|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
Throughout the years, it has always seemed to me that life has been far too easy. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and silver diapers too. If my parents had wished, they could've not only bronzed my baby shoes, but dipped them in gold and encrusted them with diamonds. Butlers supervised my upbringing, tutors encouraged my mind, natural genetics influenced my skills and looks. Which, I say without much arrogance, are exceptional.
My youth was spent easily making friends, my teenage years getting laid by any girl who happened to catch my eye. And this was after I insisted on going to a public school like anybody else. They didn't know about my wealth, but apparently I was good enough to become student president and valedictorian. Of course, that's even though half the courses I was taking were at the local community college. Girls threw themselves at my feet. Everyone wanted to be my friend.
I just adjusted well, I suppose. I've always been able to adapt to whatever situation I find myself in. I pride myself on it. Wherever I go, I find a way to be the optimal person there.
was accepted to Yale with a full scholarship, which I refused and gave to someone I liked from High School, by the name of Deenihan. Not like I needed it. I dual majored in Business and International Business, both which I easily excelled in. By lifting a finger I became BMOC. Sports had never been an interest of mine, but I started up with golf and tennis and became experts at the games. "What a natural swing!" my instructors exulted to me. Dorm life got to the point where I saw more girls than of my roommate. My floor manager was the most relaxed guy on campus, and just laughed when I snuck the girls in.
I graduated and went from there to get my Masters at Tufts. I struck up a friendship with some entrepreneur types like me, formed a consortium, and took over an electronics company for my senior thesis. Business was easy enough. My skill let me dominate the market, and I certainly invested well enough. An investment in a startup called Microsoft paid off, shall we say, rather handsomely. Life settled into a comfortable routine of business expansion, resting, expansion, resting. I believe the FTC is trying to split up my company, but at this point I hardly care. I retired at 36 to Martha's Vineyard. President Clinton is something of a friend.
Do I regret anything in my life? I never did marry, but I don't really regret that. The Devil's Dictionary defines a husband as "A man who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate." While I'm not quite as crude as to think that way, I see no reason why not to sleep around. I always make it clear that I'm not serious, and my buddy Hugh H. has plenty of women happy to make a try for a retired mullet-millionaire. Sex for me with some of the best looking women on this continent, and I make a point of making sure they aren't faking it.
But everything else in life I did near perfect. I would arrive, see what was needed, and do exactly what I needed to do. Call me the perfect survivalist.
I do have one regret. I haven't done everything. I've grown used to looking at life as one achievement after another, and now with retirement I need to find new goals and hobbies. A new work for me to work on. I've got a run for the presidency all mapped out, actually, but there's still some physical things I want to do before my body naturally gives out. I've won the prerequisite tennis tournament, and just recently I qualified for the Master's tournament. (I declined the honor. My work was done.) I've been looking for something new to do, and I think I've found something.
I've always identified with a shark. Unswerving, unconquerable, unstoppable. Taking everything head on and ramming right through it. And now it has occurred to me that an entire realm has been left untouched. Nature. I've lived all my life working my way up the human pyramid, through virtue of intelligence and my ability to adapt. Both of these natural attributes are conducive to my success in human society. But man against nature is different. My skills and talents are of no use there. I'll have to make my own, new ones, or I won't survive a moment in the wild. It bothered me, after recalling some wilderness survival stories from my past, that I wouldn't last 5 minutes in true nature. There, I'm just another businessman. In animal terms, that's 180 pounds of easy meat. I will never be easy meat to anyone.
So I have prepared myself. I have studied books. I have gone on hikes. I have toned my body into muscle. And I think that I'm ready for my test- Samuel vs. Nature. A battle that may be epic, may be anticlimactic. Either way, I need to accomplish this before I move on to bigger and better things.
My hike will be through a wide swath of the Brazilian Congo. I'll be flying into Monte Alegre and hiking through the wilderness to Monte Dourado, on the Jani River. The trip should take no more than 2 to 3 weeks, baring injury on the part of myself. In a concession to the power of mankind with tools, I will be bringing along a full backpack. But I'll have to shoot all my game myself. I've been practicing, and I think I can provide for myself for some time. For protection I'll have a tent and my own wits.
is journal will be my documentation. Someday I fully intend to publish my memoirs, and this will be my record of this trip. I will call it 'Proving the superiority of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.'
My plane arrived late last night in Monte Alegre. The trip was quite remarkable. A sea of green was beneath my window, an open ocean with tides and waves all its own. Endless flows of different greens. My pilot didn't seem much impressed. I assume he'd just seen it so many times. Perhaps, but I doubt he's actually been underneath this sea, exploring the depths. Monte Alegre is a run down little village. It used to be a large copper mining place, apparently, but the copper ran out and so did the down. Now it does little more than fish on the Amazon and decay. The runway is left over from the copper rush. The jungle appears to be reclaiming it, as grass has broken through in several places. Monte Alegre is cut out of the jungle, probably through slash and burn techniques. Interestingly, there's a chain link fence around part of the village. I asked my pilot why, and he told me that it's to 'keep the jungle out.'
I intend to take the battle to the jungle.
Tomorrow I will leave.
Today is a Friday, ominously enough. The day that I will set out on my battle or skirmish or war with nature. A friend of mine, before I left, asked if nature is perhaps something not to be battled. Perhaps I can coexist with it. Maybe this is so, but it's not how my mind works. I am going out to conquer nature, just like I've conquered everything else in life. No quarter asked, no quarter given. If nature doesn't wish to be conquered, it must fight me. Human ingenuity, tools, and determination will triumph over the brute force of nature. Coexisting is, for me, hardly an option.
Nature appears to be welcoming me into its kingdom. The entryway I have chosen to its domain bears more than a passing similarity to a gate. It's an opening between two of the massive trees, on the boundary of where the grasslands enforced on the land by the residents of Monte Alegre meets the still powerful Kingdom. Two trees frame an opening to darkness, with vines forming a sort of door to the way. The gate is dark and forbidding, just as I had hoped. From deep in animal sounds echo, subjects to this domain, fierce patriots to their cause.
I stepped in, I'm proud to say, with little trepidation. The Kingdom took no notice of me. The sounds stayed the same. Nothing looked my way. I was a little disappointed. But I do believe that the Kingdom knows the terms of my challenge.
Walking through the jungle is a singularly exciting experience, every second of the way. You have to be constantly on your guard, watching for the omnipresent dangers that are visible or not. Is that a panther or a shadow? Can I make it through that bush or is it better to go around? And all around the constant green, a monster, staring at you from above, below, and all around. It warns me off with howls from deep within from a thousand different voices. It glares at me with the eyes of a thousand birds, all examining from perches above me. It has a thousand arms- and my challenge is to overcome them all.
After walking for about 10 hours, with few breaks, I stopped for the night. I probably could've gone on a little further, but I feel no need to push myself. I can make myself perfectly comfortable in this territory- and hurrying myself is a sign of weakness. I set up camp in a small clearing, one free of trees for about 5 feet on each side of my tent. For tonight, dinner was what I had brought plus some small fruits I deemed safe. This will, however, be the last dinner I eat what I have brought. Tomorrow I will hunt for my food. -Samuel
I woke up with a scare today. A panther was patrolling my area. I moved cautiously within my tent, picking up my gun with scarcely a noise. The panther was nosing around the tent, not openly hostile or growling. I locked my gun on it, but before I had a chance to fire it loped away. It is clear that nature is feeling me out. Very well.
Hiking was rhythmic today, as I fell into the routine of the backpacker. It is an easy routine, consisting of one foot in front of another. Very hypnotic, and far too easy to fall into. I had known going into this trip that I would have to guard against letting down my guard in any way. My warning came in a simple trip over an exposed root. I fell, nearly knocking my head and ending my battle right then and there. Through some miracle I didn't twist an ankle. The caw of some distant bird was the laugh of nature- it had shown that I was very weak against its power.
But no, I shouldn't say that. For already I have passed into the deeper part of the jungle unharmed. The underbrush has cleared away, and the ground is very easy to walk along, very flat. A hiker's paradise, almost.
My torment comes in the constant alert I must keep against the neverending watchfulness of the jungle. Every second the jungle is watching me from above, as a ready owl watches a mouse. The green is the green that may mean my death. I have no way of contacting the outside; that would be violating the terms of engagement. I must stare it down as one would stare down any opponent. But my opponent is no mere mortal or even a typical corporation. It is vast and primeval.
Confidence is the key. Faith in mankind and my ability to survive is the key. Nature herself birthed Homo Sapiens, but this prodigal son has far surpassed the mother. The ingenuity and skill of humankind has constantly beaten back onslaughts, in the form of plague or hunger. I myself have proven myself to be a champion of my species. In all situations, my natural ability and adaptability have won out. I will not be beaten out. I will find the weak spot of nature and do whatever it takes to survive. If I need to change, I will change. If I need to struggle, I will struggle. But rest assured that I will be triumphant.
tried to hunt today. Set up camp early, found a place to hide and waited for some sort of fleshy animal to pass into my sights. But the jungle was more racocous than ever, mocking my feeble attempts to inflict a wound on the giant. I waited in perfect silence, upwind, for more than four hours in two sites. Nothing came into my field of vision. Even when I became frustrated and fired into a flock of birds, nothing emerged. No shotgun shells, so it's unlikely that that'll ever work.
atter. Berries will sustain me. I can ignore this gnawing in my belly well enough. I will sleep, and emerge renewed tomorrow.
The night passed quietly enough, except for the occasional rumble in my belly. Hiking has left me hungry, and I have nothing to fill my belly with. The jungle seems to have chosen starvation as its tactic. While I can last for quite some time before hunger forces me to the ground, it is an effective tactic that will point out very well to it the weakness that the jungle assumes I have. Well, good for it.
One night spent without food will not vanquish me. Even today, equally fruitless, will not vanquish me. I will adapt, and I will win. The jungle will not vanquish me. Nothing has ever beaten me.
I was careful not to let my feelings show. The jungle may note my indecision and decide to strike. I hiked along like nothing was wrong, like I was well- fed and rested. When I stopped to rest, more often than before, I pretended to be looking at the sights. And the jungle is beautiful, so the stops were no pain to me. The soft colors and endless variety of life are beautiful. Like a beautiful plant that attracts unknowing bugs to its doom. An elegant murderer.
Now the thought of paranoia begins to worry me. Am I going insane? The metaphor of the jungle as alive was little more than a metaphor before this. A way of personalizing an enemy. But now I talk in worried tones of what the jungle is trying to do to me- as if it had a brain and will. It doesn't- I must keep that in mind. It always seems like it, however. When I look into the endless green above me, I know I am not in a human world. This is primeval, and everything I know to be true here isn't. My physics are not its physics. It will kill me as surely will a determined vice-president with an eye towards his career will.
Every time I look, its eyes are looking at me, in the form of the ubiquitous birds. Flashes out of the corners of my eyes are its hands, silently waiting. I can feel the malevolence. While it may not have a single mind, is it not impossible that it has a collective mind, in the ways of the bees? Baring that, why not a collective unconscious similar to the way bodies expel viruses- separately moving to correct an imbalance? Considering that I would be the virus in this green man, I hope the metaphor is not well-chosen.
The jungle isolates me, by sealing me off from the food sources that nourish thousands of inhabitants. It neutralizes me, by weakening my body. And I know that the equivalent of the white blood cells are out there- only these have tooth and claw.
No! The metaphor is not apt! I am simply tired after 2 days of no food. I will hunt tomorrow and fill my belly, and I will be ready to strike out once again.
The virus is being attacked. Last night I was awakened by the sounds of my equipment being ravaged by what I discerned to be a mated pair of panthers, my particular nemesis's in this war. My tactic of the previous night, pulling out my gun, was stymied by the fact that I had no ammunition. I had unloaded the gun without thinking of the consequences. The animals didn't touch the tent itself, but I spent a less than restful night listening to the sound of my equipment being destroyed.
I've spent worse nights, I'm sure. In the rationality that comes with the sun I can think of many nights that were worse than this. The prerequisite night in jail for some stupid college prank. The night before I heard the takeover attempt had been successful. But then and there little was more terrifying and frustrating at the same time- to be just sitting in my bedroll waiting for light to rise and the panthers to leave.
I spent a long time pondering a way to strike back. Human ingenuity has proven itself worthless. Physical power is respected, instead. My civilized self is pretty pathetic. I will need to find a way to possess the superior abilities of the jungle if I am to fight it at an equal level. My darker self, my primeval id, is the aspect of humanity that I need. Humanity before the cities and civilization. Before mergers and markets. It's there. And today I found it and used it.
I drew an important lesson from that night. Fight back. Learn to strike, hurt, even if it means that you are turning to the level of the enemy. Find the primeval part of myself that is willing and able to hit back, and let it loose. I am sure that my civilized self will be safe for the time being. As stands, my id needs full rein. It's the only thing that seems able to check the power of the jungle.
Hungry, I went hunting yet again. And I spent a fruitless hour waiting as time passed and nothing happened. As standing there, waiting for my food to come by was proven to be a stupid idea again. All the rage I had kept inside, as my war against this enemy goes worse and worse, finally reached a peak point inside me. My volcano of hatred, kept in check by my civilized self, finally realized what a horrible job my civilized self was doing. It decided to take its own crack at the job.
I howled, the sound filled with exultation. And then darkness fell on me. When I woke, my belly was full and my mouth bloody.
Some would be appalled at this lack of control. But I am pleased. If this is what it takes to survive, I will survive any way I can. To win, all rules are out the window. I talked earlier of Rules of Engagement. Bullshit. That was an earlier age, a friendlier age. Now pragmatism will conduct my actions. I am a survivor, and I hope that my body will continue to adapt to this challenge being slapped in my face.
I am unleashed now. My senses are attuned, each one teaching me more than I ever knew existed. The jungle is huge, and I feel it. I feel the life pulsing through every leaf. I feel the vitality and endless circles of life passing daily before me. The jungle is alive and cognizant. Now that I have a sense of how it operates, I can defeat it.
I slept soundly last night, truly soundly. Even if the panthers that dog my steps should pass before me, now I know that I am ready. And I don't need a gun or knife, either. My pure id will suffice. Underneath my businessman exterior lurks an animal that only needs my trigger to unleash. When it is unleashed, nothing can stand before it.
It occurs to me now that the body my animal self has to work with is inefficient, unable to cope with what it has to work with. Pink fingers instead of claws. Weak jaws. What I have to work with, my mind, has proven itself useless before the jungle's might. I need brute strength- and I worry that I might not have it. My duty to my animal self to provide a powerful body may not be fulfilled, and the result would be catastrophic.
Fortunately, my body's natural adaptive powers seem already at work. My senses have sharpened. Where before I needed contacts I can see with almost telescopic vision. I sniff, and can sense what animals have been through this area before me. The cacophony around me has been defined into separate sounds at separate distances from me. Even my sense of touch feels different- everything more complex on the touch. What before was a smooth surface now yields small flaws to my eyes.
Physically my body is changing too. My fingernails have hardened a bit- become more akin to the claws I now feel I need. In response to the constant exposure my skin has darkened, roughened. Indeed, all of me feels rougher and harsher, but also much more dangerous.
As a symbol of my new independence, I have thrown my gun into the jungle. It is useless to me, was useless before. Or rather, is useless to the animal id that I have discovered to guide me through the wilderness. My protector in myself is myself, but I must pay close attention to what it wants. When I unleash it, it must be ready. And so will I.
Today I unleashed myself to hunt again. I looked forward to it all day, when my stomach growled. I dropped my pack, set a landmark, and just let myself go. It was easy, like flicking an on switch. Everything went dark, just like before, and when I reawakened my belly was full once again. The blood around my face I washed off, but this time took a lick. To my surprise, I could identify it. A small, rare herbivore. Akin to the rabbit. Apparently, delicious.
I couldn't bring myself to light a fire tonight. Something about it seemed wrong, frightening. Like fire was an enemy and not a friend that I had always known. After some inner struggle I recognized this as my id wishing to stay away from what it considered a threat. I acquiesced. After all, my id is what is in control here; it holds the power. If it demands no fire, I will sleep without one. The question of how I am to keep warm at nights is one it will have to answer for quickly, however.
I wonder what my friends would think of me now. When I left, I was Samuel, hardened businessman. Ruthless with acquisitions, master manipulator of stock prices. But still, I was little more than an aging white man, if an athletic one. Now I'm sure I look like something from a horror tale. Traces of blood streak my face, none my own. My eyes are wild and suspicious, without the pleasant tinge of good nature that ingratiated me with others. The need to suck up has vanished. I am a creature of survival, and my body is still changing to suit its needs.
My teeth are pointed and long now, almost poking out of my mouth. My hair is longer, much longer than it would normally be. My skin is like leather, and my toenails have gone the way of my fingernails- long and pointed. Sharp. And then there is the little things that hint of changes to come. The fact that my fingers seem shorter. The occasional pains in my back that I am sure mean something. The darkening of my skin. I accept it all as necessary to my id's work.
I wonder what a doctor would think of me now? Or a priest? It wouldn't matter. Such things are for humans and human institutions. They cannot hope to explain the effusive power of the jungle, the mystical force that exudes from the trees, the animals, and from me. Everywhere I can sense it, forcing itself around and into me, giving my body instruction as to what it needs. My perfect sense of what to do changing me to exact specifications, telling it what to do in order to survive. Behind it all- my id. I feel as if I'm just along for the ride.
Today it was excited, agitated. My skin tingled constantly, as it tried to force its way out of me. I needed to force it back, keep my superego in control. Keep myself human. Still, my logical side was working against me as well. It wanted to change for different reasons. Speed, for one. My id would be well able to keep a faster pace than I can. I hesitated, not wanting to lose control before my id. This was ludicrous, of course, I realize now that I was foolish to dislike my id. I love it. It keeps me going.
The jungle has realized my power. My powerful senses note a new note coming out of the jungle. At first I thought it was something akin to harmony, but I reject that. Perhaps it is tolerance that I sense in these new senses of mine. Perhaps the jungle has already admitted that the battle is lost. That would be sweet, if unlikely. I will continue to monitor this new note I detect in the aura of the jungle, and perhaps come to an understanding with the jungle. A good opponent knows the thoughts of his adversary.
My id continues to set forth the regimen it feels I need for survival. Now, drinking water out of a canteen sickens me. The liquid is tainted by the smell and taste of plastic, a taint that I could not sense before. The sweet liquor of the river or pool is far more satisfying to me now. Berries, which kept me going for those first few days, are supremely disgusting. It doesn't matter; I am well supplied with food by my id.
Oh, I nearly forgot! My id has apparently heard my plea for warmth, now that it has decided against my using fire. So last night, I grew fur! A small coat of black fur now covers my skin. It actually feels very nice. The only problem is that I have lost the ability to sweat, and must pant with my tongue. It has lengthened in response, so everything works out fine. My adaptive ability comes through yet again.
Fur has allowed me to dispense with many of the human frailties that I no longer need. I don't need clothes, so that encumbrance is gone. I don't carry my canteen, so that is unnecessary. I certainly don't need my sleeping bag, and I've decided that I'm confident enough to discard my tent, as well. All I'm carrying is my journal and pen, plus map and compass in a small fannysack that straps on tightly.
Last night was tough until I realized why I felt so uncomfortable. One reason was because it was stifling hot in that tent. I had abandoned the sleeping bag long before, but even lying on top of it was hot. The tent certainly didn't help, and it was then that I realized that I just wanted to be outdoors. I just felt more comfortable out there. It makes me wonder what my id is thinking about, getting me closer to the enemy. Perhaps this is a show of defiance. All I know is that I was eminently comfortable, lying there in the open, curled up in a way my new flexibility allows.
Getting rid of everything does let me move faster. Or rather, lets my id move faster. I let loose early today, and when I reemerged it was darkening. So much easier. It was very hard to stand up, however. My back was extremely stiff. Probably from moving so much all day. I was sated, too.
According to my map, I went about 24 miles today. Incredible! And all it took was letting my id do the work. I shall do the same tomorrow. If I continue at this rate, I shall emerge from the jungle in only 4 days! Triumphant!
It will be nice to finally submerge my id, once I'm out. It may be preeminent here, but back in the civilized world I am supreme. Giving power into the hands of another is something I've never really enjoyed. I can't deny the wonderful job my id is doing at keeping me moving through this jungle. I assume that these physical changes will undo themselves, and I will be civilized and powerful Samuel, all primed for a presidential run. Excellent.
I saw the panthers again tonight. They seemed strangely serene, comfortable with my presence. That's no doubt because my physical adaptations has caused me to become a lot like them. Obviously, they are the top of the food chain in this jungle. Their physical characteristics must be optimal. With the short tail I grew last night, I look almost too much like them. Especially since I've lost my normal hair. But I assume they are simply the best, and that's why my body is copying them.
There were three this time. My nose told me that one was a mated pair, and one an unattached female. She smelled.. sort of nice, actually. A very pleasant musk. My id reacted surprisingly strongly and I needed to force it down. It wasn't needed, and I liked the smell too. I needed to shake my head and dip it into the pool before I could get it out of my head, even after she left.
What can my id be up to? Today the physical changes of my body and actions of my id have led me to believe that something must be either wrong with me, or wrong with my id. And I suspect the latter.
I had thought that things were going fine. I was making good progress through the jungle, eating well, doing great. The physical changes that I had accrued were fully sufficient for me to make it to the end in good time and good shape. I should've been done with changing. Instead, I'm changing even more. Today I woke up with a back that wouldn't let me rise. Try as I might, standing erect was impossible for me. Other disturbing changes included a muzzle and disappearing thumb, although not enough for me to not stop writing. I can't talk, either. How can all of these changes be conducive to survival for me??? They aren't!
And my id certainly didn't give me time to ponder the situation. It took hold of me, crashing me into blackness without me giving it permission or anything. It just took hold. I awoke deep in the jungle, far from the edge of the trail. I barely know where I am. While this may be a shortcut, I doubt it.
I recognize the aura of the jungle now- smugness. Triumph. And that note of continuity and harmony that I noticed before, like I'm already gone. Impossible! My id and I are fighting it, and my id is doing a great job.
Hold on. Is my id fighting? Or has the jungle triumphed by allowing it to take hold, cultivating a double agent in my own self? Have my own adaptive abilities allowed my darker self, my animal self, to arise within me? Never intending to release his hold at the end, but entering into alliance with my enemy? Am I defeated?
It's coming back! No! I will keep writing! Only humanity can wri-
(The journal ends here)
The two Brazilian explorers didn't understand English and didn't care. They would turn the journal they found in to the authorities looking for some lost explorer and just hope for an award.
They were more interested in looking for the panthers recently seen around this area. Two mated pairs.
Darwinian Id copyright 1999 by Copernicus.
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