This requires a little backstory, but I'll set the scene in as few words as possible. I started this custom survival game (changes made include lengthening days and reducing rates of starvation and thirst, to more adequately mirror what I think a real life survival situation would be like) playing as Astrid in Coastal Highway. I had never played a very successful survival run before, so this was going to be my first. I learned quickly that if I wanted to make any real progress, I'd have to move away from scavenging and start foraging, so I established a hunting camp in the house on Jackrabbit Island. There, I hoarded supplies, things I'd gathered; hunted rabbits, went on short trips to find deer carcasses for pelts; and cured my finds in the living room. Eventually, though, once I thought I had adequate supplies, I decided to undertake a real expedition.
I knew the way out of the region--the railroad way--and after a steep climb up a service road, I took a train tunnel out of CHW and into the Ravine. I was cold but excited, imagining new sights, new treasures just over the next rise. When I came to the broken part of the trestle, I simply skipped across, trying not to let my fear of heights overcome my exploratory spirit. The rest of the trip was exhilarating (and terrifying) as I crept through the bowels of the Dam, eventually finding myself wandering the Winding River and harvesting maple saplings. But this is just background; the attack didn't happen until I returned home.
With all the pelts and guts I'd gathered, I decided it was time to move to a better location. The fishing outpost on the shore of the bay didn't have a stove, but it did have a workbench, and that's exactly what I needed. Now, I know every survivor has to contend with the wind and the cold, but I truly believe my fire-building situation is even worse than most people's. See, with no indoor location to build one, I had to have my fires outside. And oddly enough, the game doesn't let players cancel building a fire. One has no choice but to see the construction through to its failure or its success. This had never been a problem for me before. Not until the day the bear came.
I had some crafting to do, and it was cold out, so naturally I started to work on building a fire next to the table. I had very little accelerant to spare, so I was doing it the slow way. That's when I heard it. The groans, the huffs, the low rumble of his breathing, and the heavy step of his massive foot. I began smashing the circle button in the hopes of canceling my task, but it was of no use. I had to stand there, watching this tiny fire crackle, listening to the bear close in on my helpless, paralyzed personage. Of course, the fire failed, and it was too late anyway. I looked up from the cold stack of logs, and what did I see? Nothing. Baffled and confused, I looked to my left. Only snow. Then I looked to my right.
I had never been mauled by a bear before. It was as if he had been waiting for me to turn in his direction. He batted me around a little, tore into my leg, left me bleeding and on the verge of passing out. I barely limped back to my main cottage in time to dress my wounds. But that isn't the worst thing that bear did.
See, bears are smart. For whatever reason, he didn't kill me, but that doesn't mean he wasn't going to. He didn't want to grant me the peace of a quick death. He wanted me to suffer. Knowing I didn't have the resources to build a fire or the strength to gather any, he simply waited in the vicinity of my camp. Waited as my strength returned and my supplies dwindled. Waited as I came to my last drop of water. Waited as I tried in vain to build a fire to boil more. Waited until I came to my last match.
He's still out there, somewhere. Waiting beyond the small rises that border the outpost. Rooting around in the bushes, watching from the shadows. He patrols the road, and there are wolves on the ice. I have wood but no tinder, no matches. I've been without water almost a day, and I'm down to my last slab of venison. As I ready my flares, my tools, my tiny store of medicine, I find my thoughts keep drifting to the bear. As I study my map and draft up my plans in my head, I wonder, how fast can he run? I remember the cabin several kilometers up the highway, think about the small stash of food and soda I stored there. As I exit my tiny cabin, I swear I can hear his snuffling, his prowling, just out of sight. The sun's going down, but I can't last another night. I strike the first flare, and a dark shape moves across my vision outside the red light's reach.
I take my first step out into the middle of the road. "How far," I think to myself . . . "how far will I get?"