Later that night
Covered beneath the radiating night sky, the expedition team gathers around a campfire.
Adding to the aesthetics of the Amazon rainforest is a natural symphony of all sorts of exotic animals. Meanwhile, a handful of souls are nicely tucked inside their sleeping bags. The few who remain awake revel in nature’s breathtaking creation.
“Isn’t it amazing how there’s a clear link between the health of our planet and the health of the Amazon?” states the woman with silk hair.
“This place alone houses approximately 140 billion metric tons of carbon. It just blows my mind that we could be so ignorant to want to cut down all life in this amazing garden.” she adds.
The man leading the trek tosses a piece of wood in the campfire and remarks: “My friend, you talk of ignorance yet we are on this expedition to remove life from this forest. Are we not?”
The woman with silk hair pauses for a second. She ponders and analyzes what the man has just said. She smiles and replies: “Point taken.”
“We should get some rest. We have an early day ahead of us.” advises the man leading the trek. He then rotates to his left and nods at the other South American man. A signal of some sort.
The next day
Following hours of marching, they finally arrive at their destination. The forest looks completely unrecognizable. From the missing green lush pastures to the tall magnificent trees, all were swallowed whole by the fires. All that remains is the prize. Staring at them from a few feet away is the plant. Not just one, or two, or three, but five wholesome Planeta Proibido’s. Somehow, throughout multiple hell fires, it had miraculously survived.
“Alright, let’s get what we came for.” announces one man.
“Haha! We’re gonna be rich!” excitingly states another.
As they all walk closer towards the plants, the man leading the trek advises them to tread carefully. He reaches within his bag and retrieves a full face respirator. He wears it.
“Have the containers ready for extraction.” instructs the woman with silk hair. “Think we should all wear masks?” she then asks.
“My friend, it is up to you.” replies the man leading the trek with his voice muffled through the respirator.
Not taking any chances, she mimics the man’s actions and also wears a respirator. “By the way, where’s the guy with the same accent as you? The one with the brown camo pants.” asks the woman.
“You mean, Javier. There’s another plant I need from this place. I had him check it out for me. We’ll meet him later.” replies the man leading the trek with a heavy accent.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” the woman inquires.
“I’m sorry my friend.” says the man as she shrugs both shoulders.
Meanwhile, the others get ahead and with shovels at hand begin to dig.
“It’s so beautiful!” exclaims another woman as she crouches to examine the plant. Slightly above average for an exotic plant, the fluorescent blue green colors of its petals attracted everyone’s attention. Underneath the petals, attached to the stem are jellyfish like tentacles hanging downwards. A marvelous spectacle to see. Yet, the beauty of it all lies in the center. A perfectly white shaped orb protected by a multitude of red filaments with extremely thick anthers.
“Is that what I think it is? The heart? Can’t we just grab it?” one man says as he halts digging and hastily reaches into the plant.
“My friend, do not…..” warns the man leading the trek as he watches the man remove the plant’s ovary. Seconds after being detached from its stem, it explodes. The content splatters directly onto the man’s face. He screams. He holds his face with both hands and vehemently screams in agony. To add to their current ongoing dilemma, the other four plants activate their defense mechanism and discharge an unknown gas into the air. Everyone panics. The woman with silk hair rushes to the man’s rescue. With pure intentions, she grabs him and turns him over to help.
Shocked at her discovery, she screams and immediately falls to the ground, accidentally hurting herself. His facial skin was slowly disintegrating revealing only melted flesh and bone. Not too long after, he drops dead. Those without masks begin inhaling the contaminated air. Nature had brought them all to their knees. A small cough morphed into a heavy cough. Subsequently, a heavy cough morphed into dangerous territories. They all try to retrieve their masks but it’s too late. With swollen and aggravated esophagus, they begin to cough up blood. One at a time, they helplessly witness each other asphyxiate by the fumes released from the Planeta Proibido.
Meanwhile, the man leading the trek suddenly portrays a different outfit. Not only did he sport a full face respirator, he also had on a full fledged white Hazmat Suit. With orange gloves at hand, he strolls through everyone and retrieves the plants. One at a time, he gently removes them from the ground and places them in a sealed glass container. Concluding his task, he carefully returns the glass vials into his bag. In the process, he takes out a metal object. He stands up, straps the bag over his shoulders and surveys. Everyone on his team is either dead or on the brink. He locates the woman with silk hair and heads towards her.
Still on the ground showing signs of heavy distress, she can’t stop crying. Finally in close proximity, she looks up and stares at the man leading the trek. “Did you know this would happen?” she tells him while sobbing beyond control.
“My friend, I’m so sorry.” states the man in a heavy accent. Not too long after, a gun sound echoes throughout the forest.
Two weeks later
“Thank you for the wire transfer Mr. Leeds.” says the man in a heavy accent as he stares at an enormous sum of 1.2 million dollars in the company of his best friend, Javier.
“No, thank you! Pleasure doing business with you.” replies Mr. Leeds as he hangs up the phone. Standing adjacent to three Planeta Prohibido, Mr. Leeds is ecstatic. So much so that he can’t contain it. “We are going to change the world forever!” loudly exclaims Mr. Leeds to his fellow researchers. “Decades from now, the acronym HIV will be nothing but a speck of dust in the minds of our people. Let’s get ready for extraction shall we.” further adds Mr. Leeds as he proudly witnesses his scientific team thoroughly dismantle the Planeta Proibido to its core.