“What do you think you are doing?”, yelped Theophania. “Get off my hair and keep your hands to yourself!”
She was sat in what looked to be an old tin bath with Fred. Key members of the Famished Fiend tribe were walking around the bath pouring in liquid and grinding up herbs to sprinkle over Theophania and Fred. Other members of the tribe sat in a circle surrounding the bath and started to chant.
Members of the Famished Fiend tribe seemed to have a very bizarre wardrobe between them. Someone in the audience was wearing a baby pink tu-tu, whereas the leader of the tribe (who seemed to be responsible for chopping and throwing large chunks of pineapple into the bath) was wearing what looked like a skin-tight leather waistcoat. Probably a random mix of clothes that had been stolen from the misfortunate tourists captured and eaten by the tribe in the past, Theophania thought.
Theophania had accepted her fate. She now just wanted it over and done with. The cooking preparation was becoming a laborious ritual which she could do without, particularly given she already knew that the end product would be her being cooked and fed to the tribe.
“I wish they’d hurry up Fred. This is more painful than watching one of Trisha’s cookery shows on television.”
“Croak. I know, T, I know. Croak.”
Fred looked a little sad and did not appear to accept his fate quite as willingly as Theophania.
“I’m sorry Fred”, Theophania said sympathetically. “This really has not turned out the way I’d planned. By now you should be reunited with Esmeralda and looking forward to spending the rest of your lives together. Instead, you’re stuck with me in a makeshift, human-sized casserole pot, waiting to be eaten for dinner.”
“Croak. T, please don’t apologise. Croak. You’ve done more for me than I could ever imagine. The last few days have been the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life. I just can’t accept that it’s all going to come to an end like this. Croak.”
The chanting from the audience suddenly just got a lot louder.
The tribe stopped adding ingredients into the tin bath and the leader of the tribe began to make an announcement.
“It appears that we have more visitors!”
Theophania and Fred looked up. They had both started to get a little sleepy as the liquid in which they were being marinaded was beginning to warm up.
Two members of the tribe escorted a man, a woman and a frog into the centre of the camp.
“Tom?!”, Theophania gasped. She couldn’t quite believe her eyes.
“Croak. Esmeralda?!”, Fred gasped.
Tom and Esmeralda nodded in acknowledgement to Theophania and Fred.
“Okay, darrrrrrrrrrrlings.” Trisha stepped forward with authority and proceeded to walk over to the bath.
“This will just not do. Why have you put pineapples in the dish alrrrrrrrrrrready. They will go all soggy and yourrrrrrrrrr casserrrrrrrrrole is just going to turrrrrrrn into a vat of mush. Hmmm? Can you answerrrrrrrrr me that Seefrrrrrrred?” Trisha purred at the leader of the tribe.
To Theophania’s astonishment, Trisha’s verbal attack seemed to be working. The leader of the tribe, or Seefred as Trisha had called him, appeared to be cowering with embarrassment.
Trisha opened her bag and started to pour the contents out on to the floor. The contents were certainly not what you would expect to find in a ladies handbook. There were freeze-dried rats, chilli powder, vacuum packed cow’s liver and sheep’s testicles to name but a few.
“Rrrrrright then Seefred”, Trisha purred. “I want you to get Theophania and Frrrrrrrred out of that pot immediately.”
The chanting from the tribe, who were sat on the floor circling the bath, abruptly stopped.
“Errr…..urrrrrrrrrrrrm.” Trisha hesitated.
For one horrible moment it looked like Trisha’s forcefulness and confidence in dealing with the cannibals had ended. Fortunately, thought this blip was short-lived.
“Seefrrrrrrrrrred! Are you going to just stand there or do as I say?!”
Trisha had managed to compose herself and her efforts seemed to be doing the trick. Seefred lifted Theophania out of the bath and his tribe member wrapped a blanket around her before allowing Theophania to run across to her son.
“TOM! What are you doing here?” She yelped.
“MUM!” Tom replied. “To rescue you! Marj and I got the next flight out to Mexico after you. We headed straight to the Sunny Sombrero Sanctuary, because the passenger I sat next to on the plane had seen an Atmosphere News report with Trisha in which she had announced to the world that she had survived the hurricane on account of the brave efforts of an 84 year old lady, a frog and a surfboard. It was such a ludicrous story that I just knew it had to be you! We hunted down the Atmosphere News team and they introduced us Trisha. Trisha explained that she’d asked Pedro to drive you to the Amazon and so here we are now! But more to the point….what are you doing here?!”
“It’s a very long story!” Theophania sniggered.
Seefred’s tribe member didn’t have to lift Fred out of the bath. He was so excited that he leaped two metres high out of the bath and bounced over to Esmeralda.
“ESMERALDA! You look soo…..delightful! And, and, you’re bigger than me!”
“FRED! Nice to see that you haven’t changed and that you’re still a charmer!”
Trisha frantically gave Seefred the ingredients from her bag, instructions on how to cook a delicious meal for his tribe and then directed Tom and Theophania and Tom as well as Fred and Esmeralda to leave the camp.
“Quickly. We’ve got to get out of herrrrrre NOW!”
They trekked as quickly as possible away from the tin bath. Out of the village. Past the lone tree and the clearing. They walked around what seemed to be hundreds of buttress roots and only after they had been walking for what seem like over an hour did they stop to catch their breath.
“What was that about Trisha?”, Theophania enquired.
“That was amazing!”, Tom exclaimed. “How did you know his name?”
“Well, I did a bit of rrrrrrrrrresearch before trrrrrravelling to Mexico (orrrrrrr at least my assistant did). I was planning to film one of the episodes of my new cookery show with this verrrrry trrrribe so I made sure that in advance of my visit we had sent the trrrrribe lots of delicious food supplies (otherrrrr than human rrrrrrremains of course), as well as copies of all my recipe books, so that they wouldn’t trrrrrry to eat me and my film crrrew when we arrived. I didn’t want to mention it earlier just in case I was wrrrrong. The thing I do know though from my rrrrrrrrresearch is that they are nasty lot and so if we don’t get to that jeep soon they’re going to get hungry again and want theirrrrr lunch!”
They proceeded to trek to the jeep, but just before they reached it, Tom wanted to break some news to Theophania.
“Yes, Tom”, Theophania replied.
“You know when I called you that afternoon after you had been in Tony’s Trusted Travel Shop.”
“Yes, dear”, she replied.
“Well, the real reason for my call that day was not to question your decision to travel to Mexico. I really wanted to share some exciting news with you.”
“Yes?”, Theophania replied, not quite sure what Tom was getting at.
“Well, mother, Marj and I are going to have a baby!”
Theophania was stunned. Marjorie had always said that she didn’t want children. She always said that she found them repulsive, which if Theophania was honest was part of the reason she had taken an instant dislike to Marjorie. But this….well, this was fantastic news. Theophania had always longed to be a grandma!
“That’s fantastic Tom! That’s absolutely brilliant! Now where’s Marjorie? I hope you are looking after her.”
“Well, she’s in the jeep with Pedro waiting for us”, Tom replied.
Theophania was alarmed.
“In her condition?! What are you doing dragging a pregnant lady halfway across the world for?!”
Tom was silent. He didn’t want to ruin Theophania’s excitement by pointing out that she was exactly the reason he and Marjorie had trekked halfway across the world.
Theophania then turned to Fred who had been balancing on her shoulder with Esmeralda.
“Fred! Did you hear the news? Fantastic hey?”
“Croak. T, that’s wicked. Croak. But T, Esmeralda and I are going to have to say goodbye.”
“Now? Really?”, Theophania had totally forgotten that Fred and Esmeralda would not be leaving the jungle with them.
“Croak. I’m afraid so T. But make sure you always remember the last few days. They were the best days of my life. Croak.”
“Ribbet. Bye T. Thanks for bringing him home! Ribbet.”
And with that Fred and Esmeralda jumped off Theophania’s shoulder and bounced into the distance. Reunited together at last, all thanks to Theophania.
Theophania was not sure if she would ever see Fred again, but she did know that she would always remember her neon green friend. And she knew that following Tom’s announcement, soon she would have another little friend to experience her adventures with!