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July 10, 2007
The Man in the Wilderness

Jonny Zetterström

Sweat, drops of sweat were mixed with raindrops and ran down his face. The man was tired, worn as he had became because of the wilderness during a night with terrible weather. His clothes were wet, not really that wet, but somewhere between damp and wet. They had became that because of the pouring rain, which had fallen during the long night when he walked around in the forest, searching for his friends, but they had started to dry now as the rain had decreased to a slow drizzle. The cold was what bothered him now. He was cold. The temperature had dropped tremendously since yesterdays heat. But above all it was the fog that bothered him; it was so thick that he could barely see where he put his feet, and he couldn't see any of his friends, for which he now had searched, in vain, for hours.
He was running out of strength. He just couldn't take it any more. It had to stop now. Why? Why did he have to be hit by natures forces in this way? This should have been a nice camping trip in the wilderness, relaxation from his stressy office, in which he worked; and not any damn exercise round, which would have been hard even for a top athlete. He was surprised by the fact the had not yet fallen apart, even though, at least if he could say it himself, he was a man in his best years, but isn't every man if they may say it themselves? he wondered.
This was nothing he appreciated, nothing that any other clerk would appreciate. He hadn't even liked the idea of a camping trip in the first place, but as it was his best friends idea, there wasn't much to do but accepting.
But at the moment when the tent, by some reason, which many would call destiny, but that was not a thing he believed in, broke and they were left out to the evil winds and the rapidly falling rain, he had cursed everything and everyone. At that time he was tired of life itself. Why should he live, there was no reason, life was nothing but a hell of a lot of suffering. And why suffer when you don't have to? That was more than he could understand.
He became, if possibly, even more depressed when he realized that the others had disappeared, that he was alone in nature. In the middle of the wilderness, left out to the bests of prey that were in the surroundings.
He was now in a better state of mind, but it was still a state of mind that had to be described as depressed and down hearted.
He was wearing a red jacket, it was made of some sort of plastic material, but it was not a rain coat, a very normal jacket that only put up with a small amount of water, and this small amount had been exceeded after one minute only in the quickly pouring rain. He had big, robust boots on his feet, but they were wet too, and since they were relatively new they had caused him several sores during the latest hours. Fortunately he had lost the feeling in his feet, so that was not a thing that bothered him. His worn out body was fully occupied with moving his legs and feet, it didn't have strength enough to use the nerves in the lower part of the body. And as long as he didn't endeavor to feel it, he didn't have any feeling in the upper part either.
Trees, there were trees everywhere, and the last hour they had seemed to move just to stand in front of him. He had walked right into about ten of them. They were tall, proud and beautiful trees, but that was not what he thought. To him they were creatures from hell and the only reason that they were here was to provoke him. He felt that he shouldn't be able to take it any more, all these needles bugging him, all these branches, that the wind threw at him. He was sick 'n tired of all this.
It wasn't enough that he had to work his ass off in an office from early morning to late evening for a minimum salory, which hardly was enough for the apartment rent and the other things he needed to live a pretty decent life. And as soon as he switched on the TV he saw these boring politicians making long complicated speeches , which he didn't understand, about things he wasn't the least interested in. But if he some time got rit of the politicians, don't believe that there was something better instead. No, then he could have the giant pleasure to see about ten grown men hunt something small and round, sometimes a football, sometimes a puck, mostly dependent of the season. He was, different from the average male, not interested in this. And there was nothing to do in the small amount of time that he had off, Sundays and about two hours a night, everything that was fun was too expensive. There wasn't anything fun that he could afford. And now when he expected a change, he had got it as a wilderness, in which he had to use all his strength to survive.
He walked like that now. He just walked there, pitying him self, full of hate against everything and everyone. It couldn't get worse now, he thought. But he was wrong, 'cause he managed to slipper, fall and slowly slide forward, right into a big dark hole.
He screamed as he hit the ground. This scream of pain was multifolded by the echo in all the mine headings, in one of which he had fallen down. He had landed on his right leg and there was no doubt that it was broken.
What a pea brain he was, why had he not paid more attention and been more careful, then at least he wouldn't have got here with a broken leg. He cursed himself, over and over again, where he was, sitting in an abandoned mine without food or water, left out to death.
It was the middle of the day, which, for the time being, wasn't any greater difference from the opposite, and the fog was yet more compact and thick. As a two meter thick, grainy quilt, it had laid down over the valley in which the man was. It had stopped blowing, the wind was almost still. In one of the few treetops that reached over the fog was a little squirrel, sitting and eating a cone. The sky was filled with thin clouds. As far as one could see there was the same boring gray color.
Down in the mine hole the man had currently stopped pitying himself, instead he was asleep. It was a deep sleep, he was almost unconscious. His dark hair was lank and sort of glued to his face, a small, rugged face with big and bushy eyebrows. Beneath these on could usually see a pair of nice blue eyes, but if one had been able to see them now, one had only seen one thing: Hate! His nose began somewhere between his eyes. It was a very ordinary nose, so ordinary that it would be confusing describing it as anything else. His mouth was not very special either, the most important was probably that his lower lip was bleeding, just like all the other wounds we had gotten in his face by walking right into trees.
Water was running down the rugged mountain wall, not much, it came some here and some there. But the water joined into small, very small, ponds, from where they made a small creek, which ran beneath the surface. The sound of the water was very beautiful and calming, unfortunately there was no one there to hear it, except the man who was asleep. But the grip of the dreams became more and more weak and finally they let go. He woke up.
At first he didn't know where he was, almost not what he was. The first feeling was the most fulfilled feeling one can feel, pain. His head was aching, not a usual headache, he was sort of anesthetic, but yet it felt like the head was going to explode. His hands and feet, in which he now had regained feeling, were cold, in fact all of him was cold and yet he was burning hot.
He called out for help. But he didn't think that there was any good in calling for help, since no living beeing seemed to be around to help him. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered, there was no purpose with this hell called a life that he was living, and now to crown everything he was going to die, it just wasn't fair. No, it wasn't fair, why else would he have to fight for survival in the city and then fall down in a old damn mine hole. And die. He was going to die. He started to cry when he realized that.
The evening came, it really became yet darker and colder. Now he couldn't see a thing at all, or maybe he was blind. It wouldn't have surprised him the least. He didn't think that it would have effected his present situation whether he could see or not, he wasn't going to get out of here anyway. If he were lucky, someone would find his body while there still was something left of it. But he was pretty sure that no one would find him before all hope was gone, before he was dead.
Well, at least the death would be a liberation. No more was he going to be exposed by this pain, this hate, this hopelessness, called life. Now it would all change. He started to think about what would happen after his death. Would he just be dead, cease to exist and no longer be someone? Would he go to heaven? Would he go to a deep sleep and be woke up on the last day? Or would his soul return and again become one with all of the universe? He didn't know. He had no idea at all, but it didn't matter much anyway. He was going to find out soon; maybe that was the meaning of life; to die.
He started to feel a little happier, now he had something to look forward to, unless he would go to hell, if such a place existed. At least he was sure that he was more than a lot of coal, oxygen and nitrogen and other atoms in a lot of compounds. He had a soul, a force of live that dwelled inside of him and it was this force that would continue to live when his body was dead. In some way he was sure that he would continue to live. He just didn't know how?
Once again his powers were letting him down, the pain of the broken leg made him anesthetic, it changed reality in some way and when he saw a light coming closer and close (it came down from somewhere up there), he didn't know whether he was awake or asleep. It was the light of a lantern, it was sat down beside him. In the light a little man, dressed in a wool gray needled cardigan, and a pair of thin brown trousers. The man was a little less than a meter tall. Due to the shadows one could not see his feet and his face was not seen more than a contour in the dark. This little man lift him up. He felt how his soul left the body. He was no longer conscious.
When the man woke up he heard birds singing for the sun. He was laying in a bed and at first he wondered who he'd got there but then he remembered the little man. He realized that he had been carried lots of kilometers and that the little man had got to have an extraordinary strength for his size. The first sunshine shined through the window beside the bed in which he was laying and hit his eyelids. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around, the little man that had rescued him from death sat in a rocking chair, beside the bed, sleeping. It was a pretty strange little man. He wondered how this person, which he had to thank for his life, was. Why did he live all alone in the forest? Was he driven here by the humans because of his height or had he choose himself to live out here?
The he noticed something, his right leg. His right leg was no longer broken, it was well again. He looked at his watch, it could not be possible, it was only sixteen hours since he fell and broke his leg. It could not have healed in sixteen hours, or could it?
In a corner of the room there was a stove, it was black and dirty. A couple of pans and cups of copper, blank and shiny, reflecting the sunshine. By the window next to the bed, on the shelf was three plants. A red curtain was also hanging there. On top of the curtain holder was some beautiful things.
The little man was also awake and he walked to the stove, from which he lifted a pan filled with porridge. From a big, very old wooden cupboard, he took a bowl and a spoon. These things he place on the table. Then he showed the man with a gesture that he should sit down and eat. The man did.
He also introduced himself to the little fellow and asked for his name, but he got no reply or response of any kind. Except a nod when the dwarf took his shoes and left without making a sound.
That is sure a strange dwarf, the man thought. But it's good that he exists, if he wouldn't I would be dead by now.
After a while he decided to wash himself, he could hear a quiet sound of a stream of water outside. So he opened the door and went out.
At first he couldn't see a thing, as he was blinded by the sunlight. That's why he automatically went to the shadow, under the big trees that surrounded the glade. As he had adjusted to the sunlight he looked out in the glade. A small hare was jumping in the high grass, a spider was making a new web, since the last one had been destroyed by the heavy rain, there was only small, small pieces left. Lots of raindrops were hanging in these pieces, which, when the sun shine trough them, split the light into it's colorful spectrum.
When he had washed himself he returned into the cabin, laid down on the bed and fell asleep. He slept till the evening came, when he found some food in a cupboard. He slept very soft the rest of the night, waiting for the man who had rescued him. But when dawn came along he still hadn't seen him, that's why he walked out, took an apple and went off to find his friends and civilization.
The forest was beautiful and now he appreciated its beauty, now he didn't curse the birds he heard, now he replied to them and they replied to him. The fact that his shoes were more or less torn to pieces, well, there weren't much left of them, didn't seem to bother him the least. Maybe life wasn't without a meaning anyway, it sure had some qualities, even though he hadn't paid them any attention before. Now he didn't think that life was an endless misery, now life was wonderful. In some way he was in love with life itself, and filled with life. In this happy mood he walked around for hours, just how long he didn't know since his watch was malfunctioning. But finally he found himself by the end of a big parking place. And there, at the other side of the parking place he could see his friends.
It was Monday. It was an ordinary dull Monday in the office. Now he had thought trough what really happened, what a fantastic luck he had had, he hadn't deserved having such a luck. But this trip had made him realize what a life he'd been living, how many hours he had worked in this office, for nothing. The reason was money, but there were many other, more fun and well paid jobs than this one. Probably something that suited him better. What he didn't know yet, but he knew that five years, five years of his life, had been wasted in this dull old office. That was a mistake he sure wouldn't do again. He had walked right into his boss and quit immediately, then he had left the building.
He felt a feeling of gratitude towards the little man who had rescued him from the terrible destiny, which otherwise would've became his own. The least he could do was to buy the man a gift. He walked into one of the shops that was on the same street as the office, looked around, thought a while. Then he knew just what to buy and bought it.
After a two hour walk he reached the glade in the forest, it didn't take as long time when he had better shoes. There was no doubt that it was the same glade, the glade he had left yesterday morning, yet he couldn't see a sign of the house or the dwarf. They were both gone. Had they really existed? They had to, because he had no other explanation.
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