40: Amazon Rainforest

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Amazon Rainforest
My name is Enrique and I am from Peru. I am a military man by profession and as such, I often travel to some of the most exotic and remote regions of my country.

Five years ago, I had probably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Although it only lasted a few minutes, it felt like an eternity.

A group of us from the Peruvian Army were sent to conduct training exercises in the Departmento de Amazonas, which is in the north of the country, on the border with Ecuador. The region is quite isolated and most of it is covered by rainforest. Our army barracks was located in a place called Mesones Muro.

Part of our duties was to train the local recruits in the techniques of jungle warfare. Some of the men in the group were from a race of indigenous people who live in the rainforest. They call them Aguarunas.

It was just after midnight, when we came to a clearing and decided to make camp. Everything was dark and green. The moonlight couldn't penetrate the thick canopy of trees in the jungle. We were close to a single dirt road that was lined with stones.

The night had progressed without incident and there was no reason to think anything unusual would happen, but in the next few minutes, all that would change completely.

We sat watching the endless stretch of deserted road as the Aguarunas pitched the tents. The jungle is hot and humid, even at night and sweat was trickling down my face.

As I sat mopping my brow, I suddenly felt an icy wind and at that moment, it felt so cold that I began looking for somewhere to take shelter. It was so unusual that some of the men thought it must be a signal that a heavy rain was approaching. Sometimes the torrential rainfall is accompanied by cold winds, however this was like the cold of winter, the kind of cold you feel take hold of your body, right down to the bones.

The Aguarunas abruptly stopped what they were doing and began whispering to each other in their own language. We couldn't understand what they were saying, but by the looks on their faces, they were terrified.

When I asked them what was happening, I was shocked by their response.

One of them looked at me wide-eyed and hissed, "Approaching evil."

Another tried to explain, "Someone want to hurt us."

All of a sudden, we heard a high-pitched whistling sound echoing around the jungle.

"fiu fiu fiu fiu fiu"

The Aguarunas suddenly blessed themselves, making the sign of the cross and covered their ears.

"There is no sound!" said one, his voice shaking.

"I can hear nothing," cried another.

One of my colleagues, a man named Ramon, turned to me with a puzzled expression. "What's that whistling sound?" he asked.

"No!" shouted one of the Aguarunas. "There is only silence!"

"You can't hear that?" asked Ramon. "It's a high-pitched whistling sound, like fiu fiu fiu fiu fiu..."

In that moment, I couldn't tell what was going on, but I believe that the native peoples know things that most of us have forgotten. Seeing the frightened looks on their faces, I decided that it would be smart to do whatever they were doing, if only for the sake of superstition.

I made the sign of the cross, then covered my ears and said loudly to my colleague, "Like they say, there is no sound!"

"Have you all gone crazy?" he said in disbelief. "I can hear it with my own ears. fiu fiu fiu fiu fiu..."

Just then, there was a tremendous crash as if several trees were splitting apart. What we saw in that split second was the most horrible thing I have ever laid eyes on. In my profession, I have seen some horrible things... I have people maimed... I have seen people die... but what I experienced that day was the scariest thing I have ever witnessed in my life.

A black shape emerged from the jungle. It swooped down over us and before anybody had a chance to react, it was gone. In an instant, it disappeared back into the jungle and I was left crouching there, unsure if what I had seen was real or imagined.

No one moved. No one spoke a word.

The silence was broken by one of the Aguarunas screaming, "It took him!"

Looking to my left, I realized that Ramon was nowhere to be seen. In the place where he had been standing just seconds before, there was nothing but dark green vegetation and a pair of empty boots.

As a consequence of this apparition, two of my soldiers were hospitalized in a medical center nearby. The doctors said that they were suffering from mental illness. According to the Aguarunas, when this thing came out of the jungle and took Ramon, it also snatched their souls. Personally, I cannot explain what happened to them. Something turned them from brave soldiers into shaking, hollow shells.

I asked the Aguarunas what we had encountered that night. None of them would say it out loud, but one wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. He had scrawled, "El Tunchi". It just means "The Whistling Sound". I believe that good and evil really exist and that night, I feel that we experienced pure, unadulterated evil...

However, that is not how my story ends.

The Peruvian Army launched an investigation into Ramon's disappearance. They listened to the testimony of the Aguarunas, then dismissed them as little more than superstitious natives. When I tried to tell them what I had seen, they were not convinced. I was interrogated for hours, during which they accused me of being delusional and asked if we had all been on drugs and suffered hallucinations.

About a week later, I was back in the jungle, leading a patrol that consisted of several Aguarunas and two other enlisted men. We were much deeper in the jungle than we had ever been before and when we came to a clearing, I heard one of the Aguarunas suddenly cry out. He was pointing up into the trees.

It was Ramon.

His body had been strung up in the highest branches. It was a grisly sight. His body was sliced open from his neck to his waist, His guts were hanging out and his intestines were draped across the branches. His legs were nothing but bone and sinew.

Then, we heard his voice, begging and pleading for us to cut him down.

I took a few steps forward and one of the Aguarunas put out his hand and stopped me.

"Is not your friend anymore," he warned sternly. "Look at him. How he still lives?"

"Be careful!" warned another. "Is a trick. In this way it tries to lure us."

Sure enough, when I strained my eyes to see, I realized that his mouth wasn't moving. He was obviously dead and yet the begging and pleading continued.

Another of the Aguarunas took aim and fired at Ramon's head. The bullet struck him right between the eyes. His head slumped to the right and the cries for help ceased abruptly.

When we got back from patrol that day, none of us said a word about it to our commanding officers. They would not have believed us anyway.

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