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Authors note: I hope this isn't too long. I wrote it a little while back and tried to shorten it up, but my scissors were not co-operating....

I Survived

A few weeks ago, I decided to take a wilderness survival training class. Not knowing exactly why I would want to do such a thing made it difficult to prepare for the journey. I spent more time trying to figure out how I would get my lap top computer charged up when the battery died, than I did in worrying about other more important things, like how many clean pair of underwear to pack. It wasn't like I was planning on meeting anyone out there after all, and who would care if I changed my underwear or not, other than myself. Besides, I knew it would be pointless to go out in the woods without a way to play some of my nifty computer games. How could I possibly survive a week with out them?

I knew McGiver could survive anything, armed with only a roll of Duct tape, a Swiss army knife, and a few other various odds and ends stuffed in his pocket. So I went to the odds and ends drawer in the Kitchen, (everyone has one,) and grabbed a bunch of stuff and threw it in the bottom of the nap sack. To be honest, I emptied the entire drawer, I wanted to make sure I was prepared for any mishap that might come my way. The contents of the drawer were as varied as they were unique. Everyone knows, there are never more than one item of each kind in the odds and ends drawer, after all, that's why they call them odds and ends, not pairs and ends.

Having packed the entire contents of the odds and ends drawer, my lap top, the Duct tape, Swiss army knife, a one man tent, sleeping bag and a few pieces of clothing, I felt well prepared to take on what ever Mother nature threw my way. The instructor said we could take anything we wanted, except food and water. I was good to go. Upon checking my pack, the instructor immediately pulled out a piece of paper, demanding I sign it before he gave his official release, pronouncing me fit and prepared to enter the wilderness. I didn't understand why, no one else had to sign anything. It was some kind of disclaimer saying I could not sue them if I died in the woods, and that I had totally ignored the recommendations set forth by the list we were given of things we should consider taking with us. For a brief moment, I wondered how I could sue them if I were dead, but I signed anyway.

We were all dropped off in the woods by Helicopter, into widely separated areas. The instructor told us there was ample edible plant life and small wild animals in each area, and to stay in the general vicinity we were delivered to. He said the area I was left in was not fully explored, but he assured me I would have no problem, if, I were properly prepared. We were given an electronic locator so they could find us in an emergency and a radio to be used only in the most dire of circumstances, in case we had to call for help. Dusk was already approaching when the sound of the Helicopter faded in the distance. I had my odds and ends, I had my laptop, I was a happy camper.

I reached into my pack, searching for the flashlight so I could see to set up the tent, only to find I didn't bring a flashlight. Bummer. However, I did have one D cell Energizer, a spare flash light bulb and some scraps of wire from the Kitchen drawer. I was able to fashion them into a makeshift flashlight of sorts with the help of the Duct tape and a broken branch to tape them to. But, just my luck, the battery was dead. Or maybe the bulb was blown. I couldn't tell, it was dark. That's why I needed a flash light you see. Who on earth would save a dead battery? So I had to turn on the laptop, and use the light cast from the display screen so I could see as I struggled to set up my accommodations for the night. Having accomplished that, I hunkered down in the tent for a good night's sleep, figuring I had used the lap top battery enough for the first night.

The next morning, I decided to try my hand at hunting. Hunger will do that to you. I was hungry. So I fashioned a trap of sorts. I've watched TV and have seen them do it many times. I found a large rock, propped it up on a stick, tied a vine to the stick, and waited for some foolish, hapless creature to wander under it so I could yank on the vine, pulling the stick out, thus sending the rock crashing down to crush the life out of the furry little beast.

After sitting there for four or five hours with no sight of any living creature, let alone, something I could eat, I got bored, and fired up the lap top. While just browsing around my hard drive, I happened across a directory I had forgotten about with some animal sounds in it. I had downloaded them for some research I was doing on the mating rituals of wild animals. To pass the time, I decided to play a few of the sounds to see what they sounded like. I played the Elephant mating ritual sound, the one for the Dolphin, and then saw one for the rabbit, and played that one. Suddenly, I heard this noise in the woods, and I'll be darned if four or five rabbits didn't suddenly appear. The mating sounds from the lap top attracted them evidently. It was a hot day, which must explain why they happen to stop right under the big rock I had propped up to get in the shade. I quickly yanked on the vine attached to the stick. I got two out of four, not bad for a city slicker.

After turning off the lap top, (once again, I had used it enough for the day, and feared the battery would die before I had a chance to play some games,) I collected some wood for a fire so I could roast some fresh rabbit. Upon doing this, I reached into my pack for matches, only to realize, I had forgotten to bring any. Bummer. Going through the odds and ends in the bottom of my pack, I did find a used bic lighter, but it was spent. Why would anyone keep one of those? I also found a Zippo lighter, and some lighter fluid, but the Zippo had no flint. However, the bic lighter did. I proceeded to take the disposable lighter apart, scavenged the flint from it to put in the Zippo, and I had a nice blaze going in no time.

By the time I was done eating, it was getting a bit late in the day, and I decided to do a bit of exploring. I grabbed my pack and headed out for a stroll. I had only walked a half-hour or so, and not wanting to wander to far away from camp, decided to sit down for a rest. About this time, a big huge bear came lumbering over the crest of the hill ahead of me. As I was leaning against a tree, I felt the best course of action was to climb for my life. I never had the urge to get up close and personal with a bear. I didn't like them. Unfortunately, this was not all that big a tree, as far as trees go, and the bear seemed quite intent on trying to uproot the tree, and do unto me, as I had did to the rabbits, and that is to have me for dinner.

Having gone up the tree as far as possible, and hanging on for dear life, I reached into my pack to see if I had anything in there to help me out of this one. Duct tape and a Swiss army knife weren't going to get me out of this mess. Once again, I found the can of lighter fluid. I decided the only course of action available to me was to try to squirt lighter fluid in the bears eyes, hopefully obscuring his vision long enough for me to make a quick get away. The bear seemed to be cooperating with this idea, as he was taking a rest, and standing still at the moment. I carefully aimed the lighter fluid can in the general direction of the bears eyes, and gave it a healthy squirt! Instantly, the bear started blatting, or doing what ever sound a bear makes when it screams in pain, and he took off running in the direction he had come.

Unfortunately for him, not being used to having a thoughtless human squirting a caustic substance in his eyes and blinding him, he ran into a pile of rocks. That in itself was not such a bad thing. But the spark from a few of the colliding rocks was bad. Very bad. The lighter fluid soaked bear burst into flames. A flaming fur ball running through the woods. Outstanding! I live another day!

That was enough excitement for me for the day, I headed back to camp and turned in early. The next morning, I had fresh roasted Squirrel, the recorded mating sounds doing their trick again. Not paying attention to my own needs very well, I realized, I was getting quite thirsty, and went in search of some source of water. I found a fast moving stream quite some distance away, but the banks were so steep, I was afraid I would fall in if I climbed down to the water. I looked around and spotted a dead tree near the bank. I thought I could maybe push it over the bank and that would give me something to climb down to get a cool refreshing drink. I pushed on the tree, and it toppled as I had assumed it would. Unfortunately, it took several other dead trees with it, falling into the stream and impeding the forward progress of the surging current somewhat. Never the less, I was able to climb down and get a drink.

The water seemed to be raising in level a bit due to the fallen trees, but there wasn't much I could do about it. Actually, it was raising in level quite rapidly, and was already starting to spill over the banks a bit. This continued on for a short while as I watched at a distance, pondering what I should do. Finally though, the rotted roots of the trees lost their precarious hold on the moist bank of the stream, and the water flushed them away in a raging torrent, trying its best to destroy everything in its path as it surged into the distance. It was quite an impressive display actually. As the water that had spilled over the banks receded, a few nice Brook Trout had become trapped on land, and were unable to make it back into the stream. Needless to say, I had some nice roasted fish for dinner. Things hadn't worked out too badly.

By the time I had returned to camp and had eaten, I was worn out from the days activities, so I turned in, looking forward to being picked up in the morning. This was just a weekend survival-training class. Morning arrived and the Helicopter landed in the clearing to pick me up. I piled on board with the rest of the guys. I over heard a couple of the other guys talking, saying something about the damnedest thing he had ever seen. He said he saw a bear running through the woods with all his fur burned off. He was still smoldering, like he had been hit by lightning or something, and that there must have been a storm somewhere. Odd as hell he said.

I looked over at the other guys, and noticed that their gear was all soaking wet. I asked them what had happened to them, and they said something about camping to close to a creek, and that there must have been a storm up stream that had made the creek over flow it's banks, swamping their camp. While we were all talking, I handed out left over fish, rabbit and squirrel as they all said they were starving to death and hadn't had much luck with food. They all thought I was quite the back woods man, but the instructor sat there, shaking his head in wonder, knowing it was some sort of fluke. I decided it was best to let them think what they wanted, knowing I would be a bit better prepared if I did this again. I would make sure there were fresh flashlight batteries and a bic lighter in the odds and ends drawer next time...

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The following comments are for "I Survived"
by The Hal

Survival of the fittest?
Hey this was an entertaining piece. Very funny.

For further reading, you may want to check out "A walk in the woods," By Bill Bryson. It's a humorous book about a guy who doesn't know a damn thing about camping, but decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. It shares a similiar topic with this story, but but it lacks this story's funny Macgyver-isms.

Good job, Hal and I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Also, I think your avatar is bitching.



( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: January 6, 2002 )

Re: Survival
Thanks Parteepants! I figured everyone else had an avatar, so I must have one as well! I created it in TrueSpace, a 3D program. It's also how I sign my artwork. Well, I haven't been doing much artwork lately... Wish I could get the hang of not sleeping, it would almost be like living another whole life!

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: January 7, 2002 )

Survival is funny
Good show. Survival is very funny and your story really brought that to life. I also love duct tape and wouldn't go camping without it. I did see a small contradition in the story as you started out the story asking yourself "How could I make it a week without my computer games" (not an exact quote) then ended the story saying this was only a "weekend" survival outing. Never the less...good story. Thanks,

( Posted by: Jeff [Member] On: January 8, 2002 )

Publish this
I'd pay to read that. Good stuff, and very creative. Did you empty out you rjunk drawer to write this? I'm a backwoods guy myself, so I sympathize with the others!

( Posted by: The Recycled Avatar [Member] On: December 18, 2002 )

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