Okay, so here we go, chapter 5. In this one well, some startling things happen. I also tried to add more literary devices. Before this however, we were just coming from Elaina spotting a moving vine that apparently went underneath the pastor’s tent. Enjoy. 😀
Things only ever get more interesting don’t they?
“Arrgh!” the strangled sound echoed through Elaina’s head like a pinball in slow motion. She could see the Pastor’s tent moving as he twisted and writhed, wrestling with the monstrosity that threatened to snuff out his life. She finally found her tongue amidst the parched dryness that was her mouth and called out in a choking voice:
“Nathaniel! Charles! Katherine!”
The three came running. Nathaniel stood for a split second sizing up the situation calmly, but Charles was as excited as a puppy with a new toy. He began scratching his head, pointing at the tent, then suddenly he whirled around and ran off to the boat as if a tiger was after him. As he disappeared around a bend in the jungle path, he shouted, “We must g’bback to th’boat! We must g’bback to th’boat!”
“Are you crazy?” Elaina yelled after him, her voice catching in her throat as a mixture of nervousness and helplessness choked her. “A man’s dying and you just run away?”
“He’s right,” Nathaniel said, running off after Charles.
Elaina looked after him, stunned. Her face was pale. She shook her head, trying to chase away the demons that were coming back to haunt her. “No, no, I won’t let it happen again!” Then she shot towards the tent and grabbed the tail of the reticulated python, for that was the vine she had seen. There was a hiss, sounding like pressurized steam shooting from a valve, and the tent bulged menacingly, but she held on tenaciously, pulling with as much strength as she could muster.
Then there was a gunshot, and the dirt beside her flew into the air like a miniature dirt volcano. She instinctively rolled to the side, and another shot rang out, hitting the soil where the snake’s tail had momentarily been. Looking up from her prone position on the packed earth, Elaina saw Nathaniel, standing straight as a soldier, looking down the sight of a rifle, and preparing to fire another shot at the snake. Charles was standing there also, a rifle draped in his arms, and a scythe in his hand. He was motioning excitedly for her to come.
“Here!” he shoved the rifle into her hand, and she nearly dropped it at the unexpected weight.
“But–” Elaina said, pushing the rifle back towards him, but he backed away, his face pale.
“I can’t– I can’t–” he kept repeating, and so Elaina took up the rifle. She pointed it at the snake and squeezed the trigger; nothing happened.
“Safety!” Nathaniel called out, as another gunshot went off at her right, startling her so much that she nearly dropped the heavy weapon that she held. Katherine stood in the middle of the clearing, just staring quietly, almost confusedly. She did not seem to notice the loud sounds or the fact that the cheery man she had recently met was now staring at death’s open gates.
Then there was what sounded to be an Indian war cry, and Charles landed on the tent from some elevated position, his scythe cutting the material the tent was made of as efficiently as a busy housewife divided a piece of cake between hungry children. In less than a few seconds he was in. A few seconds after that, and another gunshot from Nathaniel, the snake ceased to writhe. Charles appeared dragging a body behind him; the Pastor’s body.
“No,” Elaina murmured in disbelief, falling to her knees, the gun thumping uselessly to the leafy floor. Charles, releasing his hold on the ankles of the corpse, turned around, took one look, then whirled around, retching horribly. Nathaniel just gazed on impassively, while Katherine’s face was as white as the whites in her eyes.
Four hours after they had buried Seth, they were all loafing around a bonfire that burned bright and high; it was nighttime. Charles, after shifting his feet listlessly, suddenly jumped high, clapping and kicking his heels. Elaina looked up glumly while Katherine eyed him with an expression of curiosity; Nathaniel was nowhere in sight. Charles, settling down from his fit, which the group later learned were of quite common occurrence, began bending partially over and patting his thighs, all the while clicking with his tongue and staring intently into the underbrush.
Katherine was definitely more than curious now, while Elaina was at least interested. The two strode over to where Charles was still standing, crouched over. He didn’t even look up as they flanked him, but put one finger to his lips while continuing to pat his thigh with the other hand. Then Elaina caught sight of a tawny head. Warily the owner of the head approached, and Elaina realized it was a small cat, in all manner of appearances like a leopard, but much smaller.
Then suddenly it darted back into the bushes, and looking up, Elaina realized that Nathaniel had returned to the campsite. He raised an eyebrow upon seeing them all crouched over the bushes, then strode over rapidly. “What are you doing?” he hissed in Elaina’s ear. “You’re supposed to be helping me solve this mystery, not looking at ocelots.”
“How did you know–”
“I lured it here. It was a test. Now listen up. The two students came over here, and when they returned, they were changed. But it was not because of what they saw,” he paused meaningfully. Elaina, realizing he was basking in the victory of his discovery, was loath to ask him what he had found, but curiosity killed her resolve and she questioned him, all the while leading them away from Katherine and Charles, who still were staring into the bushes, about what he had found. “A temple,” he said with great gravity and a bit of grandiosity.
“What?” Elaina asked disbelievingly. “We come all this way, witness a man’s death, kill a python, just for a pile of stone put there by ancient ancestors? I could have given you pictures of temples for free if you wanted!” she was seething now. “Listen okay, I don’t know what is wrong with you, but there certainly is something off. You run up, see a man being strang– strangled, and just stare quietly. Then right after he’s dead, you go off looking for clues to your dumb mystery– do you even have a heart?”
Nathaniel pursed his lips, as if about to say something, but Elaina didn’t give him a chance. She dashed hot tears away from her eyes and turned to walk rapidly away, but Nathaniel grabbed her arm, effectively halting her. She shook his hand off.
“Don’t touch me!”
It was as if they were in a play, acting out a classic breakup scene, Elaina realized. Only there had never been a relationship in the first place, and she swiped her hand across her eyes again. Why she had ever been attracted to Nathaniel in the first place was a mystery to her, but she had been. Despite the warning signs that had been blaring at her since day one, she had still continued on with her madcap scheme. And now, this– this was the straw that broke the camel’s back– this was the final blow– this showed her that Nathaniel truly did not or could not care.
“Don’t touch me,” she repeated, then walked briskly away.
Nathaniel was confused. He had been trying, trying to include her in what he was doing. Ever since he had read that short article, he had been trying to change. He would never have told anybody about his discovery of the temple; never. Then he had recalled Elaina’s apparent enthusiasm for the mystery, and decided to share this new development with her. Never had he been so rebutted. Elaina was truly the mystery that he could not solve.
An hour later, as the fire flickered low, and Elaina stirred the coals purposelessly with a stick, strains of music reached her ears. She listened more intently, then realized that the sound was coming from the boat. Charles got to his feet and hurried in the direction of the boat. After a few seconds of indecision, Elaina decided to follow. What she saw startled her in the utmost.
Nathaniel stood on the boat, an electric violin tucked under his chin with a cord going into a laptop. He was playing a song that she had never heard before, but it had a mysterious air to it that gave her chills, as if somebody had trickled cold water down her spine. The gentle lapping of the river and slight wind added to the feeling. Then Nathaniel paused at a loop, and while the computer continued to play, he bent down and pressed a key. The music that followed was beyond what Elaina had ever heard; but then again, she had never heard much music.
At the end of it, Nathaniel stopped and looked directly in her direction. Quietly she slunk into the shadows. Charles was standing at the river open mouthed.
“Ye– ye fit all those instru’ents in th’packs?” For there had been more than one sound emanating from the computer.
“Only the violin,” Nathaniel said, and Charles seemed even more mystified. Then Nathaniel froze in his packing as a scream burst through the air.
“Maybe it’s Kath’rin,” Charles offered helpfully.
“No,” Nathaniel said. “I know that voice, and it’s not Katherine’s.”
He leaped from the boat to the shore and sped towards the clearing. Katherine was on her feet looking around as if bewildered. Camp fire coals were scattered across the floor, and there was no sign of Elaina.
“It came–” Katherine said brokenly; she seemed disheveled. “It dragged her away. I tried to stop it, but it was fast– so fast.”
“Which direction?” Nathaniel demanded his heart racing like that of a wild stallion who has just broken free. Katherine pointed mutely, and Nathaniel sped off again.
The path that he followed was overgrown, and he stumbled along with great difficulty. Then he tripped over a vine that crossed the path and landed face first in something sticky; blood, and fresh too. He scrambled to his feet, reeling like a drunkard, and found himself facing a tree with a white piece of paper tacked to it. Written in bold, cursive writing was this message:
“I will kill you all. I am invincible and you cannot stop the carnage I’m causing. I’m a murderer, and I will kill you, Katherine, and Charles in that order. 6”
For the first time in all of history, Nathaniel’s mouth fell open.
And yeah, the pic’s at the end because it would’ve ruined the chapter otherwise.