A Survival Guide

If you should ever find yourself utterly and completely alone after some astral force has sucked every ounce of life from your beloved city, and if it becomes clear that this is it, it’s just you and the soulless towers, then, there are a few things you will need to do.

First wander around the streets that no longer pulsate with the rhythm of life. Listen to the patter of your footsteps. Listen to your ragged breath. Feel your heart beat frantically. When the fact of your situation sinks in deep enough, that is, to as far as it can go, you must let out a long, anguished howl and hear it bounce off the cold silent walls.

With that out of the way, you will need to find food. The sooner you understand that the appearance, the smell, the taste, the texture are all of little importance, the better. What matters now is whether the thing you are about to chew can keep you alive. It might be a handful of grass, or a karacka that you trap. Sometimes you will be lucky to find a pantry stocked with dehydrated food, stay there until it’s all gone before you move on.

You will need to clean yourself. Wash your hair. Remove the dirt from your under your finger nails. Clean your teeth with the tip of your shirt. Wash your shirt when you can. Gargle once a day. Baking soda, if you can find it, is your friend. Dig a hole when you go. Cover it when you’re done. Don’t litter.

You must sing any song that comes to mind. Retell stories to yourself; try to get the details right. Gaze up at the stars at night and remember that time your family went away to Aboroa and your sister found a chunk of orphite. Remember how it glowed when you held it up to the light.

Sometimes you will wonder why. Why did this happen? At whose whim are you in this predicament? Is it in some twisted way your fault? It’s your prerogative to wonder. Throw a pity party once in a while. The tears will cleanse you. But don’t dwell there.

Invent games using the materials around you. Chase the wind sometimes. Draw flowers in the sand that accumulates from the frequent desert storms. The wind will soon blow it away, but let that remind you that your current situation is also temporary.

Stay on guard, for you might not be completely alone, and if you should chance upon someone, they could be hostile. Even so, be prepared for them to be friendly. In which case, be friendly yourself.

Drink water when you find it. Always fill up your bottle when you get the chance. If you forget it anywhere, go back and get it.

Above all, stand in the moonlight, pay attention to how the shadows fall. In itself, shadows cast in the moonlight is a beautiful thing that enchant souls every where in the galaxy. This knowledge will provide some of the connection you crave. But more than that, study the shadows, for they will tell you when the next lunar eclipse will be. When that time comes, if you stand in a clearing in the half light, you might be able to hitch a ride to the closest planet.



On Writing

Word count: 499 words

Photo source: pixabay image by Natan Vance

I wrote this in response to Diana’s prompt

“Half light” is an expression I read in this poem, which also responds to the prompt. I didn’t even realize it until I saw the poem again in my wordpress feed.

Yes, I did want you to think cockroach. Also, I haven’t got into the groove yet of bothering to invent sensible names for things.


22 thoughts on “A Survival Guide

    1. I never would have thought of that. I did make some deliberate choices about the structure, but I didn’t know what effect it would have. I imagine that time would have passed slowly for the survivor ( I wanted to call her Claire but that didn’t happen ). Yet she would probably have a similar experience of quickly shifting moods.

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  1. Oh, Jackie. This is incredible and so beautifully told. I was entranced by the mixture of the practical knowledge necessary for physical survival as well as the need to play and see beauty, essential requirements for the survival of the human soul. Wonderful story. Thanks so much for taking up the prompt!

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  2. Many thanks for the link. Interesting post, especially from a survivor point of view.
    Many of the practicalities are familiar already. Do so agree with keeping clean and the occasional Pity Party, but not to dwell there.

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  3. Thanks for this Jackie. I am saving your survival guide in the event that some astral force finds our planet. . Just a matter of time I guess.This is very forward thinking of you and some excellent advice. Loved it.


  4. There is something poetic yet pragmatic about this piece. Well-penned, Jackie. I really enjoyed reading it and in fact, read it a few times. 🙂


  5. The form of a post-civilization public health announcement is really striking. I love the way you blend details covering every day needs for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing with pure fantasy.

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