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Research in the Jungle

by BP | Score: 5800

Why is it always so damn hard to get started. This was Nelson's first thought as he lay awake staring at the top of his tent. The sun had risen high enough to clear the trees and was beaming, it seemed to Nelson, directly onto his tent. The resulting heat inside his nylon living quarters made him feel like a boiled shrimp inside a particularly hardy chowder.

That and the incipient hangover encroaching on his nerves made for a terrible morning.

"You're an idiot, Nelson." The sentiment went no further than the dull gray confines of his tent which, he thought with a dull sort of apathy, had begun to look more and more like a prison everyday.

There are no sentry towers. No barbed wire. Only the jungle.

He couldn't remember the movie, but the sentiment had never seemed more prescient than now. How he had convinced himself to join the expedition was a wonder even to him. Typically his charm was reserved for board rooms and pitch meetings. The occasional barroom flirt.  He had never felt the slimmest margin of pity for anyone who had ever bought what he was selling. Now he  was having the strangest sensation of buyer's remorse. Like rubbing your finger against your own arm and feeling the sensation of touching and being touched at the same time. It didn't seem natural.

And yet.

With tremendous effort, Nelson hauled himself out of his sleeping bag and began getting dressed. Outside, the sounds of activity told him the camp was well awake and already getting on with their day.

Scientist, he thought, what a peculiar lot.

The air outside his tent was not much better. Nelson had expected a rush of thin, relatively cold air to come rushing in as soon as he unzipped the entrance to his tent. Instead it felt like the steam inside burst out, churning the already humid air into a thick, warm butter. Would the indignity ever end?

"Morning." Cristof was an unsettling cheerful marine biologist. How anyone could look at fish all day and smile that much never computed but Nelson's people--who he paid handsomely--insisted he was worth it.  He'd spent the previous summer at a lighthouse charting migrating patterns of some such amoeba. It didn't matter.

There was a small fire at the center of camp which Nelson did his best to avoid. The sight of it made his internal temperature jump five degrees. Bottles of water waited for him in a cooler sitting beneath a table cluttered with charts and maps. Nelson snapped the cap off a bottle and stood to the side, hoping his presence near the brain center of the camp would somehow energize the crew.

Clarissa, the lead cartographer on the team, brushed her hand across a map, smoothing it out as she charted the day's course. They had been following the River, but a series of unpassable ridges--her words--had necessitated changes to the itinerary.

"A sharp turn inland," she explained, was the best route around. "Otherwise we'll kill ourselves trying to pass over those hills."

Nelson had spent a portion of his night looking at the map. An intern had downloaded a series of renderings on his tablet. The topology didn't strike him as quite so severe. Difficult, certainly. But insurmountable? Narrow lanes of green zig zagged through the brown like neatly carved ant tunnels. Why they couldn't simply traverse those was a question no one seemed prepared to answer.

"And how much time will this lose us?"

The camp grew silent. As if the entire sound element had been on a recording tape and someone had suddenly ripped it from the machine. Nelson smiled. He enjoyed eliciting this type of reaction from people.

"It depends how thick the jungle is." Carlos, one of the local guides. The crew had handled his hiring. Nelson felt no fealty toward his experience.

"And you can't tell that from your map."

A shrug. "We can assume, but until we're actually there." Another raise of his shoulders. His palms upturned reminded Nelson of a beggar.

"Then how do we know it'll be better than going over the hills?"


"Excuse me?"

"Mountains," Clarissa explained. "Not hills. They're passable, but not with the amount of equipment we have."

"We'd spend most of our time figuring out how to rig up pulleys. And that's only after we figured out how to get ourselves up."

Nelson spun the map around. Mountains. He didn't know what constituted a "mountain." Certain number of feet above sea level. The presence of certain vegetation. But he knew, generally, what mountains looked like, and these were no mountains.

"What about here?" He jabbed his finger into a line of green. "Why can't we start here and follow it through.

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Location A jungle
Event Someone is drunk
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Sentence "You're an idiot."
Words Reach 300 words
Character An analytical lighthouse keeper
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Letter Use the letter X
Words Reach 700 words

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