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A Short Writing Exercise : Once Again, but With Feeling

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(Just a quick mood peice inspired by Don't Starve. May post more.)(Read on Google Docs | Read on tumblr)I’m on my back. I’m whole, I’m empty, I’m feeling nothing. I probably was nothing, before I came here to this field. Came before the suited demon. He grins wide, a cigar dangling from his fingers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a single pull from that cigar, yet it still dangles there, stinking of petrol and sulfur.“It’s been so long since I’ve actually seen you starve to death. Tell me, how did that feel?”I blink away, staring at moldy grey sky. Did that mean it would rain already? Or was it always like that? I can feel the gaps of knowledge, holes raked clean in my mind, searing in the muggy air. He couldn’t let me remember anymore. Not since I had gotten so close…“Ah well,” he taps a burning cinder onto my foot. “Looks like it’ll be dark soon, so how about you try for a more interesting death this time, hm?”I close my eyes, just try and struggle to my elbows. He leaves sooner that way, vanishing in a curling blast of cigar smoke. I get to my feet and walk, mind numb but body energized. It’s the best it’s ever felt, always in peak condition when I start. I always expect to stand, to feel old, to feel my knees buckle and be completely unable to go on. But I run anyway. No matter how many times I do this, I’m just up, and I just go.At least it always starts warm, I think numbly. At least it always starts here, in a sweet little meadow. Always has what I need. I yank up a carrot without breaking stride, dirt bouncing off my leg as I stuff it in my pocket. I pull fistfuls of berries and leaves from bushes, knowing I’d sort them later. I find a small tree, grab its base, and with a hiss I strip in bare in one clean motion. My hand’s cut up, with dirt in the cuts. Always like that, I think dully. Always turn so soft when I come back. Delicate, how they used to be. They’ll be fat callouses soon enough. No more blood, no refinement. Just fat hams built to survive.For days, I just run. Stop for the brief summer nights, and then charge off again in the morning. A pack bounces off my rear, it’s rattling a familiar sound. The straps cutting in my shoulders… Every time, I ask the same exact question. Was I always this frail?Well, there’s one thing this frail body can do, that becomes so, so very difficult the further I get from my old self.Finally, I find the spot. A place by an old road. A place with berry bushes to the north, bees to the west, a forest close at hand and frog ponds to the south. At a place with five tilled pieces of earth, if I can stand to stare at the fat, grinning head of the demon. If I can stand the smell of hot manure and dirt. Both of these are things that no longer bother me, but this body sometimes… It gags as I stuff seeds into the plots, first thing.I rock my shoulders and fling my pack off into the dirt. It lands with a heavy thump, and out spills the contents. Rocks, logs, a few flashes of gold and silver… I help upend it all, shaking everything I need out. This night I refuse to sleep. With a warm fire burning at my back, I get to work.Even though I’ve done this… I don’t know how many times, this is the moment. This is where everything truly starts to come together. The first time in days that I feel alive. My first breath after so much time under a thick blanket of empty mindlessness. This, this is what I live for, every, every, every time.The plans are always so sharp in my head, and my hands move quick and easy. Splitting boards, flattening gold, shaping rock. This is a machine I know backwards and forwards, that the demon would never take from me, that I’d sooner die than let him take it from me.A science machine. The spark of inspiration in mechanical form. The humming body of my old life, finally coming together before me. No matter how many times I do this, it’s such a rush to build. A wonderful feeling, just slotting all the pieces together, setting it in the stand, flipping the switch…!I spread my hands across it, set my forehead to its warm body, and just feel it buzz and hum beneath me. A laugh bubbles in my throat. Science, oh science, I have built you a shrine, and I worship at your wooden feet. In all these miles and miles of useless slop and dangerous creatures, you are the only thing worth a damn to me. Creation, destruction, all the possibilities of the world in my hands. All materials just a few little tweaks away from becoming my constructions. It doesn’t even take me the rest of the night to build everything I need. There’s a fire burning in my belly. At least, at last, my existence feels like it has meaning. The holes in my memory are swiftly filled, prototypes whipped together, an alchemy machine constructed. Meters and metrics set up in the farm, boxes filled and sorted. Nothing is beyond me now! NOTHING!I leave camp in the morning with hot flush across my face, stubble on my chin, and armor tucked under my arm, a spear in hand. This wilderness will be controlled! I am it’s master now. Great, powerful, and careful enough to never fear! I’ve survived months, maybe years like this, and I’ll keep doing it! For moments like these! For the chance to just build again!Hunting frogs, honestly, it’s terrible, nasty business. I’m covered in bumps and bruises from the experience, but this will help me, I’m sure it will. Already, as I hack and rip my fingernails through little froggy guts, numbers are streaming through my mind. How much do I need to kill to survive? How long will it keep for? Should I fish as well, or was that a waste of time? I have a few farms, but the fruits of that are for special occasions. And the berries won’t last forever, I’m going to have to find some beefalo soon, or maybe track and pen a koalafant. I’ve noticed a few footsteps here and there, if I could just spend the day tracking it…!At the end of each day I’m exhausted, spent, sometimes running back through the darkness with a torch in my hand. But I just sit with my back to my creative machines, let the thoughts flow and fill me, and everything seems wonderful. Knowledge, intelligence, this is all I ever wanted. In my old life, and here in this hell.It’s the need for more manure that drives me from home. The farms are starting to stink less, and a few loose Gobblers are making my berry farm burn faster than it should be. Even if a beefalo herd is far away, I could just camp there a week and bring all I need back. The distance from the science machines would hurt, a little bit. But the fact that I can build them at all…I follow the road east, further and further and further into unknown territory. I probably look like such a wild man. Wilted flowers stuffed and stuck in my hair, clothes made of wood and rope, a long, scraggly beard… Perhaps after this trip, it will do me good to shave. Maybe hunt some spiders, make myself some nicer clothes. I know that I can make clothes, but what exactly eludes me, the gaps in my knowledge, again, so wide and unfilled…I stop, quite suddenly, stunned.After all these times, doing this over and over and over.I’ve found something new.It’s the crank… well, the crank of the teleporter is nothing new. That demon started dropping them in here ages and ages past, taunting me with my very first mistake. What’s around it, that’s what makes me pause. Decorated with nice wooden flooring, marble pillars, practically a shrine to my failures, it is. But now, different from before, there sits a little mechanical bull, wound down and humming in a dull resting phase.I stare at it. Vaguely, I recall a need for mechanized parts for… for something. I didn’t have a clue where to find them, but now? The creature seemed powered by steam, puffs of hot, coppery air releasing from its snout. Of course, this is just like the demon. Giving me the understanding on how to proceed, then tucking the progress away in something that will certainly kill me to obtain. Here, now, on my way to another project and still coated in the bruises from frog farming, I don’t know if I can fight a mechanical beast.And yet, curiosity…I sidle up the road, watching the thing as it slowly awakes. I’m not afraid, of course not. Novelty is something to be revered, not frightened by. I backpedal a little more, keeping a good distance. Watching, fascinated as it hopped around, a spring serving as a sort of pogo. Fascinating creature, would be a wonderful time, just pulling it apart, seeing how it worked—It’s head shoots forward. An impossible distance. Hot bronze slams into my chest. My armor impacts, wood buries into my skin, a dull crunch. I can’t breathe. Shooting pain. Ribs cracked. No. Sternum.That’s it then.I topple backwards. Body gasping. Blood swelling up my throat. Pain just builds and builds and builds. Body doesn’t know how bad it is. Body’s panicking. I can feel it screaming, and I let it do so.But I’m removed. Just feeling everything react, it’s almost like it’s not me anymore.And it’ll be over quick enough.I can barely feel the ground as I hit it. And the sky just sucks itself away. Darkness, the final rest…Yet.I’m on my back. Whole, empty, feeling nothing. Probably am nothing. Just here, in the field again, with a suited demon standing before me. He grins, always grin, a horrible grin. His cigar smells like petrol and sulfur. Smells like the wind in hell.“I see you’ve met my Clockwork Knights! Fascinating, aren’t they?”I blink away, staring at moldy grey sky. Did that mean it would rain already? Or was it always like that?

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