Okay well, chapter 4. Hopefully this is edited decently well. I’ll be continually working on that. But in the meantime, please bombard me with any kind of feedback you can manage. I would really appreciate it. Be as critical as you want. I’m giving you free reign to tear my story apart. I need to know what’s working and what isn’t. Thanks and enjoy. 🙂
I never thought I’d feel repentant– but then, this is a journey of discovery.
“W’almost there,” Charles called to Nathaniel.
“Excellent,” Nathaniel said.
Then there was a scream from the boat cabin. Charles jumped and started to run for the cabin, then remembering his responsibility for the tiller, ran back, grabbed Elaina’s available hand, slapped it on the tiller, and entered the cabin. Nathaniel watched the whole scene unfold with an amused smile as Elaina looked around bewilderedly, while Charles asked in a loud voice, “Were ye bi’en by a spider? What’s hap’ened?”
Katherine emerged from the cabin with Charles supporting her. Her face was haggard from want of sleep and something else, while her black hair was a mess around her head. She looked about nervously, but the green foliage seemed to calm her nerves. Charles was still asking her what had happened.
“I– I went to sleep,” Katherine said softly.
Charles’ look of bewilderment was interesting to behold.
“Ye– ye went t’sleep? That’s what hap’ened?”
A look of fear crossed Katherine’s face, and her nether lip trembled slightly.
“It was there, staring at me. So– so horrible. And ugly! Just looking at me.”
Nathaniel nodded wisely. “The old hag.” he said.
“What ol’ hag?” Charles asked, sneaking a peak into the cabin to make sure there was no foreigner on his boat.
“Sleep paralysis,” Nathaniel murmured, but he was talking to himself.
“Can you please come back and take control of this boat?” Elaina asked, mildly annoyed.
Charles hastened to obey and grabbing the tiller, corrected their course along the river slightly. Nathaniel’s mind was working like lightning. Katherine had sleep disorders. That would explain her unwillingness to sleep on the plane. However, it did not explain her constant edginess. Something more material than fear of sleep was after her. What could it be? That was the question.
There was something strange about her, something he had seen in the beginning. On her forehead, despite the locks of hair that partially obscured it, he had seen something– a mark, of sorts, that looked almost like a crease in the skin, yet it had been quite dark, when compared to her already dark complexion. But he could not neglect to consider other facts. She was a teacher, there was no doubt about that. He had seen it in her quiet, collected manner. She was used to dealing with groups of people and making speeches in front of them. Yet what was a teacher doing out here in the Amazon?
And Charles’ recognition of her. Had she perhaps been here before? She was quite old; older than him by five or six years. What could be after her? It could not be that people were after her to kill her. If it was so, she would try to remain in hiding. Instead she was traveling abroad. She wanted company; that would mean she was afraid to be alone. Why? Why would she be afraid to be alone? Because whatever was after her would have an advantage then. What sort of advantage would it gain?
This was the end of Nathaniel’s series of thoughts. He could not continue with certainty without more information, and he hated to guess with no support, so he satisfied himself with leaning on the side of the boat as it gently floated down the river. Then Charles suddenly pulled over to the side.
“We ar’ere,” he called out, and jumping off the side of the boat onto land, he tied the rope he had trailed behind him to a tree. Nathaniel tossed him the rope on the bow and he tied that to a different tree, then the three stepped onto shore. “This way! This way!” Charles said, leading them along an overgrown trail.
They soon arrived at the campsite, which in reality was nothing more than a clearing in the rainforest. There was already a tent in the area, and a tall man stepped out. He had to be at least thirty and was well over six feet. His features were worn in a rugged and pleasant way. He greeted them with a broad grin.
“Hello,” he said, shaking hands with each one of them.
“This’ere is Pastor Seth,” Charles said, with a rather dramatic wave of his hand. “M’mate took ‘im down here. E’s a mishon’hairy or something offat sort.”
“Good to meet you Pastor,” Nathaniel said. “I’m Nathaniel.”
“And I’m Katherine.”
“So what are you folks doing down here?” the Pastor asked with a cheerful grin.
Nathaniel and Elaina exchanged side glances. Seth noticed it and said with a dismissing wave of his hand, “No matter. It’s not my business anyway. I’m a missionary down here. There are still some native tribes around and I hope to teach them a little about Christianity. Do any of you happen to be Christians?”
“Well, I am,” Elaina offered tentatively. In truth though, she doubted that herself. Sure she went to church every Sunday, and sure she read her Bible, but she felt like something was missing. Like there was a connection that should have been there but was not.
“I believe in the religion of solid logic based on fact,” Nathaniel said coldly.
The Pastor’s smile was not dampened. “Here, accept these pamphlets. They talk a bit about the Christian faith.”
They each took one of the leaflets that he handed out, and then he retreated to his tent, saying that he needed some rest.
Nathaniel walked over to the undergrowth and methodically began to tear up the pamphlet he had just been given. Then as a piece of paper drifted to the ground, his sharp eyes caught the word ‘money’. He snatched the fragment of paper out of the air and scanned the words on it.
“…the love of money…root of all kinds of evils…through this craving that some…wandered away from the faith….”
Nathaniel put the paper down. It was exactly what had happened to his mother. How did the Pastor know? He couldn’t have known. It had to be a coincidence. There was no way– Nathaniel seized another piece of the tract.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Nathaniel slowly lowered himself to a sitting position on a log covered in ferns and moss. His head was bowed, and his shoulders slumped. His quick mind began reviewing all that happened to him. His father’s death, what that doctor had told him, the frigid cold he felt inside. Then his frame began shaking with emotion, and the dead leaves at his feet were dotted with salty drops of water. He had been so bitter and had hated his mother for so long that he did not realize that that hate and bitterness had grown on him. He felt so tired; tired of hating, tired of being who he was.
Why couldn’t he be more like Elaina or Charles? They were content with their lot in life weren’t they? At least they felt some amount of compassion; a feeling he seemed incapable to muster. Why was it so hard for him? For once, Nathaniel felt dissatisfied with his lot. The seed was planted; he wanted to change.
Charles was turning the pamphlet every which way, trying to decipher the words which were nothing more to him than black ink scrawled across the page.
“I’ll read it to you,” Katherine said, leading him off.
Elaina read the first sentence on the paper, scowled, then stuffed the paper in her pocket. She was not in the mood for this. Instead she looked around. The canopy of the rainforest was so thick that barely any light got through, and it could have been early dawn, though her watch said otherwise. Birds cawed in the distance, and was that– Yes it was! A monkey, swinging through the canopy. She smiled as the small creature chattered rapidly while it gracefully moved from tree limb to tree limb.
Then the monkey left, and, with her neck aching from staring up so long, she turned to glance around the campsite. Charles was now setting up their camping gear while Katherine was standing in the shadow of a tree. Nathaniel was nowhere in sight. Then Elaina saw a thick vine that seemed to go under the Pastor’s tent. That was strange. Why would the Pastor have set his tent over a vine like that?
Then she looked closer. Was it? It couldn’t be. The vine was moving!