Villagers were being dragged to the tree line. In the darkness Jim and I couldn’t see what was going on. We were frozen by the sounds of terror, and it was lucky we were. As the villagers got to the trees, the jungle reached out and took them.
“Did you see what I just saw?” I remember asking Jim.
“That can’t be right.”
Jim knelt down next to the remains of a fire and started breathing life back into it. I clutched my weapon in a death grip, but no one seemed to be interested in us at the moment. Some of the villagers were pleading with those who were pulling people to the trees, but they weren’t getting any response. One wrinkled old lady threw a child into the underbrush and then turned and grabbed a full grown man. He struggled, but somehow he didn’t seem to be able to break the woman’s grip.
Sparks started rising into the night as Jim got the fire going again. There was a supply of wood nearby, so within a minute there was enough light to see more of what was happening. The sick villagers, who hours before hadn’t been able to stand, were the ones dragging off their neighbors.
Jim pulled a burning log from the fire and walked towards the commotion. I tried to call out after him, but he didn’t seem to hear me.
“Jim,” I said. “Stay back, those are the sick people.”
“Don’t look at them,” he said. “Look at the forest.”
With that he tossed the burning branch at the trees. Orange light and shadows wrapped around leaves and tree trunks. The sick villagers weren’t disturbed in the slightest by the sudden light, but the forest was another story. The trees shook, scattering leaves down on the crowd. As I looked closer, I saw the trees weren’t moving on their own.
“Jim look out, it’s the vines.”
Leafy cords were woven through the edge of the jungle. Each one thick as a full grown python, they didn’t look like any vines I’d ever seen, even discounting their size. They were too green, and instead of being wooden, they were fleshy and soft. They were also moving.
Jim didn’t have time to get out of the way. The vines went into a frenzy when the torch landed near them. You’ve seen plants move I’m sure. Slowly turning to face the sun, or maybe even a Venus flytrap closing, but this was different. The vines reared up away from the flames and one snaked out and knocked Jim off his feet.
As the vine started wrapping around his legs, I reached him. Not knowing what else to do, I hit the vine with the stick I was still holding. At first I thought it hadn’t done anything at all, but then I saw I succeeded in making it angry.
The plant twisted and I threw myself back just in time to avoid being hit. Two other vines shot towards us, each ending in a flower. A long curving thorn as thick as two of my fingers extended from the petals. The scent of the flowers was overpowering. My head throbbed and my vision clouded.
Somehow Jim managed to get to his feet and shouted for me to head to the fire. Pulling branches from the blaze, we tossed them around in a circle. The shifting orange and yellow light made it almost impossible to see into the shadows at the edge of the jungle. We huddled behind our sputtering wall of fire all night, listening to the screams of the villagers and the sounds of bodies being dragged off into the trees.
I’m too tired to write any more. I’m going to go to bed early and finish the story tomorrow. Remember Marx, I’ve got the proof. I’m not trusting it in the mail though. I’m going to hand deliver it to you in New York.