The Grind

Just when you thought it was safe to go exploring.

You were methodical in your preparations. You made sure to account for everything. Not one single root could trip up your outing. These next two days would be serenity, unlike the work week we all endure and immediately dread again. This weekend, you are bliss internalized. Not many people have the voraciousness to take a camera and survival bag into the woods to cleanse the pallet of the bustling world, yet here you are sitting in a small clearing in the woods of West Virginia. Google Earth verified you were alone for miles around, and though scary, you feel alive for the first time in years.

Gathering sticks for your first fire, as night starts to settle in, you hear what sounds like a whirring. You’re not sure any living thing produces this noise, although you are but a novice adventurer. It’s probably just water or something. Feeling your thoughts were lies, you put it out of your head. At this point, you have the perfect arrangement of kindling for dinner. You definitely don’t want to mess up dinner tonight, as it’s the only meal you brought for yourself. The plan is to get up early and see how the archery training you’ve been doing is working. You’ve never tried squirrel, but you really hope to after tomorrow.

After twenty minutes, and a couple of burnt fingers, you have a fire. You eat, set up your tent, and go to bed. Listening to the sounds of the woods, you feel excited, anxious, relaxed, and exhausted all at the same time. It’s a wonderful night.

It’s morning. You open your eyes to a faint brightness coming into your tent through the gray material, and there’s dew on literally everything. I guess there’s a hole in this thing. Putting on your boots and getting in your routine back and neck stretch (which is a bit more work this morning… damned sleeping bags) you unzip and head outside. Your cooking supplies and gear are in the same place you left them. This means you likely didn’t get any unwanted visitors last night. Good to know.

Gathering your gear for the morning hunt, you take the time to walk the hundred feet or so to the stream to fill your canteen. One quick look around to make sure you have everything in order, you set out to be a hunter. This thought makes you chuckle a bit under your breath. If my dad could see me now.

You learned what to look for from Google. Rustled leaves, tracks in the mud, the occasional marking on the tree bark signifying antlers. Half an hour in, you expected to discover more than this. There isn’t a noticeable lead to go on anywhere. Where is all the nature? Careful to make as little noise as possible, you continue on in your search for breakfast. And then you see it. A small boar. You couldn’t ask for anything better. From your research, you know wild boars aren’t that common in this area, and you just hit the jackpot. Could I really be so lucky? Bacon for breakfast? You are already nocking an arrow, and trying to move into a better position for the strike. It all happens so fast. In one swift moment, a harsh metallic sound cries out, followed by the snapping pain in your shin. This pain is so terrifyingly abrupt it brings you to the ground. You can’t even hear the boar escaping into the woods.

After a few moments writhing in your own helplessness, and hearing noises you can only define as sounding like a car screeching to a halt, you pass out. You wake to a dragging sound. Your leg is hurting worse than before, and you realize it is you that is being drug, with the trap still wrapped around your leg. Something has you by the arm, and there’s nothing you can do in your current state.

Finally, you come to a stop in a clearing. You strain to look to your right and can see the corner of a cabin. A man kneels at your feet, and unclasps the metal trap from around your ankle. You feel instant relief, and relax your head on the ground. You try to reach out for words, but the pain is still enough to cripple your tongue. The man takes off your boots. You hope he has a first aid kit to mend your wounds. The man goes out of sight for a moment, and then you hear it. A machine fires up out of view, and comes to life. In one quick moment, you’re being pulled to your feet, and then onto the man’s shoulders. What is happening? A fear sets in that this man is actually not trying to help you. There’s a flurry of emotions as you try to frantically figure out the situation and what can be done about it. But as you fight, you quickly learn that a businessman from Ohio is no match for the strength of a woodsman from West Virginia. He heaves you up, closer to the sound. Now you’re upside down and you can finally see it. The machine that is used to chew up trees into chips for a fireplace is now going to do the same to you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

They say your life flashes before your eyes in your last moments. That all your memories come rushing in in a flurry of great recollection and bliss. This isn’t true at all. The only thing you think about is realization.

Google Earth was so wrong.

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