A/N: It's here! The next chapter! As always, I want to thank those of you who reviewed. You guys and gals are great and I really, really, really appreciate hearing from you.
If you're liking this fanfiction, check out Breaking Sanity, written by me as well! I'm sure you'll like it, too!
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It's been a while. We need to catch up.
Chapter Eight: 3:50 pm on August 3rd, 2014
"So, you said you're headed towards the Amazon?"
The dusty streets of the tiny village were alive with people, ones coming and going to places Jake didn't really care to know about. It seemed like everyone had a story. Thankfully, most weren't willing to share it. But, naturally-as Sherry said it would-his charming personality managed to catch the one person around who did want to share. And she'd been sharing non-stop with him since he'd gotten off the airplane in Mexico.
It was the first time she'd actually asked a question about what he was doing, instead of endlessly talking about herself. "As a matter of fact, yes," he replied, keeping his tone pleasant.
"Okay then, why are you in Mexico? You do know the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, right?"
Smirking, Jake commented sarcastically, "Really? I thought it was in Africa."
"Nope," her happy tone stabbed his eardrums, "It's in Brazil. It sure is good you met me, otherwise you'd be really, really, really lost!"
Mumbling, the redhead wasn't the least bit amused, "Yeah, good thing, huh?" Turning off the beaten path, he entered a small shack. Although it was rather torn as well, it still shielded him from the harsh sun and, despite the stifling dry air, it was far more comfortable than the outside. Per usual, the owner of the establishment, some kind of eatery, Jake assumed, eyed the two newcomers suspiciously. Not only were they both distinctly white, but Jake wasn't doing anything to hide the weapons he was carrying, a handgun and a magnum. Walking over to a table, he sat down, lowering his travel bag onto the dirty, wooden floor. The chipper young girl sat down across from him in his little booth and smiled cheerfully at him.
Digging into his things, he pulled out the map of South America he had-still had-from a mercenary trip several years ago. Unfolding it, he laid it upon the entire table, parts of the delicate paper flopping over the edge.
"Why is it covered in lines and circles?" the girl asked.
"I've been to these circled parts before, and these," he traced his finger along the red lines that littered the sheet, "Are the paths I took."
Jake didn't pay much mind in her examining the inked markings; instead, he focused on what he was looking for. Putting his elbows on the table, he rested his head in his hands as he looked down at the confusing marks. Arrows pointing this way and that, cities and apparent nowheres circled several times, some with an X marked through them. The stains stretched all the way down the continent of South America. But he knew where he was going.
Dropping one hand and pointing to the city he'd just left, he traced his finger along a pathway marked in red. It took him through several places before finally landing him in the outskirts of the Amazon. From there, he knew, he'd be relying on instinct to get himself to where he needed to be.
"Why don't you just fly to Brazil? That would be easier than taking a bus the entire way."
Jake looked up, seeing his unwanted dirty blonde companion staring at him. Smirking, he said, "Who said I'm taking a bus?"
She looked shocked, "You're walking there? That's insane!"
"Don't need to inform the entire room, honey." Jake went to work folding the paper back into its proper state. Tucking it back into his messenger bag and slinging the bag over his shoulder, he stood up and walked towards the door, the young girl following after.
"But it's true," she stated, running to his side, "You'll die before you even get there. There are bandits and drug cartels and snakes and-"
Jake stopped her before she could say anything more, "The drug cartels mostly operate on the border, along the coast and in the central most plains of Mexico. As for bandits," he patted the guns he had holstered, smiling towards her, "I've got it covered."
He footed forward, striding widely in attempts to lose her. Stepping out, the bright orange sun stung at his eyes and skin. "But you didn't have any solution for the snakes!"
Really? Of all the things she's worried about, snakes are the big issue?
"It's not like you're coming, you know."
"But I want too! It sounds like fun!"
Jake halted his footsteps right then, the dirty blonde running right into him. "Why are we stopping," she asked.
Taking a deep breath, the redhead turned on his heel, having to look down to see her face. She was even shorter than Sherry, he noted. Keeping his voice even and low, he spoke, "This little 'adventure' isn't for 'fun'. I'm tracking someone and I fully intend to kill him when I find him. Now, I'm walking all the way to the Amazon, stopping at different places to tear the balls off of anyone that may have information on my guy. Can you handle sitting back and watching me do that? As I'm guessing you can't, I suggest you head back to wherever it was you were going…Before this entire thing consumes you too."
After a tense moment, Jake turned around again, stepping lively. He listened intently but he didn't hear her follow.
As he walked alone for several hours, the hot and overbearing sun finally lowered to the rim of the earth. The land before him was beginning to cool down, much to Jake's relief. He was tired of traversing the sun-stained land and was very much ready for the colder night air.
A sudden rustle, however, caught his attention, and he looked in the direction of said disturbance. Off of his path, about 50 feet, were a line of bushes and short trees. They blended in with the others like them, creating a break in the bleak display of sand and dirt.
His blue eyes drilled on it for a long while, looking for any sign of movement.
An animal would have moved again by now…
The weight of the redhead's gun hung heavily on his hip, a reminder of his choices. Turning his attention back in the direction he was headed, he continued but stayed on guard. It wasn't more than 10 steps later that he heard the rustle again, only this time it was louder and far more pronounced.
Swiftly, he twisted his body to the side, pulling his gun. He didn't get the chance to fire it before he was hit in the side of the head, throwing him into the dirt. He gave a grunt but worked his body up before another blow could land. Jake stumbled backwards, glaring forward. He was greeted with nothing. "What the…hell?"
Another hit from behind, crumbling Jake to the ground. His entire world was spinning, causing everything to fade between reality and black. He struggled to keep himself conscious. Rule number one, don't leave yourself open.
Attempting to get up again, a foot came crashing down between his shoulders, making him wince as his head was thrown back into the biting bits of tanned gold.
A male's voice, one Jake faintly recognized, spoke, though rather softly, "And he said you'd be tough to take down. Again, he lies to me. But I suppose you and I should expect that from him, hmm?"
"I don't know…what you're talking…about."
"He said I could kill you if I so choose, but I do think you'll fetch a hefty dollar or two so, I'll hold off on the 'killing' thing."
Jake felt his body being lifted from the ground, his arms wrenched behind his back as his guns and carrying bag were stripped away. He could see several more men coming from the brush and instantly he had a sinking feeling. This wasn't going to end well. Wherever they took him, whatever they did to him, this really wasn't going to end well.