Well I’m here at last. Kenya. The village is all I expected it to be. ‘I a stranger, and afraid,’ and all that. Yes, Toto, we are a long way from Kansas now.”
She paused to listen for a minute as several other voices had joined in the argument.
*Great. A riot outside my room.*
She resumed her typing.
“Met my guide today. The distinguished Phillip Hamm. A walking stereotype, the proverbial tough guy. They assured me that he was trustworthy. The best bodyguard they could provide outside of a military escort, they said. But the man’s an ass, trustworthy or
not. He looks like some midget Viking berserker, about five-four, maybe five-five, and at
least 250 pounds. Bald on top, long hair around the fringes and a beard. Ponytail, of course. And an overflowing belly. Maybe a sawed-off biker instead of a berserker.
Either way, I guess none of that matters. I didn’t come here to meet new people.”
Maribelle stopped, pulled the papers out of her travel bag and read through them again. She lay them beside her on the bed and resumed typing.
“I still can’t convince myself this isn’t some elaborate hoax. And even if it’s all for real, I can’t make myself believe anything will come of it. I mean, how are we supposed to find…?” She paused. “ I don’t even know what to call it. Is ‘it’ even correct? Should I say ‘he’ instead? And what if ‘he/it’ doesn’t want to be found? True, he wrote this journal, but still.”
She looked at the printouts beside her on the bed, the white paper gone yellow in the humid tropical air, even kept zipped up in her travel bag most of the time. She started typing again.
“If he is real, if he exists, and if we can find him, it will be the biggest scientific news event since, well, ever. And I could be the one to break the story. Little Maribelle Tate of Folkston, Georgia. Shit, I don’t think I’m ready to be famous.”
A gunshot, out in the street. It sounded like it came from right below the window. Then screams, and the sounds of people running. Maribelle had almost dropped the laptop. She had almost cried out but stopped herself.
“Shit!” she muttered.
She thought of the bullet holes in the front wall of the hotel. Still trembling she went back to her typing.
“Okay, true confession time, here. I’m scared to death. There. I said it. Or typed it. Same thing. I am scared. I want to go home. I thought I was all ready for this, and I expected it to be tough, so I guess I’m not experiencing anything I wasn’t expecting. But I am so ready for it to be over. I just want to do the job and get back home. Safe, secure, boring home, with air-conditioning and delivery pizza. God, that all sounds so good right now.
But I have the job to do first, and Judith is counting on me. So shut up and do it. Don’t think about home, just get the job done. Get the pictures and the samples, just enough of a sample for a DNA test. That’s all I need.
I’ll be better once I’ve seen Judith.”