Indy stepped out of the launch and slogged his way to the bank, his revolver aimed from the hip. Murphy and two of the deckhands stumbled their way behind him.
The camp was wrecked, tents torn to ribbons, supplies strewn about as if thrown from a bomb blast. But it was the bodies that caused Indy's blood to run cold. Seven of them, he counted. The local hires. All heaps now, each with their own cloud of flies above them, like static on a TV set with bad reception. Flies drawn to the blood.
"Stay back," he warned. The deckhands wielded machetes and gaffing poles, but against whatever had done this…
The first body, slumped in the clear—he'd probably made a run for the waterline—was Caucasian. Murphy had identified his man on the ground as Gerald McKinney, an expatriate who specialized in putting together Brazilian team for expeditions. He'd been fully dressed in safari clothes—long cargo shorts, a light shirt under a linen field coat—now in tatters and stained bright red with blood. The same bright red, which lashed out from the body like the sweep of a paintbrush. Whatever hit him, hit him fast and slashed deep enough to sever arteries.
He walked a little further into the camp. The cooking fire was just dead embers now, but still had more life than the old man crumpled beside it. Poor old codger, Indy thought darkly. He got up later than the rest, and settled by the fire to heat his breakfast, because he needed the energy. He was too old for this, but he did it anyway. He needed the money. He'd been poor his whole life, and he would work until the day he died. That day was today. Whatever came, he hadn't been fast enough to flee or fight. He'd just raised one rough-calloused hand to protect himself, and his attacker had removed it at the elbow. It lay next to him like a discarded tool.
All the bodies Indy inspected were like this. Some had run, and some had stood their ground, but in the end they all ended up curled up on the ground. Defensive positions.
"Good god," Murphy's tremulous voice came from behind him. Indy turned. The man was pale, his face drained of all color and now an ashy gray. "What happened here?"
Indy shook his head. "I don't know. Something fast. Brutal. They never stood a chance. They didn't get a shot in, not one of them."
"Not a who." Indy said. "Look, their equipment, supplies, provisions…scattered but not taken. Gerald supplied this stuff didn't he?"
"Yes. We…we provided the outlay, but he…yes. Yes, he did."
"They're expensive tools. Bandits would have taken them. An animal did this."
"What kind of animal? A panther? Tiger of some sort?"
"It didn't feed," Indy said, mostly to himself. "It mauled them. Killed them all. Destroyed the camp. But it didn't feed."
"Have you ever seen anything like this before? Look, Doctor Jones, let's put aside our differences. I know you've spent most of your life in uncivilized places. Have you ever seen an…an attack like this?"
Indy shook his head. "No. And that scares the hell out of me."
One of the deckhands cried out. "What is it?" Murphy asked, but Indy was already scrambling.
It was a young man—maybe nineteen years-old, though it was hard to tell. His face was mottled with blood. Most of his left check was torn away, exposing shockingly white bone.
The deckhand murmured to him, while another caressed his head, soothingly like a proud father. The boy muttered, then coughed blood. He began whispering. It was the same thing over and over again. "Demonio…demonio..demonio…" Then his eyelids fluttered, and his eyes went glassy and empty. The deckhands gently lowered him to the moist earth.
"What is it?" Murphy asked. "What did he say?"
Indy straightened up and pulled his hat a little lower. "He said demon."