Allen accidentally brushed his hand against his neck warmer. The oily, stinky hairs protecting that skin wicked away the rain pouring down. The animal that had once possessed that covering had tasted good, like wild fruits and nuts. It had been his fortune to find that large rat stuffing its snout with fallen bounty under a Jaboticaba (Allen had been searching for protein for days while trying to avoid becoming a jaguar or panther’s dinner.)
He had hoped to find a capybara, but his hunt had yielded its smaller cousin. No matter—every mouthful had been tasty.
Allen’s assignment had been to tape a bed of three toed sloths. Unfortunately, when he had been covering the results of his bathroom break, a baby howler had run off with his shock, dust, and waterproof camcorder. Its manufacturer did not guarantee against theft. Similarly, the maker of his smart phone offered no warranty when such devices were stolen—Allen’s mobile, too, had been purloined; the monkey bandit had arrived with companions.
The man had cried. Maybe, he’d die of dysentery. Maybe’s he’d succumb to dengue fever. Else, he might become a victim of arms traffickers.
Allen was cold, wet, and lost. He had counted on rendezvousing with his guide after filming for a few hours but was no longer able to communicate with anyone except for the sundry beetles that seemingly danced on every branch and stone. The cinematographer had weighed sitting down and letting an ocelot or maned wolf mosey up to and eat him against trekking through slimy vines, on slippery ground, to find civilization, or, at least, base camp.
His unintended stroke had pulled a bit of viscera from his wrap. He no more knew how to skin a beast than he knew how to navigate a tropical forest. He was also unaware of the surrounding biome’s smallest assassins.
In any case, he had pocketed his scout knife when he had accepted his post. Getting that utensil through customs had been tricky, but the children’s magazine, for which he worked, had finessed all the necessary papers. They had processed his vaccination forms, too. Even so, it appeared more likely that a giant otter or a drug lord, not COVID, would kill him.
In the end, Allen died not from the hands of a marauder or from the teeth of a predator but from his inadvertent wipe of venom from a golden poison dart frog. That aposematic critter had hopped onto Allen’s agouti skin having spied some ants that had settled there.
Very soon after unpremeditatedly passing his limb over that amphibian’s mucus, Allen’s face had ballooned. His stomach had changed from flat to bulbous. His heart had raced. He had begun to hallucinate.
The harpy eagles that feasted on his corpse had similarly perished. Only the fire-bellied snake that had later slithered toward the Agouti coat, to devour the frog, had survived the toxins.