• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 05
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Jungle Alarm Clock

It was a sniff that woke me up, though my eyes didn’t open then. It was louder even than the guide’s snoring, which was strangely absent, leaving no sound but the insects outside the tent and that annoying sniff coming through again.

Finally I opened them up and saw that shiny black triangle not even an inch from my face. In my morning stupor I couldn’t grasp just what it was, but it didn’t take long for the whiskers to give it away, and panic to explode within me.

We’d been searching for days, the whole party, just for this one moment when we could finally see this elusive queen, hiding in the jungle, and in the end it was her who had come to us. It didn’t seem to mind that I had awoken, and kept sniffing at the top of my head. Of course, that was it. The guide had warned us, again and again, that if we did not follow his rules we would see the jungle more closely than we wished. I should have listened and as the cat licked my forehead, my thoughts raced from ways to escape, to my family, to how I could kill it from where I was, to what the afterlife would bring me.

But the cat didn’t seem as interested as I was. After pondering the taste of my brow she turned and walked over me, seeming bored as she briefly examined the contents of my temporary home, before vanishing out the flap and leaving me and the guide to ourselves. It seemed to take hours to catch my breath, but when I did I crawled out after it in hopes of catching one last glimpse of the midnight fur. But just as suddenly as I had seen it, it was gone, disappeared back into the brush and out of our lives once more.


Jungle Alarm Clock

It didn’t take even a moments consideration, I was done. I’d come out to gather a trophy to prove myself, but what I’d gotten was so much more. That beautiful creature could have crushed my chest with a step, but she had gone over without touching me. She could have cut me to ribbons with one quick motion, but my body is completely unharmed. She held my life in her paw and I wasn’t worth the little effort it would have taken to end it.

I came out with an understanding that as I lived in this world now, the world didn’t care about me. If I left it now, my family would miss me, but move on. I’ve left nothing in the world worth leaving, but when I returned to civilisation I would.

Quickly supplies were gathered as we went home, and left the clearing as it had been before we were there, aside from a simple rifle, barrel bent, leaning on the tree to rust and disappear.