This is a flash fiction piece (less than 1000 words) I wrote for a contest recently where they assign genre, location and an object. Here’s what I wrote within the 48 hour deadline with an action/adventure story set in the rainforest with a toy boat. Enjoy!
The only sound louder than her pounding heart was the screaming of the howler monkeys. She and Ted were crashing through the underbrush as small darts and larger spears whizzed by their ears. They sprinted as fast as they could across the rug of knotted roots on the rainforest floor. The same roots that they had come looking for were now likely going to kill them. They were losing ground. The shaking of trees and leaves in their peripheral vision was getting closer. They just needed to stay ahead long enough to make it to the pick up point on the river.
When Bernadette and Ted had left the Awa village ten minutes ago, they were grateful. The trip had been a success, despite the constant humming of insects in her ears, the sweat that tricked steadily down her spine into the waistband of her pants from morning until night. With Ted’s direction, they had found the Awa tribe and met their Shaman, a man famous for his herbal cancer cures. Bernadette’s sister had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer just a few months ago. Charlotte was the healthy one. She was the triathlete who’d never smoked a day in her life. Bernadette had made a sport of channel surfing while she smoked half a pack of Camel Lights a day. But as the cancer wound its way through Charlotte’s lungs, the fear wound through Bernadette. It peeled the weight off of both of them, left them both choking for oxygen and struggling for breath. And when the doctors began to shake their heads and claim their hands were tied, that’s when the trip to Brazil came up. After two weeks here, Ted and Bernadette were heading back to Colorado with a bag of ground herbs and two small boats made from palm leaves tied together with vines that the village children had given them as parting gifts.
As they wound their way through the thick underbrush towards the pick up point, the buzzing of the insects seemed to drop away, the sound of macaws in the canopy of the trees went silent. It was as though the needle has been ripped off the soundtrack of the forest they’d been listening to for two weeks. Bernadette felt the hair go up on the back of her neck. And as she looked over at Ted, the first dart flew by and lodged in the trunk of the tree just three feet to their right. Ted looked at her wide-eyed and yelled, “RUN” as the howler monkeys began to scream in the trees.
While the Awa tribe was peaceful, the Massacos to the South were aggressive and territorial. The Awa told a story of watching one of their fellow tribe members be captured and skinned alive as punishment for trespassing on their lands. The only chance for survival, they said, was to run.
Bernadette yelled out in pain as her foot caught on a thick root and she came down with a crash onto the floor of the forest. Ted was just behind her and without skipping a beat, scooped her up under her arms and placed her back on her feet. A whoop went up behind a thick wall of green leaves. They were closer. Bernadette was choking as she tried to get air in her lungs, tears running down her face, desperate to find a way out. She and Ted continued to pound through the rainforest and wound themselves closer and closer to the river. Bernadette could see it, the brown water dully flowing by. She heard a thump and a gurgle just behind her. As she turned, Ted looked at her with surprise, a four foot spear stuck through his chest as he slowly fell to his knees and mouthed the words again, “Run.”
Bernadette was getting closer to the river, but so were the arrows. As she made it to the river bank, she knew she had little chance of making it down the half mile to the meet up point. Her only chance to save her baby sister was to get these herbs to Charles who was waiting down river. Hands shaking, she pulled the bag of ground roots out of her bag and placed it in the small leaf boat. After a second, she pulled her ring off her finger and placed it in the small boat with the herbs and shoved it out into the water just as she heard a crash behind her.
Charles waited for Bernadette and Ted at the pick up spot with the boat engine idling. They were thirty minutes late and despite the heat, his hands were starting to get clammy. He’d been watching the banks of the river for a sign of them and had seen nothing. Charles looked to the water and as he looked up river he thought he saw something unusual floating down the river. As it made its way slowly through the eddies towards his boat, he could tell it was a carefully constructed toy boat made of leaves with a small bag and a silver ring in it. A ring not unike the one that Bernadette wore. Charles choked on his surprise. As he leaned over to pick up the toy boat, a spear whistled just over his head and lodged into the far wall of the boat. He dropped the toy boat back in the water, ducked down and lunged for the throttle. He threw the throttle forward and the boat lurched away from the bank and down the river. As he picked up more speed, the rain of arrows and spears slowed as he gained some distance. He slowly stood up and looked back up the river. Charles watched the small leaf boat with its cargo dip into the wake he’d left behind and slowly sink down in to the dark muddy waters.