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Governor LeSanta's Trip to Venezuela, Part 2
The miners spoke rapidly back and forth. This was the moment of truth. They'd either bury our bodies in shallow graves, or leave us trussed like pigs on the banks of the river, hoping to be left alone
Written by: Celeste Kallio (@CelesteKallio) using SudoWrite
Illustrations by: Andrey Kurenkov (@andrey_kurenkov) using MidJourney and DreamStudio
Narration by: Andrey Kurenkov (@andrey_kurenkov) using BeyondWords
Text Formatting: Human-written text is italic, AI-generated text is normal
As soon as my boy scout memories kicked in and I'd made a decent shelter, Governor LeSanta had come crawling back, using me as a teddy bear between tree roots.
We woke up the next morning to the business end of a shotgun in our faces. Looks like our luck was holding. I put my hands up.
"Quien eres?" the bearded man holding the gun shouted.
"Do you speak Spanish?" the Governor asked me.
"No,” I replied. “No hablo espagnol."
The man gestured with his gun to stand up. LeSanta and I stood with our hands up, our ridiculous suits wrinkled from the dirt and humidity. The gunslinger rifled through our duffle and stuffed two packs of our cigarettes into his pockets.
"Hey," LeSanta whined, but shut up as soon as the gun trained on him.
The man stripped the gold wedding ring from LeSanta's finger and put it on his own finger before shoving us into the jungle, warning us to watch our steps. He had the gun, so I didn't argue.
We trudged a mile along a ridge, and I was glad to be back outdoors, in the open air, without the confines and sweat of a plane. We trudged for hours, LeSanta puffing like a smokestack behind me.
When we stopped, I slipped out of the backpack and sat down against a tree, exhausted.
"Sir," I started up again. "Governor. Where are--where are they marching us, exactly?"
"I don't know." He shook his head. "Now make sure you keep your mouth shut. Our people back home will find us eventually. We just have to survive this."
Several hours later, we came to a rudimentary camp. A stew was cooking over an open flame, and after hours of hiking on nothing but a protein bar, it smelled amazing.
LeSanta drifted toward the scent like a zombie after brains.
The man with the rifle hit him on the head with its butt. "Trabajo."
"Huh?" The Governor rubbed his skull.
"I think he wants us to work," I said. Men were filing from the camp into a hole in the ground. "I think this is some kind of mining operation."
Before long, we were on our knees in the trench next to the miner boys. No breaks, no food, and no end in sight.
Eventually, we were relieved and given a bowl of stew. Though I had no idea what was in it, I'd never tasted anything better. I slept like the dead that night and woke up, every muscle in my body screaming in pain.
The Governor’s screams were more literal. The miners surrounded him as he sat on the ground, tears streaming down his face. "No! No more! I can't stand this! I can't be here! Don't you know who I am?"
The miners watched in amusement, not understanding the man's words but getting the sentiment all right. I listened for a plane in the sky. It had been two days--surely someone was looking for us by now. This would all be over soon.
I picked up a tool and headed to the mine.
"You can't make me work!" LeSanta shouted. "Don't threaten me with that thing! You wouldn't dare!"
A gunshot reverberated through the trees. The Governor crumpled to the ground, blood trickling from his knees. He screamed and screamed.
Everyone stared for a moment, dumbfounded. The rifleman just laughed, spat a mouthful of tobacco, and went back to work.
Looked like no one was coming back to rescue us. So much for the rocket ship to the oval office, I was climbing into a hole in the ground. But we were alive. We could get out of this. The only obstacle was Governor LeSanta and his refusal to listen to anyone, even if they were holding a gun.
Just then, the roar of an airplane overhead sounded. I ran out of the pit and waved. "Hey! Hey! Down here!"
The miners spoke rapidly back and forth. This was the moment of truth. They'd either bury our bodies in shallow graves, or leave us trussed like pigs on the banks of the river, hoping to be left alone.
Several men worked together to support the weight of Governor LeSanta, who couldn't walk on his shattered leg. I trembled, not knowing if they were leading us to rescue or our deaths.
Finally, a small man with a goatee and a cloth bandolier came to stand in front of us. He eased his rifle from his shoulder. "Bueno," he said in an almost crooning voice.
He gestured to the bank of the river. "You stay." The men disappeared into the jungle.
"Help!" I cried, hoping to be heard by whoever landed the plane.
The Governor screamed in pain. His approach was probably more effective. The plane came down and landed on the river.
A door flew open. "Come on! In you go! Come on!"
I grabbed hold of the rope ladder and climbed up. The other men swarmed around LeSanta, their hands on the ladder, their mission about to be successful.
A few stretchers were brought out and the Governor was taken aboard. A man in coveralls took his medical case and went over his body, telling him to stop talking. Eventually, the medic injected him with something that stopped the screaming, and we lifted off over the jungle.
My last act as LeSanta's Chief of Staff was to issue a statement about how the people there took him to a sanctuary area, provided him with a good job, and afforded him the respect and dignity that US Immigration policy affords migrants.
I never spoke to my mentor again.
And here’s some AI images that did not make the cut: