When I wake the sun is above me in the sky so I can look at it without moving. I struggle to rise, my skin tingling like it's being forcibly stretched and pulled away from my body and stapled to the ground, holding me in place. My mind is fog. Eyes blink slowly, unsure what came before and what happens next.
Managing to lift my head until my chin squishes against the hairs on my chest and I see brown and red, sun and caked dirt, skin and aching burn. I'm naked on sloping stone, head above feet, with enough of an angle that the sun reflects off the murky, green water and into my eyes. Red dirt encroaches, drawn by wind and gathering like each speck is a member of a tiny tribe come to pay tribute to the golem that is my body.
Skin cracks and burns under withering heat and light. With great pains in my lower back and the places where my skin folds on itself, I assume a sitting position, hands in my hair, elbows on my knees. Every last drop of moisture in my body is being used to keep my eyeballs from shriveling into husks.
Fog eases. I take stock. My pack is gone. My gun and knife are gone. My food is gone. Even my clothes are gone. Blood drops from chapped, cut lips as I try to open my mouth, mixing with the dirt under my legs into a red spot of gluey mud.
I stand. It hurts. Joints creak like abused machinery. My legs splay sideways to keep my body from toppling but nearly buckle from the exertion. Anyone watching is treated to inventive interpretive dance as limbs fire and jut.
The stone under me is part of a boat launch that used to run to the edge of a reservoir. Now, the only boat visible is a rusted wreck of a rowboat turned over at the edge of the water, now several dozen feet down from where the stone ends, dropping to dried-out reeds mixed with bird and cow shit. Target practice holes pock the boat's underbelly, both small from popgun pistols and big from sawed-off shotgun blunderbusses.
Unsteady feet lead me up the ramp. At the top a rock pins down a note. No hard feelings. At least we didn't take your skin.
I spit but nothing comes out. Muscles loosen and I move more freely. Dirt burns and rocks jab. I move away from the ramp.