JUNGLE RUSH • by Jennifer Weigel

The allure of the exotic locale is what drew me in. I had torn the advertisement out of a technology magazine where it was very much out of place and out of time. I stashed it in the top drawer with a bunch of random desk clutter. I found myself opening the drawer several times a day just to look at the canopy of green and yearn to be anywhere but here.

Get back to your ancestral roots. Get out of the cubicle, leave the concrete jungle, and walk amongst the trees…

The advertisement included a glamorous picture of a Safari-Jim styled explorer standing beside an enormous tree with the easygoing manner of a man who didn’t have to care about when the Grinsberg reports were due or who was working on the Aldevan contract. Beside the towering tree he would have looked insignificant, but his confidence made him appear ten times larger than life, and the tree merely stood sentry like an overbearing bodyguard at his back.

The forest canopy above him glittered with golden light and lush greenery, beckoning me to imagine another world than this. A world beyond the fluorescent flicker of the overhead lights. A world outside of the padded cells in which we were trapped to do yet more paperwork piled onto itself in unending stacks. A world bereft of casual Friday or racketball happy hours or conversations that never leave the water cooler (thank goodness).

I could never go on a trip like that. I don’t even know for certain if the advertisement was for a trip or whatnot anymore. That part of the page had torn away and was long gone. The worn paper bore a permanent crease over its midsection like a midlife crisis, perhaps reflecting upon my own desire to be someone and someplace else. How did I wind up here anyway? I never expected this job to last this long or, at any rate, I never expected myself to last this long in it.

And yet, here I was. Still worrying over when the Grinsberg reports were due and who was working on the Aldevan contract. Still sorting through the unending piles of paperwork that seemed to propagate on my desk faster than unruly rabbits. Still concerning myself with what to wear for casual Friday and racketball happy hour and I-can’t-believe-he’s-hooked-up-with-her water cooler talk.

Get back to your ancestral roots. Get out of the cubicle, leave the concrete jungle, and walk amongst the trees…

I pulled out the advertisement yet again to smooth over its once glossy surface and immerse myself in its promise to get back to my ancestral roots. Safari-Jim grinned back at me with a knowing smile, his teeth shining even brighter than I remember them being and his face contorted in a sort of odd, knowing smirk. From behind the tree, a grainy snapshot of a shadowy figure squinted at me. But wait, I don’t recall seeing that there before.

The shadowy figure loomed like some sort of primordial man-beast or Sasquatch Bigfoot of modern legend. I swear it appeared to be giving me a thumbs-up, but it was probably just gesturing a passing movement lost to the graininess of the advertisement cutout. The scene seemed to have doubled back on itself somewhat. Safari-Jim still stood beside the tree selling the forest-dream like a stranger offering sweets on the subway, but now he seemed much more distant. The angle grew more abrupt and the void behind the tree sought greater clarity.

Sasquatch came into greater focus, his green moss-encrusted hair shimmering in the minimal golden sunlight that streaked through the trees. Safari-Jim receded into the distance as I rounded the tree to get a better look. The dark eyes stared back at me with a certainty of being that I hadn’t felt in years, a primordial presence I longed to free me from the monotonous routine that had become my everyday life.

Sasquatch stared back at me, beckoning. I followed.

Get back to your ancestral roots. Get out of the cubicle, leave the concrete jungle, and walk amongst the trees…

A whirl of papers flew into the air and landed in a haphazard cascade down my desk. My boss erupted onto the scene as if on cue, the vein in his forehead popping out like it only does with great duress when he’s about to flip his lid. (I knew this scene well.) The magazine advertisement lay atop the ungainly heap, Safari-Jim smiling brazenly from the page.

“Who did this?!” my boss shrieked to the empty cubicle.

“Sasquatch,” I whispered from somewhere within the advert. I smiled as I turned my back on the scene and wandered deeper into the woods to walk amongst the trees.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist. She utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. Weigel is a staff contributor for the horror website Haunted MTL and has had art and writing published in numerous journals. She lives with her husband and cat in Kansas, USA.

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