I thought of this story after an author's visit to my lit class the other week. He loves to imagine buildings and cities after they have been abandoned, how they decay and how nature takes over. I do not own Off the Map. Please R & R. Thanks ~ Rook.
Today is one of those days when even the most heat tolerant people stay inactive. The sun is glaring down in the inhabitants of a small South American village. The wind is absent, and there is no airflow. Everyone is sipping on cool drinks and staying indoors, that is, everyone except two stranded doctors.
Somewhere in the middle of the jungle, there is a half collapsed building. The tiles of the wall are disintegrating, specks of purple and yellow from the graffiti that was once there float to the floor. The specks mix in with the dried out landscape below. They also mix in with another substance, a red one in liquid form.
Nature is encroaching on this abandoned structure, reclaiming the land that was once its own. Many varieties of plants have begun to grow in the gaps of the walls and the exposed floors. One piece of vegetation, particularly parched in the heat of the day, sucks up the red juice. The source of the liquid is starting to come to, and to disturb the landscape about it.
Tommy Fuller opens his eyes. He has to blink multiple times to clear his blurred vision. He sees dirt and dust. There is a sharp pain on the side of his head and he puts his hand to the area. His heart beats faster as he feels the wetness. He moves his hand into his line of vision and sees the red on his palm. He groans.
Without getting up, he turns his head from side to side, trying to assess his surroundings. He has no idea where he is. It looks like the ruins of a building. On his second glance of the room, something catches in the corner of his eye. A few meters away there is a girl lying on the floor. She has long brown hair pulled back and is wearing a plaid shirt. Lily?
"Lily?" he calls out, but there is no reply. Lily remains still. Tommy tries to remember the events that occurred before he woke up in this place.
Lily, Tommy and Otis had been asked to respond to a distress call in the outskirts of the village. They were told there had been a landslide and there were four injured in the event. Two were able to walk on their own, one had badly injured his leg and the other was trapped underneath some rubble. The others were too weak to help her.
Lily, Tommy and Otis drove part of the way and had to trek the rest by foot. They were halfway there when Otis realized he had left some of the supplies in the truck. He went back to get them, but told Tommy and Lily to go on without him. When they got to the area that had been described to them, there were no victims. There was no evidence of a landslide.
"I knew we should have taken a left," said Lily, looking at her friend accusingly. "You have gotten us lost!"
"We were told to take the path by the bent coconut tree," said Tommy. "I was only following what they said."
"Do you know how many coconut trees we've passed on the way here?" asked Lily. "There are thousands of coconuts trees in this jungle!"
They heard a rustling in the trees and looked about for the source.
"Hello?" called Lily. "We are doctors, we are here to help!"
Lily and Tommy looked into the trees, but they were searching in the wrong direction. The people came up behind him and before Tommy could comprehend what was going on, Lily was down and so was he.
Tommy sits up and his head begins to spin again. He is tired and wants to lie down and sleep, but he knows that he needs to check on Lily. He breathes in and out through his mouth slowly. He coughs. His lungs are full of dry air. He slowly moves his legs underneath himself so that he is kneeling. He then stands, his arms stuck out for balance. He slowly makes his way over to his friend.
He kneels in front of Lily and moves her so that she is lying on her back. He brushes her hair away from her face.
"Lily?" he says, gently slapping her cheek, hoping she will come to.
"Lily?" He gently shakes her. "Lily!" He puts his fingers to her neck to check for a pulse.
Lily begins to fidget and eventually opens her eyes. It takes a few moments for her to adjust, but when she does she immediately sees Tommy's worried gaze. She looks around her.
"Tommy, where are we?" she asks.
"I don't know," he replies.