“It’s a beautiful place,” I said, looking out over the bow of the ship at the Amazonian jungle as it passed us by. I wasn’t lying. Such an untouched place brought a warmth to my heart, more so than any city ever could.
“It’s a dangerous place, Kay,” My boyfriend David said, “full of deadly creatures, deadly flora, and superstitious and territorial natives.”
“Which is why you brought me along,” Mark said, cocking his rifle and kicking a box of C4 housed under the windows of the boat. “Now hold on, while I dock this thing.”
We were headed to a sacred pool down in the Amazon jungle, following a lead to the find of the century. The missing link. For years my research kept hearing rumors of a fish man in the depths of the jungle, but it wasn’t until Mark and I found the skeletal hand with webbing on a tributary of the Amazon that brought some credence to those rumors.
“Did anyone else find it strange that those natives told us exactly where to look?” Edwin asked. He was our Anthropologist.
“Enough Edwin! We gave them more supplies than they could use in a year! Of course they were going to tell us where to go!” Mark said.
“I’m just saying. Native Amazonian’s historically aren’t too happy to work so well with others,” Edwin concluded.
“The natives are the last thing we have to worry about, Edwin. Let’s get camp set up, it’s starting to get dark. We don’t want to be caught outside with these deadly mosquitoes!” David laughed.
It didn’t take long to build camp, but David was right. The Mosquitoes were horrible. It was so nice to get inside the tent and block out the bugs.
“You hear that Kay? Sounds like laughter,” David said after we had settled down to sleep.
“David, get away from the side,” I cried.
“But I really think I heard laughter. It was strange, kind of gurgling. I’m gonna to take a look,” He said and left the tent. I sat there with my sleeping bag pulled tight under my chin, I mean I know that’s a stupid childish protective safety thing, but I really couldn’t help myself.
I was right to be worried, because after a few minutes I heard him scream.
“David!” I cried and unzipped my tent. I saw a shadow of someone walking by and my skin went cold. There was a strange earthy, wet smell in the air. It was like ozone blended with moss.
“What’s going on?” Mark called. I let out a little yip, embarrassed at my reaction, because he must’ve been the figure I saw.
“David heard laughter and went out to check it out. I heard him scream,” I said.
“Stay with me,” Mark said. He lifted his rifle. “We’ll move to the edge of the water. That way we can’t get surrounded by anything in the woods.”
“What’s going on guys?” Edwin ran up to join us.
“Stay close,” Mark responded. I couldn’t open my mouth. David had better be kidding, but you’d better believe I was going to kill him whether he was or not.
“Woah!” Edwin cried. “Look at this!”
He was bent over something stuck in the muck at the forest edge. Stuck in the ground was an old wooden pendant, petrified by time. It portrayed some strange bipedal fish creature. I turned it in the moonlight when something out of the corner of my eye made me look up.
Mark was standing on the edge of the water line looking past us into the jungle. The something that caught my eye was walking out of the water towards him. The water was black reflecting moonlight making the water look like oil. I thought the figure was David at first, but it was just my mind wishing for something that wasn’t true. The figure opened its arms. It had a huge arm span and its hands were webbed, its skin was scaly, and its neck had gills.
“Look out!” I cried. I was too late. The creature’s arms wrapped around Mark and its nails dug into him. He screamed as the creature bit into his neck from behind. I could see blood as black as the oily Amazon roll down Mark’s body as the creature ripped a piece of his neck free. He collapsed into the water.
“Run!” I cried.
We ran back to the metal safety of the ship. My heart was pounding and I was having trouble getting breath. Did I really just see that? I had to have imagined it, right? But, God the metallic stink of blood surrounded me, I couldn’t focus, I just wanted to be with David. I wanted him to hold me.
When Edwin and I approached the ship, I saw David on the other side of some bushes. My heart soared!
“David!” I cried. “David, get on the ship!”
We turned the corner and my knees gave out beneath me. It wasn’t David. Or rather, it was only part of him. His head was stuck down on a pole that was thrust into the ground. His eyes bugged out of his head, and his tongue lolled. Bugs crawled in and out of his grotesque mouth. I saw a mosquito feeding on one of his bulging eye balls.
I think I cried out. I think I sobbed, but the next thing I knew, Edwin and I were inside the metal boat. Edwin must have put a mop across the handle of the door, blocking us in. Didn’t he see David outside? How did he think a mere mop would stop that thing? Especially with exposed windows?
“Let’s get out of here. We got what we came for,” Edwin said, he was sobbing. Tears and snot running down his face.
“What? What do you mean we got what we came for?” I cried. We didn’t got anything but death!
Edwin held up the idol he found on the beach.
“Get rid of that fucking thing!” I yelled.
“No!” Edwin wailed. “It’s what we were paid for!”
The mop handle cracked as the creature slammed on the other side of the door.
“It’s coming for the idol! Get rid of it!”
Edwin took a few steps back, nearing one of the many windows in the cabin.
“No! Let’s just get the boat moving… ” Edwin said.
The creature’s hands broke through the window and grasped Edwin’s head. Its claws dug into his cheeks and he was momentarily lifted before his skin gave way and the claws tore up and back, ripping skin from his face, piercing his eyes and spraying blood across the room.
I grabbed the idol from Edwin’s dead hands and threw it out the window. I grabbed the broken mop handle in a futile attempt to defend myself.
Then the creature stepped into the room. It smelled of earth and blood and swamp water. It looked like a piranha, if a piranha was six foot tall. Its teeth were razor sharp and its claws were long and dripping with blood. Its green skin shone in the moonlight and it cocked its head to the side like a dog when it saw me.
“I’m leaving. You can go now. I…I won’t cause you any problems,” I called. I took a step back and my foot hit a box. I glanced down. It was the explosives. I knelt down and grabbed a packet of explosives and the detonator. The creature didn’t like that.
It screeched and opened its arms wide. Blood dripped from its hands and its mouth.
My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to leap from my chest. The creature took a step toward me and I threw the explosives at it. Its reflexes were incredible. It caught the C4 in the air and immediately turned to look at it.
“Fuck you,” I said, and depressed the button a split second before diving behind a table.
The echo of the explosion resonated in my ears, but somehow I got up and got to the wheel. I thrust the throttle all the way to the maximum. Fuck this place. I was getting out of here.
I managed a glance at the body of the thing. Its arm was completely gone. Disintegrated. Its head was half gone, the rest a toasted black. I had to get the thing off the boat. There was no way I was going to keep going with its corpse there, but I couldn’t think of that right now. I was shaking too bad, I just had to focus on getting out of the jungle.
I heard distant chanting. It got louder and louder and I felt bile rise in my throat. I peered out the window and I saw Amazonians at the shore line. They were dancing and shaking something in the air. The chant was a dissonant sound that made my skin crawl. I squinted at what they held. It was the same as we saw on the beach. The fish idol.
I went back to the wheel when I heard clicking behind me. Nails on metal.
“There’s someone at the window! Please God, there’s someone at the window!” She was thrashing in her bed when I got into the room. My beautiful, gentle fiancée. She had been so sick the last few days, and now it seemed as though the fever was transitioning into hallucinations.
“My love! There’s nothing at the window but a tree branch! Look! I will open it for you,” I didn’t know what to do. My friends were in the drawing room. I’m sure they were nervous and abashed at the noises coming from my dear loved one’s bed chambers, but there was nothing I could do about that. I had to just worry about my poor sick fiancée.
“NO! Stay clear of the window! I saw him! He was so pale, and terrible. His eyes were red, he looked at me, Jonathan. He looked right into me. I felt his gaze to my core. I feel so very cold!”
She was raving. I knew it to be nothing but fever dreams. I could clearly see there was nothing at the window. It was cold and windy though, and I thought maybe it would be wrong of me to introduce a chill into the room of someone so sick, by opening the window.
“Jonathan,” My friend Quincey called from the doorway.
He was a gruff man, but his demeanor was gentle towards me, almost apologetic. I could tell in his face that he didn’t expect my love to live through this terrible sickness.
“BEHIND HIM!” She screamed form the bed. She held up a pale emaciated hand that looked more like a claw, and pointed at my friend. “MY GOD, THE TEETH!”
“Shhhhhh,” I said and stroked her hair. I felt tears well in my eyes, so I bent and kissed her hot forehead in an effort to hide my emotion.
“Sorry for intruding,” Quincey said. “But I called the doctor earlier. I know you said not to, but well, I couldn’t stand to sit by and do nothing. He’s here now and would like to see her.”
“Alright,” I wanted to berate him. Mina had such a terrible fear of doctors. I held my tongue. I knew what he had done was right.
“Please, let me through,” A gruff voice said.
“You see, my love? It was just the doctor. That was who was behind Quincey,” I said to her.
Her eyes flittered back to the window, wide with horror. She pointed to the window. My lord, her nails were so long and ragged. How had I not noticed that?
“What is going on here?” The doctor said. He face was weathered and brown. His beard was long and unruly and white as snow. His hair, buried under a stained brown hat, sprang to his shoulders with the same coarseness as his beard.
“She’s had a fever doctor. We don’t know why,” I said and looked at disgust to Quincey. How could he invite such a man here, knowing Mina’s fear of doctors? A regular doctor would be bad enough; this…unorthodox man…was so much worse.
“NO!” Mina screamed at the sight of him.
“Mina! It’s ok! He’s a doctor!” I tried to sooth her to no avail. Her eyes were locked on the window and her breath heaved so rapidly that her chest began to heave.
“It’s far worse than I thought,” The doctor said. He turned to Quincy. “Quick! Get me as much garlic as you can.”
“IT’S TOO LATE!” Mina screamed. She scratched at me and her skin turned cold.
“Be gone!” The doctor said while producing an old wooden cross and thrusting it in Mina’s face.
The window exploded inwards making the men in the room dive to the ground. I heard Mina moan and when I lifted my head a figure was bent over her. A large black cloak occluded their bodies.
“Quickly!” The doctor said, pulling a long wooden stake from his satchel.
The figure turned to me and hissed. Its visage will forever haunt my dreams. Its skin had the gray tones of slate, contrasted by bright splashes of blood from my poor Mina’s neck. Its eyes, as red as that blood, bore into me. It had two incisors, as long as coffin nails. It stared into my soul. I felt reality shift. It was death and, lord help me, I cannot help but think it was beautiful.
It was gone a moment later and so was my Mina. Dead. Her face returned to peace and beauty that it held before the sickness took hold of her.
The doctor told me that I had to cremate her body. He told me he was on the hunt for that creature and we must hunt it down. That we must kill it.
I prepared to cremate my Mina. But when I lay her down, I dreamed of her opening her eyes. I dreamed of her kissing me. I dreamed of her telling me everything was ok. That we could now be together forever. She kissed my neck and I felt death approach. It was beautiful.