It’s time for the next installment of the Edward Gorey inspired CampNaNo
Now, even though today’s writing has reached a total of 5,509 (that’s 3,398 just today), you’re only getting part of that.
I finished Basil right on the minimum word count and decided to keep going. So I decided to start Clara. I am 1,729 into it and the juicy part is just getting started. I mean, I could tease you with part of it but what kind of person would I be, eh?
Oh… just me. 😉
“You should be! I–” she broke off as bells rang by the front door. “See,” she hissed. “I don’t like this guy.” The bells were charmed to let them know when exceptional Darkness crossed the threshold.
“Shush.” Clary turned to the newcomer. He was dark, with thick black hair, a heavy brow and thick eyebrows that overshadowed eyes so deep and dark Clary wasn’t sure he was looking at her. A big, hooked nose and thick lips reminded her of Eastern Europe. “May I help you? My assistant says you are looking for a reading.” All around him she could see spirits that lingered.
“Da. I want you to help with this thing that makes disaster happen around me all the time.”
“What thing would that be?”
“I don’t know!” he shouted. Crystal rattled on the shelves. “I just know that nothing goes right. No spells, no healing. It started six months ago and I have been searching the world over for the one who can help.”
Clara spread her hands, palms up, as she watched the spirits at play around him like ghosts in a Casper movie. “I am not sure what I can do.”
“Bah. You have power. I can see. Where is your table?” He slapped five hundred dollars down on the counter.
“I don’t know. I have not encountered anything like you before.” She ducked a little as two of the spirits flew at her.
“Playing hard to get? Okay.” He stuffed a hand in his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bill that made Brandy sigh in envy. He peeled off another five hundred dollars.
Bad Manners Don’t Pay
Basil Banks screamed. It was high pitched and hurt the ears of the monkeys in the trees above him. His heart, already taxed from running through the jungle, gave an erratic thump-thump before settling in the fast paced rhythm Basil’s terror had set.
The head of his assistant Jeanie swung from the vine, her long brown hair was the rope. Her mouth was open in the scream he assumed she died on and there were little bite marks all over her face. Her neck was jagged, like her head had been torn from her body and part of Basil’s busy, scientific brain wondered how her hair hadn’t been torn out.
Then he saw her eyes and understood.
The exquisite blue eyes had been pushed back into her skull, eyelids torn and mangled and claw marks extended up across her forehead.
Basil stuffed his fist in his mouth to contain the moan of despair. He had, foolishly, hoped that if they survived together that the horror would make them a couple and he’d finally get to fuck her, like he’d been trying to for years. He pushed past her and screamed again, a choir boy high yelp of disgust, as her head bumped his shoulder and the thick fluids dripping from her slid down his arm hot and slimy.
“Cold. It should be cold,” he muttered to himself, ignoring the fact that it was forty-three degrees centigrade and the humidity in the Amazon was at one hundred percent. Warm water dripped down the back of his neck and he jumped forward like he had been goosed.
He tripped on a vine and sprawled across the jungle floor to come face to face with a line of leaf cutter ants. He swore they stopped to look at him. He pushed to his feet and stepped over the ants. Once more, he began looking for a hiding spot.
“They won’t get me. It’s not my fault. Someone will save me.” Basil slapped his hand over his mouth, trying to shut himself up. “I wish I was being chased by a tall fairy queen!” He stopped and closed his eyes briefly to wish for just such a thing. And then he wished to wake up in his bed at home.
He spotted a big tree with roots that almost made a cage. It was dark and shadowed in there and he hoped he would fit between them. He finally had to admit to himself that he wasn’t in Army shape anymore, not that he’d liked all the PT in the Army but at least he’d had a flat stomach. Mostly. Being a nurse at a CSH (“pronounced cash,” he said to himself as his mind went back to his first day on the job after deployment) meant he hadn’t had to work so hard at the physical.
Basil squeezed himself between the roots and hunched down in the darkness. He was grateful for his lack of height, for once. At 5’7”, and scrawny and super smart, he’d always been the brunt of jokes from the jocks in his high school. Jokes he thought would stop in the Army. They’d gotten worse there, and he’d hardened himself against people. He became the best there was at being a nurse and his arrogance had grown.
After the Army, he’d gone back to school and gotten his PhD in biochemistry. He’d be the one to find the cure for cancer. And he’d show them all that they’d been wrong not to be his friends. His mind went back to the first day they’d come to the jungle.
Two guides and four armed men met them on the tarmac and bundled them into jeeps. “I thought you said there were only four of you,” the lead man said to Basil.
Basil shrugged and gave the man a hard look. “I need these two extra,” as he gestured to the five people with him – three women and two men. “They are specialists on insects. I don’t need to explain myself to you. Let’s go.”
They had set up camp and taken guided hikes, looking for the plants and insects Basil thought would hold the key to the cure. It hadn’t taken long before small shadows started to appear in fleeting glimpses, seen by everyone. Basil had woken up one night to find a small man, about three feet tall, rummaging through their food supplies.
“Hey!” Basil shouted, rushing out of the tent before he could think about it. He kicked at the creature, (no way was that a man in his eyes), and shoved him away from the food. “Shoo! Go on!” He waved his hands and shouted, treating the small man like a wild animal.
The pygmy, for that’s what he was, turned to stare at Basil. He bared his teeth and hissed.
Basil stumbled back in fright. The pygmy’s teeth were sharpened to points, white paint streaked his dark skin and his eyes were bottomless pits of black.
One of the guards and a guide emerged from the tent they shared and the guide spoke urgently in a weird language of clicks and whistles. The miniature man jerked his chin at the guide, gave Basil one last glare and left the camp and melting into the jungle night.
There were more incidents of pygmies wandering into the camp – women, children, men who were obviously warriors. Each time, Basil screamed at them to get out, to leave the camp alone. Then, about two weeks into their excursion, Basil picked up one of the children, holding it well away from himself to avoid the kicks and scratches aimed at his face, and threw the small boy to the edge of camp.
The crack! of the small boy’s head hitting the tree was loud and wet; so much so that the entire camp stopped moving. A man came running into the camp, screaming at the guides and Basil. Whatever he said made the guide’s olive skin turn a sick yellow as he paled. He argued but the man was adamant.
The pygmy stared at Basil for a long moment then jerked his head forward and hissed as he made some sign with his hand. As he turned to leave the camp, the grieving mother gathered her young son into her arms and all of the pymgies disappeared.
“What?” Basil demanded. “What did he say? Did he understand it was an accident? I never meant to kill the boy.”
The guide stared at him a long time. “He said that you will reap what you have sown. That was the chief’s only son, after a long time trying to produce one.”
Immediately, Basil turned to everyone one else. “Pack it up! We leave in an hour!”
His team of scientists all objected. They had sensitive experiments going that couldn’t be moved. If they left then, all their time in the extreme heat would be wasted. It would be hours before they could begin to shut everything down. Basil, always thinking of the bottom line, relented. He decreed they’d leave at dawn.
When dawn came, Basil had left his tent and started shouting at everyone to get up. The guards and guides were gone. Basil stormed around the camp, furious. He slowly began to notice what a mess the camp was. Experiments were trashed, clothing was everywhere and a sticky liquid coated everything. He stumbled on the torso of his lead aid and screamed long and loud. John was headless and missing all his limbs.
Now, huddled in the tree roots, after finding more of his team scattered in a wide radius in and around the camp, Basil had to admit that maybe he had made a mistake in throwing that child. Maybe it was a mistake to dismiss the pygmy tribe as useless.
The chittering of a monkey made him jump and bang his head. The monkey started screaming and jumping up and down. It incited others to do the same. Basil was suddenly worried that the goddamn creatures were alerting the pygmies to his presence. And, as if to confirm that, one of the little capuchins stuck his head into Basil’s hiding spot and grinned.
Basil paled. The monkey’s teeth were sharpened to little points and there were markings on it that didn’t belong on a monkey. He scrambled to free himself from his hiding spot and was subject to a number of bites. He tried to run but was swarmed with the little creatures. More and more of the monkeys came and clung to him. They gripped his hair, his clothes, the tiny fingers pinched his skin to hang on to him. They bore him to the ground just by the sheer weight of them.
They held him down and forced him to turn his head to the side. One of them stood upright and shifted into the human form of the pygmy chief. The shift was wet, loud and looked like it hurt. It terrified Basil more than anything else could have because it confirmed for him that all the monkeys holding him down, pinching and tearing at him, were shifters. It meant that a couple of the monkeys they had in captivity were probably pygmies, afraid to shift back and show themselves.
As the chief grinned a terrifying smile, Basil knew two things.
One, he had committed a terrible crime.
And two, he was about to pay for it.
His next scream was the ear splitting scream of a man in excruciating pain. He lived through most of the tearing and ripping of his flesh. He watched them chew and swallow bits and pieces of him. He screamed until his voice gave out. His eyes bulged with his pain, until one of them plucked them out. He lived until someone bit through a major artery and he bled out.
Basil was left a wet, juicy corpse in the middle of the jungle with no one to miss him and mourn him.