The water in our bottles was disturbingly warm and tasted of dirt and sweat. It hardly did anything to quench our never-ending thirst, and with the unforgiving Amazon heat beating down on us, all it did was fill our bellies while leaving our mouths and throats uncomfortably parched. I grimaced. How I longed for a nice cold glass of lemonade. Sergeant Wilde must’ve had read my mind, because his mouth immediately curled up into a nasty smile. “You ain’t gon’ get a nice cold drink in a long time missy,” he drawled. I scowled at him and looked away.
On we trudged through the seemingly endless rain-forest, constantly swatting away mosquitoes the size of houseflies, but to no avail. We were literally being eaten alive. I tried my best not to paw at my mosquito bites, but the itchiness was so intense that I felt I would go insane if I tried to resist the urge to scratch them. I jealously eyed Sergeant Wilde, who didn’t seem to be scratching himself raw like the rest of us. I looked closer, and when I didn’t find any bumps or red patches on his skin, I came to a satisfying conclusion. Sergeant Wilde was so horrid, even the mosquitoes didn’t want his blood.
The smell of rot and mildew coupled with who-knows-what-animal’s faeces was enough to give me a headache, and the air seemed to be 20% water, so I was also running out of breath. It wasn’t until we reached a small river that I was able to draw a decent amount of oxygen into my poor, deprived lungs. I thought the river meant we were near our final destination, but boy, was I wrong. “That was just the beginning,” sneered a smug-looking Sergeant Wilde. It’s uncanny how he seems to be able to read my thoughts at any given moment. Ugh. How I hate that bloke.
The forest across the river was much denser, and the huge trees seemed to be closing in on us, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. The towering trees made even Sergeant Wilde look small, and he’s easily 6’4. It was getting harder and harder to breathe because of the hot, humid air; I was constantly breathless, and my sweat was causing my clothes to stick to me uncomfortably. “At least the vampire mosquitoes are gone,” I muttered under my breath. Almost immediately, I wished I hadn’t said that. Because when I looked up, thousands of glassy eyes stared down at me, making me feel helplessly naked and vulnerable.
Monkeys. They wouldn’t take their eyes off us, not even for a second. Hanging from vines, peering down from behind the thick, leafy branches, they followed us silently in the treetops as we now tip-toed along on the ground below. I could sense that we were carefully calculating our every move, not wanting to provoke any of our furry friends. As seconds ticked by, more and more of them seemed to materialise from out of nowhere. Although I didn’t lift my gaze to look directly at the monkeys in fear of triggering them with my mere eye-contact, I could sense their ever-increasing presence, and I couldn’t help having a feeling that they were secretly planning to launch a full-scaled monkey attack on us. There were only five of us, including myself, and there were hundreds of them. We were hopelessly outnumbered. Walking along, we pretended to ignore the hundreds of pairs of eyes which stared down so intensely at us. Our every step was being watched, and I got the feeling that we were all holding our breaths.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, we reached a clearing, and I was so overjoyed at having exited the dreadful Amazon jungle that I shamelessly ran out and lay down on the flat ground. I let the wind sweep over me as I closed my eyes. Sand, carried by the wind, tickled my eyelashes, but I didn’t think much of it then. Gravel poked through the back of my shirt and stuck to the back of my arms, but I didn’t think much of it then either. Only when the loud crunch-crunch of coarse gravel under Sergeant Wilde’s boots reached my ears did a slightly alarming thought come to mind. Where are we? I scrambled to my feet, rubbing my eyes as they struggled to adjust to the blinding sunlight. My jaw nearly hit the ground when I realised where we were.
The dry ground stretched out for miles and miles around us, and I whirled around, looking for a building, something, anything. Nothing. There was nothing out here, except for a single bush that probably died years ago from the look of it. I knew where we were then. We were in the middle of nowhere.
—————- End of Part I ——————
Copyright © 2017 Melissa Mern. All rights reserved.