I had a second, maybe less. I took the only option I had left and pushed up hard with my still-bound legs. My right horn tore into the leering native’s throat and in a jet of crimson deposited a quivering mass of ripped windpipe onto the jungle floor. He staggered backwards, gurgling and clutching his ruined neck.
I was up and my captors surprised, but I was far from out of danger. The leader sliced at me and caught me across my chest. The pain was terrible and despite my best efforts, I tumbled back to the ground. I used my heels to squirm away as fast as I could, but I knew it would be but moments before the leader came to finish me off. I readied myself to kick out, anything to buy more time.
Blood from the native I had killed was blinding me and it was almost impossible to see properly, but I made out the leader as he leapt at me, his knife glinting in a wide, high arc towards my chest.
A sudden movement to my left and a bright white light sliced through the air and filled my vision. When it cleared I found the leader’s knife embedded in the soil a hair’s breadth away from my face with his hand, neatly severed at the wrist, still gripping it.
I looked up, along my prone body and there stood Jeremiah with a sword in his hand, the glowing blade of which jutting through the body of the leader, a burning hole slowly widening around it. With a flourish, the most welcome of rescuers pulled his blade out and the leader’s lifeless corpse crumpled to the floor. Jeremiah swung the blade down and sliced through the rope at my ankles before bending and holding my elbow as I began to struggle back to my feet.
“Look out!” I cried. Another native burst through the trees and charged at Mason’s defenceless back with a crude axe held high. Mason didn’t even blink, but let go of my elbow, span round on his heel, sliced the man in two at the waist and caught my elbow again before I had chance to fall. The obviously surprised and very dead man stumbled to the floor, his separate halves cauterised and smoking.
“Thank you, old chap,” he smiled.
“Thank me? Hell no!” I coughed, “Thank you! I thought I was a goner there for sure.”
“Got here just in time,” he said releasing my hands, I rubbed them at the same time as holding my arms to my bleeding chest, “Bad?” he asked.
I shook my head, “Bastard only nicked me,” I nodded to body of the dead leader at our feet and launched a vicious kick at his lifeless head “but what I want to know is how they came to have me anyway. Last thing I remember is going to sleep last night.”
“The night before,” he corrected.
“What?” I was stunned, my mind racing, working out how long I’d been in this jungle.
“They have had you for well over twenty four hours. They shot you with a dart, some sort of drug that knocked you flat out before they took you off into the jungle. I was away from camp, but they didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in me, only you and your backpack…” he turned to eye the pack. “Is there something special in there?”
I stepped over the body and quickly gathered up my pack, wincing as I clutched it to my bleeding chest, “Nope,” I replied, “nothing but the dynamite.”
Mason’s sharp eyes bored into me for what seemed like an age. “Hmmm,” he said eventually, “very well, but I think we may need to discuss the matter again in the future. For now, given the time, a far more pressing matter is at hand.”
“Time?” I asked, still trying to get a handle on what had happened.
“Your atomic weapon. Unless I’m mistaken, it will be on its way here any time now. Let’s get this Gods forsaken thing blown up and sealed once and for all before your helpful wee crab rips open the fabric of this universe and we are eaten alive from the inside of our skulls, eh?”
I stood tall and faced the terrible Leviathan. It seemed to pulse in defiance as I stared at it, willing us to try our best, knowing we would fail and it would open. I reached into the pack and pulled out the first of the bundles of dynamite, “Get your seal, Mason. I’ll set the charges and let’s blow this bastard back down to the hell it crawled up from,” I growled.
To be continued…