I didn't actually feel scared until I saw the gashes in the tree... Then the dried blood all around it. Someone...or something, had clawed the SOS. Whatever it was had to be gargantuan. The SOS etched into the tree was bigger than my hand, which meant the owner of the claw marks had to be more than twice my size.
All around the jungle we could hear the sounds of wild life. Birds, insects, primates; All calling out to each other. Was it a warning, or just communication as usual? Lauren brought me back to reality; “Hey, we need to find a place to rest. It’s nearing sun down, and Mikey is getting tired.”
“Okay,” I said. It was all I could muster at the time. I couldn’t say any more, and risk them hearing the sound of fear in my voice. I’m the man here; I have to be strong for them; That’s my job.
We had been trudging through a shallow quagmire for 20 minutes when Mikey said, “Bubby, I’m too tiwed to walk.”
“Okay, I can carry you the rest of the way,” I replied with false enthusiasm. I wanted Mikey to think everything was fine, and that there was nothing to worry about. But there was; We were lost in the jungle with only a few granola bars and Mikey’s sippy-cup, which was half full of milk. The mosquitos were enough to drive us all insane, but that was nothing in comparison to the other denizens of the jungle.
“Look!” Lauren shouted “I can see solid ground ahead through the mist!”
“Thank God. Let’s see if it’s dry enough to rest on.”
When we reached the bank, we were no more well off than we were in the quagmire. It was just as muddy, and the mosquitos were just as bad. We saw a chimpanzee sitting awkwardly with its back against a tree. I bent down so Mikey could get off my back. I said, “Stay with Lauren. Bubby’s gonna gotta go check something out, okay?”
“Why can’t I come?” He sounded disheartened, so I had to make up a lie that he would buy. I couldn’t tell him what I really thought.
“Because it might be dangerous for you to go near it. I think it’ll be okay, but I need to find out for sure.”
I pulled out my pocket knife and approached the chimp. As I got close I saw that it was, at the very least, badly injured, and probably dead. I tapped it on the shoulder, but got no response. I turned around and started back toward Mikey and Lauren when I heard the chimp whimper and cry. I wheeled around quickly and saw it struggling to rise to its feet. I ran back to it and helped it up, then walked it back to Lauren and Mikey.
“What the heck is that?” Lauren demanded.
“It’s a chimp Lauren, and it’s badly injured. I couldn’t just leave it there to die. Its left leg is broken and bleeding profusely. Quick, give me something to stop the bleeding!”
She looked around for some kind of cloth to use, but we didn’t have a blanket or sweatshirt. She thought, “Okay. It’s either the pant legs, or the shirt.” Without giving it a second thought, she ripped her pant legs off up past her knees. She caught me staring and said, “Quit looking at me, you idiot! Wrap one of these around his leg, and we’ll save the other for later.”
The only idea I had of how to dress a wound came from watching war movies, so I probably didn’t do the best job. The chimp’s bone was protruding through the left thigh, and without hesitation, I pushed it back in. The chimp cried and thrashed about furiously for a few seconds before passing out. It punched me in the nose, so I told Lauren to wrap the pant leg around the chimp’s leg.
I went to the edge of the swamp and washed my face in the water. As I was doing it I thought, “I hope this water is clean. It might be better to have blood on my face than to get dysentery.”
I came back to Mikey and Lauren. She had just finished up bandaging the ape’s leg when she turned to me. She looked shocked. “What’s the matter,” I asked, “is something on my face?”
“Ummm... Don’t freak out, Matt...but look.”
She held her pocket-sized mirror up to my face, and I was shocked. My nose was a half-inch to the right of where it should have been. “Oh my God,” I said, feeling nauseated, “I look like Owen Wilson.”
“Quit messing around, Matt! We have to get that fixed, or it could heal itself that way.”
“Okay, then fix it.”
“Okay,” she said, “But you’d better sit down, because you might pass out.”
I sat down with my back against a tree. Lauren kneeled down on top of me with her legs to the side. She brought her face really close to mine, and put her hands on my head. For a moment I thought she was going to kiss me. I thought wrong; She put her thumb on my nose, and with a disgusting “crack,” it was back in place. For a moment I couldn’t make a sound because it hurt too bad. Then it came out; “Owww! Son of a...!”
“Hey, you better watch your mouth around Mikey. Wait...Where is Mikey?”
We looked around, frantically calling to him. At that moment the thought of the deep claw marks in the tree came to my mind. I told her we should spilt up and look for him, so we went separate ways. I eventually found that he was sitting down by the ape; Right where we had left him.
“Good boy, Mikey,” I said, “thank you for staying by the monkey.”
“His name is Phiwip,” Mikey replied, matter-of-factly.
“So you named him, huh? That’s just great. Now I suppose you’l want to keep him as a pet?”
“Well duhh! At weast until we find his mom and dad.”
I didn’t reply because, just then, I realized Lauren wasn’t back yet. I tried not to worry about her too much. “She’s a big girl, she can take care of herself,” I told myself. But could she really?
These woods have been a nightmare so far, and that was with me and Mikey. She must be terrified, out there all alone. I decided there was only one thing we could do; We had to go find her.
Mikey and I started following my tracks back to where Lauren and I had been sitting. He insisted that we bring “Philip” along. The young ape could walk, but not very fast. Neither could Mikey, for that matter, but I couldn’t carry them both. I was forced to walk much slower than I would have liked. Because of the fog, we couldn’t see more than 5 feet in front of us.
We eventually got to the tree where Lauren and I sat, and I found where her tracks veered off from mine. We started following them, and eventually they went into a shallow bog, where we could only guess as to which way she went. Logic would suggest that she went straight through it, but I couldn’t be sure. Despite my uncertainty, I decided we should just go straight across.
Philip started being loud and demonstrative for God only knows what. I didn’t think much of it, except this was the first time he had made a sound since I pushed his leg bone back into place. His screaming became louder and more intense until he ran up a tree.
“Wait, Phiwip!” Mikey cried, “Come back this instant!”
Philip jumped from tree to tree, apparently in search of something. I didn’t see what, but he was definitely chasing something. Then I saw it. I don’t know what “it” was, but I saw it. And it was camouflaged, like a character in “HALO,” a video game I grew up playing.
It was completely invisible while stationary, but the light reflected off it differently when it moved. The general shape was humanoid, but it was much larger than a human. It was easily 7 or 8 feet tall, and must have weighed over 200 pounds. The trees moved and groaned as it jumped around. I heard Lauren scream from somewhere in the trees, and I knew what happened. That creature took her, probably with the worst intentions.
I knew I had to help her, but there was no way I could climb that tree and get to her. I made a decision, and didn’t think very long about it. I whipped out my pocket knife and threw it up to Philip. The throw was a little off, but Philip somehow caught it. The creature that captured Lauren was fast, but Philip was born to race from tree branch to tree branch.
I ran along the jungle floor, carrying Mikey because he was to slow to keep up, and following the thing that fled from Philip. It was only a matter of time before he overtook them, but that was not my concern. My concern was whether Philip realized the creature was carrying Lauren, and that the camouflage was somehow acting on her.
I eventually lost track of the creature, but I knew Philip still knew where it was. Doubtless, it was what had attacked and badly injured Philip. He now had a personal bone to pick with this thing. He jumped forward suddenly and collided with something. I heard the collision from the jungle floor, which had to be 2 stories below where they were.
I saw Lauren fall, and I was under her in a couple seconds. I braced for the impact, and wham! I caught her, and she knocked me on my back. I just laid there for a moment, enjoying her being on top of me, but then I remembered the mortal combat going on above. I rolled over to where I was on top and said, “Wait here. I’m going to get Mikey.”
I got up and ran over to Mikey, picking him up and taking him back to where Lauren still sat. Together, we watched as the alien and Philip engaged in a battle to the death. Philip had the advantage of speed, but the predator was far stronger. We continued watching, knowing that there would be nothing left for us to do if Philip failed.
As the fight seemed to favor the predator, a troop of 6 or more apes fell upon the predator. It had no chance against such forces, and was beaten to death in seconds. Afterward, they returned to their place far away in the jungle, but Philip remained with us. We still didn’t know the way out of the jungle, but things would be a little easier now that we weren’t being hunted. I looked at Lauren, and she back at me, and I knew everything would be just fine.