Murkland: Granite Falls

Good morning future people, my name is Rusty Sprocket and this is my journal to keep your past, and my present alive. Though I guess this is still my past as well since I’m writing about things that already happened earlier in the day. And this journal is actually about what happened yesterday because it’s tomorrow morning which is my present.

You know what… time is very confusing. Anyways. I’m doing this so that the future, you hopefully who is reading this, get a chance to read this and it hasn’t disintegrated. I live in post-apocalyptic Murkland. There was this huge bomb or something before my time and everything has changed since then.  I’m just trying to survive, but I also hope that these journals will be able to help history from repeating itself.

Yesterday was the day that I woke up sore from a public brawl that went on around the town. I stupidly went out in public and so, of course, got involved against my better judgment. I think it might have been something in the air that caused it. So when I woke up on Sunday morning I decided that I would take my first trip to Granite Falls. I’ve heard that it is a gorgeous place that hasn’t been affected by the bombing or nuclear waste or whatever it was like the rest of the world.

You know what it was besides beautiful?

Cold!!

I got there and it was freezing!!! I walked all morning to get to the woods and finally got a ride from someone who had found a working car and was willing to get me the rest of the way up to the camping grounds, but I didn’t expect the cold after the desert air. There was this strange white stuff falling from the sky.

The person in the car called it snow, so I guess that’s what it is, but I was not prepared for this.

I ran down the pathways that have been walked a thousand times by many campers’ feet over generations and I found a restroom that I could quickly change into something warmer. I’m glad I carry my few outfits with me at all times. I was able to slip into something much warmer.

Then the fun began!! There is this waterproof book that the MMCo (Murkland Mercantile Company) gave out when they handed out tents to paying lot squatters like myself. It is a book published back in 2015 that has the names of insects and what they look like and what they sound like. It even has tips on how to mix wild plants and animals together to make other things. Like I was reading that there is this one thing called a Walleye Surprise that uses Walleye, huckleberry, and locusts!

Of course, I had to look up what it was cause I’d never heard of locusts or Walleyes before. Turns out Walleyes are a fish, and we don’t really get fish here that are safe to eat, so I’m going to have to pass on that. The last fish I caught had three eyes. Super creepy!

But the real reason I wanted to come up here to camp and explore is that when I was reading the book I found this herbalism recipe that calls for elderberry, strawberry, and parsley. It’s deodorant! It’s this can of liquid stuff you spray all over yourself and it makes you less stinky for the days that the Hot Springs are closed!! (Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.) I’m searching through these woods to find the things pictured on the pages of my guidebook.

Oh, right I forgot to finish that thought, didn’t I. The guidebook has been around so long because it’s this weird paper that doesn’t disintegrate like regular paper, it’s made out of this funky material that’s almost a mix between the tent and the cooler from MMCo. It’s really cool though I like it! I wish I could turn my journals into that material so I would know that they’re going to help out future generations.

I really didn’t want to mess up the deodorant, so I explored everywhere, catching everything that I possibly could. The white snow stuff was still falling from the sky and I was kind of getting used to it. It was calming and kept a soft blanket over the trees. It ended up being a really welcome change to the desert air of Murkland. Though it was a lot colder than even the desert gets at night!

My plan was to check everything I found and caught against the pictures in my guidebook and see what I could make out of them. It was really easy to continue to explore. I feel so relaxed here. The water is beautiful! It doesn’t have the strange tint of black that Murkland’s streams carry.  It’s the most beautiful blue I’ve ever seen.

Tap Tap Tap Tap! That’s the noise I heard as I was rounding a large rock in my exploration. It made me stop with curiosity. What was the strange noise? I tried looking through the index of the guide for ‘tapping’ but there was nothing. Walking slowly through the woods I followed the noise.

Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap!

Finally, I spotted it!

It was a bird attacking a tree with its beak! I’ve never seen much else besides a vulture circling overhead, but this was a beautiful bird with a white chest and black wings and the most vibrant redhead! It was even brighter than my hair! I was amazed. I watched it for a while wondering why it was pounding holes into the tree as I skimmed the guide some more.

Oh wow, it was a Red-headed Woodpecker and even way back in 2015 they were a rare sight because they were on the nearly threatened list. I watched it work for quite a while as it searched for food. Perhaps some good had come out of the sim-made catastrophe that caused Murkland’s existence. Nature itself was able to thrive if this bird was still around after being close to not existing before the nuclear war.

As I listened I read up on the insects that I had already caught. The bees had been a silly idea to catch because they’re territorial and that’s why my hand was hurting. I had almost been thinking that it had just hit a spot I’d bruised from the fight on Saturday.  The ladybugs were rather stinky and I had no use for them yet so I continued skimming and identifying what I’d found.

The plants I’d gotten included elderberry, and strawberry which I needed for my deodorant! I just needed to find some parsley. But I did find enough for an insect repellent liniment. It was an oil made out of noxious elderberries and basil. The sweet basil would attract the insects in, and the elderberries would kill them. At least… that’s what I assumed.

Good gracious creator did that stuff stink when it was cooking though! I unfolded my travel pan and plopped it on a grill with some sticks that I started a fire with. (I’ve gotten quite good at starting fires having been alone for so much of my life all by myself.) I didn’t expect the brew to smell quite so… atrocious when I started to boil it in water I scooped from the lake. I mean, the stuff really reeked. If you want to try this recipe go ahead, but I’m warning you now.

It’s a people repellent as much as it is an insect repellent. Jeepers creepers!

I did meet this fuzzy person while I was cooking it. So maybe it isn’t actually a people repellent after all. They were pretty nice and were surprised I didn’t run from them. I told them I was from Murkland, all kinds of people live there, your extra fur is no problem.

They left with a very confused look on their face shortly after that. I’m not sure what I said wrong.

I went back to the lake to enjoy the water after that and saw some white ducks. I couldn’t find exactly what kind they were in the book, but most of the ducks seemed to look very similar so I assume they were ducks. They make a funny noise when they’re looking around and it sounds like they are curious about life.

Speaking of really fascinating things here, I found this wood half house without a roof that has a metal pole in the middle of it. Apparently, you toss horseshoes at the pole and try to get them to land on it. It’s a game! How cool is that!

I’m not very good, but it is super fun! It makes this awesome Chunk clunk when it hits the wood and a twang when it hits the pole, and the noises sound just so amazing! It’s really satisfying.

My favorite noise was when I actually got the horseshoe on the pole and it made this high pitched whining noise that went up and down in pitch. It was like something from outer space. It sounded so cool!

When I was playing I heard a chittering noise and this fuzzy creature ran past my campground. Something about it just felt like an adventure waiting to happen so I chased it through the woods and deep up into the mountains. I swear the little critter was waiting for me.

Once or twice it stopped and allowed me to catch up when I lost sight of it. I would hear it chitter again as it munched on a nut and then when I got close it would take off again.

I was out of breath from climbing through the woods up the mountainside when it sat perfectly still outside some brambles. (I remembered seeing the name in my guidebook, they’re basically like Murkland tumbleweeds but still growing.) It looked at me with knowing eyes and then slowly trotted into the brambles. Daring me to follow it through into the darkness.

I’d followed it all the way here, how could I turn back now. So I pressed forward, pushing through cobwebs that made my skin tingle, ignoring anything shiny that might distract me from the adventure that the creature was taking me on. (I learned later that it was a chipmunk by the way. I just felt like being mysterious in my retelling of it. Sorry about that.)

Suddenly I pushed through the darkness and emerged into a moonlit clearing of absolute beauty. My breath caught in my throat as I looked around. Fairy bugs danced through the air lighting up the world, mist shimmered in the distance like a spirit was standing there watching me. This place felt… magical.

Far different than anything I have ever encountered in Murkland.

I don’t know how long I laid there, staring up at the sky in this beautiful place. Appreciating my existence, acknowledging the beauty and wonder that this type of nature existed in a world where everything had turned to dust. That we needed to shower as often as we could get clean water just so that we didn’t keep the toxic chemicals on our skin that was blown around by the desert wind storms.

I do know that I woke up sometime later on a bench outside the bathrooms and I was told the water was turned on for the day because it was now officially Monday, so I could go shower if I wanted to. I thanked the ranger who had told me and wondered if I had been dreaming the entire time.

It didn’t feel like a dream. . .

I still felt like the magic of nature was wrapped around me with its fluttery embrace. Watching me. No… I don’t think what I experienced was a dream, I think it was real.

I caught a yellow glowing fairy, but I think it is just an insect and not one of the special blue ones from that moon place in the mountains. I will come back again soon to explore more. Perhaps one day I can find out this place’s secrets.

For now, I’m on my way home. I was given a lift so that I could write out this very long journal entry. There was something special about this trip. Something that I should be taking away with me about it. I’m just not sure what yet, I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I will understand once I reflect I think, and I will be back. I think perhaps it may be getting close to time to stop just surviving, and do something more.

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