The Swamp (Part Four)

Hendricks felt like he had been going for twenty hours straight now. It was difficult at times to tell where the sun was in the sky because of the denseness of the forest canopy. He knew that he needed to keep heading North, but without a horizon, he was just guessing most of the time.

Tripping constantly over exposed roots and deadfalls, pushing aside stray vines and whipping branches, swatting incessantly at the buzzing flies, gnats, bees, mosquitos, and God knows what the fuck else flying through the air. These fuckers really stung too, damn them, thought the escapee, after one especially big cocksucker flew straight in at him and injected its probiscus straight into his fucking throat. Twenty minutes later his throat swelled up and with steadily mounting, throbbing pain began to constrict his airway, until he dropped to the forest floor, grabbing at his throat, wheezing and fighting for breath. After a few minutes, he passed out.

When he woke up the swelling had gone down a bit and he was able to take some large, deep breaths and eventually, he sat up, leaning against a tree trunk. He rubbed his throat, which still hurt like crazy. He looked down at the crusty blood in his hand. That's when he felt them.

He looked down and a muted, hoarse scream tried to get out of his mouth as he realized that he was now literally covered with ants. Hormigas de Fuego. Tropical fire ants. He swatted at them, trying to brush them off as he struggled to get up, slipping on a root and cracking his knee against the tree trunk.

Hendricks cried out, or tried to through his swollen throat. He kept trying to bat the ants off but he knew with a sense of growing desperation that it was a hopeless task. The layer of ants on his arms and legs, and oh my god, between his legs and inside his pants looked like a blood red carpet.

Hendricks ran a few yards, grunting in pain at each fresh bite, which seemed to come every split second. He saw a glimmer of water between fallen logs and he dove for it.

The pool was covered with algae and greenish, but it was surprisingly deep, engulfing the tall man, who never hit bottom. The relief on his skin was immediate, and he could literally see the fire ants floating to the surface as they drowned. Hendricks looked around in the dirty water, trying to adjust his eyes. He saw a flash of light coming up at him from below, sort of like sunlight going the wrong way. He floated to the surface, took a deep breath, then dove down again, swimming strongly to the light source.

He found a rock wall with his hands and crawled down along it, getting closer to the light. At last he felt a large jagged hole, the entrance to an underground tunnel of some sort, and the source of the light. He went in, guiding himself with his arms against the horizontal tunnel. Yes, he could see that it was indeed a tunnel. He could see the end, too, just up ahead, dazzling with refracted light. Ten feet later he exited the tunnel and, lungs bursting, swam up to the brightness until he emerged, sputtering and coughing. He paddled his way to the banks, pulling himself up, exhausted at the effort.

He turned over, sucking in air, eyes closed.

Hendricks opened his eyes. He looked up and was surprised to see that he was in some sort of natural cave, or cavern. The ceiling was way high up, over a hundred feet, and it must have been perforated because natural light, lots of it, came down in rays. But Hendricks could now see that the sides of the cave were glistening. He approached the cave walls and ran his hand over it. It felt like glass. Glass embedded in rock.

Hendricks suddenly stepped away, his eyes wide.

He came back and ran his hand over it. No mistake. Had to be. A diamond. Or rather, diamonds.

He then noticed other flashes from the wall. He ran over and touched them. More diamonds, some huge as small boulders, but none smaller than ten karats at least, he thought, calculations running through his head.

Then he stood back for a moment and looked at the vast rock rising up and noticed that the entire wall was covered in what looked like twinkling lights.

Hendricks fell to his knees and laughed and laughed and laughed. He would have appeared to anyone looking on like some sort of madman. But he just couldn't stop thinking, how funny it was, because, you know, he thought it had to be late December and damn if those lights didn't look just like Christmas.

Hendricks pulled himself together quickly, realizing that now he had absolutely no choice but to survive at all costs.

He had to get out of the jungle. He had to escape.

So he could hurry up and come back as soon as he could.

to be continued.

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Comments 2 comments

valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Talk about a literal gold mine. Interesting twist. The red aunt part was pretty gross, but I guess all is well that ends well. (: v

bludstream profile image

bludstream 6 years ago Author

When I was a kid in Florida I sat on a red ant hill and was bitten several hundred times, so that is an event that could and does happen, especially in the jungle.

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