Black Echo Jungle – Jai Knight

Dense humid jungle.
A squadron of seven troops.

In Dan’s backpack is a charm, wrapped up in tarpaulin, along with his rations and kit.

The guys had ‘retrieved’ the charm, claimed it, and were now transporting it through the jungle. Planning to split the proceeds once they’d sold it after reaching Base Camp.
But these guys didn’t know of the talisman’s powers.

The charm was a horned, evilly smiling, male figurine. Golden with ruby red eyes and studded with beautiful jewels.
It was very hard to break a gaze off of it once peeped.

This was the power of the charm sucking, sucking them deeeeep, deep within.

That night they hunkered down to get a rushed and paranoid bit of R ‘n R.
Two guys took it in turns as lookouts.
Dan propped his backpack up, deliberately in view of everyone.
He was a solid well-trusted stand-up feller.

Night further cloaked and the sounds of the jungle intensified.

Dan lay awake. He hadn’t volunteered to look after the figurine but instead had been chosen by the others. Resentments began to build “Who am I to these meatheads? Fuck ‘em and their bullshit.”
He headed over to where the bags were dumped.

Observed “All good Dan?”
“Yeah, just getting some chow.”
Reaching into his bag he took out his rations and for some reason, sneakily took out all the other guys’ rations as well. 
He stuffed all he could into his shirt and pants and what could be fitted into his mouth “All mine. Come to Dadda.”

As Dan ducked back down a pair of unrested eyes spotted his movements. In an erotic way.
The eyes were owned by Nathan; an older bald-domed private, who stared and licked his lips.
Nathan had never noticed the athletic build of Dan before. 
Hearing his inner voice pant, “Those negroes, ooo..” He cooed out loud, girlishly “..such big boys.”
His left hand unbuttoned his shirt top, caressed and ran through chest hairs, while his right hand creepy crawled towards his chubbing penis. 
Rapid heartbeats. 
Closing his eyes, he slipped into an overwhelming fantasy; just himself and Dan marooned on a desert island. They showered together, nude, beneath a frothing waterfall. 
Nathan knelt down in front of Dan, in the steam, and opened his mouth. An ultimate betrayal to Nathan’s white picket fence wife waiting back home.

Skip heard the weird something, “Nate…you say somethin’?”
“ man’..”
“…..What you doin’?”
“You stayin’ frosty yeah?”

Skip was fully alert, “Old freak, he’s losing it. They’re all losing it since we took that statue. Don’t they realise this is no time to take our eyes off the ball, or we’re all dead.” 
“Assholes better watch out or I’ll crush ’em!”
He flexed his muscular frame “I’ll smush their little fuckin’ pissant skulls and eat their organs! Jerkoffs are making me mad… why they wanna do that? I’ll beat the fuck outta any of those pricks anytime.”
He bit deep into his knuckle and gnawed, piercing the skin until blood ran down his hand and stained his teeth and lips.

Meanwhile Lewis stressed. A heavy one-sided conversation was stinging through his head, “Stuck here with these grunts, huh. Not one of them is squared away.” 
“It’s clear I should be platoon leader. C’mon, I’m much more the brave warrior and master tactician than all of them put together.”
‘A person of impeccable integrity.’
‘A good egg.’
‘Squared away.’
After all, my family line contains great leaders and exceptional men of service…“’Fighting for your brothers’ yeah right. I wouldn’t even piss on any of these shit birds if they were on fire.. truly not all men are created equally…plebs.” 
He turned over and turned his back on the group.

There was another member of the squad who would have wholeheartedly agreed, if he’d been privy to Lewis’s inner monologue.
Yes, Lewis had had it better than himself “Born with a silver spoon in his mouth.” 
He wished he’d been blessed with an established family upbringing and was naturally dynamic like fact, all the guys were smarter and had better physiques than him.. they all had amazing lives, pasts and futures compared to his.
He would be so much better off if only he’d been given just an inch of what they had. It wasn’t fair. 
“They don’t give a shit about Pete.”

Sarge scoped through the crosshairs of his M16 and took out a cigarette, lit it and had a drag.
When it was finished he lit another and decided “I’ll smoke two at once, that’ll save time.” 
He then successfully smoked three, four and five at the same time.
The cig packet was running low.
Rummaging through his backpack and tearing open a new packet, then two and three more until all his cig supplies were butts and ash. 
He had now chain-smoked nearly four full packets.
Grabbing some chewing gum out of the bag, he unwrapped every stick and stuffed them into his mouth.
Immediately after he drank down all of his water in quick manic gulps.
Still not sated or satisfied Sarge hissed out “Hey Sean, you got any cigs or gum or water?”

Sean was the youngest member of the platoon.
Lying on the ground, he languidly half-looked at Sarge and slowly shook his head. 
“I’m just not bothered.” 
He didn’t feel tired, yet couldn’t shift his bones and had absolutely no energy and no reason to either.
The radio crackled, he slipped the headset off “What was the point? It was all pointless; just like this whole war.. worthless.”
Hugging himself, he assumed a foetal position. 
Needing to piss, he simply let the urine trickle down his leg.

The sound of distant firefights continued throughout the night.

Even though they hadn’t communicated it, each one of the guys had thought about the figurine before they slept, vividly dreamt about it, and it was their first thought upon awakening.

At dawn, Dan briefly unwrapped the charm.
The shine was so unnaturally bright it had illuminated the whole area.
They decided to quickly put it back, as the light could draw fire and give away their position.

All morning they humped on through the terrain of heavy growth, until they came across a recently abandoned village.

Three whores from the village rode in on one moped.
The platoon ran a train.

One guy was always assigned to keep his eye on the backpacks, in case these gals were a diversion and some little thieving rat might sneak up and loot the goods while they were busy screwing.
Dan’s bag, especially, was closely watched, of course.

They pumped, could feel the semen locked for long days shoot along their pinched perineums.
Angry joyful growls and howls of relief.

Having the gals there made the platoon feel secure and somehow serenely protected. Their first smiles since taking the statue.
Before the gals left they had said ”Come with us to the bar and drink and have good time, yeah?”

It was discussed and decided “Look, we’ve all already agreed the mission now is to score that big pay day as soon as possible right? We gotta stick together, there’s no way we can risk splitting up.”
They were all reluctantly united on this point. Prioritise.

Day dragged on and the platoon’s thoughts seemed muddled and hazy.

The ‘gals’ pulled up to their convent.
Mother Superior rushed out to meet them, a concerned look on her face.
“Sisters, I have awaited your return most anxiously. You are alone?”
“You gave them solace?”
“We did sister.” 
“And they refused to voluntarily accompany you?”
“They refused.”
Mother Superior crossed her chest.
“Then God help them.” She gasped.
The sisters looked down and crossed their chests too.
“They are condemned men.”
“Come, come inside, I have prepared the purified holy waters.”
They walked down the corridor, the familiar smell of cleansing frankincense, past their black habits that hung neatly lined up.
“We tried Sister Tamar, we tried..”

Back balls deep in the jungle, discombobulated, their fate already sealed. Lost and on no path, were the haunted troops.
Their mission that had seemed so important was now irrelevant. For as that night would fall, it would be the final one for this platoon.

Soon there would be a pile of bodies, leaking blood from wounds.
Still hot from conflict, but limp and unbreathing.
On the top of this pile would be one man.
Chanting, howling, caked in blood, chest pumping, veins bulging, fists clenched and torn.
A deep bayonet wound on the right side of his torso, eyes rolled back, teeth grinding.
He lifted himself up, raised the statue above his head with both hands, and now he was his.