2. The Jungle

The humid air hits me and I gasp for air. I step through the door onto the mossy ground of an actual jungle! There are huge trees with vines and the ground is mushy with moss. I know it’s daytime but I can’t see the sky because the trees are so thick with leaves that are bigger than my hand. Since I’m obviously dreaming, I may as well walk. I can’t get hurt in a jungle dream, right?

As I move forward, I have to step through vines and thick brush, the bugs are thick as thieves but they don’t seem to be doing anything but buzzing in my ears. I hear the sounds of wild birds everywhere. The trees are moving with monkeys and other things. I can’t begin to know what these damn animals are! I see a clearing coming up and it looks like the vines may be thinning a bit.

“Hello, Welc’me,” says a tall, black man with a very deep voice.

“Welcome, come play with us,” said the little girl sitting at the table with him.

“You got any money?” asks the man.

“No. I only seem to have my pajama pants and a whole bunch of scratches from the bushes I walked through!”

“Papa, can he play with us?”

“What are you playing?”

“Just a little game, you make the hippos eat things and whoever has the hippo with the most food wins!” She giggles with delight.

Papa sits but just watches me. I look around and see nothing but jungle around this little clearing and I have to wonder where these people came from. This is weird as fuck.

“Oh hello! You’re bleeding,” a short round woman appeared out of nowhere with a pitcher of lemon water and four glasses.

“It’s the price he pays for walkin’ through da jungle in jus’ his sleep bottoms, Louise,” Papa grumbles.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Louise smiles.

“Where am I? How did I get here?”

“Well, you’re obviously in the jungle and you said you walked here!” chided the girl.

LIANAS IN INTERIOR OF LOWLAND RAINFOREST, LA SELVA BIOLOGICAL STATION, COSTA RICA

“Have some water, it’ll cool you off,” said Louise.

Papa is still eye ballin’ me and I know I can’t take him if he attacks me. But then again, why would he? Although I have no idea who these people are or how they got here.

The little girl stands up and comes closer to me. Her little hand touches my arm and traces the scratches where I bleed. I take a drink of my lemon water and try to ignore her.

“I like watching you bleed,” she smiles.

Oh shit. I’m in trouble. The goose bumps rise and I almost choke on the water.

“Don’t worry about mah liddle girl. She’s a bit dif’rent than most,” says Papa in his low voice.

She looks at me and in her eyes, I swear I see fire, then she looks back down to my arm. Her grip tightens and I try to shake her little pudgy fingers from mine but she has a hell of a grip. I see Louise take a step back. Papa stands from his seat. I shake my arm again and try to release the kid’s grip but when I look into her eyes, that fire comes alive!

Her hands turn to claws, almost pterodactyl like, they grip harder and she screams as her talons claw into me. I can hear myself screaming as I watch Papa and Louise step back further, their eyes widening and a smile spreading across Papa’s face.

Blood, there is blood everywhere and I can’t kick this bird creature kid off of me. I scream louder and everything goes black.