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It's been so long since I spoke to another person. I speak to myself now, far to often I think.
So, I am writing this down, on a piece of old paper found lying around in this old farmhouse., using my trusty pieces of charred wood. Charcoal. 

It had been ages since I used charcoal pencils to write or draw. My studies at art school were so long ago. I never really wanted to be an artist. 
I wanted to be a biologist, a wildlife researcher, a conservationist. Which I did become. But I found that I had a natural talent for photography, and team members always told me my sketches were good. So, to be able to show people what I was seeing while out in the field, honing my skills as an artist seemed like a natural step. Sharing my passion for wildlife, and for the wilderness in general, gave me a sense of purpose. We all need purpose in life, I think. It felt wonderful to be living a purposeful life.

We had purpose, when we came to Great Bear Island. We wanted to see how the animals, many of whom had been brought here as captives by people making a living off of running canned hunts, were doing. If they were thriving, surviving, or barely hanging on, after most of the people who had lived on the Island had abandoned it, for the relative comfort and ease of life back on The Mainland.

It started well. We knew we would have limited access to electricity for our laptops, phones and cameras. We knew there was likely to be no cell signal out here. So we brought sat phones, and could communicate, on a good day, with HQ back at the University. Out bush pilot dropped us off at the lake. W hiked here to Milton, a bit shocked at the decay of the old industrial sites, and buildings. Roads and train tracks crumbling, or destroyed. Buildings that seemed to have rotted, and fallen down. And others that had burned down. Wasn't our purpose to investigate the condition of any people left here, or the remains of what had once been a seemingly thriving tourist destination. Besides, the islanders weren't keen on us "Outsiders" anyway, and most tended to ignore us, or treat us with thinly veiled hostility. We knew they old logging and mining trailers, and houses in Milton with solar power were the best places to charge our electronics. So, Milton it was. 

We spent weeks exploring, counting animals, photographing them, doing a few sketches during downtime. And having fun, rock climbing and caving, hiking, and trying to stay out of the way of any locals. Then the earthquakes happened. And the dramatic Northern Lights, the likes of which none of us had ever seen before. Power was out. We didn't think much of it the first day or night. But it became apparent quickly, that it was not likely to come back. And the animals. They were acting oddly. More aggressive than they had been, seeming like they were almost driven mad. Paul went out to hunt a deer, or some rabbits, so we could have meat for supper, cooked the old-fashioned way, over a burn barrel outside of the trailer. Snow was falling, which was odd. It wasn't usually this cold, it didn't usually snow this early, even up North, where the island was. We all were unnerved, but blamed it on "climate change" that night.

Paul did not come back. We found him, the next day, laying in the middle of the crossroads in town, after we packed up what little we had left, and decided to go where it was "safer". Safer. Yeah. There seemed to be wolves out prowling, during the day, when they should not have been. Looking at us the same way they looked at rabbits hopping around. Like we were food. He was chewed up. His clothing torn apart, his gear destroyed. We took what little he had left, a revolver, a rifle and some ammo, and a few granola bars he had stuffed into his pockets. We covered him with branches, stones, snow. Anything to keep the predators from getting to his body easily. We knew where a farm was, and we ran there, as fast as we could, throwing stones at wolves, scaring rabbits at them, to keep them from chasing us. The house up on the hill in town seemed like a bad place to be, if wolves were inhabiting the town.

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We were terrified. What the heck was going on? Jerome, Mathilda, and I were scared to death. And even better- none of our electronics worked, the sat phone was dead. Even our flashlights would not light. The farmhouse was there, we rushed inside, and locked the doors.  Over the next few days we made snares to catch rabbits, we needed to eat. There was a wonderful wood burning stove in the farmhouse that we could melt pots of snow on, to boil and make clean-ish water,  since the water seemed to be off as well, and cook what little food we found in the cupboards, or catch with the snares. There were a few wolves around occasionally, and we would go out in pairs, one to set and collect the snares or chop wood, one carrying the revolver, one carrying the rifle. Just in case. When the Northern Lights filled the skies, our flashlights worked, we could take pictures with our camera phones and digital cameras, though there was no cell signal to try to send them to anyone. Our laptops also would suddenly work, and we typed furiously, trying to record what was happening, write letters to our families, before the lights would fade and our electronics stopped working again.  The sat phone would power up, but we could never get a signal, never send a message out. But we still hoped. We actually believed we would be rescued soon, and we would go back to The Mainland, and have one hell of an interesting story to tell. We did not know we would all die here.

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Mathilda was the first to die, of the three of us left. She seemed to go a bit crazy, saying she could not stand to be trapped indoors for so long. Jerome and I didn't see or hear her leave. We just heard her screams, and saw her being mauled by a bear, over by the frozen pond. Jerome tried to shoot the bear with the rifle, but I think he missed. The bear just seemed to get angry, and charge back towards the house. I knew they could move fast, but never really appreciated it until I saw it first hand. Holy crap. We ran back inside the house, slammed the door, and barricaded it with anything we could. 

3 days later Jerome went out to the barn to make a few new snares. The ones we had were all broken and needed replaced. I did not go with him. I should have, even though I was sick as a dog with what I suspect was food poisoning. From eating almost raw rabbit meat. Wood was getting low, we needed to save it to make water. And rabbit is usually okay raw, or so we thought. Dammit. My purpose that day was to stand guard, keep Jerome safe while he worked at the bench. And I failed. 

Now I am alone. I am unsure what my purpose is, other than to die, and perhaps feed the few starving wolves left around the farm. The ones we did not kill while out gathering wood and checking our snares. I had a purpose. I was a conservationist. I hated killing the animals, for food or for self-defense. Now, I wish I had killed them all, while I still could. Keeping us all alive should have become my purpose. I failed that too. So, I will give myself a purposeful life again, while I still have one. I am weak, starving, sick. My purpose now is to show what I can, to any who may come here later and find what I am leaving behind. Those 'useless" Charcoal Drawing 101 classes finally coming in handy. I drew the house on the hill, and the farm, using sticks I charred in the stove fire I made a few days ago. I am almost out of wood, only a few sticks left. Not enough to burn and get a good fire. So, I am using them with the best purpose I can find for them. I have placed all of our cell phones, cameras and laptops together on the table, where I will place my hand written notes as well, with this one on the top of the pile.

I am going out now. To fulfill my final purpose. To die on my own terms, and feed a few wolves, so that they may live a few more days. I hope someday, someone will find this place, and find my drawings, and this pile of papers I scribbled these words on. Find my cell phone, my laptop, and my digital camera, and find the images and notes hopefully still stored there. My legacy.  I hope that they are still able to see them, and read them. And understand that I was just trying to live a purposeful life.  I hope I have succeeded. 

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-Genevie J. Ariail

 

 

 

(Footnote: the artwork here is not hand-drawn by me, it is made using a photo editing filter, that turns photos into charcoal drawings. These are 4 of my personal screenshots taken during Survival Mode gameplay, that I used the filter to convert into what is shown here. I can only wish I could draw so well in real life.)

Edited by ThePancakeLady
added more images
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