Monday, 6 May 2019


Samuel handed the extended battery to Greg who, in return, nodded. Neither of them wanted to say anything as they’d been in this god forsaken jungle for five months and right about now, it was all stretching a little too thin. They kept up the pretence, the smiling, the nodding, with both wanting to return to normality sooner rather than later.

Greg checked each camera’s battery, making sure, as they hoped that the tribe’s people around them would finally show them what they’d travelled for. They’d heard rumours, stories from centuries previous and this place, right now, was the closest they’d managed to find any shred of truth.

They’d arrived, the five months previous, to a warm welcome despite Greg spraining his ankle and Samuel suffering from a slight fever. They’d travelled through the thick of it, before, but this trip pushed them a little bit too much. Fifty miles through dense forest was more than enough for any man. They’d both recovered despite being fed meals that initially made them ill. Strangely enough, after their bodies adjusted, they’d both felt more alert than they’d ever felt before. They’d joked that their bodies were being subjected to healthy food which was, possibly, the first time for something like that.

Samuel was an explorer, of sorts, when his day job allowed. In this case he’d left that life behind, on this glorious adventure, which also meant that Greg had left his life behind as well. Adjusting to the food was one thing, but letting go of their actual lives, technology, the memories, was another. Samuel had initially missed the music, that often filled his life, with melodic moments, whereas Greg simply missed the women in his life.

Samuel nudged Greg, “How are you getting on with Ong?” smirked Greg, a small laugh escaping through his bored smile,
“I’m not getting married just to get with a girl!” Samuel replied, smiling, whilst throwing forward a slight chuckle, improving the mood within their moment alone.

As Greg finished his final checks the straw doorway moved, and in walked the chieftain of the tribe. Neither Greg, or Samuel, knew the native dialect so sign language, of a sort, managed to bridge the gap. Gesticulating for the both of them to follow him, Greg grabbed two cameras as they stood. The Chieftain was a jolly fellow, always laughing, watching, eager to understand the ways of the two explorers, which meant they both had freedom within the camp. Neither of them wanted to push too far, despite Samuel desperately wishing to know about the stories, which meant the extended stay.

Leaving the hut, they walked a short distance, the darkness surrounding them, being broken by the various fires along the path. The tribe, organised, basic, yet seemingly without illness or problems despite the way they lived. It was a marvel to behold, a truly clean way of living, which they’d both found refreshing yet disturbing. The creature comforts, all missing, the soft bed, the air conditioning, nowhere to be found. If they were truthful to themselves, they didn't really miss such things as their minds were free. Free to roam and free to forget the issues that had haunted them for the longest of times.

The chief stopped by a large hut, the only hut that neither of them had entered since arriving. They’d both wondered what was inside and now, for some reason, they’d find out. There seemed to be no mysteries within the tribe. The smiles, the offerings of gifts each day, which included small carved animals or even fruit. They both knew that they were being watched, closely, studied even, for possible character traits. They’d been taken on treks that had lasted days, through such treacherous landscapes, that their will as well as stamina had been tested. On two occasions Samuel nearly lost his life but held on, despite his strength failing. It had all truly been an adventure.

The chief gestured for the both of them to enter the tent and, after nodding, they accepted the invitation as Samuel pushed aside the straw cover. Inside were small burning fires, raised above the ground on branches. In the centre of the room sat a slightly raised square stone. The smooth surface seemed odd, as Samuel looked at Greg, who also noticed the manacles on each corner.

Samuel’s heart started to beat a little bit faster at the sight in front of him. Neither wished to become a sacrifice, especially after five months of living amongst them. The Chief placed a hand upon Samuel’s shoulder, sensing his agitation, smiling, whilst pointing at the smooth stone. Shaking his hand, he spoke a few words. Neither could understand the words but his voice calmed them.

Greg stepped to the side, thinking of where to place his cameras, as the Chief clapped his hands. From the other side of the room, four members of the tribe walked in. Samuel smiled, nodding to each of them, as he was led over to the stone by one of the women. Samuel looked across to Greg, hoping that he’d brought the gun with him, just in case it all went sideways.

Greg, finished with the cameras, watched as the four women undressed Samuel. He’d laugh, if he wasn’t scared out of his mind at the current odd turn of events. He wanted adventure and, for some stupid reason, had bought into Samuel’s wild notion of a world where everything was different. ‘Technology replaced with some basic form of science’, was what Samuel had said. If Greg were being honest with himself, no matter what Samuel had said, he’d have gone anywhere to escape his mundane life.

Samuel wanted to object, wanted them to stop removing his clothes, as he glanced over to the Chief. One of the women tugged at his belt and, as he firmly placed his hand over the buckle, a sharp object pressed against his lower back. Samuel felt the object, possibly some type of knife, looking alarmingly over to Greg. Greg, instantly noticing Samuel’s distress, reached around to the back of his trousers, placing his hand onto the gun’s handle before another sharp object met his throat. From behind him appeared two other tribe members.

Samuel closed his eyes, wondering if this was the end for the both of them, as the rest of his clothes were removed. He’d run, he’d hide, but he knew that they’d find him and, besides, that wasn't in his character. He’d fight until his last breath if he knew that he stood a chance. He was the type of person to weigh the circumstances within the blink of an eye, with the weight of the world sometimes being felt upon his very shoulders. Many would say that he cared far too much, wanted to possibly save the world, but that wasn't possible as he was, after all, just one person.

His mind, spinning, returned to the room as he pushed his thoughts away. He watched as he was covered, from head to toe, in some type of substance and, once covered, they started to shave. The moments moved at a snail’s pace as every single bit of his body hair was removed. Greg, powerless, his face a shade of white, could do nothing but watch the events unfold.

Samuel, now completely smooth, looked at the Chief as the four tribe members washed him. Completely clean, hairless, he could do nothing but stare at the Chief as another substance was applied. It smelt of leaf, the leaves from the tree they’d walked two days to find. He’d never seen a tree like it before, with branches that stretched further than any tree he’d known. The leaves felt smooth, whilst letting the sunshine through in a way that that they seemed to glow. If he could return to that moment, right now, he would. In an instant.

Still staring at the Chief’s smiling face, Samuel found a calm that seemed odd despite the circumstances. Samuel’s life, his entire life, he’d never backed down from anything. He knew his limits, even accepted them, despite often pushing himself that little bit further. He understood that he could only rely on one person, one individual, to truly help in if he desperately needed that help. It took years to find himself, to find that silence that he needed within his troubled mind, which meant this place, right now, despite what was happening, was fine. If this was the end of his life’s adventure, then he accepted it. He’d stared death in the face a few times, embraced it the very second before the event, with his body thankfully not failing him when needed. He’d lost so much, found even more, believed in such idiotic stories and ideals that brought him here. Naked, hairless, with his friend Greg sat over in the corner.

Samuel pointed at Greg, while looking at the Chief. Despite the language barrier, the Chief knew what Samuel was asking and, of course, he nodded. No harm would come to Greg or, at least, that’s what Samuel hoped. Greg witnessed the gesture, made by the both of them, smiling despite actually wanting to roll into a ball and hide. His basic responses to danger, finding their way to the surface. Greg wasn't a coward but, despite knowing this, would rather run than fight.  Backed into a corner, sure, he would fight, but until then every fibre of his body wanted to escape.

Samuel, feeling himself relax even further, realised that this could all be something innocent. Who was to say that manacle’s, alters and being shaved head to toe meant a sacrifice? He’d smile, if he could find the will, but right now he just wanted this to be over with. He looked down at his feet, whilst realising that at least everyone knew that he had a reasonably sized penis. At that moment, he finally laughed, as that truly was such a stupid thing to think about at a time like this. He muttered the word, ‘Men’ as he laid down onto the slab of smooth stone. “Not too tight!” he quipped, as they chained his hands and feet. Chuckling, finding his sense of humour through the nerves and pride, he looked to the ceiling.

His character changed as his mind initially struggled to understand what he was seeing. Above him, sat a set of engravings made within a thin layer of slate. Suspended in the air, hanging from the ceiling. As his eyes frantically moved, taking in the images, his heart started to beat. Faster and faster, realising that, after all of this time, the years and study, he had found it. It was here. Right in front of him. The legend of the Chameleon. His mind, filled with questions, answers, all settled onto the last few drawings and, as the breath escaped his lungs, he realised what was about to happen.

He felt his muscles tense, straining against the manacles, quickly realising that he wasn't going to escape. Seconds moved, a minute escaped, as a large transparent cover was placed over him. It was man made, the air holes obviously made by some type of drill. He needed answers, he wanted to say something, anything, to scream, to even rip away from the stone surface. He looked to his side, the tribe members bringing in three closed baskets. Each of them, being placed next to the solid plastic enclosure, which would allow whatever was inside the baskets, to enter. In turn a tribe member removed a small cover, to the bottom of each basket, pushing them tight against the three holes in the transparent enclosure.

Greg looked on, checking the cameras, finally letting his instinct settle into what he did naturally. He was the tech guy, the camera guy, the steady hand that managed to capture the moments and seconds in perfect clarity. His eyes, wide open, half looking at the camera view screen, whilst also looking at the actual events. Whatever this was, whatever happened, it wasn't just some sort of bizarre jungle experiment. This had been done before. Greg focused, as hard as he could, just making out one of the small holes cut into the plastic. His mouth dropped open as he realised what was about to crawl into the cage.

Samuel, frozen, waiting, eyes firmly checking each of the three small holes, with his breathing heavy and fast, watched as a spider crawled out of the basket into the enclosure. He swore, a few times, not believing what he was seeing. Once again, he lost control, jostling as hard as he could, quickly returning to normal as he noticed the spiders enter faster. His thoughts raged within his mind. The images above him, all making sense. He wanted to be anywhere else, be anyone else, but it was too late. Images flashed into his mind. Her hair, the love of his life, left him for another. His Mother’s face, the calming most beautiful image he could ever think of, his safety mechanism, kicking in. If he didn't survive, he knew, he damn well knew that he was going to a better place. This, this thought, calmed him in a way that defied logic.

He slowed his breathing, calmed every muscle within his body, as he felt them start to climb over him. There were so many, so very many of them. He’d lost count after 20 seconds and he honestly, truthfully, did not want to open his eyes. Mouth firmly closed, breathing through his nose with calm, controlled breaths, he held the saving thoughts within his mind despite his body wanting to shake.

At first, he didn't know what to feel, as the first bite reached his mind. It hurt. It hurt a lot, but one bite alone wasn't that bad. A second passed and then the pain increased as the cramps started. His left leg, then right, cramped. As soon as he moved, they all bit him. A hundred, a thousand bites, he didn't know as the pain filled his mind with nothing but darkness. His teeth smashed together, bracing, spit being thrown from his mouth as the pain gripped him like a vice. They kept on biting, over and over again. Every inch of his skin burning, ripping, his heart beating faster than he’d ever known.

Greg watched as Samuel’s body tensed, hearing the pain, wishing that he could do something. They were all over his body, covering Samuel from head to toe. He closed his eyes, sitting back down, hand covering his face no longer willing to watch. He believed Samuel, the stories, while thinking that fairy tales, as well as nightmare stories, only existed in books and folklore. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not today, not this year, anywhere in the world.

Samuel’s body, bitten, the cramping giving him unbelievable pain, pushed him further and further until the darkness become real. He passed out, body still cramping, as the spiders finished their task to return to the baskets. The tribe members replaced the covers and removed them. Another few moments escaped as the Samuel was removed from his bonds. His body, covered in more bites than could possibly be counted, already turning black. Tissue death. The result of whatever had been pushed into his body.

Greg stood, following Samuel out of the hut carrying the two cameras. It didn't look good. Greg didn't know much about spiders, or bites, or anything like that despite being in the thickest jungle known to man, but he did know that Samuel’s skin looked pretty damn bad. They returned to their hut, Greg watching, as Samuel was wrapped head to toe in the same leaves that they’d found days earlier. Greg sat down, a tear escaping from his emotions, as he just stared at Samuel who now looked like he was dead. Wrapped in the way he was, it looked like he was to be buried or worse, burnt. His thoughts, wildly fluctuating from panic, to rational, didn't help him much. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, that he could do.

As the moments moved, Greg started to charge the two batteries used whilst filming the events. Instinct, the normality of undertaking his chosen duties kicking in, as he tried to ignore the events of the last few minutes. His eyes, once again, closed as more tears started to fall. He’d failed or, at least, he felt like a failure. He wasn't a hero, wasn't built to fight, but he knew that he should have at least tried to do something. Anything. He’d known Samuel for the longest time, been helped through the bad times, laughed through the good moments and even managed to survive many adventures. Now this. All of this. Removing the memory cards, placing them into the data archiving hard drive, he waited the few moments as the data copied itself across. He kept two copies of everything. At all times. With a third copy, which would never be lost, or erased, firmly stored within his memories. Despite the good times, this was an event he’d rather forget.


Greg opened his eyes, the sunlight peering in through the small cracks in the hut’s ceiling.  He looked across to Samuel, who hadn't moved for three days, still wrapped in the leaves.  Rubbing his eyes, Greg stood to stretch. Despite sleeping in the jungle, his back had enjoyed the natural feel of things. “Hey buddy, hurry up and come back to me! I don’t want to be next!” As the words escaped his lips Greg heard Samuel make a noise, a murmur, at Greg’s facial surprise. In an instant Greg stepped across, kneeling, pulling apart the twine that the tribesmen had used to ensure the leaves stayed in place. As they fell away, Greg stood back as Samuel’s arm moved. Greg placed his hand over his open mouth, noticing Samuel’s skin, covered in some sort of dark scale. It looked horrendous, with dried blood and other stuff between the cracks.

“Are you okay?” Asked Greg, knowing the answer. Samuel’s eyes slowly opened, his head spinning,
“I’m here buddy, I’m here. Don’t move!”
“It hurts!”
“I know, I know. Try not to move. You’re still with us. Rest!”

As he finished speaking Samuel passed out again, much to Greg’s relief as he didn’t really know what to say to someone that had been through what they’d been through.


The next day Greg sat in the hut, laughing, ignoring Samuel’s displeasure. Greg flicked away another slice of Samuel’s scabbed flesh. They’d been at this for an hour, despite the slight pain, with Samuel’s exposed skin a bright shade of red. The first section of scabbed skin had fallen from just under his eye, a few hours previous, which meant it was time to remove the awful stuff as soon as possible. Samuel had drifted in and out of consciousness for days. Drinking water, the moment he roused from sleep and taking a few bits of food, meant that  Greg had managed to keep Samuel’s energy to a healthy level. Despite being in the jungle, for some reason, the tribe had ensured that they’d both stayed fit and healthy. To Samuel, it now all made sense. If he weren't healthy enough the trauma from the spider bites would have killed him.

Everything, the entire tribe, the excursions to find the various items over the months, all made perfect sense. The moment he’d seen the inscriptions upon the slate he knew what was about to happen. He sat in the hut, Greg still laughing, perfectly happy that his friend was finally returning to normal. As he flicked another bit of skin across the hut, he checked the camera facing Samuel, looking at the view screen, as his smile disappeared. He couldn't see Samuel on the screen and, the moment he realised, he glanced across to where Samuel was sitting. Nothing. He’d vanished.

Greg froze, once again wondering what on earth was going on, “Samuel?”
“I’m here Greg!”
“Then why can’t I see you?”
“I’m a Chameleon!”

Samuel opened his eyes and his skin faded back to its pinky red colour. Greg’s smile grew, as the disbelief faded. All of it. All of the stories, all true. The Chameleons existed.

The End

I wrote this while thinking of all the usual shows created in the eighties. Manimal springs to mind. If this were a TV show it would include the science of how Samuel can become see through. His skin basically stretches, in a fashion, allowing light to escape. He'd have improved sight, as well as a few other improvements. The Tribe would eventually be destroyed by an evil genius etc. Usual.

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