Julie and the Monkey Witch

Chapter 7



“I don’t like it,” Julie said as she glared at P’li sitting in the wooden cage Manti’s warriors had placed him in.

“Until he talks, we don’t have much of a choice,” said Manti.

“Still don’t like it,” Julie replied. “He was too eager to give in, that’s always a red flag.”

“A what?”

“Sorry, California term,” she said. “It’s a bad sign.”

“Ah,” said Manti. “Unfortunately, this is all we could do.”

“Ugh, I’d love to find out who’s behind all this, but NOOOOOO!” Julie said. “Mr. Monkey-Monster had to go all Joe McCarthy/Salem Witch Trials on us!”

“Julie, do not understand your references,” said Manti.

“Well, some people do,” she pouted.

Manti rolled his eyes and walked away. Julie made an “I’m watching you” gesture to P’li, another gesture utterly unfamiliar to the Teo, before walking off.

She left the village for the shore. Like many Polynesian peoples, the Teo are fishermen, and their village is not too far from the coast. It’s a bit of a walk, but not a tiring one, of course, as it should be noted that Julie and Kainak’s treehouse is to the southeast, the Paea village to the southwest and the research camp to the west. Perhaps in the author’s attempts to place it in the middle of brush, there was a mistake made about the location. In any case, the fastest route to the shore is due south.

There was a satellite village on the shore, where tribesmen worked on their boats. Like the Hawaiians and Maori, the Teo developed an outrigger canoe that not only helped them get to the island many generations ago, but they use for practical purposes like fishing and recreational purposes like many westerners would use an outrigger for.

There were also a few tribesmen surfing out in the ocean. Being a Polynesian culture, surfing was an essential part of their lives. Julie couldn’t surf, of course. She tried that a couple times on a family trip to Los Angeles, but miserably failed each time and finally gave up on the third trip to LA. Julie didn’t want to embarrass herself, although the dumb surf boys of SoCal probably didn’t notice. Which is bad, considering she’s from Santa Barbara.

But it was a relief to get out of the stifling heat, humidity, and thickness of the Pomaika’i rainforest to the openness of the beach, where the smell of saltwater refreshed her after taking in the stench of so many plants. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and endless blue skies, dotted with clouds—and a typhoon in the distance—was a much-needed sight for sore eyes and sound for also-sore ears. Yes, she loved the jungle, but she needed a break from it now and then.

And it looked like Kainak did, too.

He was out on the waves, surfing with some of the shore villagers. He was found as a teenager by some of these shore villagers, who took him to Manti. He helped the young Canadian recover. And recognizing that he was probably stranded, Kyle learned the ways and language of the Teo, before setting out into the jungle as many young Teo tribesman did.

It’s through the digital watch and books that he kept, that he was able to retain a sense of who he was, but the transformation from Kyle, a kid from Winnipeg to Kainak, Tarzan’s real-life successor, was complete. When he returned, that transformation was obvious. And while he was still an honorary Teo, the tribe knew that he’d become one with the jungle.

It sounded like the dumb summary of a Tarzan rip-off.

Kainak soon came back to the shore, his—oops, already had one gratuitous fanservice description, don’t need another one. Long story short, Julie ogled her mate until he walked up to her and cleared his throat. “My eyes are up here,” he said, trying to get her gaze away from his chest.

“Sorry,” she said, finding his hair to be an even better view.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“P’li’s surrender was too easy,” she said.

“Obviously,” he replied.

“I know what he’s trying to do,” said Julie. “But why hasn’t the place gone insane yet?”

“Probably because he hasn’t named names yet, eh?” said Kainak. “Once he starts, that’s when shit’s going down.”

“At least he’s out of earshot because you just gave him an idea, genius!”

“Sorry,” he said. If P’li did start naming names, as Abigail Williams did, then the fear is that it could turn into Salem in the Pacific. Hell, if Pali went with another obvious boogeyman, taking advantage of the Teo’s mistrust of the researchers, then to put it simply, it wouldn’t end well at all.

Either way, they had a catch-22 on their hands, and Julie figured that out as she fell back onto the sand, rubbing her head and groaning. Hell, P’li didn’t need to say anything. All this gunpowder barrel needed was one person who hated their neighbor to accuse them of being a shape-shifter for the situation to ignite.

And Kainak, realizing this pretty quickly, decided to head back to the village. “I’m going back,” he said. “I don’t want things to get messy.”

“Fine,” she said, lifting her foot and examining the sand getting in between her toes. To calm down, she focused on her foot. Of course, if some creep were staring at it right now, she’d kicked the bastard with that foot. To her, there was something about never wearing shoes again that was oddly liberating, aside from wearing the bare minimum of a standard-issue jungle girl outfit.

Okay, part of it was practical, because wearing shoes in a hot and humid rainforest would mean some pretty lousy athlete’s foot. But as a jungle girl, she was connected to nature, and going barefoot was both symbolic and literal. Also the Teo, being related to the Hawaiians, have a strong cultural and social emphasis on going barefoot, so much so that it’s the biggest reason Kainak, himself a Teo adoptee, goes barefoot. That and wearing shoes while swinging from tree to tree hinders grip.

It’s also more comfortable. But, her soles were… quite dirty. She needed to wash ’em off, so she got up and put her feet in the surf. She forgot there were a few calluses on her feet, so she cringed when the saltwater hit her soles. However, she relaxed and felt the dirt washing off. Of course, in the year she has not worn a pair of shoes, the skin on her soles has gotten stronger, providing her with better grip on the trees, dirt, etc.

But enough with the digression on the liberating aspects of going barefoot. The author wanted to save going barefoot from perverts who put up disgusting pictures of peoples’ feet and distort the whole idea behind going barefoot. Also, going barefoot is probably not for everyone. It’s best to talk to an experienced, licensed medical professional AKA, a doctor, than the author, who is not one.

Anyways, Julie couldn’t relax. She felt something terrible was going to happen, and it prevented her from relaxing. Sitting up, she pulled her knees up to her chin and thought about what was going on. She didn’t want to believe, but the only person she could think of doing this was Unaki. That girl had powers. But what her aunt did to her was so cruel that Julie didn’t want to believe that Unaki was horrible.

Sitting up in the sand and looking back towards the village, she couldn’t help but have a bad feeling in her gut that something bad was about to happen.

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

The place was a powderkeg waiting to explode, and Kainak could feel it as soon as he entered. Everywhere he looked, people were eye each other suspiciously, like they had some kind of dirt on their neighbor that they were just itching to share. And all it needed was one spark to set it off.

He hated these situations.

He could see P’li wasn’t talking, hence why Julie wasn’t happy in the first place. And that’s pretty natural if he does say so himself.

He noticed P’li was looking at him, so he squatted down in front of the man’s wooden cage. He knew P’li could smash that cage if he wanted to, but he wasn’t. “I know what you’re up to,” he said.

“What?”

“You’re trying to cover who you’re working with,” said Kainak.

“What does that mean?” P’li asked.

“I dunno,” the Jungle Dude replied. There had to be a better way to interrogate P’li. The problem was, he’d probably just start pointing fingers and making the situation worse.

And the fact that Kainak kept repeating this shit to himself over and over again showed just how stressed the Jungle Dude was.

If this was a game, P’li was destroying the competition.

Fuck this. It’s time to get direct.

He grabbed the bars of the cage and gave P’li a threatening expression. The interrogated backed away, but couldn’t go very far. “Alright, P’li,” he said. “Why’d you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Stop playing dumb, P’li,” he said. “You know damn well what I’m talking about. Why’d you turn into a monkey? And why are you working with the bastard who killed your sister?”

“Wha-what?”

Kainak could see this coming. To put it simply, P’li was the type who could throw a book away if it didn’t have any pictures. “Come on, P’li,” he said. “I know you’re hiding someone. Sure, I know you’re not the smartest in the tribe, but you’ve done a hell of a job fooling everyone.”

“What?”

“You’re smarter than you put up,” he said. “I’m impressed.” The Jungle Dude crossed his arms over his chest and stood, looking down at P’li. P’li honestly wasn’t sure if Kainak was telling the truth or trying to fool with him.

“Thanks,” said P’li. He cringed, and Kainak smirked.

“Did you do it alone, or did you have help?” Kainak asked.

“Help with what?”

This wasn’t going anywhere. P’li was smarter than he looked, and the frustration was getting to him, so he smacked the top of the cage, jostling it and making P’li start to change. “Oh, damn,” he said as P’li gained sharp, nasty teeth, and fur started to grow all over his body.

Kainak backed away as P’li grew larger, smashing the cage. He roared, and the tribesmen surrounding him ran away as fast as they could, screaming all the while. Kainak grabbed a spear, thrusting it at P’li, only for his opponent to swipe at the spear, breaking it like a twig. Needless to say, Kainak was pretty nervous now.

P’li growled at him, lunged, and swiped at the Jungle Dude. Kainak jumped away, landing in a four-point primal stance. P’li roared and beat the ground before charging the Jungle Dude head-on. Being smart, Kainak leaped out of the way and ran towards the main gate. Perhaps this could—

“P’LI, STOP!”

That familiar voice should not have been a shock to Kainak, but it was. Unaki, the girl who’d been horribly abused by her aunt, ran up to P’li, holding him back as much as she could, despite her small frame. And to Kainak’s surprise, P’li calmed down. What’s more, he seemed to be… affectionate with her. It’s easy for anyone to be confused in this kind of situation, and Kainak was indeed confused. While he suspected Unaki, this was… a shock, to say the least.

“I shouldn’t be this surprised,” he said, not expecting Unaki to hear him.

And it was pretty obvious she didn’t hear him because she slapped P’li. Some warriors looked about ready to jump P’li, but Kainak had to wave them away so they wouldn’t draw any attention from either one. It was a petty tender moment, to be honest. Were they—

Well, it would make a lot of sense if they were. Kainak did know they were hanging out a lot, but it’s still surprising that they would apparently be DATING.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!?”

If you think that was Kainak, you’re mistaken.

Julie had her hands on her head as if she was unable to comprehend what was going on. “WAIT, WHAT-WHAT-WHAT—UNAKI!?”

“Julie,” Unaki said. “Should you be surprised?”

“YES!” Julie shouted. “I mean—how—how—oh god, my head hurts!”

“I wish it was easy to explain,” Kainak said. “Even I have no idea what’s going on.”

“But—Unaki, after we helped you with your aunt? Your horribly-abusive aunt?” Julie pleaded as she walked up to Unaki. “Why?”

“My aunt WAS a fiend,” said Unaki. “Yes, I hated her so much. But you cannot assume anything about me unless you actually knew me.”

Julie was angry but remembered that Unaki had helped slaughter her whole village.

“You’ve been lying this whole time,” she snarled.

“Of course,” said Unaki. “And there’s a reason for that.”

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