A Hairy Man’s Treasure

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She was happy, if not a little surprised, to have survived the landing.

As Luisa crawled from the wreckage she looked around hoping to find Serghei in one piece as well. Last glimpse she had caught of him was in the chaos on the way down as the trees tore her little airship apart. One moment he had been there wrestling with a serpentine cord, his biceps bulging heroically as he stayed the last rope holding the balloon in place; the next moment there was a large chunk of the deck missing and her first mate was nowhere to be seen.

Now, standing knee deep in muddy water, she watched Serghei’s favorite top hat bobbing up and down slightly. He hadn’t been wearing it when last she saw him, but it seemed clear he was gone, so she attached significance to the finding of the hat. She watched it sadly for a moment, rubbing her shoulder. Her arm was going to be sore the next day, but that appeared to by the extent of her injury. She had been lucky, Serghei had been less lucky.

The water was moving, but slowly. She looked up into the overhanging canopy and sighed heavily, finding bits and pieces of her ship strewn here and there among the branches. It had only been her and Serghei on this leg of the trip, if he was dead, as she fear he would be, she was now alone. Luisa checked the revolvers that hung at her hips as she reflected on the fact that she had no idea where she was, only that it was off-course. She knew this because her intended course didn’t cross any jungle. The guns had gotten wet and would need a good cleaning, but aside from that they seemed fine.

What remained of the ship lay upside down in the water and had spilled almost all its contents. She glanced around to see several of the crates scattered around that had recently been her precious cargo. She sneered at the idea that fruit had been all she could pick up in the Lydian port. Until only three years earlier she had been able to pick up a boat load of expensive contraband to be smuggled over Dorian borders, but the government had finally tightened its clenches on Lydia and Luisa’s contacts had dried up. Luisa shook her head in the realization that she had lost her first mate, her ship and her way in an attempt to deliver a bunch of fruit. She had been up against pirates and government raiding parties, she had survived bigger storms than the one that had blown her off course this time, but she had been brought down by a strong breeze and economics. She couldn’t get expensive cargo, so she couldn’t pay her crew and overloaded the boat with cheap cargo, just to make the trip worth it.
She was starting to think it hadn’t been worth it.

With no idea where else to start, she started poking around in the wreckage to take stock of what she had available. There were some clothes, a few weapons, and of course a whole heck of a lot of bananas. Luisa gathered up what she could find, so that it wouldn’t drift away. Moving around as she did so made a ruckus, splashing with every step. The roar of upset water filled the eerie silence that hung heavy over the water. She presumed the usual chatter of jungle life would return eventually, but punching a hole through the trees and splashing into the water had shocked the system into silence. She knew exactly why they were quiet, but that didn’t make it any more comfortable, so as she walked between patches of debris she made as much noise as possible, trying to wash out the quiet judgment of the air.

The noise she made covered the sound of their approach. Skilled in silent movement through the water, they had been trained by thousands of years of evolution. She had no idea they were there until they were only a few feet away and even then, she became aware of their presence not because of their sounds, but by chance. She had turned around to find them all standing there, looking at her curiously. When she turned around the whole troop of monkeys stopped mid-step and looked at her, waiting to see what she would do.
She grinned a little at the approaching forms. Several of their heads cocked a little sideways as she had seen puppies do. She saw them as little tiny people covered with hair and it was endearing, she wondered if they saw her as a gigantic hairless monkey. She shuffled slightly to one side, several monkeys did the same. Her little grin bloomed into a full smile. She scratched her head, most of them copied her. She danced the monkey as best she could with her sore shoulder, they did the same. The troop of monkeys dancing the monkey tickled her more than anything had in a long time and she doubled over in laughter. Many of them feigned silent laughter. She noticed uncomfortably that still, none of them had made a sound. No monkeys had uttered a sound in her presence until all of a sudden there was a cry and commotion behind her. She turned to find that a monkey who had approached from the other direction undetected had reached one of the fruit crates and broken it open. He stood atop the crate holding a bunch of bananas over his head and howling. She glanced back to the monkeys that had been copying her. They no longer even looked at her. A cold, sickening dread washed over her as she saw the hungry, captivated look in their eyes.

They all stood motionless for a moment, then all of a sudden there was a mad rush toward the crate. If it had just been the monkeys she had seen so far, it might not had been such a big deal, as only one of them ran into her on his desperate charge toward the fruit, but monkeys began pouring out of the trees from every direction. She had been tripped up by that first monkey that had crashed into her and had splashed down into the water. Now, as the horde arrived, she had to fight just to get her head above water occasionally for a gasp of breath. There were monkeys of all shapes and sizes stampeding over her, trying to get to the crates.

They had been so cute only a moment before that she never would have imagined hurting one, but as her desperate attempts to get air became more and more difficult she began to panic and started throwing punches. After feeling her fist connect with several furry bodies she managed to get out of the main path and up onto the bank where she lay gulping air. Luisa climbed to her feet and looked out on the mayhem that was taking place out on the water.
Soon, the fruit would all be gone and they would come looking for more, so she turned intending to disappear before they noticed. She chuckled to herself slightly at the change in perspective. She had sneered at her “precious” cargo, but now she found herself in danger because of its worth. “One man’s trash,” she mumbled under her breath as she jogged of into the jungle, the weight of her guns swinging back and forth with each step.

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