“We need to get out of here,” I yelled.
Jim didn’t argue, but he did stop long enough to chop one of the flowers off the nearest vine. As soon as the bloom fell away, the vine shuddered like it was in pain and pulled back out of reach. All across the clearing, vines rose up into the air like a nest of giant vipers. Jim grabbed the flower and barreled into me. Together we crashed through the jungle. I narrowly avoided the grasping fingers of the old woman.
She wasn’t the only one trying to reach us. The villagers staggered after us, bumping into trees and each other. They moved with a single purpose, and racing along behind them, the vines shot through the forest. We were almost to the village and I thought we were going to make it when I saw vines coming out of the underbrush in front of us.
I threw myself aside as the vines shot towards us like arrows. The thick plants crashed into trees as they missed, shattering bark and splitting limbs. I got to my feet, turning to Jim to give him a grin at our luck. The smile melted off my face when I saw a vine wrapped around his midsection.
Grabbing his knife from where it’d been thrown to the ground, I charged and drove the point into the soft plant flesh. Part of the vine unwrapped from Jim and turned towards me. A large flower, the petals two feet long, unfolded, revealing a nest of wicked, curved thorns.
The flower lashed out, striking like a cobra. Pain flared in my leg as one of the thorns sunk deep into the muscle. Reaching down, I pulled it out and tossed it to the ground. I turned back and saw Jim being dragged back into the jungle towards the waiting arms of the corrupted villagers. He tossed me the flower, and I’ll never forget what he said.
“Name it after me, won’t you?”
I grabbed the blossom and stumbled into the village. The sounds of the vines moving through the forest were already fading, but the tribe stayed huddled in their huts. No one looked at me, let alone tried to stop me, as I made my way down towards the river. It was almost another two days before I was able to flag down a fishing boat that left me here.
Staying awake is becoming more and more difficult. The wound in my leg must be infected. They had a small supply of antibiotics here, and they’re almost gone. I’ve chartered a boat to take me downriver. Once I get back to the city I can get real medical attention. I still have the flower with me. We can run tests on it. I’ll stake my career on the fact that no one has ever seen anything like it. See you soon.
Postscript: José Marco died on a small fishing trawler on the Amazon River of unknown causes. When his body arrived in New York, there was a decomposed flower in the casket. It was too degraded to analyze, but the basic structure did not fit any known flora taxonomy. All attempts to identify the tributary that Mr. Marco refers to in his writings have been unsuccessful due to inexact coordinates. Jim Adamson has not been seen since October, 2010.