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Making Reality (pt. 6) by Ray Printer Friendly

How long has it been? Offhand, I donít even know. I make marks in the sand, but I doubt theyíre accurate. I have a watch stashed down in the bottom of my suitcase somewhere, but in order to get to it, I would have to disrupt all of the food I packed in there, and itís not really worth it to me.

Not at this point, anyway. I still have food, so I know that Iím not two months in, yet. Thatís how much food I have, did I tell you that? A little over two months?

I wasnít sure if I would be able to stick to the portions that I had planned for myself, but death is a good diet aid, apparently. Iíve only cheated twice, and that was barely. It was early on, when I still had two suitcases pretty much full of stuff, and the bit I had eaten just wasnít enough, no matter how much water I drank with it.

Iím constantly hungry, and Iíve lost too much weight, but Iím alive, and I think Iíll have enough food to stay that way until Iím almost done with this little adventure.

The way I figured in the beginning was that I would have enough food to last me through most of this thing, then I would hunt for food after that. After seeing how weak Iíve already become, I realized that I wouldnít be able to hunt when I ran out of foodóIíll be wasted away almost to nothing.

So I decided that I better start saving as much as I can for as long as I can, and I decided that I better start hunting. Ironically, it almost killed me.

I read up on some various ways to catch stuff out here, and I read up on what exactly I could expect to find out here. Cottontail rabbits, mostly. Sure, thereís all kinds of snakes and bugs and shit you could eat, but Iím trying to avoid all that.

Donít get me wrongóI studied up about how to prepare snakes and bugs for eating right along with how to prepare rabbits. I also learned how to make various traps. Ideally, you would just run on down to Home Depot and get some lumber, and that makes everything a lot easier. When youíre stuck out in the middle of the desert with nothing but a Swiss Army knife, it ups the difficulty level.

But it can be done, and I did itóalthough I have to admit that Iím being pretty melodramatic about the whole ďnothing but a Swiss Army knifeĒ thing. You watch movies, it seems like theyíre always finding wood and vines and stuff like that to use. I knew I more than likely wouldnít have that, so I did a little pre-planning. I brought several plastic panels, about a quarter-inch thick. They fit flat at the bottom of one of my suitcases, so they didnít take up much space, and theyíre solid enough that if I catch a rabbit, it wonít be able to just rip it apart and escape.

You dig a hole, right? And you line that hole with five pieces of screwed-together plasticóone for each of the four sides, and one for the bottom. Then you rig up the trap door on top, throw a little bait in there, and wait. Easy, right?

It took longer than I thought, and none of my three traps turned out nearly as pretty as I wanted, but they looked like they would work. And they did, work, in fact.

The first night I had them out there, all three traps were sprung. What I hadnít planned on was how to get the animals out after I had trapped them. For some reason, I hadnít read over that part, or maybe I just didnít read close enough.

The traps arenít really that wideóabout a foot on each sideóso I figured that my best bet was to just sharpen a stick and then stab around in there until I killed my rascally rabbit. I know it sounds brutal, but I didnít see any other options.

The first rabbit leapt out of the trap as soon as I cracked the lidóI hadnít been holding it tight enough, and the creature just knocked it open and darted out into the desert. The second time, I held on tighter, and had to spend almost five minutes stabbing around until I managed to kill the damn thing. I felt terrible about it, but I didnít feel like I had much of a choice.

I was just as careful with the third trap I opened, but as I jabbed my stick into it, something came right back out at me. See, I hadnít considered the possibility that I might catch something other than a rabbit. Come to find out, rabbits and rattlesnakes like some of the same kinds of things.

I knew that before going in, of course, but it just didnít occur to me. Not until the bastard shot out of the trap and attached itself to my hand.

It struck in between my thumb and forefinger, and although I figured my first instinct would to be to pull away, what I actually did was impale the fucker with my stick. I pinned him right to the ground, hoping that he would let go of my hand. I read that sometimes in snakebite victims, youíll see multiple bites, like the snake will bite, release, and then bite again.

This one didnít do that. He bit and he held on. I knew I was about to panicóI could feel it rushing into meóand I knew that if I didnít take care of this snake business before I freaked out, I was gonna run around with it attached to me until it either died and fell off or until it killed me.

I read that it takes a while for them to build up their venom after expending it in a bite, but I never thought to check out just how long they had to wait. I never considered the possibility that I might still have a snake attached to me until he filled back up, but thatís what could have happened if I had passed out right there by the staked snake.

Instead, I used my other hand to pry open his jaw, and then jumped back as I released him. He tried to strike again, and I was afraid that he might get the stick loose and get me, but it held tight. He didnít strike again after that, just sat there stuck to the ground, rattling his tail.

I stood up and staggered around a little, trying to keep calm and trying to make it back to camp. I was actually smart enough to consider in the possibility of a snake bite, and even had a couple snakebite kits in my suitcase, but I wasnít sure I was going to make it back.

The symptoms of a rattlesnake bite vary a bit from person to person, and also you have to take into consideration how much venom they got you with. The thing is, testing to see how snake venom affects you isnít one of those things you generally do, you know? So I had no idea if I was going to have one of the ďsevere swelling, vomiting, feverĒ type of reactions, or if I was going to have one of the ďdyingĒ reactions.

My hand was already hurting like a mad bitch, and there was quite a bit of blood. I never really thought about how much blood there would be with a snake bite before that. I always grouped them with spiders and shit, you know? Like dangerous and painful, but kind of small.

I read that sucking out the venom isnít actually the right thing to do after being bitten by a snakeóit works in movies, but if you do it wrong, you can end up getting sick even if youíre the guy sucking the poison instead of the guy that got bit. I figured that I was gonna be pretty sick either way, so I started sucking the blood out of my hand and spitting it on the ground. It didnít seem to be helping, but I kept it up for a while. I could see my tent in the distance, but that didnít really mean I was all that closeóflat-ass desert, you can see for miles.

I wrapped my shirt around my hand, not wanting a trail of blood leading some kind of animal or another right to the door of my tent. I figured I was about a mile or so away from my camp. I had wanted to put the traps far enough away that maybe the rabbits could ignore my scent enough to go for the bait.

And then I dropped to my knees and started puking. Iím not sure if it was because I had sucked in some of the poison, or because the snake had injected me with it, but something had messed me up pretty good pretty quick. I tried to keep crawling as I vomited, wanting to get back to the tent and to the snakebite kit, but when the cramps hit, I fell to my side.

I didnít I realize I was screaming at first, and once I did, I couldnít get myself to stop. It seemed like there was pain coming from everywhere. I figured it had been about thirty minutes since I got bit, but for some reason, I could still hear the snake. His rattling tail sounded like laughter to me, and I could hear it over my screams.

I realized I was probably just losing it, and for a second, I figured I might as well just let it happenójust give up right there and let the sun kill me while I was unconscious or out of my mind.

But then a vivid picture flashed in my mind. I saw myself waking up in the night, or coming back into my right mind, and being eaten by coyotes. Not waking up before they attacked, but waking up while they were eating me.

Probably that would never happen in real life, but that was the picture in my mind, and thatís what got me moving again. I couldnít hear the snake, and decided it had been my imagination, hearing his rattling laughter over my screams.

I tried to stand up, but that didnít work out too well, what with the cramps and all, so I crawled, trying not to put any weight on my bad hand. I shit myself at some point.

I donít know when, and itís embarrassing as hell to talk about, but since the cameras are all over the place, itís not really like it was a secret, right? I donít remember finishing up that crawl, but I do remember stumbling out of my tent and hurling my soiled clothes out into the desert night, and then stumbling back inside.

I was pretty much out of my mind by the time I reached my camp, I guess. I didnít ever use a snakebite kit. I did a lot of throwing up and a lot of shitting, and I guess I drank a lot of water, because when I finally came to my senses, almost all the jugs were empty.

I was weak as a kitten, and didnít know if I would be able to make the trip over to the water tank when I needed to. What I ended up doing, as you may or may not know (depending on how much of this was in the movie), was taking my sleeping bag with me, with all the empty jugs tucked inside of it. The sleeping bags is one of those nice ones that zips up all the way over your head so that bugs and snakes or whatever canít get in while you sleep.

It wasnít nearly as safe as sleeping in my tent, but I figured it was better to risk animal attack than dehydration. I spent three days out by the water tank, mostly sleeping and drinking water. Trying to recover.

Itís hard to get better when youíre barely eating enough to keep you healthy under regular circumstances. To tell you the truth, Iím not sure if Iím all the way better even now. Itís been a couple weeks, I guess, since I got back from sleeping at the water tank. Iím not positive, but that seems right.

I finally got enough strength to haul my water jugs back to the tent, and once I was back, it seems like I healed fasterósomething to that whole ďbeing back at homeĒ thing, even if your home is just a tent in the middle of the desert somewhere. And I suppose Iím at full strength once moreófull strength not being nearly as strong as it was when I first got here, you understandóand Iím back to trapping.

Iíve figured out a better way to empty the traps. I pull the whole thing out of the ground, and dump the contents into a canvas bag that I brought with me. I canít remember why I thought I would need a large canvas bag, to tell you the truth, but it works real good for dumping out my traps.

I dump whateverís in the trap into the canvas bag, and then I beat it with a stick until it stops moving. I like the taste of rabbit better, but to tell you the truth, I like to eat rattlesnake more.


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