Saturday, August 20, 2011

DROC: Follow

We woke up early in the morning to go over to Ibola’s sister’s house. Ibola met us outside our hovel with the guide she’d convinced to come along. His name is Don, or at least that’s what he calls himself, a tall athletic man and incredibly sarcastic, with quick eyes. The four of us made our way over to Ibola’s sister’s house, where we had breakfast. Ibola’s sister, Nyangoma, is a jolly, cheerful woman, who didn’t take Ibola’s warnings too seriously. Nevertheless, she was happy for us to follow the soldiers for safeties sake. Nyangoma has two young girls, twins, who are almost disturbingly angelic. We made and ate breakfast with them, and the entire affair was so distant and idyllic, it became utterly surreal.  They were all chatting quite happily in French, and while Simone translated for me from time to time, mostly I let the conversation wash over me. It was all so damn normal-- jokes were being told and it was all playful and, to use a weak word, nice.

We heard the soldiers drive up outside. Suddenly the idyll was broken, at least for myself, Simone, Don and particularly Ibola. Nyangoma and her kids seemed as happy as ever. We crept round to the back, and hopped into the car, waiting for the soldier's jeep to ride on. Giving them a five minute head start, we followed them into the jungle.

It's been a longer trek than I'd anticipated at the beginning. There's still mud on the ground, though it hasn't rained in I don't know how long, which has aided in tracking the other car. The downside to this is that we've been slowed down considerably, and once we lost sight of the other vehicle Don had to stop the car several times to make sure we were going the right way. Every time night fell Ibola ordered us to bed, and even Don relinquished to her. We huddled in the back seat of the car, and waited through sleepless nights. Ibola was sure that the soldiers wouldn't risk going on through the night. My mind crept back to the MONSTER and I silently agreed. Wherever they're going, they want those children safe.

The first time I saw the monster was just a few days ago. I was popping back home during a lunch break, walking through central park. It was a fairly quiet part of the park, with not too many people around. I saw a little kid, about 3 or 4, toddle across the path I was taking towards the trees. He was clinging to a toy truck, staring at something I couldn't see, almost tripping over his untied sneakers. He reached a dense copse of trees and started talking to someone just out of my sight, so I moved to see better. And there it was.

Its blank face was about equal with the child's, its twisted, rake-thin body bent at the waist. It sported dozens of tentacles, two of which were gently stroking the child's face. Where the tentacles met the kid's skin splotchy red welts sprung up, and started to ooze pus. I must have made some noise, some dry choked sound at the back of my throat, as I was torn between running and intervening, because in response the monster's tendrils stiffened. It gripped the child's arms, pulling the boy apart. The child was screaming as blood stained his jacket.

It wouldn't stop. It just got worse and worse and worse, and I didn't do anything... The monster tilted its head and plied its limbs through the child's chest. But the child was somehow still alive, choking up blood. The child's eyes were still aware, even as the creature slowly broke his ribs out of his body and planted them like grotesque flowers in a circle around the base of the tree. He was still alive even as the monster drove his bones into the soft bark. He was still choking for breath even as his empty skin and organs were hung up on the tree as an almost decoration, his skin flourished over a branch like a sweater left out to dry. The child's head was buried, his eyes still open. The creature turned its head up to face me, cocked it, and moved off into the woods.

How I managed to get back home after that I still have no idea. The moment I got through the door I ran to the bathroom and vomited. My partner, a doctor, recognized something 'off' in me, but didn't pry, instead calling my workplace. I was in bed through most of the media circus surrounding the missing boy, and I missed the discovery of his grisly fate. I never told anyone what I saw-- who would believe me? I just tried to help the people who could be helped. But I did see the monster several times after that.

It's our 8th day of travel. I was spurred to make a post because of two things; a slightly strong signal from the phone of the sparse internet, and because we found the other car. There's nothing useful inside it, but there are footprints leading into the woods, broken branches, and knife prints in the trees, giving us a pretty clear path to follow. We've been walking for about a day. Nothing new. Just what I assume to be normal forest sounds, though nobody really tells me anything at this point. I'll try and keep this blog thing updated more often.

I feel paranoid at best right now. The trees, the humidity, the low hanging branches and the murky blotted-out-ness of the rest of the world. I keep expecting to see the MONSTER, or one of ITs Victims, or the kid I failed to save.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DROC: Begin

Ibola told us this story, an old local folk tale about the MONSTER. She's got a lot of stories about It, all of them told to her through whispers. None of the local legends about the MONSTER were meant to be told, but older teens told their younger siblings and stories make a point of staying, so it was passed on. Ibola’s older sister told it to her when she was nine, which I suppose explains some of the stranger quirks in her personality.

The woman’s name was Red, and she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Ibola told me that all of the protagonists in stories about the monster have names related to colour, though she's not sure why. Anyway, Red lived in a village in the desert, and her lover (of course the strongest man in the world) lived in a village in the forest. Unfortunately for the budding romance, the two villages were at war with each other. The forest village worshipped the trees, and her village worshipped fire. Red and her lover knew that the villages were never going to stop warring, so they plotted to run away. Red sent her lover a message to meet her one night in the woods.

That night, Red packed up her meager belongings, and silently said goodbye to her family as she left the house. There was no moon, but the night world chattered around her so she did not feel afraid. She walked to the meeting place in the forest, and came to the clearing where she was to unite with her lover. He was standing in the middle of the clearing and wasn’t facing her. Red called out to him, but as he turned to her she realized something was wrong. It was like his skin was an ill-fitting garment that folded in the wrong places. Then his body was stretched as the demon inside stood to its full height, and his face was ripped in two to reveal the bone-white fa├žade beneath.

The MONSTER grabbed Red with its colossal hands and carefully ripped her apart, ignoring her screams. The creature tore her organs out of her body and planted still slithering segments of her stomach and parts of her beating heart in the ground. Wherever her still living organs were planted red flowers grew. Ibola was taught that every one of the red flowers picked, Red would die a little bit more. Most kids refused to pick the flowers after hearing the story, but Ibola went out of her way to kill the flowers, wanting to put the woman out of her misery.

The plan goes into action tomorrow. Something is changing. Maybe we can beat this.