Spirits of the Forest
I'm tired, I'm beyond tired but then again digging the graves of seven of your closest friends will do that to you. I know I should be fighting the exhaustion, I know I shouldn't be so eager to rest but I also know in the end it wont really matter, besides, I'm ready. I may have been trained to survive but somehow I'm not sure I want to.
How long has it been since we were shot down? I'm not sure but I'm guessing more than ten hours... sure, I mean, I've still got my watch --and it even survived the crash-- but I admit I didn't exactly check the time when I came to. All I know is that the events of the past few hours are a blur, all I know is that in an instant my neatly organized world was turned upside down... no, it wasn't just turned upside down, it was shattered.
There is something going on here, something that doesn't quite add up but right now I'm just too tired to care. All I want to do is sleep. I know I shouldn't do it, I know the jungle is a dangerous place and I have no way to secure a perimeter, no way to stand watch and few means to defend myself but it doesn't matter. This is one mission I won't be making it back from. I wonder if someone will miss me. My father? I don't think so. My brother? Now, that's a laugh. My men? They are dead, I just buried them myself. There's no one left and oddly enough that's fine with me... or almost fine.
I know it's stupid, I know it doesn't really matter but somehow I regret that there's no one left to do for me what I just did for the others... to keep the carrion eaters away from my body... and yes, I'm already thinking of myself as being dead. I know all too well what the odds of me making it out of here are. I know what it would take for me to survive long term in this environment and I know there will be no rescue mission simply because we were not supposed to be here in the first place.
I know that hiking out of here is not an option and I know all it would take would be one false step and it would all be over for me. In my mind I try to go over the names and habits of the poisonous snakes common to this region and I know the lanceheads, about a dozen different varieties of them, are likely to be the greatest threat.
I'm alone, I'm lost, I have almost no gear with me and I'm injured. True, my injuries are not life threatening, not yet, but it is only a matter of time before they become infected and --even if they don't-- they are more than enough to limit my mobility, my ability to hunt. Yes, I know I'm dying but somehow I don't mind too much. It's peaceful here, more peaceful than any place I've ever been to.
I've seen a lot in my years as a ranger, but peace has never been a major part of it and now for the first time I realize what I've been missing, what Ive just found.
I'm about to close my eyes when I hear more than see a movement to my right and I immediately fall back on a defensive position, for all the good it will do me... still, it is a deeply conditioned reflex, one that has served me well in the past.
I'm expecting some animal, maybe a predator, that's why I'm caught totally off-guard by the sight of a native with long black hair and war paint on his face. He looks fierce and for a moment I am terrified but he makes no hostile moves, he merely watches me as if he were looking right into my soul and I don't know what to make of him.
There is something unusual in his eyes, something ageless, something oddly reassuring... something I can't help but think I should be able to recognize but I don't. Im still thinking about that when the stranger stretches his hand toward me and gestures for me to follow him. I comply. I follow him for no other reason than the fact that I don't want to die alone.