Curse of the Jungle

By
It was a dark and stormy night deep in the hot humid jungle of Ecuador. The
flashes of lightning created eerie shadows in my room. I felt uneasy, as if someone were watching me. Suddenly I turned and saw a dark figure of a man lurking near the window so I climbed out of bed to investigate. The sound of the strong wind and rain played tricks on my mind. I thought I heard drums right outside my door, but that was impossible. This area of the jungle had been uninhabited for weeks. I felt as if we were at the end of the earth. We were alone here in this remote location except me and my business partners Kyle, Jasper, and Brandon. I wondered if they had terrifying dreams of the old woman. I wished I had never spoken to her. I felt so isolated because now I was the only one who really knew the truth, but it is too late and we are too deep into this project to leave now. It will all be over soon and we will leave this godforsaken place forever.
I grew up with Kyle, Jasper and Brandon; we had been friends since kindergarten.
After college we pursued different interests, but still kept in touch. Then two years ago fate and a project brought us back together.
Kyle had graduated from Oxford University in England and went on to be the number one tennis player in the world. (He won Wimbledon five times and the US Open seven times.) After he retired from professional tennis, he spent his time with movie stars and living a great life with the rich and famous. We all admired Kyle because he was not just a great athlete. He earned an advanced engineering degree from MIT after his tennis career was over, and he had a great personality. We knew that lending his name to this project would make it successful.
Jasper graduated from Stanford University, and was the best golfer in the world. He won the Masters a record twelve times, and had more green jackets than anyone in history; his name was a household word. He had a custom line of golf equipment and signature golf schools all over the world, and beyond that was the world’s greatest golf course designer. Despite his public success and fame, Jasper was soft spoken and humble although we did not have the opportunity to visit each other more than once a year.
Brandon was wildly popular…he had been the youngest soccer player in Olympic history to win a gold medal on the US Soccer team in Beijing. Shortly after the Olympics he was drafted by the Brazilian National Team and led them to an amazing 26 world
championships before retiring in Ecuador. He was loved by the entire world and
wherever he went the paparazzi were not far behind. He was by far the richest of our
group.
I graduated from the University of Texas and competed in three Olympics and won 30 gold medals in swimming. I also had a passion for writing and mysteries, and went on to write 15 mystery books, all of which made the New York Times Bestseller List. (Ten of the books were made into academy award winning movies.)
Two years ago, during our annual visit to Brandon’s estate, he told us about 22 acres of oceanfront property in Ecuador that we could buy for only $200. It seemed the natives believed that the land was cursed, populated by the lost souls of people who had made pacts with the devil in exchange for wealth and power. Brandon suggested that we develop the property into a resort for the rich and famous. We could bring our collective talents, expertise, and fame the resort to make it successful. Kyle would be responsible for the Tennis Center, Jasper would create the golf course, and I would design a world class pool facility. We agreed that it was a wonderful idea, and since we were all retired it was an opportunity for us to spend more time together.
One night, as I walked along the beachfront, I met an old woman. She was thin and her skin was leathery. She looked like she was 100 years old. Her hair was dirty and
tangled. Her teeth were rotten and missing and her breath smelled like dead animals. Her
eyes had been gouged out but she acted as if she was able to see me. She grabbed my arm with her cold, bony hand and I felt sick to my stomach. The old woman yelled, “See the future and you have been warned to leave now or face the curse,” and then she disappeared into the jungle. I had horrible dreams about the old woman over the next two years while we worked on plans for the resort, and even when awake, I found myself wondering about the curse she spoke. I never told my partners about my encounter with the old woman that night because now I was not sure whether it really happened.
We were two weeks from groundbreaking when we were forced to deal with an odd problem-we had to evict the shaman who lived on the land. He played drums and warned us that he was our only protection from the curse. Kyle and I were very uncomfortable. We convinced Jasper to the abandon this project too. We went to Brandon. He laughed at us. He said we should not be scared away by a babbling old man and a decrepit old woman. We asked him to join us on the main island to talk to the shaman. Brandon refused, he said, “I will not waste my time, I have asked my bodyguard to remove him from the island.”
Reluctantly, we agreed to stay and continue with the project. During the next four days, Kyle, Jasper and I moved to small huts at the site and we started to prepare for the start of construction. Brandon stayed at his estate to make last minute construction arrangements for us.
Tonight, I cannot sleep. I can hear the shaman’s drum and my dreams are filled with pain and despair. I have to wake Kyle and Jasper. We need to get back to Brandon’s estate. The storm rages outside, but I do not feel we can stay here tonight. As I approach Jasper’s hut, I feel the cold bony hands of the old woman on my shoulder again. I am afraid to look back and as I call Jasper’s name I am horrified to see him standing in front of me, a look of horror on his face. His wrists and ankles are swollen to the size of grapefruits and he is bleeding from his eyes. He does not seem to recognize me. Speechless, filled with terror I rush to Kyle’s hut to tell him, but I’m to late too he’s covered in thorns and bleeding from the ears. His face has a blank stare, and the sound of the drums is so loud in his room it nearly drives me mad. I see the shadowy figure of a man near Kyle’s window. I grab Kyle and run with him back to Jasper’s room. Just as I arrive I feel a strange sensation and hear a voice. It says, “You have enjoyed years of power and wealth, it is time to pay.”
I do not remember much after that. We never made it back to Brandon’s estate that night and the next morning, we woke with bruises and terrifying memories. It turns out we all had the same dream that stormy night. Sometime, I wonder whether it was a dream at all. Brandon explained that there is a flower that grows wild in the jungle which releases a smell when it rains that causes hallucinations. He told us not to worry, we were safe. As we gathered our belongings from the hut, I caught a quick look at Brandon in the mirror. To my horror, in the reflection, his eyes were gouged out and he carried a drum on his back. Then in the blink of an eye his normal image returned.
On the ride back to the estate, I tell Kyle and Jasper what I saw. As soon as we get back to the estate, we pack our suitcases and left Ecuador, vowing never to return. (As for Brandon he probably stayed and kept torturing more souls for his own pleasure.)





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