Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta journey. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta journey. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 9 de junio de 2016

Scientific discoveries

   The water was very cold. It wasn’t surprising at all as the lake was located very high into the mountains, far from any real source of heat. Besides, the area was often covered with a thick fog that didn’t really let the sunlight pass. The group camped on the edge of the lake and was careful enough to put everything near them. It wouldn’t be very nice if an animal decided to steal their food or if they lost things that were just in front of their noses. They would stay only one night and then continue their journey.

 Their destination was a high plateau, located on top of a flat mountain. Rumor has it that many species of plants and animals lived there and that most of them had never being registered by science. The five people in the group had the mission of arriving to that area, after climbing completely vertical walls, and do the most thorough job in identifying new species of animals and plants. They had to bring pictures, drawings and even samples if possible.

 The day they arrived at the lake was only the fourth day of their journey. They had already crossed through a deep humid valley where one of them had been bitten by a snake and had to be airlifted out of there. Where they started the mountain section of their trip, they often had problems falling to the ground and hurting their hands and knees. It was a very difficult job, especially for the ones in the group that had never really gone out in a mission like this.

 Two of the camper by the lake, one man and one woman, were teachers and real professionals in biology. They had already travelled to every corner of the world, they had categorized many species and each had discovered quite a few, so they were the visible heads of the expedition as experience was always most appreciated. The rest were four students and interns, five originally, that had decided to enter the ballot to get into the trip.

 The two professors interview several people for the trip. They were essentially looking for people just like them, people that didn’t mind having no food in a day and knew how to walk in a jungle, a forest or the mountains. They rejected many almost immediately. Most of them thought it was going to be a nice little trip with hotels and cars and video cameras and many other nice things. It wasn’t.

 They had only one cellphone that had to be used only for emergencies. Everyone could bring their laptop but, obviously, there wasn’t going to be any Wi-Fi or anything like that. The computers were just for keeping track of their discoveries and have a copy of the pictures they took every single day. It was a useless brick aside from that. No makeup, no artificial elements, nothing like that either.

 The guy that had been bitten by the snake was the one the professors had thought was really one of a kind. He was very brilliant and had actually collaborated with a couple of amazing scientists from other universities. He was very well versed in every single aspect of a mission and was looking forward to the one they were interviewing him for. He was even tested by showing him several pictures of different species and he had answered everything correctly.

 So it was more than a surprise, more like a disappointment, when he had stupidly left the tent to pee in an area that hadn’t been checked yet. According to what he said later, it seemed like he had urinated on the snake and that’s why the animal had reacted so violently, biting him in one of his thighs. He knew the venom of that particular species was not one that acted fast but it was venom all the same. The helicopter arrived soon as they were only a day away from their departure point.

 Secretly, the other four students and interns laughed at what had happened. They hadn’t like him at all when they had met him some days before the journey started. He seemed pretentious and so full of himself, telling them every single part of his experience with other scientists. It got boring very quickly and he probably knew right away that he was going to be talking only to the professors during the trip. But no one would never really know that as he had left so early, in such a particular way.

 By the lake, they decided to check the water with a special machine that was equipped with sonar. They wanted to know what kind of wildlife lived there and if it was possible for them to bathe there. They already smelled very strongly and they had to, at some time, have a bath to clean themselves up or else every animal in the jungle would know they were there.

  The sonar didn’t pick up anything big. So the professors decided to fish for a while, as the four students entered the water and swam just in front of them. The funny thing was that they couldn’t almost see each other. It was very difficult to move without hitting a rock or tripping on some formation no one had seen. In the water it was the same and it felt dangerous too, so they only were there for five minutes, enough time to feel refreshed.

 When they were done, as they dried their bodies on the shore, the professors announced they had capture two fish but none of them was a new species. They were some kind of anchovy related creature, very small and really smelly. They took pictures and returned the animals to the water. Sometimes discoveries took their time to happen.

 The next day they moved away from the lake in order to get to the plateau. As they had already lost some time because of the snake and the lake, they decided to walk two days in a row, without resting or at least only resting for a few hours. No more camping. They walked for three straight days. They descended the mountain on the other side and had arrived to the jungle again, were they discovered a couple of new insects and saw a couple of snakes that resembled the one that had bitten their partner.

 Finally, one afternoon, they arrived to a very tall wall made of rock and dirt. They tested the surface with their climbing gear and discovered that area was not well suited to climb to the top. Several rocks fell once they tried to climb onto the wall. So they had to walk along the wall until they finally camped to wait for sunlight. First thing the following morning, the professors found the perfect area to climb. It was going to be very difficult and they had to get everyone up there so the plan was complex.

 The experienced climbers had to go first. That meant the two professors and one of the students had to climb almost with no instruments or equipment, at least to a certain point. Then, they would help the others with ropes and all the climbing equipment they had carried from their base camp. None of the leaders were nervous about it. They simply began climbing. By midday, the three scientists had climbed at least fifty meters, which was very good. They installed everything there, on a special hard part of the mountain and kept going as the other three just started.

 As expected, nightfall arrived as they were still working on the mountain. Their fingers were numb and some had awful bruises that made it difficult for them to climb. The student that had joined the professors was the first one to arrive and he helped bring his two companions on top. When they were all there, they helped the remaining three. Two of them were bleeding a lot when they came up to the top.

 They decided to form camp not very far from the edge. The idea was to rest, cure their wounds and start real work on top of the plateau. They almost couldn’t sleep as they had arrived to the place they had wanted to visit for a long time. No other human had ever been there and it was certain that they were going to encounter very special creatures. They were about to enter scientific history.

 However, the night did not only bring the best wishes from them. It also brought heavy sleep, provided by a plant they had ignored, just by their camp. The plant released spores that made people extremely sleepy, almost putting them in a coma. This was used by a certain kind of spider, an undiscovered species, to kill all the campers with its powerful poison.

 The bodies wouldn’t take long to decompose. That’s how powerful the venom was. And all the machines and equipment would be destroyed by powerful gusts of wind and other animals, completely erasing any trace the scientists had ever been there.

sábado, 4 de junio de 2016

Men & Monsters

   The chains did a horrible sound, indicating that Genke was now a slave. He had fought bravely and had resisted for many days in the jungle, but the Wataku tribe had attacked with everything they had. They had burned down every single tree in the jungle, killing every animal that lived in it and making every former free man run for their lives. They put men on all sides of the jungle in order to capture the escaping men. They would beat them up with sticks that damaged the skin and then throw one of those stink bombs they used to render people unconscious.

 Genke had been the victim of one of those bombs and had woken up in a cell on top of a cart. He had been sleeping in a corner, as there were at least five other men with him inside the cage. The cart advanced through the wilderness very slowly and it was then when they all realized the jungle was burning, very far in the distance. It was something very difficult to see, as the forest had provided food and shelter for a long time and now it has fallen with them

 They wanted to ask where they were taking them but there was no way they would answer them. Any sound they made was answered with the crack from a whip. It always scared them despite the fact that it never it them. They were too scared and tired to fight nay longer and decided to let things happen however they had to happen. They stayed in silence and tried not to annoy the Wataku.

 The night passed and when the first light of morning appeared in the horizon, their new masters made them step down the cart and start walking behind it. They did not know why they had to do that but they did it without question. They had no intention of crossing any of the slavers. The man with the whip was on a horse and looked at them like a hawk. Any wrong move would be enough for him to react.

 That wrong move was when the youngest of the new slaves fell to the floor, possibly because of dehydration. The man whipped him with an uncanny ability and the kid’s flesh opened horribly, making wounds that would never properly heal, much less in the new conditions that they were living in. He had to be helped up in order to resume the walk, which he almost didn’t finish. The following morning, they entered a small village.

 It was called Sihoku and it was a settlement created by the Wataku that lived from capturing other tribes’ men. There was something like a jail there, where the five men were put in. There were lots of other slaves, possibly twenty more. Genke thought, for a moment, that they could rise and destroy the enemy but that wasn’t possible. Everyone was either too tired or had been beat up horribly by their new owner.

 Later, a tall member of the Wataku came and pushed every single man to the corner of the cage where they were being held. As he did that, two others carried a big metal deposit that worked as a feeding device for the animals. There were two of them. The big soldier pushed and kicked them, calling them names in his language and then left, doing some kind of a grin that they thought was very strange.

 As soon as he left the cage, every man except Genke and the boy that had been beaten up, ran to the metal deposits in order to eat and drink. They looked like pigs or cows feeding as if they had never eaten in their lives. Some pass over others to get food, some others hit their fellow men in order to get a handful of the food, some kind of mashed product that smells like it had gone bad recently.

 Genke did not even try to get closer. He thought they had to be better than that, he thought it was better if they showed the enemy that couldn’t be broken so easily. They had their houses burnt, their wives and children skinned alive or burned and now they were behaving just like the enemy wanted. They seemed to have forgotten every single thing that had happened recently and, the worst part, was that their new owners realized how easy it was to tame them and to convert them in the nice little slaves they wanted them to be.

 However, they had also seen how Genke had not even tried to eat or drink and they had already decided to make an example out of him. During the night, the cage was open and the big soldier entered again but this time he was careful no to be so loud or violent. He was there to grab only one of them and it was easy to stop who he wanted as he was apart from the group: Genke had separated from them because he couldn’t stand them anymore.

 The man grabbed Genke, woke him up and took him out of the cage. They tied a rope from every extremity and tensed the ropes from poles in order to cause him extreme pain. This was done over a wooden table were he was lying down, although there were moments when his body didn’t even touched the table. That was how much they stretched his body.

 Genke screamed all night. The guys in the cage realized what was happening and were sad for him but they had understood that there was no way to win to the masters. They were stronger and simply hand the upper hand. When morning arrived again, Genke was not thrown into the cell again but into the one in a cart. Others joined him there and then the transport began to move. The journey would be much shorter.

 The Wataku were sending them to the ocean. There, they saw some kind of event happening in the beach and also immense boats floating on the ocean. They understood what was happening just as the cart stopped and they had to walk, in chains, to make a line behind many other men that were been auctioned to a public of foreigners. They were dressed in funny clothes and look very different from one another. Genke even noticed that they all preferred to raise their hand and show fingers than actually speak during the auction.

 When they finished with the group that was there when they arrived, it was their turn. Genke felt sick, not only because of his torture, but because he was very hungry and thirsty. He walked in front of the foreigners making his best effort not to faint and then waited for their Wataku master to release them from the chains. But that didn’t happen. The Wataku were merciless and never forgive any misbehavior.

 All the slaves in their group were kept in chains and the foreigners had a chance to approach before they began the auction. Genke found it humiliating, as the foreigners checked every slave’s hair, their teeth, their skin and even their overall size, including the size of their feet. They didn’t understood why so many measurements and detailing. What had the mouth anything to do with working in a field?

 The auction began some time after that. One by one, the men that had been captured the same day as Genke were being sold to different foreigners. Other men from beyond the sea would come and take them directly to the ships. They didn’t wait or let anyone say anything. They just dragged the slave if they had to do it.

 The younger boy that had been badly beaten up by the Wataku was sold to a man with a mustache but when he was being taken to the ship, he started fighting his new owner, trashing about and yelling in their tongue. Somehow, he thought they would all suddenly rise and defend him from being taken away. The truth was much more sad: he was punched and kicked in the ground and carried unconscious into the boat. No one knew if he ever survived the journey.

 Genke was sold to a tall man, the tallest he had ever seen. His eyes were cold and his skin was the one of a ghost. He didn’t fight them as he was taken to the ship. He didn’t say anything when he had to sleep with dozen of others inside that boat. And he didn’t talked once he was sold again, in a port far away from his homeland, which he would never see again. He rarely spoke again, hoping he would eventually die and, at least, have some peace in his grave. That was his only wish.

miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2016

Small green man

   The only thing Serena could do was drive. The desert was an enormous place and she felt good entering it with the old car she had bought in the city. The idea was the cross the whole length of the desert, taking pictures and getting to know the few people that lived there. She had a fascination about that place and, although she had already visited the largest cities in the world, her mind was set know in getting to know the Earth’s most isolated places. She put on some music in the old radio and drove away from the city at first light of the morning. That day, she stopped several times to take pictures of the rock formations and of the animals of the area. It was dangerous, but she didn’t mind.

 The first night of her trip, she slept in the car. She just parked by the road and covered herself with a blanket. From that point of view, she could see the moon, which also fascinated her. It was its brightness and uneven terrain that made her wonder, for a long time, if people would ever be able to walk there permanently. She fell asleep fast just by looking out. Early next morning, a sandstorm woke her up and she had to wait inside her vehicle until it had moved on elsewhere. It was a violent situation but she had loved it because it was so unique. The storm indicated that the future held many secrets and interesting things and one of those happened just a few hours later.

 He was walking by the road, very slowly, visibly on the verge of collapsing due to the horrible heat one had to endure in the desert. When he saw the car, he tried to wave but was so tired he couldn’t and just collapsed by the road. That was the way Serena had to notice him. She stopped the car and ran outside. The man had fallen on his face and had hurt his forehead with a rock. She carried him inside and sat him on the copilot’s seat. She didn’t have much water but used some of it to wake him up. As he came to his senses, Serena notices that the man was not a common sight: he was rather short but with big bulgy eyes and greenish skin. He had normal hands and legs but his skin seemed “fake” somehow.

 When he woke up, he congratulated Serena and asked if she had any water. Whatever she had left, he drank it in haste. He was very thankful but then fell asleep very fast, after dropping Serena’s thermos to the ground. She picked it up, closed the copilot’s door and then got in the car and started driving again. The man was in no condition to keep walking and she couldn’t just leave him there so she decided to carry him to whatever place she found. She didn’t stop for the whole day, mainly because she was scared to be alone with such a strange man. She just wanted their shared journey to end as fast as possible. That night, she almost gave up but finally found a motel past midnight.

 The manager was a young man with his face covered in pimples. He was reading a science magazine when Serena opened the door and asked for two rooms. When he looked at her, the young man started looking for the keys but then realized there was a small strange man behind Serena. She almost screamed when she heard his weird voice, a bit squeaky. He thanked Serena for the ride and the water and told the young man that he wanted a room too. But he told them, as he looked suspiciously at the small man, that there was only one room available with two beds and another one with only one bed so should choose what to do. Serena thought about sleeping in the car again and letting the small man take the single room but her body hurt a lot from all the driving.

 It was the squeaky voice of the man and his stubby hands on the counter, who asked for the double room. He told Serena it would only be for one night and that way they could take care of each other. And then he winked at her, which she didn’t really know what it meant.

 The young gay gave them the keys and indicated the way to go: it was just across the parking lot. So Serena told the little guy to go there first. Meanwhile, she would park the car in front of the room. After she did so, she entered the room to see that the small man had taken off his shoes and socks and was lying there on the bed closest to the door. He had his eyes closed so she could stare at him longer than usual.

 It was not only his statue and the weird hue of his skin. Besides his eyes, his little hands and feet were also kind of puffy, as if they were filled with water or something. Maybe he had been walking too long or maybe he had an allergic reaction to something in the desert and that was why he looked like that. As she sat down on her bed and took of her shoes, she realized how strange it was for anyone on Earth to be walking alone through a desert. Or maybe he had been left there… The desert was a place of many strange events, where people saw lights in the sky and had encounters with life from other planets. Maybe her new friend was a little green man, of the other ones.

 She then asked him what his name was and he answered right away. “Gordon. Gordon Shumway.” Was it wrong that he had answered so fast? Maybe it was his real name but she was sure she had already heard that name before. Or maybe she was just tired and her mind was jumping to conclusions. He asked her name too and she only said “Serena”. They talked for a while about their love for the desert, which they discovered was mutual. They talked about certain species and plants and about the beautiful sunrise. And, slowly, they feel asleep at the same time.

   When she woke up the following morning, the first thing she felt was how hot the room was. The desert had to be burning up. She was glad to be inside a room, on a bed. She wondered if it was early and if she should start her journey of the day right away or maybe just ask for some breakfast and then take some pictures around the place. It could be interesting to talk a bit more to the young receptionist and to any other person working in the motel.

 Then, she recalled the earlier day and finally opened her eyes. Gordon, if that was his real name, wasn’t there. His bed sheets were all over the place so maybe he was still around or maybe he had just left… with her car. She sprung up the bed and ran outside. For a moment there, her heartbeats almost made her deaf. But there was no need for that:  the car was there and looking towards the reception, she saw Gordon waving at her and telling her to come. She raised her hand to indicate she had heard.

 After putting on her shoes, she walked to where Gordon was and realized here was a small dining room, with a few tables, by the reception. The lights must have been turned off the previous night because she hadn’t seen it. The pimples boy was there and it was him who served them as a waiter. They had orange juice and black coffee and lots of bread with butter and jam and also some scrambled eggs. The quality was not the one of a five star hotel but it certainly wasn’t bad at all for a desert motel.

 Serena and Gordon chatted all the way through breakfast, starting the conversation where they had left it the previous night. They talked about all the creatures they had seen and also about their journeys and what they were planning for life. Gordon confessed that he still wanted to roam the desert and showed Serena a bag the boy had gave Gordon as a gift. He only had two big bottles of water inside and an old map. Then, he asked Serena for a one last favor before parting ways.

 That afternoon, they both penetrated even more into the desert. Serena took, on Gordon’s suggestion, an alternate road, which went straight into a national park. The small man told her he had some business to do there, as if it was an office building or something of the sorts. Once they started seeing more hills and rock formations, they stopped the car. She got out and took some pictures as Gordon looked all around, mumbling. He finally choose to walk to a far away mountain, which he said would have a great view over the whole desert and he could do whatever he was he wanted to do.

They bid farewell with a very peculiar hug and a smile and then parted ways. As she went into the car, Serena saw the little man walking very fast towards the mountain he had chosen. Secretly, she admired him for his sense of adventure and because he seemed to know more about life than her.

 After an hour of driving, before she hit the main road, she stopped the car and looked up to the first few stars of the night. And then laughed. It was strange how funny she had thought Gordon was, considering she was the one who had arrived to this planet only a couple of years ago. She was the “new” girl in town. Maybe he looked like a small green man but she had seen some of the real ones and they much less pleasant and adventurous.

martes, 1 de septiembre de 2015

Journey of exploration

   It was an irony that he could not board a boat without having to “return” all of his breakfast. Most people thought he was practically a sailor because of his work in the aquarium but the truth was he could barely stand the salty water and the constant movement of the waves. Nate’s job was to classify the fishes, modify their diets and select replacements if one of the individuals died. It was a very simple job really, that required only patience and time to know what to do and when to do it. He had always loved marine life, even if he didn’t particularly like the place where they lived. It was a very strange relationship the one he had with the creatures he worked with, and maybe it was that he liked them better when living in an aquarium.

 But the people for whom he worked had decided to send him to an exploration journey in order to bring new specimens to the aquarium. They wanted new species too, which meant travelling a lot and being always on the move, ready to make the next big catch. But Nate wasn’t the type to catch anything, if only the flu. He wasn’t an adventurous guy and he certainly didn’t like to travel for long periods of time. He was so odd he actually only took his vacations to be in his house. He never even visited an all-inclusive hotel or anything like that. So when he was chosen to go on a boat to capture new species, he was not very keen on the idea. Nate even went to his boss’s office and asked him to pull him out from the trip but the boss refused.

 He told Nate that it was necessary for all of his employees to be really involved in the world they were working with. He needed people that had experience with the creatures in the wild as well as in captivity. Besides, he insisted to Nate that the trip would be an eye opener for him and that it would gave him access to new knowledge about his craft and it would also be a new way to open himself as a person. Nate didn’t like people meddling in his life and maybe that was why his boss stopped talking and just told him to go and enjoy himself. Nate knew that wasn’t to be so easy so he tried talking to anyone with any power in the aquarium but everyone thought he should go.

 Defeated, he was asked to only bring a small bag with him, with only a few clothes and whatever else he needed, especially for his job. He was visited at home by the captain of the vessel who told him their trip would take almost three months around the Caribbean, where they would try to visit as many ecosystems as possible. He also told Nate he needed to learn how to dive so he made him go to some classes in the local swimming pool. Nate felt too much pressure from everyone to be as good as the trip, to be someone else basically, and that made him a bit unstable. He stopped eating regularly and lost several kilos prior to the trip. Besides, he acquired some weird repetitive movements in his hands and eyes.

 The day of the departure finally arrived. Captain Jones came to pick him up and he spoke the whole way to the boat. He was visibly very enthusiastic about the journey because, as he said, he loved to work with scientists that really appreciated everything that the ocean had to offer. Nate didn’t say a word. The boat was bigger than he had imagined it but the crew was rather small: two men helped the captain and there were only two other scientists with Nate. One was Angelina Öhm, an Austrian expert in invertebrates and professor Smith, an older man that loved whales and sharks. Both of them were actually pretty famous and worked in more prestigious aquariums than Nate.

 The boat set sailed that same afternoon, departing first towards the northern Bahamas where they expected to find a good amount of tropical fish for their respective aquariums. They actually explained to him that the boat was larger than normal because they needed space for all the containers they were going to fill with live specimens. The following day they were already near the island of Great Abaco, where Nate would have to dive. He was really dizzy, having had no sleep the night before. The first day was a total disaster: he hit his head various times against the steel of the boat, he vomited on the feet of one of the captain’s helpers, he wasn’t able to put his diving suit correctly and finally didn’t even swim at all, deciding to remain in his chambers for the day.

 That night, the Jones came to see him in his room and talked to him. He asked Nate to tell him what was going on and Nate explained that he didn’t wanted to be there because the ocean made him sick and scared. The truth was that he only wanted to go home and be safe. When he said this, the captain laughed and put an arm around his back. He told Nate he was safer on the boat than anywhere else on Earth, as he was simply one of the best sailors in the world. He told him how many medals he had from the navy and the army and joked about his prowess aboard larger and smaller vessels. After a while, Nate was able to smile and even laugh a little.

 The next day, when arriving to Cat Island, Nate decided to be more careful and patient, as he was when making the preparations for every animal’s dinner. He was always very careful and had his head in those matters and not anywhere else. So he did exactly that and he noticed he bumped his head less this time. He apologized to the seaman for the accident the day before and even shared a very small breakfast with the others. After all, his stomach was still very sensitive. He was able to put the suit on but then they only had a few good hours to dive. Rain came and ruined their exploration for the day. They captures some specimens and he remained classifying them the rest of the day.

 Days passed and Nate developed a certain new attitude. He realized that he had to be different in the boat than anywhere else. So he decided to approach his colleagues and just talk to them about his interests and his experience, no matter how little it was compared to theirs. It was refreshing to realize that both Öhm and Smith where very nice people that were very willing to share all of their knowledge with younger explorers like himself. Because it was them who told Nate that he now was an explorer, a proper adventure seeker and a potential discoverer of new life on this planet and what could be more exciting than that?

 The following two weeks were better for them as they captured many specimens a day. One special day near Haiti’s northern coast, Nate dove without the suit and caught a beautiful colorful slug with only some gloves and a bucket. He even discovered another one but with different colors and caught him too. The water was shallow and beautiful and he finally succumbed to the ocean. Now he saw what they all saw when entering the darkness of the ocean. So much life and so much activity, it was hard not to fall in love with every single species and with everyone that loved this environment back. Angelina and Smith congratulated him for his slugs and he secretly named them Nate 1 and Nate 2. Of course, that would never be on an aquarium but it was his little silly secret.

 The nights were great because they rarely dove in those times. They’d rather be in the dining room and just play cards or talk. After the first month, Nate managed to eat a bit more than he had eaten before and now he wasn’t afraid of just eating. There was so much confidence among the crew, which they now joked as if they had all being studying together in college for some time. The truth was that Nate had never felt this level of camaraderie before. He had never being part of a team and wasn’t very good at making friends or anything of the sort, he had always thought of himself as a bit of a clumsy guy, with almost no sense of what to say and when.

 But with the captain, his sailors, Angelina and Smith, he felt almost at home. They laughed, had jokes that they would repeat often and besides they would work together better than he would have ever work alone. And the best thing of all was that the boat was getting filled with awesome species that everyone was going to love in the aquarium. They had even caught some jellyfish that did not appear in their records, so it might signify the capture of a new species. Day by day he got better at diving with the suit and they would team up to capture every single creature they were interested in. Some animal they left alone, as turtle that had been hit by a boat’s propeller. He took several pictures and got tan every day more and more.

 Nate didn’t know it but the trip would jus change his life. He would return home realizing how much time he had wasted in general and how he could make some changes in life without really changing who he was but rather how he did some things.  The trip was an eye opener and Nate, even weeks before it was finished, thanked his boss, fate and everyone involved for putting him on that boat.