Friday, November 4, 2011

Gorillaland: A Jungle Odyssey (excerpt #1)

In the best tradition of Wilbur Smith and Clive Cussler, Cummings sets his adventure in the strife-ridden Congolese jungle. Blood diamonds, kidnap, inter-tribal warfare and natural disasters form the background for a cast of adventurers, NGO campaigners, warlords, boy-soldiers, UN Peacekeepers and one of the most wicked villainesses readers will ever encounter. Gorillaland with its story based on fact is set to be a global bestseller.    Published by Cutting Edge Press
An excerpt:
As the Swift Boat arced around a bend, the river appeared tranquil and barren. Cosmo knew otherwise and almost instinctively observed every symbol and sign that had been scratched in the trees, or arranged with stones on the riverbanks, left there by those who had preceded him along the deadly Lomami. Some warned of rebels and mercenaries, others of evil spirits, and places to be avoided at all costs. Cosmo did not fear the supernatural, though he respected it. The power of muti was strong and he sought to make use of its forces for his own practical purposes. He rarely consulted witch doctors, believing he already possessed all their talents and more and, though he had marshalled the power of muti often, black magic was just another arrow in Cosmo’s quiver. He had learned how best to administer fear as a means to an end and didn’t let the muti haunt him like it did so many other warriors lurking in the shadows of the Left Bank.
        Nudging down against the tree-line, the sun was yet stoking the afternoon heat, while the air hung still and sticky on the river. Cosmo slowed the engines right down, as his Swift Boat approached Opala, gradually and silently drifting up to the village dock: a few sticks in the mud on the riverbank, strewn with tattered fishing nets. Except for a single, piercing, monotonous cicada song, there was no sign of life. The village appeared to have been abandoned in haste, with utensils, tools and root vegetables still out on empty stalls. Cosmo was on his guard, knowing he was probably being watched by unseen eyes in the forest. People in this part of the jungle were known to leave their valuables lying around by the riverside, unattended, to lure people ashore, while they lurked in the dark. When a visitor laid a hand on any of it, they were caught, flayed alive, and added to the local food chain.
        Cosmo had seen things at the back of Opala’s upright mud and thatch huts to make his steely blood curdle: ghastly instruments of muti that should have been buried long ago. Hidden in wooden boxes in that unholy ground behind the lattice bamboo fencing, amid the grim fetishes, and rotting peculiarities, dwelled the horror many had written about but few ever saw. It was back there, locked away, if anyone dared look: a mirror for the dark recesses of the soul. 
        An old palm tree bent over the river provided a mooring for the boat, and Cosmo advanced cautiously through the village, trying not to disturb anything. He had his Glock in one hand and, held high in the other, a live grenade with its arm taped down, to let whoever was watching know he meant business. As he approached the shadows behind the village, away from the riverbank, the air became rife with the smell of death and decay, and he began to see evidence of their grotesque carnivorous appetites. Bleached white human skulls ornamented the streets, while a multitude of thighbones and ribs lay piled in a rubbish pit behind the cluster of huts. Scraps of palm nuts, bananas, sugar cane and cassava at least testified to a varied diet. Then from somewhere nearby he heard the sound of a log drum, tapped in slow succession: tuc dun, tuc dun, tuc dun. Cosmo understood it to mean ‘welcome’, so he worked the pin back into his grenade and holstered his pistol, then continued into the forest, guided by the sound of the two-tone drum.

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