Lost in the Jungle

You’ve always thought that the wild was out there. That it was escapable. Something you could hide from or shy away from. Something tangible. Something you could go out looking for or avoid entirely.

It’s not.

That’s not how it works at all.

You don’t move into the jungle.

The jungle moves into you.

One day, it happened.

The jungle just…

…moved.

Right into suburbia. Right in the middle of the city. Trees sprouted like weeds, vines and thorns and bushes rose up against them, and the sparrows sprouted new wings and became parrots. The sun was blotted out. Houses were crushed by the jungle, or they were torn from the ground and brought up by the trees.

In the blink of an eye, it happened.

The jungle moved in.

No one’s really sure why or how it happened. And they’re not sure how to fix it, or if they should even try. Rescue parties have gone in, and some make it out okay.

But some don’t.

Most don’t, actually.

Activists stood for the trees, doing their best to defend them. After all, we were all saying we needed more trees, right? That jungles were dying out? Something like that, right?

So, of course, there were people defending them.

And then, there were others who weren’t defending the jungle, but thought it should remain anyway. Who thought that it should stay up, but not to help the trees.

To help us.

How many had been lost to the jungle already?

Too many.

Going in to cut it all down was dangerous. Scary.

Leave it up for our sake.

Leave it up for it’s own sake.

Leave it up because, really:

There’s no way to tear it down. Not without casualties.

I was part of those people in the houses. The people swallowed by the jungle. One minute, I was enjoying my show, and the next?

My house shot off the ground.

I can’t describe it to you. Not really. It happened so fast. It was loud, and the whole house was quaking. Everything was tilting, and moving, and the floor was breaking.

And then, when I exited the house via my bedroom window, I nearly died.

Because I was over a hundred feet in the air.

And, let me tell you:

Getting down was no scarier. No less dangerous.

And moving through the jungle? Trying to find my way out?

So much worse.

Much, much worse.

I see them still, just from the corner of my eye. A shadow moves, tilts. It withers or slants a certain way and I move to parry the tiger. To combat the snake. To jump out of the porcupine’s path.

But it isn’t.

It’s not a tiger.

Not a snake.

Not even a porcupine.

It’s just a shadow that’s been moved.

Just a shadow.

It’s been a full year since I escaped the jungle. Since I finally made it out. Three years is what it took. Three years to find the exit to the hellscape.

I can’t tell you how many neighbors I lost along the way. How many wandered off into the night, only to scream their goodbyes. How many fell asleep and never woke up because their face was swollen, purpled and pussy with venom. How many fell down ledges, hit rocks, or were mauled before my very eyes.

I can’t tell you how many.

You see, even though we moved through the jungle, the jungle also moved through us.

It changed us.

There were a few of us who made it. Who were lucky enough to gain some knowledge. Who eventually gained some kind of understanding of the jungle. How it worked. A few of us managed to learn.

Just a few.

But.

Just because we’re out of the jungle doesn’t mean we don’t think about it.

Because we do.

Every day, we do.

I would be surprised if we thought about it less than once an hour. Less than sixty times a day.

Because when it’s your life for three years, it’s impossible not to think about it. Impossible to kick those habits. To shirk off the paranoia that kept you alive for so long.

It’s impossible to shake the jungle.

So, even though I’m in the city, and even though I’m with civilization, it doesn’t matter.

The jungle is still out there.

Still in here.

Still with me.

Because you don’t move in the jungle. It’s shadows and beasts and creepy-crawlies don’t sit and wait for contact.

No.

The jungle moves into you.

And every day, that’s what I’m counting on. What I’m waiting for. Every day, I wake up, and every night, I go to sleep, and I’m waiting.

Waiting for the jungle to move again.

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