Chapter 4: This Bites
The sky is bright and blue, poking through holes in the canopy and casting down rays of sun. A gentle breeze swims through the area and blows the leaves and grass. Aside from the immediate danger, it is a pretty good day. No rain, at least. Although, I would much appreciate a bit of clouds to keep the temperature down.
Evan clutches the orange gun in his hand with white knuckles. Brian is lost, and he can only back away slowly with his hands up. I keep my arm around Jenny's shoulder and pull her close. The rest of the group just watches in horror as Evan cocks back the hammer.
Evan changes his stance, "Now, do you see who is in charge here?" he asks tilting his head.
"Of course," Brian nods and lowers his hands in hope that Evan will follow. He doesn't, and instead he trains his gun on the rest of us. Jessica gasps and Ron begins backing up towards the tree-line.
His voice grows louder as he speaks, "Why should we risk our lives trying to get home? We stay here!"
Nobody protests his decision, and instead we all nod in agreement as Brian had. How could we have seen this coming? We expected to be on a plane ride out to a beautiful log cabin where we'd fish and ride the rapids…instead we're held at gunpoint and lost in the middle of a dense jungle.
Suzie takes a step forward, "I'm not following a damn thing you say, I'm leaving with Brian!" she shouts. Her voice echoes off into the distance and Evan grits his teeth. Ashley limps forward, with both crutches again, and stands beside Suzie.
"Me too," she says, holding her ground under Evan's glare.
It's not over yet though, as the group shifts again. Brittany, Jessica, Ron, and John all walk over to support Evan…leaving Jenny and I. The two groups look at us, as we are a deciding factor. Without question, I tug Jenny with me over to Brian's group, which just evens the two out. Five people want to leave, five people want to stay.
John looks around, "Where is Jim?" the question lingers and we all look around the campsite. He set back out a long while ago to gather another food source. He'll be surprised once he comes back, that's for sure.
Evan takes a step towards our group, "I guess you'd better get moving then…"
The sun is past midway and on the down-slide towards nightfall as we break through the jungle out into a large grassy field. It's the size of about three football fields, encircled by tall trees. A small stream runs through the middle, ending on both sides of the opening. The grass is knee-high, bending with the wind.
We're all hot and tired from the long hike up here. After Evan sent us packing, we picked the direction opposite the plane crash and began walking. It's been hours, and now we're weighing down with fatigue. Finally though, Brian stops and looks around the area.
"This place, it looks perfect! If we can get another plane to see us, this would be the place!" Brian says while gesturing to the surrounding area.
Suzie shakes her head, "Brian, nobody flies over here, we can't even make a fire without the lighter that Evan had."
"We need to go back, and steal the lighter and flare gun!" Ashley bursts angrily. Brian looks at her like she's insane, but truthfully we won't survive without at least one of the two. Both of those options provide us with a way to grab the attention of a possible passerby.
I rub my eyes, "Did we really just think about that now? Why couldn't we have thought about that a couple hours ago?"
Regardless, we needed to get a hold on those supplies. I wasn't going to volunteer though, considering that it would be a couple mile trip back and forth. Especially now, considering it's almost nightfall.
Suddenly, a rustle in the bushes in the direction we had come grabs our attention. We all duck low, our hearts beating in anticipation, when Jim appears from the underbrush.
Suzie sighs, "Oh, it's just you," she says.
He's as tired as we are, dripping with sweat and breathing heavily. He rests his hands on his knees, bent over and catching his breath. When he looks back up at us, he gulps down some more air and shakes his head with wide eyes.
"Jessica…dead," he manages to blurt out.
Shock runs through the group, and my muscles tense up. "What? How?"
He lifts his right hand over his head, "Evan, was arguing with her," he looks up at his hand, "and he took a rock, and bashed it into the side of her head."
Jenny covers her mouth and her eyes grow wide. Ashley and Suzie begin fuming clenching their fists and cursing like madmen, while Brian lulls his head and covers his eyes. He must blame himself for this whole mess. He may as well because this is completely and utterly his fault...
"She just…fell over and Evan dragged her off," Jim continues.
I scratch my head in confusion. How could the rest of the group just let this slide? I mean, yeah tensions are high, but that's murder. I could feel the fear rising in my stomach now. Two people are dead…I hadn't even thought much about Don's death. The frequent headaches have been too much of a pain, but lately they seemed to have dulled.
"The others were out collecting food and wood," Jim explains, reading my confusion.
So, Evan seems a little smarter than we had imagined. He separated the groups, took out the roadblocks, and did it without anybody noticing. This is almost like a dream come true for him, as if he wants to be lost in the jungle. I can't figure out why though…is it for the fame when we get back to civilization? I suppose he wants to claim he rescued the groups from Brian's mess. Why not search for a way home then? All this thinking brought my migraine back, just as I was beginning to think it was gone.
"So John, Ron, and Brittney have no clue this happened?" Brian asks.
Jim nods, "Like I said, they were away."
"Well, the group will notice she is missing eventually," Suzie points out.
"Not if Evan plays dumb. He can say she ran off," I say. This is more than likely what he will end up doing. From what I know about Evan, he's always one step ahead.
For a while, everybody sits there thinking. We need to get the lighter and flare gun if we want to live, but Evan is hostile and very lethal. And what about the others with him right now? They're at risk, considering Evan doesn't care who lives and who dies. He can just make up any story he wants when he gets back home...
Perhaps though, the lighter is not as important as we think. If we're close to a settlement or something of that sort we should be able to make it without fire. It's obviously a huge advantage to have, but we can make it with just berries and uncooked food. The only other thing it provides is safety, keeping the dangerous creatures at bay. Warmth even, but the jungle is humid enough that the nights are bearable.
Suzie slips off her boots, setting them beside her. "Ah, my foot is so sore. These boots are too tight."
"Want a foot rub?" Brian offers sarcastically.
She shrugs with a smile, "I wouldn't mind one."
As Brian moves over to give her a massage, Jim taps my shoulder. I turn back to him, giving him a good look over. His face his cut up, undoubtedly from his running across the jungle. His clothes aren't so new looking now either, torn and ragged.
"I saw something else," he says grimly.
I perk up, "What? Somebody else die?" I keep my voice to a whisper. Nobody is paying attention to us, not even Jenny who is tracing lines in the dirt with her hand.
"No, it was an animal in the forest…it was…human-like," he says.
The thought of seeing something like that lurking in the shadows is fearsome. Maybe Jim was just suffering from the heat and he was seeing mirages. But the way he looked at me when he spoke said otherwise.
"It walked on two legs like us, but it was sleek…black skin, kinda' scaly like a reptile would be, but hard to tell," he went on.
I try to imagine it, stalking us as we made our way out to here. It reminded me of an old sci-fi movie, with a lake monster or local legend.
"It had a big head too, big black eyes and a small snout with teeth poking out the sides like a crocodile. Know what I mean?" he asks.
I nod my head, still picturing the creature. "Are you sure you saw this?"
"Oh yeah, twice actually. Once on my hunting trip, and once while catching up with you guys…about an hour ago," he explains.
Immediately I scan the surrounding area, fearing that it may have caught up with us by now. Surely if it had, we would be done for. That's the last thing we need, another obstacle preventing us from getting home. Crashing planes, groups splitting, murder, and now monsters following us…what's next?
"Don't worry, it was on your trail for a while, but then it split down a river," he continues.
The river, we crossed it about three miles back. That's a relief I guess, considering that it wasn't too interested in us. Maybe we intimidate it, like people do to bears when they're attacked. Still though, it's no good knowing they're out there. For this reason, I decide we should keep it under wraps.
"Jim, don't tell anybody else, alright?" I ask.
He raises a brow at me.
"It's a bad idea to scare everybody, but keep a look out for more of them," I say. He seems content with that, especially because I believe him.
Brian finished rubbing Suzie's feet, rolling onto his back and staring up at the clouds. I watch without much care as Suzie takes her boot back into her hands, slipping the first on one. When she went to slip the second one on, she looks confused. Her foot is halfway in, when suddenly she shrieks and flings the boot off. I jump back, along with the others as she hops up and grabs her foot.
Two small holes are leaking with blood on the front of her big toe, and she rubs them down.
"Snake!" Ashley points towards the boot lying a few feet away. Sure enough a large, red and white snake slithers out from inside the boot. It disappears into the grass before Jim can spear it. He gives chase though, running after it into the jungle. Suzie collapses back down onto the ground, her face drained of color.
"It bit you? Was it poisonous?" Brian asks inspecting the bite.
Suzie's lip begins quivering, "I-I don't…"
Jim reappears with the snake hanging limp from the tip of his spear. It's three feet long, skinny, and colorful with red and yellow stripes. Its head is all black, with lime green eyes that resembled a cat.
"It is venomous, you can tell because the eye. If it's a cat eye, it's a venomous," he clarifies. I wish I would have warned him to keep all the scary stuff to himself.
Suzie immediately breaks down sobbing, and Brian panics.
"What do we do? Suck the venom out?" Ashley asks.
Jim sets the snake down, "No, that will actually do more harm. You can't suck it out and if you try, you could potentially infect yourself. I'm not sure, we can cut off the toe…"
Suzie's eyes grow wide and her mouth drops, small whimpers escaping her lungs.
"No, the blood already has the venom moving…a tourniquet around the leg might work," I say. Although I'm not positive, I remember hearing about how fast the blood stream works when reading about the 'Bends'.
They try it, taking off a Brian's pilot shirt and wrapping it tightly around her upper leg. I wasn't about to say anything, but the situation looked bleak. Even if you were in a city or populated area, you have a good chance of dying from a snake bite.
There really is nothing we can do, except for wait...
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Chapter 5 coming soon!
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