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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #1767880
Jay experiences something unreal before having to tackle a life or death situation.
Jeremy Lane was on the last leg of his travels. He walked down a clumsily built stone path through wild, magnificent gardens. He was asked to leave his larger bag in his hut and just take his backpack, as the staff offered to carry it. But he declined the hospitality and carried the black hold-all in his left hand. There were huge bell-shaped flowers and other bright plants surrounding the area, displaying a rich array of pastel colours. Morning sunlight shone strongly through the tropical canopy, he refused to put on any sunglasses as this was the last time he would experience such raw, tranquil beauty. He fanned his loose white t-shirt to ventilate himself, as it was dense with humidity in the Ecuadorian rainforest. With his jet black hair still wet from his shower, he looked from side to side, droplets shook off. He knew of the impending sensory deprivation, he would miss this raw expanse deeply. A broad smile was stuck on his face as he headed for the motorised canoe which would be speeding him away from this epic, primal scenery. Bugs buzzed beside him, frogs croaked below, and birds chirped happily in the towering trees above. The whole landscape was alive, nature’s collective breathing orchestra.

The near-by sound of rushing water soon matched up with his vision, as he crossed a small tin bridge and veered round a gradual corner through the moist greenery. Ahead of him lay a huge river about 30 metres wide. Trees leaned over the bank towards the soft rapids, leaf cluttered branches drooped down. Rich brown water ran from Jeremy’s right to left, the opposite direction the canoe would be taking him. This was a major tributary off the Amazon River and was one of the many veins which keep the whole ecosystem alive and thriving.

On his journey inward, three days ago, he witnessed small groups of locals fishing, drinking and bathing in this water. He was curious to know what new things he would see on his 2 hour boat trip back, hopefully some wild animals. The guide had mentioned that this area was home to many snakes, including anacondas. Also jaguars roam these parts alongside a variety of playful monkeys. On the walks he took them he was constantly looking out for some of these larger creatures, but they had evaded the group each day. Jeremy was looking forward to encountering dangerous and fascinating wildlife but luck was not on their side. All they recieved were lectures on special trees and insects, which was interesting but not what Jeremy was seeking. Jay blamed his own misfortune, as this was not the tour he was supposed to be on. He had organised his travel months in advance and had got carried away on previous excursions. After a pleading chat to company officials he was allowed to push back his Amazonian trip dates and came along as an extra during these few days.

It had rained heavily during his sleep, and so today the force of the stream was more powerful. He wished this had happened the night before last, as yesterday they got to float downstream on inflatable inner-tubes. With this current speed it would have been even more thrilling. He grew increasingly close to the boarding area and began to descend some steep steps carved out of the mud. He almost slipped a few times due to the wetness of the ground. The other tourists waited at the bottom and watched in anticipation, they had already ventured down and experienced the hazardous terrain. Although the others would have enjoyed a good laugh, Jeremy slowed and kept his footing, jumping the last step in good spirits and landing with a cool thud on the wooden decking.

“Morning Mr Jay” The native guide greeted Jeremy warmly and shook his hand as soon as he lay his bag down.

“Morning Rik” He nodded to the olive skinned man, much shorter than him.

The guide was born and raised in the jungle. He had long, straight black hair to his broad shoulders. His name was hard to pronounce so he insisted they called him ‘Rik’. A collection of beads lined his neck and wrists, mostly brown and black. A few obscure tattoos were placed on his left leg and right arm. His shorts, t-shirt and trainers showed signs of westernisation, as he now lives in the Amazonian town of Coca.  Coca was relatively modern and was the destination of today’s canoe voyage. It had a small airport which had regular connection to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.

Jeremy, or ‘Jay’ as he liked to be known as, was greeted by the small bunch of people who he had spent the last few days with; a retired couple from Florida, their grown up daughter, and her Ecuadorian fiancĂ©. Alongside and separate to them was a 30 year old Canadian called Natasha. The elderly couple were very relaxed; they were there to experience all of their future son-in-laws country, and were enjoying doing so. They loved to ask questions and get to know people; they were very interested in Jay’s previous travels around South America. The daughter wasn’t as easy going or enthused; she was the definition of ‘High-maintenance’. This phrase was new to the tour guide Rik, and he enjoyed using the term to describe her. She was scared of bugs, jumpy, fussy about food and didn’t like getting dirty. The rainforest was not for her. Micah, her future husband, has the patience of a saint and brilliant dual linguistics. He spoke perfect English and was always willing to translate between cultures. Natasha was an outdoorsy woman who loved to climb and run, she travelled everywhere by herself and had been to many places. She was a healthy and active Canadian looking for adventure.

Jay looked at the boat. It was a basic yet robust canoe which had a row of double metal seats either side, much like a public bus. Behind each seat was a bright orange life vest placed on a hook. There was a walkway between the seats which lead to the motor at the back, where a short native man leaned and waited for the tourists to come on board. Before they moved from the tiny wooden deck they all spotted Rik looking up, the sky was becoming noticeably darker.

“It is going to rain more today, so we give you waterproof to have. First it’s sunny, then it rains. Always warm.  This is why it is Rainforest” Rik smiled, gesturing all around. “Ah!” He remembers something and went towards a box nearby “We also have the pack lunches for you, I give to you now”. He passes brown, crinkled paper bags to each of the six.

Carol, the daughter of the elderly couple, grimaces at the bag of food whilst taking it. Aware that Jay is young, always hungry and eats anything; she passes it to him and says “I somehow doubt I’ll enjoy these sandwiches, perhaps these can go towards filling your hollow legs”.

Rik saw this exchange “Carol, you are so high maintenance!” he looks around to smiling, approving faces. Carol was very self-aware of her unadventurous attitude and was happy to take the joke “I got my cereal bars Rik, I’m happy.”

Jay put both sandwiches inside his backpack, alongside various useful items. This backpack was his life; it contained his wallet, passport and tickets. It also housed a torch, pen knife, binoculars and a few other tools he thought would be useful in the jungle. He checked they were all present and correct before zipping the bag up fully and re-applying it to his shoulders.
The time came to board the boat, and not a moment too soon. Small thuds of water began to descend, echoing off the tin roof which sheltered the rows of seats. The larger bags were taken by the driver and Rik, being placed at the back of the boat near the engine. The tourist’s grabbed their spare luggage and, one after the other, placed a foot on the front of the wobbling canoe and haphazardly descended to the front few sets. Carol, never missing a chance to moan, demanded to be first as her hair might go frizzy. She also didn’t forget to squeal as she placed her heavyset body on the boat, causing it to rock. Jay was last to board and as he did he turned and took in the surroundings one last time.

The boat could have seated 40 people easily but only the six of them were there today, so they took up very little room and had decided the front of the boat was the appropriate place to sit. Jay imagined this was because Carol didn’t enjoy walking on the wobbly surface and sat in one of the nearest seats possible. Rik walked through and smiled down to them, continuing towards the back.

Mike, the elderly gentleman, asked “Will we see any animals on the journey, Rik?”

“I do not know” Rik turned and shrugged. “Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. I hope so as I know you have not seen many. I will look extra hard for you” He points to Mike and grins before continuing towards the driver.

The engine started up nicely and began to churn the water. “To Coca!” Rik shouted, fisting his hand in the air enthusiastically. Jay laughed to himself at how cheesy yet lovable Rik was. The boat performed a U-turn and headed in the opposite direction it was facing.

The engine was pretty noisy so when the family and Natasha begin to chat they had to shout. The conversation soon became retrospective on the trip. They went around describing what the best parts of the three days were.

“I really liked learning to use the spear and blowgun!” decided Joan, the retired lady.

“Only because you beat all the men at it!” Mike sniped, which got a few chuckles.

Being a fan of inappropriately rude banter, Jay suddenly thought of a million jokes about Joan being good with the blowgun. But this was neither the time nor the place and so he laughed silently and continued to listen. The five others were seated in the first four double seats. Micah was in the front left seat and was leaning on the boat’s side, facing inwards and placing one leg on the seat next to him. Carol sat right behind him and his future parent-in-laws were opposite him, sitting together. Behind them was Natasha and behind her sat Jay, leaning forward on the corner of his inner seat. He noticed no one had put on the life vest and so he moved his to the floor so he would have more leg space. The low rumble of the engine was joined with thuds of rain, making it hard for Jay to hear the others.

“What was with that Sharman guy!?” Asked Carol.
Jay decided to include himself “I know! With his ‘cleansing’ ritual!? Blowing smoke at you and whacking you with sticks. I never felt so dirty!” Laughter drowned out the engine’s moan.

“Well he took a special interest in you, Jay!” Mike yelled. “You should have seen his face when he was walking around you! He was muttering something completely unique. It was like he was frightened by you!”

“But also intrigued!” Joan added.

“Yeh. That’s how all the girls feel too, works like a charm!” Jay joked.

“I agree though, even when he was doing his cleansing thing to the others, he had one eye on you, you stole his focus!” Natasha piped up.

Micah moved the discussion on, but still focused on Jay. “Speaking of girls Jay, I bet your favourite time was when we arrived; 40 American college girls staying at camp! A class of environmentalists all loving your stories about the Galapagos!”
“And loving his English accent!” added Carol.

Jay was truthful “Nah, I didn’t get anywhere with them. It was fun trying though! My favourite part was swinging on the vines over that crater! I love the feeling of soaring through the air!”

Natasha had a grin on her face “How about you, Carol!? I can only imagine the cookery class was your most loved experience! Eating grubs and nettles…” she oozed with sarcasm.

Carol pulled a face and replied “Bleurgh, not a chance Tash! Believe it or not I enjoyed the tubing down the river the most! Although I did keep thinking a croc would bite my ass off!”

One croc!? Surely that’s a meal for two. Jay thought to himself and smiled.

They continued to relive the past few days. Jay sank back into his seat and listened, occasionally adding his comments. They discussed the butterfly tent, the night time trek, Tash and Joan’s 24 hour stomach bug, the local indigenous tribes, the farmlands and native school. All of which Jay fondly recalled whilst splitting his concentration between the chit-chat and the whizzing, wet, green river banks going past him. Everyone’s blue waterproof cagoules flapped and flitted wildly in the wind. Jay tried sitting on the majority of his so that this would not be the case, but it was proving to be a futile endeavour. Jay checked his watch.

They had been on the boat for just over half an hour, during this time Jay had felt nothing but fine, fit and healthy. It was only in the last few minutes that he had started to feel uneasy. It began with a tingling, numbing sensation throughout his extremities. This feeling was creeping inwards. It tickled, almost like a giddy version of pins and needles. He was still aware of the situation and the people around him, but every deep breath he took seemed to draw him further and further away. His vision soon seemed to be through a faraway tunnel, surrounded by darkness. He would have panicked if he wasn’t so suddenly exhausted. This state he was in began to feel like a warm cocoon. His eyes fell numb and he drifted into what he assumed was sleep.

A rush of dreams, lots of dreams. Each dream was a fixed realityand an onslaught of new cognitions plagued Jay’s mind. He lost his identity fully and was soon embraced with the lives of thousands throughout time. Each person existing separately and on their own unique path. He began with a multitude of simple, primal existences. He shared their experiences and felt their emotions. He feared what they feared and loved what they loved. As they grew and died, so did Jay. He was then reborn as the next, and in a flash he absorbed all that they were. Everyone he became offered something new and exciting, but linked with similar brain waves and patterns. These thoughts, ideas and questions were expanded and reassessed in each consecutive life. They became more meaningful and coherent, they were collected and produced a more complex consciousness. As Jays mind automatically consumed this information, nothing else entered. He had pure belief in that, with each person, this is who he was. When they die he was certain he would die, as this would be his one and only life. Lives began to last longer than the previous ones. His surroundings began to evolve alongside his thought processes. Once death crept up, Jay would start again with a fresh innocence and a repeated ideology.

His streamlined and synchronised perceptions soon began to overload his mind, after he had consumed a vast amount of memories he soon understood that he was, in fact, not these people and began to skip through them in growing quantities. He simply took all appropriate learning from each and skipped to live the more important parts of the next. The more he knew, the more he knew he knew. All this deep, empowering knowledge brimmed over his subconscious and seeped into his immediate thought processes. He no longer felt he was on auto-pilot and a slow realisation came over him as he flickered in and out of the lives of ancient strangers. He soon understood that all these humans were connected mentally somehow, but how seemed inexplicable.

The surrounding society and habitat of these identities started to remind him of a person he once knew, or perhaps once was. History unfolded around these individuals and Jay took in all that his weakening mind could allow. Jay swam through the streamlined realities to find a desirable distant light within a buzzing, dense tunnel. He took to it, struggling to reach it as his mind chewed on an incomprehensible amount of substance. As his mind broke the surface a deep freeze encased it. All that he had witnessed, all of what had just happened, was unfixing. To Jay’s immediate awareness, the complex involvement and synchronicity he had just been driven though had vanished. It found the ability to sink and bury itself amongst his subconscious, paving over itself with ignorance. Although the whole trauma may have become oblivious to Jay, his mind and body now possessed an invaluable asset. 

Jay awoke. Now feeling truly exhausted, it was like he had been away from the boat for a million years. He knew that horrible post-nap feeling all too well, he was a student for 2 years after all, but this seemed unreal. His mind was reeling. He was convinced he had left something behind. He re-checked his bag but the sensation of urgency would not leave. He checked his watch, the time made no sense. He checked his mobile’s clock to reconfirm. It had not shifted since his episode of unconsciousness; it was actually a minute behind from when he last checked. Although truly perplexed, he decided this chill of eeriness was useless and decided to get a grip. Jay re-focused on the group and attempted to word his confusion.

“Honestly Joan, the spider was this big!” Mike shaped a circle with his hands.

“Well I’m almost glad I was ill that night!”

“Hey Guys!” Jay inserted “Did any of you guys feel weird a minute a go” He decided to go at a less insane direction “Err I mean, did you see me fall asleep just then!?”

The others looked blankly at him. Natasha turned and rose her voice over the motor and rain “You have been quiet for about a minute or two, that’s it. I highly doubt you’ve managed to sleep in that time!” She looked at him curiously.

Still confused, he nodded and retreated from the conversation, he thought back. He was awake, he felt weird and then drifted off. But no time had passed since the funny tingling sensation he felt. He struggled to remember what he had dreamt about, as he was convinced this was vitally important. An image had stayed imprinted in his memory. Before he came back to his senses, the face of an old friend was there. Someone from school in his home town, they shared the same friends and still saw each other from time to time. He had even gone to the same university and for the first few months they had been pretty inseparable. Jay had to repeat his first year studying English and had lost all faith in higher education after another year of it. He found it hard to motivate himself and really just wanted to go into a career and earn himself a living. Because of this they lost touch but Jay still considered him a close acquaintance. Jay wondered why, of all people, that guy was playing on his mind.

Jay couldn’t shake the lingering feeling of uncertainty and confusion. He decided to try and get lost in the landscape, lush vegetation flew by either side. He looked far in the distance ahead, as the river turned a corner he spotted three dark-skinned individuals wearing little clothing. Standing amongst the trees off to the far left, they stood still and watched the incoming boat. They were quite a distance away and Jay was surprised at himself for being able to pick them out, especially through the streaks of rain. Jay wondered what possessed them to be there, not fishing or looking productive what so ever. The minute the boat grew close enough, and Jay could focus on what tools they were holding, he detected a jolt of impending trouble. His heart began to race.

A whizzing noise cut through the falling rain and Jay unknowingly reacted. As Jay hit the floor, hands over his head, he looked up to see a spear-head hit the back of his chair with a loud metallic clang. Red exploded all around, drenching Jay’s cagoule. Jay lay silent and an internal ringing seemed deafening. Above this ringing Jay could make out screams of panic. As he gaped up at the spear, which had plummeted through Natasha’s skull, her body went limp. Her head fell back, the spear moved and produced a hideous grainy scratch against the chair. It had pierced just above her left eye, now blank and bloodshot, and drove steeply through her neck. The spear would have entered Jay’s stomach. What happened next seemed to lack any sense, order or emotion and went at a super-slow pace.

The driver’s first thought was to hastily avoid a second attack and began to swerve the canoe away sharply. A noise of distant popping followed this movement, and suddenly carol was in front of Jay, lying on the floor with six darts in the left of her body. Two were protruding from her neck and the rest were fastened deep into her arm. She screamed for a second and then lay gormless and still. Jay wasn’t sure if she was tranquilized or poisoned. The boat had sped far away, but the men’s accuracy was rivalled with their determination. More deadly items were hurled at the boat, thuds hit the metalic side. Everyone had lowered themselves now and seemed fully focused on survival. Jay turned to see the driver on his knees and steering the boat blindly near the opposite river bank to the enemy. From seeing this Jay wormed his way to his life jacket, covering his entire body with the pool of Natasha’s blood. He slipped the vest on under his waterproof with extreme efficiently and braced himself.

Rik was huddled amongst the luggage. He was next to the other native, mouth open in disbelief. The old couple had crawled to Carol’s aid and began frantically plucking out the colourful feathered darts, throwing them close to Jay. They didn’t speak but had tears rolling down their distressed faces. Micah had squeezed himself under the metal bench he was sat on and was facing the floor below him, his arms shielding his face. Rik could see the river bank was getting close and worried of a collision, he poked his head up curiously. A huge rock pelted him in the face and he slumped into the driver. The rock had been thrown from the nearby bank, which meant that they were being culled by individuals on both sides. With this information, Jay’s instincts willed him to conjure up a plan. Jays next few actions were the result of selfishness and cowardice, but were remarkably thought through. This kamikaze mission he was about to desperately attempt would look stupid, feel stupid and required a hell of a lot of luck.

One after the other Jay plunged the discarded darks into his back. They stood rigid and stiff, the orange and red feathers poked noticeably against the blue cagoule. Jay then heard consecutive clunks of shallow pebbles below the boat before it finally zoomed into a tree which had grown outwards over the river. The boat went up and tipped 200 degrees to the left; Jay grabbed his backpack and clung. To avoid getting trapped underneath the canoe he launched himself into the churning water, knocking himself on the tree trunk and lifelessly rolling to be face down in the stream. With his body slightly bruised he held his breath and began to float. The blood he was covered in turned the strong white ripples pink. The current was taking him backwards, towards the way he came. He didn’t dare make any movement, apart from bobbing his head up to gasp a fresh mouthful of air. His waterproof hood was up shielding this from view. He had so far accomplished two animal instincts which were considered highly successful; to flee and to play dead. He was completely unaware of the whereabouts of the killers. They had spotted him had collectively drawn a conclusion. All they could see was a body issuing large amounts of blood, with a multitude of deadly darks in its back. They allowed this body to pass and put all their focus on the more animated characters among the wreckage. Jay hoped to god that the darts were still present, as he couldn’t feel them through the back of his life jacket that he had placed them in.
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