The jungle air is heavy, humid, and familiar. Twenty years on and the thick drag into his lungs settles on him in a blanket of nostalgia, reassuring in its discomfort. A pistol is strapped to his leg, and all around him the shadows move in slow, threatening sweeps. He is deeper in the jungle than he’d ever venture in his waking hours. There were places on his island that not even his Gran would tred, and she’d been the bravest person he’d ever known.
Here there be monsters.
Jake doesn’t recognize anything. The jungle of his dreams is wild and unknown, and there are things moving in the dense undergrowth. He slaps at a mosquito on his neck. Sweat drips into his eyes. He drops a hand to his gun, the tension prickling hot and tight at the base of his neck.
A sudden wind thrashes the canopy. There are pine needles in his mouth. There aren’t any pine needles in the jungle.
The only warning Jake gets is a resonate growl that seems to come from every direction at once, before the monster is on him. A lithe creature of darkness and fury, with more legs than anything mammalian has a right to. He hits the ground hard enough to drive the breath out of him, but he doesn’t have time to catch it. He has to run. He knows, in the deep, prophetic way of dreams, that he is no match for this monster.
It is right behind him, its hot, damp breath wuffling at his hair. What does it feel like to be eaten? He’s about to find out.