egg. It had a dark yellow yolk and not so much white as he thought there would be. Just an egg. Food. Just an egg he had to eat. Raw. He looked out across the lake and brought the egg to his mouth and closed his eyes and sucked andsqueezed the egg at the same time and swallowed as fast as he could. 'Ecch...' It had a greasy, almost oily taste, but it was still an egg. His throat tried to throw it back up, hiswhole body seemed to convulse with it, but his stomach took it, held it, and demanded more. The second egg was easier, and by the third one he had no trouble at all—it just slid down. He atesix of them, could have easily eaten all of them and not been full, but a part of him said to hold back,save the rest. He could not now believe the hunger. The eggs had awakened it fully, roaringly, so that it tore athim. After the sixth egg he ripped the shell open and licked the inside clean, then went back andripped the other five open and licked them out as well and wondered if he could eat the shells. Theremust be some food value in them. But when he tried they were too leathery to chew and he couldn'tget them down. He stood away from the eggs for a moment, literally stood and turned away so that he could notsee them. If he looked at them he would have to eat more. He would store them in the shelter and eat only one a day. He fought the hunger down again, con-trolled it He would take them now and store them and save them and eat one a day, and he realizedas he thought it that he had forgotten that they might come. The searchers. Surely, they would comebefore he could eat all the eggs at one a day. He had forgotten to think about them and that wasn't good. He had to keep thinking of them be-cause if he forgot them and did not think of them they might forget about him. And he had to keep hoping. He had to keep hoping.
1 11THEREWEREthese things to do. He transferred all the eggs from the small beach into the shelter, reburying them near his sleepingarea. It took all his will to keep from eating another one as he moved them, but he got it done andwhen they were out of sight again it was easier. He added wood to the fire and cleaned up the camparea. A good laugh, that—cleaning the camp. All he did was shake out his windbreaker and hang it in thesun to dry the berry juice that had soaked in, and smooth the sand where he slept. But it was a mental thing. He had gotten depressed thinking about how they hadn't found him yet,and when he was busy and had something to do the depression seemed to leave. So there were things to do. With the camp squared away he brought in more wood. He had decided to always have enough onhand for three days and after spending one night with the fire for a friend he knew what a staggeringamount of wood it would take. He worked all through the morning at the wood, breaking down deadlimbs and breaking or chopping them in smaller pieces, storing them neatly beneath the overhang. Hestopped once to take a drink at the lake and in his reflection he saw that the swelling on his head wasnearly gone. There was no pain there so he assumed that had taken care of itself. His leg was alsoback to normal, although he had a small pattern of holes—roughly star-shaped— where the quills hadnailed him, and while he was standing at the lake shore taking stock he noticed that his body waschanging. He had never been fat, but he had been slightly heavy with a little extra weight just above his beltat the sides. This was completely gone and his stomach had caved in to the hunger and the sun had cooked himpast burning so he was tanning, and with the smoke from the fire his face was starting to look likeleather. But perhaps more than his body was the change in his mind, or in the way he was—was
becoming. I am not the same, he thought. I see, I hear differently. He did not know when the change started,but it was there; when a sound came to him now he didn't just hear it but would know the sound.He would swing and look at it—a breaking twig, a movement of air—and know the sound as if hesomehow could move his mind back down the wave of sound to the source. He could know what the sound was before he quite realized he had heard it. And when he sawsomething—a bird moving a wing inside a bush or a ripple on the water—he would truly see that thing,not just notice it as he used to notice things in the city. He would see all parts of it; see the wholewing, the feathers, see the color of the feathers, see the bush, and the size and shape and color of itsleaves. He would see the way the light moved with the ripples on the water and see that the wind madethe ripples and which way that wind had to blow to make the ripples move in that certain way. None of that used to be in Brian and now it was a part of him, a changed part of him, a grown partof him, and the two things, his mind and his body, had come together as well, had made a connectionwith each other that he didn't quite understand. When his ears heard a sound or his eyes saw a sight hismind took control of his body. Without his thinking, he moved to face the sound or sight, moved to makeready for it, to deal with it. There were these things to do. When the wood was done he decided to get a signal fire ready. He moved to the top of the rockridge that comprised the bluff over his shelter and was pleased to find a large, flat stone area. More wood, he thought, moaning inwardly. He went back to the fallen trees and found more deadlimbs, carrying them up on the rock until he had enough for a bonfire. Initially he had thought pfmaking a signal fire every day but he couldn't—he would never be able to keep the wood supply going.So while he was working he decided to have the fire ready and if he heard an engine, or even thoughthe heard a plane engine, he would run up with a burning limb and set off the signal fire. Things to do. At the last trip to the top of the stone bluff with wood he stopped, sat on the point overlooking thelake, and rested. The lake lay before him, twenty or so feet below, and he had not seen it this way sincehe had come in with the plane. Remembering the crash he had a moment of fear, a breath-tighteninglittle rip of terror, but it passed and he was quickly caught up in the beauty of the scenery. It was so incredibly beautiful that it was almost unreal. From his height he could see not just thelake but across part of the forest, a green carpet, and it was full of life. Birds, insects—there was aconstant hum and song. At the other end of the bottom of the L there was another large rock stickingout over the water and on top of the rock a snaggly pine had somehow found food and grown, bentand gnarled. Sitting on one limb was a blue bird with a crest and sharp beak, a kingfisher—hethought of a picture he had seen once—which left the branch while he watched and dove into thewater. It emerged a split part of a second later. In its mouth was a small fish, wiggling silver in thesun. It took the fish to a limb, juggled it twice, and swallowed it whole. Fish. Of course, he thought. There were fish in the lake and they were food. And if a bird could do it... He scrambled down the side of the bluff and trotted to the edge of the lake, looking down into thewater. Somehow it had never occurred to him to look inside the water—only at the surface. The sunwas flashing back up into his eyes and he moved off to the side and took his shoes off and waded outfifteen feet. Then he turned and stood still, with the sun at his back, and studied the water again.
It was, he saw after a moment, literally packed with life. Small fish swam everywhere, some narrowand long, some round, most of them three or four inches long, some a bit larger and many smaller.There was a patch of mud off to the side, leading into deeper water, and he could see old clam shellsthere, so there must be clams. As he watched, a crayfish, looking like a tiny lobster, left one of theempty clam shells and went to another looking for something to eat, digging with its claws. While he stood some of the small, roundish fish came quite close to his legs and he tensed, gotready, and made a wild stab at grabbing one of them. They exploded away in a hundred flicks of quicklight, so fast that he had no hope of catching them that way. But they soon came back, seemed to becurious about him, and as he walked from the water he tried to think of a way to use that curiosity tocatch them. He had no hooks or string but if he could somehow lure them into the shallows—and make a spear, asmall fish spear—he might be able to strike fast enough to get one.He would have to find the right kind of wood, slim and straight—he had seen some willows up alongthe lake that might work—and he could use the hatchet to sharpen it and shape it while he wassitting by the fire tonight. And that brought up the fire, which he had to feed again. He looked at thesun and saw it was getting late in the afternoon, and when he thought of how late it was he thought thathe ought to reward all his work with another egg and that made him think that some kind of dessertwould be nice—he smiled when he thought of dessert, so fancy—and he wondered if he should move upthe lake and see if he could find some raspberries after he banked the fire and while he was looking forthe right wood for a spear. Spearwood, he thought, and it all rolled together, just rolled together androlled over him... There were these things to do. 12THEFISHSPEARdidn't work. He stood in the shallows and waited, again and again. The small fish came closer and closer and he lunged time after time but was always too slow. He tried throwing it, jabbing it, everything but flailing with it, and it didn't work. The fish were just too fast. He had been so sure, so absolutely certain that it would work the night before. Sitting by the fire he had taken the willow and carefully peeled the bark until he had a straight staff about six feet long and just under an inch thick at the base, the thickest end. Then, propping the hatchet in a crack in the rock wall, he had pulled the head of his spear against it, carving a thin piece off each time, until the thick end tapered down to a needle point. Still not satisfied—he could not imagine hitting one of the fish with a single point—he carefully used the hatchet to split the point up the middle for eight or ten inches and jammed a piece of wood up into the split to make a two-prong spear with the points about two inches apart. It was crude, but it looked effective and seemed to have good balance when he stood outside die shelter and hefted the spear. He had worked on the fish spear until it had become more than just a tool. He'd spent hours and hours on it, and now it didn't work. He moved into the shallows and stood and the fish came to him. Just as before they swarmed around his legs, some of them almost six inches long, but no matter how he tried they were too fast. At first he tried throwing it but that had no chance. As soon as he brought his arm back—well before he threw—the movement frightened them. Next he tried lunging at them, having the spear ready just above the water and thrusting with it. Finally he actually put the spear in the water and waited until the fish were right in front of it, but still somehow he telegraphed his motion before he thrust and they saw it and flashed away.
He needed something to spring the spear forward, some way to make it move faster than thefish—some motive force. A string that snapped—or a bow. A bow and arrow. A thin, long arrow withthe point in the water and the bow pulled back so that all he had to do was release the arrow... yes.That was it. He had to 'invent' the bow and arrow—he almost laughed as he moved out of the water and puthis shoes on. The morning sun was getting hot and he took his shirt off. Maybe that was how it reallyhappened, way back when—some primitive man tried to spear fish and it didn't work and he'invented' the bow and arrow. Maybe it was always that way, discoveries happened because theyneeded to happen. He had not eaten anything yet this morning so he took a moment to dig up the eggs and eat one. Then he reburied them, banked the fire with a couple of thicker pieces of wood, settled the hatchet on his belt and took the spear in his right hand and set off up the lake to find wood to make a bow. He went without a shirt but something about the wood smoke smell on him kept the insects from bothering him as he walked to the berry patch. The raspberries were starting to become overripe, just in two days, and he would have to pick as many as possible after he found the wood but he did take a little time now to pick a few and eat them. They were full and sweet and when he picked one, two others would fall off the limbs into the grass and soon his hands and cheeks were covered with red berry juice and he was full. That surprised him—being full. He hadn't thought he would ever be full again, knew only the hunger, and here he was full. Oneturtle egg and a few handfuls of berries and he felt full. He looked down at his stomach and saw thatit was still caved in—did not bulge out as it would have with two hamburgers and a freezy slush. Itmust have shrunk. And there was still hunger there, but not like it was—not tearing at him. This washunger that he knew would be there always, even when he had food—a hunger that made him lookfor things, see things. A hunger to make him hunt. He swung his eyes across the berries to make sure the bear wasn't there, at his back, then hemoved down to the lake. The spear went out before him automatically, moving the brush away from hisface as he walked, and when he came to the water's edge he swung left. Not sure what he was lookingfor, not knowing what wood might be best for a bow—he had never made a bow, never shot a bow inhis life—but it seemed that it would be along the lake, near the water. He saw some young birch, and they were springy, but they lacked snap somehow, as did the willows.Not enough whip-back. Halfway up the lake, just as he started to step over a log, he was absolutely terrified by an explosionunder his feet. Something like a feathered bomb blew up and away in flurry of leaves and thunder. Itfrightened him so badly that he fell back and down and then it was gone, leaving only an image in hismind. A bird, it had been, about the size of a very small chicken only with a fantail and stubby wings that slammed against its body and made loud noise. Noise there and gone. He got up and brushed himself off. The bird had been speckled, brown and gray, and it must not be very smart because Brian's foot had been nearly on it before it flew. Half a second more and he would have stepped on it. And caught it, he thought, and eaten it. He might be able to catch one, or spear one. Maybe, he thought, maybe it tasted like chicken. Maybe he could catch one or spear one and it probably did taste just like chicken. Just like chicken when his mother baked it in the oven with garlic and salt and
it turned golden brown and crackled.... He shook his head to drive the picture out and moved down to the shore. There was a tree there with long branches that seemed straight and when he pulled on one of them and let go it had an almost vicious snap to it. He picked one of the limbs that seemed right and began chopping where die limb joined the tree. The wood was hard and he didn't want to cause it to split so he took his time, took small chips andconcentrated so hard that at first he didn't hear it. A persistent whine, like the insects only more steady with an edge of a roar to it, was in his earsand he chopped and cut and was thinking of a bow, how he would make a bow, how it would be whenhe shaped it with the hatchet and still the sound did not cut through until the limb was nearly off thetree and the whine was inside his head and he knew it then. A plane! It was a motor, far off but seeming to get louder. They were coming for him! He threw down the limb and his spear and, holding the hatchet, he started to run for camp. He had toget fire up on the bluff and signal them, get fire and smoke up. He put all of his life into his legs,jumped logs and moved through brush like a light ghost, swiveling and running, his lungs filling andblowing and now the sound was louder, coming in his direction. If not right at him, at least closer. He could see it all in his mind now, the picture, the way it would be. He would get the fire going and the plane would see the smoke and circle, circle once, then again, and waggle its wings. It would be a float plane and it would land on the water and come across the lake and the pilot would be amazed that he was alive after all these days.All this he saw as he ran for the camp and the fire. They would take him from here and this night, thisvery night, he would sit with his father and eat and tell him all the things. He could see it now. Oh,yes, all as he ran in the sun, his legs liquid springs. He got to the camp still hearing the whine of theengine, and one stick of wood still had good flame. He dove inside and grabbed the wood and ranaround the edge of the ridge, scrambled up like a cat and blew and nearly had the flame feeding, grow-ing, when the sound moved away. It was abrupt, as if the plane had turned. He shielded the sun from his eyes and tried to see it, tried to make the plane become real in his eyes. But the trees were so high, so thick, and now the sound was still fainter. He kneeled again to the flames and blew and added grass and chips and the flames fed and grew and in moments he had a bonfire as high as his head but the sound was gone now. Look back, he thought. Look back and see the smoke now and turn, please turn. 'Look back,' he whispered, feeling all the pictures fade, seeing his father's face fade like the sound, like lost dreams, like an end to hope. Oh, turn now and come back, look back and see the smoke and turn for me.... But it kept moving away until he could not hear it even in his imagination, in his soul. Gone. Hestood on the bluff over the lake, his face cooking in the roaring bonfire, watching the clouds of ashand smoke going into the sky and thought—no, more than thought—he knew then that he wouldnot get out of this place. Not now, not ever. That had been a search plane. He was sure of it. That must have been them and they had come asfar off to the side of the flight plan as they thought they would have to come and then turned back.They did not see his smoke, did not hear the cry from his mind. They would not return. He would never leave now, never get out of here. He went down to hisknees and felt the tears start, cutting through the smoke and ash on his face, silently falling onto the
stone. 13 BRIAN STOOD at the end of the long part of the L of the lake and watched the water, smelled the water,listened to the water, was the water.A fish moved and his eyes jerked sideways to see the ripples but he did not move any other part ofhis body and did not raise the bow or reach into his belt pouch for a fish arrow. It was not the rightkind of fish, not a food fish.The food fish stayed close in, in the shallows, and did not roll that way but made quicker movements,small movements, food movements. The large fish rolled and stayed deep and could not be taken. Butit didn't matter. This day, this morning, he was not looking for fish. Fish was light meat and he was sickof them. He was looking for one of the foolish birds—he called them foolbirds—and there was a flock thatlived near the end of the long part of the lake. But something he did not understand had stopped himand he stood, breathing gently through his mouth to keep silent, letting his eyes and ears go out anddo the work for him. It had happened before this way, something had come into him from outside to warn him and hehad stopped. Once it had been the bear again. He had been taking the last of the raspberries and some-thing came inside and stopped him, and when he looked where his ears said to look there was afemale bear with cubs. Had he taken two more steps he would have come between the mother and her cubs and that was a bad place to be. As it was the mother had stood and faced him and made a sound, a low sound in her throat to threaten and warn him. He paid attention to the feeling now and he stood and waited, patiently, knowing he was right and that something would come. Turn, smell, listen, feel and then a sound, a small sound, and he looked up and away from the lake and saw the wolf. It was halfway up the hill from the lake, standing with its head and shoulders stick- ing out into a small opening, looking down on him with wide yellow eyes. He had never seen a wolf and the size threw him—not as big as a bear but somehow seeming that large. The wolf claimed all that was below him as his own, took Brian as his own. Brian looked back and for a moment felt afraid because the wolf was so... so right. He knew Brian,knew him and owned him and chose not to do anything to him. But the fear moved then, movedaway, and Brian knew the wolf for what it was— another part of the woods, another part of all of it.Brian relaxed the tension on the spear in his hand, settled the bow in his other hand from where it hadstarted to come up. He knew the wolf now, as the wolf knew him, and he nodded to it, nodded andsmiled. The wolf watched him for another time, another part of his life, then it turned and walked effortlesslyup the hill and as it came out of the brush it was followed by three other wolves, all equally largeand gray and beautiful, all looking down on him as they trotted past and away and Brian nodded toeach of them. He was not the same now—the Brian that stood and watched the wolves move away and nodded tothem was completely changed. Time had come, time that he measured but didn't care about; time
had come into his life and moved out and left him different. In measured time forty-seven days had passed since the crash. Forty-two days, he thought, sincehe had died and been born as the new Brian. When the plane had come and gone it had put him down, gutted him and dropped him and lefthim with nothing. The rest of that first day he had gone down and down until dark. He had let the firego out, had forgotten to eat even an egg, had let his brain take him down to where he was done, wherehe wanted to be done and done. To where he wanted to die. He had settled into the gray funk deeper and still deeper until finally,in the dark, he had gone up on the ridge and taken the hatchet and tried to end it by cutting himself. Madness. A hissing madness that took his brain. There had been nothing for him then and he triedto become nothing but the cutting had been hard to do, impossible to do, and he had at last fallen tohis side, wishing for death, wishing for an end, and slept only didn't sleep. With his eyes closed and his mind open he lay on the rock through the night, lay and hated and wished for it to end and thought the word Cloud-down, Clouddoum through that awful night. Over and over the word, wanting all his clouds to come down, but in the morning he was still there.Still there on his side and the sun came up and when he opened his eyes he saw the cuts on his arm,the dry blood turning black; he saw the blood and hated the blood, hated what he had done to himselfwhen he was the old Brian and was weak, and two things came into his mind—two true things. He was not the same. The plane passing changed him, the disappointment cut him down and madehim new. He was not the same and would never be again like he had been. That was one of the truethings, the new things. And the other one was that he would not die, he would not let death in again. He was new. Of course he had made a lot of mistakes. He smiled now, walking up the lake shore after thewolves were gone, thinking of the early mistakes; the mistakes that came before he realized that hehad to find new ways to be what he had become. He had made new fire, which he now kept going using partially rotten wood because the punkywood would smolder for many hours and still come back with fire. But that had been the extent of doingthings right for a while. His first bow was a disaster that almost blinded him. He had sat a whole night and shaped the limbs carefully until die bow looked beautiful. Then hehad spent two days making arrows. The shafts were willow, straight and with the bark peeled, and hefire-hardened the points and split a couple of them to make forked points, as he had done with thespear. He had no feathers so he just left them bare, figuring for fish they only had to travel a few inches.He had no string and that threw him until he looked down at his tennis shoes. They had long laces, toolong, and he found that one lace cut in half would take care of both shoes and that left the other lacefor a bowstring. All seemed to be going well until he tried a test shot. He put an arrow to the string, pulled it backto his cheek, pointed it at a din hummock, and at that precise instant the bow wood exploded in hishands sending splinters and chips of wood into his face. Two pieces actually stuck into his forehead,just above his eyes, and had they been only slightly lower they would have blinded him. Too stiff. Mistakes. In his mental journal he listed them to tell his father, listed all the mistakes. He had made a new bow, with slender limbs and a more fluid, gentle pull, but could not hit the fish though he sat
in the water and was, in the end, surrounded by a virtual cloud of small fish. It was infuriating. He would pull the bow back, set the arrow just above the water, and when the fish was no more than an inch away release the arrow.Only to miss. It seemed to him that the arrow had gone right through the fish, again and again, but thefish didn't get hurt. Finally, after hours, he stuck the arrow down in the water, pulled the bow, andwaited for a fish to come close and while he was waiting he noticed that the water seemed to makethe arrow bend or break in the middle. Of course—he had forgotten that water refracts, bends light. He had learned that somewhere, insome class, maybe it was biology—he couldn't remember. But it did bend light and that meant thefish were not where they appeared to be. They were lower, just below, which meant he had to aim justunder them. He would not forget his first hit. Not ever. A round-shaped fish, with golden sides, sides as gold asthe sun, stopped in front of the arrow and he aimed just beneath it, at the bottom edge of the fish,and released the arrow and there was a bright flurry, a splash of gold in the water. He grabbed thearrow and raised it up and the fish was on the end, wiggling against the blue sky. He held the fish against the sky until it stopped wiggling, held it and looked to the sky and felt histhroat tighten, swell, and fill with pride at what he had done. He had done food. With his bow, with an arrow fashioned by his own hands he had done food, had found a way to live. The bow had given him this way and he exulted in it, in the bow, in the arrow, in the fish, in the hatchet, in the sky. He stood and walked from the water, still holding the fish and arrow and bow against the sky, seeing them as they fit his arms, as they were part of him. He had food. He cut a green willow fork and held the fish over the fire until the skin crackled and peeled away andthe meat inside was flaky and moist and tender. This he picked off carefully with his fingers, tasting everypiece, mashing them in his mouth with his tongue to get the juices out of them, hot steaming piecesof fish... He could not, he thought then, ever get enough. And all that first day, first new day, he spent going to the lake, shooting a fish, taking it back to the fire, cooking it and eating it, then back to the lake, shoot- ing a fish, cooking it and eating it, and on that way until it was dark. He had taken the scraps back to the water with the thought they might work for bait, and the other fish came by the hundreds to clean them up. He could take his pick of them. Like a store, he thought, just like a store, and he could not remember later how many he ate that day but he thought it must have been over twenty.It had been a feast day, his first feast day, and a celebration of being alive and the new way he had ofgetting food. By the end of that day, when it became dark and he lay next to the fire with hisstomach full of fish and grease from the meat smeared around his mouth, he could feel new hopebuilding in him. Not hope that he would be rescued—that was gone. But hope in his knowledge. Hope in the fact that he could learn and survive and take care of himself.Tough hope, he thought that night. I am full of tough hope.
14MISTAKES. Small mistakes could turn into disasters, funny little mistakes could snowball so that while youwere still smiling at the humor you could find yourself looking at death. In the city if he made a mistakeusually there was a way to rectify it, make it all right. If he fell on his bike and sprained a leg hecould wait for it to heal; if he forgot something at the store he could find other food in the refrigerator. Now it was different, and all so quick, all so incredibly quick. If he sprained a leg here he mightstarve before he could get around again; if he missed while he was hunting or if the fish moved away hemight starve. If he got sick, really sick so he couldn't move he might starve. Mistakes. Early in the new time he had learned the most important thing, the truly vital knowledge thatdrives all creatures in the forest—food is all. Food was simply everything. All things in the woods, frominsects to fish to bears, were always, always looking for food—it was the great, single driving influencein nature. To eat. All must eat. But the way he learned it almost killed him. His second new night, stomach full of fish and the firesmoldering in the shelter, he had been sound asleep when something—he thought later it might besmell—had awakened him. Near the fire, completely unafraid of the smoking coals, completely unafraid of Brian, a skunk wasdigging where he had buried the eggs. There was some sliver of a moon and in the faint-pearl light hecould see the bushy tail, the white stripes down the back, and he had nearly smiled. He did not knowhow the skunk had found the eggs, some smell, perhaps some tiny fragment of shell had left a smell, butit looked almost cute, its little head down and its little tail up as it dug and dug, kicking the sand back. But those were his eggs, not the skunk's, and the half smile had been quickly replaced with fear thathe would lose his food and he had grabbed a handful of sand and thrown it at the skunk. 'Get out of here...' He was going to say more, some silly human words, but in less than half a second the skunk hadsnapped its rear end up, curved the tail over, and sprayed Brian with a direct shot aimed at his headfrom less than four feet away. In the tiny confines of the shelter the effect was devastating. The thick sulfurous rotten odorfilled the small room, heavy, ugly, and stinking. The corrosive spray that hit his face seared into hislungs and eyes, blinding him. He screamed and threw himself sideways, taking the entire wall off the shelter; screamed andclawed out of the shelter and fell-ran to the shore of the lake. Stumbling and tripping, he scrambledinto the water and slammed his head back and ft>rth trying to wash his eyes, slashing at the water to
clear his eyes. A hundred funny cartoons he had seen about skunks. Cute cartoons about the smell of skunks,cartoons to laugh at and joke about, but when the spray hit there was nothing funny about it—hewas completely blind for almost two hours. A lifetime. He thought that he might be permanentlyblind, or at least impaired—and that would have been the end. As it was the pain in his eyes lastedfor days, bothered him after that for two weeks. The smell in the shelter, in his clothes, and in hishair was still there now, almost a month and a half later. And he had nearly smiled. Mistakes. Food had to be protected. While he was in the lake trying to clear his eyes the skunk went aheadand dug up the rest of the turtle eggs and ate every one. Licked all the shells clean and couldn't havecared less that Brian was thrashing around in the water like a dying carp. The skunk had found foodand was taking it and Brian was paying for a lesson. Protect food and have a good shelter. Not just a shelter to keep the wind and rain out, but a shelterto protect, a shelter to make him safe. The day after the skunk he set about making a good place to live. The basic idea had been good, the place for his shelter was right, but he just hadn't gone far enough.He'd been lazy—but now he knew the second most important thing about nature, what drives nature.Food was first, but the work for the food went on and on. Nothing in nature was lazy. He had tried totake a shortcut and paid for it with his turtle eggs— which he had come to like more than chicken eggsfrom the store. They had been fuller somehow, had more depth to them. He set about improving his shelter by tearing it down. From dead pines up the hill he brought downheavier logs and fastened several of them across the opening, wedging them at the top and burying thebottoms in the sand. Then he wove long branches in through them to make a truly tight wall and, stillnot satisfied, he took even thinner branches and wove those into the first weave. When he was atlast finished he could not find a place to put his fist through. It all held together like a very stiff wovenbasket. He judged the door opening to be the weakest spot, and here he took special time to weave a doorof willows in so tight a mesh that no matter how a skunk tried—or porcupine, he thought, looking atthe marks in his leg—it could not possibly get through. He had no hinges but by arranging somecut-off limbs at the top in the right way he had a method to hook the door in place, and when hewas in and the door was hung he felt relatively safe. A bear, something big, could still get in by tearingat it, but nothing small could bother him and the weave of the structure still allowed the smoke tofilter up through the top and out. All in all it took him three days to make the shelter, stopping to shoot fish and eat as he went, bath-ing four times a day to try and get the smell from the skunk to leave. When his house was done, finallydone right, he turned to the constant problem— food.It was all right to hunt and eat, or fish and eat, but what happened if he had to go a long timewithout food? What happened when the berries were gone and he got sick or hurt or—thinking ofthe skunk—laid up temporarily? He needed a way to store food, a place to store it, and he neededfood to store. Mistakes. He tried to learn from the mistakes. He couldn't bury food again, couldn't leave it in the shelter,because something like a bear could get at it right away. It had to be high, somehow, high and safe. Above the door to the shelter, up the rock face about ten feet, was a small ledge that could make
a natural storage place, unreachable to animals— except that it was unreachable to him as well. A ladder, of course. He needed a ladder. But he had no way to fashion one, nothing to hold the stepson, and that stopped him until he found a dead pine with many small branches still sticking out.Using his hatchet he chopped the branches off so they stuck out four or five inches, all up along thelog, then he cut the log off about ten feet long and dragged it down to his shelter. It was a little heavy,but dry and he could manage it, and when he propped it up he found he could climb to the ledge withease, though the tree did roll from side to side a bit as he climbed. His food shelf—as he thought of it—had been covered with bird manure and he carefully scrapedit clean with sticks. He had never seen birds there, but that was probably because the smoke from hisfire went up right across the opening and they didn't like smoke. Still, he had learned and he tooktime to weave a snug door for the small opening with green willows, cutting it so it jammed intightly, and when he finished he stood back and looked at the rock face—his shelter below, the foodshelf above— and allowed a small bit of pride to come.Not bad, he had thought, not bad for somebody who used to have trouble greasing the bearings onhis bicycle. Not bad at all. Mistakes. He had made a good shelter and food shelf, but he had no food except for fish and the last of theberries. And the fish, as good as they still tasted then, were not something he could store. Hismother had left some salmon out by mistake one time when they went on an overnight trip to CapeHesper to visit relatives and when they got back the smell filled the whole house. There was no wayto store fish. At least, he thought, no way to store them dead. But as he looked at the weave of his structure a thought came to him and he moved down to the water. He had been putting the waste from the fish back in the water and the food had attracted hundreds of new ones. 'I wonder...' They seemed to come easily to the food, at least the small ones. He had no trouble now shootingthem and had even speared one with his old fish spear now that he knew to aim low. He could danglesomething in his fingers and they came right up to it. It might be possible, he thought, might justbe possible to trap them. Make some kind of pond... To his right, at the base of the rock bluff, there were piles of smaller rocks that had fallen fromthe main chunk, splinters and hunks, from double-fist size to some as large as his head. He spent after-noon carrying rocks to the beach and making what amounted to a large pen for holding live fish—tworock 'arms' that stuck out fifteen feet into the lake and curved together at the end. Where the armscame together he left an opening about two feet across, then he sat on the shore and waited. 15THE DAYS had folded one into another and mixed so that after two or three weeks he only knew timehad passed in days because he made a mark for each day in the stone near the door to his shelter. Realtime he measured in events. A day was nothing, not a thing to remember—it was just sun coming up,sun going down, some light in the middle.But events—events were burned into his memory and so he used them to remember time, to know andto remember what had happened, to keep a mental journal.
Download Say Yes To What S Next Book PDF. Download full Say Yes To What S Next books PDF, EPUB, Tuebl, Textbook, Mobi or read online Say Yes To What S Next anytime and anywhere on any device. Get free access to the library by create an account, fast download and ads free. We cannot guarantee that every book is in the library. Download Free PDF. Wren and martin english grammar. Download Download PDF. Full PDF Package Download Full PDF Package. Those who don’t know how to get people to say yes soon fall away; those who do, stay and flourish. Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes, the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human. Yes I Can Say That. Download full Yes I Can Say That Book or read online anytime anywhere, Available in PDF, ePub and Kindle. Click Get Books and find your favorite books in the online library. Create free account to access unlimited books, fast download and ads free! We cannot guarantee that Yes I Can Say That book is in the library. Sheila: (same tone as before) Yes, that’s what you say. Mrs Birling: Now, Sheila, don't tease him. When you're married you'll realize that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business. You'll have to get used to that, just as I had. Sheila: I don't believe I will.