Chapter 19 and Epilogue Summary

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In the morning, refreshed by a night of deep, dreamless sleep, Brian examines the contents of the survival pack and finds himself in possession of “unbelievable riches.” There is a soaked sleeping bag, which he hangs out to dry over his shelter roof, and cooking implements, including four pots and two frying pans. A waterproof container holds matches and two butane lighters, and there are fishing implements as well as a cap that says “CESSNA” across the front.

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An item that at first puzzles Brian turns out to be .22 survival rifle, which comes in pieces and must be assembled. Brian, who has never shot a gun before, gets a “strange feeling, holding the rifle.” He senses that it somehow gives him an unfair advantage in the order of nature; he no longer has “to know...to be afraid or understand.” By its very presence the rifle changes him, and Brian is not sure he likes the change.

Among the other contents of the survival pack is “a small electronic device completely encased in a plastic bag,” which is labeled “Emergency Transmitter.” Brian fiddles with a small switch on top of the transmitter for a while but can elicit no response. Thinking it is broken, he sets it aside and continues examining the other items in the bag.

The best treasure of all in the survival pack is the food, which is freeze-dried and provided in great quantity. He will ration the windfall to make it last as long as possible, but first he decides to treat himself to a feast, choosing out of the great variety of options “a four-person beef and potato dinner, with orange drink...and something called peach whip for dessert.” Following the directions on the packages, he adds water and sets his new pots to cook over the fire; the delicious smell of the food delights him, and he thinks of home. Brian is so filled with excitement and anticipation for the meal that he does not even notice when a plane appears.

Like before, the drone of the aircraft’s engine does not register in Brian’s mind at first. This time the plane “fairly explode[s] into his life” and lands on its floats on the lake. Stunned, Brian waits, immobile; he does not yet understand that his ordeal is over.

The pilot, who has been alerted to Brian’s presence by the emergency transmitter he inadvertently left on, steers the plane onto the beach and cuts the engine. He gets out of the plane and stares at Brian, marveling:

Damn. You’re him, aren’t you? You’re that kid. They quit looking, a month, no, almost two months ago.

Brian, still in...

(The entire section contains 690 words.)

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Chapter 18 Summary