This is the first published fiction on SurvivalCommonSense.com. Generally speaking, there is way too much preparedness fiction on TV and in print that gets passed off as fact!
But the following piece considers the creation of improvised light sources for survival. The emergency lighting techniques mentioned at the end of the story could easily be adapted to the aftermath of a natural disaster. And if it takes a good tale to get people’s interest, then so be it!
First is an excerpt from THE CAVE AND THE SEA, A NOVEL, by John A. Heatherly, followed by a photo explanation of some of the ideas. John is an experienced outdoorsman and has appeared on this website with his previous non-fiction book “The Survival Template.”
"Don’t miss the reference material at the end!" – Leon
CHAPTER 20: BUFFALO HORN AND TALLOW
When the trio arrived at the Cave entrance, Mycha requested immediate access to her wood-and-leather rucksack. From the sack she produced a small wooden cup that was sealed with a piece of rawhide and a leather string. She washed the wound on her forearm with water then extracted a dark paste from the cup.
“Herbs mixed with tallow,” she commented to Coe, without pausing to look at him. “Will help prevent infection.”
The wolf-bite wound looked smaller and less horrific with the blood removed. She took a handful of leaves from another tiny bundle in her rucksack and applied a poultice, securing it in place on her lower arm with leather and string.
Coe had been attentive to her as she cared for her wound. He began to feel uncomfortable now that the process was nearing completion and didn’t know what to say.
“I … thank you … maybe I can …” His broken statement trailed into silence as he stared at the ground in front of him.
“You appear to have seen much killing recently,” Mycha said. “It prevents you from knowing a friend when you see one?”
“We should keep those wolf hides,” Coe replied, clearly anxious and attempting to change the subject. “And we need more water. Stay here near the Cave. I will be right back. Oh, and people call me by my nickname, Coe.”
He felt foolish mentioning wolf hides and water and hoped that she would see his logic.
Coe quickly returned to the spring, filled his canteen, and field dressed the wolf carcasses. Normally he would have worked more slowly to prevent waste but in this case, was afraid the other wolves might be in the area. Maybe his decision to retrieve the hides was foolish anyway?
He carried the wolf hides back to the Cave with plans to tan them soon. He approached the Cave to find Mycha happily organizing her gear while talking to Soldier. The puppy wagged his tail as he lay on the ground next to her. Coe felt a mix of emotions, guilt being the most supreme.
“Thank you,” he said. “You saved me while I had your dagger … I just … something is wrong and …”
Mycha interrupted him. “You are welcome, and don’t feel the need to explain everything to me,” she said. ” I have been traveling away from my people for a while now, too, and know what it is like to be afraid. Help me with these.”
She handed him a buffalo horn that was filled with tallow and kept one for herself.
“We need a wick for each of these lamps,” she said while surveying the area around her. “I have been using cattail down and need a better solution now that I have found the Cave.”
“One advantage of cedar slash is the abundance of bark,” Coe commented, stepping into the Cave’s entrance. He returned with two strands of reverse-wrapped cedar bark cordage and handed one to her.
“I have a fire-pit we can use to complete your lamps,” he said. “Why don’t we move inside?”
Coe sensed that Mycha would be patient with his awkwardness. He had many questions for her but felt uncomfortable when talking about anything other than the necessities of their situation. He had been injured and alone for so long that her presence affected him immensely, in good and bad ways.
His loneliness was gone but had been replaced with questions, anxiety, and shock at the entry of this new person in his life. Mycha’s exotic appearance, foreign accent, and mysterious demeanor confused him while increasing his stress.
Hopefully he could relax soon. He tried to organize his thoughts and questions while helping Mycha move her pack inside the Cave. They ate small portions of jerky from her store and spoke little while they worked.
From John A. Heatherly: "While the characters in THE CAVE AND THE SEA used a buffalo horn with tallow (rendered animal fat) and cedar bark as a light source, I like to recreate their idea using these modern, low-cost items."
A lamp for emergency lighting can be quickly improvised from a soda can. (photo below)
This simple lamp uses kitchen drippings from a meatloaf pan along with a cotton wick. Simply pour the drippings into the can, reverse the pop-top, and insert the wick!
This lighted collection of lamps made from cans and bottles can provide quick emergency lighting. (photo below)
The “Oil-Lamp Candelabra” is constructed of soda cans of different varieties, a metallic soda bottle, and a wine bottle. Some use tallow from kitchen drippings as fuel, while others use oil from the frying pan or even conventional lamp oil from the hardware store.