The days pass slowly, but morning and night would always greet me in due time. I counted eighty-three sunrises since my distress beacon ran out of charge. The air grew colder and the leaves lost their green hue over that time. The change reminded me of my wonder for these kinds of planets and how quickly they can transform. It has been so long though, waiting here in this small encampment.
I exited the canopy to see the waterfall showering down from a mountain, shading me from the rising sun. The peak was far beyond my sight, much like the idea of going back to where I came from. This life became normal sometime along the line, despite it being so different.
I picked up my makeshift spear along with a garment I had turned into a makeshift bag a few weeks ago and walked away from the sun. The forest grew thicker and more tangled before I entered the young, crater-shaped clearing filled with grasses and flowers. It took a bit of climbing before I got to the center. I crawled into the pod I arrived in and checked inside. Nothing. No messages or alerts. It’s easier to accept now, after so long.
Before I could leave though, I saw a bit of movement on the seat. I jumped back in surprise, hitting my head on the exit. As I rushed out, he positioned himself beside me. This creature measured up to my thigh sporting large, pointed ears, a long, slim nose, and small, calculating eyes, which he inspected me with. When he brushed my hip with his nose, I bolted away, climbing up the walls of the crater and dashing through the trees.
I tried to loosen my foot from the root I had tripped on as the furry creature stalking me got nearer. I picked up my flushed face from the dirt and continued to run.
I entered the clearing of my encampment, spotting the packs of food I had stored near the canopy before I rushed across the lake. The creature skirted the water as I reached the other side, shivering. The panic in me stopped welling up until he dipped his paw in and swam after me. I ran to where the pool emptied to a river and jumped across, sure that this creature couldn’t follow me with all the water in his face.
It could. I rushed over to the food and pulled out a morsel of meat, hoping as a last resort that this animal would take it and leave me alone. He crawled up onto the bank, shaking the water out of his fur. I threw him the meat, but he ignored it. This was it… This is how it finally ends…
He sat in front of me, dropping a short rod made of metal, then turned to the meat and had his snack. I cautiously picked up the rod and stared at it, dumbfounded, before I wiped the drool off and inspected it. It fit the appearance of a beacon. I flipped a switch and input a distress code and set it to replace the old beacon that was out of charge. I had forgotten I had more than one…
Four more days passed, as I spent more and more time with my new companion. We went back to the pod where I found some more beacons I could use in the future, and even a change of clothes to replace a set that was starting to fall apart. He would retrieve stick-like objects for me for fun it seemed, and he caught us a large, hooved, herbivorous animal with antlers which I cooked over the firepit I had constructed a while back. We feasted upon the meat and slept under the stars.
He ran away when a ship came down to pick me up that last night, though, and even after waiting a few more hours for my companion to come back, he never returned. I packed up my personal belongings, including the beacon he offered me that one time. I watched as the ship ascended. Looking down, I spotted the crater and a long, fuzzy creature rush into the pod as the world grew smaller. A smile grew on my face as I turned away, readapting to the orderly, clean appearance of my previous life.
*As published in the “Tangent 2018” collective works book. Originally written in 2017.