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ee. When Fear is Real.


                This is not astral projection. I can’t fly. I can’t float. Ant bites sting. This is not a dream. Cuts hurt. Cold is cold. I can’t control the dream nor do I feel the desire to wake up as I am awake. A couple of times I was alerted to falling off the branch when trying to adjust my position and I did doze off. Time went by, because I sensed no more crickets chirping. As long as crickets chirp, things are good. But when they stop, it’s a sign that potential danger is near. Without moving, I open my eyes and listen for any sound. Dead silence. I quietly turn to the side and peer down at the ground. I look for any movement. Many shadows. The moon risen. Glistening dew sparkles in the moonlight from the leaves on scattered bushes in random patterns. I see quite well actually, considering its still night. What’s down there?

                The crack of a twig. Shadows move in several places. “Somebody down there?”

                Right beneath this tree. With each shallow breath, I feel my heart; racing. I can’t fight-or-flight. Stiff like a deer; facing oncoming headlights. Something lurking down there. Does it know I’m up here? I need to keep quiet.

                Rustling brush. Tense fright. Don’t move. Another twig cracks. More shadows moving around. My eyes see nothing. Sense movement. No. My eyes fix not-focused on any random spot of the ground. More moving shadows. I see the shadows move. I see one! It darts out into a clearing. I clearly see the lurker! A rabbit! A very large rabbit indeed! About the size of a big dog. Long ears like a jack rabbit, but upright and slender like a kangaroo. Perhaps edible? I’m very hungry. Should I dare to slide down the tree in the dark and somehow kill that rabbit? And then a fire. How would I start a fire even if I had the rabbit? If I could find a lighter… Not likely. Where’s my cell phone?

                My thoughts ambushed as I almost fall from the tree. A shrieking squeal from that rabbit! A massive black shadow appears attacking. With my own ears I hear the sound of crushing bones and the forced gasping exhale from that rabbit as its life is squished. Some very large and vicious predator did an immediate pounce out of nowhere on that rabbit who died almost instantly.

                Several other rabbits scurry away in a fast frightful exit. All of this happens right under the very tree where I hide in relative safety! Luckily for me, I hadn’t slid down from the tree from safety yet. And then I saw that beast! It’s a big brown cat with a shriveled tangled mane like that of a gangly lion. Surreal is the scene. Shockingly, it’s a saber tooth tiger. He tore the rabbit to pieces so quickly. Now chews and swallows right at the base of the tree where he killed it. The sounds of tearing skin, fur and flesh. The crunching of bones and low garbled growls accompany this carnage. In a moment, the meal is devoured.

                That tiger’s paws. Huge. Bigger than bear paws. My fear? Surely this cat can climb trees. I remain motionless for what seems like eternity.

                Eventually, after the tiger devoured that rabbit and licked his paws, he slipped off into the darkness. As the growling subsided, the crickets began to chirp again. The remainder of the night gave me a great appreciation for this tree. The tiger never knew of my presence. I presume. Although hungry, I ignored that. Thirsty? I ignored that. At least I was alive. Need to pee? I did. Right from the branch to the ground. While I did so, I realized that was a foolish thing to do; pee from the tree. Such a dead giveaway to predators of my presence.

                Hours later, the morning sky is clear. The ground is clear. The area seems peaceful at last. The tiger’s gone. A few tufts of fur; all that remains of the rabbit who died there at the base of this tree. Now to get down. How? It’s so easy to climb. (Although I don’t recall climbing this tree.) So scary to descend. I look for low hanging branch within reach. Crawl near the trunk of the tree and peer down. Several larger lower hanging branches stretch out from the trunk. Picking one carefully, stepping by clinging step, hugging the rough bark, I make my way to the lowest branch. Still about ten feet or so from the ground, I drop from a hanging position to decrease the fall’s impact. Finally, my feet are on the soil again. Right near where that tiger had his bloody evening meal.

                I notice a structure. Like a lean-to. Only this lean-to isn’t leaning against anything more than a large boulder. The lean-to is made of cut tree branches for strength, laced together like an irregular teepee. Woven reeds and palm-like branches make up the windbreak and roof. Laced with rawhide cut into thin strips. A primitive place where someone could sleep somewhat out of the weather. Out-of-danger? I think not.

               A camp to rest and and a place to store items and tools for survival. A tripod with a fire ring below made of stones. Animal furs. Reeds. Twigs and fire wood. A primitive hatchet and several spears with sharpened stone points; laced with rawhide at the tip of the spear. Stashed inside the lean-to. I discover a supply of reed-like brushes carefully placed on a smooth piece of carved wood with a cradle along the center to lightly hold the brushes with moderate protection. Next to the brushes are several small pots of clay. The smallest appears to be an ink well. Another larger pot contains a portion of ink also. Many stacks of papyrus sheets; similar to the one that held the letter I read up in the tree. Somehow, I have the knowledge to make papyrus. The knowledge to combine ingredients for ink. And the knowledge of where to find reeds for brushes. But I don’t know where I gained such knowledge. I never wanted to be a craftsman. And who makes his own paper and mixes his own ink? I don’t want to be here. Period. I want my word processor. Where is my laptop?


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