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Harrison Potts

The Jungle

I awaken to the sounds of gunshots and yelling.

Midnight.

Rain.

I try to make sense of the situation. I hear a foot attempting to kick down my door and I snap into action. I seize my pistol from my nightstand and wait as my heart beats faster and my vision gets clearer.

Another kick.

The next one cracks the door from its frame and slams to the ground as my finger squeezes the trigger.

Two shots ring from my gun and give my hands and ears a wake up call.

The man’s body hits the floor before he can even take a shot at me. I stay alert, alive, and take his M16 machine gun from his now lifeless hands.

I hear more gunshots and the sounds of my brethren yelling inaudible words.

The sounds of bodies thumping to the floor echo around the house.

I pray that it’s the soldiers bodies collapsing and not those of my brethren.

I make my way through the house as quietly as conceivably possible while my eyes adjust to the dim light.

I hear footsteps and stop dead in my tracks, ready to fire.

I see the shadow of a soldier making his way up the antiquated stairs and as soon as I have a shot to take, I take it.

A bullet enters his torso.

He shoots at me once and collapses.

The bullet manages to skim my right elbow.

Another bullet whizzes past my ear and hits the wall behind me. I adjust my body and start spraying and praying.

One enters his stomach.

I duck into a vacant bedroom as he returns the favor with a spray of bullets of his own.

One ricochets and hits me in my left trapezius muscle.

If pain is the fear of the common man, this moment is a nightmare.

Searing and unworldly agony overwhelms me.

I overcome it just enough to flip to the other bullet magazine and shoot the soldier’s throat. He chokes on his own blood until the grim reaper greets him on the other side.

I listen.

Other than the sound of moans, groans, and dying men, I hear nothing.

Before anything else, I move quietly into the bathroom and create a makeshift bandage with the first aid kit.

The crickets that normally call out into the rainforest are now silent. They’ve been spooked by the sudden burst of gunshots.

I gradually make my way around the house, stepping around the corpses of my fallen brethren.

I don’t even acknowledge the bodies of the soldiers.

I pray that I will not find him dead.

I hope to god that he found a place to hide, got out, ran, or shot back.

I simply pray that he survived.

My leader.

My mentor.

My friend.

The only man whom I could somehow call my brother.

The death of my other brethren would be, in a word, devastating. However, I could possibly still find a way to move forward if he was here with me.

And there, there he is.

Laying in the middle of the room we humorously called the living room.

A puddle of dark red blood encompassing him.

I rush toward him and feel my trapezius scream as my adrenaline drops and misery overwhelms me.

I crouch down on his left side and feel the blood soak the bottom of my bare feet.

I hold him in my arms and feel my face distort into expressions of pain, grief, horror, and anger.

I cry out.

No words, nothing but raw pain as I lose myself to my emotions for the first time in recent memory.

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It wasn’t easy growing up in the Philippines.

It goes without saying that the world can be cruel in many ways.

Being an orphan certainly made that fact very clear from the start.

I like to believe that I’ve always been smart. I didn’t astonish people in school or anything. I had a very unique type of intelligence. Like many people from where I live, resourcefulness is a given. At a young age, I started exhibiting the ability to not only scheme, but also to remain calm in situations of violence and danger.

I was pushed out into the cold hard world at the tender age of 16. As anyone can imagine, I had no guidance and no direction.

After working at the supermarket for about 2 awful years, I met Abian.

It’s funny, even though Abian was only slightly older than me, I always looked up to him like he was my older brother.

We began talking and before I knew it, we became the best of friends.

As time went on, our ambitions took us far beyond the supermarket. Very, very far beyond the supermarket.

In the beginning, we started selling basic things on the side like cigars and alcohol.

After a few months, we saved up enough money to buy a small, run down house to conduct our operations.

It may have been aged and rusty, but we made it our home.

Selling and possession of drugs in the Philippines is often punishable by death.

Make no mistake; out here, there are no trials.

The police will come to your house, shoot you, and maybe later mail the bullet casing to your family to be paid for. So when we decided to take our business to that next level, we were at a point in our lives in which we would rather die than live a life working at the supermarket.

First, we began growing the 7 pointed leaf that went by many names. We hired people who we trusted and had the curse of ambition similar to our own.

The next step was big. We started growing coca. We created a lab in the basement and grew magic mushrooms under a U.V. light. By the end of our first year in that house we were making more money than people like us ever made in a lifetime. The idea of unnecessary spending became a sin to us, for suspicion was our worst enemy.

There was no turning back to the simple lives that we had once lived.

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I slide my hand over Abian’s face to close his now cold, dead eyes.

Vengeance.

Retribution.

Through a clouded and disturbed mind, words such as these can take new meaning.

The only way that I will find the desire to live, the only way I can keep myself from putting a bullet in my skull at this very moment is if I make it my absolute destiny to kill the man responsible for all of this pain.

The Chief of Police, Adelfa.

I lay my fallen hero’s head gently on the floor, pick up the M16 and walk upstairs to lace up my boots.

As a plan formulates in my head it becomes clear that I need to leave this house before any clean-up crew or reinforcements arrive.

I tie double knots on both boots.

I grab a wad of cash in the hole in my mattress.

I ditch the almost empty M16 and grab my pistol, along with all the magazines and bullets that I can get my hands on.

I freeze as I hear sounds that I cannot make sense of in my already whirring head.

Almost immediately, I leap out of the window to the right of my bed.

The rain has somewhat calmed down, but is still persisting.

I hit the ground running, just as I have always done.

I stalk my way through the dense jungle knowing precisely what revenge will look like.

Adelfa isn’t first, I need to find out which detective it was who found us out.

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Nobody ever truly realizes how creaky wooden floors are until they try sneaking into a detective’s house at 1 o’clock in the morning.

A dark figure appears out of the corner of my right eye as I swiftly turn and fire 4 bullets.

I have made many mistakes in my life, but that was one of the biggest.

The dark shadow belongs to no one, but very soon shadows will appear that belong to the 7 sleeping guards who spring awake.

Adrenaline kicks in as I spray a few unaccounted for bullets, praying that a couple of them will reach a destination in the guards’ vital organs.

Click.

Another click.

I am out of bullets.

I reach for my second magazine, but find nothing.

It takes tremendous effort to keep the panic and fear at bay.

I quickly duck behind a kitchen counter as the guards begin a dazed search for me. I hear one begin to head upstairs to protect the detective up close.

If so much as a hair on my head is seen, I will die.

I desperately need a plan.

One formulates quickly and I take action.

I silently open a kitchen cabinet attached to the counter.

My hand finds exactly what it’s looking for.

A steel pan.

As fast as humanly possible I place it in the microwave and amp it up to the highest setting.

The buttons of the microwave beep and the guards are drawn to my location.

I sprint, bullets fly.

I run into a sliding glass door nearby and clatter out onto the porch.

Just as I had prayed, a massive ball of fire erupts from the kitchen and floods the house.

They tell people not to put metal in the microwave for a reason.

There is an unlikely chance that the explosion didn’t kill the detective, but he would definitely have some horrifying 3rd degree burns.

I muster the strength to get up and jog off the porch into the jungle once again.

The plan will be completed or I will die trying and believe me, it’s the most sinister one that I’ve ever planned to execute.

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Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, commonly known as LSD. It is one of the most interesting drugs, but it can also be considered one of the most dangerous, not because of its effects on the body, but the effects its effects on the mind. To put it simply, it makes the user perceive the world in a completely different way, whether that perception is beautiful or horrifying is simply up to 3 factors: dosage, setting, and state of mind.

Back before the shit hit the fan, the chef for Adelfa was a consistent buyer of the seven pointed leaf. I’m sure that he was at least somewhat upset to hear that Abian was murdered.

Adelfa is careful with just about everything and his food is no different. A designated guard taste tests his food for poison before he ever touches it.

Poisoning Adelfa isn’t a viable option, not to mention cowardly, but using the chef to slip something unique into his soup wouldn’t be difficult.

LSD is mostly tasteless and the tester wouldn’t feel a thing until the proper amount of time has passed for it to take effect.

When soup is served, Adelfa always goes upstairs to read and pray before bed. How a man like that can legitimately call himself religious is beyond me.

As he is reading, he will begin to see things that simply do not exist.

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Killing nine soldiers one by one isn’t terribly difficult when you spend almost twelve days studying their behavior and creating a silencer out of a plastic water bottle and some scraps. Most of the guards were outside anyway and Adelfa enjoys being alone.

I sit and wait expectantly as I hear Adelfa stumble and shreik. It seems that even without seeing the skeleton mask that I’ve put on, he’s already having a bad trip.

Something seems off, however, as he doesn’t stumble out all wobbly and crazy, but unusually focused on his hand.

As I shift in my position in the dense vegetation, I see that he’s clutching his hand against his body. Rage fills me and I begin to emerge, determined to kill first and ask questions later.

I stand as he cries out.

No one is coming to help him. All of the guards are dead and he lives secluded with his reclusive habits.

I move swiftly toward him so incredibly focused that I almost don’t realize that he is actually speaking audible words, something that doesn’t normally happen when you’ve been slipped a hallucinogenic drug without knowing.

“For christ sake, this cut is too fucking deep!”

I stand, frozen at the boundary between grass and jungle.

I had heard the rumors that Adelfa was a Blood Maker, but I had never believed it. Blood Makers are a sort of cult around here. They practice Catholicism, but with a small twist.

They cut themselves as a sort of ritual sacrifice to god.

The truth of the situation dawns on me.

The chef must have had second thoughts and decided not to slip him the LSD.

The note I had written must not have convinced him.

He wasn’t crying out in horror… he was crying out in pain.

As everything about this unplanned, bizarre scenario washes over me, I remain frozen at the edge.

He holds his bloodied hand up to the full moon, claiming his sacrifice before god.

Rage and retribution slowly return as I snap out of the trance and head towards Adelfa.

I come at him from behind and give the back of his head a potent kick, disorienting him.

I whip off the skeleton mask. It’s clouding my vision and I don’t want to miss a moment of what’s about to happen.

The kick must have really taken him off guard; he barely even yells.

He turns to face me with anger, but his head has already been sighted by the crosshairs of my pistol.

He looks at me. His eyes widen, not in terror, but in realization.

“It’s you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“I bet you have.” I say through gritted teeth.

“You’re the lone-survivor. The one who’s been causing my police a great deal of trouble. The man who was our main target on that raid, but still somehow managed to get out alive.”

The main target?! My head is grasping for any reason why I would be the main target and not Abian. I wasn’t the leader, all I ever did was really watch and help Abian build our operation.

“Main target?” I say at the edge of breath. I try to act focused, but it seems transparent that I’m confused.

“Yeah, the uh… leader of that big drug business down over in town.” My confusion seems to make him more nonchalant, as though there wasn’t a gun being pointed at him.

“Leader? What about Abian??” I struggle to keep my head above the sea of confusion that is engulfing me.

“Who the hell is Abian? You’re Melchor. Correct? The leader of The Brotherhood or whatever?” Hearing my name spoken from his mouth sends me spinning.

I scream unbelievably loud as Adelfa jumps in surprise.

I feel as though I’m a man who has never known what he looks like, and when he finally looks into the mirror… he’s confused and horrified by what he sees.

I yank Adelfa’s head so that it is directly adjacent to mine, our skulls lined up horizontally.

My pistol finds its muzzle touching my head.

I force my eyes shut.

I speak my final words.

“My eyes are open”

I squeeze the trigger, killing us both under the light of the full moon.

 

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