Tomfoolery

My jungle guide is a gibbon. It swings from the branches a few feet ahead while I stay to the roots of the ground. It does somersaults and flips in the air, its gibberish cackles ricocheting off the trees.

As the branches shake under the gibbon’s weight, fluid drops. I assume its dew or residue from the morning’s rain. But when I’m splashed on the forehead, I wipe away the drops with my hand. I examine my fingers; they’re marked with burgundy smears.

Ahead, the gibbon has paused and is perched upon a low branch, taking a break from its brachiation. It faces me, laughing, its dagger teeth flashing. It glances up; I follow its gaze to the canopy. Eviscerated bodies — men, women and children — hang from upper branches, their blood soaking through their clothing and dripping, contaminating the world below. I count ten, twenty — dozens of hanging dead bodies.

What can I do? I cannot stay in this jungle of corpses. I wipe my hands on my jeans. My gibbon guide resumes its journey, and I continue to follow it deeper into the wilderness.


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