The last time I saw Lewis, he was getting ready for that ill-fated expedition to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of various aircraft and ships in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. I wish I had known that that would be the last time I ever saw him.
A few weeks later, just as I was returning from work, I received the worst news of my life. The ship carrying Lewis and all the other explorers and researchers had sunk due to unknown reasons, killing all those on board.
My world was shattered. Lewis wasn’t just my best friend, he had been a brother to me. We both had no one in this world except each other. We grew up in foster homes, but luckily, we never separated. We both had one vision, to explore the world.
While I grew up and forgot about this vision of mine, Lewis never did. I grew up, got married and started a family. But Lewis wasn’t one to be chained down by such worldly affairs.
It took me almost a year to finally accept the fact that Lewis was gone from my life. I would never see my best friend again! His funeral was held at his beloved place, the Primrose Park. He loved being there, amongst nature, seeing kids play as he would be lost in his own chain of thoughts.
After a lot of trying, I could finally push Lewis to the back of my mind. I was finally able to concentrate on my work when suddenly one day, I received a text. My eyes could not believe it. I stood in a catatonic state.
It was a text from Lewis, after one whole year!
I was at a loss of words. Was I hallucinating? How could he be texting? He had been dead for a year now. Was this a prank? I had a thousand different feelings, all at the same time.
I shivered as I read the first message.
“Steve, this is Lewis here! My ship has sunk. Only a handful of us managed to survive by swimming towards the nearest island. I don’t know where I am, but I am okay. Don’t worry. I have tried calling you but there seems to be no network here. I’ll try again later.”
My heart skipped a beat. My best friend is alive. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I hurried to call the shipyard as well as the police. I had to let them know that Lewis was pretty much alive.
I hurried towards the police station. After narrating the entire incident, he looked at me with a sarcastic gleam in his eyes.
“Mr. Wells, I know that Mr. Brigham was your close friend and his loss has affected you, but please put your imagination to rest. The people on board have perished. No one survived. Please do not waste our time as well as yours.”
Just as I was about to show the officer the text from Lewis, another text came up from the same number.
“Mate, remember how we used to plan on exploring the world together? Seems like it’s a bit more difficult than what we had prepared for. It’s hard and dangerous. Last night I could hear wolves howling as I uncomfortably guarded myself on top of a tree. Don’t worry, I’m not alone. There are a few people with me. This is a very thick jungle. I hope we get to meet other humans soon. Signal is so difficult to find here. I will call you as soon as I can. Don’t worry.”
The officer read the message aloud and immediately checked for the number. It was confirmed that the number belonged to Lewis Brigham. The location of the cellphone was traced to a shipyard. The police got ready to go there when another text came.
“Steve, something is not right here. Of the 15 survivors, only 8 are left now. They have gone missing. I am sure something is going on here. I just don’t know what. This jungle is quite mysterious. I think I’ll go on to check. Don’t worry, I’m fine.”
The officers hurried to the docks while I followed them in my car. The phone was found in the possession of a senile person. He gave the police a hard time answering all the questions. Meanwhile, I kept on receiving messages from Lewis.
After the phone was retrieved, we got to know that the old man was on his way to Colombia when he made a stopover in the isolated Malpelo island. On the shore there, he found the phone and a pair of spectacles albeit broken. He collected the phone and made back to the main continent, hoping that he could sell it for some coins and he was about to take it to any metal parts shop. That is before the ‘rogue’ policemen and I reached to retrieve it.
It was not very difficult to crack the password as knowing Lewis, he only had one password for every device – LewistheExplor3r.
The screen was broken. The cover too. It was hard to figure out anything from that.
That was the 34th text from Lewis.
“Mate, you won’t believe this but this jungle has a secret. I know I sound mad, but trust me there is something unusual about it. I haven’t seen any bird or animal despite hearing their chirps or roars. It’s weird. The fruits found are not edible. They taste strange. Only three of us have survived so far. I hope to get help soon.”
I had found Lewis’ phone, but not him. The texts were all sent a year back. Nobody knew where Lewis was anymore. Was he still alive?
“Steve, I hear odd sounds. I guess something is happening here. I don’t know. I know I’d never admit this to anyone else, but I am scared right now. Very scared. When we meet after this, you shall never mention this, alright? I will try to get help as soon as I can. You don’t worry, mate. I will be okay.’
That was the last text I ever got from that number. A search party was sent to the island of Malpelo, only to find the bodies of the three survivors hanging from a tree, upside down.
Lewis was dead. This time for real. I wouldn’t be receiving anymore texts. All that was left was his lifeless, half-rotten body.
The worst part was that,I’d never know what had actually happened. All I knew was that the cause of his death was anything but natural. He had been killed.
But the question was, by what?
Written by- Rituparna Mazumder