Parallel 12: Jungle Earth
A bird with three eyes and five beaks landed near Jael. He stared at it for a solid minute before he heard something rustling near him. Emilio sat up from the underbrush covering him.
“Emilio? What the hell just happened?” Jael asked.
Emilio tried talking to him, but nothing came out of the helmet’s speakers. Then there was a clicking sound and the helmet popped off Emilio’s head, landing with a thud on the jungle floor.
“What the… my helmet. It’s off! Finally!” Emilio cheered.
“I am happy for you, but where are we? What is this place?” Jael asked.
“Oh God, I can feel the air on my face,” Emilio said, almost crying.
“Emilio!” Jael said.
“Ah, sorry. I’ve just been stuck in that thing for months. We are… where are we?” Emilio asked.
“It looks like a jungle, so could be somewhere in the South American continent,” Jael offered.
“No, we’re in the same latitude and longitude as before,” Emilio said.
“That can’t be. There aren’t any jungles for a thousand miles.”
“I guess they never made a Michicago on this Earth.”
“What do you mean, ‘this Earth’?” Jael asked. Emilio sighed.
“So, confession time. I’m from another Earth. I ended up in your parallel, sorry, your version of Earth by accident.”
“You’re from… another Earth?” Jael asked.
“That’s right,” said Emilio.
“So. So this is…”
“A different Earth. Yes. We were just in Parallel 14. Your Earth. This is Parallel 12 so that means I’m getting closer to home, which is good news. But, I’m not seeing anything like civilization near here so I hope somebody developed micro circuitry on this Earth. Otherwise it could be a while until we get hopping again.”
Jael pounced on Emilio, his hands finding the other’s throat quickly.
“You insane buffoon! You… you! What have you done? This can’t possibly be happening!”
“You saw me warp before!” Emilio struggled to say, grabbing Jael’s hands.
“I thought that was a novelty. A trick! I didn’t think you’d gone to another Earth when you disappeared!” Jael shouted.
“I didn’t. Technically I was only in one of your Earth’s mirror dimensions.”
“Ra! I don’t care!” Jael screamed, slamming Emilio’s head against the jungle floor. Emilio shoved Jael off of him, easy to do with his enhanced suit.
“Take it easy! I didn’t mean for this happen. I’ll fix this, okay?” Emilio said, trying to calm Jael down.
“I don’t want anything from you,” Jael said before walking off.
“Hey, don’t wander off. We have no idea what’s out there,” Emilio said. Jael kept walking. “Are you listening to me? Hey!” Emilio caught up to him. Jael turned, about to punch him in the face when a scream echoed through the jungle.
Birds flew above the canopy. A fat pig looking thing with vampire fangs scurried away in fright. Emilio and Jael looked at each other for a moment. Another scream. A woman’s scream. They hurried towards the dreadful sound. They cleared the trees just in time to see a man dragging a panicked lady toward a wide river.
“Hey! Let her go!” Jael yelled. The man ignored him. Jael rushed toward him.
At the last possible moment, the man whirled around, tossing the woman to the ground and catching Jael in a bear hug. His arms made a wet sickening sound as they plunged into Jael’s needle coat.
“Caught another one,” the man said with a razor sharp grin. His skin was a deep dark pink, almost red. His wrinkled and mottled complexion made his jovial expression even more off-putting. His cunning brown eyes searched the two of them, looking for weakness. He wore a wool jacket and slacks and a fedora-like hat.
“Release me you vile abductor!” Jael shouted as the man squeezed.
“Vile? You attacked me. And you’re wearing a coat made of black teeth,” the man said.
“Yeah, well, you have pointy teeth!” Emilio yelled from a safe distance.
“Ah, you can see them. I guess my charm’s wearing off,” the man said with a wink. Jael wriggled, his coat slicing the man up, though he didn’t seem to notice. Emilio didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what he was up against. Should he run? No, he couldn’t do that. But what could he do?
“Put him down or I’ll kick your ass, weirdo,” Emilio threatened. The man’s gaze snapped to him which made Emilio’s guts freeze.
“She can dance very well,” the man said, nodding to the sobbing woman on the ground. “How well can you dance?”
“I’ll Samba this boot right up your ass, mister, so don’t even try it,” Emilio replied. The man threw Jael into the river. Then he spun on one foot and clapped his hands.
“Tasty beats. Feeling frightened. Saucy feats. Noose is tightened. You’re gonna need aid. Your luck’s been betrayed. That sinking feeling means you’re gonna die.”
“Sounds like a Christmas song from home,” said Emilio, trying to sound like he wasn’t panicking with fright.
The man pounced. Emilio fell with a high pitched yelp. The man was nearly on top of him when he was knocked back, falling hard to the jungle floor. A woman stood before Emilio, having just swung in on a vine and kicked the man in the face. Her long black hair clung to her back. Her lovely uncovered rear filled Emilio’s vision until he realized he was staring and shook himself out of it.
“Begone, Encantado! To the river with you!” she roared. The man hissed. He went to pick up his hat from where it fell and Emilio saw that the hat had been covering up a bald head, at the center of which was a blow hole.
“You are no one to command me, pinchuda!” the man bellowed with rage.
“I’ll rip your dick off, craven monster. Leave your prize here and go!” she said, aiming a wicked looking machete at him. The man spit on the ground. He wanted to act, but he seemed to be out of time.
“Night will fall again. Until then,” the man said, tipping his hat and disappearing into the river.
Emilio laid on the ground for a while. He had no clue what was going on at all. The young woman hung her machete at her side and went to check on the sobbing woman. Emilio realized Jael was gone. He rushed to the river, looking for him. He found him a few feet away, pulling big fat leeches off of his legs.
“Yes, I’m alive. Thanks for asking,” Jael said, unamused.
“Shit, man. That was crazy back there. Did you see that guy? Holy Hell, I don’t know what kind of Earth this is, but I’m already out,” Emilio said, crossing his arms.
“I’m of the same opinion, son,” Jael said.
“Dude, I’m pretty sure you’re younger than me,” Emilio said.
“Church habit,” Jael replied.
Emilio noticed the woman from before trying to carry the man’s victim away. He approached, offering help. She drew her machete at him with a threatening glare.
“Stay back, pendoha. You are not welcome here,” she said.
“I don’t want to be here either but I don’t have a choice right now. Anyway, I thought I would help you carry her back to wherever you’re going before that guy shows up again,” said Emilio.
“He is gone for now. He will not return until the sun sets again,” she said.
“Okay. You sure you don’t need help?” Emilio asked.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“My name’s Emilio. I’m from… far away. Like really far away.”
“Then it makes sense why you linger here. Even children know not to wander in this part of the jungle.”
“Well, now I know. So, are you going back to your village?” Emilio asked. She studied him for a moment. “Mind if I tag along?”
“Mind if we tag along? We won’t last long out here without shelter,” Jael said, approaching cautiously.
“I don’t know you. Either of you. Go find another purisma to bother,” she said, lugging the sobbing woman over her shoulder and walking off.
“She’s stronger than she looks,” Emilio said, impressed. Jael thought quickly, then stepped forward.
“Wait!” he said. She turned to face him. “If not for us, that man would have kept going. We stopped him long enough for you to intervene. Surely that means something to you.”
“You think acting like idiots and charging into a situation you were not prepared for will earn you favor?” she asked. Emilio and Jael looked at each other.
“Brave idiots,” Emilio clarified. She shook her head.
“A day’s rest. After that you leave.”
“Thank you. Thank you so much… um…?” Emilio gestured toward her.
“Sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“You’re right.” She turned and walked off. Emilio put his hands on his hips and nodded.
“We are so having sex,” he concluded.