2010-05-21: Cliffhanger (The Amazon)



Date: May 21, 2010


Off the beaten path….


The Amazon

It's really impossible to keep the chill from seeping in. In fact, despite the rainforest heat, Dee's pretty much been cold since the downpour started, but she'll be the absolute last to complain. She's been in conditions like this before and survived.

Having deviated from their set path through the forest, she heads toward an outcropping where she can get some sort of short respite from the rain. The amount of time she could possibly spend there won't allow her to dry off, but at least the constant pounding on her head would go away for just a few moments so she can think. "You know what I want to do when people stop bein' arse-holes about Evolved!?" she calls, possibly to no one, possibly to Bagheera, who's shadowing her in the trees above. "I'm gonna be onna those animal handlers in movies! They won' need no CGI anymore! If they want a bear dancin' the bloody Macarena, they'll get a real bear!"

Man, how cool would that be? People would be all 'how'd they do that? Was it computer animated?! NO! It was Daphne Rousseau, Animal Tamer!' So awesome.

"Aaaah…" she mutters as she makes it to the outcropping. She's standing in a puddle up to her ankles, but at least the water isn't falling down on her in torrents anymore. The truth is, she prefers the rainforest to civilisation; she's said as much to Laurel. Still, she understands the precariousness of this situation; unlike when she was in Africa, she can't just leave when she wants to.

Picking her way along the precarious trail, Cody's been taking up the rear, just behind Dee the entire way. She's been rather silent, letting the woman have her say in condemnation of the reality of the evolved situation. Among the things that Cody's been missing is a steaming hot cup of three day old black coffee. Something the Amazon can't offer her. She heard somewhere before that the precious beans grew in South America but she'll be damned if she can find any of them anywhere… and she's looked.

At the moment, they're navigating a rather treacherous area next to a ravine. The tropical storms have eroded the soil in places so it's been pretty slow as they try to wind around the dangerous bits. The worst part? The massive amounts of vegetation makes it nearly impossible to tell where the ground ends and the cliff begins.

"We're falling behind, Dee," Cody murmurs as she comes up behind the tamer as she stands in the puddle. "Unless you're looking for more leeches in there, in which case I support you whole heartedly."

Pale eyes glance toward the voice. "Bagheera's gettin' sloppy. Didn't tell me you were comin'," she says tiredly, looking up at the rocky umbrella above her head. There are tiny stalactites just beginning to form on it. Maybe in a few thousand years, the very place they're standing will be some sort of cave where rain-weary travelers can rest.

"I can catch up. Just need a couple minutes to get out of the rain." Despite it all, she still smiles, though it's not exactly a cheery expression. The word 'forced' might come to mind. "'sides, I'm tired of Poco's whinin'. Bet the poor sod doesn't even stop ta listen t'the rain. Beautiful sound, aye? I just cannae stand when it's fallin' on me 'ead for a whole day straight."

Still, Cody's right. The farther ahead the others get, the less likely it is that Bagheera can trace their path in this rain. The jaguar's nose is superior, but with the downpour washing even strong scents away, they may find themselves lost for good. With a grunt, Dee cracks her neck and steps back out into the rain. "All right. Minute's up."

Up ahead, Jo's ponytail has just disappeared in a thick veil of leaves and trees. Cody's almost getting sick of all the green around them. For a woman who is used to deserts and dry heat, then the concrete jungle that is New York City, she's doing surprisingly well considering. "You know what they could use out here? A McDonald's and a Starbucks… maybe a combination restaurant. Just right in the middle of nowhere. You know they have one of those in Turkey? McDonald's right in the middle of nothing. It's pretty much on a dirt road. Then again, they're pretty much all dirt roads over there."

Cody actually stops talking for a while as they feel their way through a bunch of giant ferns. She can't see the ground, the only indication they have that the others went this way are the broken off bits of vegetation every few meters. "We gotta hurry up… I can't see the others anymore."

Dee rests her hands on her knees, giving Cody a wave of her hand. It's not exactly dismissive. It's more like the fact that she's been going for days straight without rest, and it's really starting to catch up to her in a major way. She hasn't even really thought about the fact that caring for peoples' ills around the clock would take its toll on her, as well. She's quickly approaching the point where her feet are starting to refuse to comply with the 'forward' order.

"Baggy can see 'em. He'll… He'll keep 'em in sight." Another minute goes by before Dee forces herself to stand. If they can just go a litle farther, she can rest. Maybe take a quick nap, at least.

And if Bagheera loses the others…

Forcing a second wind isn't easy, but it's all a question of mind over matter. She starts pushing her way through the plants again with renewed determination. "So, the decision to move on… Why didn't we stay around the lab for a few days?"

Cody's not stepping forward, they can't risk losing Dee, even if she's the one person that could probably survive out here for the rest of her life. The rest of them would probably die without her: to animals, to illness, to Poco's singing. The threat of panthers and jaguars has kept the man quiet for a little while, it's been nice.

Slinging her rifle over her shoulder, she places one hand on the animal whisperer's back and gives her a small pat. "You know, I can carry you for a bit if you're tired. You haven't been getting much sleep lately." Not that the rest of them have, but Dee's been getting less. Cody figures it's because the animals keep her up, not their human counterparts.

"Hah, carry she says," Dee mutters. "If I didn't think I could walk, I'd 'ave Bagheera give me a ride." He would, too. They're very protective of Dee! And of the rest of the group. BUT MOSTLY DEE. And maybe Yossarian, if he didn't look like food, and DEFINITELY not Poco. But they can't eat Poco, because Dee says that murder is wrong, even if everyone would probably cheer.

Who the hell packs thongs to go to a rainforest?

"We 'ave to stop for the night eventually, right? I promise I'll sleep when we stop, s'long as you promise to wake me if anyone needs help. But no carrying." She'd feel too bad about it. Who needs someone else on their shoulders when they can barely each carry themselves anymore? Plus, the ground is all muddy…

Narrowing her eyes, she looks down, then looks up the narrow incline above them. There's a small torrent of water under their feet that wasn't there before. "We'd better get movin' if we're goin'. This rainforest runoff can be brutal. Wouldn't wanna get swept up in that, eh?"

"Alright, but if you need it…" Cody adjusts the pack on her back and then swings the rifle back into her hands. She glances behind them before trying to peer through the rain ahead of them. It's almost blinding, the large drops washing out all of the sickening green around them to a pale minty color.

The solider is trying to keep a good attitude about all of this, unfortunately it's really hard to do when her feet are constantly in the state of prune and her boots are squishy. "You know… I found some Gold Bond at that lab, when we get to where we're going.. We should change into some dry socks and boots and use it." She'd been hoarding, it along with one of the tubes of antibacterial ointment and the little jar of tiger balm.

"Yeah, thanks," she says. It's sincere, though it's hard to tell at the moment as she's trying to pick her way toward more solid footing, while the rain makes it so there is no solid footing. Why the hell did she come up here again?

Oh, yeah, because she was getting sick of the rain. Well now the rain is getting revenge. "Careful here," she mutters, stepping over what looks like a puddle, but goes a little deeper than a puddle should. It almost feels like the mud underneath is sucking her foot in, but she pulls it out quickly enough, reaching toward a nearby fern frond for balance.

"Dry clothes, hah! I'll be surprised if anything's dry after this trek. We can hope, though. Something ta look forward to, aye? Maybe we'll find somewhere we can start a fire even. A rocky cave - no danger of sparking the trees." Then they can dry all their clothes in the heat and pray that the rain stops before they have to move on. Not likely, but the power of positive thinking has done wonders in the past.

"Here, gimme your hand. I think I got my footing 'ere, but it's hard to navigate…"

The warning came too late.

Stepping hard into the puddle, Cody's leg gets sucked in and there's a cry from the soldier as she jams the rifle across the hole, tying to keep herself up. Scrambling for the first thing to grab a hold of, her hand finds Dee's ankle and she grips tightly, not knowing exactly what it is she's trying to use as an anchor.

"Guh— " she manages, before the undertow tugs her a little further down. She slips and sinks, the rifle and Dee's ankle the only two things keeping her up at that level. The hole is definitely deeper than the blonde is tall. From the sound of the rush below them, it's possible that it falls all the way down the ravine.

"O-ugh!!" Cody sputters as she bobs up from the water, pulling hard on her anchors. There's the gasp for air and then…

One second, she's carefully picking her way toward the path the others took, and the next…

"CODY, NO!" she yells as the other woman grabs onto her extremely damaged leg. Wincing in pain as the old injuries flare painfully in the soldier's death-grip, Dee holds onto that fern for dear life. She feels the sting of tears in her eyes, but it's hard to really tell in the rain. With one trembling hand, she reaches for Cody's, but without a solid grip on the plant, her fingers start to slip, and she has to grasp it with both hands again.

"Cody, I can't— Hold you up— !" Teeth clenched, Dee tries to pull them back onto solid ground. She's sure she's going to do it, too, for just a split second. The smile of triumph is plainly on her face, and then…

Cody's weight and her own exhaustion causes the knee she injured in the crash to dislocate again. Dee's eyes grow wide, and before she realises what she's doing, she releases her grip on the fern. As she falls, she flails wildly, trying to grip something, but her fingers only dig through muddy soil.

As the two get sucked down into the hole, the rifle is all that's left on the trail to mark that they were ever there.

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