I wondered why it was that places are so much lonelier when one is alone. — Daphne Du Maurier
The vehicle had stopped moving, but Alex couldn’t recall when. At some point, he had just awakened from his trance-like reverie and realized the vibrations had stopped.
The inside of the box was warm and soft, lined with a thick layer of cotton batting. It was starting to smell in here from several used diapers stashed in a plastic bag in the corner, but he wouldn’t think about that now. He took another breath from his respirator, waiting for the sounds outside to quiet down.
All at once, the box tumbled on its side with a heavy thud. It startled him so much that he almost straightened his legs. That would have been a disaster. Alex hugged his knees to his chest and waited.
The loud, muffled voices outside were very close, and clearly engaged in a heated argument, although he couldn’t understand a word they were speaking. He didn’t speak Portuguese. They were settling something between themselves, the moving men. He heard one of them stomp closer and punch the side of the box to emphasize a particularly good point. Then they moved away.
Alex held his breath a moment. He heard the truck engine rev to life and slowly fade into the distance.
Then came the deep silence. Alone. Maybe too alone. Where was he?
He rocked the box until it tipped up again, then kicked with his legs until the tape popped against his back. He pushed aside the cotton and rose up into the dense, moist outside air.
He was alone on the side of the road in a place that looked like the Amazon rainforest… and it was starting to get dark.
This was definitely not what he had written on the label of the box.
Couldn’t those men read? Had they figured out his scheme and dumped him here? Most importantly, what was he going to do now?
Alex gingerly poked one leg over the edge of the box, but before he could lift the other one, the box tipped again, dumping him in the dirt like a new, blind puppy.
He stood up quickly and whirled around, straining his ears for sounds of human life. The jungle pressed in from all directions, responding with slow, growling rumbles and the light, beeping chirps of distant animals.
What did a jaguar sound like, again?