The precarious, well-trodden rainforest trails of Hacienda Marie are the only link between the dense jungle and the vast desolate coastline facing the roaring Pacific Ocean. Few tourists go this far out of their way to brave the elements and be at the mercy of mother nature. With no road names to go by, it’s often by sheer luck that they find their way here at all. Accidents on the myriad of adventure tours and extreme sports are apparently far and few… But recently there have been whispers outside the closely knit group of instructors that things may not be as they seem…
“Getting closer, baby”
“Yes… Yes…. – You did it!!”
“I didn’t think being on honeymoon would be so much work…”
reaching the top of the rainforest canopy was like entering another world. From up here she could see the top of the rainforest canopy and the magnificent birds that lived on the top of the rainforest. It was another world. Down on the rainforest floor it was cool and shady, but up here the sun was bursting through everywhere she looked, magnifying the vibrant colours all around. Even the mosquitoes were dazzling. The view was breath taking.
“Hey look, the mosquitoes are blue” she said, impulsively reaching a finger out to touch its metallic back.
“Stay away from those” said Jamie as he hoisted himself up from below the happy couple, “They carry the Dengue,”
“Argh” Sophie sharply retracted her arm and tried to move her body away from the small swarm, but this made her sway on her rappel rope, slowly spinning herself alarmingly close to the blue mosquitoes, squealing each time she involuntarily swayed back towards them. She grimaced her face shut as if to keep them from flying up her nose, but also in annoyance at the boys laughing at her and doing nothing to help.
“Help!” she shouted as Jamie and Harry laughed. “I’m going to fall off!”
Jamie leant back in his harness and took his hands off the rope.
“Completely safe, see,” he said, making snow angels in the air.
“Ok,” said Sophie, catching her breath, “Well this is stunning, but I’m starting to feel dizzy. Can we go back down?”
“No problem” said Jamie. Unlike the other two, Jamie was quite at ease 156 feet up here in the top of the canopy. He ran this tour twice a day, every day. He sat comfortably in his harness, coordinated and free.
“Plus I’m getting quite worried about Harry’s testicles…” she added.
Harry glanced down and automatically went to cover his crotch with both hands, in the split second where his hands left the rope, his stomach lurched and he gripped the rope as tight as he could, opting to cross his legs instead. The sight of him pouting and spinning on his rope with crossed legs made Sophie giggle.
“Well, I’ll go down first then shall I?” said Harry, still visibly uncomfortable.
“You’d better, before those balls plummet to the floor,” said Sophie, still giggling. She was glad to finally be able to relax. Her arms were aching after hoisting herself up, and she tested her confidence by letting go of the rope and letting herself be suspended by the safety of the rope.
“Ha Ha Ha,” Said Harry with a deadpan expression. “Well anyway, getting down is faster than going up.”
“Right buddy, you know what to do,” Said Jamie. “Pull that rope behind you gently and let the rope slide through your glove. If you let go, it’ll stop. Can’t go wrong”
“Yup,” answered Harry nervously through strained breaths.
“Remember the deal…” he said to Jamie through the side of his mouth.
“Mmmhuh” mumbled Jamie, squinting in the sun and glancing towards Harry as he slid down the rapel thorugh the leaves below.
“What?” asked Sophie, woken from her reverie. She had leaned back on the rope and was almost lying down in her harness, as if floating on the canopy roof.
“What deal?” she said, scrunching her face.
“Nothing” answered Jamie with a stiff smile.
Sophie watched him, noticing that his LEFT eye was twitching and that he looked different compared to how it did a moment ago. The warmth had left him and his face was stony.
“But he did just say -”
“Hey look, the Montezuma bird,” interrupted Jamie, “Can you see it?”
He pulled Sophie’s rope close to him to they were level and pointed beyond her. She followed his gaze, searching for the elusive black bird with the long yellow tail within the leaves.
“Where?” she asked, turning to him just enough to notice a metallic glint in his right hand, but before she could say anything else, she felt weightless, flashes of green rushing past her. There was no room for breath. No time to ask why.