“Miss Meadows, you know as well as I why you have come all this way from the comforts of your air conditioned offices to my admittedly more humble and less accommodating encampment,” smiled the man diplomatically, seated behind his desk with his fingers steepled, the buzzing ceiling fan twirling lazily overhead doing what it could to “shoo” away the stifling jungle humidity.
“Then perhaps we can skip this amusing game of politics, and you can take me to what it is I came to see, General,” replied Dawn Meadows coolly. The General smiled and let himself chuckle at the confidence of his honored guest, the world renowned reporter, Dawn Meadows. She was such a stark contrast to the greasy jungle warfare life of he and his military men. Dawn was seated opposite his desk wearing a smart and very sexy blue skirt suit with matching white lapel and cuffs. Her blond hair was long, luxurious and well cared for. Even in the many scented air of the jungle, her scent reigned intoxicatingly dominant. She sat with her legs crossed and her hands politely folded on her knee. Her white hands and well manicured nails stood in contrast to the smoky silk nylons that covered her long slender legs. On her feet, she wore expensive black heels. Yes, she was the opposite of the war torn jungles deep within the Amazon. And for all her well-put-together-ness, grace, and the regal posture with which she sat, the General's trained eye, could see the desperation behind her large emerald eyes. Behind the beautifully made up porcelain face, he could see that Dawn was feeling like a desperate trapped animal. For all the money and fashion sense put into her lovely outfit, she was dressed like a fool in the world of the jungle.
Her smart and sexy suit, the attention commanding high heels were her status in the metropolitan world, but here in the hazy mists, they were ridiculous. Fear of a snagging her stockings and being scandalized by a run were her biggest fears in the city. That very same garment could be lethal in the Amazon. Poisonous fangs and stingers would make short work of the silky vulnerable threads if the very air of the jungle did not cook her legs first, dropping her panting like a dog onto her face to die of thirst in the name of fashion. All this the General saw, the fear thinly protected behind Dawn's lovely green eyes. She subtly pinched at her nylons to pull them away from her sticky legs, desperate to give the poor slender things even the hint of a breath. To this the General smiled, knowingly. The precious pantyhose that she wore on her legs kept her weak and controlled. They both knew it, and while this made the General smile in dominance, it made Dawn swallow a gulp of fear for herself.
None the less, the General allowed Dawn Meadows to play her air of confidence in their sparring of words. After all, she was panting just beneath her makeup. “You wish to see my secret headquarters that allegedly holds the diamond supplies that I have amassed in which I am also accused of having stolen from the surrounding villages?” he asked matter of factly.
“That would be the one,” smirked Dawn, licking her ruby lips to keep from drying out. “Don't forget you stole the diamonds from the surrounding villages after they broke their backs in the mines getting them.”
“Such words, Miss Meadows. You are a long way from Rose Tribune and whatever stories they are telling there, I assure you are exaggerated,” responded the General evasively. “I regret to inform you that I can simply not take you to my headquarters as I have worked so long and hard to retain its secrecy, it would be irresponsible of me to undo all that hard work, even for such a fetching young woman as yourself,” the General added with charm. “I will however make myself available for an interview that you may print in your publication.”
Dawn tucked the errant strands of her blond hair behind her ears that had stuck to her face in the sticky humidity before responding. “General,” she began, taking a deep breath while shifting her crossed legs, and adjusting the notedly sag to her posture had taken, “I did not travel thousands of miles, enter a deadly jungle, potentially ruin a great outfit, suffer the abysmal living conditions of your camp, and put up with the leering of your men... for an interview. I expect, as does my editor Mr. O'Neil to be escorted to your headquarters... to prove to the rest of the world that you are in fact not stock piling stolen diamonds while those they rightfully belong to, starve,” she added diplomatically.
“Your diplomacy skills are very good, Miss Meadows, but I must repeat my earlier sentiments. You are a very long way from the air conditioned offices of your Rose Tribune,” replied the General, resting his chin on his steepled fingers.
“Then I will find the headquarters myself,” stated Dawn defiantly. The General paused to make sure he heard her correctly, then let out a bellowing laugh.
“Certainly you jest, Miss Meadows,” replied the General, gesturing a hand toward Dawn in her seated position. “Pardon my candor, but you are dressed as a stupid American woman. You will wander the winding vine and tree filled jungles to find no pattern and only circles, and your clothing and finery that you so preciously covet in vanity will only bring you thirst. And when you soon pant like a dog, you will wish you had never even heard of these “pantyhose” that so cruelly cook you like a prepared meal for the mysteries that lie waiting in the shadows of the jungle. But by then, it will be too late for you. You will be lost in the haze of the greenery. You would gladly trade your wasted vanity for survival skills. You will have no water save for the moisture that you can wring from your sweat soaked stockings into your open begging mouth. But the salty filth will bring you no comfort, and you will fall on the face you spent such precious time painting in the mirror. Finally, you will make a tasty morsel for a hungry jungle inhabitant. Again, I repeat... you are a long way from your air conditioned offices, Miss Meadows.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes at the well spun tale the General predicted of her misfortune. “You make me think you are a poet of great imagination in your spare time, General. Perhaps as you covet your diamonds, your wild imagination takes over?” replied Dawn.
“I assure you, Miss Meadows, my only concern is for your safety, and perhaps you naivety of the rigors of our lands,” said the General with perhaps not 100% sincerity.
His words were lost on Dawn. She had already stood up and curtly thanked the General for his hospitality, but that she would continue this story on her own. Whether it was her pride, not wanting to let the General intimidate her with his stories, or her frustration at the way his men leered at her short skirt and stocking clad legs, Dawn stormed out of the encampment without so much as a bottle of water intent on finding the General's secret jungle headquarters and the stolen diamond cache on her own.
It did not take long for the misty haze of the jungle to take its toll on the slender young reporter. The first thing that had to go were her expensive high heels. While she tried to make them work for as long as she could, again and again she stumbled, tripped, cursed, and very nearly broke her trim feminine ankles. She carried them with her for a while as they were a favorite pair, but soon the hassle turned to resentment, and she dropped them to be lost in the twists and turns of the jungle greens.
Regardless of the ludicrous nature of trying to walk in heels in the jungle they had offered her tender soles protection, a protection that the thin gossamer coating of her reinforced toed pantyhose did not. Dawn had to be very careful where she stepped. This extra care seemed even more strenuous, requiring more thought and energy that seemed to be in limited supply as the humidity seemed to increase while her strength seemed to decrease inversely.
As she pushed another great mass of leaves from her path, Dawn tried to deduct if she had already been this way, or if she was going in circles as the General had warned. The jungle itself seemed unforgiving in its ability to avoid one area being recognizable from another. The truth was, Dawn might have already passed this tree, but she would never know it. That very thought gave her the buddings of fear in her stomach. Lack of recognition could give the jungle the illusion of infinity while her growing thirst had limits to which it could stretch.
More time passed and there was no sign of the headquarters, the jungle gave no less indication of infinity, while Dawn's thirst was no less than a giant weight on her back. So heavy was this weight that it crushed her vain posture, forced her down onto her hands and knees to crawl like an animal in her expensive skirt suit and finely spun pantyhose. Like an animal, she whimpered as she crawled, panting with her tongue out, elbows trembling to support even her sleight weight. Dawn was getting sick with fever and she began to know the very real fear of mortality.
Her direction-less crawling appeared to be infused with a shade of luck as Dawn turned her dizzy head to see something that she prayed was not the creation of a fever induced daydream. She blinked and stopped her fearful whimpering to look upon pool of precious flowing water. It looked clear, cool, and delicious. If her tongue was not hanging out over her red lips, Dawn might have smiled at her good fortune. While her arms quivered to support her nearly expired body, she almost seemed stunned.
Dawn's wits were not entirely lost in the fuzz of the humidity. The pool was located in the shadow of a strange looking plant. While much of the foliage in the jungle had been alien to the metropolitan girl, this one seemed even more intimidating than the rest. It almost looked like a giant Venus fly trap. Dawn had had one as a little girl, but certainly they did not exist to be this large? If that were the case, Dawn would be nothing but a bite sized morsel for the plant! Certainly that was a ridiculous idea. She might be dying of thirst, but she was not about to be someone's dinner.
Deciding that she was not interested in dying of thirst, Dawn crawled toward the pool of water, giving no more thought to whatever the strange looking plant that lingered above was or was not. As she got near the cool water she even managed a giggle of glee. Moments before she had the great fortune of coming across the wondrous pool of water, Dawn had resigned to the fact that she was going to have to wring her pantyhose dry over her open mouth, drink her own sweat in order to stay alive. Now that she knelt before the cool bank of the water, taking handfuls of the crisp clear drink greedily to her cracked red lips, she relished in the fact that she did not have to drink the the dingy salty mess that had soaked her nylons through.
There was so much water, Dawn spared nothing as she scooped the handfuls to her mouth, splashed it on her soiled cheeks, even let it drip on her nylon clad thighs that burned with the suffocation of the jungle humidity. After nearly expiring from the lust of thirst, she was nearly drunk on something so simple as water. The cool drink washed over her, quenched her throat, chilled her veins, made her giddy, chased away the hazy fever. So entranced was Dawn with the power of water in such a harsh environment that she did not even notice that she was noticed from above. A giant maw opened above her blond head staring sightlessly down at her. Rows of razor sharp teeth lined the mouth up and down as long drops of drool escaped, falling unnoticed into the pool of water, some even landing on Dawn's slender stocking clad thighs. So playful and childlike in her splashes with the precious water, she did not even notice, even assumed it was just water itself splashing on her, and this she simply loved.
Dawn was not aware of the plants living presence nor its great interest in her until it was too late. The large arm-like leaves wrapped themselves quietly and carefully around the distracted young woman's slender frame and lifted her with feverish anticipation up into the air. This sudden and very unexpected turn of events shocked Dawn to the core, shook her from her giddy revelry, the shock revealed in her wide green eyes, and a squeak of fear. Turning her head she saw as she was whisked bodily from the ground, still dripping with the cool water toward the giant maw of the plant, the very plant that had reminded her of the Venus fly trap that she had when she was a little girl. Only this one was bigger. So big that Dawn was in fact... the fly.
The able arm-like leaves, carried Dawn's shocked and startled body toward the open and tooth lined maw as though she were but a wisp. It all happened so fast. She did not even have the time to curse herself for her foolishness until the leaves had deposited her headfirst into the open curly toothed mouth of the giant plant. The plant's fleshy and impossibly strong tongue pressed down holding Dawn's body firmly in place, while the leafy arms reached out and ensnared the terrified young woman's thrashing, long and slender legs.
Thoughts filled Dawn's panic rattled head. “God this isn't happening to me! I cannot believe this! Please let this be a nightmare! How could I have been so stupid and proud to ignore the Generals sound warnings!? Please don't eat me! I don't want to be someone's dinner!” These thoughts were a wave in a sea of horror as the reality of her fate set in with each inch that the creature ushered her long and lean body down the hatch. The leaves wrapped and pulled around each inch of her stocking clad legs from the thighs, to her knees, the calves, her ankles, arched feet, down to the reinforced toes of her pantyhose.
Dawn's final prayer was that nylons gave the plant indigestion and despite the fact that she had met her grim end, and painfully so, the plant did cough out the gossamer off-black garment, floating down lazily to drape over the leaves above the cool pool of water that Dawn so greedily drank from.