Indiana Jones and the Creature From the Black Lagoon

Chapter 4

The Amazon was swollen after the rainy season, and the Rita made good time, even hugging the coastline as she was. She was a big boat, a good 55 feet from stem to stern and a draft of about seven feet. She was large enough to berth maybe ten men in comfort, twenty in discomfort. She had a small stateroom that had been converted into a lab/study for Professor Baker, and the Collinsworths had appropriated his maps and charts and notes. Indy suspected he wasn't asked for permission. If his dose of malaria was as bad as reported, he sure wasn't in any shape to grant it.

Now that he was away from the city, Indy had changed into his expedition gear. He kept the light, baggy khakis and changed out his starched cotton shirt for a well-worn tan one, also light and baggy and unbuttoned too low for modesty's sake, but enough to keep him cool. He'd slid his holster and bullwhip onto his thick, leather belt. They weren't practical for the close-quarters of the boat, but so far Brazil hasn't been terribly hospitable and he was tired of being the abused guest.

Leaning against a low rail, he leafed through Baker's notes. Indy had to admit the man was thorough. He'd filled a hardback memo book with his research, and while it could have all been bunk, it didn't read like fantasy. He'd recorded translations of old scripts and artifacts which suggested an isolated village, possibly a new civilization, though Baker was professionally cagey about the nuances of translations run through several languages. He transcribed interviews with local merchants, fishermen, cartographers, and other river-dwellers, then organized them by credibility ranging from "Verified" to "Pure Folklore." To an archeologist, it was as compelling as a bestselling novel.

"Hey there, sport," came a voice from behind him. Indy felt his hackles rise. Dale Murphy had annoyed him from the moment the Collinsworths had introduced them. Something about the way his brash, western manner clashed with the their continental ways struck him as odd, and the easy way he stepped on Blake Collinsworth's words, and the obvious infatuation Chloe Collinsworth didn't try to hide. There was some family drama going on there and they'd brought on the boat, which was exactly the last place Indy needed it. They'd introduced him as their "business associate," leaving Indy to wonder why a couple of blue-bloods needed a new-money partner.

"Murphy," Indy acknowledged without looking up from the journal.

"The scientist has his nose buried in a book. You should look around. Some beautiful scenery is going by. You're missing it."

"It's not my first time in a jungle. I've pretty much seen them all. Besides," he looked up and slapped the journal in his palm, "this is more important. I need to know where we're going. What to look for. Otherwise this is going to be a wasted trip."

"Well there," Murphy said, turning to smile at Blake and Chloe. "That's a true professional. Blake, Chloe, I think we've found the right man for the job."

"Oh certainly!" Chloe enthused.

"Yes," Blake agreed, "Doctor Jones is—"

"Say, find anything interesting in there, sport?" Murphy turned away from them. Indy wondered if Blake threw the sport into his sentences to be endearing or aggravating. Possibly both.

"He marks the tributary we're supposed to follow to find the village. He's very confident," Indy said, a note of admiration inadvertently slipping out. "He's got testimonials and cross-referenced maps, water tables…The inlet's most likely there. Whether we find your Tapajos…" Indy shook his head. "That's another story."

"Well there," Blake said again. "We're in the hands of two experts in their fields. What can possibly go wrong?"

Indy was getting tired his grandstanding, his chummy salesman way of addressing the Collinsworths. He didn't seem to be selling them on something, but rather reassuring them on their purchase.

"I'm going to talk to the captain. We'll be getting close to the mark soon. I want to make sure he understood Baker's sea charts."

"Topping idea," Blake said before Blake could answer.

Indy turned and walked to the wheelhouse, then stopped. Might as well get it all out on the table. "There was one curious thing about Baker's notes," he said.

"Oh, what's that?" Murphy asked, still smiling his salesman's toothy smile.

"All the interviews, the folklore, the superstitions…they all have one thing in common." Indy looked at Murphy, then the Collinsworths. "They all say no one who goes up that tributary to the village ever returns."

The blood drained from the Collinsworths' faces, which he expected, but it was worth it to see Murphy's smile deflate.

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