Part 28

It went Três, me, Graham, stumbling for a bit and then gasping in the humid noon-day flourish of sun and plants and life.

My mind went something like: I need a gun–no I don’t–where the hell are we going–what if those crazy kids get shot–can Graham fight them off–what if we get stranded out here–I really should ask for a gun–no, hell no!

I was stride for stride with Três, who had started at a run, but Graham hissed at us and motioned for us to slow down a bit. We settled on a weird type of speedwalk, gear and sweat and worry covering us.

After a few minutes of trailing us a dozen meters or so, Graham clicked his tongue, motioned again for us to keep going, and I assume, that he was going back. I felt nauseous as hell, hot-chill waves pouring back over me as we climbed up a bit, then ambled down a dip the trail narrowing as we did.

Soon, our guard was out of sight, and the foremost thought I had was, what if one of the fazendeiros was up ahead? Or two, if Graham had miscalculated?

We huffed and puffed as my mind tried desperately not to listen for gun reports.

Being a sensible, western-raised and civilized person, I knew, absolutely knew that there’s always a way to work out a conflict or heated situation without escalating things, knowing that everyone makes the best choices that their self-interest allows, that they work in their own best interests. That may get glossed over in a fit of anger or surprise, but even a moment’s pause can clarify that sort of thing. Unless you’re dealing with legitimate psychopaths or other disturbed people. Which are the only kind that inhabit a panicked mind (even if it’s only mild).

I tried to flush them from my thoughts, and imagined our new (sort of) friends managing to make things right, instead. Not coming entirely clean, I hoped.

After close to half an hour of our panting, I touched Três on the shoulder and slowed.

We should, I started. We should probably… make a note of any other worn paths. Maybe get up high and see which way someone could come from. Or go down, like Ava and her guy.

Três wad nodding, all sim, sim, grabbing for my wrist to take us further. I resisted for a second, then tried to listen (attempting to use that eavesdropping), amongst the buzzing, droning woods.

I hope we didn’t kick up too many animals, caused a scene, I said. It sounded like a joke in my head, though hearing it did not.

There were no gunshots, no yells, no one asking us to stop, no one waiting in ambush in the next few hours. I started to breathe a sigh of relief, but the ridge we were climbing chose that moment to give way.