Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 2

It was two days before the trees started thinning out at all. Though neither of them liked the water, they drank it, and stumbled beside the stream in the dark. After two days, however, the trees seemed almost normal, and the sky could be seen through the canopy above. The roots looked less like veins, and more like wood. They stumbled back to normality; a rapidly thinning jungle with increasingly sandy earth. The creek ran dry. They finally emerged from the forest, blinking in unfamiliar sunlight form a grey sky, onto a piddling dirt road. Ibola glanced at Adam, who had recovered somewhat from his trauma. "Droit?" She asked. He shrugged, and so they turned right. There were no markings on the road, or signs of civilization; humanity still seemed to be very far away. Right went away from the forest faster, though, and that was their real goal.

It was surprisingly cool, for what seemed to be a desert environment. The sun was watery and alien, making the pair feel even more isolated. The silence of the road was finally interrupted by the sound of a car's engine; a jeep barreled down the road, but stopped just after it had passed them. They sped up, towards the vehicle, and Ibola walked up to one of the front windows. The driver leaned across the front seat; "What're you both doing out here, friends?" He asked, speaking French, "It's a nicer day than usual from a hike, but if the storm comes, you're miles away from shelter." Ibola bit her lip, and Adam didn't move. The driver glanced over them, and his grin faded, "Still, got to play good Samaritan, yeah? Were you mugged? Look, hop into the back of the car, I'll at least take you north, or at least as far as I'm going. It's a bit of a ways to civilization, but you're miles out from even outposts."

Ibola nodded, and helped Adam into the back of the jeep, piling in after him, "Where are we, anyway?" she asked.

"The road to an outpost, a little off the N-9," the driver said. Adam frowned, faintly, and the driver restarted the engine, "Near Rhessouane? Ends up in Marrakesh?"

"We're-- we're in Morocco?" Ibola started, glancing at Adam. Adam shook his head, and leaned against the window.

"Yeah," said the driver, confused by her reaction, "Did you not know? You must've crossed through the desert of the mountains to get all the way out here, and those're some pretty big indicators."

"Are there any jungles around here?" Ibola said, though her gaze was still fixed on Adam.

"Ha, madam, if you're looking for jungles you're on the wrong continent."

It was quiet for a long time. Ibola sighed, "I'm Ibola, and this is Adam."

"I'm Christian. Are you two Americans? You have an accent, and your geography... Well, it isn't the best."

"Yes, we're Americans, both of us," Ibola lied, "We need to get to an embassy. We were mugged, you are right. Do you know where the nearest embassy is?"

"I believe there's an embassy in Rabat. If you need help getting there, I could give you both a ride. You're both looking pretty bad, I must say," Christian said, glancing at their reflections in his rear view mirror.

"Uh, if you, uh, don't mind," Ibola said, feeling suddenly uncomfortable, "I don't want to impose anything on you, I mean."

"Not a problem at all! I needed to make a run up to Rabat at some point anyway-- I have a cousin who insists that Marrakesh chickens are so much better than Rabat chickens, but he says the trade is better. He's a bit of an idiot, drives his wife crazy, but he says that Rabat is better for business and chickens are better in Marrakesh. I think if the chickens are better in Marrakesh, then the business would be, but he pays me good money..." He went on, and Ibola tuned him out. Adam was long asleep, frowning through his dreams. She leaned her head back, watching the world outside her window, sure that, at any moment, she would see a slightly too-tall man with slightly too many arms. She was sure of it, as sure as she was that she was going to spend the rest of her life waiting for the monster to show up. The sky darkened, and the car wound along the road slowly. There were no lights outside, other than the car's headlights, and other than the sound of the engine, everything was silent.

Christian hummed something to himself, and Ibola tensed up at the noise.

It was late by the time they got to Marrakesh. Christian happily dropped them off in front of a hotel; Hotel Narjisse, a cheap tourist destination too close to the airport for richer clientele. Adam mentioned, offhand, to Ibola, that he only had American money, and Christian responded by offering to trade them dollars for euros. Adam pulled out a wallet, covered in black gunge, but managed to pull out a couple of twenties, and gave them to Christian. They paid for a room at the hotel, and Christian left them, saying he'd be back early the next morning if they still needed to go to Rabat. The hotel had a satellite television and one bed, but both Ibola and Adam felt like someone would have to be awake whilst the other slept, in case of intrusion. Adam leaned back on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

Ibola curled her legs beneath her in a chair, and glanced at Adam; "Do you trust Christian?" she asked.

"Not really. Nobody is that friendly, especially not in a world like this," Adam said, yawning, "I'm sorry... I just feel so tired..."

"What're we going to do now?" Ibola said, worried.

"I still have stuff to take care of back home, in the US, so I need to find a way to get back. They've all but banished me, but if I can get through Europe I'm sure there's some way back over there, back home," Adam mumbled, "I need to find out who's in charge of Dande, I need to find out who deported me and Simone, I need to find my family-- in case something happened to them. I need to fight Dande."

"I need to come with you." Adam seemed surprised. She shrugged, "My family is better off without me near them, now. I have a child's blood on my hands, no matter what the circumstances were, and I am cursed by that creature. By being with my family, I would kill them. And I want a chance to avenge Dande myself. Besides, you need someone to stop you from making foolish mistakes, am I not correct?"

"You're right," Adam said, with the ghost of a grin, "So we'll have to find you a passport or... something..."

"We will make our way to the United States through Europe, using your money and citizenship. We will find your family; we will get our revenge. Tomorrow we will go to the embassy in Rabat, and we will use Simone's name to get me a passport. I will stay awake a while so that you can sleep, so rest."

Adam's eyes closed obediently, and soon his breathing became rhythmic and regular. Ibola watched out the window of the room, hoping that her awakened presence would be enough to fend off any would be attackers. Her son had been taken by gangs of men. She wasn't going to let it happen again. He had been taken by "volunteer care workers", members of an unregistered group called Dande, and she had been too late to save him from their demented cult. To spite the monster, she wouldn't let Adam die, and she refused to die herself. Hours passed, and the lights flickered. Exhausted from days of travel, Ibola's head slid sideways in her chair, and she fell asleep.

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