The Eastern Prairie – Survival Reading from The Cave and the Sea


This week’s reading includes Chapter 2 THE EASTERN PRAIRIE.  If you missed the previous excerpt, please take a look at Chapter 1 THE CISTERN.

Sometimes the best way to convey a skill or a truth is to make it part of a larger narrative. The Cave and The Sea, a Novel, began as a short story of survival (originally called The Medicine Symbol) and later grew to contain almost 80,000 words and countless survival principles. Please enjoy these initial chapters as they introduce the story’s primary character and the myriad survival challenges he faces.


A beam of sunlight illumined the small entranceway above him, reminding Coe that it had been raining when he first awoke in the Cistern. How long had he been here? He was injured, and his sense of time had morphed into cycles of sleep, introspection, and physical pain. He was hungry. Cautiously, he picked up his sword with his right hand, sliding his body toward the large stone stair above him. Every muscle ached as he sat up, but Coe was relieved to discover that his limbs obeyed him with relative ease, given the events of the last innumerable days. He would climb those stairs, if he could, inspect his injured left side, and decide what to do.

The sunlight revealed a long cut on the back of his upper left arm that ran down across the side of his ribcage. The cut was shallow, thankfully, though it limited the bending range of his arm and the rotation of his torso. If kept clean, it should heal into quite a battle scar.

The only sounds coming through the opening at the top of stairs were ordinary bird songs. The sun was blinding. A survey of the small ravine surrounding the entrance to the Cistern brought immediate memories of the battle that had almost killed him. The wind carried a sense of despair and depravity that paralyzed Coe on the top step, a feeling so intense that he could not cry nor speak should he try. He looked to the sun rising in the east and remembered his Grandfather’s words: “The East is the Place of Illumination and the Place of Spirit. Of course, the rising of the Sun lights the new day. When you are older you will learn that your Heart speaks louder in the morning as well. It is because of this mystery that we call The East, the Place of the Spirit.”

Coe’s memory brought some comfort, and during his military career he had observed his Grandfather’s truth. Most mornings he did feel a sense of clarity and direction, though often his clear-mindedness was broken by disruptive events in the late morning or early afternoon. This day would be no different. Coe decided that he would evade back to the west, to the place where his band had camped the night before the battle. He knew of a food cache there and of medicinal plants for the treatment of his cut. The camp was only a two-hour march from his current location; and even if traveling slowly, he should be able to be there before nightfall.

Next week’s reading: Chapter 3 THE CAMP TO THE WEST.

About the author:

“Heatherly makes you feel like you could survive on your own (for at least a little while) after reading this book (The Cave and The Sea)—not that I’m going to give it a try any time soon.” –Forever Young Adult

The Hunger Games smash hit book and movie got my daughter and one of her friends interested in archery. Maybe John A. Heatherly’s novel The Cave and The Sea will do the same for teenagers regarding learning primitive survival skills…” –

“I don’t throw the term ‘life changing’ around lightly but this book (The Survival Template) has very likely altered the way I think, the way I plan and the way I see my future as I’ve laid it out.” –