Jonah Steen sat on the edge of his bunk. Cold hues of gray steel encompassed the entirety of his small box of a room. The hypnotic rhythm of the boat had ceased to bother him much, and he had been accustomed to having a constant feeling of nausea lodged within the depths of his stomach. His hand worked the pages of an old journal back and forth, his eyes scanning over the handwritten notes. It was a pointless gesture really, he had every marking in that book memorized. Every sketch, every note of a note, all of it was committed to memory. He could recite it if needed, starting with the first page.
The Journal of Edmund Steen
Written on expedition to uncharted areas of the Pacific Ocean
A family legacy that skipped a few generations, but he was determined to carry the torch forward. He had secured the grants. He had gathered an expedition team. Now, well, now they were just moments away from landing upon the island his great-grandfather had sought out years ago. Edmund Steen had been an archeologist seeking out a rumored lost civilization, a place undiscovered for all of time. A place that would bring fame and notoriety. But Edmund Steen did not live to tell his tale. The story that had always been told was that they got lost in a storm, and two of the three ships had been lost. All that returned of Edmund Steen was his journal. It had been passed down through his family, but it had been treated like a cursed heirloom. Kept out of sight and out of mind, until it found the hands of a young Jonah. From then on, Jonah knew the course his life would take. It would lead him here, and he would fulfill a dream left uncompleted. Jonah smiled as he closed the journal and placed it in his jacket pocket. Just then, a knocking came from his door.
"Yes, come in." Jonah said loud enough to permeate through the thick steel door. The door creaked open and the first mate of the boat stepped into the room.
"Captain wishes me to inform you, we are here." The first mate spoke and tried to conceal the smile that was crawling across his face. Jonah did not try to conceal anything at all as he quickly stood up and moved toward the door. He headed up the stairs and found Captain Juan Ochoa on the deck, looking over the side facing a beautiful island off their starboard side.
"We are here." Jonah echoed as he had found himself at a loss for words.
The ship, the Ortega, had found a small cove to anchor down in and the rest of the expedition team had made it to shore on small rafts. The island was like a virgin paradise; large sprawling mountains with thick brushstrokes of vegetation colored horizon lead to a thick tropical jungle that extended as far as the eye could see. Jonah breathed it all in as the team did a final gear check before embarking. He had a small team comprised of six individuals including himself. He had recruited a biologist by the name of Randall Graves who came highly recommended within Jonah's scholarly circles. Also on the trip was anthropologist Gerard Singleton. He had actual sought out Jonah once word of the expedition had begun to circulate, his eagerness an almost constant annoyance. A rough hand gripped down on Jonah's shoulder, breaking him from his reverie.
"Quite a place indeed. Are you ready for this?" the low, scratchy voice of Roger Baltwick pierced the serenity of the moment. Jonah smiled and took in a breath he had been unaware that he was holding in.
"I've been ready for a long time. Don't let anyone tell you dreams can't come true," he said, and then chuckled as he looked back at the team. Terrence Wright, the other survivalist, was giving his rifle a final check. Jonah frowned slightly, and turned back toward Roger.
"Do we really need this much firepower? I know you said to expect anything, but this just seems so unnecessary." Jonah pleaded with his eyes, but Roger just smirked and shook his head.
"Boy, there might be no need at all for us to ever fire a single round. But that's not what you plan for. That's not what you place the weight of this team's survival on. You come prepared for anything and hope for nothing. Well, nothing threatening at least. Let's hope you find what you were looking for, or we've all just taken a long trip for a serene hike through the jungle." Roger guffawed as he turned back toward the team. Jonah couldn't help but let a grin rise upon his face. Roger was rough, but his heart seemed in the right place.
Emily Braddock, a botanist and the final member of the team, walked up to Jonah as Roger departed. She eyed Roger cautiously for a moment before lending her gaze to Jonah. They had known each other in college, and studied together often. Despite Emily's efforts, study is all they ever really did.
"This place is, well it’s indescribable, Jonah. This will be one of the greatest discoveries of our time." She scanned the forest that was laid out in front of them. "What secrets does this place hold? God, this is almost too much. I cannot wait any longer. When will we begin?" Emily had walked past Jonah, the vast wilderness still calling to her. Jonah reached for his backpack and slung it over his shoulders.
"No better time than now I suppose!" Jonah exclaimed with a wide grin. He wasn't the only one finding himself living within a dream. Emily turned back towards him and smiled. Jonah trotted to the team, raised his hand, and began to address the team before they departed.
"Alright everyone. We've taken in the initial wonder of this place, but now it's time to get down to business. I want to thank you all for making this venture with me, as I am sure there is something grand waiting for us. Our first move will be to scout the area and head East, towards the largest peak of that central mountain. We will..." Jonah stopped speaking as he saw the eyes of all his team drifted to his left side. Shock and concern painted their faces, while Roger and Terrence immediately readied their weapons. Jonah slowly turned his head and to his utter shock, three natives had emerged from the jungle and were walking towards them, hands in the air. They had little clothing, except for some loincloths and fur wrappings on their wrists. Each had a necklace, fashioned with some sort of vine and with a litany of bones weaved into them. The male at the forefront walked up and stopped only a few meters away from Jonah. Time seemed to stop. The native had an eerie smile on his face as he locked eyes with Jonah. He then did something confounding…he spoke.
"Welcome, Off-lander. We have wait for you." The native spoke English, broken, but completely understandable. Jonah’s thoughts raced as he tried to regain his composure. He began to walk toward the native, his trance shattered by Roger's shouts.
"The fuck you doing boy?! Stand your ground!" Roger had moved his rifle so he was now scoped in on the native, who had turned his head towards him, but still maintained that off-putting grin.
"No harm. No hurt. You come to seek us. We come to welcome. You wish to look at village. At home. Yes?" The native spoke without breaking his stare into the scope of Roger. Jonah quickly stepped in between the native and Roger's sight, his hands in the air.
"Calm down everyone! Stop this!" Jonah shouted with more authority than even he knew he had in him. His body was trembling, but he stood firm. Roger kept his eye down the sight for a second more, then let out an exasperated huff and lowered his rifle. Jonah gave a slight nod to Roger and then turned to the native.
"My name Arantu. You all follow." Arantu spoke loudly and then lowered his hands and began to walk away toward the other two natives that had stayed some distance away.
"Wait." Jonah breathed. Arantu stopped and simply moved his head to the side, keeping his back to Jonah. "How do you know our language? How did you know we were here?" Jonah had not stopped trembling. Arantu's smile grew just a fraction, and he looked forward once again and began walking. He called back to Jonah.
"Eight of Eyes tell us all. Come, we will show." Arantu kept walking, and Jonah turned toward his team. He saw concern, intrigue, and fear written all over their faces. What could he do now? There was only one thing left to do.
"Alright team, let’s go."
This will be a four part story, keep tuned for part 2 early next week. Trust me folks, it gets even better. -Charlotte
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