The air was unusually warm and humid when Jane and I took the first step out of the jeep. Sunlight filtered through the thick forest canopy. We started our search with no clues, but as explorers, our natural instinct guided us through the monstrous overgrowth. It was as though something was calling out for us, from deep within the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Follow your intuition, as Jane, my partner had always said. So we pressed on, venturing into the unknown.
It took an eternity before the both of us finally stumbled upon a muddy trail of footprints, signs of human activity. I was staring blankly at the river ahead when Jane’s pair of sharp eyes caught something. A distance away, what seemed like a human figure was darting across the jungle with a net filled with fish. Without delay, Jane and I followed the man from behind, making sure we stayed out of earshot. Slowly and painfully, we struggled to keep up, the endless dangling vines and low branches hindering our every move.
I was close to collapsing due to the unbearable heat and humidity when Jane let out a cry of excitement. I turned my head. Almost instantly, my overwhelming exhaustion was overtaken by indescribable joy as the tribe’s settlement came into sight. Then I felt a pair of heavy hands falling on my shoulders. I froze. At that point, my mind went blank when two huge guards forcefully dragged us to the largest tribe hut. Trouble. We thought. Deep trouble.
To my surprise, the tribe leader welcomed our arrival warmly. Unable to communicate verbally, the three of us resorted to hand signs.
“We come in peace,” we gestured, careful not to offend the leader.
The man, tall and dark, replied with a creepy, broad smile. Nodding approvingly, he struck the ground hard with his solid-looking staff thrice, gathering the entire tribe. The tribe leader announced something before the crowd cheered and yelled. This is peculiar. I thought. Looking at how the tribe was dressed and listening to how the leader spoke, Jane and I concluded that this must be an unknown tribe, previously unheard of. This day was a great milestone for explorers like us — to discover a new tribe.
Night came swiftly. Busy learning everything there was to learn about the tribe’s culture, Jane and I were completely oblivious to the large bonfire the tribesmen were setting ablaze. The truth struck us at last when the shaman started performing a dancing ritual around the fire, his mouth spouting out strange incantations. It was a sacrificial ritual, and we were the offerings. Fear flooded my senses.
Time was running out as Jane and I, our hands bound by tough vines, were brought to the bonfire at the center of the settlement. The gathering crowd was getting excited just like how the Romans did as the gladiators slowly approached the ferocious beasts. Now, the 10-foot-tall flames were glaring at me, a demonic beast with an almost insatiable hunger for human flesh. To my side, Jane had already given up, her eyes closed and ready to accept her fate. Even with the tribesmen’s synchronized chanting growing stronger and the shaman shaking violently in a trance-like state, I heard nothing. Everything was a deathly silence, all but the beast taunting madly at me. I need a miracle. My heart whispered faintly.
Reluctantly, I shut my eyes tightly as death drew closer and closer. With that, the tiny spark of wishful thinking in me died out. Then, a bolt of lightning split the earth in half, the dark sky exploding with a few thunder strikes before rain started falling. Tears were raining heavily down my cheeks as I watched the sudden downpour wash away the last of the dying ember in the most spectacular battle between good and evil. Mass confusion and panic soon took over. I wasted no time, freeing myself from the constrains after being miraculously granted tremendous strength. Jane was on the ground, unconscious. My window of opportunity was closing moment the frenzied tribe realized their sacrificial offering was escaping. Wiping the tears away, I made a painful decision. I abandoned my partner, and sprinted to the nearby river as fast as I could manage, without looking back.
At the edge of the beautiful, seemingly endless Amazon river, a small wooden boat caught my attention. Without second thoughts, my nervous, trembling hands hastily loosened the rope securing the boat to the river bank. Thought my legs were burning with agonizing pain, the little energy that was left of me helped me into the vessel. The steady current drifted the boat farther and farther away, the comforting sound of flowing water gradually drowning out the screams of anger from afar. I let out a sigh of relief. My mind was still struggling to recover after the narrow escape. Slowly, it drifted into oblivion.
Upon regaining my consciousness, I found myself lying on a cozy bed. Sitting beside the warm fire was an old man, gently sipping a cup of tea. Patiently, he retold how he had rescued me from the cold river and nursed me back to health. Unfortunately, according to the retired fisherman, nothing else out of the ordinary swept past the fishing village. Jane was gone. The chaos in my mind settled, yet memories of what happened back there were crystal clear, vivid and haunting. It was truly an unusual encounter, and a story I was dying to share with the rest of the world.