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Revenge of the Rainforest
Another day; I was getting used to these kinds of days. You know after a while it just comes second nature to you. I mean, if you do something so much, you just become accustom to it. Even though I hate what we always have to do!
“Claire, come on, we are going to miss our flight! We have to be in South America by tonight!” yelled my mom.
I sighed and got out of bed. I flipped on my light and looked at myself in the mirror. Boy did I look terrible. My hair was all frizzy and it was huge! Truly, I didn’t really care what my hair looked like. By the time we got to South America, my hair would look like crap; so, it didn’t really matter.
Traveling was fun, but it got old; especially when your mother and father are etholgists. Yeah, I bet one would not think of that before. They study the behavior of animals in their natural environment. We had to travel at least once a month. I was always changing schools. And when we went out of the country, we had to be home schooled. Although, my mom never had time to home school my brother Austin and me. We had a period where we weren’t being taught anything. So, when we got back and went to school again, we were completely lost.
I pulled my hair back in a ponytail and put some jeans and a green tee shirt on. I put on my green and white tennis shoes and took my suitcase and walked out of my room.
Once I was downstairs my mom looked up at me and made that look. You know the look where she knows you look awful, but she won’t tell you because she is your mother. Yeah, that is the look she just gave me.
“Why Claire, don’t you look lovely this morning.” said my mom in a sweet tone.
“Thanks mom.” I sat down at the table and took a muffin that was in the middle of the table. I started nibbling on it. My mom looked at the clock and asked, “Is Austin up yet? I know your father is packing his things, but I told Austin to get up when I got you up.”
I just shrugged my shoulders and continued eating my chocolate muffin.
I then heard footsteps on the stairs. About a minute later, Austin came shuffling into the kitchen. He sat down next to me. He looked so tired and annoyed. He hated doing these things as much as I did. I thought that he hated it more than me sometimes. I think today was one of those days. I really wanted a chance to talk with him so I said, “Mom, I think Austin forgot to bring his luggage downstairs, do you mind getting it for him?”
She nodded her head and went towards the stairs. As soon as I heard she was upstairs I asked, “So, how ticked off are you right now?”
He looked over at me and said, “More than you now sis. I mean, why do they always have to do this? I know it is their job, but why can’t they pick a normal job?”
“I don’t know Austin. I am just plain sick of it. This is my senior year! I am eighteen years old and I probably won’t even get to graduate because I am in some foreign country or something.”
“I know. I am in eighth grade and that’s a pretty important year for me too. I am going to high school next year. Being fourteen is harder than it looks.”
“I know how you feel. I was your age once.”
He smiled and I heard mom come down the stairs. She came into the kitchen with Dad beside her. He looked alert and happy as usual. He always was excited to study animal’s behaviors. That was his idea of a perfect day. Well, that is what he thought anyway. For me, well I am in a completely different ballpark.
After we had all eaten, Dad said, “All right everyone, let’s get in the Chevy and get to South America!”
I grudgingly got up and walked out of the house to the car.
After about twenty minutes of driving we reached the airport. We got out of the car and walked towards Miami Airport. We all were inside the building and we went through security and then finally after two hours in security, we boarded our plane.
I thankfully got a window seat. If I didn’t get a window seat I was sick the whole plane ride. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but it was always like that.
Austin sat next to me. Thank goodness. We always got along. Well, most of the time. I mean, we had our moments where we would argue, but most of the times, it was fine between us. “The plane is taking off. Please fasten your seatbelts and please put away any luggage or bags. Thank you and enjoy your flight with South American Airlines.” said the flight attendant.
I buckled my seatbelt and then I felt the plane take off. I closed my eyes and waited until we arrived at our next destination.
I felt someone tap on my shoulder. I opened my eyes and it was Austin. “You need to wake up Claire. We are here.”
“Where is here exactly?” I asked.
“Dad said we are landing in Columbia.”
“That sounds like an exciting place to visit!” I said sarcastically.
“You are probably right Claire.” he added.
I stood up and stretched. I was very glad that we didn’t have any layovers. We got a non-stop flight this time. That was much better than hanging around an airport for hours on end.
I took my small bag with me and headed off the plane.
Once we had gotten our all of our luggage we got into a cramped taxi and drove away from the airport. I could barely move. I was very claustrophobic so this really wasn’t working out for me. My dad then said, “I can not wait to start studying the animals of the Dongo Rainforest. This is going to be so exciting! There is nothing better in the world than being an etholgist.”
“WE ARE GOING TO A RAINFOREST?” I roared.
“Yes of course we are Claire. Anyways, you two had better stay close to us. I don’t want you running off. Andrea, will you make sure the kids stay near us? I know you have your work to do too but you know I can do a better job.”
I hated when my dad said this to my mom. I knew it had to make her feel awful. I could always sense that it hurt her. She never talked about it though. She then replied and said, “Of course Christian I will do what I can. But just remember that I have to work as well.”
He nodded his head and then it was silent.
We finally reached the rainforest. It looked vast and enormous. The taxi came to a stop and we all got out. We took our luggage out from the trunk and walked to towards the village before us.
A man dressed in only a loin cloth came up to us and said, “Welcome Christian and Andrea. We are pleased you are with us again. We are glad that you have returned to the Dongo Rainforest.”
“You know we always have time to come here.” replied my dad.
I was puzzled. I had never heard my mom or Dad talk about this place. I looked back at the man who wore only the loin cloth and said, “Who are you?”
“I am the Chief of this village. My name is Aaron. We are called the Demure Tribe.”
“Well, it is nice to meet you.”
The chief nodded and then said, “Please feel free and pick any empty hut to stay in.”
“Thank you chief.” said my dad.
We walked away from the chief towards our little hut. I looked at the rainforest and it looked very calm and peaceful. It seemed like nothing would happen in it. But there was a part of me that felt something in the rainforest was lurking and watching me. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t shake this feeling. I turned to Austin as we were walking towards our hut and said, “Austin, do you think there is something in the rainforest that is just waiting for us to come in and take us away?”
“Yeah, I do feel that in a way. I can’t explain why though. Do you think we should ask mom and dad about it?”
“No, that would do no good. They are way too busy and excited to notice. It would just be a waste of breath.”
“You are probably right Claire.”
We reached our hut and boy did it suck. There was no door, just an opening for a door. The roof was covered with large green leaves. The rest of the hut was made out of sticks and mud and various other leaves. This was the last place I wanted to stay in, but it was the best we had. We all walked into our hut and put our luggage down. I looked over to my mom and said, “Well isn’t this living it?”
“Oh Claire, you have been in much worse places than this. I know you can handle this. If you can handle the hot desert, I am sure you can handle living in a hut.”
I just shrugged my shoulders and then my dad said, “Well, we ought to get to work right away. We don’t want to waste anytime.”
I sighed and reluctantly walked out of our little hut. Once we were all out of our hut, a man with four machetes came walking towards us. When he reached us, he handed each of us a machete. “Keep this with you at all times. There is another tribe out in the rainforest that is very dangerous. Their skin is much darker than ours and they do not speak in English. Only a few of them do. They are called the Kerline Tribe. Their leader’s name is Caleb. You also need these machetes to defend yourself if you come upon a dangerous animal. You must know that the rainforest is full of many dangers. You must be alert at all times.”
“Thank you sir, we will make sure we do this.” replied my dad.
The man nodded and walked away from us. “Well, let’s get going people. The daylight is a wasting.” said my dad. I was beginning to get really sick and tired of my dad’s attitude. He thought he was all high and mighty because he could study animals’ behaviors. Please, I could do that. But, I didn’t say anything. I just followed my parents into the rainforest.
When we were in the rainforest I saw just how beautiful it was. The trees were green and luscious. They also were as tall as skyscrapers. Every where you looked you could see bright, beautiful flowers of every shape and color. It was truly breathtaking.
I looked over at my parents and saw that they had already spotted an animal to study. I for one did not want to stick around and watch them study an animal. I walked over to where Austin was and said in a whisper, “Austin, I think you and I should sneak off for a while. We know how to take care of ourselves in the wild. I know this is a rainforest, but I am sure it would be the same way. And we have a weapon.” I held up my machete and continued on. “Mom and Dad would never notice that we were gone. We would be gone long enough to make them worry. You have got to be sick of them taking us on these expeditions.”
“Yes, you are right Claire; I am down right tired of them! I think running off is a great idea!”
I smiled and then looked to mom and dad. When I was sure they weren’t looked I quietly walked away from them. Austin followed behind me.
We had walked for about ten minutes when I stopped walking. I looked back and only saw plants and trees in the distance. I turned to Austin and said, “We did it!” I then took off and started running. I looked back and saw Austin coming up right behind me. It felt so nice and free to be running like this.
After about fifteen minutes of running we both stopped. I looked to the sky and saw that it was getting darker. I turned to Austin and said, “I think we should be getting back to the village now. We have been gone long enough to make mom and dad worry.”
“Yes, I think you are right Claire. Who knows what could come out in the rainforest at night?”
I shivered at the thought and turned around and we both started to walk back the way we came.
It was almost dark now and Austin and I had been walking for hours. At this point I realized we were lost. A part of me wanted to panic but the other part of me told me stay calm. If I lost it, then Austin surely would. I had to keep myself together for his sake. “Claire, I hate to say this, but we are lost. We have been wandering for hours and we have seen no sign of a village. I don’t think it would be safe to sleep tonight. Any kind of animal could consume us in the night.”
“Well, I am not tired at all. We should just keep walking through the night.”
“I am not sure that is a good idea either. If we are walking around in the rainforest at night, an animal may see us and want to have us for a midnight snack.”
“Well, what do you propose to do Austin?”
“I am not sure, but I guess walking would be our better bet.”
I nodded and we continued walking.
It was completely dark now. I was in full panic mode. I could not hide the panic I felt. I felt at any moment some animal would come out and attack us. Every sound I heard made me jump. I brushed against the side of a tree and almost jumped out of my skin.
I then heard this sound way off in the distance. I couldn’t tell what it was but I could tell it was getting closer. My heart started to beat and at one point I thought it may jump out of my chest. “Austin, do you hear that?” I asked.
“Yes, I do. I can’t figure out what it is.”
As the sound approached us, I could make out some figures in the distance. I squinted my eyes but couldn’t tell what they were. When the figures were finally close enough to where I could see them I screamed out, “Oh my goodness, it is bats!” There were at least 300 bats flying right towards Austin and me. I took Austin by the hand and started running as fast as could. I started to scream out. I couldn’t help it. This had to be the most frightening night of my life. The bats were even closer to us now. Finally, the bats reached us and flew right into Austin and me. I flailed my hands in the air and tore the bats off me. I screamed even louder now. Austin was scared as much as I was. He was using his hands to get the bats away from his face and for that matter his whole body. “Ouch!” I screamed out.
“What is it?” yelled Austin.
“A bat’s claw scratched my face.” I touched my face and felt blood trickle down my cheek.
Finally after about ten minutes, the bats were gone. I fell to the ground and put my hands in my face and started to cry. I couldn’t be strong anymore. I didn’t want Austin to see my like this, but I just couldn’t do it. I rolled over on my side and waited to see what would happen to us next. I hoped we would live through the night.
It was morning and I saw that I was still alive. I looked over to my side and saw that Austin was gone. I jumped up immediately and shouted, “Austin, where are you?”
There was no answer. I yelled his name again. There still was no answer. I was beginning to panic. I started running and shouting his name. I didn’t know if he was killed in the night or what.
I then heard some noise by a nearby creek. I walked to the creek and saw Austin getting a drink. I ran over to him and put my arms around him. “Why didn’t you answer me? I have been worried sick!”
“I just went to get a drink of water Claire.”
“Well, if you go anywhere, tell me or let me come with you. If I lose you, I don’t know how I will survive.”
“I am sure you would do just fine without me.”
I shrugged my shoulders and asked, “Are you sure that water is safe to drink?”
“Well, it looks pretty clear to me and there are no planes or cars around here so there would be no pollution in the water.”
“Well, that works for me.” I sat down on my knees and cupped water in my hands. I took a drink and it felt sensational. I felt the cool water trickle down my throat. I felt my face where the bat’s claw at scratched me and felt dried blood on my face. I knew it didn’t really matter if I had that on my face in the rainforest, but I would feel much better if it was off. And anyways, I needed to clean myself off. “I am going to get in the creek and wash my face and body off. I just feel so dirty, you can come in if you want.” I said to Austin. He nodded his head and joined in with me. I saw him take his machete with him in the water. I didn’t take mine. What could harm us in the creek?
I dunked my head into the cool water. It felt very refreshing after a long night. I cleaned my face off and splashed more water on my body.
I saw something moving in the water. It was coming towards us. I knew better now and I wasn’t going to wait and find out what this thing was. “Austin, get out of the water now! I see something coming towards us.”
“Oh Claire, it’s nothing; you are just being paranoid.”
I got out of the water and pulled his arm. “Austin, come on!” he finally let me pull him out of the water. Thankfully it was in the nick of time because a piranha jumped out of the water and was about to grab on to Austin’s foot with its sharp teeth. I picked up my machete and hurled it at the piranha. It hit it and the awful creature died. I pulled my machete out of the water and then it dawned on me that we could eat the piranha! When I pulled my machete out of the fish, I forgot to bring the fish with it, so the dead piranha floated down the creek.
“Austin, are you all right?”
“Yes, of course I am. Why did you let that piranha go, that could have been our breakfast?”
“I am sorry I forgot to bring the piranha on the machete. I was really scared. It was about to eat you alive!”
“Well, I guess you had your reason. Well, at least we have got water. We have got to find some food though.”
I nodded in agreement.
We must have searched at least an hour for food. I knew there was fruit in the rainforest, we just couldn’t find any. I was starving and very hot. The heat was really getting to me.
Even though it was stinking hot and I was sweating profusely, I admired how beautiful the rainforest was. The wide variety of trees and plants surrounded you in all directions. I looked high into the trees and saw monkeys. I even saw a baby monkey on its mother’s back. That made me smile. The flowers were widely colorful and bright. It gave me sort of peace. Even though all these bad things were happening to us, the rainforest was full of life and beauty.
It was mid-day now and Austin and I had been searching for food for hours. I finally fell to the ground and everything went black.
When I woke up, I saw that I was in a cave of some sort. It was morning now. I must have slept a while. I looked around the cave and saw Austin. I also saw another man who frightened me. He was dressed in a loin cloth. That was all he had on. He had to be a part of the Kerline Tribe. There was no way I was going to trust this guy. But then it hit me, why would he help me if he wanted to hurt me?
I sat up and asked, “Who are you?”
“My name is Dominic. I found your brother and you in the rainforest. I carried you to this cave. This is where I sometimes sleep when I’m tired.”
“How do you defend yourself if you live in a cave all alone?” I asked.
He held up a machete. I nodded and then noticed that a pile of fruit was stacked in the cave. I took a banana from the pile and peeled it and began eating. It had to be the best thing I had ever tasted in my whole life.
“Dominic, you don’t live in this cave, do you?” I asked.
He sighed and said, “No. I only rest here when I’m tired from hunting or gathering food.”
“Where do you live then?” I asked.
“I live in a village about three miles from here. I know you two came from a different village. I can lead you back to your village.”
“Are you serious? You have no idea how happy that would make us!”
“Then it is decided. Let’s get started right now. I don’t want to be walking around at night. I know I can handle the rainforest at night but I am not too sure that you two can.”
“We have survived things that you couldn’t even dream.” I replied.
Dominic shrugged, and Austin and I got up and followed Dominic back out of the cave.
We had been walking for about two hours, and I was getting tired. I was sure we hadn’t traveled that far from our village, but Dominic seemed like he knew where he was going. So I didn’t say anything.
Dominic stopped walking, turned, and smiled at us. Suddenly, Austin and I were caught in a net trap! It all happened so fast that Austin and I had no time to react. I looked to Austin, and I saw fear in his eyes. I then saw a tall man looking at us from the ground. He was dressed in a loin cloth just like Dominic. He had a black feather in his hair. He appeared to be a leader, and Dominic seemed to know him.
Ten men with spears emerged from the forest. They surrounded us. The net was lowered to the ground and the ten men guarded us while the man with the black feather took away our machetes. They then tied our hands, gagged us, and hoisted us back into the net suspended over the rainforest floor. Then they all silently disappeared into the rainforest. As they were leaving Dominic briefly looked at me and quickly turned away. We were alone and defenseless in the eerie forest. Dominic had betrayed us! I couldn’t believe it! Austin and I tried to stay as still and quiet as possible so as not to attract any predators.
It was near dusk when I heard some rustling nearby. I saw a man appear in the shadows. We were both frightened because we couldn’t see who it was, and he was carrying a machete. When he stepped out of the shadows, I saw that it was Dominic. I was so furious with him that I wanted to scream at him and claw his eyes out, but our hands were bound and our mouths were gagged.
When Dominic was next to us he whispered, “Claire, I came back to free you and your brother. I had to wait until dusk to free you because my people would see me come out here. I have been watching you two to ensure that you both remained safe. My father, Caleb, made me do this. He was the tall man with the black feather in his hair that captured you. He learned that your parents came to the Dongo Rainforest. He wanted to catch your father, but did not succeed. But when he saw you two sneak off and get lost in the forest, he decided to catch you and use you as hostages. He told me to find you and lead you into this trap. He told me that he would beat me if I didn’t do what he said.”
Dominic paused a moment and then continued, “My father is the chief. His name is Caleb, and he is the chief of the Kerline Tribe. Many years ago Christian, your father, killed a special friend of my father’s. His name was Joshua. He was an etholgist like your parents. My father met Joshua many years ago when Joshua was in the Dongo Rainforest for one of his many expeditions. My father wants revenge against your father for Joshua’s murder. But I think what he is doing is wrong, and I want to help you.”
Suddenly the sound of a twig snapping came from the forest. Dominic’s eyes went wide as he went silent. He grasped his machete tighter and scanned the forest. Without warning a small animal shot out from the leaves and ran away. Dominic sighed in relief. He then said, “My father said that he saw your father push Joshua over the ledge of a steep cliff. My father has never trusted the police so he has been waiting for years to exact his revenge. My father knew that Christian came to the Dongo Rainforest every few years to do his research so he just waited. But, ten years passed, and your father never returned. Then unexpectedly all four of you arrived at a nearby village. My father and his men watched for their chance to kill Christian but he was staying too close to the village while doing his research. So my father decided to use you two as hostages when you snuck off and became lost. Once you were captured one of my dad’s men snuck into your parent’s hut and left a message that said that you two were being held as hostages. The message also told them where your parent’s should come if they ever wanted to see you two alive again.”
That was a lot to take in, and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe my father would do something like this. I then realized Austin and I were still in the net bound and gagged. I mumbled and lifted my hands asking Dominic to release us. “Oh yes, of course. Sorry, I got caught up in my talking.” he said. He took his machete cut the rope holding our net, and we fell to the ground. Fortunately it didn’t hurt because we had been hanging only a few feet off the ground. He then took the cloth out of our mouths and cut the ropes from our wrists.
After a brief pause to rub my wrists and mouth, I said, “Dominic, are you sure your father’s friend was named Joshua?”
“Yes, absolutely.” he replied.
“We have an uncle named Joshua who died here many years ago on an expedition with my father. The police came from the city and investigated. They decided it was an accident.”
“Yes, that is what your father hoped would happen, but trust me. My father saw Christian push your uncle off the ledge to his death. But first we need to make sure you two are not recaptured by my father’s men, I am going to lead you back to your village.”
“And why should we believe you?” I asked, “You led us into one trap. How do we know you won’t do it again?”
“Give me your hand.” said Dominic.
I put out my hand, and he placed his machete into hand. Dominic then spread out his arms to expose his chest, closed his eyes, and said, “All right, you can go ahead and kill me right now if you think I am lying.”
As I held the machete in my hands, my hands started shaking. I didn’t know if I could trust Dominic or not. His story was so incredible that I couldn’t believe it. But why would he make up a story like that? And how would he know my uncle’s name was Joshua, and that he died on an expedition here many years ago? But I couldn’t kill him. I’m not a murderer. So if I only injured him, then he would shout and warn his village. So if I wasn’t going to trust him, then I would have to kill him. But something deep inside told me to trust this strange young man in the rainforest.
Dominic just stood there with his eyes closed as I weighed all this in my mind. Finally he opened his eyes, looked at me, and smiled! I had no idea why he was doing that. He said, “Why didn’t you kill me Claire? You had the perfect chance.”
“I didn’t kill you because a part of me believes you. And I just can’t kill someone. I would feel guilty the rest of my life.”
“Well, I am glad you didn’t kill me. But, if you are still a little wary you can carry my machete until we reach your village. If I don’t take you to your village, you can kill me.”
That sounded legitimate to me, so I nodded and Dominic turned and led us into the rainforest. Austin and I followed behind him as quietly as we could be.
Finally, after hours of walking, we reached our village. Dominic did not go into the village with us. He stopped at the edge of the rainforest and pointed the way to our hut. Dominic then whispered, “I am going to stay right where I am. I am too scared to go back to my father. He will probably figure out I set you free. Don’t tell anyone I am here unless it is very important.”
“Don’t worry Dominic, you will be safe here. Just stay out of sight.”
He nodded his head.
I looked to Austin and then we walked out of the rainforest towards the village. When we reached it, I saw a group of men with machetes in their hands. I also saw my mom and Dad with machetes in their hands. Austin and I ran to them. When my mom saw us she shouted in joy, “Claire! Austin! You’re alive!” She ran towards us and hugged us as hard as she could. My dad came running up right behind her. He hugged us too.
Then one of the men nearby said, “What happened to you two out there? Tell us everything.”
“Look, my brother and I are very tired, dirty and hungry. We just want some food. We also just want to get cleaned up and go to bed. We will tell you later, but right now we’re exhausted.” I said.
“Of course, you have been through a lot. We’ll talk with you in the morning after you’ve eaten and rested.”
My mom and Dad walked towards our hut. Austin and I followed behind them.
When we were all in the hut my mom asked, “So, what happened to you two? Why did you leave the village? Where have you been?”
I told mom everything that had happened including everything Dominic had told us about Dad killing Uncle Joshua.
My mom looked like she was in shock, but my dad looked nervous.
So I turned to Dad and asked, “Is this true, Dad? Did you kill your own brother?”
“What? I would never do that, Claire. What kind of a man do you think I am?”
“Well, I can’t really tell you for sure after what we’ve just learned. Just tell us the truth, Dad.”
“Look, I don’t know why this Dominic character told you I killed your uncle, but why should you believe him when you barely know him?”
“That is not the question Dad.” I said.
I looked over at my mom and could tell that she was thinking very hard about something. “Mom, what are you thinking about?” I asked.
“Claire, did Dominic tell you when your uncle was killed?”
“Well, he said it was about ten years ago. It may be less than that.”
My mom gasped and I then asked, “What is it Mom?”
“Well, around that time your father and your uncle came here for an expedition. During that expedition, Joshua died from a fall from a steep cliff. There was an investigation, but it was determined to be an accident. After the local authorities released Joshua’s body, your father came home immediately to bury and mourn his brother. This incident has always bothered me. Your father acted very strange when he returned, but I just thought it was the shock of loosing his brother.”
My dad then said, “And what does this have to do with me?”
“It has everything to do with you.” shouted my mom with tears started streaming down her face. She was angry and sad at the same time. All of a sudden my mom burst out, “Christian, did you know I was having an affair with your brother?”
I gasped. Everything was going wrong.
My dad’s face hardened and he replied, “Yes, of course I knew.”
“Mom, did you really have an affair with Uncle Joshua?” I asked in disbelief.
She sighed and said, “Yes, I did, but it was very short. Your father and I were having some major martial problems around that time. Your father was completely obsessed with his work. He didn’t have time for anyone but himself. He was not all affectionate with me during this time. He didn’t even hold my hand or open doors for me. He would always do that sort of thing for me. So, Joshua was always there for me. He would come with us a lot on our expeditions, and he and I became very close. After a while we started having an affair. It only lasted about a month. I suspected that your father knew about our affair. I never knew for certain, but in my heart I suspected that your father knew something was going on between us. Shortly after we broke off the affair, all three of us were scheduled to go to the Dongo Rainforest. At the last minute, you became ill Claire. I was pregnant with Austin so I had to stay behind. I never really have thought about this until now. But now I realize that something in my heart was telling me that Joshua’s death was no mere accident.”
Although I was shocked that my mom had had an affair with my uncle, I was also proud of her. It had taken a lot of courage for her to tell the truth.
My mom then turned towards my dad and said, “Christian, just admit you killed your brother. I am sorry I had an affair with him, but please just admit it.”
“Andrea, I didn’t kill my own brother. I would never do that. Now, if you will excuse me, I have something I have to attend to.” and just like that, my dad walked out of our hut and stormed off.
My mom looked back to me and said, “Claire, where is Dominic?”
“He is hiding just right outside the village. He is afraid to return to his father because he let us go free.”
“Can you take me to him?” she asked.
“Yes, but we must be quiet. No one can know he is here.”
She nodded her head and we all walked out of the hut towards the rainforest.
We all three walked into the rainforest and I whispered, “Dominic, it is Claire. My mom wants to talk to you.”
I saw Dominic walking towards us. My mother went to him, hugged him and said, “Thank you so much for bringing back my children to me. I know what has happened. I know my husband killed Joshua. I believe you, and I want justice to be served. But I cannot send my husband into the rainforest to be slaughtered. If I agree to tell the village elders, not the police from the city, to reopen the investigation, would Caleb agree to testify to what he saw?”
Dominic was silent for a moment. Then he said, “I will try and do my best. I will be back tomorrow if I can.” He then disappeared into the darkness of the rainforest.
We all looked at each other and walked out of the rainforest towards our hut. I saw my dad coming right towards us. He was yelling with his fists in the air. Mom grabbed mine and Austin’s hands, and she started running away from him. She finally saw the village elders and shouted, “Elders, please help us! We have a man named Caleb who says that he can prove my husband killed his own brother Joshua in this forest many years ago. We would like you to act as judges to decide if my husband is guilty or not. I think you should get some men from the tribe to hold Christian until morning. Also Caleb wants revenge, and he may come and attack the village in order to get to my husband. So it would be wise to post guards around the village tonight.”
One of the elders looked at my dad and then at my mom and said, “I believe what you say is the truth.” The elder snapped his fingers and many men came out of the shadows around the village. He told then, “Put Christian in that empty hut.” he points to a hut about five feet away. “Guard that hut until morning. Make sure he is never left alone.” All of the men nodded and took my father away towards the hut.
The same elder turned back to us and said, “I will post guards at your hut to keep you safe in case Caleb decides to attack.”
“Thank you, sir.” replied my mom.
The elder nodded, and we walked towards our hut followed by five of the elder’s men. It made me feel a little better to know we had someone watching out for us during the night.
When we reached our hut I fell to the floor. I was so exhausted. It felt like I had been awake for days. It wasn’t too long until my eyes closed, and I fell into a deep sleep.
I was awoken by a commotion of people outside my hut. It must have been almost dawn when I woke up. I looked at Austin and said, “Do you know what is going on out there?”
“No, but I am not sure where mom is.”
I looked around and didn’t see my mom. I stood up and told Austin to follow me. There were no men guarding our hut anymore. I then saw what the commotion was all about. I saw Dominic, Caleb and his men emerging from the rainforest. Our village elders were talking with Caleb. Caleb then says, “I trust what the village elders have told me. I will trust their wisdom and judgment.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, the village elder that talked to us the night before said, “Bring Christian out of his hut.”
It was a minute or so before I saw my dad. He looked tired and worn down. I had never seen him like this before. A man pulled my dad to stand next to Caleb. My dad didn’t look at him, he just kept looking straight.
Finally one of the elders said, “Caleb will you please tell the elders what happened the day of Joshua’s death.”
Caleb cleared his throat and began. “I was at my village making sure everyone was happy and content. Suddenly, my son Dominic comes and tells me he saw Christian push Joshua off a steep cliff about five miles from our village. I believed him because my son has never lied to me in his life. So, my son and I ran to the place he saw Christian push Joshua off the steep cliff. Christian was gone, and Joshua’s body was at the base of the cliff.”
“Thank you Caleb. Dominic, did you see this Christian push Joshua over the cliff your own eyes?” asked the elder.
“Yes sir, I did.” replied Dominic.
“Thank you. Now, Christian, will you please tell the elders what happened that day.”
My dad nodded and then said, “Joshua and I had gone up to a cliff side to study monkeys and different types of birds. We were up there for at least three hours. When we were about to leave, Joshua said that he saw a monkey climb down the cliff side. I told him not to get too close because people had been known to fall off and die. He didn’t listen, of course. He never did as child. Then, he leaned too far over the ledge in an attempt to see the monkey, and he slipped and fell to his death.”
“Christian, did you have a chance to catch your brother’s hand as he was slipping?” asked one of the elders.
“No I didn’t. If I could have I would have pulled him up. He just slipped away too fast.”
“Thank you Christian. Now, we have two different stories, so I don’t know who we should believe. Andrea, the elders would like you to testify. We would never ask this of you if you weren’t his wife. You will know Christian’s heart better than anyone”
My mom nodded her head and said, “I cannot know for certain whether my husband killed Joshua or not.” Then, she turned towards my dad and looked him straight in the eye. “Christian, do you swear to the children and me that you did not kill your brother?”
I thought he was going to answer because he was about to open his mouth; instead he was silent and he dropped his head.
When my dad did this everyone knew that my dad had killed his own brother out of jealousy of his wife. Then the elders said, “We promise we will turn Christian over to the authorities.”
Caleb then says, “You know I don’t like the police, they never do any good.”
“Caleb, we can convince them that Christian did kill his brother, we promise.” replied the elders.
“Do I have your solemn word?” asked Caleb.
“You have our solemn word that justice will be done.” said the elder.
Caleb nodded his head, and then he and his men begin to leave and return to the rainforest. Dominic ran up to his father and asked, “Father, can I stay behind until everything is resolved?”
“All right, son.” said Caleb, the he and his men descended into the rainforest.
Two Weeks Later
I learned that the village elders had contacted the U.S. Embassy in Columbia. The elders explained what happened, and they also indicated that it would be best to send my dad back to the U.S. to be tried for his crime in his own country. After they learned this, the embassy contacted the U.S. State Department and they agreed.
I also wondered why the elders did not report Caleb kidnapping of Austin and I. So I asked one of the elders, “Why did you not report Caleb kidnapping my brother and me?”
“Caleb agreed to not kill your father, and in return we promised not to report his kidnapping of you and your brother. But Caleb was warned that if any attempt at retribution is made against Christian or anyone in your family, then we would notify the United States that he had kidnapped American citizens. Caleb agreed.”
“Oh, I think that was a very good idea.” I replied.
As walked away from the elder I saw Dominic. I ran towards him and said, “Are you going to go back to your village today? I think a helicopter is coming in a few days to pick us up and take us home. You should come with us.”
“I would love to come with you, but do you think the elders would allow it?”
“Well, let’s go and ask.” I replied.
We walked to the elders again and I asked, “Can Dominic come back home to live with Mom, Austin and me? He doesn’t want to live in his village anymore. He still is a little afraid to live there after what happened with his father.”
“Well, I don’t see why not. I will tell the U.S. that Dominic will be coming back with you as a visitor. We will arrange everything.”
“Thank you sir.” replied Dominic.
Two days later a helicopter was on its way to pick us up. It was a bright, sunny day when I saw the U.S. helicopter land in the village where I had stayed for so long. Mom, Austin, Dominic and I boarded the helicopter. I waved goodbye to all of the villager and the elders.
When the village was out of sight I turned to Dominic and said, “Well, at least we won’t have to worry about dangerous animals anymore.”
“Yes, that is one good advantage.” Dominic laughed.
“Why are you laughing?” I asked.
“Well, you learned that your father killed your uncle and you are talking about the dangerous animals of the rainforest.” he started laughing again.
“Well, they were a concern.” I said.
“Oh Claire, you are a fun person to be around.”
“I know I am. You had better…” I didn’t get a chance to finish my sentence because Dominic kissed me. Suddenly, I heard a noise. “Yuck!” It was Austin.
“Austin, you just ruined a wonderful Kodak moment!” I exclaimed