Julie and the Monkey Witch

Chapter 10



Kainak had no trouble navigating the jungle, effortlessly leaping from tree branch to tree branch, occasionally gliding like he was in a Chinese historical martial arts movie. Don’t ask me why this wire-fu is in here, because it’s a goddamn fantasy AND I CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT—

(GET ON WITH IT!!!)

He wasn’t in a hurry at the moment. But he did inwardly laugh at a joke Hilo made suggesting he could have P’li over for dinner. He wasn’t wrong, wink, wink.

Unaki, on the other hand, presented an actual threat, and she needed to be dealt with, and that much was obvious. And he had confidence that Manti would handle the situation as he should.

He had to reach the researchers. And if neither of Unaki or P’li were stupid, they wouldn’t attack them. He had a clear path to them, as he could smell a particular cologne brand that John Tamou wore, that originated in Australia. The Jungle Dude forgot the brand and scent’s name. All that mattered was that it was supposed to smell like the outback itself. Isn’t the Outback a big desert? His internal ramblings got to him a bit at the moment, and he paused on a tree branch to get his head back on right. He was pretty sure he wasn’t doing things right.

He also caught another, rather foul scent off in the distance, which made him both annoyed and troubled. But he couldn’t quite be preoccupied with it, so he refocused on the task at hand.

However, if it was what he thought it might be, he wasn’t happy. As strong and skilled as he was, he was amazed he barely held P’li off the first time. He’s certainly no slouch when it comes to muscles, strength, and athleticism, but at under 200 lbs, he’s tiny compared to most depictions of Tarzan, Ka-Zar, or your stereotypical jungle hunk. Part of the reason was that he lost some weight in those first weeks of jungle survival. The other part came after when he realized a smaller frame put him at a bit of an advantage traversing the jungle.

But even so, if P’li—he was sure the ape monster was P’li and not one of the island’s assorted beastmen—was going to go after the researchers, he was in bigger trouble than he needed.

The Jungle Dude stopped in his tracks on top of a branch close to the tree’s trunk, then carefully walked onto the edge of the tree branch and into the jungle. He listened carefully.

“I know you’re there, you son of a bitch,” he muttered to himself. The tick foliage provided the perfect cover for any animal, even human. Evolution and adaptation have many species an extra edge in camouflage, but apes and monkeys were just as adept at hiding. He knew this because he learned from apes and more intelligent hominids, not unlike Tarzan’s mangani, except gentle like gorillas and orangutans. They only wanted to be left alone.

But it also meant Oranta and Unaki were not the only ones able to call upon monkeys and apes.

He cupped his hands to his mouth and called out, imitating an ape’s call. He carefully waited for the response. He could hear another call off in the distance. That didn’t sound like a response. He cupped his hands to his mouth and called out again. He waited, listening intently for any response.

He finally heard something, and it was a response — a big ape from the sound of it. More apes joined in. He triumphantly pumped his fist, thankful to have allies on his side.

A hard blow in the back caught him off guard. He fell off the branch and plummeted past several tree branches until he clutched a vine and swung over to the closest tree branch. He had difficulty landing but managed to get his foothold on the tree branch, and stabilized himself. Still squatting, he looked out past the leaves. He didn’t like what he saw.

“Godsdammit, P’li!” he shouted at Unaki’s helper, now back in his ape-monster form. “I don’t have time for this! Go away!” Okay, he wasn’t 100% sure it was P’li, but he did recognize the stench from that time he fought the ape monster at the ruins. And he could see enough of him through the trees to recognize P’li’s magical ape form.

But even worse, there was a new scent approaching. Researchers. “Don’t even think about it,” he called, readying himself for the inevitable fight, adjusting his stance to a fighting one. “I don’t want to fight you, but if I—”

P’li cut his threat off, leaping out of the tree towards the approaching researchers, forcing Kai to also jump out of his vantage point. Propelled by his strong legs, he almost flew like a character in a Chinese wuxia movie and socked P’li dead in the jaw. The blow knocked P’li off his trajectory, and he fell face-first in front of the surprised researchers. Kai effortlessly landed next to him, picked him up and put him in a full-Nelson.

P’li managed to wiggle his way out of Kainak’s grip and scooted away, where he stamped the ground. Kai did a short ape-inspired ha’a–or haka, if you prefer the Maori term—then stuck his tongue out with bulging eyes.

The ape’s reaction, performing the same ha’a, albeit grunting the lyrics instead of shouting them, confirmed Kai’s suspicions. It was P’li. “P’li, listen!” he called, “Manti is taking some men to find Unaki. They’re just gonna ask her if she wants to come back and that’s it. I think she might just decline. You don’t have to do… whatever it is you’re doing.”

P’li didn’t respond, like he was playing dumb and pretending he hadn’t given himself away. “Don’t play in innocent with me!” Kainak snapped like a One Piece character snapping at others. “I’ll give you to the count of ‘ekolu to leave! ῾Ekahi! ῾Elua!” P’li didn’t move. He just glared at Kainak. ” ‘EKOLU!”

P’li lunged for Kainak, swiping a massive paw at the Jungle Dude. Kainak ducked, rolled underneath P’li and popped up behind him, so he could punch the back of his opponent’s head. P’li’s thick skull in this form prevented a lot of damage, and the punch made little difference. It just angered P’li more than it should have.

P’li lunged again, tackling Kainak and pinning him to the ground. But Kai managed to grapple him and managed to turn him over. He punched P’li’s ugly mug over and over again, but it didn’t do much. P’li proved that without a shadow of a doubt when he effortlessly picked the Jungle Dude up, stood up and threw him like a baseball at the nearest tree. But Kai had also learned some more tricks not just from the apes, but from cats.

Twisting his body in mid-air, he got himself in the right place to grab a tree branch. He had to do it right because if he didn’t, he could rip his arm out of its socket. But he did it right. When he grabbed the branch, he swung up and on to it. Gingerly and carefully getting a foothold, he crouched down to prepare a jump. He’d be like the guy on the top rope about to throw a beatdown on the guy below him. He licked his lips and then remembered the shark-tooth necklace he wore. He took it off and put in his loincloth pouch.

He was just about to jump. But something caught the corner of his eye. He looked to his right. Several brown-colored figures moved through the trees. He smiled. Unaki may be the monkey witch, but he was Kainak, friend of the apes.

“HEY, P’LI!” he shouted. “Come here! I’m out in the open!” he ran a hand through sweat-slicked short-medium-length wavy hair waiting for P’li to take the bait. He turned to his right and quietly grunted orders to the other monkeys.

He did another ha’a taunting P’li. The enraged were-ape took the bait and ran towards him. Then Kainak shouted something and about 10 monkeys and apes jumped out of the trees, swarming P’li and tearing at him like a kid ripping the wrapping off his Christmas present. Okay, not literally.

“What do ya think of my monkey friends, P’li!?” Kainak laughed as P’li threw a monkey off. No non-were-monkeys were harmed in the writing of this story, so of course it was fine. But it did jump back onto P’li to bite his leg.

Kai stood up straight again, called out, and beat his chest. The monkeys and apes jumped off of P’li, and Kainak jumped off the branch. He landed on P’li, elbowing his shoulder and easily knocking him down.

This time Kai had the advantage, and he started wailing on P’li. The other monkeys and apes kept P’li down on the ground. Kainak had him right where he wanted.

“… And we find some of the island’s natives engaged in… combat?” a woman’s voice with a New Zealand accent tore Kai’s attention away from P’li. He looked up to find Gina leading a group of new expedition team members standing less than 30 feet from him. They awkwardly stared at him and the rest of the unfolding scene.

“Oh, shit,” he said to himself. He’d forgotten about them.

P’li took advantage of his hesitation and pushed him off before charging at them. Kai fell but managed to see an expedition team member carrying tranquilizer rifles.

“TRANQ HIM!” he shouted.

John Tamou didn’t need anything else. With a dart already in his rifle barrel, he raised it to his shoulder, aimed, and shot P’li. The dart hit its mark, his right shoulder. Another expedition member also pointed his rifle at P’li and shot his right thigh. But he kept coming at the researchers.

“SCATTER!” John Tamou shouted.

Several things happened simultaneously. First, P’li reached the researchers and bowled into them. Second, Kainak got up and leapt over P’li and the researchers, appearing to glide all the while. Third, the researchers all got out of the way, save for the ones who were in front that bore the brunt of P’li’s weight.

Kainak landed in front of P’li and put his dukes up. He punched P’li twice, first in the gut, then in the jaw. The tranquilizers had finally begun to take effect, because P’li fell backwards and hit the ground.

Kai’s suspicions were finally confirmed when the ape started to transform back into a human. Instead of staying put, though, he walked up to P’li and grabbed the seashell necklace he wore.

“Why’d ya do it, P’li!?” he spat.

“For loooooove…” P’li groaned, his speech slurring from the tranquilizer drugs taking effect.

“Cool motive! Still murder!” the Jungle Dude replied as he pulled some twine out of another loincloth pouch. He bound P’li’s wrists and ankles together, picked him up, threw him over his shoulder, waved at the researchers, and ran off into the jungle. Since he was supposed to warn them, his job was done.

The researchers stood there, wondering what had just happened. “Well, that was interesting,” said Gina.

“Not as bizarre as the other things on this island,” said John Tamou.

:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:

Manti’s scouting party briskly ran along the trail, ignoring the ape calls for the most part. They sang the Greystokian version of army cadence songs instead, their rhythmic footfalls providing the beat. You’d be right to assume this is heavily rehearsed.

Julie didn’t sing, running behind everyone at the back of the line, instead. The substantial segregation of Pomaika’I’s past was no more, but she wasn’t koa, but a white haole cousin, so they didn’t take kindly to her insisting she be at the front. It was mutual, though. She was in a bad mood. Even if she was in the mood to do so, she wasn’t about to question her place among the tribe. This was their Island and rules. She didn’t have to like most of them, of course.

Manti led the warriors, his red-and-yellow mahiole perched on his head, announcing to anyone who just so happened to be in the vicinity that a Chief was in the vicinity, so get the hell out of the way, cousin. Of course, his ancestors were the ones who ended the era of rigid segregation, so the only punishment someone was likely to get was a big chewing out over getting in the Chief’s way, and wouldn’t have a few inches taken off the top if they so much as touched his shadow.

The trail they ran on had been beaten into the ground by centuries of feet, turning it into an unpaved road, like in rural locations. The land rolled like a tropical rain-forested California coast but mostly stayed flat, as they were still in the island’s flatlands. Three extinct volcanoes sat in the middle of the island, the victims of centuries of wind and rain erosion, resulting in an island that, while a big volcanic island, was flatter than most.

That’s bullshit, of course. No one knew why the Island was flatter than it should be. A popular joke among the expedition quoted The Simpsons, “A Wizard Did It.” The natives believed that the demigod Maui pulled the Island up from the depths of the sea, just like he did with New Zealand and Hawaii. Close enough. The volcanos did exist, and the Island had some of the same geographic features the Hawaiian and Samoan islands had, it’s just flatter than… yeah. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it was flat-ish on the coasts, a bit more mountainous in the middle, like the Big Island, but bigger and the peaks farther apart. It depended on where you were.

Whatever the cause, the warriors kept up their pace. The edge of Paea territory, or whatever was left of it, was a couple hours’ jog from the Teo village. The main tribal confederations made up most of the southern half of the island, the Teo on the northern coast, the Pele in the north-central, and the Paea in the northwest. Independent villages and tribes made up the rest of the human inhabitants. The Northern Jungle itself covered an area 1.6 times the size of the city of Los Angeles.

“Halt!” Manti ordered. “Get some refreshment. Then we keep moving.” The warriors stopped. Hilo held a water bag, made out of a deer’s stomach. He passed it around the warriors, who all took a single sip and a bite from the fish jerky they also carried. It was meant to be efficient.

A handsome warrior named Hau, who was about her age (and probably would’ve been the catalyst for her to stay here if Kainak wasn’t), handed the water sack to her. Her thirst was for water and not for him, so she drank her fill. She ran cross-country until her senior year of high school. This kind of distance running was nothing for her. Her calves ached, to be sure, but it was the good ache. So was her sweat. Underboob sweat, however, was a pain in the ass.

They were back on their way in less than 10 minutes.

It was another hour of running and stopping until they reached the remains of the Paea village again. As you’ve probably guessed, it was mostly deserted, only a few hale, the traditional thatched-roof, open-walled structures that made up Greystokian villages, and huts for single families, stood. This was the capital, for lack of a better term, of the Paea “state.” Now, well, it was a ghost village. The hale ali’i was easy to spot, as it sat on the village’s western edge and raised several feet in the air by a base of rocks.

Some of the warriors went straight for the nearest coconut trees to get some grub. Meanwhile, Hilo blew on a conch shell, the sound echoing off the trees.

“AH-LOOOOOOOOOOOOO-HAAAAAAAAAAA, LITTLE COUSIN!” Manti called. “Come on out! We’re not here to take you back with us unless you want us to!”

They saw movement in the hale ali’i, and Unaki hesitantly stepped out. She looked around at the warriors. Seeing that their weapons were still down at their sides, she cautiously approached Manti and Hilo. The Chief and his lieutenant walked over to greet her.

“Aloha, Unaki,” he said again. “I see you’ve made yourself at home here.”

“It’s where I lived,” said Unaki. “Why are you here again?”

“You’re wanted for murder, little cousin,” Manti reminded her. “But, we also know your aunt mistreated you, and we’re willing to cut you a LITTLE bit of slack. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, of course.”

“What do you want?”

“You can either come with us to face Teo justice,” said Manti, “Or you can live out your days in exile. If I were you, I would pick exile. There might be a sanctuary a few more hours down the coast you can go to.”

“What if I don’t want to go to the sanctuary?” she asked.

“It’s a big island,” said Manti. “You can go anywhere.”

“Why are you here?”

“To be honest, political pressure,” said Manti. “But, I do see a good reason why.”

“And what is that?”

“As I said, you’re a murderer,” Manti answered. “I’m certain you knew what you were doing, and for that, I can’t let it go easy. Worst off, you took advantage of our hospitality. Was our food not that good?”

“I had my reasons,” said Unaki.

“Good motive,” said Manti, “Still murder. I’ll let you think about this, but don’t try stalling.”

“Are you sure about that?” Hilo asked.

“Don’t want to pressure her into anything,” said Manti. “Let her choose on her own.”

As they waited, a warrior ran up to him and whispered something in his ear. His initially inquisitive expression changed into concern and suspicion at Unaki.

“Where’s P’li?” he asked.

“Out,” she replied.

“I can see that,” said Manti. “Don’t make this harder for yourself.”

Unaki quietly grunted a scoff, turned around, and went back to the hale ali’i. Manti didn’t follow, but Julie did. Now that Unaki wasn’t looking, Manti gestured to some of his warriors, and they fanned out to guard the village.

Unaki sat down in one of the hut’s corners to sulk. Julie followed her inside, looked around, and then walked over to her. “What do you want?” Unaki asked.

“If I were you, I’d take the exile,” said Julie. “It’s not that different from what you’re doing now.”

“Go away and play white savior somewhere else,” Unaki snapped.

“You don’t have to be such a bitch!” Julie replied. “Ugh, why’d you do it?”

“I am indeed a horrible person,” Unaki replied, pulling her knees up to her chin.

“No shit,” said Julie. “But you can change that, right?”

“Perhaps,” said Unaki.

“Look, just take the exile,” said Julie. “I’ve had a rough week, and I don’t wanna get into another fight.”

“Let me think,” said Unaki. “Now, leave me alone.”

Frustration taking over, Julie growled and stomped off. She kicked a coconut shell just because. She left the hale ali’i, storming past a few confused warriors at the same time, but Hilo was the first one to say anything.

“Oi! Something wrong, cousin?” he asked.

“Why can’t she just take the godsdamned exile!?” Julie fumed.

“I’m sure she will,” said Hilo. “But you can’t rush these things. Manti said to give her twenty minutes. She’ll probably say nothing, and then we can leave, yeah.”

“And what are you going to do?” Julie asked.

“I’m just gonna enjoy the weather,” Hilo said, looking up at the cloudless sky. “I could use some downtime. So should you!” He pointed towards the edge of the village. Julie didn’t want to go, but her legs took her there, anyway. She knew she wanted to do something but didn’t know exactly what.

The village sat on a bluff overlooking the beach. A trail led down there, worn down by centuries of use. Julie could see the canoes down on the beach, still tied up, ready to be taken out by a crew that no longer existed. Sighing, she sat down and stared out at the ocean. She imagined what the fishermen would do every day. They probably came down that very trail, talking and laughing, arguing about the fish they were going to catch. They would load up their equipment, nets, spears, etc, and head out into the ocean, sometimes past the reef and the barrier that hid the island from the outside, like something out of a comic book.

Thinking about the ocean calmed her down. So she pulled her legs in, put her hands on her knees, closed her eyes, and took several deep breaths. Maybe the meditation could help. The only trouble was, the salty Oceanside air wasn’t the only scent. Some of the Warriors shad started cooking a rabbit they killed and gutted while on the trail. In Polynesia, the men cook… Or at least in Samoa. In any case, the scent distracted her.

“Oi! Huli! You want a rabbit, little cousin!?” Hilo called.

“I’m not hungry!” she called back.

“Your loss!” Hilo replied. “If ya want, you can play some games with us!”

“No, thanks!”

“OOOOIIII! SPECIAL DELIVERY!”

Everyone turned to the south. Kainak casually strolled into the village’s remains, carrying a package on his shoulder. Though no one was entirely surprised, they were certainly astonished that he carried P’li, bound on his wrists and ankles.

Everyone turned their attention to the hale ali’i as Unaki came down the stairs.


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