November 10th, 2010
I already sent you this in a letter from a trading post up river, but I managed to get reception up on this ridge. Somehow after everything my cell is still working. I’m sending you the info to be sure it reaches you. What you’re about to read is going to sound totally insane, but just keep in mind as you read it that I have proof.
The wording in the letter might be a little different, but I hope I have all the details in this copy. I wish I could say the events weren’t as fresh in my mind, but I’m never going to be able to forget what happened in that village.
You know the first part of the story already. At least you do if my Halloween letter reached you. I managed to get to the river and flag down a boatman. When I told him where I’d come from, he tried to get me to come with him. He wouldn’t say why and I wish he had, but I couldn’t abandon Jim Adamson in the middle of the jungle.
As I pushed my way back up towards the village looking for Jim, the jungle on every side was filled with rustling. At first I thought it was the hunters from the villages, but they moved through the undergrowth in silence. As the noises got closer, I was worried it was some animal. Eventually my fear of whatever was out there overcame my fear of being found and I called out for Jim.
The noises stopped immediately and a minute later they were replaced by the sound of Jim crashing towards me. A half dozen hunters were right on his heels and they surrounded us both. Since only the chief and Jim could really communicate, our protests that we wanted to leave went unanswered. The tribesmen herded us back to the village. Where there’d been celebration, many of the villagers now seemed uneasy, including the chief.
The man who’d collapsed wasn’t the only one. A third of the village was bed ridden. The chief was only able to get across that something was very wrong. When he and Jim finished talking, the hunters surrounded us again. Jim and I talked quietly, even though no one could understand us anyway. Here’s what we said as best as I can remember it.
“Why won’t they let us leave?”
“This is supposed to be some kind of holy time for them,” Jim said. “Once a generation or something like that. The chief said something about his father’s time. Or maybe it was his grandfather.”
“Okay, maybe they should let us go so they can have their holy whatever in peace,” I said.
“Something’s wrong. Only one person is supposed to get sick, something to do with their forest god.”
“A lot more than one person is sick.”
“Do they blame us?”
“The chief isn’t giving me the whole story, or maybe he can’t. But yeah I think they’re starting to blame us.”
Jim and I sat there and didn’t make a move until nightfall. We decided the cover of darkness would help us make a break for it. Jim was all about finding his couatl, but you have to make it back home to report findings.
With huge trees on every side, it was dark long before the sun actually set. The villagers mainly kept to their tents, the cries of the sick breaking the usual silence. Jim and I pretended to be asleep for hours and eventually the hunters were fooled. Most of them left, leaving only two to watch over us. I was waiting for some kind of signal from Jim when he burst up from the ground, knocking one of our guards out cold with a log. Before the second could even react, Jim had tackled him to the ground.
I scrambled to my feet and grabbed a log myself. The struggle hadn’t exactly been silent, so I was waiting for hunters to rush us. As Jim knocked the second guard out and his cries of alarm were silenced, we realized he wasn’t the only one screaming.