Just Ignore Them (JITTER)

Day 2: Watching, Waiting

Somewhere underground, a young boy looked around questioningly, seemingly searching for something that was once his. The multitude of questions presenting themselves to the boy would be enough to confuse the wisest of men, however, one question identified itself as the most immediate cause of concern.

”Who am I? ”

The question alone would seem like an obvious joke to some, and unhinged ramblings to others. But the fact remains that all intelligent beings require some semblance of identity, and being unable to at least identify your own name would be terrifying for anything capable of conscious thought. The boy began breathing heavily, his frail body creaking with every inhale.

Still desperately thinking of his identity, the boy could not find an answer. Without anything coming to mind, he persisted, as he felt as though he had a name. After some time, he began to think logically. Even while his existence was weakening, as though he was but a fraction of who he was, with a gargantuan hole in his chest.

”I can remember how to walk, talk, breathe and the most advanced human behaviour and teachings, but my name and life evade me. ”

The boy began to think harder until the strain on his mind gave him a sharp pain behind his eyes. Failing this, the boy takes the time to comprehend his current situation. He needed to figure out where he was, and why he was there. Where logic failed, his instincts took up the slack. They provided him with both desperation and hopelessness, all the same.

The next issue to tackle was survival. He had to survive. His stomach churned and trashed, and his throat was crackling with each breath. He did not yet realise but he was starving, slowly but surely.

Slowly leveraging himself with the ground to get to his feet, he took a slow, but careful turn. He begins to inspect his surroundings carefully; his first thought was finding out where the light was coming from.

Looking above, sunlight invaded the space via a small opening overhead. The sunlight was powerful, but it was dispersed meagrely into the dark. Like a flashlight with low batteries, the light was dim and faint.

From his initial inspection, he began to try to figure out the structure of where he held. He surmised he was in a cave; he could make out a vast number of surfaces and deformities all around him, and even larger, darker, figures on the roof. Adding to this, the smell of stone and dampness presented itself whenever he breathed in deeply.

Stone adorned most of the visible surface, while the ground was bare slate littered with large patches of dirt. Cracks and small ferns carpeted the centre of the cavern towards the south, beneath his own bare feet. He surmised that he was in a large circular cavern with jagged stalactites hanging ominously overhead. He designated the fern area beneath the light the centre of the cavern, as it was equal distance from the north, east and west. While it rested just beside the southern wall, he felt as though it was safer under the protection of light.

His conclusion about his new abode was further concreted by how the light interacted with the surfaces. The only fully visible wall was the southern wall, due to the way the light reflected on the stone. The light reflected from the southern wall and hit numerous edges in the surroundings and structure to the dark in the distance. The walls in each direction were extremely dark but slightly visible. Whereas, the area between the centre and the outer wall was nothing but extreme, consuming darkness.

Listening out, he could hear faint scampering in the dark, and frequent light taps along the ground, towards the outer circumference of the cave. He should be worried about these noises, but the situation called for rationality, even while his sense of self was slowly failing him. But for now, he put this matter to the side, as judging by the lightness of the taps, the origin of these sounds was extremely light and did not sound like something potentially dangerous.

He then began to take inventory of everything he currently possessed on himself. He was currently outfitted in what appeared to be pyjamas. Green dinosaurs were present on both the shirt and trousers he was wearing. His pocket contents did not answer as they held no secrets or truths within the depths of his pockets. The outfit was tight and the size on the inner tag was not present within the waistband. More questions, and even fewer answers.

”At least they
e comfortable. ”

Touching his face, the boy tried to approximate his age. His face held no obvious hints about himself, so instead turning his attention to his hair. His first thought was that his hair was extremely thick and long. It cascaded down to the middle of his back, the most he could work out was that his hair was either dark brown or black with the light available. This did not help.

He tried to think of every possible circumstance to what had led him here. Amnesia? It would have to be extremely selective regarding his memories, only targeting his person and not what he had learned. So, he had effectively removed this from the equation. He thought of as many things as he could. He could remember history, science, maths and English. He could recall any knowledge he had consumed. He could not remember where he learned of such things, he only knows them. He knew he was a human, but what did a human look like?

Sitting back on the ferns beneath himself, he began to cry. His palms were pressed harshly into his eye sockets as he broke down. He had no answers to even a single question he held, and the more he tried to solve them, the worse they consumed him. The sounds of the cavern accompanied his whimpers, seemingly falling into a crescendo of pity for the young boy. After seemingly hours passed, he stopped crying and got to his feet weakly. His own body convinced him to move, to walk. He was starving. Forced to fight for survival, he began walking around. Nothing was to be solved by simply waiting.

From the southern centre of the cavern, every step away made it harder to see, and even harder to remain rational. Remembering the basic human needs, he knew he needed both food and water to survive, everything else could come later. The boy kept the centre of the cavern in his vision at all times, as the faint light on the greenery was almost a beacon to find his way back at all times. Or so he thought at the time.

He cautiously followed the sounds of the assumed insects around, to find nothing. Small rocks, stones and gravel were all he managed to collect in his pockets, but even those felt like a win for him. He knew rocks were the cornerstone of primitive tools and structures, his naivety gave him hope, even in a situation such as his own. Wandering for a long time, he managed to only find more stone and considerably less hope as time went by.

After a quick sweep of the innermost circumference of the cavern, surrounding the centre fern patch, he scavenged but a few items. Five larger pieces of broken slate, three smaller yet sharper rocks and a handful of coarse gravel, his spoils of war. This scouting expedition fully concluded the fact that he was in a cave, and there was no way out visible. Even his earlier excitement about his stones seemed childish and sad to him now.

He decided to head for the centre, to deposit his stones, before continuing deeper away from the light. But he needed courage for that, and that was in short supply.

Stumbling over a rock he did not spot in time, a small shadow rapidly darted out from the underside of the overturned stone. It ran manically towards the ferns, trying its hardest to escape the clutches of the boy.

Despite his positive outlook being destroyed by his findings, he still needed to eat, and soon. He ran towards the ferns, and he desperately peered underneath every fern and plant. His actions became more erratic and frenzied with each minute that passed. If the boy had paid a little more attention to his surroundings, he would have saw dozens of eyes staring at him from behind the veil of darkness. They tracked his every move, their hunger unfathomable. Yet still they watched.

The boy continued searching for minutes. He knew that if he was even a little hydrated, he was certain he would be drooling at the thought of eating something, finally. But the lizard seemed to have vanished into thin air. There was no indication it had made it to the ferns.

Despite this, a fortunate find did present itself to the boy, and one issue was solved temporarily.

He found moss.

It presented itself beneath the ferns crested in the southern centre of the cavern, atop the dirt area beneath the opening on the ceiling. Moss, as he could strangely recall, held water. The further benefit was that its acidic nature prevented bacteria from growing on themselves. In turn providing clean, fresh water. This was not a solution, but a temporary salvation in his despair. Shortly after his barbaric searching, he was beyond thirsty, resulting in this discovery being perhaps the perfect find at this time.

Bracing himself for the worst, he gently pushed back a fern and diligently tore up a small section of moss using a sharper stone. He tried to cut a square as best he could. He held it to the light and inspected it from every angle. It was green, he knew moss was supposed to be green. At this point, the prospect of water was far too tempting for even his, clearly, logical mind. He held it above his mouth and rang it out. The drops fell hard and fast, tasting sweet success, he twisted only harder.

The taste was of both dirt and water. One of these two was crucial to the fundamentals of living, and the other, well, the other was just plain nasty. Nevertheless, he savoured every drop he could muster, and after some time, his thirst was quenched. After retching and struggling to keep the horrid liquid down, he decided to feign his plight to his own rationally once more, rather optimistically.

”That patch I cut was a 30cm square, aside from tasting like shit, it gave me decent hydration, so this entire patch should last me a while, hopefully. ”

He then did rough calculations of the area where the moss grew and did the math that would decide how long he could survive on the rancid water.

”The entire moss patch is around 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, if I sparingly drink the same as I did earlier, twice a day, I could manage for maybe… A month at the least. ”

Silence permeated the cave; time had almost seemed to grind to a halt. The boy could hear his heartbeat throb violently in his head. He had finally found something to keep himself alive, his desperation had paid off, yet a month was all it amounted to.

The stark reality of this brought the boy once more to tears. A month. That was the timeframe he had by his calculations. However, even that was still optimistic, as he still had no source of food. He knew he could eat the moss in absolutely dire circumstances, but that would only prove detrimental, as you can survive longer without food than you can without water.

He lost himself as fast as he composed himself, turned his head upwards and screamed.


He continued bellowing variations of this phrase for seemingly hours, his throat tore, and his head pounded. Yet he did not concede to the pain, he continued long to the point where but a shrill wheeze could croak out of his throat. He drank another patch of moss and laid still. He watched the opening of the cave for any signs of movement, but nothing ever came, no hero saved him. He was alone. What brought him out of this daze was yet another realization and yet another issue, which had omitted the boy this entire time.

The light was fading. The boy studied the light for a few more seconds and realised just how naïve he had truly been.

”The night, I … HOW DID I FORGET! ”

The night was coming, and the faint trickle of light that was in the cavern would soon be gone, leaving both the boy and the cavern encased in darkness. This brought an entire variety of issues, be it freezing to death, nocturnal animals in the cavern, and even the loss of sanity. He had wasted too much time, and forgot about the one definite of gravity, what goes up… must come down.

The boy quickly sat upright, and to reap as many benefits as he could from the light, he dashed around the lighter sections of the cavern, for anything that could help him survive. An hour passed and the light now barely reached the ferns beneath the opening. The boy found nothing.

Instead of breaking down, the hopelessness he felt spurned his brain into overdrive. He had a plan. At breakneck speed, he grabbed some large ferns and tore them harshly by the root out from the ground. He was careful to not damage the moss and acquired 30 or so large leaved ferns. As a surprise even to himself, he thought of only one solution. He then used the stems from the leaves to tie one to another, but the stems were brittle and cracked with the slightest pressure.

Frustrated, the boy hit the floor with his palm over and over. Dirt lined his hands and stones embedded themselves into his palms. He once again tried to formulate a plan.

”I need warmth, cover and protection, if I can fashion these leaves together in a form of a blanket, I can stay hidden and keep warm. But how do I … ”

He instantly made a decision. He whipped off his pyjama top and using a sharper piece of slate he acquired, repeatedly stabbed and tore at one of the sleeves. His anguished hammering of the sleeve was proving fruitless, the slate was too dull, and the shirt too tough.

Clenching his jaw, he picked up his shirt and started to gnaw on the creases made by the slate. He gnashed and chewed, gritted and ground his teeth along the sleeve until he felt the fabric stretch and fray beneath his canines. He continued until his teeth collided with one another.

The sleeve was placed beneath him and pulled the sleeve towards his chest, over and over until it tore into seven variously sized strips. He panted and fell onto his back, breathing deeply until the crazed beating of his heart grew weary. He propped himself up and used the slate as a nail and his palm, which he had wrapped in another piece of fabric, as a hammer to drive holes into the thinner ends of each larger leaf. He then fed the leaves onto a long strip of fabric through the new holes. He ended the process with a single knot at each end of the strip, preventing the leaves from falling off.

He had done it; he had made a blanket of leaves. A shroud of shrubbery if you will.

He dove to the centre of the cavern, before moving a few paces to the east. Crouching over the dirt, he used his hands to shovel the dirt. He made a burrow deep enough to contain his small frame and pulled his fashioned blanket over himself with his feet facing south. His hands ached; his fingernails bled. But his burrow was secure. That was enough.

Even though he knew it was not much, at this moment, the pride he felt was akin to Napoleon conquering the known world. Comfort and safety, paired with pride and ego. All of these made the boy happy for the first time that he has ever known, and that was a feeling he wanted to keep forever. At this moment, he vowed to keep himself happy and to solve the mystery of why he was here. He would survive.

He watched the light meekly retreat out from the cavern. Adrenaline was now in short supply, but he was proud of what he had accomplished. The withdrawal of light begets only the safe, cold embrace of darkness to consume his vision. One of these descriptions was a lie, as the boy will soon find out.

Numerous eyes watched his chest rise, falter and fall. They hunger only grew as the boy grew more desperate. They would have him, eventually.

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