On our lucky days we get some dog meat on top of our depleting rations; on their lucky days, they get human meat. That was how they got our good old Phang Tze-Jun – ripped to shreds by canine teeth. We didn’t even have bones to bury. I don’t even think they should be called dogs. The connotations of friendliness and animalistic stupidity are ill-suited. Wolves would be more accurate for their bloody-thirsty ruthlessness and cunning tactical hunting. They’ve been getting more and more brazen recently, making incursions into our camp site before dawn. Before that, our encounters were always skirmishes and ambushes away from our campsite and away from their nests. I always believed it was a sort of unspoken agreement never to disturb our respective dwellings. Their incursions marked an escalation of hostility in our cross-species relations. On day 34, another helicopter (and perhaps the last one ever) passed overhead and for some damned reason our firewood wouldn’t light and the flares wouldn’t function. The helicopter didn’t spot us and no rescue came. As if sensing our hopelessness, the dogs attacked our camp site in full force  that night. That night was perhaps more traumatic than anything I’ve ever experienced. By morning we assessed the damage and found we had five less mouths to feed. From a pessimist’s point of view, it also meant 9 less helping hands – 9 because Phang Tze-Jun had lost his other hand in an accident two weeks ago. Actually, make that 7, Johnny Robert Lim was a useless arse. We attacked their nests the next day. Retaliation. Retaliation not with teeth and claws but with grenades, pistols and parangs. With some salt and the subzero temperatures assisting in meat preservation, we had secured our food for the next three weeks with just three grenades and about a hundred bullets. We carried the some three dozen dog carcasses back to our camp site in five trips. The living ones scattered across the valley. Blood soaked the land thoroughly. That was the last time we ever saw a live dog and that also meant it was the last times we could feast on dog meat. It felt as if we had killed a golden goose, although in exchange for no more attempts on our lives and for the luxury of no longer living like hunted prey. On day 68, we ate Mohammed Faisal bin Hussein. He was already half-dead by then. May as well consume the flesh before it wasted away to infirmity. We chopped him up to manageable pieces – limbs and bits of the torso, unpalatable organs. We roasted him over a slow fire and sucked on the bones, burying them near the only pine tree in our camp site. It was a sort of a social, if not moral, obligation to afford him a proper burial. At least. The next weeks were slow, marked by snatches of semi-conscious panic and savagery. In our state of surreal lucidity, the pine tree was a particular object of terror. I nibbled on my left hand until only bone was left. On day 143, the remaining bits of us were found by a rescue team. They initially mistook me for an indigenous local. I could no longer speak English.

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