A Long Dark short story - The Illusive Moose

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This is a short story I came up with based on my latest survival sandbox. I'm about 23 days in and desperately need a moose hide satchel since my carry weight has remained in the low 80s for the majority of my run, with all my supplies and firewood and excess amount of food I've hoarded in my travels. I've been camped out at the unnamed pond cabin for going on a week waiting for a moose to spawn and am on the verge of cabin fever, and so this idea popped into my head. Hope y'all enjoy.


You grip the frozen door knob, which takes a little jimmying before it will budge, and swing the door open. You walk into the creaky, long-abandoned cabin after a long days travel. You don't know where you are, if you're being honest, and this lone cabin in the middle of the great northern nowhere is a great strike of luck and a massive relief as it feels as if a weight has been lifted off your weary shoulders. You can finally rest your pained and callused feet. You didn't know if you'd have a roof over your head tonight. You didn't know if you would survive the night. There's still the issue of food as your empty stomach growls at you as if angry for missing your last three meals. You're so ravenous you're beginning to cramp, and those cattails you saw at the yet unnamed pond are starting to look pretty appetizing. You daydream about their bland deliciousness and your stomach grows angrier at you for it. Your eyes finally adjust to the dark cabin and you see a sight which would of taken you aback just a few days ago. But it's become all too familiar in this new world. A dead body, hunched up in the corner staring at you almost as if it were still life-like and calling out for help. Cold fingers just barely gripping onto a rifle. You kneel down to the frozen corpse and pry the fingers from around the rifle with that feeling of shame that you can never quite get used to. You know it's savage and disrespectful to steal from the dead. But in this new world you have to choose how far you would go to survive, and you've made your choice. The dim light shining through the blinds, dust floating peacefully in contrast of the darkness, falls upon a small journal beside the husk of the man, stained with mildew. You pick up the journal, cold to the touch. Then you open it and thumb curiously through the worn pages as you catch a whiff of the aged paper, it reminds you of your grandma's old scrap book she used to show you when you were a teenager, to which you always scoffed and told her you thought it was silly. You don't think it's silly anymore. She always told you one day you'd see the value in such things. "Now more than ever," you think to yourself. And you begin to read upon the scrawled musings of the survivor before you.

"Moose hunt, day 1:

I've been wandering for days. My pack is so heavy with all that extra food and firewood I've developed a pain in my lower back. I've stopped here for the night. Might go down and pick some of those cattail later for supper, I was lucky to find that abandoned supply cache on the other side of the pond but that food won't last forever. I think I deserve a rest. I did spot some torn up trees on my way in, looks like a moose has been scratching his antlers. Would be some damn good eating. Plus I may be able to use his hide to fashion a satchel and distribute that extra weight on my back. That would be nice. I'll sleep on it.

Moose hunt, day 2:

Okay. I'm dead set on that moose idea. Something about that seems like a really good plan, I just have a great feeling. My mouth is watering over that roasted moose meat already! I'll lay up for a few days, rest my back, hunt me a moose. I saw him on my way back from the pond today! Or rather his antlers. He's HUGE! He was kneeling down eating some grass. I snaked on past him, don't want him to know I'm out here just yet.

Moose hunt, day 5: 

I can't find him. He was just here, I don't get it. Where can he be? Moose don't hunt, they're territorial and lay up in their own zone. Maybe looking for a mate? No. Not this time of year.

Moose hunt, day 8:

I laid out some cattail to try and bait my moose. I'll eat good tonight. God I hope I'll eat good tonight. That food is going faster than I anticipated.

Moose hunt, day 9:

Still haven't seen him.

Moose hunt, day 13:

I'm so hungry. I'm so lonely. Please God let that animal be out there.

Moose hunt day 16:

I heard him! I heard him scratching his antlers on the side of my cabin! I know I did! He's out there, I'm gonna eat tonight!

Moose hunt 17:

It was a tree limb. I heard a tree limb scratching my cabin wall.

Day 24(?):

Moose. Mooses? Meese.

Day *illegible angry scribbles, slightly torn paper underneath*:

He's gone. He's not here. The moose isn't here. He's toying with me. He hates me. I HATE him. I'm gonna eat him. I wish he wanted to be my friend. Did I go outside this week? I think I forgot...

*the next page is completely torn out save the top of the paper. You can make out 'day 39 I thi'*

Why do I count the days? I don't know what day it is anymore.

I hate that moose. I saw him today looking through my window. He wants to talk to me, to be my friend. But he's not invited in. And I'm not coming out there. He's the reason I'm so sad.

I ate my last mouldy cracker today. It hurt.

I can hear him scratching at my door. Well scratch scratch scratch, Mr. Moose. Scratch away. You won't get me. I know you want to eat me. I won't let you. Scratch scratch scratch.

I hate him. I hate him so much. He scratches to taunt me. He's a bully. I ate the stuffing out of my pillow, but it didn't taste very good. I'm feeling tired. I think I'll lay down for a bit.

I let the moose in today. He's here to take me back home. He's my friend."

And with that, the journal ends. You can still see the dried tear drops on the pages. And now knowing this man's grim story, you decide to pick your heavy bag up and continue on. You can't feel right about staying here now. You grip the cold blue steel of the rifle, and lay it across his lap, leaving him to his tomb. As you walk back through the door, you turn and look at it, and run your fingers along the smooth wood. There are no scratches on the door. You glance up, and see a huge moose standing there in the tree line, staring you down. Biggest you've ever seen. Your stare meets his, almost in a complete daze, before you simply nod at the moose. He turns and walks away. You sling your backpack over your shoulder, and continue down the long dark path.

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28 minutes ago, Wintermute_TLD said:

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Thank you! It's been quite a while since I've written, it's nice to have a little refresher. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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