Monkey Business

Adil shouldn’t have gone hiking.  He had never gone by himself before. His friend Steve was supposed to take him, but domestic issues had caused him to drop out. He said, “Monkey! Let’s go next weekend instead.” Monkey was Adil’s nickname, on account of his hairy body and climbing skills, and he was also called “link”, as in the missing link.

Adil was feeling stressed by life in general, and its romantic and financial aspects in particular. He needed to get away.

He packed his backpack, hitched a couple of rides up the valley, and headed into the forests at the base of Mt Negra. Four days would be enough to reach the top of the mountain, spend a day there, and come back down. It was irresponsible to climb alone, but it wasn’t really climbing. Steve had said no technical ascent was involved.

The first day was great. Adil estimated that he was about halfway up, which wasn’t bad seeing as he had only started climbing at midday. Maybe he was better off without Steve after all. He travelled faster alone.

He found a good spot to set up camp, a small meadow with red, gold and green wildflowers. He hadn’t known there were such things as green flowers. He picked one and smelled its rich, coffee-like perfume.

His tent was up in five minutes, and a three course meal under way in fifteen. He cooked it in four stages on his camp stove. First was beef soup, then pasta, then tomato sauce for it, and then tea. Nice warm liquids, nourishing and hydrating, so much better than the junk he consumed daily – burgers, pizza and beer.

Adil threw a rope over a branch and hauled his supplies up into the tree. He’d probably be OK, but why take the chance?

This didn’t stop a hungry black bear though, which must have climbed the tree, jumped on the backpack, and gnawed away the rope. By the time Adil emerged from his tent, it was already gone, leaving only quivering bushes.

No food was an issue, as was no water, but most pressing was no map or compass, which he had foolishly left in the pocket of the backpack, which was now elsewhere. The thought of the compass guiding the bear around the province amused him briefly, but quickly seemed less funny.

Adil could make out his general position but not get an accurate bearing. Should he continue to the top or turn back now?

He wandered around a bit, looking for his bag. Maybe it could still be recovered. It became dark unexpectedly, too quickly, so he set up his tent again. In the night he dreamed of fur brushing against his skin and something dark biting him, but upon waking found no tooth marks. The smell of rich coffee must still be on his breath from the night before.

Adil navigated by the sun’s position and made progress downwards, but became less sure of his orientation. He saw a strange jumble above his head. Was it a huge nest? Or some kind of aerial beaver’s lodge? It seemed a rough tree house, but who would build that here?

If he stayed up there he would be safe from the bear though. He collected nuts, fruits, berries and herbs and spent the third night of his hike in the tree house. He didn’t feel safe on the forest floor, so stayed there the next night too, coming down only to gather foods.

A week later, Search & Rescue teams came looking for Adil. One of them saw his shelter and what seemed to be a large monkey within it. He pushed the speak button on his radio. He must inform his team that he’d found a new species of primate in the forest, that built green flower nests. But before he said anything, he smelled rich coffee, sensed something above him, and everything went black.

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