Romantic flash fiction:
The jungle was alive. Not in the way that a human or an animal breathes, but it breathed. Not in the way a woman in labor groans, but it groaned nonetheless. And life flowed in its veins, from the sound of the steady stream of pouring rain outside my prison cell; to the tweeting and chirruping of tropical birds and hooting of monkeys in lush trees; to the clap of thunder on the horizon that began as a lion’s roar and eventually shook the ground.
Chasing down a drug cartel in the middle of a South American jungle was hardly the way I would have liked to spend my Saturday night. But a soldier of fortune had to earn his keep some way or another. This assignment came from a client with a fat wallet and a million dollar prize.
To follow the cartel to their hideout, their training ground deep in the heart of the jungle, was all I was required to do. Find out its whereabouts and report. Simple. Could’ve taken this assignment blindfolded. With one arm and a leg tied behind my back. Piece of cake. But that was before I learned what type of men I was dealing with. These boys could track a grasshopper through a sludge of mud for miles. And they were known for being vicious. They didn’t just capture their victims. Torture was always sure to follow until they got what they wanted or the one being tortured expired.
It was this hunter-like instinct that gave them the advantage – plus the fact of knowing the land better than I did – that led them to me and found me out. I had been brought before the head of the cartel, who held an AK-47 to my beak, and I was sure that my time was up. After being stripped of my weapons, as well as my pride, several of them beat me to a pulp, producing pain in me that I had not experienced in years. Yet for some reason unknown to me, they didn’t kill me. Not then anyway. Instead, they tossed me into a makeshift prisoner’s cell, which was actually a small room in a thatched roof hut. For days, I was given food and water, just enough to survive. By the time my five o’clock shadow became a full beard, I knew that supplies were dwindling, as was their patience with me. Whatever they wanted from me, I had yet to find out, but I knew it would be soon.
As I lay in the middle of the dusty floor of the prison cell, my wrists tied tightly with ropes – my only constant companion – I squinted as I gazed out the barred window into the rain forest beyond. The rain was falling in buckets and producing a waterfall effect down the side of the thatched roof of my hut. Thunder continued to roll and a stark wind swept across the muddy ground, pulling loose palm fronds off trees and tossing them about.
Then through the rain, I could hardly believe my eyes, so much that I had to rub them and shake my head before I looked again. A woman, bare-breasted and dressed only in an orange sarong wrapped around her waist, holding a water pot under her arm, was heading my way, in spite of the heavy rain that drenched her body. I marveled at her beautiful jet-black hair with a small tropical flower tucked gently behind her ear. And somehow my mind recollected an image of a woman whom I had once seen in a dream I had long ago when I first started as soldier of fortune. The woman in my dream had been someone who would not only take my breath away but one day save me from this life of insecurity and violence. And the weapon she would use would be not be superior might, but gentle love.
And what I saw through the rain matched the woman of my dream exactly. But how?
My first reaction was skepticism. What was such a woman doing in the middle of the jungle? Where had she come from? Did she work for the cartel? She reached the door of my hut and I heard the key jingle before the door slid open. Even with the dark, cloudy, rainy atmosphere of the forest, I still had to shield my eyes from the light that flooded my cell.
I was stunned, motionless as she moved to me like a cat, graceful in movement and soft in appearance. But with very little body fat and muscle tension in her thin arms, one had the impression that she could move quickly on a whim with tremendous athletic prowess if she so wished. Placing her water pot on the dirt ground of my cell, a knife was suddenly in her hand and she wielded it like an assassin. As a knee-jerk reaction, my body tensed up. But instead, she cut the ropes off my wrists.
I looked deeply into her gorgeous dark brown Latina eyes. They were intense, powerful.
“¿Quién es usted?” I asked with bated breath. Who are you?
She finally gazed into my eyes with love and responded, “Mi nombre es Clemencia. He venido a rescatarte.”
I smiled as my mind translated her words.
My name is Mercy. I have come to rescue you.