CHAPTER 2 – SEAN

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I once again check the area surrounding me as I hold the phone to my ear. I want to get this over with before I get bitten by another giant mosquito and before the boat leaves without me.

"Sherwood," my superior answers.

"It's Sean. Nothing here, sir," I reply, trying to pull my foot out of thick mud.

"Nothing?" he repeats. I look around me at the thick canopy of trees, dense bush and mushy swamp. "Nothing at all. No paths, no tracks, no sign of life, no nothing. Only the locals. The dock does look well used but its just jungle and swamp, there isn't a…" I pause, hearing what sounds like a squeal. "Wait," I whisper, crouching further behind the bush.

"What?" I hear through the phone. I don't reply, waiting for another sound to give me a clue where to look.

Nothing.

Only the screech of birds above, the yells of goodness know what kind of animal in the jungle and the distant chatting of the tourists in the boat. They'll be leaving soon, if there's something out there, it better show up soon.

I crouch there for a while longer, ignoring the twig digging into my back and the damp stench of the mud underneath me.

I let out a breath and frown into the clearing before me, swearing I'd heard something not animal. Goodness knows what's in that jungle though.

"What?" I hear again. I shake my head, annoyed.

"Sorry sir, I thought I . . ." There's a splash in the distance and I crouch down again, eyes searching the area desperately.

"What is it?" he asks, loosing patience.

I look through the twisted vines and damp bush to see movement.

"There's a girl," I whisper into my phone, surprised. "Running out of the jungle...to the jetty. I think she's heading to the boat."

I watch the girl slow down a bit, trudging through the muck of the swamp, looking around anxiously as she heads to the dock. She thinks someone's following her.

"Bingo," I said, not letting my eyes leave her.

"She's not from the tour group?" I get asked.

"I did a history check of everyone in my group, sir; she is definitely not part of the tour."

"Follow her. I'll send some men over to check the area. Try and get her story but don't you dare blow your cover."

I watch the girl walk down the jetty and step onto the boat. Where on earth did she come from?

"Sean!"

"Yes sir!"

"Don't blow your cover," I get told again.

"I won't sir." I turn off my phone and slap the back of my neck as yet another mosquito the size of a saucer bites into me. I pull my foot once again out of the dense sludge that makes up the rainforests floor and quickly make my way back to the boat.

My first mission in two years since being demoted and I don't want to screw this up. Goodness knows if this girl even has anything to do with this…whatever it is. It would help if I knew what I'm supposed to be looking for. I know some things have to be hush-hush but how the hell are we supposed to know what to look for if we aren't told what's going on. And even more strange, if it's all so secret, why have they put me, someone who's screwed up before, on this mission?

I walk along the jetty towards the long boat. Another worry. I've been told about the things that lurk in these Amazonian waters and all we have between us and them is a dodgy boat made from whatever they could find that floats. Maybe that's why I was picked; to be the 'unfortunate casualty.'

I step onto the back of the boat, next to the girl. Her back is turned to me so all I can see is her wet sandy brown hair clinging to her neck and back. I sit down and try to take things in as subtly as possible. She's young, mid twenties maybe, fair skin, scratches on her legs probably from running through the jungle. She wears a white shirt and white shorts…kind of like a uniform. Her hand that is clinging onto the wooden board we're sitting on shows ripped nails and a piece of surgical cloth wrapped around her wrist. Surgical cloth? There's no hospitals or doctors around these parts for miles.

I look back over the jetty, over the swamp and into the rainforest which is keeping to its name. Rain falls from the sky in torrents making it impossible to see anything.

I turn back to the girl instead seeing her leaning over the boat in the process of throwing up.

"Whoa there girl…you right?" I ask her, touching her back. She flinches and throws up again.

'Right…don't touch her,' I think to myself.

"Woops…" one of the tourists in front of us laughs a bit, "Somebody hasn't been drinking enough water."

I look at the girl again who is wiping her mouth, looking at the tourist strangely. I go into my bag and pull out a drink bottle.

"Here," I said, putting it down next to her. "I've got a few. This heat is relentless isn't it?" I give a small smile then look away, pretending to take in the surrounding view. I can feel her uncertainty and I can feel her looking at me. I rummage around in my bag and pull out a pamphlet to start looking at, trying to act as normal as possible. Instead, I wonder quietly how long she's been running through that jungle for and what from.

The girl picks up the water bottle and starts drinking from it, she has it downed in seconds making me wonder yet again what on earth she's been through and how the hell she managed to find her what out of that thick dark jungle.