Friday, April 9, 2010

Lost in the Jungle

Paperback - 347 words
Ben Azevedo

I heaved a sigh as I twirled the dial on the shiny combination lock. My dirty fingers smudged the smooth metal as I scoured my memory for the digits that would grant me access to the small locker in the break room. The code given, the lock gave way with a healthy spring, and I retrieved the dusty, torn paperback from within.

I took another deep breath and let it spill from my lungs as I plopped into a vacant chair around the central table. I didn’t even hear the television advertising the latest popular diet as I opened the old book. I was more careful now to keep my dirt- and dust-stained fingers from the yellowing pages. I had gotten it used, and my rough transportation of it only served to add to its numerous tears and smudges. The binding was still good, though, and it opened easily to the page where I had left off. Eagerly, I began to read…

…and began to circle slowly. Martin watched them carefully from the safety of his fire. The hyenas stared back, their eyes reflecting the jumping flames. The sun had only set an hour ago and already they were here. Martin knew his fire wouldn’t last all night without more wood. He eyed the western horizon carefully. He had seen a stand of trees not far from his fire before the sun set that would serve as better shelter and provide firewood. The dust storm this morning had slowed him, though, forcing him to make his pathetic camp out in the open. He had hoped to pass the night without incident.

One of the hyenas let out a short bark, drawing his attention back to the matter at hand. Martin knew the creatures were too frightened to attack while he had the advantage of fire. He gathered his meager supplies together and strapped a tiny bundle of sticks over his back. Then he carefully selected the biggest stick in the fire and…

A buzzer sounded overhead. My break was over. I returned the paperback to my locker.

Down Under - Men At Work

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