But going solo meant that the work got lonely and doubly dangerous. Often my resolution would flicker, and my soul fell to conflict. I could go back to becoming a teacher. My villainy would stay masked, forgotten in due course. I would be a tyrant, yet an accepted citizen.
One day I could take it no more and picking up my rifles, pushed off into the depths of the jungle. I was determined to end these useless, rambling doubts. I was a hunter and my job was to be unforgiving and cold. I was a predator. My blood worked up as I wandered deep and far; the smell of the wild excites the true predator and makes it a thing of demonic savageness.
I spotted two shining lights in the dark. A black velvety bulk stood outlined against the heavy darkness of the night. It was a panther. With infinite deceit and pain, I rounded the panther and felled it with a curve of my hatchet. The lifeless body slumped and the fire of its eyes slowly dimmed, as if in submission.
In the foliage, I detected little furtive motions. It was an elephant, a magnificent tusker and I soon had it at my feet, crushed like a beetle. I caught the scent of deer and soon enough, the fleeing lot were outrun by a couple of my bullets.
It was the greatest haul ever. I felt drunk, delirious with success. I caressed my fingers, those dextrous, beautiful creations of art.
Every glimmer, motion or unrest in the jungle came to a standstill in my wake. The forest seemed to hold its breath. The wind fell, almost withdrawing from me.
I dragged my haul after me, filling the air with loud, raucous laughter as I thought about my old vacillating mind.
But I should have read the signs of the sudden climate change. I should have kept an ear out for the soft padded steps that were rounding on me.Suddenly, from the thick darkness tore out beasts, of every kind and number and their angry baying and bawling rung through the air as they broke the circle they formed, charging towards me.
All became a furious tussle..between flashes of gnashing jaws, teeth, paws and antlers I dimly fell the growing patter of rain. A storm was aboad.
I woke up. My skin felt curiously pickled and smarted as the wind brushed it but the foremoust thought I had was that I was alive.
I lay in a tribal hut, and who I discerned to be the village doctor, was hovering around.
" He has woken. Put him on a diet of fruits. Only fruits. Fruits of every kind, of every hue , with pith and rind" his voice broke the quiet of the morning as he directed his orders.
A new set of footsteps told me that breakfast had arrived. A bowl of mangoes sat in a shaft of the sunlight, giving me a look of loathing, but what troubled me was the laziness which it dwelled upon me.
An unknown pang of fear went down my spine.
I gasped and clutched at my blanket.
" So it's you. FInally we meet. How ironic, we who could cure you, we who are full of goodness, will be see you to the burning gates of hell." said the mango.
" No, no! " cried I " Leave me! I could squash you! Leave me!" and I kicked at the old bowl savagely.
The bowl tottered a bit and the mango rose out.
" You cannot escape." it said, calmly.
From behind it, I watched with horror as my breakfast closed upon me with the slow, calculated motion of vengeance.
" Spare me" an involuntary note of plea escaped my dry mouth.
The army of fruits parted in two files. A peach walked in.
" Spare you?" spat she, her voice trembling with contempt. She ripped open her heart, and I saw streaks of crimson down the yellow flesh that seemed to burn with hatred." You, who left your dirty human tracks on my great-grandfather's heart."
A huge watermelon rolled up and gave a commanding bellow " Ladies and Gentlemen. It's wartime. Roll out the cannons! Fire the bullets!"
I could scarcely believe the scene. Massive melons rolled around, firing their seeds at me. Bananas left their skins lying wherever I tried to run. Oranges acid-fired at me. A huge jackfruit went flying, ripping off as much of my flesh as it could.
I took to my heels. The ballistic army came chasing me, but even in my weakened condition I knew they could never, ever catch me.
Panting, I reached the shore of the river, ahead of which lay a town. I only had to cross it to escape this madness. I needed a weapon to face the challenges ahead; I pulled at a branch that swooped low over me.
A yellow thing, smooth, young and yellow fell in my hands.
It was a mango.
" I was waiting for you" it said in a fruity, dangerous tone and fell over my neck, smothering me with its sickly sweetness. " Take your own time. There are many of us." it said, with a lisping voice.
Part IV: The remains of The Mangoose were found near the river in a shocking state. His head lay in a pool of crimson plum juice, pulp and goop coiled around him like ropes. And his mouth was found to be open, teeth decaying, and stuffed with mango.