Lions, Tigers and Bears. Oh My!
Usual disclaimers apply. The following contains male-to-male sex.
If you are under age or such reading is illegal in your country,
please go elsewhere. Otherwise, please enjoy.
Comments and Critiques are welcomed at Kindar@wereanimal.net
October 4th, 2010
The town didn’t have a name; it barely deserved the title of town. It was maybe twenty shoddy buildings built out of corrugated metal in a jungle clearing at the foot of a mountain.
Emaciated women and children watched us from doorways and windows as we drove through. They didn’t react to our presence, simply looked at us with vacant eyes.
I didn’t expect Lao’s contact to be quite this deep inside the jungles of the Congo. We had to switch planes twice before arriving in Brazzaville. There Lao bought a jeep and drove us into the jungle. No one flew where we were going because it was in the middle of a war zone. We had a few rifles to defend ourselves but Lao said we shouldn’t have any problems, he knew where the safe routes were.
The drive took two days. Two long wet days; I might as well not have left Peru. I had at least come prepared. My nice clothes were sealed in a plastic bag, I was wearing a cheap shirt and jeans. The rain didn’t stop Arsalan from trying to have sex with me, but I hadn’t forgiven him yet.
The building Lao parked next to was against the mountain face itself. Old stonework the jungle had tried to reclaim composed most of the walls, with the larger holes covered up with sheets of metal. The quick inspection if it I made as we rushed under the wooden porch told me it was at least five hundred years old. I only spent a few seconds wondering who might have built it before the door opened to let us in.
The inside matched the outside, two carved stone pillars had once supported a roof made of the same stone, but it had caved in a long time ago. The debris had been cleared out, but the cracks on the floor where the larger pieces fell allowed shoots and vines in. Someone had rebuilt the roof from wooden beams and leaves and it did a good job of keeping most of the rain out.
We were escorted deeper inside the room by men who were well fed and exercised regularly. The walls went from being stone blocks to being carved out of the mountain itself. Moments later the temperature and humidity dropped significantly. Electrical lights were hung half hazardly to fight the darkness and a large fire brought the temperature back up to a comfortable level.
The man sitting at the edge of the firelight stood as we became visible. He walked to us and hugged Lao, talking with him in the local dialect for a moment.
“Welcome mes amis,” he said to Arsalan and I afterward, “I am Etienne Deraie. You must be Simon.” He offered me his hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said as I shook it, “Lao told me that you know where I can find Sir Burton’s journal.”
“Yes, yes,” he said dismissively, “but before we discuss that you need to change into dry clothing.” He said something to one of his men. “My man will take you to a room where you can rest while I have food readied. Some of the women will bring you clothing, if you feel the need to use them for entertainment after your long drive here go ahead, they won’t object.”
I immediately smelled Arsalan’s interest. He’d had sex with Lao, but that had been last night.
The man led us along a corridor to a large room. Cots had been set up there and there was a pile of towels on one of them. On the far wall there was a fire burning in a cavity.
I didn’t wait for the man to leave before getting out of my wet clothes. I took the mattress off one of the cots and tilt sideways in front of the fire so I could hang my clothes to dry. Lao and Arsalan added theirs to the cot.
I was just about done drying myself when the women entered, three of them, one for each of us; just as under nourished as those we saw outside. Our host obviously didn’t know about me and Lao, not that the women spared our naked bodies even a second glance.
As I dressed Arsalan whispered something to the woman with his clothes. When she didn’t respond or react in any way he nuzzled her neck while running a hand down her side. She remained stock still. With a shrug he took the clothes she was holding and sent her away.
“Aren’t you going to have sex with her?” I asked him. The shirt and pants were made of undyed rough denim, they itched a little, but with the level of humidity in the air they would soften quickly.
“She wasn’t interested and I couldn’t get her interested,” He said as he stretched on a cot. “She’s dead inside.”
The woman who had brought my clothes was still standing next to me so I gently took hold of her chin to get her to look me in the eyes. Arsalan was right, there was no life left in them; her spirit had been thoroughly broken.
It saddened me to see people abuse each other like that, but I knew it was normal behavior for humans. Throughout history the powerful took advantage of the weak and the weak took advantage of the weaker.
I had been victim of such abuse, a rich industrialist buying me to work in his mine, where I spent most of my childhood. I would have died there if not of a richer noble who took a fancy to me and wanted to use me in a different way.
Maybe someday humans would rise above such behavior, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I sent the woman away.
Lao imitated Arsalan and I knew I should lie down too, but the history contained within this building called to me. I took my notebook and pencil out of the plastic bag I kept them in and wandered down the hallways.
Time and the carelessness of many occupants had obscured a lot of the drawings on the walls. I spent a few hours reconstructing what seemed to be the story of a local king, although once I got to a section that said the king had fought a giant from the clouds I figured I’d gotten things wrong.
I’d also gotten turned around a good deal in my exploration. Trying to find my way back I walked into a room where half a dozen men were watching two other beat up another one who was tied to a chair. Two of them turned in my direction.
“Sorry,” I said before turning around. I knew I’d walked in on someone being tortured, and I knew they wouldn’t be happy about it, but I wasn’t going to *act* guilty by running.
Someone grabbed my shoulder and I stopped. I turned around, lifting my hands in the air, as they surrounded me. The hallway was spacious enough for all of us, at least ten feet in width. The three lights attached to one wall gave enough to be seen, but we were marked with deep shadows.
“I don’t understand you,” I said, and then repeated in French after they said what sounded like accusations in their language.
“Spy!” said the biggest of them. He was over six feet tall with muscles that bulged through his shirt and in his light his skin was a beautiful dark chocolate in color.
“I’m not a spy,” was all I had the time to reply before he swung at me. I easily avoided it, as well as the following ones. I could easily take him down, he was big and strong but he was clumsy. Three well placed punches and he’d be writhing on the floor in agony.
Not the usual reason I wanted my men to be writhing. It would also look badly for a guest to take down one of Etienne’s men, and if I beat him I’d have to deal with the even others who were not content to just cheer their friend on.
I did a quick survey of the crowd. The deadliest weapon anyone seemed to carry was a bowie knife. Vicious things, but they had to connect to inflict pain. I could smell gun power on them, but it wasn’t recent so I didn’t have to worry about getting shot.
I tucked my book at my back and started to actively block his blows instead of just avoiding them. I was hoping to convince him he was wasting his time, but it didn’t seem to work, he just redoubled his effort.
A blow slipped by my parry and hit me. I flew back, rolled and stood back up. The crowd had parted so I wouldn’t collide with any of them.
“Look,” I said wiping the blood off my lips, “I’m not a spy, I don’t want to fight you but if you don’t stop this right now I am going to put you down.” I was tired and getting angry.
The man rushed me. I met his attack and slipped under his defenses. I punched him in the groin, the solar plexus and the throat, and he went down like a rock. I didn’t put much force behind the blows but they were enough, he was moaning on the floor. I looked at him during the crowd’s stunned silence and realized that I’d just blown my chance to not hurt any of Etienne’s men.
Everyone rushed him at once.
Too many blows came from too many directions for me to keep track of. Fist flew and hit me, I’d have preferred avoid them, but three of my attackers had taken out their knives. Those took precedence so I had to take the blows while I dealt with them.
They had to be careful to avoid cutting the others so that gave me some advantage. I slipped under one of the men’s swing and hit him hard enough that when he smashed against the wall he crumbled to the ground. I kicked the next one in the knee and the fell to the floor screaming and holding it. The third one almost got a slice in, but I grabbed him by the throat and slammed him down. He didn’t move after that.
Throughout that I kept being pelted with blows. I grabbed the closest one and swung him around to force everyone else to back off. I threw him against another one and prepared myself for the next wave
We all froze when someone barked an order I didn’t understand.
Etienne was behind me and asked questions. One of the men pointed at me while he answered.
“My man says that you are a spy,” The tall black man said.
“I’m not,” I simply answered.
“Then what is this?”
“They attacked me, I defended myself.”
“My men do not attack without provocation. What did you do to provoke them?”
He raised an eyebrow at me.
“I walked in on them torturing someone. I apologized and walked out.”
“And what were you doing in this part of my abode?”
“I was studying it.”
Etienne eyed me. “Then you are a spy.”
“No, I’m an archeologist. Unless it escaped you this place’s really old.”
He looked around at the men on the ground. “Archeologists do not take on eight men and walk away unscratched. It takes training, training spies get.”
“Anyone who knows even a little martial arts could take these guys down,” I said with a snort,” I took out my notebook, opened it to a two page spread of drawing, transcription and notes I’d made on what I’d seen. “I was studying the walls of this place and I got lost.”
Etienne looked them over. “These could be codes to hide the report to the government.”
“For crying out loud,” I said loudly, “I’m only here because Lao told me you had information I wanted. He never told me who you were and what you were doing so why would I have come here planning to spy on you?”
“You saw them torture a man?” Etienne asked,
“And that does not bother you?” he asked suspiciously.
“Sure it does, but I’m not stupid. I’m not involved in your war and I don’t want to get involved. If I piss you off it isn’t going to get me the information I need.”
“You are correct, it isn’t.”
“Look. I’m sorry about hurting them, but I was just defending myself.”
Etienne studied me for a long moment. “I believe it is best if we conclude our business and you go on your way.”
Please send Comments and Critiques to Kindar@wereanimal.net