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To Build a Fire: Alternate Ending by by Jack London

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Since the fire went out he would seek shelter in the forest or any other suitable location. An hour later, he came upon a cave and decided that it would be wise to enter and rest. Cold or inhospitable it was a shelter and he was only thinking of what mattered to himself for the moment. For some unknown reason, the dog was uneasy to enter with the man.

When he entered the cave he went to the back knowing that it would not be as unbearable as the outside even if it was still cold inside. His cheeks hurt a bit more now, but he did not suspect anything unusual. He still thought about the old man and what he had said. Finally, he settled in and decided to finish off the last crumbs of what was left of that delicious sandwich. It was very hard for his unresponsive hands to even lift the crumbs to his hungry and frigid mouth. His frozen beard of amber below was starting to come loose from his chin.

The man looked outside and decided that there was no more time left in the short and now dwindling hours of the day to get back before nightfall. From what he knew about the arctic, he felt it wiser to stay in the dark and ominous cave to avoid the maddening cold and coal darkness of the arctic night, than to stay outside and freeze to death.

He had no more matches and the temperature was plummeting, so he made his way back into the cave and soon fell asleep cuddled with the warmth of his dog. The sleep was fitful and dreamless and the cold woke him throughout the night. No matter what he did, he could get no rest.

When he awoke in the early hours of arctic daylight his dog was not to be found. He knew that the situation would be grave without his dog, his only lifeline in this survival scenario from hell. Before anything could happen, he needed to find his dog quickly. At first, all parts of his body were plagued with numbness as he sifted through the nearby forest to regain the company of the one who was with him instead of a trail mate. Only fresh powdered snow and needles of conifers, reminders of the undying cold, harsh weather and long nights were to be found.

In pure panic, the man decided to try to push onward toward the camp today to see if he would make it by dark. On the way back to the trail, the man became disoriented and completely lost many times and never gave a single thought to ever bringing a compass on any of his expeditions. Soon enough, he was walking towards a clearing which looked like it was where the trail had been. He pushed on even though his frozen and frostbitten body features refused to comply with his intentions. While labouring through the forest using trees as supports, a branch gave way and the man lost his balance and went over on his ankle.

After the shock and pain left him stranded there for many minutes, he managed to pull himself to the small clearing within about a half hour. After arriving at the clearing, he discovered that it was not the trail, but the same cave where he had stayed that past night with his dog. He had come full circle. The man knew he could not continue that day and decided to wait in the cave for his dog until sundown.

Sundown arrived early as it does in the arctic and there was still no sign of the dog, he would sleep yet again in the shelter. Fatigued, hungry and tired stumbled down into the cave, where he encountered a warm but rough object. Innocently enough the man thought it was his dog, so he went and cuddled with the furry mass. Just as he got fairly comfortable, the fur moved and growled. The sharp teeth bit through the man’s winter clothes and he screamed at the top of his lungs but no one came to answer the call. He was isolated, miles away from the camp.

He was killed and eaten so quickly by the grizzly that he never had the chance to figure out that just the night before, his dog had encountered the same fate as himself.

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