Writing Fiction posted August 7, 2010

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Flash Fiction, Complete Story in 770 Words

Lords Of The Sky

by bhogg

Sunlight barely flickered to the jungle floor.  The temperature was about 100 degrees, the humidity much the same.
Billy paused to wipe the sweat from his brow.  “Jess, we are lost.”
"How can you say we’re lost? I know where I am."

"Sure you know. We're in Panama, but it's a big damn country!"

The two were hot shot Air Force Pilots, in country for survival training instruction.  Supposedly highly trained, dedicated professionals entrusted with multi-million dollar war machines; they were lost big time.

Billy lamented, "Hey, man, we should have paid a lot more attention in class. You said we would only have to put up with this for 48 hours. When that helicopter dropped us off, we were somewhere, and now, we're nowhere. It ain't Kansas, Dude! We've been out for six hours and I'm dying. Do you at least think that we can take a drink of water?"

"I gotta tell you, Billy, I should have paid more attention, but I know we can't drink this water. They said it's full of parasites.  It can make you sick forever. They mentioned plants you could get water from. Do you remember?"

"How could I remember, asshole? You were making fun of me for taking notes. After all, we could put up with anything for 48 hours. I just know that I'm hungry, thirsty, and lost. That's what I know."

There was an audible snapping sound to their left. Jess looked at Billy, giving him the shush sign. Emerging from the jungle was a man, a woman, and a boy. The man was about 5 feet tall, with skin the color of mahogany. The woman and boy were shorter, but not by much. All three were wearing breechclouts, with no top. The man and the woman carried machetes. Most likely, these were Choca Indians. Everyone was startled and took a step back.

Jess held his hands up and said, "Hello. We're pilots in jungle training. We're lost. Do you speak English?"

The boy responded, "Talk slow; I speak little."

With a sigh, Jess continued, "Can you show us how to get back to the airbase, or even the coast?"

The three looked at each other and the boy responded, "Where, airplanes or coast?"

"The airplane place would be fine."

The boy continued, "My name is Marma. This is my father, Sambal and my mother, Letee. We can show you how to get to airplanes."

Jess and Billy introduced themselves. Billy soon asked, "Do you have any water that we could drink?"

Marma translated.  Sambal cut off a link of vine about three feet long. He bit off the end, spit it out and tipped the vine forward until water flowed.  He drank like drinking water from a wine skin. He cut lengths for the two aviators. Jess and Billy later commented that it had a bit of a barky taste, but neither had tasted better water in their lives.

Billy couldn't help it, he had to ask, "Do you have anything to eat?"

Marma took his mother's machete, and peeled back the bark from a fallen and rotten log. Inside were huge beetle larvae. He took one and popped it into his mouth. He then plucked several and held them out in his hand, "Eat. This good."

Jess took one and ate it, then ate another. "This is good. Billy, you should try one." The green look on Billy's face indicated otherwise. Marma then cut the bottom length of a plant he called Coroza. When you peeled back the bark, the interior was moist and tasted like heart of palm. Even Billy munched on this.

They sat and rested for a few minutes. Sambal then motioned for one of them to follow him up a tree. Jess climbed after him. After they were about 20 feet off the ground, Sambal pointed out a huge dead tree. He then pointed to a large outcropping of rock in the distance. With motions, he indicated one then the other.

When they climbed down, Marma said, "Father say, walk toward large dead tree. Climb to see big rock and walk that way. You be at airbase soon."

As they headed out, Jess and Billy looked back to thank their new friends. It was as if the three Choca's had never existed. The jungle swallowed them up.

After a moment, Billy blurted to Jess, "Those primitives are really something, hunh?"

"Billy - I've got to tell you. Those people are only primitives in our world. We may be Lords of the sky, but our ass just got saved by Lords of the Earth."

Flash Fiction contest entry


Written as fiction, but based on true stories told by my older brother, a former Air Force survival training instructor. He once told me that downed pilots would more likely die of arrogance than of starvation or lack of water.
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