In search of a secret
“He wandered for days in the forest. No idea where he was ……”
Omekono’s brother had glanced in sadness at the figure slumped by the fire. Then he concluded his tale for Tarzan.
“Lost. When they’d taken him captive, they’d moved him far by the river. And then they’d walked him for hours through dense jungle. He was free. But he was lost. Desperate to get back home. But where was he?”
The chief shook his head in sadness.
“Free. But terrified. There’d be a manhunt. They’d be after him. He had escaped their clutches. They had set so much hope in this non-existent secret of his. And he had murdered their priest. They’d hunt him down ……”
The older brother’s gaze settled on Tarzan .. the embers of the fire now starting to die away.
“You can imagine. His fears of getting captured again. What they’d do to him. He knew to his cost what they were capable of.”
Tarzan himself had been at the wrong end of a manhunt. He knew the fears .. and HE had been physically fit and in his prime.
“He was certain they’d turn over every stone in the jungle to hunt him down. Sure they’d get him. Pounce. And haul him back. For unthinkable retribution.”
And, thought Tarzan, the way Omekono was, he’d not have it in him to battle himself free. The older brother gave a big sigh. Looking at the powerful back. Taking in the outstanding power in Omekono’s shoulders. This visceral manly body so at odds with the dead spirit within. Enviably strong. But tortured out of his mind.
“Terror. Fear of ambush. Surprising him. Jumping out at him out of every bush. Petrified. For days. Tormented by fear of them capturing him again. Poor sucker, Omekono went out of his mind.”
Tarzan could recognise that vibrant young man who come visiting him. Paying Tarzan homage. The muscular torso. The powerful legs. But where was that spirit? That zest for life? That commitment to emulate Tarzan? Gone. Everything that had made Omekono an exceptional man – gone, wiped out.
The brother continued.
“Days wandering. Exhausted. Terrified. Expecting an ambush with every breath he took. It must have got to him ……”
He let out a big long breath.
“Somehow he wandered this way. Hunters found him .. still far from here. Naked still, wild-eyed. He went mad when they recognised him. He fought them like crazy. All his head could see were those damned Untula. They’d come for him. No amount of reassurance. Telling them they were friends. They had to rope his arms down to stop him. Tie him up to get him back. And still .. exhausted though he was .. like a wild animal he battled them every step of the way back.”
Tarzan glanced at Omekono. Seated staring absently into the fire. Oblivious to his brother talking about him. A man so desperate .. driven by fears of re-captured .. he’d been fighting for his life, he thought. That must have taken some effort to bring a maddened dog like Omekono back home.
“Those monsters .. the Untula, he called them .. they destroyed my brother. Crushed his will. Took his mind.”
The chief answered Tarzan’s unasked question.
“Some of our men wanted to go hunt them down. Exact revenge. For what they had done to their chief .. their friend. Omekono, every warrior’s idol. Chosen above me as chief .. for the spirit of life that burned within him.”
He shook his head into the embers. Recalling his decision to the tribe.
“I couldn’t risk it. After seeing what they had done to him .. putting his light out .. extinguishing the fires of life. I couldn’t risk it .. the thought of our men falling into their hands ……”
He looked hard at Tarzan. Knowing he had made the right decision.
“No one should fall into their hands …….”