Chapter 25.

Pierce and Maria.

Maria and Jake Pierce were walking along the trail and talking how futile this trip had been to the lake. And then they remembered.

“Hey, where are the others?” Maria asked.” Where’s Pedro and Jorge? They were behind us on the trail and now I don’t see them or hear them.”

Pierce stopped and listened. Nothing, just the noises of the jungle; the birds chirping and the monkeys shouting. “You’re right. I don’t see them and I can’t hear them. Something’s wrong.”

“Let’s go back and see if we can find them.” Pierce knew that something was amiss but he did not know what. Maria was anxious as well. Both pressed on quickly sensing that something must have happened. They retraced their steps and finally arrived at the lake, looked around and went further up but could not find them. They had vanished.

“Well, it seems clear that either they took off by themselves or someone took them by force.” Maria was looking around for clues but found nothing. She went up higher along the trail and still was flummoxed by the absence of evidence.

“Well, what are we to do about this?” asked Pierce. “Should we report this to the police or not. Was it a kidnapping?”

Maria did not know what to think. “The best thing would be to report this to the authorities, but since we came in illegally we will be charged with trespassing, won’t we?”

“I guess you’re right. We would be guilty of that. But can we leave them?”

“Well, they knew the risks and they took them, just like we did. Maybe we can just go out of the reserve, go to the entry points and say that our friends are missing and leave it at that.”

“Yeah, I think that’s the best thing to do. We protect them and ourselves as well just in case. Let’s find the entry points of the reserve and tell the story. And this was duly done, the report on the disappearance of the men was written. But the officers were asking many questions.

“Tell me Mr. Pierce, where did you enter the park?”

“Well it was one of the official entrances, you know.” Pierce was clearly embarrassed by the questions.

“And your friends were with you and then they suddenly disappeared, is that right?”

“Well yes, we turned around and they were not there anymore.” The officer was busy writing his report but eyed him suspiciously.

“Very well Mr. Pierce, sign here and here along with your friend. That will be all. We will go out and look for them and see if we can find them. I will make no promises to you that they can be found alive.”

“Of course I understand.” Pierce and Maria signed the documents and left as quick as they could, not wanting to answer more questions from the guards.

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