I looked over at Elayna her eyes sparkled as we were both stumbling over our white gowns. The wedding reception had just ended and she looked like an angel with the moonlight twinkling in her joyful eyes, with the hot desert sand behind us. Her grandmother wasn’t for the whole same sex marriage thing but she still loved me the same, maybe even more because she loved being rebellious. We both stepped into the old blue, rusty Chevy truck her dad had given her for her sixteenth birthday. We were so happy to be away from all the excitement and finally be alone.
“Hello! Mrs.Martinez-William,” I said to her with a smile.
“I ‘m going to have to get used to the whole two last names thing,” she said and winked.
Our wedding was already in Africa, so we decided to spend our honeymoon at an African safari in Kenya. I spent the whole night driving and watching her sleep peacefully in the quiet night. Elayna was so excited, she loved the thought of doing this since we were both sixteen. We came up with the idea when we were driving around in this very Chevy, thinking about our future together. The wedding was nothing like I had imagined it to be, it was even more.
We finally arrived, my mouth was parched and I was already sweating because of how high the temperature was. Elayna looked beautiful in the radiant sunlight with a trickle of sweat falling from her brow. She was so perfect, no matter the circumstances.
We socialized with other tourists as the tour guide was getting everything ready, to make the safari even more exciting we were even allowed to camp out and see the animals at night. The first animal we got a glimpse of was an Okapi, I did a little research on African animals and I was pleased to inform Elayna about the Okapi. They have stripes like a zebra mostly on their legs but they are fairly large because of their relation to giraffes. Elayna loved it as I told her facts about other animals such as Baboons, Antelope, Hyenas, and Leopards. We were both so intrigued by the conversation neither of us had acknowledged what had happened. The jeep that all of the other tourists and ourselves were on had broken down.
“Don’t worry,” the tour guide had said with panic in his eyes. “This was where we were going to camp anyway, we can start setting up tents as I figure out what’s wrong. I will come around and meet everyone and help out with setting up afterwards.”
I had only just met the tourist guide, but for some reason I didn’t trust him. He had a look of fear on his face like he knew something was wrong, and he kept on eyeing us. I was used to people staring by now, we have been together since we were both fifteen and people still thought it was weird or they were in awe to see an openly gay couple. He noticed that I was staring back at him and he looked down at the engine. I didn’t know anything about vehicles, but I could tell something was wrong, the engine looked fried.
We started setting up as we could hear something moving in the shrubbery behind our tent. I could see the curiosity in Elayna’s eyes so we went to check it out. We climbed outside and I could hear the other tourists unzipping their tents. I started to hear faint screams of the other tourists. As the screams grew closer Elayna looked at me her eyes no longer twinkling with joy, she was scared I could tell only because she bites her nails when she is nervous or filled with fear, Elayna was chewing away at her cuticles. She looked at me and I could tell she was frightened.
We went outside the tent as the other tourists were running away in terror. I could see the look on the tour guides face as he was screaming on the top of his lungs as I spotted a large shadow emerging from behind him. A lion was pouncing on other tourists behind the fire pit, which wasn't, too far away from us.
“JULIA, NO!” Elayna screamed as I walked toward the commotion.
I was frightened by the way Elayna said my name, she usually called me Jules or Julie, she only calls me by my full name when she is terrified. I stopped and looked at my surroundings. It wasn’t just a lion, there was a panther brutally attacking another couple. The sight was so unpleasant and gory I fell to the ground shaking, knowing that image would forever be in my mind.
Forever, I thought, and automatically looked at Elayna, we were supposed to be together forever, till death do us part. I wasn't planning on dying anytime soon and I had to protect Elayna. Another scream emerged from behind us, a gazelle running wild with its long horns swinging in the air just waiting to puncture and tear apart another tourist’s flesh.
I automatically recognized Elayna’s scream, she was in danger and there was nothing I could do to help. I searched for her and stumbled upon her laying on the ground holding her ankle and crying, it looked swollen and bruised. I observed her ankle to find what was wrong as she was screaming in pain. A snake had bitten her, there was only one thing to do.
I had never imagined the taste of snake venom in my mouth, it had left a very unpleasant after taste. My tongue felt numb but the only thing that was important was that Elayna was okay. She was limping but still managed to run, there were no animals by the jeep only a pool of people trying to figure out what was wrong. I'm pretty sure even if they did fix the engine they wouldn't have bothered to inform the other tourists, they would have just saved themselves leaving the others behind to die.
I started thinking about my family, my mom was so proud of Elayna and I for not caring what others thought. Though my father left when I came out to him I had Elayna’s dad, he treated me like his own daughter and loved me for loving his daughter. What if I lost everything right at that moment? No warnings, just looking into my beautiful wife’s eyes and then losing it all. I mean everything happens for a reason, but is there a possibility that I could prevent this from going any further? Before more people die and lose everything they have?
“Don't try to be the hero, Jules,” Elayna whispered because of her shortness of breath. Somehow she is able to read my mind.
“We can fight through this ourselves. Together. We will make it out of this death wish and have a better honeymoon elsewhere. Where there is no crazy animals to interfere with us or idiotic tour guides THAT DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!” She shouted, Elayna was not messing around anymore.
The tour guide looked in our direction I know he heard Elayna’s shouting and put his head down. If I was in his position I would be trying to help others instead of just sitting there and letting our lives be in danger. I looked over past the jeep. There was a group of leopards waiting to pounce about fifty feet away from us.
“RUN! EVERYONE RUN AWAY FROM THE JEEP!” I screamed.
People looked over at me with questioning faces some even dumbfounded. They noticed the leopards and ran, no looking back, only looking forward. Everyone came to a halt as we noticed loins in front of us. We had nowhere to go, we were trapped, either way we had a brutal death
waiting for us.
The sound of the gunshot was deafening. My ears ringing as I could hear the vague sounds of the lions whimpers. I looked around to see who had the gun, but I didn’t expect to see the tour guide, gun in hand with a look of determination in his eyes. Elayna glanced over at me, she was in shock.
Elayna loved animals, I knew she would have rather been eaten by the lion than watch it die. She had to look away as the lion moaned in pain. The tour guide noticed the sadness in Elayna’s eyes and decided to finish the job and he grabbed a small but short knife out of this pocket and stabbed the lion instead of shooting it. I guess stabbing was better than shooting to end the suffering but stabbing seemed so brutal, so inhuman.
The leopards had been frightened by the gunshot and ran off. I paused for a moment to observe my surroundings. No animals in sight, didn’t see anything we could necessarily use as a weapon other than the gun and knife the tour guide carried. The gun would eventually run out of bullets and the knife is only good to use if you are close to the animal so we would have to come up with something fast.
I heard a shrill cry coming from our small group. A little girl shrieking in terror, I glanced over and saw the tour guide viciously shredding the lion’s flesh, leading to the warmth of a red pool of blood rushing out rapidly filling and overflowing the gashes. The tour guide didn’t hesitate at all, letting all of us witness his savageness. Tears slowly escaping his eyes as his face was pinched together with anger. Even after the shrill cry of the young girl he didn’t stop thrusting the knife into the lion’s skin.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? BE A MAN AND ACCEPT THE SITUATION THAT WE ARE IN!” Elayna yelped.
Her face was flushed with anger, even after the yelling he didn’t bother to come to a halt. One of the men in the group tried to grab the knife from the tourist guide only causing more trouble. Blood trickling from his hand the man screamed in agony. The tourist guide’s face froze realizing what he had done, he stabbed someone that was trying to help him. Everyone went crazy and ran as fast as they could. We all now had two things to fear, the animals, and now the crazy tourist guide.
Our small group ran together into the shrubbery terrified on what would happen next. I ripped a part of my overshirt and grabbed the man’s hand, for a second he looked at me with confusion and then thanked me. I tightly wrapped the cloth around his bloody wound and secured it with a fixed knot.
“I think I might be able to fix the jeep” He whispered.
My face froze, If he can fix the jeep we can escape from the animals and the tour guide.
“Stay quiet.” I commanded, “If the tourist guide finds out he will try to come with us and I don’t think he is sane enough to be around anyone.” I muttered soundlessly.
We stayed in our hiding place for about an hour until we thought it was safe to move without being stabbed by the tourist guide. The injured man was trying to sneak his way to the jeep without being seen or making any noise. I held my breath as he arrived at the jeep, he slowly opened the hood and observed the engine closely I could hear a faint laugh and a look of relief. I could tell by the look of his face it was an easy fix. My smile then quickly vanished, the tourist guide was snooping around the bushes about one hundred feet away, dragging along a dead wildebeest. This man was insane, he was so strong and demented he could probably take down an elephant.
I picked up a fairly large rock and started making my way towards him, I have never had good aim before but I was hoping for some luck. I started sprinting and as I stopped to catch my breath something caught ahold of my foot. I fell, a vine was curled around my leg I attempted to pry it off but it wouldn’t budge.
“GET OFF!! JULES HELP ME!” a familiar voice cried out.
“ELAYNA?” I called out “Elayna is that you?” I yelled.
I sat up facing the sound of her voice, I gasped as I saw the tourist guide holding Elayna in his arms, the razor sharp knife hovering over her neck ready to pierce her velvety skin at any moment. I was raging with anger and fear and suddenly I was on my feet again. I had been so angry that I had broke the vine without even trying.
I sprinted towards the tourist guide and lunged the rock at his head. He fell to the ground while Elayna was in shock and trying to catch her breath. I gasped a breath of relief as I pulled Elayna into my arms and held her tighter than ever before.
The injured man (whose name I learned was John) was working on the jeep as fast as he could using the tools he carved using the tourist guide’s knife. I didn’t know if he was dead or just knocked out, and I didn’t want to find out. John had just quickly ran up to retrieve the knife and didn’t bother to check if he had a pulse or not. Either way I was terrified in the thought that he might wake up any second and attack us or that I was a murderer and killed someone, even if it was self defense I would never forgive myself.
Now all we had to do was wait for John to fix the jeep and stay out of the way of the animals which so far has been easy.
“ Before I met you,” Elayna whispered, “ I had thought that love was like an ocean. You want to dive in head first but then you fear that there might be sharks and other scary things in the way so you hold back. Then you came along and changed all of that for me, you taught me how dive right in and be carefree with being myself. ” she said smiling.
I glanced down at her and I’m pretty sure I had the biggest grin possible across my face.
“GUYS! I FIXED IT, WE CAN LEAVE!” John screamed with excitement.
Our small group made our way to the jeep in no time, everyone hopped in and was ready to just get out of this place. John hopped in the driver’s seat, turned the key and then quickly frowned. I looked at him, confused.
“ None of us know the route to get back to the main grounds.” He explained.
“Actually, I know it.” A young boy maybe barely old enough to drive had said. “I sat by the tourist guide and he gave me a map because I told him I wanted to go explore at night,” he paused for a moment with sorrow in his eyes “it’s a good thing that I didn’t”.
I questioned his sadness, the couple that I experienced getting brutally attacked were his parents. I felt so bad for him I hugged him tightly, I know if I would have lost Elayna to that savage tour guide I would hate everyone and everything.
“All set everyone?” John questioned, his hands eagerly hovering over the steering wheel.
All of us nodded and we were off, we made it to the base camp and immediately confronted the “chief” of the safari to tell him about our situation. He was very surprised to hear what had happened and demanded that everyone were to at once and go to the nearest hospital.
All in shock, we left without any questions answered and puzzled looks on our faces. Elayna, all covered in blood and dirt, hobbled towards me with her injured ankle. She looked like a warrior, in fact as I looked around we all did. Each of us wore blood and mud as war paint on our bodies with hints of shrubbery in our hair. As she looked up at me Elayna forced a smile and grabbed my hand, we were silent until we reached our car. I jumped into the driver’s seat and felt the hot leather against my sweaty thighs.
“I love you” she said as she leaned back and propped her ankle up.
“I love you too” I said, trying not to sound too frightened so I didn't scare her.
I pulled out of the camp grounds and didn't look back, that place had totally changed me. That place had made my relationship stronger with Elayna and my ability to be courageous weaker. I would never be able to look at anything the same way ever again. I was still in shock but knowing that I would never return there ever again it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I left.
Elayna and I had faced great misery together that day but we were off to have our own not life threatening adventures with each other now.