Written By Scottish Princess
On My Own
The adventure began when Ma and Pa left me for good. They had left me before but had always returned. This time, however, they didn't come back, they just drove off in the cart and left me, their 15 year-old son, standing on the corner of a deserted, dusty, run-down town I called, 'Junktown'. I didn't know the town's real name but Junktown sounded good enough to me.
After Ma and Pa left, I started walking towards the only decent-looking building in the neighborhood, the Saloon. Pa had told me that Junktown had once, several years ago, been a very prosperous mining town. It once consisted of the Saloon, a barbershop, two hotels, a blacksmith shop, two livery stables, three general and clothing stores, a courthouse, a sheriff's office and a jail. Stepping up to the doorway of the Saloon, I peered inside. It was pretty dusty and run-down, all right, I could barely see through the dust and crates to the back door! There were several big wooden crates full of what looked like whiskey or beer or something of that sort and a few big crates of potatoes. On the bar there were three clean and polished shot-glasses with hardly a speck of dust on them, behind the bar was a large silver platter that the miners probably used as a mirror and in the corner there were some ratty blankets with a few holes in them. Besides those things there was nothing else inside the Saloon.
Ibelieve it was around mid-March, because it was pretty cold outside and there was a little spring grass starting to poke out of the thawing earth. The chilly north wind howled noisily through the broken windows of the Saloon as I stepped out onto the rotten boardwalk. I took a quick look around to get my bearings straight and observed that the Saloon was the only building that still had four walls and a roof. All the other buildings, or what used to be buildings, had long since collapsed. I walked over to the remains of the general store that was on the right of the Saloon. Nothing was left of the merchandise, so I just gathered up as much wood as I could carry and headed back over to the Saloon, planning how I would spend my first night on my own.
I stepped inside the doorway of the Saloon with my armload of firewood and, setting the wood on the ground, I started a thorough search of the Saloon for some flint. After about twenty or thirty minutes of looking, I came across several small pieces of flint in an old box behind the bar. I poured a little whiskey on my pile of wood, struck the flint, created some sparks and, within a few minutes, had a roaring fire going that slowly warmed the far corners of the Saloon.
Once I was completely warm, however, I began to realize something. I was hungry! I hadn't eaten anything since the day before, and what I had eaten wasn't enough to get me through the rest of the day. So, with the sounds of my starving stomach ringing in my ears, I set out among the crates to look for some decent food. The only food I could find happened to be potatoes, my favorite! I pulled my knife out of my torn buckskin jacket and began to cut several small slits in two of the potatoes. I then lashed my knife to a small stick using a piece of my tattered belt, skewered a potato, and began the long, slow process of cooking. By the time the potato was cooked through, I was so hungry I would have eaten anything. But, I forced myself to eat slowly; knowing full well what could happen if I wolfed all my food down at once. As I sat there chewing, I thought about my life.
I was an only child, but even so, both my parents never so much as looked at me. No, that's not true. My Pa, he paid attention to me, at least enough to teach me everything he knew about the woods and about guns, which was a heck of a lot. My Ma, on the other hand, she left me to fend for myself, and, let me tell you, I got to know the woods and backwaters around our place mighty well.
Ma acted as though I didn't exist. She would always talk to Pa as though I wasn't even there and then she would refer to me as "that Bannan boy". She never seemed to acknowledge me as her own son, but when she did notice that I was there, she always called me by my first name, which I hated. It was always, "Jeremiah, do this", or "Jeremiah, do that", and when she was really mad or really drunk she yelled at me and called me by my full name, "Jeremiah Elias Bannan, you do what you're told!". My Pa was always quiet, way too quiet. He never liked it when Ma yelled or got drunk but he never did a thing about it because she threatened that she'd leave him, and he loved her, though I don't know why. I never got why he loved her and not me.
I spent more time away from my parents than I spent with them. I would ride off on my horse for days at a time, learning to survive off the wilderness. Before I turned ten, I could tell you which tracks and markings belonged to which animal, the best way to catch deer when you didn't have any weapons, the way to set up a snare where a person could never get caught in it, which trails to take and when to take them, how to move completely silently through the underbrush, how to fully conceal your horse without giving away your position, etc. My list could go on for quite a while, so I'll spare you all that information.
It was Ma's idea to leave me behind, which didn't surprise me in the least. I had overheard her talking to Pa about it one night.
"Clay," She told him, "We've just gotta leave. There's nothing left here."
"Alright, Pearl," Pa replied, "We can go whenever and wherever you want to, but Jeremy will be sore disappointed to."
"Oh, him! We'll just leave him somewhere along the way. Or, maybe you could get rid of him."
"Pearl!" I could tell Pa was shocked, "He's yer own flesh and blood, you can't do that to the boy!"
"But, why not? No one would find out. Come on, Clay, admit it. He's only another mouth to feed."
"Can't we just leave him at that old mining town?"
"Alright, but we'd better not say anything to him about it."
And that was how things had gone. We had left our spread only after Ma had sold everything but the cart and two horses. She had even sold my horse, the horse I had raised from a colt! She had said it was for a good cause, but I knew otherwise. At the beginning of our second week of traveling we had reached Junktown. That had been last night and now I was all alone, not that I minded that much, I was always a loner.
See me, I always figured that I would only spend a few days here and then some old trapper would come through and I'd hitch a ride with him. But, with the luck I'd always had, no one came. Even after three long weeks, not a soul came through my dilapidated domain.
Jerem, I told myself, you surely got yourself in a bit of trouble. No telling if anyone ever will come through here.
I gotta tell you, though, the only weapon I had was my knife, but that was all I needed. I'd never had a gun, though I knew how to use nearly every kind that I'd seen, my Pa being the gunsmith that he was. My knife was a good one and I used it more than I figured I would; I made myself a good, strong bow and quite a lot of arrows so's I could hunt easier. I made myself a new pair of buckskin pants and a new buckskin jacket and two good pairs of moccasins from various deer that I killed. I cleaned up the Saloon as much as possible, reinforcing the best corner for my main area. By the middle of my first week, I had found a still good well right in town and I didn't have to go all the way to the stream for water anymore. As much as I would have liked a horse so I could leave this place, I was at home here in the woods, and no one could change that. Even though my parents had abandoned me, I didn't miss them, not a single bit. Being all alone for so long made me truly appreciate all my training and I learned more about woodland survival than I thought possible.
Around the end of my fourth week, I felt as if someone was watching me. It could have been Indians, but I doubted it, they would have attacked long before this. Needless to say, I kept my knife and bow with me always and I constantly watched my back trail. After three more days, there was no sign of anyone around my town, but I still kept my guard up.
By the fourth night, I was so tired from staying up for three days straight, that I didn't notice anything wrong when I came in from the well. When I entered the Saloon, I saw two men in front of the bar, and then bright lights exploded in my head and everything went black.