A novel by
Michel David Lowe
There is a killer in the jungle.
It kills men, women and children without remorse and without passion. It is ruthless and it is efficient: nine out of ten stalked by the killer die.
No one knows where it comes from or where it goes to after it has taken its victims. And no one knows when it will return.
But it always returns.
It always attacks.
It always kills.
Part One: Summer Heat
In The Slammer
And every day in the Slammer is just like this:
0530 Wake up, scratch balls, take a leak.
0532 Drink water, brush teeth, yearn for coffee.
0600 First blood draw, urine sample.
0630 Breakfast with OJ and hot coffee!
0700 Hang out, lay around, read books and magazines, be bored for four and a half hours.
1130 Another blood draw.
1159 Brush teeth.
1200 Hang out, lay around, watch the box, be bored for four and a half hours.
1630 Another blood draw.
1633 Hang out, lay around, check email, watch the box, read books and magazines, be bored for an hour and a half.
1830 Brush and floss.
1831 Hanging, watching, scratching, boredom (repeat as necessary) until…
2100 Undress and go to sleep.
The same schedule for the past seven days, almost to the minute.
A week ago Capt. Nicholas Wilson led a company of recon marines enforcing the shaky peace in Rwanda. A week ago he was in an equatorial rainforest, sweaty, tired, hot and muddy. A week ago he was a devil dog, the pointy end of the spear.
Now Wilson was clean, dry and a human pin cushion in a Biosafety Level 4 containment hospital known as the Slammer. Doctors and nurses donned space suits before they dared enter his room for fear his sneeze, his bodily fluids, his every breath could infect them with a jungle virus that could kill them in agony.
Wilson had never heard of the Slammer before a week ago. One moment he was a devil dog and the next moment he was scooped up and slammed into the Slammer.
Except for the boredom and the blood draws there were definitely shittier holes to be stuck in. This one was a little cramped, but it was a private room. Not like an enlisted man’s rack on a carrier or in a sub. Plus here everyone left you alone. Regular meals, books and TV, warm showers and a flush toilet. What more could a recon marine want?
The décor was Spartan: fluorescent tubes behind heavy glass, goopy white swimming pool paint on the cinder block walls, a back lighted lame-ass landscape painting under glass, could be Spirit Lake with Mount St. Helens hulking over it ready to blow. The faux window was real outdoorsy, but just another reminder that he’d been slammed into a bunker with only one way out.
He could not talk to the doctors and nurses in their space suits. The suits had to be plugged into a yellow air hose and the noise inside the suit must have been pretty loud. His first day he tried speaking, then shouting at the space suit guys and gals, but to a man they gave the universal can’t-hear-a-damned-thing-you-say signal of a cupped hand to the ear. He had been air evaced to the Slammer in a portable evacuation unit, sort of a gurney in a plastic bag. It had an air unit that ran all the time. Wilson didn’t try to speak to anyone on the flight because of his air re-circulator’s noise and the roar of the engines on the heavy transport. It never occurred to him that when he landed his caretakers would suffer the same problem.
Once in the Slammer, one of the doctors in a space suit brought him a netbook with a built in webcam. When he figured out the video conference rig, some light colonel explained that Wilson would be living in the Slammer until he crashed and bled out, or didn’t. It could take as long as four weeks, but if he was exposed to a hot virus, the colonel expected Wilson would start breaking with symptoms in a week or less. This will be morning eight in the Slammer.