“If there was one type of person that could drive me to murder it would be a poacher. The way they pray upon defenceless creatures to make money disgusts me. I would be in other countries protecting those creatures in a heartbeat if only I could.”
I wrote this story for the following prompt.
Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Wordle — Obtain, bounce, would, Siamese, brawny, record, cent, right, steep, wood, colossal, left
Word of the Day Challenge — Grade
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Commute
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge – Picture from Google Photo Frame.
The Poacher’s Fate
Cloying earth filled my mouth and nostrils, I sneezed, coughed and vomited all at once. Rolling to my side, pain flared in my stomach. The agony of the welts and bruises bought back images of those brawny monsters.
“Bastard poachers!” I bristled as I groaned through my pain and collapsed with my back against a tree.
It began on my usual commute through the jungle to work at the hospital. The steep jungle wended its way around the lake I called home. The rutted track would bounce my jeep all over the terrain.
This morning that cost me a tyre. Whilst changing it out for my spare, I smelt it. The stench of death reeking from the depths of the jungle.
I didn’t have to walk far before I came upon a brown-throated sloth. A single gunshot had torn into its neck. A quick investigation revealed poachers had killed it to obtain its gallbladder. I’d heard the rumours they were worth a colossal amount on the black market.
As I left the horrendous scene, I realised I got too close. Two bearded men grabbed and roughed me up. They left me close to unconsciousness with a dire warning.
’ Say nothing and leave it well alone or suffer the fate of the sloth.’
Now, every breath I took was pure agony. I gazed through a gap in the palm trees where the sun was glistening over the lake. I faded from consciousness as I looked toward the Zapatera volcano mountain range turned purple in the afternoon light. The sound of red and great green macaws squawking and fluttering above the tree canopy prevented me from passing out completely
A rustling to my right brought me back to reality. I was in horror to young sloths emerge from the undergrowth to feed. Those hunters had killed their mother.
Anger welled deep within my soul. If it wasn’t loggers annihilating the rainforest for wood to sell on the black market. It was hunters killing every creature they came upon. I just couldn’t understand why money was more important than life. After all, when the jungle ceased to exist so too would all life on earth.
Feeling in my pockets, I was surprised to discover my phone. I immediately put in a call to the Department of Fish and Game. They were responsible for protecting the wildlife here.
“This is Doctor Grade. I need to report poachers on the eastern fringes of Lake Nicaragua.”
“What are they hunting?” replied a disinterested sounding man.
“Sloths for gallbladders. Who knows what else they kill out here.” I replied hoping for some help.
“Thanks for letting us know. I’ll have a warden check the area in the next couple of months.”
“Couple of months! Do you have any idea how many animals they’ll kill in that time? Their last victim was a mother, her two young will probably die now as a result.”
“Like I said, Doctor. Wardens will check it out in the next couple of months. Goodbye.” The line went dead.
“Unbelievable!” I groaned and punched the ground as I stood up creating a shower of leaves and mud. At least I’d made a record of my discovery.
Acid rose from my stomach, no doubt from the bruising I sustained to my abdomen and ribs. Choking, I staggered back in the direction of my jeep. Only I wasn’t going on to work, I was going to take care of things myself.
Regaining my jeep, I cursed the poachers as I kicked all four flat tires. Reaching under the glove compartment, I grinned and took out my old revolver. Spinning out the barrel I counted six shots. Three bullets each for those bearded scumbags.
Stepping back into the jungle, I felt the heat rise as sweat poured from my face. My ears were filled with the sound of my breathing, the calls of monkeys, the chirps of many birds and the clicking of insects as I began my search.
I found what I was looking for a couple of hours after dark. Those poachers were after the rare jaguar as well. They’d hacked the body of a cow into chunks and used that to bait a gruesome snare trap.
Approaching with great caution, I took up a branch and dropped it into the jaws of the trap. It slammed shut with such power the branch exploded.
This was where I needed to be, the poachers had to come back and check this trap at some point.
I climbed a ficus tree and began to wait.
Time in the jungle seems to cease to exist. For hours on end, I bared the stifling heat, the feeling of giant millipedes crawling over my legs, and the boa constrictor who made a thorough investigation of my body before slithering into the tree canopy.
Then the howler monkeys began bellowing their warning over the tree canopy.
Danger was nearby.
“We get rich tonight, Homes.”
“Damn right we will. One Jaguar, one hundred thousand dollars.” One of the men laughed, “Just hope we got one, Rico.”
“Sure, we did, Gonzo.”
I watched the torchlight emerge from the jungle beneath me. My two assaulters from this morning were walking through the jungle as if they owned it. Both had hunting rifles over their shoulders.
“Damn, Amigo! A branch triggered our trap.” Gonzo kicked my tree angrily.
“No, somebody triggered our trap.” Rico indicated my path to the trap.
My breath caught in my throat. This guy could read the spoor of anything moving through the jungle.
Rico followed my path, right to the trunk of the ficus tree.
I leapt right out of the branches and crashed down on the backs of both of them.
All three of us slammed into the leaf litter. Their rifles crashing away into the undergrowth.
Despite fresh pain radiating from my abdomen, I rolled to my feet.
“Bastardo!” Rico yelled.
“That’s El Medico Bastardo, to you!” I cracked his jaw with my left boot.
He thumped against a tree trunk and collapsed to the earth.
I took a punch to the bicep and turned with him.
We circled like two lions ready to attack.
“I flay every cent you cost me out of your hide!” he yelled as he withdrew a hunting knife from his belt.
“Sorry, I don’t do dermatology. My speciality is osteology,” I retorted as we continue to turn.
“What’s that, sabelotodo?” Gonzo lunged with his knife.
I jinked aside but felt the blade slice through my sweat-dampened shirt. Blood immediately began to pool from a deep laceration. I’d grabbed a handful of fingers. I twisted and wrenched on two of them until they cracked. “Bones!”
Gonzo screamed and dropped to his knees cradling his broken hand.
I turned to Rico — he wasn’t on the ground where I left him.
A branch exploded over my lower spine. The shocking pain so intense my world spun as I crashed to the ground.
“I knew I recognised you this morning,cabrón. You’re, Doctor Grade.” Rico stood over me. “You should have stayed healing people like you did my brother three weeks ago.”
“If I’d have known he and you were poachers, I would never have helped you.” As much as I tried to fight it my anger was fast becoming fear.
Gonzo rose to stand beside Rico. He wrinkled his nose with a growl as he spat on my chest and kicked me in the ribs.
I held in a cry of pain as I tasted blood in my mouth.
“Now, we use your body parts as bait for our prized Jaguar.” Rico decided.
“One question, if you are such hard nuts. Why does he have a girly Siamese kitten tattoo on his spine?” I nodded to Gonzo.
“I do not!” he stated as he lashed out at me again.
I rolled with the blow as I watched Rico give his partner a quizzical look.
“You got a poofy tattoo you didn’t show me?”
“No, Homes. I swear.”
“He lies. I saw it when I examined him,” I said adding more fuel to the fire.
Gonzo kicked me again.
“Show me, brother,” Rico demanded.
“No.” Gonzo stepped back.
Rico snapped forward and grabbed him. He forced him around and lifted his grubby shirt. “You lie, cabrón.”
I said nothing.
Rico snarled and turned to face me on the ground.
I’d risen through my pain and now my gun held only five bullets. One round shattered Rico’s knee.
Gonzo yelled obscenities and threw himself at me.
He crashed to the ground, his left knee and right ankle reduced to shards of bone.
I felt the same amount of remorse they showed the animals of this beautiful rainforest. Picking up Gonzo’s knife and both their hunting rifles, I made them walk away.”
“Wait, we can’t walk. You can’t leave us like this!” Rico almost screamed as he lay a sweating bleeding mess on the jungle floor.
“When you hurt me this morning, you made me realise why I came to this place all those years ago. Yes, I came to heal people, but I also came to do my bit to save the world. From this day forward, while I still live, the poacher here have become the hunted.” With my statement made I stalked away and left them to the Jaguar.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!