The Vacation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jim goes on a vacation.

Submitted: February 13, 2014

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Submitted: February 13, 2014

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The Vacation

 

 

Jim rubbed his eyes. He was waking in his bed. But it wasn’t his bed, it was a strange bed. in a strange place. The walls had pictures of coconuts. The room was furnished with ornate bamboo furniture. Where am I?! He gasped, reaching for his wife. The lump in the covers next to him crushed down, revealing nothing. “Where is my wife?” he said, terrified. Then he remembered, he was in South America. The room looked like a tiki hut, but with all the modern amenities. A coconut bar at the far end was brewing coffee he could smell in two coconut cups.

His wife emerged from behind the counter, holding a tray of watermelon. She had curly red brown hair. She was wearing a traditional beachy bathrobe. She sat on the bed carrying the tray and the cups. She handed him a cup and a plate of breakfast. “Good morning, Captain” she said in her playful voice, and smiled, sipping coffee.

Jim rubbed his eyes. He had sandy salt and pepper hair. Slightly wavy. He was pounding through a throbbing headache. “I wasn’t sure where you were...” he mumbled, sleepily. He was wearing his white pilot uniform and hat. His wife, Christa, always liked it when he wore it to bed. She thought it looked official. He thought it was uncomfortable.

She looked at him, sitting down her breakfast, “you never sleep well in new places. oh darling, WHY did you want to come here? You know this kind of place just isn’t your thing.”

He looked back at her, taking off his tight hat and thinking it was probably more the uniform that made it hard to sleep, “I want to be here. I’m doing this for you. It’s high time we had an adventurous vacation! And where else are we gonna find a better adventure than in the jungles of South America?”

She smiled at him, leaning her head against his, “ You mean in a five star hotel? What’s the worst that could happen, Captain? Cold showers?”

Suddenly two black furry objects came darting into the room. Jim let out a yell. They leapt and landed on his knees. The coconut coffee cup went flying into the air.

“Oh my, it’s wild panthers!” Screamed Christa, his wife.

At first Jim yelled, then he realized the black panthers were giggling. He quickly realized it was his two kids, Max and Melody. They were wrapped in black towels and had made little furry ears out of leaves. Hahaha!” he laughed, tossing Max and Melody into the air, “you got me.” He didn’t want to admit they had actually really startled him, not to mention they had made a mess, eyeing the cracked coconut cup on the bamboo ground.

“Dad, we want to see the panthers!” screamed Melody. She had black hair and dark skin.

 “Yeah, I want to take a picture for my school scrapbook!” Chimed in Max, holding up his camera. He had red hair and a face full of freckles.

“Alright, we will. But first we have to cleanup. And eat your breakfast. Then we’ll see.” He turned to his wife, “let’s go pack. I’ve got a tour date with a local guide. He’s going to give us a tour of the local jungle.”

Christa looked uneasy, “Are you sure you don’t want to just go to the local zoo? I’m sure they have all the same animals.”

Jim took a deep breath and smiled, “Christa, where is your since of adventure?” he said, packing his pilot’s hat into his backpack, and walking out of the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

A woman cut exotic meats on a bamboo table. Jim shuffled about uneasily. He was wearing his pilot hat and uniform. He was looking around the busy market. His two kids were petting a goat. His wife was admiring a stone necklace. It was a busy place. Outside. All of the houses looked like something out of star wars on the planet of eewoks. It was truly out of this world for him.

Where is he? Jim mumbled. He said he’d meet me right here in the Carinok Market. Suddenly he felt something on his shoulder. He reached up to feel an arm, but instead pulled a snake! “Ahh!” He yelled, leaping forward.

Behind him came a deep laughter. He turned around to see a huge black man dressed in leopard skin and holding a boa constrictor wrapped around his arm. He was laughing, “You are Jim. Yes?”

“uh, yes” said Jim, half forgetting his own name.

“I am Fobo. I take you into jungle. For money.”

“Oh, uhh. Right.” Jim was beginning to feel a little uneasy about this whole idea, but he fumbled out his wallet. And thumbed out a fifty.

Fobo frowned, “I only accept Master Card.”

“Oh, uh, I’m sorry I only have a Visa, uh..”

“Hahahaha! I joke you! I joke you!” the snake seemed to hisss with laughter too.

“Oh, right. Heh.” Jim handed him the money awkwardly. And Fobo began to walk, “come Jim, we will see your jungle cats”

Jim grabbed his wife, “Jim, honey, look what that nice man gave me!” she fingered the stone necklace around her neck. “I was about to take out my wallet and pay him, but he insisted I take it for free!”

“That’s nice dear,” he said “grab the kids. This nice man, Fobo, is going to be our guide in the jungle. But we’ve got to hurry.”

“But the kids are hungry,” she said, clearly upset that he hadn’t even looked at her new jewelry.

“We’ll grab them a burger.”

Christa reached into her back pocket to give Jim some money for food, but said “that’s funny, my wallet is missing!”

“Don’t worry, I have mine. Yours is probably just in the backpack.”

 He went to a fat lady chopping meat and asked for four burgers. After some considerable charades, he was on his way with his wife and two kids. He handed them a sloppy looking sandwich and chomped on one himself.

“But Dad, I wanted to take the goat with us,” moaned Melody through a dribbling bite. “I’m sure he’ll be there when we get back, darling,” Jim said, mopping up her face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

The jungle path was covered in huge roots. Great banana trees tore up the earth and littered the ground with rotting fruit. Rainbow colored birds danced through the trees. Now and then Melody would cry “Monkey!” and Max would snap a dozen clicks of his camera. It was beautiful. Jim was feeling like this was a great idea. His wife seemed happy too. She was wearing a green hiking outfit, with a straw sun hat.

“Keep up, or I will leave you out here,” called Fobo. Jim grabbed his wife’s hand, pulling her faster, and yelled to his kids to hurry up.

At night they pitched a tent. But they couldn’t sleep on the ground because the forest floor would come alive with ants at night. So they found a low hanging tree with lots of branches and tied the tent steaks to the branches, creating a hanging tent, a few feet above the ground. It was not very comfortable, noted Jim, as he climbed in by his wife. But atleast it was warm and safe. His kids had a hammock hung a few feet higher. Jim offered to let Fobo sleep in the tent too, but he just laughed and climbed high up the dark trees, out of sight.

Christa snuggled closer. Her cheek brushed against his, “Sorry, I haven’t shaved,” he said, noticing the bristles against her cheek.

“that’s ok,” she said, “neither have I.” They laughed together for a little while. They were so happy to be here right now.

“Jim, honey?”

“Yes, Christa dear?”

“Do you think should tell her?”

“Who? …Melody? Why?...” He could tell, even in the dark, that she was frowning.

“…It’s just, she’s almost ten. She’s going to notice something’s different about her.”

“Honey, we don’t have anything to tell her! All we know is she’s adopted, and that her mother is from somewhere in South America. Telling her that would just make her feel left out. Wait until she’s atleast fifteen. Then I promise we’ll tell her. Let’s just enjoy our vacation tonight, ok honey?”

“Alright, dear. Another time.”

A few feet above, in the hammocks, Melody cried. She crawled out of her hammock. She felt an angry burn in her tears. She had known. Somehow she had always known, but actually hearing them say it made it impossible to suppress it as just her imagination.

Quietly, she squeezed out of the hammock, her dark skin goosebumping from the chilled night air. She could hear Max snoring. Her parents not so quietly whispering. She grasped the branches and climbed. Up. Higher. Higher. Her tears raining on the tent far below. She almost fell, reaching out, clawing at any branch she could get. At the top of the fruit tree she sat on a branch and cried. Why was she adopted? She wondered. Why hadn’t her mother wanted her?

She thought she was alone, but from the darkness she saw two eyes watching her. She froze. Staring back. Was it a panther, about to tear her apart? Or an angry baboon, who’s nest she had climbed into. Now to be flung from? Then the eyes said “Do not cry, girl,” and Fobo crawled out. “You are strong.” And he wiped her tears away with his leapoard skin cloak. It could have been scary, but somehow she felt safe with him. “You must be ready for the darkness,” he said. Fobo got her to stop crying then he had her hold on tightly to his fur cloak and climbed back down, and put her back to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

At first Christa thinks Jim is bringing her a huge bouquet of flowers, but then she realizes it’s actually fruit. Mostly a bunch of bannanas, with blueberry’s and colorful mangos stabbed on the end. He hands her the bunch. “I found breakfast,” he says. He’s holding his guide book. You wouldn’t believe how much is eatable in the jungle, I mean, we could live out here!”

Christa eats some banana, and gives the kids some too. She’s made a carpet of giant leaves to sit on. “If you say so, Jim. But, I’m beginning to worry, I haven’t seen Fobo this morning. And it’s already almost noon.”

Melody frowned. There was a sinking feeling in her stomach. You must be ready for the darkness… What had he meant by that? She felt clammy. Suddenly she wasn’t hungry for fruit anymore.

But Jim was in good spirits. He wasn’t afraid of the jungle anymore. “Well, we’ve got all the modern amenities we need right here. Fruit,” He ate a mango, cracking the pit on his tooth, and spitting.

“Meat,” he stuck his finger down a hole and pulled out termites. He licked his finger to his family’s disgusted faces, then spit them out. “awww! Ants! Cough cough! Awch!”

“Water,” he took a sip from a leaf that had collected rain water. Snap! Awch! The the venus fly trap bit down on his tongue.

“Ok, so maybe it will take some getting used to. But no need to worry, because I’m sure Fobo will be back soon to take us home…”

Four hours passed and still no sign of Fobo. They all layed huddled together on the big leaf flooring. Max played with his camera lenses. Melody worried. Christa held Melody, and put a hand on Jim, who looked far away. “Where are you captain? Come back home.”

Jim rested a tired hand on her knee, it tickled but she resisted. He was beginning to feel sorry for where they were. “I’m sorry I got you’ll into this… It’s just. I thought this would be fun. Something we could look back and tell our grandkids about” he turned and looked at Melody and Max. Then turned away. His once wavy gray hair now lay matted against his sweaty brow.

Christa hugged him from behind. “Jim. Honey, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know he’d leave us out here!”

Max seemed to since the tone in her voice and joined in the family hug. There they lay. From the canopy high above you can see them. Just a few colorful patches in the tangled green floor. A red faced baboon watches them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Jim opened his eyes to the sounds of a live jungle at sunset. Cacatoos cawed. Crickets chirped. And a panther roared! “Did you hear that?” he said, sitting up. He was beginning to really regret ever taking a trip into this jungle.

Christa was wide awake beside him. How long had they slept? Max and Melody were clutching onto them. “Mom, I don’t want to see panthers anymore!” cried Max.

“Rahaaah!” The jungle cat’s cries were joined by others now. Jim thought he saw something brush in the trees. “We’ve got to get out of this clearing,” he said. “Come on,” he said standing up, and his family was pulled up too because they were still clutching onto him. “Ok,” he said whispering, “We’re going to make a run for it. But we’ve got to stay together, ok?”

They were all too petrified to even speak. They just shook a nod. ‘

“ok, I’ve got an idea. Max, get on my shoulders. Max, you’ve always wanted to take pictures of panthers, right?” Max just looked terrified, but agreed. “ok, well now is your chance! I want you to pretend like we’re on an African safari and you’ve got to take pictures like your life depends on it! ok?”

“…o..k…” said Max, sweat pouring down his freckled face.

“good,” and Jim put Max on his shoulders. Then turned to his wife and Melody.

Ok, honey hold tight to my shoulders. The jungle’s dark, and we don’t want to get separated.

“uh,… ok, sweety”

Then he turned to Melody, “honey, I want you to pretend like we’re playing train. You have to hold as tightly as you can to mom’s shirt tail. Can you do that for me?”

She nodded nervously.

“Sweety, how is this going to work?” asked his wife.

“Just trust me, ok?,” and Jim kissed her. Max almost fell off.

Just then a panther growled and leapt out into the clearing. His silver fangs dripping with hunger.

“Run!” Yelled Jim, and he took off running the other way, Christa holding tightly to his shoulders as they ducked past trees and under roots. And Melody holding tightly to Christa’s shirt tail.

Suddenly a panther leapt towards them from the trees. But Max turned and took a picture; a bright flash blinding the panther’s night vision, he instead leapt into a tree.

“Great shot, Max!” called Jim, still holding his legs. “Behind you!” swivel. Click. Flash. Roar! Smack!...

They ran, through the dark jungle, flashing back the panthers. They ran until they could run no more, and they stopped, panting. “Heeve heeeve great job Max… You’ll… make a… great photographer someday…”

“Thanks Dad…” then, turning slowly, he said, “Where’s Melody?”

All of them looked around in total fear. “Melody?” Called Jim.

“Melody! Called Christa, “Where’s my Melody!?”

Jim closed his eyes. “…she must have let go…”

Christa looked horrified, “Not my baby! And began to cry like only a mother can.

Jim looked dead serious at her, “Don’t do this” he said, “not now. She’s fine. You wait here, I’ll go back and get her myself, ok?”

Christa just shook a nod and hugged Max.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

Melody lay motionless in the darkness. She could hear the padded foot steps of a panther walking nearby. She pulled her legs up under an over hanging branch. Does it hear me? she wondered. She tried to steady her breathing.

Suddenly the branch is torn away and she’s staring face to face with a panting black panther! It’s hot breath smelled of blood.

“I say we eat her”, it said.

Melody wasn’t sure if she was more afraid of it staring at her, or more surprised that it was talking!

“No, Kerza, you know we must take her to the Master!” said another

“I don’t care. We’ll say she got away!” said the first, and he opened his jaws wide enough to fit her entire head inside. Melody was simply to terrified to respond. She lay frozen.

Suddenly, a panther comes leaping down from the trees and lands on the head of the other panther, closing his mouth, and pressing his black furred face into the ground. It said, “No one eats her! We take the girl to the Master.” No one seemed to object. The panther crouched, “Get on my back, and hold on tightly to my fur.”

Melody found her arms and legs responding. There was something in the way he spoke that made her want to obey. A comforting familiarity. She grasped the warm fur with her fingers. It was like riding a very big house cat. She thought of her cat back home, and how he would sometimes chase raccoons through the woods. Sometimes she would pretend they were chasing a wild panther. She never thought she would be riding a panther through a real jungle!

The panther stepped off of the panther who he had been pinning the ground. He ran swiftly through the exotic plants and trees. Melody was nearly flown off when the panther ran across a narrow branch high in the air. The other panthers ran along beside them, leaping from tree to tree like squirrels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim found no sign of Melody. Or the panthers, thankfully. He called and called. “MEEEELODY!” but only the exotic birds returned his call.

He was just about to give up when he spotted a patch in the ground that looked as if it had been pressed down by some large animal. Melody, perhaps. Or, a panther. Or both, he shuddered at the thought.

He wiped his brow and realized he was bleeding. Apparently some vines had whipped his face when he was running through the jungle. They had carved several deep scars down his face. Great, he thought, this will be a riot at the next office meeting. Jim unbuttoned his white pilot shirt and ripped it in half. He tied a sleeve around his face. It doesn’t help with seeing, he thought sarcastically, but, at least I won’t bleed to death.

Jim examined the patch of pressed down ground more closely. He found blood! And a tooth. Sharp, like a big cat’s tooth. He found the blood to trail into the forest… He thought about going back to tell his wife and Max, but then decided he might not be able to find the trail again. So, Jim followed the trail of blood alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

The big stone face was crumbling. Green vines rippled out of it like veins of green blood. It sat in the middle of a clearing in the jungle.

Nine panthers emerged from the jungle, one with a girl riding one. They approached the ancient ruins. The night air was cold. Melody was glad to have a fur coat to cling to. She wondered what this Master they spoke of could be.

Suddenly the panther began to roar! And all the other panthers began to growl. Out from the front of the statue a stone door opened. A dark skinned woman emerged.

And all at once they stopped. Melody looked to see that at the top of the statue a figure appeared. A dark skinned woman. She was dressed in black panther furs. She was barefoot. Her nails were long and painted black. She had black messy hair. dark eyes. She looked at Melody and smiled. Melody felt a chill run through her.

The panther spoke, “Master, we have brought you the girl.”

The woman said, “Meloon, come here,” she climbed down the statue, hands first. “Do you know who I am?” she walked towards her. She had a hunched, cautious way of walking.

“…No” answered Melody, truthfully.

The woman reached out a long nailed finger, “I’m your mother.”

Melody nearly fell off the panther, “…but, how? How can you be my mother?!”

The woman was face to face now, at first Melody thought she had a unibrow, but then she realized to her horror that she was actually totally covered in hair! The woman grabbed her, pulling her into a hug, “Meloon, I thought I’d lost you years ago. I was hunting. I took you with me. You were only two then. I left to catch a jungle pig. But when I returned, you were gone! A man from the village had found you. but now we’re together again. Now we will run through the forest together, and I will teach you to hunt. And fish. And all of this will be at your command,” She gestured at the panthers.

Melody didn’t know what to say. She was still trying to take all of this in. A tear streamed down her cheek, nearly uncontrollable. Maybe she was right. She had always felt she didn’t truly belong, since she was adopted. But what about her mother and father? Wouldn’t they be worried?

As if she could read her mind, the cat woman said, “where is your family now? They’ve left you for dead.”

When suddenly, as if in response, Jim came stumbling out of the woods, a bloody shirt sleeve wrapped around half of his face. His normally wavy gray hair, a total mess. His spotless uniform, in tatters. The jungle had changed him. “Melody! You’re alive, thank God!” he said, stumbling towards her.

The dark cat woman hissed, and in unison, every other cat hissed. Sounding like a pit of vipers, ready to strike.

Seeing her father, Melody was suddenly shaken back to her sinces, “Daaad! Help!”

Furious, the Cat Woman said, “Kill him! bring me his paws!” The panthers began walking towards Jim, their razor sharp claws unsheathed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

Max shook his hands furiously. He was holding a polaroid. The photograph slowly revealed itself. First the yellow eyes of a panther like two small full moons on the dark face of night. Then the back of dad’s head. finally, the whole picture of a panther being blinded in mid leap and colliding with a tree.

“Wow, mom, these photographs are really top class! Wait till Melody sees them!” then he remembered, he might never see his sister again. He hugged his mom. Covering his freckled face in her arm.

She was quietly crying to herself. Her long curly redish brown hair concealing her watered eyes. How did this whole vacation go so horribly wrong? She wondered, Why couldn’t they have just gone to a local zoo like regular boring families? Why did Jim have to be such a hero? Doesn’t he know I love him just the way he is?

“Dad will be okay...” croaked Max, through tears “And Melody… Right mom?...”

But Christa wasn’t listening. She was staring intently at the photograph in Max’s hand, “Max, did you see this?!”

Max looked confused, “yeah, they’re great, I guess…”

“No, look!” she pointed at one of the panthers. He looked like any other panther, except, he had what appeared to be a leopard skin coat he was wearing… “Fobo?” They said together, and exchanged confused glances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

Nine panthers stalked towards Jim. Claws stabbed the ground. Jim could feel his pulse pounding in his neck. Every part of his body wanted to run, in fact his heart seemed to be getting a head start, it felt like it was trying to jump out his throat. But he held his ground.

Suddenly a panther leapt at him! Jim ducked, and punched upwards, his fist gliding down the soft underbelly of the cat, crushing organs into bones.

But Jim didn’t have time to celebrate, for right then another panther bit his jaws down into Jim’s stomach, tearing out a chunk of bloody flesh. Jim screamed and fell forward, but another cat swatted him back again with one paw like he was a kitten playing with a ball of yarn. Jim hit the ground, a huge slash opening up his shoulder and cheek.

Melody screamed for mercy on her father. She tried to kick away, but the cat woman held tighter around her shoulder. And so Melody dropped to the ground, crying. She didn’t want to see what they were going to do next. But she knew it was coming…

The panthers made a circle around Jim. One panther put his jaws up to Jim’s head,

Then, one of the panthers abruptly stopped. “Stop!” He called. And, amazingly, all the other panthers stopped! Melody saw that it was the panther she had ridden. He seemed to have a command about him that the other cats respected.

The dark cat woman said, “Fobo, how dare you give an order to halt! You may be captain of the cat guard, but I am the Master!”

Fobo? Thought Melody with excitement, Of course! I knew I recognized his voice!

“We don’t need to kill this man. Let me take him back. You can keep the girl, but let her father live.”

The cat woman dropped Melody and strutted straight to Fobo. Her finger nails grew to seven inches. Melody winced as she slashed across Fobo’s face, “This,” slash! “is” slash! “not,” slash! “her” slash! “father!” slash! “under-“ slash! “stand?!” Slash! Fobo dropped like a ripped bag of spaghetti.

The cat woman strutted towards Jim, who was lying nearby on the ground, also resembling a saucy Italian dish. “Fine, I’ll kill him myself!” she raised a single fingernail into the air, when suddenly Fobo slams into the back of her. “Ahhhh!” She screams, falling, and breaking a nail. But the nail snaps upwards on the ground, lodging itself into her heart, killing her instantly.

Fobo grabs Jim with his teeth and leaps towards Melody. But the other panthers are recovering from their shock. They turn to chase Fobo.

Melody leaps on the back of Fobo as he runs by. She holds on tightly. They race for their lives, through the jungle. The other panthers after them. But Fobo can climb better than any of them, and soon he’s lost them in the trees.

He stops to rest at the top of a banana tree. It’s the same tree where she first talked to him. That seemed so long ago now. So much has changed. Her father lay still unconscious. Fobo takes some of the huge banana leaves and wraps Jim in them like a bandage. Melody does the same to him.

Fobo says, “Melody, I’m sorry. I never meant for this to happen like this.”

Melody was beginning to take for granted just being alive and was starting to want some answers. She turned angrily to Fobo, “why did you lead my family out here and kidnap me?”

Fobo looked sad, “I did not mean for your family to get hurt. But when I heard they were coming to South America, it was the perfect opertunity. Meloon, I only wanted you to come home.”

Melody yelled, “would you stop calling me that? my name is Melody!”

“I’m sorry,” said Fobo, “it was your birth name. the name I gave you… You see, I am your father.”

Melody was jaw dropped. She was simultaneouisly angry and happy and sad at the same time. She said, “What?”

Fobo smiled, a tear rolling out his cat eyes. “Meloon, I wish I had more time to explain, but I’m afraid your, other father, is in dire need of medical attention. And your mother and brother are still lost. Sadly, I must depart here. My place is with my people. My cat people. And my wife.” Then, as if he suddenly remembered that she was no longer alive, he said, “I must go mourn her… and prepare her body…”

Melody was shaken up by all this, but she agreed she had to get her family back safely. She said, “but… how will I find my way?”

“Your mother and brother are right below us. My snake will lower your father down,” Just then the big green boa constrictor coiled down. “He will take you to the edge of the jungle. I’m sure you can find your way from there.”

Melody was still dumbstruck by all that had happened. But she managed a, “Good…”

And Fobo finished it, “Bye…” and with that he was gone. Into the night jungle.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Melody and her family made it safely out of the jungle. Doctors were able to save her father.

Soon they were all happy to be back home. Melody recovered from her traumatizing experience, although her father had no memories of it. They needed to relax after such a vacation. Next time they’d probably just go to the local zoo. A few weeks later Max won the Junior National Geographic Photographer Award for his photo of a panther in mid collision with a tree. The End.

 


© Copyright 2020 James Inkwell. All rights reserved.

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