Shades of…

‘Tis said wickedness and cruelty stalk the earth unchecked. Those with malice in their hearts and cruelty in their deeds. Yet even these conduct their activities with caution and a certain amount of conscience. Whether it be from a sense of deep-seated though unrecognized moral concern, or fear of reprisal; societal or the divine, it exists.

None of these actors ever touch upon or commit true evil. For there to be true evil, there cannot be morals. Cannot be a conscience or fear. Since the dawn of time man has made the sign against evil. A warding. Has feared the evil-eye.

‘Tis said the world is made from a thousand shades of grey. But to stare into an eye that holds true evil means to look upon the abyss, and see nothing but a thousand shades of black.

Gregory J Saunders



In December 2006, a local farmer in Peru claimed to have seen a creature resembling a Chupacabra attacking a wild boar on his farm. The man, who referred to the creature as "Zahir," later told the authorities that he feared for his life when he saw the creature devour the boar within minutes. The creature then ran faster than any animal the farmer had ever seen. Shocked at the sight of the creature, the farmer stated that he is haunted by the evil in the Zahir's eyes.

*Excerpt from Wikipedia online; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra

ONE

“Jimmy!” Where the hell could that boy have gotten to? “Jimmy,” the man yelled again, but his voice seemed to die just past his lips. The humidity and heat and jungle thickness stifling his words, making even the smallest physical effort a trial. He cursed under his breath as he tripped over a new fallen log, jostling the foliage just enough to shake loose a cloud of biting gnats. They swarmed his arms and face though none lit for more than an instant. The miracle of modern science in a bottle, or perhaps it was simply the same conditions that stifled Hal Jenkins that caused them pause, lulled into uncaring lethargy by the heat. Then again, he thought evilly, it could be that god-awful ‘who the hell knows what’s in it’ stew Cookie made last night. Even now he could smell the reek of it oozing from every pore on his sweat drenched body. Hal Jenkins crouched just on the opposite side of the log over which he’d stumbled and stared at the walls of green. They were as much above as around, casting a deep gloom over the mid of day. It was a pitiful attempt to penetrate the impenetrable and see where the boy was hiding. That was the only reason Hal could think of for Johnny have gone missing for a full half-hour. He’s screwing with me. And I’m gonna kick his ass for it.

It wasn’t a boast. Hal Jenkins was a bear of a man with a disposition to match, a distinct disadvantage in the deepest recesses of the Amazon. Hal was a man born to be a Cossack riding the Russian Steppes in deep winter, screaming defiance at the wind. Not playing nursemaid to a bunch of wildcatters searching for oil in what he considered the most godforsaken million acres on the planet. And now this stupid green-horn kid was pushing him past his boiling point.

“Jimmy, damn you!” he yelled at the uncaring trees, his bellow setting birds to screeching and causing a myriad of other animals to squawk their displeasure. None of that had any impact on Hal.

“You got one minute to haul your ass back to the Jeep or you’re spending the night.”

The jungle continued to shout back, but there was no answer from Jimmy. In disgust he stomped back toward the road, brushing past the many streamers of fluorescent marker tape tied around trees shortly to be cut to further the cause of progress. And of course, profits. Hal and Jimmy were employees of AMARCO LTD, and currently surveying the huge grant permitted to the company by the Brazilian Government; or at least one well placed and well paid bureaucrat. This was the deepest road penetration of the jungle to date. They were literally, as Hal loved to say, “Deep in the ass a nowhere.”

He and Jimmy comprised the advance survey crew, marking the way for the loggers and road builders to follow. Twelve more miles of hell and they’d be done. The road would be driven like a spear directly into the heart of the grant, miles from the closest village and at least a hundred from the nearest bar. Twelve more miles, he thought, and I’ll be out. Bonus pay and a plane ride to anywhere. He almost grinned. And Jimmy was…

Hal stepped over another log and right into something slick, his foot flowing back and under the fallen tree. The unexpected maneuver unbalanced his large body and threw him forward, dumping him unceremoniously on his face. Pain exploded in his chest as the breath he was about to use cussing Jimmy rushed from lungs, violently compressed by seriously stressed ribs. Instead of words, all that exited his mouth was a huge “woof.”

Hal lay there slightly stunned, feeling the damp ground seeping into his cloths. Not cold, never cold here. Warm, almost hot, and smelling strange. Damn pig shit! he thought. Everything down here smelled like pig shit to him, so the hot and wet didn’t sink in for a moment as he studied the ground an inch from his nose. Bugs crawled there, swarming over a small piece of unknown matter, causing it to rock and quiver as if alive. Hal backed his face up a bit to focus as the sudden recognition of the smell hit him, copper and iron. The thing in front of him resolved into a gobbet of bloody flesh.

“Holy shit!” Eyes wide, Hal levered himself to his feet, slipping again on the wetness and falling back to his knees, still staring at the gore covered ground around him. “Holy shit,” he repeated, as a shiver of revulsion rocked him back on his heals, realizing the wetness on his cloths was blood. The bright red staining his white shirt in huge splotches.

Hal was not a weak man in either body or spirit, but the carnage scattered in front of him was overwhelming. Jimmy’s body was strewn across the floor of the jungle, no piece left larger than the size of his fist. There would have been less damage had the boy been run through a chipper. That it was Johnny, Hal had no doubt. The shredded blue jeans and strips of shirt attested to the fact. At Hal’s knee was a boot cut cleanly in half, the foot still inside showing white bone and purpling meat. Near his left a severed finger lay crooked in the grass as if beckoning him closer, the boy’s class ring still attached. Beyond lay the brain, completely intact though neatly peeled from the skull like the meat of an orange, one unseeing eyeball dangling from its over stretched optic nerve. The sight even more unreal in the mottled jungle light.

All this Hal saw in that single shocking instant. Adrenalin screamed into his system causing his breath to come in great gasps and elevating his heart rate to match the fear coursing through his body. He leapt up eyes flying to the undergrowth, his mind filled with images of the one beast he feared most in the jungle, Jaguar! Hal didn’t stop to think that a cat would drag off its kill. Didn’t realize that no animal known could have done such damage to a body the size of an adult human. Instead he panicked.

Blindly, Hal ran, the primal scream he longed to sound held at bay behind his ragged breath. Branches slapped him as he groped his way forward, slipping and tripping further and further from the safety of the jeep. The green became a river of vegetation, a strong current with gripping grasping fingers that plucked and ripped at his clothes and hair. Time was lost to him and he was utterly lost as well, his panic turning rapidly to terror. Gloom and shadows assailed him, each holding unknown threats built greater and more terrifying in his mind with each passing beat of his heart. Faster he moved; a scream finally escaping him as huge spider web tangled his face, its maker trapped between the silk and Hal’s lips. Flexing inch long legs, it wriggled frantically in an attempt to escape or turn its mandibles on its attacker. With a swipe of a fist, Hal smashed the hairy gray body in a burst of juice and a jet of hot blood from a split lip he never felt. Forward he rushed again, the web pulling as it stretched until it ripped and released him, Hal’s arms wind-milling in his attempt to be free.

In a matter of moments, though it seemed an eternity to Hal, he fell through a final wall of forest green, one shattered limb tearing a deep bloody furrow along his cheek. He went from deep gloom to a clearing, bright and dazzling in the mid-day sun. The sight so surprising and welcome Hal stumbled forward and collapsed in the very center. Relief replacing terror, the release allowing coherent thought to return.