One of the effects of having lived an adventurous life was that Indiana Jones could fall asleep no matter what the circumstances, and this night was no different. He kept the revolver nearby, but otherwise passed the night in a deep, dreamless sleep.
But as deep as it was, his sleep was no match for dawn in the jungle, when the birds and the insects screamed at the sun rising pink behind the heavy-canopy, alighting the waters of the Amazon. Indy had a quick shower in the tiny stall, then examined the deck where the deckhand had been attacked. There were deep scratches in the varnished wood Indy judged at nearly a half inch. They were evenly spaced, and trailed in long lines like the reach of a limb. What the hell had claws like that? Indy was no stranger to jungles, and had faced down his share of predators—tigers that could fell any land-dwelling animal that lived, baboons that hunted in packs, could tear a man limb from limb, and recovered their dead—but he'd never seen an animal that acted like this.
He made his way to the small galley where to his chagrin Murphy and the Collinsworths were having breakfast. By the look on Blake's face, he didn't approve.
"Ah, you wake!" Kirschner's voice booked from the wheelhouse. "Have something to eat!"
Indy took a plate of fried eggs from the cook. They were overdone, which was probably for the best given the bacteria the local chickens probably carried.
"Quite a night last night," Murphy said conversationally.
"I'd still like to know what the hell happened."
"The captain is most certain it was a pirate or a bandit of some sort," Blake said, pecking at his eggs.
"Oh yes," Chloe agreed. "Surely there must be all sorts of unsavory types along the river. I'm so glad to have a man aboard who can protect us."
Indy was about to demur modestly, but then saw that Chloe was looking moonily at Murphy. He almost pointed out that it was Kirschner who actually drove the attacker off, but decided to drop it.
"Say now," Murphy said brightly, "let's not get low because of what happened last night. We'll be making the first camp soon. Things are going to start picking up soon."
"Jolly good!" Blake clapped delightedly, and Indy seriously considered advising him to at least try not to live up to the blue-blood stereotype.
"You said it, Blake," Murphy agreed. "This time tomorrow we'll all be making our fortune."
"Off of some newsreel footage that plays before a Flash Gordon serial? I'll give you this, Murphy, you are an optimist."
Murphy's movie-star smile didn't fade. "It's all out there, Doctor Jones. Fortune and glory."
Indy was well-acquainted with the words, and they usually came before a lot of bad decisions which led to even worse consequences, but he didn't say anything. He was tired of playing the scold.
"Getting to the village will be tricky. We'll have to go in launches. That equipment of yours better not be too heavy."
"Oh, that shouldn't be a problem. The captain said his launches are very sturdy."
Indy got a cup of coffee in a battered tin mug. "I hope so. I don't look forward to hiking through that overgrowth."
"See here," Murphy chortled. "The optimist and the pessimist breaking bread. There's hope for the world yet." The three of them had a good laugh at that.
"I'm the realist. It's what you hired me for." He attacked his eggs with gusto.
"Indeed," Chloe chirped. "And I feel we're in capable hands."
Indy finished his eggs and picked up his coffee. "Problem is, I only have two hands. And there are three of you. Excuse me." He left the galley and headed to the wheelhouse.
They came upon the base camp about an hour later. The Rita had heaved to and taken the artery off the river. The tributary wasn't uncomfortably narrow—about two and a half lengths of the Rita from stem to stern—but Indy knew the depth here could be tricky. The captain's charts could be off, the water-table shifting, and Kirschner steamed upstream slowly.
The jungle was thick here, closing over them, and filtering the sun. The blazing brightness they'd experienced on the Amazon's trunk was abruptly replaced by a world of moving, grasping shadows. Indy felt goosebumps rise on his skin. This is where the jungle became primeval. This was the antechamber, and beyond lay the world as it was millions of years ago.
"Oh, I see it!" Chloe trilled from her lookout point at the stern, where she scanned the bank with a set of field glasses.
"The camp?" Murphy replied.
"Yes, I think I see tents and things."
"Do you see Gerald?" Blake asked. "Or the workers?"
"I hope they're decent," Murphy jibed. "And not having a morning bath in the all-together, Chloe."
She laughed girlishly. "Oh, Dale, you are a wicked man!"
Indy squinted at the shoreline, but could make much out from his position further back on deck. He raised his own binoculars—a good set he'd bought off a Royal Marine—and looked for some signs of a camp. His angle was bad. He could make out what looked like some tents or lean-tos, but the thick underbrush robbed him of a clear view.
"Murphy," he called out.
"I mean it, Chloe. The natives don't have our same sense of modesty."
"Murphy," Indy shouted. "I don't see any camp fires. Did they skip breakfast?"
"Well," Murphy mulled, "maybe they dined early. They certainly don't need the warmth."
"Certainly not," Blake said. "Not this damnable heat."
Indy wasn't buying it. He swept the shoreline with the binoculars some more. The boat was following the tributary and angling outward, and the obstructing brush was giving way. The camp slowly emerged from the heavy jungle.
"Shit…" Indy breathed, lowering the binoculars.
Chloe Collinsworth let out a scream.