October 28th, 2010
I don’t know if this letter will reach you. We’ve been out of cell range for over two weeks. This is why I asked you to spring for a satellite phone before I left. I’m sending you this by way of a disreputable looking boatman. By disreputable I mean I’m pretty sure he’s some kind of smuggler or drug runner. He was missing most of his teeth and smoking the nastiest cigar I’ve ever smelled, but Jim seemed to think he was trustworthy. He sent two letters back downriver with the man and insisted I follow suit.
We reached the village we were making for in record time. While it gives new meaning to the phrase the middle of nowhere, neither the two of us nor the boatman were the first to make contact. It is like the world’s creepiest episode of National Geographic out here. Most of the time the locals just stand still and stare at us, and don’t even get me started on their idols. Giant faces carved and painted into wood, the expressions ranging from gruesome to maniacal. It’s even more disturbing because the villagers themselves are almost always expressionless, even the children.
Jim seems to speak a little of a language that some of the tribesmen know, so communication limps along. Apparently they worship some kind of forest god. At first Jim was really excited because what they were describing sounded snakelike—he thought he’d managed to track down his couatl—but it’s some kind of plant.
Who knows, maybe we’ll discover some new species and get famous.
October 31st, 2010
I’m writing this and not even sure how I’m going to get it to you. I had to write down the events of the past few days so I can keep them straight in my head, even though I’m not sure I want to. Jim and I have spent our days at the village hiking through the surrounding jungle. By unspoken agreement, we’ve kept out time spent alone to a minimum. Everywhere we go, even deep in the wilderness, we can feel eyes on us.
I thought it was just me, but if even a veteran woodsman like Jim is feeling uneasy, it has to mean something. Whenever we get separated, there seems to be a tribesman watching us. I’m beginning to think there’s something behind the strange behavior of the villagers, maybe some sickness.
One of the hunters collapsed today, eyes rolled back in his head and everything. The rest of the villagers pounced on him in seconds and started chanting some word that Jim didn’t know as they carried him into one of their huts. When Jim asked the chief what the chant meant he said he didn’t understand the question. I’m worried he might be lying. Even though I couldn’t understand what he said, there was no mistaking his tone. I think it’s the only time I’ve seen one of the villagers excited.
I know there’s no such thing as Halloween here, but that isn’t helping me keep my calm. Jim and I have decided we’ve got to get word out. With the villagers wrapped up in their chanting, there aren’t as many hunters following us around. I think Jim has been hiding how worried he’s been by not pointing out when he spots a tail.
We’ve scouted the path we came into the village by. When we left the river, it seemed well traveled. At least that’s how I remember it. But it took us half the day yesterday to even find the trail. In the few days we’ve been here the jungle has almost swallowed it whole. Jim thinks we can take advantage of that to lose the villagers. He’ll draw them off and I’ll get a letter to the river. I just hope I can find another boatman.
Included with this letter are our coordinates, at least as close as Jim could estimate. Just in case.