Jack led the way, slashing furiously with his machete at the dense undergrowth. The others trailing one by one behind him. His shirt stuck to his body with the effort. The cut branches discarded by his other hand lay trampled underfoot by his weary followers, each of whom were now suffering varying degrees of exhaustion in the humid tropical heat. “We’ve got to stop and rest” cried Stephan. “No, not here, we have to reach higher ground to see exactly where we are” replied Jack. “Lost is what we are” mumbled Norman. All round monkeys screeched. Their screaming was endless. Their makeshift fly swats had been discarded, useless, consuming too much effort under the continual onslaught of biting flies.
After what seemed like hours, Jack shouted out to the others. “I think there’s a clearing ahead” With a few aching arches of his arm he thrashed through into it. As they all stumbled in, they fell to their knees, gasping for breath, mopping their brows. Only then did they notice Jack was still standing, his machete hanging limp in his right arm, staring in silence straight ahead. The clearing was undoubtedly man made, but instead of any hoped for native huts or view out the forest, in the dead centre of an almost perfectly circular clearing about 20ft in diameter, there stood what appeared to be a great wooden hand stretching out of the forest floor. Its cut off branches resembled stubbly fingers on which various artefacts rested – plumage presumably from some local bird, a piece of cotton material covered in writing or hieroglyphics, a set of large rusty old keys and 4 human skulls.
© Sheila Ash 21st February 2016
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