I'm Mark. I was abducted or kidnapped or whatever you want to call it, about four years ago while on a hike in the rain forest. This tribe that nobody even knew existed, they kept me hostage for three years—made me their slave. Their chief—he was their medicine man or shaman or whatever too—he made me do all sorts of things—take part in these full moon rituals on top of all the manual labor. He would sit across from me inside my little hut every night—not sleeping or talking or doing anything else—wide awake all night to make sure I couldn’t escape. I got so lonely and desperate that I would actually talk to him sometimes—sometimes for hours—telling him all about where I came from and my family and friends back home.
INTERVIEWER: Three years is a long time. Most people wouldn’t last that long. Where did you find the strength to endure? To wait until you could escape?
MARK: Well, I don’t think I would’ve made it if it weren’t for my kids—Mondo and May. Getting them out of there is what kept me alive—kept me going.
INTERVIEWER: What sort of life do you hope to give them now that you’re back home?
MARK: Just a normal life—a boring life, I guess. I hope they can be satisfied with that—not feel the need to go and get themselves turned around in an unexplored jungle halfway around the world like I did.
INTERVIEWER: Is that your biggest regret?
MARK: No. I wouldn’t have my kids today if I hadn’t gone there. I regret the fact that they don’t have a mother at the moment.
INTERVIEWER: Have you started dating yet? What are you looking for in a woman besides being a good mother?
MARK: I guess that would be the main thing. Other than being good with my kids, I don’t really know—maybe someone who always carries a map and a compass.
INTERVIEWER: That might be helpful. Although, I presume you won’t be going on such risky journeys anymore. Or would you ever consider going back to that rain forest? Taking your children to see the area where they were born?
MARK: We’ll never go back there. I’ll take them on trips but not back to that place—take them hiking and maybe camping but we’ll stay closer to home. This is home now. There’s no point in looking back.
INTERVIEWER: I see. So many bad memories, I’m sure. Do you hate the people who took you? Who kept you enslaved for all those years?
MARK: Yes. I think I do and I know people say you’re supposed to forgive and let things go but I think that’s just a lie. I’m not looking for revenge or anything but I’m also not going to lie—to myself especially. I mean, they didn’t have to do what they did to me—put me through all that. So, yes, I do—I hate them.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that’s healthy? I mean, is that a good example to be setting for your children?
MARK: I don’t think so. If I was dwelling on it and letting that hate eat away at me—keep me from moving forward and having a normal life—then it would be terrible for my kids. But, like I said, I’m not looking for revenge—not looking to dwell on the past. I can still hate them, though.
INTERVIEWER: You had to have been shown some kindness by someone during your time with the tribe. Didn’t you form any bonds? Make at least one friend? Maybe even develop a crush?
MARK: No. I was their slave—their animal. They made me carry things—carve utensils and little toys out of wood—protect the women and children while the men were off fighting another tribe. They beat me—used me during their full moon rituals. I don’t think most of them even saw me as human.
INTERVIEWER: Are you a religious person, Mark? Do you credit your survival or your children’s survival to some higher power at all?
MARK: I don’t know. I try to be—for my kids’ sake. But I’ve seen too many people misuse religion—pervert it. But I know I’m lucky to be alive—to have my kids.
INTERVIEWER: Are you happy?
MARK: I think so. I’m not a slave anymore—have a fridge full of food and central air. My kids are happy and healthy and safe. I mean, sure, some things could be better but that’s always how it is. I could meet someone—give my kids the mother they deserve. I could find a job I like that pays well. But all that will come. So, yes, I’m happy—I’m happy.
Title – MARK: A Novel
Author – Adam Darby
Genre – Literary Fiction, Action/Adventure, Men’s Fiction
Book Blurb –
Mark travels to an unexplored jungle—a strange patch of forest where uncontacted tribes still exist. He goes for adventure—for escape—for his psychological well-being after a difficult divorce. But when he’s suddenly surrounded by barefoot hunters—men with spears and bows and arrows—Mark realizes that some adventures—some trips to far-off places—might not be worth the risk.
For years he’s kept as a slave—used by the tribe in more ways than one. He tries to escape but is never successful—guarded by the tribe’s stone-faced medicine man every night. As time passes, Mark starts to lose his grasp on reality—his sense of time and truth blurring.
But he still remembers the people and places he left behind—the family and friends. He dreams of leaving his jungle prison one day—of taking his children with him—emerging from the wild to tell the world how he survived—how he escaped. Mark wonders, however, if attempting such a dangerous journey—such a lonely trek through the deadly maze of green and black—is even worth the risk.
This wasn’t Mark’s real life—slave to a Stone Age tribe. It wasn’t his life just thirty-six hours ago before they found him wandering the jungle—or the two days he’d spent lost and alone before that—or for all the weeks and months and years of his life leading up to now. This wasn’t him—who he really was.
He’d known he was lost soon after leaving the camp—had become aware of something following him two days later—something close but never seen—never heard when he stopped to listen. There was something tracking him—hunting him as he tried to find his way back.
Occasionally he would stop and stand as motionless as possible—sweating with every heartbeat pounding through his head—watching for any movement—waiting to hear another small sound from whatever terrible thing was pursuing him.
Finally the four small men emerged from behind giant trees, tangled vines and broad-leafed jungle plants—surrounding him and slowly closing in. Mark spun around to see each man with a long wooden spear held waist-high—all pointing toward the middle of his body.
The men spoke to each other but never turned their heads or even seemed to blink. Mark slipped and stumbled as he searched for a way to escape the tightening circle—sturdy, shoeless feet of all the men shuffling in unison over the leaf-littered forest floor—working together to keep him corralled. Their black eyes never left him—black hair bouncing as they moved—strips of cloth or animal skin hanging down from coarse rope belts.
As they inched closer, Mark put his hands in the air and tried to speak to them—English words and phrases he hoped they would somehow understand. But the four small men did not stop moving toward him until the points of their spears touched his ribs and stomach. Two of them began poking at the backpack hanging from his shoulders—one even testing the bag of trail mix bulging from the front pocket of his pants.
They talked to each other for another minute or two—puzzled glances now traded between them as they decided Mark’s fate. Then the circle suddenly broke apart—two of the men marching away single file and the other two slapping at Mark with their spears—hitting his backpack and legs—his arms and swinging for his head.
They walked for hours through the thick jungle—small bodies of the four men moving easily between the trees and dangling vines as Mark struggled to keep up. When he couldn’t match their pace, they stabbed at him from behind with their spears—tripped and fell and they beat him with the blunt ends of the same long, fire-hardened sticks. When he tried to escape—running off suddenly through the dense vegetation with no idea where he was going—the men would chase after him and have him surrounded within a few minutes—laughing and joking with each other as they closed in—striking him in turns before returning to the trail.
At one point they stopped and ripped Mark’s backpack off his shoulders—made him sit in the mud as they inspected its strange contents—pulling things out one by one and passing them around—synthetic sleeping bag and rain jacket and the little metal stove. Once they were through with an item, the last man holding it would toss it over his shoulder—discarding Mark’s carefully chosen supplies and leaving them to disappear into the jungle—curiosities only useful as amusing distractions during a break in their long march.
They continued their trek into the night and through to the next morning—traversing trails Mark could not distinguish from the rest of the jungle. But he kept moving forward—tired, thirsty and sore from all the beatings—anxious to see their destination. He wondered if they were taking him to some deeper, darker, even more untouched place—a cursed part of the forest where primitive tribes killed and ate their enemies and any outsiders they managed to capture. Or maybe they were delivering him back to civilization—deporting him to the outside world where something so weak, so strange and so useless surely belonged.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)
· Amazon Kindle Unlimited: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XWMP5KD
· Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53046384-mark
Adam Darby is the author of four books: MARK, The River Snakes, The Beacon Brothers, and Duct-tape Bandage. His work ranges from Action/Adventure to YA and always moves quickly with efficient prose and punctuation. Several of his stories contain a fair amount of humor (they’re supposed to, at least) and his protagonists always have a romantic entanglement or two (or more).
Adam has climbed the world’s largest ball of twine, jumped off waterfalls in El Salvador, seen a six-legged cow, fled from bears down switchback trails in California, and recently officiated a wedding in a Kansas barn. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Kansas City, MO.
For more information on Adam’s books or to contact him directly, please visit AdamDarby.com. Thanks!
Social Media Links
· Twitter: @AuthorAdamDarby
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