• Aaron Shim

Escape the Pandemic


I fell onto the floor. “Ugh, a wonderful way to start my day.” My body was in pain. After all, I did have a bunk bed that I shared with my big brother. Unfortunately, I was on top. When I was just getting to my feet, I heard my mom and my father talking downstairs. My mind didn’t quite catch what they were saying. My mind was nowhere to be found after that drop. After a few seconds, I came back to reality.

When I rubbed my head, I felt a bump. “Way to go, Phillipe, now you have a giant bump on your head.” I heard some rustling and saw my brother wake up. He took one look at me and started laughing…

“What? What’s so funny?” I asked. Why are you laughing?

“Well, for one, you just fell from a bunk bed. Second, you do have a giant bump on your head.”

“Ugh. It is painful, Thiago.”

“You better wear a cap when you go to school.”

After a few minutes, I was wearing a cap.

“I am ready to go to school, Thiago!”

“Coming, little bro.”

“Have you seen Mommy? Or Daddy?”

“No… They probably left early for work.”

“Okay...”

As I heard the front door close to my house, I suddenly got a bad feeling. I wasn’t quite able to describe what it was. However, that feeling soon disappeared when we met Paulo.

“Sup Phillipe, sup Thiago! How are you guys?”

Paulo was my best friend from second grade. We have been in the same classes for the past three years.

Thiago told Paulo about my fall. I could feel my face turn red as I moaned to Thiago not to share the story.

“That’s why you wore a cap. You usually don’t wear them,” Paulo said, tauntingly.

“Let’s just get to school,” I said.

Six minutes later, I was sitting down on my favorite spot in the classroom. The back corner. I wasn’t the studying type of guy. I was more of an active sporty guy. Luckily, Paulo was a study guy. He helped me out with math problems.

I breezed through school and went back to my house. It was now neat and tidy for some reason. I remember throwing my clothes up on the couch. Also, Thiago rarely cleaned the house.

“Mom? Thiago?”

“Yes, yes Phillipe, I am here.” said Thiago.

“How about Mom?”

“She is….. upstairs. She has big news. I don’t know what it is. Go out and play with Paulo for a while. Come back in an hour.”

“Okay…”

As I left my house, I got a mysterious feeling again that something wasn’t right.

“Sup Paulo!”

“Sup mate. You wanna watch soccer tonight? It is Brazil vs Argentina. You vs me!”

“I don’t think I can. My mom has big news to tell me and Thiago.”

“Come on man! You are Brazilian! The nation of soccer, man!”

“I know… But…”

“Just sneak out! Come to my house. My family is out.”

“You get to be all by yourself!”

“I know. So are you gonna come?”

“I will.”

After playing with Paulo, I went back to my house. At exactly 8:20 which was 10 minutes before the match, I snuck out of the house. I did leave a note to Thiago that I will be back soon. I crept through the hallway. Although there was nobody in the living room, I still ducked behind the couch and crawled to the door. Well, it seemed cool. I opened the door slightly and exited the house. As soon as the cool night breeze touched my face, I started running. It was good leaving the “a bit odd” house.


“I am here, Paulo.”

“Come in.”


After two hours, the match finished.

“Haha, Argentina lost!!!!”

“Brazil was lucky,” said Paulo.

“Oh no. I gotta go. See ya tomorrow Paulo!”


As I opened the door, I knew something was wrong. My mom’s face was a bit red. I was assuming it was because she cried, but why? Thiago just looked angry. He stared daggers at me.

“WHERE WERE YOU, PHILLIPE!!!” shouted Thiago

“Sorry… I…”

“It is an emergency and you decide to sneak out of the house?” asked Mom.

“Well… I didn’t know that it was an emergency…”

“Our father…” Thiago said.

“What about him?” I asked, suddenly alert.

“He caught a disease. A fatal one. It is spreading globally. Nobody isn’t even sure where it started and how.

“Where is he now?”

“He is at a hospital in Russia. That is where the cure is…” Mom said.

“Shouldn’t we go visit him?” I was a bit scared. I have never been sick before. The news that my dad was severely sick just made me panic.

“Negative!” mom shouted

“Just don’t……” Mom said, on the verge of tears.

“Mom…” me and Thiago both said.

“The disease is highly contagious as well as fatal. If we even got close to him……” Mom started but failed to finish.

“Mom, Dad will be alright,” Thiago said.

“Yes, he will. He will be back in a flash.”


***


“Ouch… Hey!”

“Shush!!!”

“What! It is like FIVE in the morning!” I complained.

“We have to talk. We need to leave. Paulo is coming too.”

“Paulo?”

“Yes, your only friend, Paulo.”

“Why?”

“Just follow. Be quiet. Mom doesn’t know we are going out.”


A few minutes later, I was at a park with Paulo and Thiago. Nobody was there, as I guessed. Since it was five in the morning, it was quite chilly. Thiago and I sat down on a bench. A few minutes later, Paulo came.

“Umm, hello? Why am I here? It is like five in the morning...”

“Did you see your parents today when you came here?” asked Thiago.

“Umm, no. I made no sound and heard no sound.”

“Okay……”

“Is anything wrong?” shouted Paulo.

“Our parents are gone….”

“What do you mean? You can’t just say our parents are gone?” I asked, confused.

“Well, my mom told me something yesterday night. When you were sleeping.”

“What?” I asked.

“She said that she is leaving Brazil. There is a virus that is spreading right now. She couldn’t bring all of us. We would only be slowing her down.”

“But she is our mother…” I broke down crying.

“What has any of this gotta do with me?” Paulo asked, shocked.

“I think…. Your parents ran off too… To Russia. With my mom…”

“Why, what? That doesn’t? What? I don’t understand…”

Paulo and I cried. We kept crying. When we managed to stop ourselves, we panicked and felt scared. That made us cry again. Then, that feeling turned into hate.


My body started to burn up although it was quite windy. My mind was screaming at me. Then, my brain exploded and I plunged into darkness.


“Ugh… Where is this?”

“Bruh, chill. You passed out man. This is your bedroom. We carried you. Paulo helped me. He carried your leg and I carried your back. It was tiring. Promise me. You will never pass out again. I was scared, man…”


We started crying again wailing for Mom. Paulo soon came.


“Hey, bruv…. Can I move in? I know this is random, but I am kinda scared… Please? I am so scared..”

“No problem man. Let’s go through this together. Our parents will come back with the vaccine. That should be why they left. Come on, let’s gather our stuff together and move everything inside this house. Lock everything. Close all the doors. If we have to buy anything, I will go out with a phone. Except for that, no going out. Paulo, go get all the food in your house. Some spare clothes too.” ordered Thiago, surprisingly calm.

“Sure thing man, thanks.”

“Hey, Thiago, how are you so calm?” I asked.

“Well, I am a leader. Brother, I am really scared. I am so scared. BUT, we have each other. We will get through this together.”

“Yeah, you said that already. What do ya want me to do?”

“Go help Paulo. Bring like all the batteries and stuff. I will explain why later. After that, go and get a lot of water from the fountain in the main plaza.”

“Sure thing.”

“Wait, NO!!! STOP!!!!”

“Wait, why?”

“The fountain. It might be contaminated with the virus. Just go help Paulo.”

As I walked out of my house, I was surprised. I knew my brother as a joking funny type. I didn’t know that he had this sort of personality.


After I brought in a giant refrigerator and plugged it in, I decided to rest a little bit. I picked up some chips in the kitchen and sat down on Paulo’s sofa which was in my living room. Paulo soon joined me.

“Are you scared?” I asked. Paulo didn’t answer. He just stared into nowhere. I soon gave up waiting for an answer and closed my eyes. I was extremely scared. I didn’t know what to do. My thoughts soon disappeared and I fell asleep.


I woke up crying on my bed. In my dream, I saw myself and Paulo’s parents gone forever never to be found. Thiago was sitting next to me.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah. I just lost my parents.” I didn’t mean to sound irritated, but I couldn’t help it.

“It’s okay. If you are ready, come down. Dinner is ready. Also, we gotta watch some news.”

“Sure…”Before, I wouldn’t even have bothered to watch the news. But now, I felt like I had to know everything… A guy named Jimmy Johnson was talking about the virus. He was saying that Russia was working on a vaccine. I barely listened since I already knew what he was talking about.

I dressed quickly and walked downstairs. Paulo and Thiago were eating pasta and watching the news. Their expressions were grim. Paulo was very happy and always so cheerful. After his parents left, I haven’t seen him smile. Thiago soon spotted me and called me over. The pasta smelled delicious. I didn’t know Thiago had the skills to make these sorts of food. I noticed the fact that I barely even knew what my brother was good at. I felt like I hadn’t eaten in decades. I finished the whole thing in mere minutes. When I turned my head up and looked at the TV, I saw some graphs and numbers which I didn’t understand.

“Hey, Thiago? What do those mean?”

“Let Paulo explain. He is the smart guy.”

“Well, this is the graph of the virus cases just in this city. The number below shows how many people contracted the virus each day. So, 96 people are contracting the virus every day. Just in this city. That is a lot…”

Then, I heard some banging noises. I rushed to the door. I heard someone yelling at us to open the door. I started to remove the locks, but Thiago stopped me.

“You don’t know who he is. He might have the virus. It isn’t safe for us to let him in. Phillipe, you have to understand. This city has changed. We have to adapt to the changes. We don’t go out. We lock ourselves in.”

“But…”

“Okay, Thiago, we will do that,” said Paulo, cutting me off.

“Thanks, Paulo. Phillipe?”

“Whatever.”

“So, basically on August 3rd, there was the first contractor. Since then, the cases just kept increasing. Today, there were 92 cases. New York only had 41 cases. Scientists suspect that the virus originated in Brazil..”

“Oh my, that is true, a lot,” Thiago said, shocked.

I was shocked too, but I decided to remain silent. I was too scared and nervous.

Suddenly, Thiago said, “Guys, I have a plan. It isn’t great, but we probably won’t catch the virus.”

“What?” Paulo and I both asked instantly.

“Our supplies aren’t going to last long. What if we go to the rainforest? It is only a 21 minutes drive from here. It isn’t too far.

“Thiago, are you serious!” I shouted.

“You want us to live in a rainforest?”

“Do you have a better idea?” Thiago asked, getting annoyed.

“Well…”

“I am just a kid like you, Phillipe. I am scared. I am angry. At least I have a plan. Think of a plan. Tell me. Let's see if it is any better.” With that, he stormed upstairs.

“Good job, bro,” Paulo said.

“Bruv, you have to understand. We can’t stay here forever. We have to move. Other houses might have been used by people who contracted the virus. So I say that we follow Thiago’s idea since it doesn’t involve us contracting the virus.” With that, he also stormed upstairs, just like Thiago.

I was dumbfounded. I was so shocked that I just sat down. I tried to think about what happened but failed. I decided to sleep.


I “woke up” when I heard a loud crack. My eyes opened. I could see nothing. I couldn’t see anything. I still heard the cracks and the occasional explosions, but I couldn’t see anything. I shouted but heard no voice. Then, I saw light. As the image became clearer, I could see a plane crashing. The cracks and the explosions came from there. I realized that this was probably a dream, but it was horrifying. As I saw my mom drop out of nowhere, I screamed and screamed. Then, everything turned blank and I fell asleep again.

This time, I woke up. My body was burning. It was as hot as barbecue pork on top of a fire.

“Ugh, Thiago? Paulo?”

“Oh, you are awake,” Paulo said.

“Yeah, I sure am. My body is burning hot though….”

“About that, I think you are….. Sick…”

“Me? Sick? Nah, no way. I am just hot bro.”

“Bro, you don’t understand. You are sick. These things happen. BUT, you have to be extra careful now. You are more vulnerable to the virus pathogens now that your body is dealing with another disease. It means that you are more susceptible to the virus.”

“Umm, English please?”

Right at that time, Thiago shouted, “Open the attic window!!! NOW!!!!” I tried to run up the stairs, then fell. Luckily, Paulo caught me, put me down, and kept going. I heard someone scream.

“THIAGO!!!!” I screamed. I was so scared. I didn’t have my parents. If I lost Thiago….

“Just open the attic door!!!!!” Thiago shouted.

I heard another scream.

This time, Paulo shouted, “Thiago?”

“JUST OPEN THE DOOR!!!!”

I heard the door open and something crash. I started crawling upstairs to see if anything was wrong. Instead, I found Paulo standing beside a broken Thiago. As in broken, I mean he was in a really bad shape. He had cuts all over his body. He had a giant bump on his forehead. He was a mess.

“Thiago!!” I shouted.

“Hey bro. Oww… Are you ok now? You were pretty sick. Your temperature was 39..1. Paulo says that is bad.”

“I am okay. Are you?”

“Umm well, my body is in a pretty bad shape, but I am still alive, right?”

“Umm, Phillippe, you are actually not okay. Let’s go down. I locked the door,” Paulo said.

“Why, why did you go out there Thiago? You told us to not go out!”

“Well, I had to. We barely had any medicine left. I also got some food and tools.”

“You had that much money?”

“Umm well, no. I kinda stole them. The thing is, stealing is buying now. Nobody waits in lines anymore. The city changed, Phillippe. Do you understand? It is dangerous. Wherever you go, there will be at least one person following you like a mad person. We have to be careful now. Okay? Let’s go down. I need some water.”


An hour later, I was feeling much better. My body wasn’t burning hot anymore. I guess I just had to relax a bit. I was in the living room staring at the wall, not really doing anything. Then, my mind finally caught something. I wish it hadn’t.

“Hey, what tools did you buy?”

“Huh?” Thiago said, perplexed.

“You said you bought some food and tools. What tools?”

“Nothing special. Actually, bring Paulo. I will make one of the greatest speeches in my life. Far better than anything I did in school about George Washington or whoever.”

I brought Paulo down.

Thiago started speaking, “Well, remember the Amazon Rainforest thing? I think we really have to follow that plan. Phillippe, I went outside and saw it. I saw things. Bad things. We can’t stay here guys. We have to move. As soon as Phillippe gets better, we will pack and leave.”

“What are we going to do in the rainforest Thiago? It will be as dangerous as this place. There will be wild animals Thiago,” I objected.

“Well, the tools I “got” are actually guns… Three shotguns with a lot of extra ammo.”

“So, basically us three are going to the Amazon Rainforest with three shotguns. You do know that we are 13?”

Thiago breathed deeply.

“I agree with Thiago, Phillippe….” Paulo said.

“How? This is suicide!!!”

“Staying here is suicide too,” Paulo said.

I sighed. I knew that Thiago and Paulo were right. I was still scared. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was lazy.

In the end, I made one of the worst decisions in my life. I agreed.


The next day, I heard a banging on the door. I didn’t wake up though, since I knew that it was probably some random people calling for help. I felt bad not opening the door. However, I knew that it was too risky.

However, I heard footsteps going down. It wasn’t Thiago’s. I knew his footsteps. It was way louder. These sounds seemed like they were trying to not make any sound. Thiago also noticed this. His door opened and he rushed down the stairs.

I forced myself to also get up and ran down. I saw Paulo opening the door slightly, then Thiago tackling him. Thiago was very athletic. Paulo wasn’t. Thiago tackled him down to the floor, but it was a bit too late. The man outside the door tried to force his way in slamming his body against the door. However, unlucky for him, I was there. Although I just woke up and was a bit tired, I was clearly more athletic and stronger than him. I pushed back. Soon, Thiago left a groaning Paulo and joined me. He pushed the door and I put the lock back on.

“Paulo, how many times did I tell you? It’s dangerous. If you aren’t gonna listen.”

“Thiago, Paulo just made a mistake. Calm down…”

“No, I can’t calm down. He could have contracted the virus. We don’t know anything.”

“I am sorry.”

“Paulo, you might die. You can’t do those things again, got that?” I said.

“He won’t have to promise that. We are leaving now.”

“Now? To the Amazon Rainforest?”

“Yes. Now. Staying here is too risky. People are losing their minds. It will be less dangerous in the forest. Start packing. Get all the food in one bag. Some clothes in the other. That’s it. Nothing else. Let’s go.”

Again, I was surprised by Thiago’s leadership. I wasn’t afraid to leave the home and go into the Amazon rainforest.

“Okay.”

I packed the food with Paulo while Thiago packed other essential things. Nobody spoke. Even though Paulo and I were best friends, we were silent. It was really awkward, so I decided to get the job done fast.


In an hour, we were all ready to go. Thiago locked up all the precious things like rings and diamonds inside a briefcase and locked it. Then, he put the briefcase below the piano in the attic. We didn’t want anyone stealing our valuable things. Thiago locked everything on the second floor and came down. He was carrying a giant bag. It was slung to his side. I recognized this bag. It was my soccer bag.


“Oh well, my soccer bag is going to die…”

“You might die too.”

“Meh…”

I looked around at my house. I spent my entire life here. Now, we might have to desert it forever.

“We will come back, right?” I asked.

“Of course,” Thiago answered. Then, he slowly and cautiously opened the door and stepped outside. He instantly gasped. He still gestured to us to follow him. I gasped too when I saw the outside world. It was dark, but I could see dead bodies everywhere. Trash, overflown water, human waste. It was not the place I used to live.

“What… What happened? Are those...”

“I don’t know. Just…. Let’s go forward. Try not to look at the bodies. Come on, let’s go.”

We crept past the other houses and arrived next to the border.

“Nobody saw us, right?” I asked.

“I wish.”

“We were pretty soundless though…Nobody probably spotted us in the middle of the night…”

“Come on, let’s keep going…” Thiago said.

We all inched towards the border. Finally, after an eternity, we arrived.


“Is this..”

“Electric? No... Before, we left, I did some research. No guards and no electric fences. Sloppy security, I must say.” Thiago said.

Thiago was the first one to cross the border. After he landed, he gestured to us to follow. Paulo was next. His landing was a bit sloppy, but he managed to land without damaging his body. He gasped a sigh of relief.

Lastly, it was my turn. My landing was perfect. I thought it would still hurt a little bit, but the ground was as soft as a bed. It wasn’t muddy, but it wasn’t rough either.

“Whoa…” I gasped.

“We are in the Amazon Rainforest…” Paulo murmured.

“Yes, we are… C’mon, we gotta get moving.” Thiago said.

Everything was perfect except for one thing. Bugs. As soon as I started walking towards the woods, the bugs stuck onto me like a magnet. Mosquitos landed on my legs, arms, everywhere.

“Umm, Thiago?” I asked.

“Yeah? Is everything good?”

“Umm, not really. The bugs are kinda bugging me.”

“Well, I can’t do anything about it, can I?”

“Actually, you brought an insect repellant.”

“Would you rather be bitten by mosquitoes while sleeping?”

“No…”

“Thiago? I have a plan for us to not get bitten by bugs in the night. So we can actually use that bug spray now…”

“Are you 100% sure Paulo? Because I would hate to waste this amount of insect repellent.”

“I am 100% sure.”

“Okay then.” Thiago reluctantly said.

I whispered, “Are you sure your method will work?”

“Not really. However, it did work in movies…”

I laughed a bit. Thiago instantly shushed me and moved deeper into the forest.


We walked, complained, sat down, then walked again for eight hours. That is what Thiago said. I didn’t bring a watch, so I didn’t know. One thing I do know, it was horrible. Also, it felt more like a full day than just eight hours.

Thiago said, “Let’s camp here for today. It is like 11 now, so it’s hot. We will move more in the night.”

“We work in the night and rest during the day?” Paulo asked.

“Do you want to walk in the blazing sun, or cool at night?”

“Thiago, actually, we won’t be walking in the blazing sun…”

“Oh what now, Paulo the brainiac! Why don’t you lead the gang! Come on, lead us! You can’t! I am the leader!”

“Thiago… Stop. We have to work together. We all know that you are the leader. But a good leader always has a guy who helps him. That person can be Paulo. He is smart. Maybe I can be the “go do it guy” since I am athletic. We all have to work as a team, Thiago.” I said.

“Alright. Sorry, Paulo. So why can we walk in the blazing sun?”

“Do you guys see the canopy of trees? That will block most of the… Wait, what’s that noise?”

There was a slight hissing noise.

“Let’s move... Go forward. Be careful. Get a long stick.” Thiago said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a giant anaconda. It was dark green with a few yellow patches. It was extremely long. When the mouth opened a bit, I could see the sharp teeth behind the tongue. Overall, it was a lot bigger than in the movies and that humongous creature was staring directly at me.

“Umm guys? I think the anaconda noticed us.”

“Run!!!!”

We didn’t have to be told twice. We all ran. My knee scraped, but the hissing noise behind my back pushed me forward. Although Paulo started about five meters in front of me, I soon caught up to him. He was tired. I was tired too, but adrenaline pumped through my body and I ran with Paulo. I practically dragged him. Then, Thiago shouted, “There!!!”

“What… I asked while running…” I was getting tired too. A knot formed in my stomach. Paulo and Thiago weren’t much better though.

“In front of us! It is like a house, I think.”

“A house in the middle of the Amazon Forest, I don’t think so brother!”

“Just RUN and follow me!!!”

So we followed him. And there was a house. It was abandoned and looked as if roaches and spiders had been living for the past century. However, I was being chased by a giant anaconda. It was an animal a lot bigger, stronger, and faster than me. The only reason we were still alive was that we started running first and we had like a 20-meter advantage.

Thiago went in. He screamed and jumped, but didn’t exit the house. He motioned me to run faster. However, my legs started to feel tired. Paulo felt heavy as an elephant. As I was about to collapse, something whizzed past me and I heard a hissing noise.

When I realized that Thiago hit the anaconda with some sharp object, I pushed myself and kept running. I slammed into Thiago and we all collapsed. Then, Paulo got up and slammed the door shut.

A few seconds later, we heard some banging noises on our door. Then, the anaconda hissed and seemed to slide away. When I started to feel relieved, I felt a tingle in my right leg.

“Aaaaaahhh!!!” I screamed

“Bro, it is just a roach. Chill…”

“Oh, my God….”

“Hey Paulo, I found this… Can you fix it maybe? Also, I found this. This has some battery left.”

The two things Thiago was holding was a radio and a phone.

Only if the phone had a battery…

“Wait, Thiago? You said you had a toolbox?”

“Uh-huh. Why?”

“Can I borrow it?”

“Sure, I guess.”


For a full day, we sat in a room full of spiders and roaches looking and staring at Paulo nibbling at some biscuits.

“Yes!!! I think I found a way to use the radio!!”

“How? Wait, the radio or the phone?” I asked.

“The radio. But it is still better than nothing, right?”

My heart went back down, but just a little bit.

“How will a radio help us? It might not even work. It might even just be a toy.”

“Geez. Think positively. Also, I can connect it to wherever I want. I just need a laptop.”

“Don’t expect us to find a laptop in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, buddy..”

“Yeah well, that’s the problem. We can still dial random numbers and we might connect to a useful place. We might luckily end up dialing the military or something.”

“Yeah well, our parents left us in Brazil by ourselves. Don’t count on luck, Paulo.” Thiago said harshly.

After that, the cheerful Paulo disappeared once again and was replaced by a hurt Paulo.

I went over to Thiago and said, “Geez, bro. Paulo actually let us use that thing. He changed it from useless to useful. I think you are being too mean to Paulo.”

Thiago said, “You have to know something. When we were facing that giant snake, I was terrified. I was so scared, I didn’t know what to do. When I entered this bug hotel, the first thing I did was to pick up a gun. However, I couldn’t shoot it. I just couldn’t. Phillippe, …. I just can’t… I am not….”

“Hey, not your bad. You managed to injure that snake and saved us. End of discussion. You saved me and Paulo’s life. However, Paulo might have saved our lives too just now. That radio can get us to safety after the virus ends.”

“Yeah, I should say sorry to Paulo. Thanks, little bro.”


After that, well it all seemed to go well. We slept well. No bugs bit us thanks to Paulo’s magic smoke that kept the bugs away.


We spent the next three days planning. Thiago said that we should build a camp using the tents. Paulo said that we should build a tent using wood. Thiago said that making a wood tent would be too hard. Paulo said that a normal tent would be too exposed. It went back and forth until I came up with a brilliant solution. Both of the ideas combined.

“What if we make a tent and live in it, but build like a den using wood. Since dens should be fairly easy to make, we can maybe finish it in a day. After we finish, we can assemble the tent inside. That should work, right?”

So we agreed on that idea. Then, we argued for two days on where to settle. Thiago said next to the water while Paulo said near the end of the forest. We decided to go with Thiago’s idea just in case we ran out of water. But then, Paulo mentioned the Piranhas and we all fell silent.


We barely talked to each other the next day wondering and planning. On our seventh day inside the bug hotel, we decided to move to a place near the water, but not too close, and build a tent surrounded by a wood den. We relaxed the next day, ready to leave.

“You guys ready? We will have to run. For a while. Then, we can walk for a bit, rest, then run again. Good?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Yep!”

Thiago pushed the door open and with the sunlight shining on our faces, we ran. We ran in the opposite direction from where we came. There were a lot of tree branches which made it hard for me to run. Paulo almost tripped over, but I grabbed him and kept running. When Paulo said that he got a knot, we slowed to a run.

“Try to find a muddier place. It will most likely lead to a river stream.” Paulo said.


We walked for an hour, then sat down. When I flopped down, my butt went deep into the ground.

“EWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Wait, that is mud! We are close to the water!” Paulo shouted.

I was a bit mad that I just sat down in the mud, but I got up with the help of Thiago and started listening. I thought I heard a growling noise, but I thought it was nothing and let it pass.

Paulo said, “Follow me! I think I might know where the river is!” So we followed him and of course, there was a river.

“Geez, how does Paulo do those stuff?”

“Well, he is called Paulo the Brainiac for a reason.”

“So, what do we do now?” I asked.

“Well, we have to build a path from here to the place where we are gonna build our tent. Get those leaves. A lot of them. We will put them on the ground as a pathway to the water.


After three hours, we had a path of green leaves leading to the water. Our camp places had flat ground with some trees nearby. It was also shaded. So, we decided that it was the best place. As I leaned against a tree, I heard a growl. This time, it was legit. Paulo and Thiago had heard it too.

“Not this again,” I groaned.

Thiago threw each of us a pistol. When I just got my index finger on the trigger, a jaguar leaped out of nowhere and slammed into me. I lost my grip on the gun. As I saw the teeth about to bite into my flesh, there was a loud, bang! and the jaguar groaned.

“Aaa! That was hard. Phillippe, get up!!!!!!!!”

I got up, but I didn’t go long until the jaguar ran into me again with his teeth showing. Then, there were two loud bangs and it dropped. It literally just flopped down on the ground, blood oozing out from it.

“Gross! Why did it have to attack me! Ugh!”

“You okay?”

“Well, I just got attacked by a jaguar. So, not really. Alive though.”

We better get started on our tent. We don’t know what’s coming next.”


So, we started assembling our tent. Paulo assembled the tent while I and Thiago tried to cut a tree using a gun and a swiss army knife. One-shot, a bit of cutting. One-shot, a bit of cutting. We were finished with cutting a giant tree that almost killed us while falling.

Paulo did some calculations and we started to cut again. By the time we were done, it was way past midnight. We still didn’t stop though. Even Paulo helped. We got the logs cut by noon the next day. My eyes were bloodshot.

“How are we going… to…” but I didn’t get to finish because I had fallen asleep.


When I woke up, it was almost dinner time. Thiago and Paulo were just waking up too. Apparently, they fell asleep soon after I did and basically nothing was done. We started to hammer down the logs using Thiago’s toolkit. It wasn’t easy. There were three hammers and we all used one each to push down a log. It was tiring. Every while, each of us would go collect a bucket of water. Apparently, there were no piranhas.


By midnight, we had the logs hammered in. We just decided to sleep. Our bodies were way too tired to carry on.


The next morning, I woke up when a leaf fell on my head. I had slept well for once. Thiago and Paulo were still asleep. I checked Thiago’s watch. Seven in the morning. I decided to just wake up. As I got up, another leaf fell near me. I looked up and saw a monkey. The first thing I did was backstep. It turned out to be a big mistake. I tripped on a rock and fell. As I yelped, the monkey lunged at me. Thiago woke up too, but it was too late. The monkey was already on me starting to punch.


Thiago was at least five meters away. Paulo didn’t even bother to wake up. Believe me, monkeys are extremely smart and intelligent. When I blocked my head, it attacked my stomach which made me move my arms there to protect my stomach. Then, the monkey hit my head. That lasted for about a very long five minutes until Thiago finally realized what was going on and brought out a stick. He swung the stick. It was going to be a direct hit till the monkey leaped out of the way which made the stick smash into my body really hard.

“Owwwwwwwww!”

“Sorry..”

The monkey lunged at me again, straight to my face. This time, however, Thiago was fully awake and aware. He swung the stick like a baseball bat and hit the monkey straight in the guts. The monkey groaned and tried to run away. Then, Paulo caught it. I didn’t realize that Paulo was awake….

“Give me that icebox!”

“This?” I asked back.

“Owwww! It bit me! Yes, that one Phillippe!”

“I threw the icebox at Paulo. We didn’t need it anyway. We didn’t have anything to ice.

Paulo slammed the container shut.

“Geez, what was that?” He asked.

“Well, I woke up and a monkey lunged at me.”

“Hey, you Okay? That swing was pretty strong. Sorry, I hit you.” Thiago said.

“I am okay. Just a slight bruise. We better start building our house now.”


We started building the fence stronger. We added a second layer of wood and also made it slightly taller. Pro builders would have finished the job in like a few hours. However, since we were amateurs and the only cutting tools we had were guns and a swiss army knife, it took us a whole day.


Then, Thiago said, “I am sorry…”

“Why?”

“Well, I think we are kinda lost. I forgot to put something in our trail. We are in the middle of the Amazon Forest. Nobody will…. I am…”

“Hey Thiago, you know? I am not scared at all. We faced off a giant snake, a sharp-toothed jaguar, and a boxing monkey. I am not scared at all. Now, we just wait till the radio crackles.”

“Thank, Paulo. Thanks, Phillippe.” Then, we slept. We slept inside our tent for the first time. It was REALLY comfy.


Several days passed with no incident. We collected water three times a day. With two people going and one being left in the camp. Risky, but till now, nobody was missing. Actually, Paulo almost fell into the river which would have been bad. I heard there were piranhas. We collected water from a pond next to the river.


When we arrived, Paulo told us that there might be deadly fish in the river. We decided to follow his words. Paulo was leaning down to collect water. His right feet slipped and he almost tumbled into the river, but a tree branch caught him. A tree branch. How lucky is Paulo? Anyways, he only got a few scratches. No bite marks from piranhas. We decided to not tell this to Thiago since he was already still sulking about the fact that we were lost.



Two weeks and two days since entering the Amazon Rainforest. I found out another horrible thing. Our food supply was going to run out in about a week and a half at best. I told this to Thiago and he broke down. He cried and cried. When he finally came back to reality, he started making plans on hunting, but just fell asleep. Paulo told me that we could last a week at best. Not a week and a half. I sighed.

We were either going to starve to death or get killed by animals. I didn’t like both options.


Six days since realizing food emergency:


“........ Do you copy….. Anyone?......... “

“Wait, help! We are here! Can you hear us! Help! We are in the Amazon Rainforest!”

“Are you guys… kids…? Why are you in the Amazon Forest? Do you know your location?”

“No…. We know that we are in the middle of nowhere near a riverbank. We will create a fire. Can you locate us?”

“We will try…. But…… it wi……..”

“Hello? Hello?”

“Oh, man,” I said.

“They have to come in the next three days if we don’t want to starve to death,” Paulo said.

Thiago just started packing his bag.

“Umm, Thiago? What are you doing?” I asked.

“I am packing up, what do you think?”

“Why?”

q“We are leaving now. Better start packing up now.”

Then, I realized that Thiago was right. We had to think that we were going to, I mean we had to believe that we were going to leave soon.


Two days later.

“We only have a day left. We have to find a way to get food. Rescue isn’t going to come.” I said. I really tried to believe the fact that rescue was going to come, but it was hard to believe that fact when you only had a few hours left until you start starving.

We collected water as usual, but nobody talked.


“........ We are…….. Wait…..”


“We don’t have enough time. Our food supply is running out. We don’t have time!”

“......”

It started to rain. Thunder crackled. We were all huddled inside a tent. Now that it was raining, we were certain that we had no hope. Paulo was crying. Thiago just stared at the floor. I was the only one doing something. I was actually trying to draw the way we came. As in left and right. I tried to figure out where the bug hotel was.

We had walked straight the whole time….

When I was about to give up, Paulo came and shouted, “Brilliant! Phillippe, you genius! The radio! There is a built-in coordinate system. It will be set to near the bug hotel since that is where we managed to turn it on! Then, …”

He didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he went straight into disassembling the radio.

As Thiago watched Paulo, his expression changed. Just a little bit, but I thought I saw a smile.

“Thiago! The screw! Pass me the screw!”

Thunder cracked. We were in a dark cramped tent with occasional lightning. Not in the best condition, but Thiago used the flashlight he had to help Paulo. We all knew that if Paulo failed, we might not be able to live that much longer.

After 12 minutes, Paulo woke me up. I didn’t even realize that I had dozed off. Thiago apparently had dozed off too. He yawned and stretched.

“Hey guys, I found the bug hotel’s coordinates. It is 3.4819° S, 62.3185° W. We just have to get a good connection. But the storm…”

“Hey, storms don’t last for three days. Humans can survive for three days without food. We have hope.” Thiago said.

When I looked at him, I instantly felt better. He believed in hope. I could see it in his eyes. At that moment, we all looked at each other and smiled….


36 hours later:\

“.... Hello? Can you hear us?”

“Loud and clear. The connection is much better now.”

“We have the coordinates of the place near us.”

“Wait, are you a kid? Why…”

“Just, listen. We will explain later. We are about to starve. The coordinates are 3.4819° S, 62.3185° W. Search for a bright orange tent near there. We should be within 100 kilometers of the coordinate. Please, help.”

“Okay, going right now. We radio back when we are near.”


“Hey Thiago, even if we don’t survive, thanks. We would have died in our house.”

“No prob, Paulo. We have been in the rainforest for about like a month now, right? We forgot about the virus! Too busy surviving. Radio the helicopter dude!”

“.... Hello?”

“Yes?”

“There is like a pandemic going on, isn’t there? That is why we escaped. Our city had a lot of cases. People turned crazy… Like, how is the pandemic right now?”

“Oh, you mean how was the pandemic? It is over. Russia developed a vaccine. Wait… Wait… Are you guys Phillippe, Thiago, and Paulo?”

“Umm, how do you know?”

“We are from homeland security. Your parents have reported missing kids. We are a search party. Hang on kids, we are coming.”


My mind blew apart. Our parents were back! The virus was gone! It was gone! We just had to survive a bit longer. I didn’t know how though. We only had a few hours until hunger completely overtook us.


Two hours later:

“Wait, Thiago? What is that sound?” I asked. I thought I heard some shuttering sounds.

“Wait, be quiet guys…. No way. That is the helicopter! Oh, my God, this is a miracle! They have found us! Shout!”

“HERE!!!” We all shouted for help as if our life depended on this because in fact, our lives did depend on that helicopter.


A few minutes later, we were looking at a helicopter glide down in awe. It was the best thing I saw in like a month. We all cried. We all just fell. We were so happy. As the door opened and two men came out, I fell asleep. It wasn’t like the last two horrible times I passed out. I was smiling.


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