Chapter 2 The Hungry Jungle
While the sounds now did fit the environment, and the environment accounted for the sounds, Temple could not explain how she’d come to be in a jungle in another time zone. She assumed it was her imagination. The woman must have slipped LSD or ayahuasca in her cocktail. Except in her limited experience with hallucinogens, they’d never completely altered her surroundings. Maybe she’d suffered a stroke. Maybe the woman had knocked her unconscious. Maybe she was dreaming in a hospital bed.
Temple couldn’t process what had happened, but at some point she realized speculating on every possible scenario was getting her nowhere. She tried to examine the evidence with a scientist’s eyes. She may have spent the past decade in a cramped cubicle entering data into an outdated desktop computer, but she hadn’t completely forgotten everything she’d learned about field research in school. She’d loved botany, for example, and she had an uncanny knack for identifying plants.
The trees around her were tall and lean and elegant with upper limbs that extended out like arms intent on catching the sun’s rays. She thought of the woman lying on the sand with her arms outstretched and felt a pang of desire course through her.
Temple picked up a golden leaf that had fallen from the dizzying heights of a nearby specimen. It was enormous, much larger than her face, and had lacy edges. She brushed the leaf’s soft, feathered fringe along the lifeline of her palm. It created a tingle across the surface of her skin, barely perceptible but pleasant. This leaf did not exist in nature. She was certain of that.
“I’m dreaming then,” she said as much for the comfort of hearing her own voice as anything.
Temple decided she may as well enjoy herself. She brushed the leaf along her neck and down the length of her sternum. The voluptuous pulses from the leaf’s filaments followed the path. She felt her stomach begin to grow warm, and her pussy pulsed in response to the leaf’s ticklish charges. Without warning, mild arousal erupted into urgent desire. Her skin became feverish. She could feel beads of perspiration trickle along the same path as the leaf, intensifying the shivering energy that she still felt there. Her body was overcome with heat now and a shuddering, aching need for orgasm. Temple dropped the leaf and backed away.
She stopped when she felt the trunk of one of the trees against her back. The bark was smooth, almost glossy, and chestnut brown. It bulged and rippled as if it had muscles underneath. It wasn’t like any tree she’d ever seen before. She leaned into its trunk, and it seemed almost to embrace her.
Temple’s cunt was wet and throbbing now. She resisted the urge to turn and press herself against the tree to relieve the pulsing at the center of her body, but only just barely. There was no one to watch. She could. It was as if the tree itself had whispered the enticement, the way the woman had done, tempting her to give over to the primal urge that the leaf had inspired with its electrical feathers.
In fact, it may well have been the tree speaking to her because her struggle for composure was met by more persuasive pressures from the forest’s other flora. A vine cloaked with downy hairs had begun to stretch its tendrils towards Temple’s toes. It snaked its way trembling towards the curve of her ankle. As it twined upward, it wrapped itself tenderly around her calves and thighs, hovering just over her sensitive skin like a teasing lover, occasionally dipping to caress her with its velvety, heart-shaped leaves. Temple moaned and felt a trail of damp desire dripping down her thighs to meet the little limbs on their way up. The tree shivered as she reached her arms over her head and steadied herself with its sturdy trunk.
Warning bells were sounding in her mind. The situation was most certainly off. Being enveloped in jungle vines was cause for concern, not foreplay. But the shrill alarms were a whimper compared to the sounds of the rain forest, which grew louder and louder the more aroused Temple became. It was as if every jungle bird was offering an explanation of why this was the most natural thing in the world. Then, she heard a new sound: a deep, guttural growl.
She’d been so engrossed in the tentative caresses of the vines creeping over her legs that she’d gone completely limp, but the low vibration of the growl startled her to full awareness again. Her eyes flew open. A large cat had paced into the clearing. It was the size of a lion with a lion’s full mane, but its fur was a blue-gray. It lowered its head at her and opened its mouth to inhale her alien scent.
Temple went rigid. The vines had stopped where they were, tickling the backs of her knees, as if they too sensed the creature and were waiting for the worst. The beast sauntered towards Temple, drawing so near that she could smell the iron reek of blood on its hot, humid breath. For a moment, she wished she’d been at an event that required more clothing, but how much better would a linen suit have held up against a toothy predator than a string bikini?
The cat was close enough now for Temple to see its sharp incisors glistening with saliva. They were the size of butcher’s knives and looked sufficient to the job of cracking bones to get to the marrow. It skulked nearer. Its muzzle was inches away from the tender skin of Temple’s belly, and it inhaled her aroma the way she would have savored the scent of her favorite dish in a restaurant. Its large, rough tongue tested her flesh. Temple quivered in fear, but the lion’s warm breath on her naked skin also excited her.
Before the creature could make a meal of her, a loud warning shout broke into the clearing, and the lion’s ears pricked up. It paused for a moment, deliberating it seemed to Temple, between devouring the meal spread out before it or heeding the warning that still echoed among the trees. At last it made a decision. The monster backed away, pausing to give Temple one last longing look before it bounded into the jungle. Temple wasn’t sure the situation had improved however. The big cat had been replaced by a big man who looked just as hungry, and the tenacious vines had not loosened their grip on her either. In fact, they’d once more begun their ascent. Flight was impossible.
Her nearly naked body was on full display for the man. If she let go of the tree to cover herself, she would no doubt tumble forward, and when she tried to untangle herself from the sinuous limbs using her as their latticework, they only quickened their pace and tightened their greedy grip, pulling her legs apart and making the situation altogether more embarrassing and potentially hazardous.
To top it all, she was practically vibrating with desire now. She’d never been so wet, and her skin was burning to be touched. The tree’s bark had responded to her heat with a smoldering, resinous aroma. She didn’t understand how the vines could cling so stubbornly to her without being scorched.
“Looks like you’re in a spot of trouble, witchling,” the man said, placing his rucksack on the ground.
He was older than Temple by fifteen years or more, and he had a sturdy physique. He wore an outdoorsman’s vest with pockets for tools and weapons and loose-fitting pants held up by a string at the waist. The front of his pants bulged with a hard-on. Temple groaned gutturally as the big cat. The overwhelming lust that had gripped her made it impossible to speak. Her temperature was rising faster, and her heart was pounding. The man removed the vest and tossed it on top of the rucksack. His chest was firm and covered in curling salt and pepper hairs.
“How did you get so far from people in only your lingerie? And with no one around to meet your needs? You should know how dangerous that is,” he said, removing his shoes and placing them next to the rucksack. He pulled the drawstring of his pants and slipped them off, too. His thick cock throbbed and pointed towards her like a dowsing rod.
Temple felt her insides ignite as he strode closer. The noises of the jungle blared louder, and her skin was red and damp with heat. The vines had grown in size as they absorbed her dripping fluids, and her legs were barely visible now. Soon, she would be consumed by them, completely enveloped. Nearby trees had begun to bend in her direction, arching in an effort to caress her with their electrical leaves. She was afraid, and she was on fire.