Monday, 30 September 2013


The thing that was chasing me is gone. Though it killed Xi, Melanie, maybe others, I couldn't help but feel sorry for it at the end. I won't ever think of it other than as a thing, or a creature, though. Whatever it was before died a long time ago.

I'd carried on through the cave. I was making good time, and I knew that even if the cave entrance was open again, the creature wouldn't catch me. I'd seen it moving, and I knew it wasn't quick anymore. I kept going until I came to a part of the cave that was riddled with circular holes. The holes made me think of the ones Phillips had seen, the holes he claimed were so deep you couldn't hear a stone hit the bottom. There were so many of them, and they were so close together, that I had to slow down. I wasn't willing to risk going anywhere near one.

I'd spent about an hour painstakingly creeping between the holes, when I heard a strangled croak. I turned around. The creature was standing just before the holes, staring at me. Its body was covered in open sores, and in places, the skin had sloughed away, exposing glistening meat. One arm hung limply at its side, and both feet were black stumps. I stood up straight and faced it, staring into its five eyes. The impression I got, if such impressions can be relied upon for an alien creature, was of pain and despair; I knew this creature had been driven to follow me. It was a victim of this terrible place, perhaps more than I was.

The creature raised its arm. Small ribbons of tattered rubber still hung from it. It groaned and stepped toward me. I stood where I was and forced myself to watch as the creature dragged itself along. It sidled past the first hole it came to; the second hole was too much, and the creature began to overbalance. It stumbled away and plunged into a hole on its left. It clung to the side, and I listened to the rattle of its breathing. As I watched, the creature looked at me, directly into my eyes, and released the edge of the hole. It fell, and I never heard it hit the bottom.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


When I woke up, the entrance to the cave I'd slept in was gone. I ran my hands over the place where the tunnel ended; it was solid stone. There was no sign there'd ever been a gap. The tunnel stretched away from me in the other direction. With nothing else to do, I followed it. The cave walls are slightly luminescent, though not with the purple light Phillips described. I know I'm not in the same cave he was, though perhaps it's the same system. Although, that assumes that anything here is consistent and reliable.

I followed the cave for hours. I didn't find anything interesting, no fabulous artefacts or mysterious symbols. I wonder whether the cave sealed to protect me from my pursuer. I feel like The Sick Land, or something in it, has acted to protect me before. Of course, the entrance may have flickered open as soon as I turned my back. It makes my neck prickle incessantly to think that the thing might be behind me.

I had stopped here, intending to rest; I don't think I can do that now. I'll carry on.

Saturday, 28 September 2013


The thing that's been following me, the thing that killed Melanie, is in the crater. I'm hiding in a cave I found. The thing is moving slowly, uneasily, as if it has something wrong with it. I saw it coming down the crater wall, stumbling and struggling. I think it might be badly hurt, or maybe it's been exposed to the mal for too long. I still think it will kill me if it gets close. I'm unarmed, after all; I can't fight it. I watched it with horrid fascination until it was about halfway down; it was too far away to get a good look in the twilight, but I could tell what it was by the way it moved.

I carried on around the crater wall. I thought that if I kept moving, I could stay ahead of it, as long as it stops when the sun comes up so I can sleep. I lost sight of it once it was fully dark, and walked by starlight, my right hand on the wall. If I hadn't had my hand there, I might not have noticed the cave. It's only slightly taller than me, and fairly narrow. The horizon was brightening, and I thought the cave would be a better place to sleep than in the open. I hope I'm not mistaken.

Friday, 27 September 2013


The crater, Victoria, is huge and bleak. The ground is rocky and, in places, crystallised with salt. I'm guessing that it's salt, anyway, from what Phillips wrote. I'm not about to taste it. My water bottle is almost empty; even with the tiny sips I've been allowing myself, it won't last more than a few days. I've decided to explore the crater. If I find a freshwater spring like Phillips found, I'll drink from it; if it kills me, I'm no more dead than if I die of thirst. At the back of my mind resides the hope that if I can outlast my supplies, the facility might send someone for me. It's a slim hope, but one I cling to. I have nothing else.

I trekked over the rocky terrain for a few hours. I started to feel dizzy and stopped. I have no food left, and my body is running on its dwindling reserves. Night fell quickly, and I huddled against the crater wall; the open space unsettles me.

Thursday, 26 September 2013


I'm writing this from inside the crater. I'm on a ledge about halfway down. I'm exhausted.

I woke up this morning resolved to see how far into the crater I could get. In some ways, that could be seen as a death wish, but I don't have supplies for much longer anyway, and I felt compelled to find out what would happen when I put the phenomenon to the test.

When the sea was there, I kept my eyes open and waded in as deeply as I could. When the water was at my chin, and I could only just feel the ground with my toes, I shut my eyes. I felt my weight drop down as the water disappeared. I stood with my eyes closed, giving them as much time to recover as I could. I opened them, and walked quickly down the rest of the slope. I reached the edge and looked over. It was steep, but nowhere near vertical. I'd been lucky, and found a part I could scramble down without ropes or equipment. I started to descend. My eyes were burning, and I had to concentrate on holding them open. My vision blurred, and when it became too much, I braced myself on the surface, took a deep breath, and slammed my eyes shut.

I waited there, crouched on the crater wall with my eyes closed. I was still dry. I opened them. The crater stayed as it was while I blinked. It had been fixed as a sea when I arrived; now, it seemed to be fixed as a crater. I scrambled back up and went to my bag. The crater didn't change. I took the bag and climbed down.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I tried to get inside the crater. I failed.

I walked back to Victoria and watched it for a while. Every time I blinked, it would change. I watched it for about ten minutes, and the nausea I felt with every blink subsided, at least to some degree. I forced myself to cross the beach, and reached the point where the water began - when it was there, at least. I crouched down and dipped my hand into the water. It was deep, even right at the edge. I blinked. My wet hand dripped onto the bone dry sand below. I blinked again, and my hand was back in the water.

The circumstances anesthetised me. I felt as if I wasn't really in my body. I blinked the water away and walked down the decline, forcing my eyes to stay open. I stopped after a few yards and blinked. My chest seized up as the freezing water covered me to the shoulders. I started to lose my footing. I couldn't breathe. I blinked, and fell to my knees, keeping my eyes open as I crawled away from the water.

I lay on the beach, shivering. I had to turn away from Victoria; it was starting to make me sick again. I don't know how I'll get into the crater. It doesn't seem possible.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


I dreamt about Bob. He was sitting opposite me in the dark. It was so dark, I couldn't really make him out, but I knew it was him. We were sitting on either side of a small, shallow pool. The pool was glowing, like a television in a dark room. Bob waved his hand over the pool. I caught a brief flash of dry skin pulled taut over bone before his hand disappeared back into the darkness. He told me I have to go back. He said I have to turn around, go back to Victoria, and go into the crater. I told him I wouldn't, that it would kill me. He told me I had to. I forced my eyes open and woke myself.

I sat in the dark, shivering. I had no idea what time it was, or how long it would be until dawn. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay awake, but I tried. I would have walked, anything to stay awake, but I could easily have fallen into the furrow, and I had no wish to spend the last days of my life in agony. In the end, I fell asleep.

My dream resumed where it had left off. Bob told me to look into the pool. It showed a busy street, the pavements crowded with people. The pool rippled, and changed to an image of children climbing in a playground. It rippled again, and showed fishing boats on a blue, sparkling sea. Bob told me I had to go. He said I knew I had to go. He told me I would go. Then, he leaned toward me. I began to see his face.

I woke up numb. If I had anything else to do, anything, other than waiting for death, I wouldn't go back. But I don't, so I'm going back. Maybe my subconscious knows something I don't. I'll update tomorrow if I can.

Monday, 23 September 2013


I'm writing this with the sea, or crater, or whatever it is, out of sight behind me. I feel sick; my insides hurt, and the ground feels like it's spinning. When I woke up this morning, I suffered by far the worst effect I've ever had in The Sick Land. With every blink, the sea would disappear or reappear. The first time I saw it, I fainted. When I regained consciousness, I forced myself to look at it. As long as I stared, Victoria remained in the same state. The second I blinked, or looked away, it would shift, and my head would spin.

I had to get out of there. I turned away from the sea and staggered back along the furrow. I walked until I was exhausted, and collapsed onto the ground. My head felt better once I was away from Victoria; I felt a bit more like I could think. I realised I'd left my bag behind. It doesn't matter. I can't make myself go back; besides, I had hardly any supplies. I'll keep updating as long as I can. I've got nothing else to do.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


This morning, the sea was back, dark and ominous. I sat on a stony embankment and watched it, smelling salt on the cold breeze. I feel like my experiences are too real, too consistent, merely to be the product of a mind stretched to breaking point by the mal. But then, maybe that's what all mad people think. It must seem real to them, I suppose. If I'm not mad, if what I'm seeing is really happening, or is my brain's interpretation of something that's happening, then the forces at work here are stronger and stranger than I ever imagined.

At midday, I walked away from the beach and ate half a mouthful of food, washed down with a sip of water. I stared away from the impossible sea while I ate and drank, as if the sight of it might poison me. When I turned back, the sea was gone. I walked to my stony embankment, my meagre food burning in my stomach. I kept it down; I need the nutrients. The huge, empty crater leered up at me, and I felt dizzy, as if I might fall in, though I was yards away. The hours disappeared as I pondered the crater, and wondered whether it was my grip on the world that was disappearing, or the world's grip on The Sick Land.

As dusk fell, I turned away and trudged back to my bag to sleep. I knew I shouldn't look back, but I turned my head anyway. The sea was there, and the sound of the waves, so soothing before, scratched at my thoughts.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


The sea is gone.

Waves crashed in front of me as I fell asleep. When I woke up, there was nothing there but a crater. I walked along what had been the beach and looked down. I saw a gentle decline, followed by a steeper decline, followed by a precipitous drop. The crater is huge, and I know it's what Phillips saw all those years ago. I've been calling this place Victoria, and that's what it is.

I sat on the decline, on a patch of ground I guess must have been ten feet under water when I went to sleep, and stared at the crater. I was shaking as I looked at it, my empty stomach clenching. The mal has destroyed my mind. I'd known my sanity was going, there'd been enough clues. This is unambiguous: I can no longer trust myself to perceive the truth. I can feel my stomach eating itself, and my throat burns with thirst, but those physical discomforts are nothing compared to the turmoil in my mind. When you can no longer perceive a consistent reality, how can you continue?

Friday, 20 September 2013


Last night's dreams were terrible.

I dreamt I was in the facility, hovering over my sleeping body. I sank through the floor of my room into a stone corridor. Though it was dark, I was able to see things close to me. The walls of the corridor were covered in primitive drawings of men killing and torturing one another, of giant creatures with teeth and claws. I floated through the floor of the corridor into a cave, small and ragged. A pool of absolute black dominated the cave, and as I fell toward it, I was terrified. I sank into the black, and I couldn't move or breathe, and I felt myself dying. I didn't die. I passed into an area that I knew was vast, though I could only catch glimpses of it. The space I hovered in was silent, but for the sound of rasping breaths from far away. I floated over to the sound. As I got closer, my mind rebelled, and I strained against the path I was following. I knew that I didn't want to see whatever it was I could hear. My fear grew as I struggled, and I felt that I was being propelled by a giant, obscene hand. I started to see an outline ahead, and I realised that if I saw what was in front of me, my mind would be destroyed.

I woke at dawn. I'd had the same dream over and over, ending always at the same point. I'm tired. I've thrown the prehistoric tool into the sea. The weather has changed: it's colder now, and an icy wind batters the sea into waves. My good spirits are gone. I'm going to try and sleep now, though it's still morning. I don't want to dream.  

Thursday, 19 September 2013


Amazing find today.

I decided I'd walk some of the way along the beach. I went slowly, carrying my bag, planning to stop wherever I wanted and sleep there. I thought that if I walked far enough, I might get some indication of the dimensions of the sea. I didn't. I stopped walking when I came to a scrubby bush that looked familiar. Obviously, one bush looks very much like another, but something nagged me about this one. I sat down and stared at it, and finally I realised what it was.

I've seen the bush in my dreams. I don't know how, but I'm sure it's the same one. Once I knew that, I went back through the blog and studied what I'd written about each dream. I dug underneath the bush, and I found something.

I found a prehistoric tool. It isn't the one I had before. At least, I can't believe it somehow made its way out here and underground. It doesn't look exactly the same: it's darker and dirtier. I'm taking the tool with me to bed. Maybe it'll prompt a dream. It's easy to fall asleep here, at least. The air is warm and the waves are gentle.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


I decided to look through the pictures I'd drawn of the stars, now that I've got nothing to do but sit here and wait. I had thought they were all the same, that there'd been no change. Turns out I was wrong.

Each of the drawings is different, though at the time, I felt like I was drawing the same thing each night. The differences aren't subtle, either. The number and shape of the constellations is different in each one; in three of the drawings, I've put a large object somewhere on the page, brighter than anything else except the moon.

I'm past the point where stuff like this worries me too much. My senses, or my memories, or both, are breaking down. It's what the mal does, what I've seen it do to people. As I look up at the stars, I can see that they don't match any of the drawings. They seem real, but who knows? I could be seeing them wrong, or seeing the drawings wrong. Maybe I drew them incorrectly in the first place. Maybe the stars themselves are changing; who knows?

One comfort is that I should die of thirst before my mind has completely broken down.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


I've found Victoria.

I don't know that, of course. What I've found is a sea. The furrow passes through the beach, and I can see it under the water for a short distance. I know this is an inland sea, though it stretches away in both directions; we're landlocked here. When I found it, I sat on the beach and watched the waves lapping gently against the shore. The sun sparkled on the water. This isn't a bad place to spend my final days.

I don't know whether my laptop broadcasts my location, but I suppose it doesn't matter. If they send a team along the furrow, they'll find the sea. It'll be too late for me by then, but maybe if someone makes a discovery down here they could name it after me. It's a better legacy than most people get.

I'm going to sleep now; the waves are soothing and the sun is warm. I'll keep updating while I still can. I have half a bottle of water.

Monday, 16 September 2013


I found the rest of the missing researchers.

I think they're all accounted for now. I found the bodies lying in the furrow mid-afternoon. They were soaking wet. Of all the things wrong with finding the bodies here, it's the wetness that bothers me most. It's warm today, with a light breeze. The bodies were soaked at first, but within an hour they were drier. It makes me think that they can't have been there for long before I found them, and that makes their mysterious, inexplicable appearance more immediate, more personal. I can understand, in an abstract sense, that The Sick Land has done something with these bodies, or with my mind. But knowing that they must have appeared right before I got to them, as if they were put there for my benefit, makes it real.

When I moved the bodies to bury them, water came out of their mouths. I guess that means they drowned. The first time that it happened, when I turned over a body and water ran out, I stared over at the horizon. It's water there, I'm sure of it. I'll see tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


Ahead of me, something vast glitters on the horizon. It looks like water. I'll probably be there the day after tomorrow. I can't help but remember my dream, the dream where I saw the furrow end at a huge sea. It looks like my dream might have been accurate.

Whatever it is, it's the end of my journey. I'm rationing the water in my bottle as best I can; I can stretch it out for a while yet, but not forever. I suppose I could go back and try and collect the supplies I left along the way, but I don't see the point. I won't have enough to make it back to the facility, and I'm resigned to what's going to happen. It looks like I'll make it to the end of the furrow, and that's enough.

If it is water, then maybe I've found Victoria. It's a comfort to know that future researchers might be able to follow my path and find it too. I've seen enough around here to realise that might not be possible, but at least if they know it exists, it might inspire future expeditions.

I don't want to get ahead of myself. First, I have to get there. And I can't rely on even a short trip being easy.

Saturday, 14 September 2013


I know where the watch came from.

I found a body. It was lying face down in the furrow. I turned it over. Somehow, it's the body of one of the researchers who entered the cavern and never left. I don't pretend to understand how the body came to be so many miles away, how it is that the corpse looks so fresh. This is the second one I've seen. It makes no more sense to find one of the missing researchers here than to find one where the old station used to be. 

I searched the corpse. There was nothing there to give me any clues. I noticed there was no watch on the wrist, but there was a tan line. So that's one mystery solved. I wanted to bury the body, but I don't have a spade. I settled for piling dirt and stones on top. It'll have to do.

I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep, so I carried on. Whatever's pursuing me doesn't seem to be anywhere near at the moment. I hope it stays away.  

Friday, 13 September 2013


I found a watch today.

The watch is digital, with a black plastic strap. The screen has a crack in it, but you can still see the time. Judging by the sun, the time is wrong. I have no idea where it could have come from. Someone else must have been this way, and recently. I don't think anyone from the station would come this far, which means they came from the facility, or from somewhere else I don't know about. I don't like either option. If they came from the facility, who are they? If they're a search party, how did they get in front of me, and why haven't they found me? They know where I am. They just need to look for the area I've described. If it's not a search party, what are they doing?

I like the other option less. The idea that there are people out here, in the deeper parts of The Sick Land, worries me. I never really got a chance to adapt to the facility before I was shipped out again, and there's so much I don't know about what goes on out here.

I'm staying alert for other signs.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


The brown earth is changing into a dark gold. I haven't seen another tree yet, but there are plenty of low bushes, and I saw a patch of green in the distance that might have been a wood. The sky is clear, and a warm breeze is blowing. I can almost convince myself that this is a leisurely hike.

Today passed in almost complete silence. Whatever is following me seems to be able to move only at night. I feel like I'm always being followed now. My guess is that it's the thing that killed Melanie. I wake before dawn and start walking, and I don't stop until hours after dusk. Maybe I ought to walk through the night and sleep in the middle of the day. At least I know I'm safe then. I don't know if that would help, though. If the thing is going to catch me, it'll catch me. And then I'll be dead.

I don't want to be caught yet, though. I want to follow the furrow to the end. I want to see what's there. See if it was worth all this fear. All this death.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


I dreamt last night that I stood with Bob. We looked out over a vast field of the white fungi. The fungi had turned black with rot, and small creatures, beetles perhaps, climbed over them. Bob turned to me, and I saw that something had crawled from his eye. It looked like a pale maggot. It wriggled, its lower body still embedded in the jelly of Bob's eyeball. Where the maggot's head should be was a flat black disk. Bob opened his mouth; a beetle scuttled from it and down his neck. He told me I must live. That death for me would sound the end. That as things stood, the wheel would turn, and what had been could come again. With my death, the wheel would break. He said he could help me no more than he had. Now, it rested on me. He reached out to me. His hand was filthy, the nails thick and yellow. His fingers trembled as his hand approached my face.

My eyes snapped open. It was just before dawn. Close by, I heard something move. I packed up and walked on.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


The earth here is brown.

I finally made it through the grey, bleak terrain. There are plants again; I saw a small tree on the other side of the furrow. As long as I can, I'll keep reporting what I see. At least then, there's some hope that I didn't throw my life away for nothing. I know there's no rescue coming. Not quickly enough.

I've started to see patches of the white fungi again. When I've seen them before, the fungi have been full and healthy. Now, the white exterior is tinged with yellow-brown, the skin wrinkled as if they're shrinking, rotting from within. Perhaps the soil here is less favourable to the fungi. Or maybe it's the end of their season. It doesn't matter.

I've neither seen nor heard any evidence that I'm being pursued. I'm not keeping a watch at night, though. If I'm attacked while I sleep, then I'll die. The outcome is the same, only the timing is affected. I can't help but wonder if I'm farther into The Sick Land than anyone has ever been. I doubt it. But I may have gone deeper than anyone has in thirty years. That's something, I suppose.

Monday, 9 September 2013


Melanie is dead. She was torn apart.

I was woken from a dreamless sleep by a gargantuan crash of thunder. As the sound rolled over me, the first drops of rain began to hit the ground. Fat, cold drops. The rain dispersed the mist, cooled the air. Soaked, I ran to my bag to look for something waterproof. That was when it happened.

Something, some dark shape, charged at our camp. I couldn't see well. It was before dawn, and the downpour had extinguished the fire. The shape hit Melanie, and blood sprayed across the muddy ground. I ran. I ran along the furrow. Away from the shape, and away from Melanie. I couldn't hear anything over the rain.

I ran until my legs burned and I couldn't draw breath. I stopped and looked behind me. I couldn't see through the rain, and I knew the thing might come for me, once it was finished with Melanie. I shouldered the bag, which I'd carried in my hand during my desperate run, and began to jog. When I couldn't jog, I walked. The rain soaked me through. Hours later, it stopped, as if a tap had been switched off. I kept walking. Eventually, I dried.

I'm alone now. The loop seems to be broken; I haven't come back to the camp, or anywhere I recognise. The supplies in the bag will keep me alive for a while; not long enough to walk back to the Jeeps. I'm going to follow the furrow.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Thunder rumbles. I can't tell which direction it's coming from. The storm that's been promised is almost here. I slept last night, at least for a while. And I dreamt.

I was in a dark place with Bob. I knew it was a cave. I could see his face, lit with some inner luminescence, but nothing else. He was gaunt, and soaked with sweat. He was trembling, and his yellowed eyes stared into mine, searching for something he couldn't find. When he spoke, his voice was a dry rasp. Strands of saliva crossed his mouth. He told me I had to act now. His hold was weakening, was almost broken. If I didn't act, it was the end. The penultimate challenge would be lost, and the balance would shift, and it would be the end. I stared at Bob as he spoke, and I didn't know if he saw me.

I woke standing, with the word 'act' echoing through my head. I blinked my eyes clear. The spade was by feet. Melanie sat behind me, engrossed in the ground, hugging her bad arm to her body. I looked up from the spade, staring into the mist and listening to the thunder. Act.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


I didn't sleep. The heat was stifling. The mists hang heavy at the edge of our camp. The remaining animals try to huddle close to us in the centre. I've learned to give credence to my dreams. Since I came to The Sick Land, that is. I've thought before that it affects them, makes them reflect, somehow, the course of events. It's as if the mind copes best with the strangeness here through dreams. As if what the conscious mind rejects, the subconscious tries to understand.

The meaning of my dream, the last dream I had, seems unambiguous. If I want to survive, I must get rid of Melanie. She wouldn't resist. She sits passively, not even muttering now. Perhaps her mind is gone. I know enough about The Sick Land, through my research, and through experience, to know that people out here often do things they would never do elsewhere. The place affects them. I find myself staring at the spade, the one I used to help Ivana. It would be so easy. So easy to help myself, to accept the premise of the dream.

I can't think. The heat and humidity beat down on me. And my eyes are drawn ever back to the spade. It's starting to look like a key.

Friday, 6 September 2013


When I finally fell asleep, I dreamt.

I sat on a tiny disk of white floating in a vast, starless void. Melanie perched on the edge, looking over and swinging her feet, her hand, the bad one, clamped on the rim of the circle with white knuckles. Bob sat opposite me, one hand buried in the ground. He told me our vessel couldn't hold three people. If we didn't lose someone soon, the whole thing would collapse. He said that if it collapsed, he would fly away, and I would fall. He said that all that held it up was him, and he was growing weaker. As he said those words, the disk tilted. I slid to the edge, scrabbling frantically at the ground but unable to find purchase. I slid until I stared over the edge, at the night that never ended. Melanie clung tenaciously. I crawled back to the centre, terrified. Bob nodded toward Melanie. Soon, he said. Soon. Act now or everything is lost.

I woke up. The mists had closed in on the camp. They touched the edges, within inches of the bags farthest from the fire. Melanie had moved in the night, shifting away from the mists. It had grown hot and humid. It felt like a storm was about to break.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


During the night, a thick mist surrounded the camp. By morning, it was impossible to see farther than a few yards. Melanie spent the night at the camp. I didn't see her sleep. We both sat there, silent and awake, while the mist rolled in.

I haven't seen mist out here before. I've never read anything about it in the literature, either. Maybe it's related to whatever it is that's keeping us trapped here. I thought about walking out into the mist to explore, but I balked. It's frightening. It looks as if the world ends just beyond the camp. Out here, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it did.

I'm managing not to panic, but barely. If I don't find a way out soon, I don't know what will happen. I'm so tired, but I'm fighting to keep my eyes open by staring at the fire. I'm terrified that if I fall asleep, I'll wake up tomorrow and there'll be nothing. Everything will be gone.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I didn't sleep last night. Now that my claustrophobia has something to hang on, I feel like I'm being crushed. There's nowhere to go.

This morning, I decided to walk away from the furrow. I didn't know whether it would help, whether it would break me out of the loop, but I wanted to try. I left the camp where it was; I didn't see any point in packing it up, and I could always come back if I needed to. I turned my back on the furrow and started walking. Nothing changed. The furrow and the camp disappeared into the distance; hours after that, I stopped for a late lunch. I stared at the grey soil, at the bare bushes. It was the same bleak terrain I'd been seeing day after day. I'd been walking for hours, and I'd found nothing. I decided to turn around. I thought I'd be back just before dark. I could set out again in the morning with full equipment.

I'd been walking for five minutes before I saw a shape on the horizon. A few minutes later, I could make it out. The camp. I was barely an hour away. I felt myself starting to shake, and the feeling of being trapped overwhelmed me. I made it back and collapsed onto the dirt. I heard footsteps, and pushed myself up to look. It was Melanie, sitting ten feet away from me. She was dirty, and covered in cuts and bruises. She stared intently at the ground between us. I tried speaking to her, but she didn't reply.

What if there's no way out?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


I'm trapped in a nightmare.

Last night, I camped by the bag. In the morning, I packed up and left, heading in the direction I thought led out of The Sick Land. A few hours later, I found the bag again. I knew I hadn't changed direction; I'd been walking in a straight line, following the furrow. Dazed, I left everything there and walked back in the direction I'd come from. I kept looking over my shoulder at the animals and equipment behind me. Soon, I'd walked far enough that I could no longer see them. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, I noticed something on the horizon in front of me. I knew what it was before I could make it out. I walked closer, my stomach roiling. The animals and equipment.

I don't know whether I'm deluded. Maybe The Sick Land has cracked my mind the way I've seen it crack so many. I made camp, though it was only mid-afternoon. Then, I walked off in the direction I thought led deeper into The Sick Land. I walked for hours. I knew that if I was wrong, I'd have to trudge back in the dark, but I didn't care. And I was right. I came back to the camp.

I don't know what to do.

Monday, 2 September 2013


I found the bag again. I don't understand how this happened.

Yesterday, when I found the bag of supplies, I let myself believe I'd been turned around, that The Sick Land was influencing my sense perceptions, making me think I was travelling in the opposite direction. So I went the other way. Today, I found the bag again. I was heading in the direction that I knew wasn't the right way, though it had to be. And after a day in the saddle, just as the sun slipped below the horizon, the sun that I knew should be on the other side of me, I came back to the bag.

This time, there was nothing screaming at me that this was wrong. My instincts tell me that this bag is in the right place, that it's the bag I left. Everything is on the side that it should be. But that means I've gone back along the furrow, deeper into The Sick Land. So how the hell did I find the bag before? I'm going to turn around again, head back out. I'm not going to think about what this means. I don't want to know.

Melanie is nearby. As I write this, she's crouched just outside the firelight, cradling her arm and muttering. I need to get her out of here. If I can save one person, then the mission won't have been a total failure.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Somehow, I've gotten turned around.

I don't know how this has happened. It must be the mal interfering with my perception, unless I've moved to the other side of the furrow without realising. But that would mean the sun has started rising on the opposite side of the sky. I don't like this. If I can't trust my senses, I'm pretty much screwed. The whole time I've been out here, the days and days I've been following the furrow, I've known that there's no way to get lost. Just keep the furrow on one side, and know which side the sun rises. I did exactly that today. I went in the same direction as before. Or at least, it seemed to be the same direction. I realised my mistake around midday. After I found the bag.

I found the bag, the bag with my name scrawled all over it, sitting on top of the rock formation where I'd left it. I examined it; I'm certain, as certain as I can be, anyway, that it's the same bag. The rock formation is the same one, too. It even has the crumbled corner on the middle square.

I've spent today travelling backward, obviously, and maybe yesterday too. Maybe I got turned around in my sleep. I don't understand how everything can suddenly be on the opposite side, though. The sun, the position of the furrow, even the position of the bag are all as they were when I left it. It's like I've come from far behind myself.

The Sick Land is changing my perception. Maybe I've been out for too long.