© Copyright 2011 - Jo - Used by permission
Storycodes: MF+/mff; captives; bond; strip; naked; cage; cannibalism; eaten; hard; nc; XX
We turn to look where Adam is pointing, see nothing but forest. Then Tabitha points.
"There! By the second big tree."
Then we see it. The clearing. As we move closer we can see the natives, thin, wiry men and women. Some of the men carry spears. Some of the women carry babies. Adam throttles down the outboard and the dugout eases toward shore.
Just as the canoe nudges ground men rush forward. I turn to Adam, but he just sits, calmly, in the back of the boat.
Hands like vices grab me, haul me out of the canoe, drag me up onto the shore. I'm thrown to the ground, my arms are pulled behind my back, my wrists are bound with coarse rope. I struggle, try to kick at my attackers, but almost before my mind can process what is happening my ankles are bound and my wrists are joined to my ankles.
I become aware of the struggle. Tab is bound as I am. A man picks her up like a piece of luggage and drops her on the ground next to me. She is screaming, pleading, fighting the bonds. I'm of two minds. Part of me is terrified, but the other part, the anthropologist, is calmly taking it all in.
Ernst fights the men. I see he is bleeding from several wounds. Although he is a head taller than their tallest warrior, Ernst is a grad student, not a fighter and it's clear he will soon be overwhelmed.
A warrior thrusts his spear at Ernst. By some bit of luck he manages to evade the tip and grab the shaft, jerking the man toward him, and giving him a vicious head butt. Ernst whirls, swinging the spear, takes out another attacker, but a warrior clubs him. Two more club-wielding natives descend on him. He fights with a strength I never knew he had, but soon it's over.
Tabitha and I are picked up by our bonds, an unconscious Ernst is dragged. We are taken into the forest.
The impossibly large women stand over us. There are three. Two hold babies. Such a contrast to the other women in the village, slim bordering on skinny. The head man comes out of the hut. He too is large. Large, but not overly fat.
He stoops to examine us, first Tab who is pleading and sobbing, then me, then Ernst. One of the men comes over and they put their heads together. The head man nods and Ernst is hauled over onto his back. A woman produces a knife and begins to slice his clothes off. I know it's coming. Somewhere in my head a voice is screaming. A moment later I hear the scream, Tabitha's otherworldly shriek, as the woman plunges the knife into Ernst's chest.
Another woman lays down a large leaf while the first deftly remove Ernst's heart. She lays it on the leaf and slices it into several pieces. I'm crying now. The tears pour out. Tabitha lays next to me, sobbing.
The woman takes the leaf to the head man. One of the fat women takes a piece of Ernst's heart and pops it into her mouth, chews. After a minute she spits into her hand and offers the chewed mass to the head man.
The woman with the leaf offers pieces to several of the men, then comes over to Tabitha. She puts a piece of meat into her mouth, chews, then offers the glob to Tab. Tabitha screams and struggles. Hysterical. A second woman grabs Tabitha's hair, clamps a hand over her mouth and nose. Seconds pass, silence except for Tabitha's muffled squeals. The second woman removes her hand, Tabitha gasps for air, the chewed mass is pushed into her mouth. Again the hand over the mouth. Tabitha struggles, frantic. It's a choice of breathing or swallowing and in the end survival trumps fear and she swallows and is allowed to breathe.
I receive the same treatment, although I hadn't resisted. One woman chews while the other grips my hair, seals my mouth and nose. The rational scientist leaves to be replaced by the animal, the terrified girl, the bound thing fighting for survival.
Finally the hand is removed. I gasp for air and the chewed meat is pushed into my mouth. Again the clamp over my face until I swallow.
I lay panting. My rational mind working through the terror, surfacing. Only to totally lose it a moment later when the woman with the knife squats next to Tab.
I scream, "No! Oh God! Please No!" over and over as the woman slices tabs clothes to pieces. Tabitha is incoherent now, crying, big wracking sobs.
It takes me a moment to realize that Tabitha isn't going to be killed, merely stripped. The woman squats next to me and I'm suddenly naked.
The head man steps over to us, examines us, two bound, naked girls lying in the dirt. I feel the flush of shame as he pokes me, fondles me, rolls me on to my belly, then onto my back. He repeats the inspection with Tabitha. He confers with his wives, then says something and gestures. Tabitha and I are dragged to the head man's hut, one to each side. There's a thick pole set into the ground and I'm sat up, back against the pole. A chord is tied around my neck, the other ropes are removed and my wrists are pulled back around the pole and tied. I can hear Tabitha. She's fighting them, but soon all goes quiet.
I sit in the dirt, bound, helpless. Natives approach me to take a closer look at this strange white-skinned girl. The children are fascinated and step in close. Some of them sniff me, some touch.
Women walk by carrying pieces of meat that I realize are pieces of Ernst. I know he was honored having his heart eaten by the warriors and it was an honor for us to have been offered a piece. But I don't feel honored, I feel sick.
Day turns into night. I don't sleep. Or maybe I doze a bit. The night sounds are both interesting and terrifying and my mind bounces between rationale and panic. Sometime during the night I pee. The dirt becomes warm mud, slick against my skin.
In the morning two women come to me. One carries a gourd, holds it up to my lips, I drink. The second chews, spits, and offers a pulpy white mass. I am fed. I don't know what it is. Not meat, thank God. Some kind of tuber most likely. Tabitha is raising a fuss and presently two women appear carrying a gourd and a leaf with chunks of white. They walk across the compound. Apparently Tab is going to miss breakfast today.
Some men are busy at opposite ends of the clearing. They're carrying poles from the jungle, poles and vines. I am ignored, except for the occasional, curious child. The men are building something. An hour later platform appears. Sides are erected, then a lid. It's clearly a cage. Its mate takes shape at the other end of the clearing.
The implication is obvious. Two white girls, two cages. But for what purpose?
I am fed again. Part of me wants to hurl, but I chew and swallow and chew some more. When the women appear from the other side of the hut the leaf is bare. Tabitha has been likewise fed.
The sun goes down. The moon rises, an impossibly large, full moon. There's activity in the clearing. A fire is being built. My feeder steps up to me and squats. She stands and squats again, then points between her legs. Realization dawns and I nod. She helps me up so that I, too, can squat. She slides a leaf under me. The primal need overcomes my embarrassment. When I finish, the woman wipes me with other leaves. Apparently sitting my own pee is okay, but not my shit.
The people gather, the head man appears. He speaks to them. They answer. There's cheering. Presently I am released from the pole. Two men stand by while I am bathed. The women are very thorough and it feels good to be free of sweat and dirt. I'm led to the center of the compound, soon joined by Tabitha. I try to read her face, but she keeps her head down. The head man speaks again, there's more back and forth, then we're led, Tabitha and I, to opposite ends of the clearing.
The cage is on a platform about three feet off the ground. The cage itself is, likewise, about three feet on a side. There are a couple of steps on one side and when I hesitate strong hands grab me, hoist me over the edge and into the cage. The lid slams shut. Two men work their way around the sides securing the lid every few inches with cord or vine. The bars are close spaced, maybe a hand-width apart. There's a mat on the bottom of the cage and I sit on it. I can see the other cage, but just barely. The men and women walk away and I assume Tabitha is similarly confined.
The celebration begins. There is singing and dancing. After a while I smell meat cooking. Is it some jungle animal or is it Ernst? The thought overwhelms me and I vomit.
In the morning the women come to me. I am fed. One of the women does the squatting thing again, then tugs at the mat, but I just shake my head, no. But a short time later I do and the woman wipes me when I've finished.
One of my attendants is always with me. They take turns feeding me throughout the day, handful after handful of the sticky, chewed glop.
I sit in my cage, tits resting on my belly. The wives come by for their morning inspection. Hands come into the cage. I eat, I shit, I am cleaned, I eat and shit some more.
It's been a month, or nearly. I tried keeping track of the days, but gave up. Then I realized I could tell by the phase of the moon. It was nearly full. A month. I couldn't get my mind around the idea, couldn't get my mind around any rational thought except that once I was a scientist and now I was a caged thing, not even an animal.
Adam stands before my cage. He's grinning.
"Big wedding tomorrow!"
No one has spoken to me for a month and my mind struggles to surface, gropes for words.
"Is that why you brought us here, to be brides?"
"Bride." He holds up one finger. "One bride, one meal." He laughs.
It took a moment for my brain to process that. I shook my head.
"Meal? What? They're going to eat one of us?"
Adam grinned and nodded.
"Big man no decide yet. Decide tomorrow. Tomorrow have big wedding."
He reached through the bars of my cage, pinched my belly.