Into the Darkness
I picked my way along. The path was obscured by overgrown shrubs and fallen leaves and I had a hard time seeing it. The dense forest canopy kept out not only the sun but the breeze as well, and the air was completely without movement. It was like being covered by a heavy blanket, and I had difficulty taking a breath.
It was also quiet. There were no birds calling. I would expect in a tropical jungle like this to hear shrieking monkeys and see them swinging from limb to limb, but there was no movement or sound of any kind except those of my trudging feet. My heart began to race, which was odd since my pace was slow, and I felt the hairs an my neck standing up.
“This is ridiculous,” I said. I hoped the sound of my own voice would alleviate my increasing apprehension.
“There is no reason to be scared. Look, this is just a forest — a bunch of trees– and this is Lemuria, for goodness sake, and this forest is just… it’s just a representation of your unconscious.” I tried to remember what I had read in the past about Jungian archetypes and dream interpretations. “Yeah, the forest represents your unconcious and you’re just dreaming. You’re probably asleep right now back home and you’ll wake up any minute.”
I heard a rustle to my right, about ten yards away. I stopped dead and stared at a large bunch of giant taro plants. Their waxy green leaves were still.
“It’s okay, it’s okay. Just the sound of an animal. Finally, some normal jungle noises.” I took a step forward but kept an eye on the place where I head the noise. Then I heard the snap of wood to my left.
“Who’s there!” I spun towards the sound.
A figure leaned against the mottled gray trunk of a banyan. I could not see the person’s features. In fact, he — or she — was completely black and had a fuzzy quality as if it was not altogether materialized. Before I could say another word, the shadow figure disappeared in front of me, seemingly downward into the immense bulging roots of the banyan.
I gasped and tensed to run. Then something occurred to me: I had run from the faceless conductor at the train station on Temple Island. I had tried to escape from the megalodon on Cetea’s Revenge. I seemed to be always trying to evade the dark parts of my psyche. Not this time. I turned towards the place where the figure had disappeared.
“Excuse me. Can we talk?”
There was no response.
“I know who you are. You’re the Dark Stranger. You’re part of me. I know that whenever I see you, then I’m about to move up to a new level of understanding. ”
I heard a rustle in the brush.
“Yeah, c’mon on out. I’m on way to the Shrine of Wandering Poets. You wanna come? It’ll be fun.”
I heard a soft ping followed by a swoosh. An arrow rushed past my ear and lodged with a quivering thunk in the tree behind me.
I’m being shot at? Holy crud! No, no, no, I will not be afraid. I can’t be hurt here. I raised my arms half-way up in front of my body and took a step towards the place where the arrow came.
“Look, dude, let’s just talk about this, okay? No need to shoot at me. How about I buy you a cup of coffee. I hear there’s a great little cafe next to the Shri—”
I felt the impact of the arrow before I felt the pain. I fell back a step and reached my hand to my shoulder. Blood was already oozing out of the gash and a searing pain radiated down my arm.
“What are you doing!!!” I don’t know if I got an answer because I was already on the run. Instinctively, I headed for cover and tore through the thicket of giant taro leaves. Another arrow swooshed by. I heard movement behind me. I pushed through the low hanging vines and branches wishing that I had brought a machete with me, if not for the brush, then at least as a weapon.
My foot caught on the bulge of a tree root and I hit the ground with agonizing crash. Blood from my wound was flowing freely now. I rolled on my back and saw blue sky through a break in the canopy.
Then the loud crack of gunfire erupted out of the darkness. I covered my head This is too much. Then another volley of fire thundered. I knew I had to get out of there. I struggled to my feet but I felt weak and swooney. I’m loosing too much blood.
Then a firm grip caught me under under my armpit and I heard a woman’s voice.
“C’mon, we gotta get out of here.”
(to be continued)
Text and image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009