Parallel 12: Jungle Earth
The messenger hacked something black from deep within his chest and spit it out in a waiting pot.
“Messenger of the gods of the jungle. Please, we beseech you. Who won the contest between The traveler and the encantado?” the Village Chief asked, pleading. The messenger puffed on his pipe again.
“The winner’s Emilio, man.”
There was a moment of weightless disbelief. Then the villagers roared with cheers and applause. The Chief fell to his knees, relieved. Jael pumped his arms and cheered, which almost made his thong slip several times. Mirabella grabbed Emilio’s face and smushed it into hers so hard it could barely be called a kiss, but she was ecstatic and joyful and didn’t care. Emilio might have enjoyed it if it didn’t feel like his teeth were going to get shoved back through his skull.
“There you have it! The winner has been decided,” Iya proclaimed. “Now you encantados can leave the way you came.”
“Right up the river’s ass!” Mirabella cheered. Her brothers and sisters swarmed her, tearfully hugging and kissing her.
“Hmm. This is disappointing,” the encantado leader said with a sneer. “But I have lost, fair and square. Now I will take my leave.”
“Hey!” Emilio called out. “We had a deal.”
“Hmm?” the man asked.
“Ah. Yes. I did say I would tell you, didn’t I,” the encantado said, staring daggers at him.
“Well? I’m waiting,” Emilio said. The encantado snarled at him.
“Fine. I will tell you. But only you. That was our deal.”
“Is this what it feels like to win? I’m so loving this,” Emilio said, clapping his hands together.
“Emilio,” Jael said.
“Yeah, bra?” Emilio replied.
“Careful. He’s still very dangerous. Don’t let your guard down,” Jael said, staring the encantado down.
“Relax. It’s all good. We won. Besides,” Emilio slapped his ebony body suit, “I couldn’t let my guard down if I tried.”
Emilio approached the line of encantados. They all had the same hateful glare, furious that they wouldn’t get to desecrate any women tonight.
“Listen close, boy,” the man said beckoning Emilio closer.
“I’m listening,” Emilio replied. The man cleared his throat.
“My name… is Eeeeeeeeskickweeeeheheheeeeck!“
“The fuck kind of dolphin scream was that shit?” Emilio asked, cleaning out his ears.
“That is my True Name. I am a… man of my word. I have told what few others know. Now, I shall go about my business and leave you to… do whatever it is you people do.”
“And you’ll leave her alone?” Emilio asked, pointing to Mirabella.
“A deal is a deal, boy. I will not escort the Chief’s daughter to my kingdom, as was agreed,” Eeeeskikweehehedkcidkdf or whatever the fuck his name was said.
“Glad to hear it,” Emilio replied.
“Encantadoes. Obrimos!” the man with the jagged smile commanded. The encantadoes released the village elders.
“Holy balls. I thought I was dead,” Elder Rio said.
“My ass!” Elder Luna complained.
“Well, stranger from a strange land, I bid you farewell,” the man said.
“Don’t let me see your face around here again,” Emilio warned, puffing his chest out. The man paused, mid turn. He chuckled.
“Is that really what you want?” he asked, snapping his fingers. One of his men came forward with cloth bundle. The man reached into the bundle and pulled out a very familiar helmet. “Considering I have this?”
“What? No. When did?” Emilio checked long range scanner. Sure enough, his helmet had been moved hours ago. It wasn’t some encantado trick.
“You should be more careful with your toys.”
“Give that back you little…”
“Ah ah ah. I’ve already promised to leave with my men. Are you rescinding on the terms of our agreement?” the man asked, holding the helmet ever so precariously.
“What is happening?” Iya asked.
“Dude stole my shit!” Emilio replied.
“Emilio, what are you doing?” Jael called out.
“Back me up here, man. He has my stuff,” said Emilio.
“Your possessions are not more important than the safety of my people. Let him go and we can figure out what can be done,” said Iya.
“But… I…” Emilio fumbled with his words.
“Emilio we won. Just let it go,” Jael said.
“I can’t,” Emilio replied, pleading with his eyes. Jael noticed and leaned in close.
“What am I missing here?” he whispered.
“Without that helmet we’re stuck on this world. For years, maybe forever,” Emilio whispered back. Jael felt the earth fall out from under him.
“Shit. Shit!” Jael muttered.
“So this is important to you. That’s so very nice to hear,” the man said with a jagged smile.
“Don’t dawdle, encantado! Be gone with you,” Iya proclaimed. Mirabella held her hands in prayer again, watching the scene unfold.
“I’d be happy to, purisma, but these fellows want a word. I’m only respecting their wish to be heard,” the man replied.
“Travelers, end this business now,” Iya said, glaring at Emilio.
“Right right. Yeah. Um… we can walk and talk. Why don’t we walk and talk?” Emilio said, waving the encantados along.
“Very well. But speak quickly. Time is running out for you,” the man said, chuckling.
“We can make a separate bargain,” Emilio said as he kept pace with the encantados. The whole of the village walked behind them, ready to see them off to the river.
“I’m listening,” the man replied.
“What would you like for the helmet?” Emilio asked.
“What are you offering?” the man asked.
“Whatever is reasonable,” Emilio replied.
“Well, give me something to work with, boy.”
“I… well… is there something I can do for you?”
“I don’t know. A fetch quest or something? Something I can acquire?”
“Would you be willing to acquire a fair maiden to sate my appetites?”
“Are there any evil maidens you know?” Emilio asked.
“Ha ha. You amuse me so. No, I need someone young and supple and full of life. Someone that will last a long time in my bed chambers.”
They were halfway to the gates now.
“What about a rare herb? Or an artifact or something?” Emilio asked.
“Not interested. I have no shortage of treasures and keepsakes in my kingdom.
“You have gadgets and gizmos aplenty?” Emilio asked.
“Never mind. Look there’s got to be something you want besides my stupid helmet and fair maidens. Isn’t there anything? Work with me, man!” Emilio implored.
“Hmm…” the man wondered, stroking his chin.
The gates were within sight now. It was now or never.
“Look, you can’t even use that thing. It’s worthless to you. Trade it for something now, otherwise you’re just going to take a useless hunk of metal home. Basically empty handed,” said Emilio.
“If it’s so worthless, then why do you want it?” The man asked. “And if you want it so bad, why did you leave it in the jungle unattended?”
“You’re running out of time to make a deal,” Emilio said.
“No, you are, friend. I have all the time in the world,” the man said, smiling again.
The “guards” opened the gates, disappointed that they weren’t going to pillage huts and women. Emilio wracked his brain. There was nothing he could do but watch his future walk away with that asshole. He ran in front of the encantados.
“No. Fuck that. You’re giving me my helmet right the fuck now,” Emilio demanded.
“Get out of the way, pendoha!” Iya shouted.
“We’ll come up with a plan or something just let them leave,” Jael also shouted. Other villagers voice their displeasure as well. Their savior was quickly losing favor.
“What is he doing? Why is he doing this?” Mirabella cried.
“I don’t know,” the Village Chief replied. “But he’d better not fuck this up for us.”
“If you want it,” the man began to say as he put the helmet on, “come get it.”
The helmet clicked as it scanned his cranium and formed to fit it.
“I’ll take it right off your shoulders, buddy,” Emilio warned. The man cricked his neck and looked around.
“My my. You’ve been hiding some secrets, ‘traveler’. Tell me, what world do you hail from?”