Charlie Is Lost

Travis Robinson

The tale of how he came to be lost was not the material of the grand adventure he sought. It wouldn’t have even made an amusing anecdote about the dangers of the wild jungle. Admittedly, it highlights the arrogant assumptions Charles is hauling through the jungle. He had left camp during lunch to relieve himself. He was certain finding camp again would be simple. It likely would have been if not for the thick jungle around him. He could see even less through it than he expected. Surrounded by the now menacing jungle, he was absolutely lost. He wandered around for a time, constantly certain that camp was just past that familiar tree. After roughly the fifteenth familiar tree, he began to grow concerned. This was also the point where he ceased counting. Foolishly, this was not the point he stopped pushing through the underbrush.

More wandering brings us to the present moment. In a stroke of sheer luck, Charles stumbles across a cliff. Charles surveys the jungle beneath him. It is beautiful. He has never seen such vibrant green in his life. The green is splashed with vibrant colors from various flowers. The air itself hums with life. Macaw cries punctuate bursts of monkey chattering. He would have found it wondrous had his circumstances been different. Then again, a man could die in uglier surroundings. Not that he is resigned to death yet.

He decides the most prudent course of action is to head back westward with the sun at his back. At some point he will exit the jungle. Perhaps through another stroke of luck he will encounter some natives or fellow explorers to point him back to the town from which he had embarked. Charles shoves his way away from the cliff and back through the underbrush.

After an indeterminate time of weaving his way through vines, he stumbles across a bizarre flower. Fat, bloated, and rotting are the three words which leap to his mind. His imagination floods with an assortment of concepts of jungle flower-men. This could be his great discovery. With a bit of creative bending about how he discovered this, it could be quite an adventure story. He sits across the clearing from this strange flower corpse and begins scribbling notes in his journal. He invents a whole society of carnivorous flower-men. In this tale he is a brave adventurer and they are bloodthirsty savages. A few scribbles later, and his expedition was devoured by these flower-men. After a few scratched out ideas, this expedition expands into a whole village of natives. Well, except for a visiting native princess. He needs somebody to dashingly rescue in this tale of cunning. The scribbles in his journal quicken with excitement. His thoughts are only torn away from his tale when the clearing begins to darken. He looks up to see nightfall has fallen on the jungle. He does not relish the idea of spending an evening with the stench of the flower, so he rises and sets off westward again. Well, he hopes it’s westward. The sun isn’t visible to provide certainty.

He has neither his canteen nor any provisions with him. It hasn’t rained yet to allow him the good fortune to drink any fresh water since he has gotten lost. As for food, he doesn’t know enough about the local flora and fauna to begin devouring what he encounters. He is too afraid of hindering his already hampered sense. He desires to be undistracted, to better listen for any predator that may be stalking him. Perhaps it is a mistake, but he is no survivalist. He is an adventurer, though not a particularly clever one, it seems. The plan was to hire a few native guides, embark on his jungle adventure, find some ancient ruin, and become rich selling the artifacts. Ending up alone in the jungle was never part of his plan, nor does he plan to include it in his retellings of his adventures. That was assuming he ever gets the chance.

It isn’t long until he hears something behind him in the underbrush. He stops and looks back to identify the approaching menace. Only the green of the jungle meets his gaze. Concerningly, the sound of something moving through the underbrush ceases when he stops. He takes a few cautious steps, listening for the beast which stalks him. Sure enough, the sound resumes. He turns to face the beast hunting him. Again, only the green of the jungle meets his gaze. Bravely he shouts at the beast to leave him alone. It does not. Instead a tiger bursts from the bushes. Charles steps aside to evade the beast. It lands behind him. Charles flees through the jungle, with the beast close behind. The tiger snaps and snarls at his heels.

Charles bursts into a clearing only to abruptly stop at a startling sight. Before him is his father, and not a grey haired relic as you might expect. A middle aged kindly face looks down at Charles.

“I was playing jungle. Cat is a tiger, “ Charles declares bravely.

A loving hand is set on Charles’s shoulder. “It’s getting late. Time to come in.” Charles pads after Father across the yard, with Cat batting playfully at his heels. Charles glances back at the jungle behind him as it fades back into mundane oaks and shrubs.