The drums had been beating all day, the heat blazing sweat at each turn along the narrow, almost non-existent trail. The jungle grew tighter, more claustrophobic as I ran; as I had been running for hours. The insects ceased to be a bother – my problems had grown. A different beast had taken an interest in me; a deadly interest. The hunter had become the hunted.
I stumbled on an exposed, wet, slick as oil root, and I tumbled through the underbrush, oblivious to the alien cries of tropic raptors (okay, it was a bunch of birds startled at my klutziness…happy?). I sat up, half in anger half in embarrassment, and half in indignation. Looking around I saw nothing except green. Then I stood up. The squawking birds were settling into a distant tree
Brushing myself off, I paused. What was that sound? I froze. Nothing. A breeze whispering through the underbrush. Except there hadn’t been a breeze around here in seemingly forever. The drums had stopped. The jungle was quiet. The heat, sweltering, the sun, relentless, the air calm as the recently deceased. And me. Standing in the furnace, listening.
A rustle. Off to the right? No, behind me. Is that breathing? I take out my camera in case I have to shoot something. The battery’s low – very low, indicating enough power for one or two shots. What next? A filled memory card? I look. One shot left. Thank the heavens!
There’s a low growl off to the left. I wheel around, camera ready. Then there it is, the sound I’ve hoped not to hear – the roar of the extremely rare Norwegian Forrest Panther (indigenous to the Amazon…go figure). He’s stalked me for days and now, here it is – the final showdown. I raised the camera trying to get a shot off. The last thing I remember before the darkness was something rushing towards me, my camera lifted, but auto-focus was off. I think I groaned.
Article found in a recent edition of the Amazon Daily:
“Intrepid explorer and photographer Jstrong has gone missing. The photographer was searching for the elusive Norwegian Forrest Panther (indigenous to the Amazon – no, really!) with the hopes of landing a spot on the Ricki Reservoir show. The popular talk-show host denies sending Mr. Strong on this wild goose chase, saying “there’s always a spot on my show for J”.
All that was found of Mr. Strong was his Nikon D610 camera. No signs of a struggle, no blood, no hairballs. The memory card was filled, mostly with photographs of crabapple blossoms, but with one exception. The last photo was of what’s obviously a cat. But is it the Norwegian Forrest Panther (indigenous to the Amazon – yes, I’m quite sure)? You be the judge.”