Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
gabrielvaljan would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

The Jaguar King

By gabrielvaljan All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Thriller

The Shoot

I shoot between breaths. Prone on the jungle floor, the long barrel lifted up, those eyes watched me as I waited and aimed my camera, my left hand rotating the lens into focus before my right finger pressed the button, taking the picture just as the jaguar crushed the skull of the half-dead man. The victim’s hand, once outstretched, dropped. Was it a plea for help or a warning? There was nothing we could have done for the man. I paused, as the cat’s large, round pupils dilated. The animal considered me; evaluated the quiet men behind me. I listened to the wet sounds as it ate its meal. I reverse-crawled my way back to the group behind me after the predator dragged the rest of its prize away.

“Yaguareté,” the guide said.

I listened to his rapid Spanish, watched his unshaven and damp face explain to Fowler why his men would not proceed further. They had had enough. It wasn’t that they had witnessed the muscular feline kill a man; it wasn’t the other bodies there, or the days trekking through stifling heat; it was the jaguar itself, an ill omen to them. While Fowler and the man argued, one of the guides handed me his sheathed machete. Another man stepped forward, unslung his canteen and put it around my neck next to my camera. He stepped around me. He took his hat off out of respect for the dead. “El crimen del otro,” or ‘the crime of the other,’ he said and crossed himself. He touched my arm. “Adiós, amigo.” We shook hands. I’ll miss him and his rotten smile of bad teeth.

Only the boss man remained.

We had paid them well; my brother, Fowler, though, was beyond indignant, thinking this sudden announcement was nothing more than some abrupt tactic to milk us for more money. Fowler pulled some damp bills out of his pant’s pocket and thrust them into the man’s chest. More frustrated than offended, the man would have none of it. Fowler tried to insult him. He said that as a businessman he had no honor. He pointed the way ahead and reminded us that we had water, some food in our backpacks. We had machetes. Fowler tried again.

“No más,” the guide said. He turned away and never looked back.

“Can you believe this? They quit on us,” Fowler said to me, with the expectation that I would offer him pity. I snapped more pictures of the dead in the last of the good light. I brushed past Fowler. We had to move, I told him. I wanted to set up camp before sunset. I was not right in the head from the day’s heat and the incessant insects feasting on me.

I swung the machete to clear a path. The sound of its metallic whoosh, that pinging sound as the blade hacked at stalks and vines, filled the humid air. The foliage was thick, resistant, like wading through water. I looked forward to nightfall, to the music of unseen crickets. We needed rest, food; we also needed to discuss the rest of the itinerary, now that we had no guides. Fowler would want to review the digital pictures that I had taken.

We were scientists; anthropologists, to be exact. The two of us had been born here, but missionaries had whisked us away when political unrest had destabilized the region. We knew little else about our past. We wanted to find out what we could about it.

My photographs would testify that this part of the jungle had become a killing field. At the cost of several cases of Bravah beer, backroom intelligence in the city blamed the military, although it was vague as to whose military and for which country. “You know, the usual banana republic politics,” a man had told me. He joked that ‘los desaparecidos’ are a seasonal phenomenon, like summer rain. The victims ranged in age from mere children to the fragile elderly. A physician on television reported another unexpected finding: none of the females had been raped.

Creeping tendrils scraped my face while I worked the machete. Fowler, behind me, scribbled some notes; other times he spoke into a recorder about the bodies, how they had been butchered, always with machetes. The sun dropped behind a mountainous cloud. Soon, darkness would sweep in and eyes everywhere would open. All kinds of creatures would be emerging to satisfy their primal needs of food and sex. I decided on the spot where we would pitch our tent.

“Wait a second,” Fowler said. He asked to see the jaguar picture. “Something bothers me about this picture.” We looked at it together. “Notice that he’s wounded, but not from a machete. There are no defensive wounds on his hands. Nada. He was bleeding out, but from what we’ll never know because that damn cat dragged the body off.”  I shut off the display. The camera still had plenty of battery life.
Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

annabellewilliams123: I loved this novel I read it all in one.sitting, the story made me put back into perspective my own life and how I wasnt as bad off as I think sometimes.I loved that they had such a strong love and it's what any person hopes to find. and such a strong loving family

Girl on Fire: Great story, line Alex!!!It really has a edge on it. It put me on edge with its thrill. Can't wait to read the rest.!!!

Spring: I normally don't read fiction novels, but I absolutely enjoyed reading Silent Shadows! The style is quite different from the previous fiction novels I've attempted to read. Great job!

Ali Albazaz: I started reading "Caged" few hours ago and I'm on chapter 7 now. Caged is definitely one of the most addictive stories I've ever read. Thank you so much for writing this novel.

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...

Lea Sutherland-Doane: I love this story and it hurts me that it is on a cliff hanger. Please write the next story fast so I can enjoy more of your wonderful writing skills. Your writing skills are amazing and I cannot wait to read the sequel, I promise that this is the best book I have ever read and I love it will al...

europeanlove: I gotta hand it to you. I love reading. I read books everyday. When the book is good I can read it in probably 13 hours. Your story was amazing. Great prose, very imaginative. Incredible dialogue. I am deeply impressed. Keep it up.

Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...

More Recommendations

jessiehs: This was absolutely amazing. I loved how it went back and forth between perspectives. I actually cried at the end I was so happy. This was amazing. I can't even think of another word to describe it. Thank you for writing his.

RodRaglin: Sounds like an interesting story, LesAnne.Here are some things you might want to consider when you revise this draft."Show don't tell." You've probably hear this before and wondered what's the difference? Well, the difference is as a writer you're telling your reader what's happening rather than ...

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!
King's Lament

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!
Spectra

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."