Part 34

It turns out that Três had had her own harrowing time in the growing dark, lugging my dead weight around, pained from bites and bruises, trying to find a rough trail to set us on. Even worse, I found out later, she was deliberately avoiding a course toward our old path, certain that anyone out there would not be the most friendly.

That plan of action lasted about a kilometer apparently, until she dropped us both by a natural shelter formed by some massive deadfall. She didn’t light a fire, though she did stay awake as long as she could before going under.

Graham and one of the young farmers–Ignacio, she called him–stumbled across us the next morning as she went to find some water to refill our canteens (most of it had went towards me or had spilled out during our panic-turned-amusement-ride).

The two guys had come to an arrangement, though we didn’t know what, only that they said the good doctors were safe and (as much as they could be) sound. Something Graham did or said had convinced Ignacio to follow him as he tried to catch us. They had eyed each other quite a bit and had their rifles in hand until they arrived at the mixed Kayapo village, where they put them away. This was all according to Três herself, who had to piece much of it together herself.

Even now, the villagers we could see looked anxious, and somewhere underneath I think it was due to our clumsy jungle-crashing more than Ignacio’s familiar neighbourly tension.

Our young lady looked worse for wear; bites riddled her cuteish face, her hair set all against twigs and tangles, scrapes up and down both arms, though we were both wearing clean, simple white shirts and grey shorts now.

As she talked, I tried to focus, and was glad that I hadn’t caught much of a fever, even though there were chills cresting over every ten minutes or so.

What she had found out about our quarry was this:

In their haste to get back to the river and most likely back to quote unquote real civilization, Ava and Wilson (the one with the amusing last name) had been plugging in coordinates from their GPS and writing them down, along with a kind of picture code shorthand that stood for names of places they could go.

Rio was the easiest to figure out (see, here she pointed, a river and a J), but then the other pictures next to them were strange, said my ingenious friend. Until I saw that they were names. They wrote down people they know, or friends of friends, or whoever, that are close by. Contacts. Maybe not to sell the doctor’s things to, but to travel to.

But here, she continued, there were another set of numbers, which didn’t make sense at all and were all scratched out and rewritten, over and over again, with a few letters thrown in at random. Most of the ciphers I could think of made it gibberish. It looked like a bank account maybe, or ideas for where to start the biddings. I just realized it this morning, she said, pausing to cough.

They were tossing a coin. Or something like that. They couldn’t make up their minds, you see? It keeps rearranging the pattern here, and in patterns of three. They tried a few times best two out of three, and the last one they decided on is ripped here, but there’s a check mark. It has to be a date and coordinates. There’s an ‘A’ which I thought would be for your Ava. But they match a place down south, but I don’t have the name. They went to Argentina.