May 21st, 1978
Yesterday I thought we were going to die.
Now I know for certain.
It was in the morning (the sun had fully risen) when Otis, Baby, Cutter and I were on our way to Mexico. Being that the Sheriff was dead, we thought we would have had more time on our side before the authorities caught wind of our escape. But as we rounded that bend and I felt the car slow; as I opened my blood-crusted eyes, as I squinted against the sunlight and peered through the dusty windshield at the barricade of police cruisers, I knew it was the end of the line.
I'll spare you the gory details of the shoot-out that ensued, mainly because I don't know how long this pen will last and I want to document as much of our plight as possible. It was after we had plowed through the line of police cars that the front passenger-side tire blew and we spun out of control, leading to our crash through the barrier and our tumble into the ravine. I've heard people say that when you think you're about to die everything happens in slow motion - but I was sure I was going to die and yet everything happened very fast. The car was a convertible, and so it was relatively easy to exit the car early on in the fall. Otis, Cutter and I had the sense to jump out at the top of the ravine and roll down the steep hill the rest of the way; Baby, however, was so frightened that she clung to the seat. While our fall was stopped by a log that was wedged into the side of the ravine (it had probably fallen off of a timber truck), we witnessed Baby continuing to somersault down into the ravine, until finally the car struck the bottom. Upon impact the car exploded, sending a wave of heat all through the ravine. I turned my face away, unable to bear the sudden increase in temperature.
Later on, as noon approached, the remainder of our family decided that it would be best to climb further down into the ravine (seeing as it was impossible to climb up any farther). The progress downward proved to be slow; judging by the sun it had reached six o'clock by the time we reached the bottom of the ravine. We decided unanimously that we should head in the opposite direction of the convertible, and so we turned left and began walking.
We soon discovered that we were not the first to have met this fate; the bottom of the ravine was littered with vehicles - mostly trucks - that had fallen from the road three quarters of a mile above. Scattered about also were the skeletons of the unfortunate drivers of those trucks, who had obviously not survived the ravine. Some of the trucks proved to be useful; while some were still intact and could be used for shelter, others still held loads of cargo such as peanut butter, Coca-Cola, and Oreos. Most of the packages had been opened (or crushed), but we still found ourselves with more food than we had entered the ravine with.
As it got dark it also got significantly cooler, so we climbed into the trailer of a truck and closed the hatch. We are now all huddled together for warmth, and I am writing this on a notepad we found along with a flashlight and a pen in the glove box of the truck that had contained the Coca-cola. Hopefully tomorrow we will find a way out of the ravine.
May 27th, 1978
I haven't written because there hasn't been much time to write; I can only write during daylight now because the batteries in the flashlight died the night following our first in the ravine. The past week has been a strenuous one. I'll pick up where I left off.
The next day we walked all day and found nothing unlike what we had already discovered at the bottom of the ravine, nor did we find anything special the following day. But on May 24th, we found a most unusual thing. Until that day we thought we were alone down here but for the gnats; our discovery proved otherwise. We stumbled upon three skeletons, all hanging from one of the few trees in the ravine, with thick, crude spears wedged between their ribs. I suggested that we remove the spears, as they could be useful if we ran into their designers, and so we carried them along with us. The rest of that day was uneventful.
On May 25th we found a small truck that had been transporting chickens. Having eaten nothing but peanut butter and Oreos for the past four days, our first thoughts were to salvage some of the chickens (most of which had died in the crash). We found, however, that the chickens had begun to rot and were crawling with maggots. Cutter was intent on eating the meat anyway, and built a small fire using a single match he had found left in a pack of matches that had been discarded from the road above. Otis and I warned him against it, but he would hear none of our pleas. He ate almost a whole chicken as Otis and I munched on peanut butter covered Oreos.
Yesterday morning we found Cutter dead in a puddle of his own vomit.
Otis said that we should continue our trek through the ravine, but our rations are running low and we are becoming exhausted. We found nothing that day, and as I write this now it is nearing dark on May 27th and still we have found nothing in regards of a way out of this hell hole. I can only hope that tomorrow will offer us some sweet relief.
I feel like a fool as I stand here. As I was writing in that journal last night, the spear-designers found us. They were a group of very haggard-looking truckers, all disheveled and horribly thin from malnutrition. They snuck up on us and captured us within five minutes. Apparently they have been stranded here for quite some time; they have long since forgotten human speech and resorted to cannibalism. I'm watching now as they bring Otis to a long wooden table. I see the lead trucker lift a crude knife in the air, but turn my head to avoid seeing it strike. I hear the sickening thud, the gurgling from Otis, and I feel a single warm tear roll down my cheek, undoubtedly making a clear trail through the dust and dirt and blood caked on my face. Now they place me on the same table. I see the glint of the knife in the twilight...
And before the knife takes its final plunge, I look up to the darkening sky and I see - dancing above my head like our family used to do - I see fireflies.