BOHIDEOUS: CHAPTER VII
THE GREAT CLIFF
Warren Scott Foster illustrated
by Adrienne Potter Number of Visitors since Aug. 13, 2000:
by Warren Scott Foster
illustrated by Adrienne Potter
Number of Visitors since Aug. 13, 2000:
Bohideus slowly grew accustomed to his jungle home. His
life there became easier and easier. He soon found that he was developing the
strength and agility of a monkey, while enjoying the intelligence of a human. It
was a wonderful, luxurious life with plenty to do and plenty of places to
explore. Adventure was everywhere, with exciting new creatures to meet, plants
to discover, and sights to see that were beautiful beyond description. Bo would
have been completely happy here except for one thing. He was lonely. He missed
his family and his friends, and the other people of his village. He had always
enjoyed going off by himself, exploring and seeking adventure, but he had always
had a place to come back to, and someone to share his stories with. Here in the
jungle Bo hardly ever slept in the same place twice. He had no possessions
except his ragged, tattered loin cloth and the faithful knife he wore at his
side. There was plenty of natural shelter, and it was always nice and warm.
There was simply no need to store food or water, for it was all around for the
taking. Neither was there a need for a roof over his head. The problem with this
luxury is that he didn't have any home to come home to. He didn't belong any
place. There was no place to retire to, no one to report to, no one to care.
Bo wished desperately for someone to share the jungle with. Wouldn't it
be great if Old Man Schmoe were here! he sighed one day. Now Bo would have his
own stories to tell. And the things he could now tell the other villagers would
convince them that Schmoe had been right all along. Maybe.
Sometimes, strange as it may seem, Bo found himself thinking about the
girls in the village. He had not been too interested in them before, but as the
months passed by, he often caught his mind wandering to some of the girls his
own age. What would they look like now? And what would they think of Bo? He
thought he might have grown a bit these past few months. At least, his arms and
legs seemed wider with muscles. Would they notice his strong muscles? Or his
monkey-like speed and agility? Would they listen with wonder and awe when he
told them of his amazing adventures beyond the great
waterfall? Or would they laugh
with scorn? But alas, there were no girls here, and Bo didn't know if he would
ever see his village--or any other human-- again.
Oh, well, he sighed as he munched on a banana, puckering his lips as if
it were sour grapes. They'd probably think the same of me as they do Schmoe.
They'd call us Crazy Bo and Old Man Schmoe. They'll never believe the things
Still, it just wouldn't do. He couldn't live here all alone the rest of
his life! Yet he knew that nobody was going to rescue him. It was completely up
to him. Somehow he had to make it back to the top of the great cliff. He had
traveled to the bottom of the jungle with just that in mind, but down there he
had found traveling impossible. Well, he would just have to do his traveling up
here. From branch to branch, vine to vine, tree to tree he would travel through
the tops of the jungle.
His mind made up, Bo spent the next several days travelling gradually
through the trees toward the great cliff. There was no hurry. He simply worked
his way in that direction during the course of his hunting, berry picking, and
exploring. Every once in a while he would venture to the top of the forest to
make sure he was going in the right direction. He didn't travel straight toward
the cliff, however, for that would have taken him to the big, icy blue,
cone-shaped mountain. Instead, he moved at an angle that would take him toward
the cliff far to the side of the ice mountain.
After many days he neared the base of the cliff. The trees were much
smaller here. They were still huge, at least a Schmoe mile high, but small
compared to the giants he had lived on farther out in the jungle. Bo soon saw
that the cliff didn't simply drop straight into flat jungle. There were hills
and mountains at the bottom. He sensed that he was gradually moving up hill, but
he wasn't certain. It was difficult to tell from the tops of the trees. Bo loved
moving through the forest jungle like a monkey or a squirrel, traveling from
tree to tree. But he wondered if there was still water at the base of the tall
From the tree tops he could see the cliff and mountains clearly now. He
also saw the great blue ice mountain towering off to one side. Often he heard a
deep rumbling like gigantic thunderclaps as the huge icebergs from the river up
above came crashing onto the ice mountain. The forest trees grew shorter and
shorter--or the ground beneath grew steeper and steeper--as he approached the
mountains, until he could see that the trees grew to heights more normal for
jungle trees. Higher up the mountains Bo could see open meadows. It had been
months since his feet had touched Mother Earth. Or Schmecleosis 2, as Schmoe
called it. How he looked forward to walking on solid ground!
Turning in the other direction, Bo looked far out over the jungle. He was
higher than most of it now. It stretched for miles and miles like a great green
ocean of plant life, disappearing in a steamy greenish haze in the distance. Bo
bid a fond goodbye to the jungle and turned to face the mountains. Still he
swung from tree to tree with the aid of his hanging vines. Finally he reached a
point where it was too difficult to go from one tree to the next. Time to go
down, he decided.
Climbing to the jungle floor was not the ordeal it had been deep within
the jungle forest. This was partly because he was better at jumping, swinging,
and climbing than before, but mostly it was because he didn't have anywhere near
as far to go. It took less than an hour to reach the bottom. It was dark here,
but not the pitch blackness he had to pass through before. Still, Bo was wary.
He had not forgotten the great, panther like creature he had met before. As he
reached the floor of the jungle his heart pounded with excitement. Finally he
touched the ground! Not since he climbed in his canoe on that fateful day so
many months ago had he walked on solid earth. And this ground was dry! Well,
actually it was quite moist, but at least it wasn't a lake or a swamp. It was
simply good old dirt!
Now Bo found he had another problem. He hadn't seen it coming because it
was difficult to see in the darkness. As soon as he started walking, though, Bo
realized that it was even harder to move through the thick bushes down here than
it was up high in the trees. The jungle underbrush was a growth of grasses,
plants, and larger shrubs, tangled with bushes and vine-like trees interwoven
with brambles and thorny, needle-sharp branches. Walking was next to impossible.
It would have been easier to walk through prison bars and barbed wire fences,
had there been such things on Schmecleosis 2. Bo tried to cut his way through
the barrier of brambles with his knife, but it took an hour to progress only a
few foot spans.
He found a branch, leveraged it between two tree trunks, and broke the
end off. He then tried beating his way through the brush, using the broken end
for a club. This was a little better than the knife, but still slow going. Next
he tried lying on his belly and slithering like a snake beneath the brush. This
was the fastest way so far, but still terribly slow. He had gone only a short
distance before he was caked in mud, moss, and squashed bugs. His back, arms,
and legs were scratched and bleeding from the thorns.
This jungle is a prison! he thought as he wiped his wounds. I will never
escape it! I am foolish even to try! Fear began to take over Bo's mind as he
allowed his thoughts to wander. The villagers had long since forgotten him
anyway, or at least given him up for dead. By now they were going about business
as usual. He would never make it back, and would quickly fade from their
Bo choked back his discouragement. "My family will never forget
me!" he cried aloud. "I knew this would be tough when I started. But I
am Bohideus and I can do what I set out to do! I went over the great falls and
lived! I escaped an attack by a great panther! I survived a fall to the
fathomless depths of the jungle!" It was hard work trying to convince
himself, but Bo knew he must or he would fail. Slowly he dug himself out of the
pit of despair. "I fought off the creatures of the deep and climbed all the
way back up again! I learned to take care of myself and live as well as the
monkeys in the tops of the trees! I AM BOHIDEUS! I am strong! I WILL go to the
edge of this jungle! I WILL climb that great cliff! I WILL return to my people,
to my family, my village, my home!"
Shaking with rage and determination, Bo picked up his club and began
beating frantically at the brambles. He swung, hit, crashed, and stumbled his
way through the thicket for hours. At last he collapsed on the ground,
exhausted, sweating, bleeding, his lungs heaving for air. He wanted to cry like
a little child, but he was too tired, and crying was too much work. Gradually
his breathing slowed and he fell asleep.
Bo slept for hours, waking to the pangs of hunger in his stomach. Bugs
were crawling in his hair, tickling softly as they scrambled over his back and
legs. He stretched his tired, aching muscles, shook himself, and brushed off the
bugs, blinking sleepily in the darkness. It took a few moments to remember where
he was. Bo realized that he was no longer even sure which was the right
direction to travel.
He looked around for something to eat, but brambles and thorns didn't
seem very appetizing. He had been fighting an idea, but now he had to accept it.
He had come down from the treetops too soon. He would have to climb back up to
the top of the forest jungle. As difficult as the travel was up there, anything
was better than this miserable place.
It was a long, hungry, thirsty climb, and took a full, tiring day to
reach the top. It gradually grew lighter, and Bo was glad to get back to
brightness of the light high up in the trees. The first thing he did was to find
some delicious bananas to eat, and juicy guavas and oranges to quench his
thirst. He slept again, ate again, and finally continued his journey. It was
tough going, but at least now he could see.
Bo searched for vines to swing from one tree to the next, and when none
could be found, he would climb lower or higher, searching for another way.
Sometimes he had to go backwards and find other connections through neighboring
trees. Once or twice he took a risky, breath-taking leap to reach a branch or
vine in the next tree. This is dumb, Bo chided himself. What good will it do to
miss a vine and be dashed to death on the ground? He vowed to be play it safe.
Still, it was much easier going than it had been in the gloomy depths
below. As he moved ever closer to the mountains, the trees became shorter and
shorter and he found himself becoming closer and closer to the ground. The brush
growing among the trees grew more thick while the branches grew thinner and more
flimsy. The trees were no longer great highways in the sky. Instead their wobbly
branches bent and even broke under his weight. Once again Bo climbed to the very
top of a tree to get his bearing. This time he saw something that made him leap
for joy. A giant tree had tipped over! A huge wide tree trunk hundreds of feet
in diameter had fallen into the jungle, stretching horizontally in exactly the
direction he was going! Bo saw that it had happened few enough years ago that it
was not yet overgrown with brush. It had to be at least a mile in length, and he
cheered as he saw that it reached almost to the mountainside!
When Bo finally reached the tree, it took only a few minutes to jog the
entire length of it. He climbed down, and worked his way through the brush,
until suddenly he found himself standing on solid ground.
"I made it! I ACTUALLY MADE IT!" he gasped, then cheered,
whooped, and hollered like a school boy. Well, he WAS a school boy. At least he
used to be...
The trees and plant life became
more like a normal forest jungle growing on the mountainside. It was not an easy
hike, but compared to what he had just passed through it was a walk in the park.
Every once in a while Bo came to a wide open meadow, plush with tall
green grasses and flowers. He hooted in delight, sprinting through the grasses,
half laughing, half crying as he realized there was no of falling out of a tree!
He was actually on the ground! It had been so long since he had walked or run
any place...except on the great tree branches, of course!
Bo had more close calls with wild animals, and various obstacles to pass,
but they were mild compared to everything else. In a few days he reached the top
of the slope at the edge of the jungle, and stood at the bottom of the Great
Cliff. He leaned back as far as he could, looking upward. Straight up. It
towered far above him, higher and higher, so far that it nearly faded away in
the distance. Over a hundred miles high it was, Schmoe had said. Bo couldn't
begin to see that far, of course, before the cliff disappeared in the clouds.
Once again Bo began to fight despair. Had he come all this way thinking
the cliff was his goal? His final destination? He realized now that his journey
was hardly begun. Now he had to climb that cliff.