You'd think after this many days in the jungle we'd have been found by now wouldn't you? That being stranded in the jungle for an extended length of time only happened in movies to flesh out the story? Well, let me tell you something, there is no way a plane or helicopter would find you in this place, we’d found that out when the helicopter flew over and we appeared invisible to it. You either had to try and save yourself, or sit and die. It was that simple really. The density of the jungle meant that nothing could land, and even with a crew scanning the place with binoculars from the air, we'd still be pretty hard to detect. That was the way it was and there wasn't a damn thing we could do to change it.
So, the next morning we set off again, hopeful that today might be the last we saw of this damned place. We had to think positive; the alternative didn't bear thinking about. If we let ourselves think the worst, then the worst is what would happen, at least that's the way I saw it.
“You know something…I heave a lucky feeling about today” Brian smiled “today is the day we’re gonna make some real progress”
“What makes you so sure?” AJ queried, his brows furrowed.
“Faith” Brian shrugged casually. Typical Brian, always ready for a miracle or some shit like that. I wished I shared his optimism.
“What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when we get out of here?” he asked us all “I’m gonna call my wife and tell her just how much I love her”
“Smoke twenty cigarettes one after the other whilst soaking in a hot bubble bath” AJ mused.
“Obviously I’m going straight to the hospital” Howie indicated towards his leg.
“I’m having the biggest steak known to man” I laughed “I’m gonna eat till I burst”
We carried on walking and talking, maybe a little bit of Brian’s good feeling was rubbing off on all of us. Maybe today would be our lucky day after all.
“Carry on guys, I’m just going for a piss, I’ll catch you up” AJ said and trailed off behind a tree.
We carried on walking when all of a sudden we heard a shriek and a call for help. I told the others to stay where they were, there was no need to panic anyone unnecessarily; knowing AJ it was only a spider or something like that. “I’ll go and see”.
I dropped my machete and ran in the direction he’d taken off in and froze in horror for a moment when I saw him, hands pulling at the huge snake which had somehow managed to wrap itself around his body, crushing the very life out of him. Fuck, it’s a fucking boa constrictor, what the fuck do I do now?
“AJ?” I called out in shock and horror as I ran to him.
He was turning a strange colour, I could see the life draining from him and if I was going to save him, I’d have to act fast. But how? How the fuck do you fight off a snake as big as that? It wasn’t like the average snake you saw in your local pet store, oh no, this fucker was huge. It was bigger than anything I’d ever seen Steve Irwin on TV handling, and I’d seen a lot of his shows, poor guy (I’d thought if he was going to be killed by an animal, it would’ve been death by croc, not stingray). The snake had to have been at least twenty feet long, maybe more, and it was thick too. Could probably swallow a man whole and I’m not exaggerating…well maybe slightly, but you get the picture.
“Oh my god…AJ…” Brian’s voice trailed off in complete shock.
“Help” I called out frantically as I struggled to try and prize the snake off of him with no luck “we have to do something, he’s dying here”
I fumbled in my pocket for my knife and jabbed the snake a few times, but it wasn’t having much effect, in fact, it just seemed to make it even madder.
Howie limped towards us, my machete in his trembling hands “Nick, stand back for a moment. AJ, hold steady” he called.
“Help…me…” AJ struggled to get the words out, they were barely audible. Another few seconds and I was sure he’d be dead, he was losing consciousness.
Howie raised the machete and swung it down, lopping off the snake’s head, sending it flying off into the trees. He fell backwards with the effort and dropped the machete, his head was in his hands, he couldn’t look.
“AJ?” I ran to him once more and uncoiled the lifeless body of the snake, hoping Howie had killed it in time to save our friend. AJ didn’t respond.
“AJ…oh god” Brian helped free him and we laid him out on the ground and checked his pulse. He then began CPR.
“Come on AJ” I pleaded.
Good thing Brian seemed to know what he was doing as I hadn’t a clue. I’d seen it on TV, but that was TV and not real life. He had to live.
“Nick, I need you to help” Brian commanded.
“Anything” I replied “you know what you‘re doing?”
“My wife talked me into doing a first aid course, I’m so glad I did”
“Me too” I agreed.
“I need you to blow two full breaths of air into his mouth whilst I do the chest compressions. Think you can handle that?” he asked.
“Of course” I replied and did as Brian commanded.
Whilst Brian interlocked his fingers and performed the chest compressions, muttering all the time, willing him to live; I shuffled up to AJ’s mouth, tilted his head back slightly, pinched his nose and gave two powerful breaths into his mouth, watching as his chest rose.
“Come on” I said, willing him to live. Why did this have to happen? Hadn’t we gone through enough so far? And then, as if by some kind of magic, AJ spluttered and began breathing on his own again.
“He’s breathing…thank fucking god, he’s breathing” I sighed and wiped away the tears which were spilling from my eyes.
“He’s OK?” Howie raised his head, his own eyes red rimmed with tears.
“Well, he’s breathing” Brian replied “but who knows what damage has been done”
AJ opened his eyes after a few moments, and the colour began returning to his cheeks.
“Are you OK?” we all asked, worried sick.
“My ribs are fucking killing me…” he gasped “and I feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson, but I’ll live” he struggled to sit up “thanks guys…I thought that was it, that I was gonna die”
We’d already lost so many already; we couldn’t and wouldn’t lose anyone else.