Mr Reaper: Coiled Fates

Chapter 5

Reil and Tristan had passed onto several other platforms of the bay of Purei’s Retreat in the Amazonia. They had crossed some bridges and asked around for specific directions, until they were met with one big’n’wide red cedar tree that towered over the rest like an ancient God.

But this God was malformed at the top, as if lightning had struck it in the past, the cut deep with charcoal faded around its edges where the fire once had festered unclean. All around the body were dark vines of hairs spread ugly down Earth’s crust in a greedy and relentless onslaught for the race of time to ply by in the touch of fulfilment-wicked, to nutritionless soil-damp.

It was a strangler fig that even by being a parasite would rely on birds to be spread across like a disease. The tall red cedar was half dead and alive at the same time, while many windows and smaller platforms towered up and around those scars of nature’s touch upon that which wasn’t considered hers.

It appeared that the infestation of roots that were like parasites had been left like this for some apparent reason, despite the windows’ parts being clean of obscurity at most sections. The supposed entrance was overtaken on both sides, where these roots had created something like a natural spiral pergola, one that was wild and rather intimidating at that. Underneath it were these lamps that breathed light all around as it was rather gloomy-given, because the only source of vision was at the bay, which wasn’t enough to let light illuminate everywhere. Such was life in Amazonia: dark, damp and rather… primordial.

Layers of dead leaves were on the sides where plants grew in average sizes, due to receiving enough light from the bright orbs of sunlight that were the buzzing white, which was a plague for the misguided, over-sized insects deserving and victimized.

There were no indicators that this was it, no labels, no nothing, just the tinted windows of the front and the solid glass doors, which opened to a businessman, who was slightly taller than them, exiting in a hurry as he tried to fix his tie.

But the person was not much of interest to Reil, as he glimpsed over at Tristan, whose anxiety could be even tasted if one tried harder. The humidity here wasn’t that bad as it wasn’t trapped like before they had entered the bay. The suffocation before had been so bad that every breath was like drinking steam. It would’ve been good if it were just that, yet the big mosquitoes that were trying to take a bite also played in the discomfort of civilization.

As Reil thought about it, this giant near-husk of a tree wasn’t towering over, it was entrenched by these parasites of timber and thickness, with the gap-lost plugged by other opportunists-smaller.

Reil knew this day was important for both of them, but the overthinking was going to bring them only troubles, thus, he tried to boost the confidence, but not before gawking at an ant colony in between the giant leaves of the plants around. That sure was one big kingdom of insects experiencing a Golden Age. It got his mind to picture himself stepping accidentally in there and getting those warriors of millions around his clothes… It got him to gulp jittery and step away, meanwhile seeking distraction to remove that flashy dread.

“Whatever happens, confidence, Tris. Make confidence your coat! Awight?” Reil cheered and put an assuring hand over his friend’s shoulder, smiling and squeezing encouragingly. He wasn’t evidently mad anymore about Reil thinking of accepting Karla’s offer. Well, he was…

Nonetheless things were as they were. That was why he could see himself as Tristan’s protector, while Tristan shielded Reil from the other threats, threats too complicated for Reil to skirt around. It all came to… mutual understanding and benefits.

Reil took in the scents of jungle, water and other people, whose essence lingered in the lighter air of moisture and perfumes… They moved up the trippy stairs of overtaken roots that he was sure once belonged to the insides of the tree they were going to enter, as it was visible that it had been drilled into in the past as to make the entrance.

The sides of the stairs looked handcrafted with the shapes of leaves, turtles and crocodiles, which appeared really exquisite to Reil’s eyes, while the rest of the overgrowth was left to take and entangle. It gave the feeling as if this was natural to nature itself, despite the mark of humanity skulking high above and all around the buzzing electronics.

Little to no vegetation was able to survive under these shadows-thick and unhospitable. The layers of dead plants were coating the earth with moss-festered and many ferns. Mushrooms, being the little moisture-lovers themselves, had taken much of the populace and were prospering fully in their kingdom of rot and dark. Of course, the smell of expired meaty fungus was a bad one due to it almost reaching the same notes of decaying flesh. It made Reil to scrunch his nose and sidestep away from the edges of the path.

His footing was nearly lost when his shoe caught upon uneven-ness of a cut branch, now the spot being just a bump with lifelessness meant only to be stepped upon. He was talking about confidence but was waning from it with every step, thus he pondered upon their appearance, the implications and the deal that was to be made. What if his decision got them to fail at this… opportunity? What if he had gotten something wrong.

But doubt, it only gave way to mistakes. Mistakes led to failure.

They got to the sliding glass doors, which didn’t even offer them a reflection, while the size was but a symptom of the hugeness everywhere-around. It seemed uninviting, while Reil’s peep at his friend spoke the same opinion. With their last moments of hesitation he sighed and smiled genuinely as his hand found itself in a handshake with Tristan’s.

“Together,” Reil asserted in a squeeze which for a bit was not returned, but then the less rugged hand squeezed back.

“Together,” Tristan repeated positively and their hands disengaged with a shake, after which both fixed their clothes and smoothed their hair until all was done.

Reil took the first step that got the motion sensor above to make the doors, with oaken frames, slide open, all under the eyes of watchful security cameras and his friend from behind, who walked smugly with his chin high up.

The air that came out and touched Reil’s cheeks wasn’t suffocating. It was neither too cold nor too warm. It was perfect.

The surroundings were so new, strange and unique. Everything was from wood, even the additional architecture had the same shades that all mingled in harmony. There were no hanging cables from the ceiling or walls, no cracks on the smooth wooden surface that had the giant rings of age of the tree itself, rings which surely weren’t genuine as most was grown and cultivated artificially with the aid of technology-advanced.

They were immediately met with a burly security guard with an unfriendly visage. But Reil didn’t let himself be intimidated and stood tall himself, despite the bubbling doubt-unshown.

The guard had a green uniform which contrasted with his dark skin, thus resembling tints of a tree, while the accessories around his belt spoke of power and communication. He came close at a respectable distance, eyed them from eyebrows to soles, but his scrutiny remained more time on Tristan, who was perfectly keeping it together, even adding some sort of a defiant smile that Reil’s eyes were eating up with pride.

“Reason for visit?” the guard asked.

“Business,” both young men answered in unison as if they had trained for this moment. Neither looked at the other as they intently stared at the taller person, whose suspicion faded in tingle to the soothing ventilation all around.

Reil knew the guard was suspicious because they didn’t exactly seem to belong there, their youthful faces and moist coats, especially with the additional touch on their appearance that broke formality.

The guard moved closer and gestured up. Reil rolled his eyes and put the briefcase on the floor and spread his hands in the air. The guard pulled out a tool from his belt’s holster and moved it round Reil’s body slowly.

Reil didn’t like having someone so close to him, especially with a body capable of destructive strength, yet things were as they were…

It took a few more moments and the guard just went to Tristan without even glancing at Reil. So much for effort, it didn’t appear the guy was very keen on doing this. Or was it because he was too good at this and the impression was received as such, for the cultivation of mistakes to be made, if something malicious was in mind?

The same process was done to his friend, but instead of letting them proceed, the guard asked for the briefcase to be opened, with Reil groaning loudly and giving view to the contents of the rectangular-carry.

The guard grunted an approving side step and gestured at the wall where a machine with many holes stood. It was a dryer that was going to remove all this moisture from their bodies, well, good thing it wasn’t going to do it to the moisture inside them as that would spell a rather horrific disaster. But Reil being Reil, he stopped just before they were to pass the guard.

“Would you mind holding these for the moment, sir?” Reil asked soothingly as he raised his briefcase and glanced at Tristan, as to signal him to do the same, with the umbrella that had gone through some hardship of adventures. The guard glanced at his station where tinted windows stood.

He more like glared at something or someone, but then he looked down back at Reil and smiled so falsely that Reil feared that the big person might soon need a yellow card.

“Of course not, gentlemen,” he replied and reached with his big hand for the items. Both men moved towards the dryer and positioned themselves close to one another as they waited for the stream of cleansing to begin. Reil had experience with such equipment but this one looked more serious and way more powerful, while his expectations were raised when the stream of hot air struck through the many holes.

His hands extended and he circled himself as the air went around his frame and underneath his coat, while the humidity was sucked dry up the ceiling.

Oh, dryness, all of that moisture was just annihilated and he thought that he was flying above the clouds, to which he hugged himself with a slip of a smile, while the air blew around every piece of body. He dared to peep at Tristan, whose hair had spiked upwards, causing amusement to expose Reil’s tongue in that short grin.

The blower finished its job and Reil tugged his coat as to fix it in place but without touching its buttons, because he wanted to look as open as possible without any signs that he needed reassurance or defenses. He stepped out the metal surface of the machine, with silent steps following behind, and went to take that what was his from the guard who had to attend to other people that had entered the premise.

With resonance to their steps, the two suited men continued towards what looked like another checkpoint with the same sliding doors in tinted darkness. But they didn’t open and Reil nearly hit his face in the glass. Sound buzzed from the side that had loud coughs, yet nobody could be seen. A whirring came about from that speaker and above it something like a plastic card spewed about.

Reil didn’t know how to react and stood like an idiot for some moments. His stupor was broken when Tristan pulled out the plastic piece of access and put it in front the obscured reader next to the doors, which got them to open and flood the lobby with the atmosphere of the hidden world.

Air ran away and exposed the insides of the tree, to which Reil walked in like a starry-eyed kid. The giant tree was hollow with many offices climbing up its length which, if Reil didn’t know better, he’d have thought they were reaching the sky itself and beyond.