Bridge of Life and Death

“I do love a good action-adventure and today’s prompts just yelled ‘RUN!’ so erm … my characters did!”

I wrote this story for the following prompts.
WordPress Newsletter #WordPrompt – Bridge
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Brindle
Fandango’s One Word Challenge — Infatuated
Pensitivity’ s Three Things Challenge — Plate, Pants, Claw

Bridge of Life and Death

“We … have … to … keep … running, Kiana!” Edo panted, his voice rasping as he struggled for breath.

“I —” Kiana shrieked as she plunged through the branches of a Sapodilla tree, its coconut-like fruits threatening to rip her feet from beneath her.

Edo seized her arm in a loving but forceful way. “Easy, Xodó. There should be a track ahead.” Never stopping he allowed his machete to lead the way with great cleaving swings.

She smiled at the way he called her ‘sweety’. The expression vanished as her boots plunged into thick Amazonian mud. Within moments the cloying, brown gunge coated her cargo pants and splattered her vest.  “Urgh! I hope so, Bonito. Eitherthe forest or those murdering canalhas will kill us before long.”

“No, they won’t!” Edo adjusted his backpack and plunged on through the mud still holding onto her. He was forced to let go to battle through curtains of lianas vines hanging from a misty grove of enormous kapok trees.

Somewhere in the canopy howler monkeys began booming an ear-splitting alarm call.

“Shush, you stupid primates!” Kiana urged.

Edo chuckled. “I don’t think they care,” he said as he broke through rhododendron boughs and gained the path, never noticing the boa constrictor he dumped out of the bush.

The path was nothing more than the muddy track but better than bushwhacking in the jungle.

“I do, they’ll bring those men right to us.” Kiana tore free of the pink flowering bush and locked her warm brown eyes on his.

He stepped closer as if about to kiss her, “No time — Come on!”

“I —”

A staccato crackle erupted through the rainforest scattering squawking birds for miles. Bark exploded from a rubber tree. Wooden shrapnel seared into Edo’s exposed shoulders as milky sap began using from the tree.

Kiana shrieked and flinched away.

“Shit!” he groaned with blood already oozing from wounds to his cheek.

Kiana grabbed his hand and the two ran for all they were worth.

The mud stole the traction from their boots. Sliding wildly they fought for balance and refuse to fall as they sprinted away from the gunmen.

Minutes seem to stretch on the days when you’re running for your life.

“Keep — going!” Edo rasped bathed in sweat and grime. His calves and chest were burning with exertion, but that was better than death by a hail of bullets.

“My … my feet are dying!” Kiana cried.

“Just keep … running. I’ll buy … you the … best pedicure … I can. When we get … out of here!”

“You … really know how to … take care of a lady.” Kiana managed before her feet slipped beneath her. She slammed into the trunk of a mahogany tree, bounded off it and kept running.

“Only … the lady … I love.”

After what felt like two hours but in reality was fifteen minutes the forest broke at the edge of a deep, yawning canyon. The only way across, a swaying rope bridge.

Kiana saw it and skidded to a stop with wide eyes. She bent double with exhaustion as she grimaced at the obstacle. “Oh, no! No — No — No!”

Edo knew of her acrophobia. It concerned him as approached the support stakes, driven deep into the rocky earth. Striking them with his machete proved them pretty solid. He pulled on the vine rope. His effort caused the bridge to swing a little but it seemed fine. “You can do this, Xodó. It’s safe.”

Kiana shook her head as she raised her sweat glistening arms, gathered her long, brindle hair and tied it back. “As much as I’m infatuated with you. I can’t cross that!”  

“Yes, you can. You can beat this! And besides, I’m not watching your beautiful body get riddled with bullets!” Edo smiled at her, “Come on!”

Every bit of Kiana trembled as she gazed at the bridge and the canyon falling away to the river many meters below. The bridge seemed to be born of the forest this side as much as it disappeared into the foliage on the other. She imagined black caiman waiting below for her to fall into their toothy maws.

“Kiana!” Edo shook his head. He had enough on his plate right now, and yet he sympathised with her.

The thumping of footsteps reached the bridge.

“Let me —” she began.

Edo took two strides and bundled her over his shoulder. “Hold on!”

“No. Please no!” She squealed.

He ignored her as he ran straight out onto the swaying planks. The wood and vines groaned under the weight but held. “See, it’s fine.”

“Thank you!”

“Always.” Edo focused on the warmth of her soft body resting over his strong shoulders. He would do anything to keep her warm and alive. Without her, he knew, he would live on a hollow, sad existence.

“Ahh, they’re here!” Kiana shrieked.

“Now you die, thieves!” yelled a man in Portuguese. He punctuated his words with a blast of his SKS – a soviet made semi-automatic rifle. The three men in army fatigues flanking him laughed at his bloodthirsty ways.

Edo instinctively ducked as the rounds smacked into the bridge all around him. He gasped as the rail he held splintered with a puff of fibres. The vine beneath his hand split and unravelled as he increased his pace to frantic. Another vine failed soon after.

“We didn’t steal your damned Coca leaves!” Kiana yelled.

“You die anyway!” The man aimed and fired.

Edo grunted and twisted off his feet. The bullet punched into his right shoulder like a laser-guided fire poker. He and Kiana slammed down on the bridge.

Kiana staggered to her feet. “Please, we’re adventurers. We meant you no harm!” she begged.

“Let her live, Gonsalves. I have a better use for the pretty lady,” sneered one of the men adjusting his crotch.

“Yes … “Gonsalves salivated, grinning evilly. “Get her, Luiz!”  

Kiana knew then that capture would be worse than death. That thought alone blocked her fear of the bridge. Grabbing Edo’s machete, she stood tall and focused on the approaching brute.

Easily six foot tall and built like a Brazilian Hercules, he was a monster of a man draped in his filthy fatigues. He and the others had been guarding the cocaine farm the couple had stumbled on. That one mistake could be their last.

“Come, fofura. I take good care of you,” he said with a lecherous expression on his bristled features.

Kiana bit back with something unrepeatable. “Touch me and you lose your balls!” she added. “Edo, get up!”

“I’m here.” Edo was grey with pain. The hand clamped over his gunshot wound was coated in blood.

“See how far you can throw the dick, Luiz!” Gonsalves yelled setting his men laughing.

  “I throw him, across the border.” Luiz made a muscle with his free arm as his comrades laughed. The other hand was busy controlling his SKS rifle. Coming within ten feet of Kiana, he slung the strap over his head allowing the brown wood and black stocked gun to hang across his sweating back.

Kiana was pinned with Edo blocking the bridge on his knees behind her. Seeing Luiz reach for a handhold on the bridge, she swung the machete for his crotch.

He swore in surprise and twisted away.

She cursed as the blade slashed his trousers open, missing flesh as it cleanly hacked through the vine supports beside him. The bridge sagged a little lower.

“Vicious girly, aren’t you?” Luiz tittered as he approached dauntlessly.

“You have a death wish, yargh!” Kiana swung for him.

He jinked around the blade and lunged for her shoulders.

She felt a thick finger dig into her skin like a claw and wrenched away. Her Legs collided with Edo and she fell.

The injured man felt her tumble over him and launched himself like a broken spring.

Luiz had bounded after the falling woman; he felt the air driven from his lungs. A rib cracked as Edo’s injured shoulder buried itself in his stomach.

Edo cried out in pain as he bounced off the big man’s knees and hit the bridge with a thump.

Luis flailed and grabbed for the vine handrail — it was missing thanks to Kiana’s Machete. He swore, flailed and fell. His scream lasted until he splashed into the river below.

“I’ll kill you for that, Gonsalves indicated for his men to storm the bridge.

The remaining two acknowledged him. Feathering the triggers of their guns, they stepped forward onto the bridge.

“Edo, you, okay?”

“Nothing a few hours in surgery won’t fix,” he groaned through his teeth. By then the top of his arm and chest were bathed in blood. Staggering to his feet, he gave the encroaching brutes a fearful look. “We need to move!”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this — run!” Kiana ordered. Swinging past him, she hacked away more strands of the rope bridge.

The gunmen froze as the bridge dropped lower beneath them.

Kiana kept hacking. Footboards fell away into the river.

“Get them!” yelled Gonsalves.

The gunmen split. One running for Kiana. The other headed back to safety only the Gonsalves to shoot him between the eyes with a groan of ‘Coward!’ as he dumped him into the canyon.

She hacked through one final vine turned and sprinted away toward Edo.

“Get them, Chavo!” Gonsalves demanded.

“Come on!” Edo beckoned over his shoulder.

“I’m right behind you, Bonito!” she replied with her heart mimicking a sledgehammer in her chest.

The gunmen, Chavo, reached the damaged section of the bridge and leapt the gap in the boards.

Edo had plunged into the foliage enveloping the bridge on the other side. His feet hit solid ground and he turned and swore.

Chavo landed heavily on safe boards but the damage was done. His impact caused a horrifying twang and tearing sound to echo along the river. The remaining vine snapped like a twig and the bridge dropped.

Kiana jumped a second before. The bridge swung away beneath leaving her flying through mid-air. She slammed into the stonewall and scrabbled for a grip. Mortal panic crushed the air from her chest – ‘I’m falling.’ ‘I’m going to die!’ Screamed her brain

Then a hand viced around her wrist.

“Hold on and get your beautiful backside up here!” Edo demanded as he held her with his good arm.

Even as Kiana searched for purchase with her feet. A hail of bullets began smacking into the rock around her. Gonsalves was going to murder them no matter what.

Kiana scrabbled for a place to put her right boot as rocks and shrapnel continued to shower down around her.

“Come on, Kiana! I’m losing my grip!”

Kiana felt herself drop. She gritted her teeth and kicked at the wall. Finally, her boot locked into a crevice and she began to haul herself up.

Edo rolled backwards and hauled up alongside him before collapsing in a wheezing heap of sweat and blood. The jungle seemed to spin and blur in his vision as he sucked in great lungfuls of air.

“Thank —you!” Kiana managed in a quivering voice, curled against his side.

Neither moved as the air continued to crackle of gunfire that hammered the foliage like steel rain above them. It seemed Gonsalves would never run out of bullets until a metallic click and swearing brought a welcome silence to the jungle.

“Come on! We need to get back to Manaus fast!” Edo rolled back to his feet, weary, muddy and covered in blood, yet somehow still breathing. He held a hand out to Kiana and smiled.

“How are you smiling?” Kiana managed to grin back as she wrapped her fingers in his and rolled onto her knees. She got her right leg beneath her and tensed. “Argh no!”

“Now, I got you!” Chavo said latching onto her left boot as he emerged over the side of the canyon having used the bridge as a ladder.

“No — you —don’t!” Kiana emphasised her last word by ramming her fist into his nose. She felt cartilage crack and bend beneath her fist as he snapped backwards.

Edo still holding hands swung alongside her, his boot smacking Chavo in the temple. His eyes rolled and he slumped into the abyss. “That’s what you get for touching my lady!” he hollered before raising and kissing her hand.

“Damn right!” Kiana smiled as they set off at a fast jog. Knowing Gonsalves would find another way around kept them moving long after dark. A move that brought them luck and a gaucho’s truck. The old rancher, seeing their plight and need for help gave them water and drove them all away to the Manaus hospital.

As Edo lay waiting for surgery, he hugged Kiana to him. “You know you asked me how I could smile back there?”

She gave a coy smile, “I remember?”

“Well, I was able to smile because I was adventuring with the girl I love. That makes being chased and shot so worthwhile.”

Kiana threw back her head and laughed, “I don’t know the makes me a good girlfriend or a dangerous one, it definitely makes you a hopeless romantic!”

The End

Don’t forget Holly Ward investigates, Stolen Treasures is out on Amazon now!

A recent bank robbery. A saddened man. A coded message. Can they all be connected?
Young Sleuth Holly Ward is determined to help the man. It’s not long before she too comes under assault from a group of dangerous individuals. In the face of intimidation, abduction and even murder can Holly solve the clues and catch the criminals before she becomes the next Stolen Treasure?

Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!

11 thoughts on “Bridge of Life and Death

Add yours

  1. You write such an enthralling adventure, Mason. I will always remember the first time I heard a howler monkey. I was deep in the jungle, alone, and certain that a big cat was screaming its pleasure before eating me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Victoria.
      I love adventuring in my stories as I never have the money to do it for real. You’re lucky to have been in the jungle like that, even if that monkey was terrifying!
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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