Corruption in the Congo (Part III)

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Travelling to Nampula was no small task. The thick jungles seemed almost impenetrable in some places and the few clearings were always welcomed. This time, a new question robbed Jed's thoughts. If there were four scientists on the expedition and his father was left behind in Madagascar, who was the fourth scientist that Ngubu spoke of?

"Nampula is just the other side of that ridge." Ngubu said with a look of disdain on his face.

"Well, that's good, right?" Jed tried to change his tone.

"Yes, but there is much water we must pass. Many things live in that water..." His voice got weaker toward the end. "We must move quickly if we are to reach Nampula today." And with that, we quickened his steps and kept his gave upon them.

Within 20 minutes, Jed could feel the ground under his feet to loosen, then loosen some more. When Ngubu mentioned 'water,' Jed was thinking of a small river. However, now he was realizing why Ngubu wasn't looking forward to this part. He meant swamp.

It wasn't long before they were each holding their packs over their heads, wading through waist-deep water. The water was of an odd brownish color, almost green. The opaqueness left a mystery as to what swam below its surface. Before Jed could dwell too much on those thoughts, though, Ngubu suddenly jerked around to look at him with a startled expression on his face.

"Snake!" Ngubu shouted, frantically looking around for any way to get out of the water as quickly as possible. Jed also began to look around frantically, although not quite sure what he was looking for. However, his concentration was broken once more, this time by Ngubu's splash down into the murky water.

"Ngubu!" Jed shouted, not quite sure what else to really do.

In a couple of seconds, Ngubu resurfaced a couple of yards to the right of where he sank, this time with two, 15-foot boa constrictors wrapped around his body.

"Go! There are TWO! Nampula is not far off! Go, NOW!" Ngubu gasped and motioned for Jed not to get too close. Jed, however, dove towards the struggle and pulled out a knife from his pack. He wrestled and cut, wreslted and cut...until Ngubu was able to free himself from the dead carcasses. Jed grabbed onto him and pulled him along in the water, along with both of their packs until they came to come rocks that protruded from the water, on which they climbed atop to rest.

After about half an hour, Jed finally broke their silence. "Are you ok?"

"You cut me, several times you know..." Ngubu started to say, then, as to change the subject, "Why did you not go? Did I not tell you to go?"

"Well, I couldn't just let you die! You would have done the same for me, right?"

Ngubu just looked at Jed with a frowning face.

"Right?" Jed asked again, a little less hopeful this time of the answer.

"You were supposed to go! I cannot go through with it now..." Ngubu's tone shrank as it did when he spoke about the swamp.

"Go through with what?"

"Miss Whitlow hired me to take you deep into the jungle and to leave you there. You were not supposed to help me...I tell you this because I cannot let you die out here. My debt to you is now paid."

"Why would she want me dead?"

"I do not know this, I only know what I have already told you. I CAN give you this, though. She left this in my office yesterday. I was planning on giving it back to her when she returned to pay me." He handed Jed a small sewn bag with some personal items. One of them, though, took Jed by surprise. It was a small piece of paper with the following letters written.


and it was in his father's hand!

"There was no money in it, I checked." said Ngubu.

"I found something worth more to me than money. These letters were written by my father."

"But they mean nothing."

"When I was young, my father would write letters on a piece of paper to keep me busy. Within them was a secret message. By counting over a certain multiple of unused letters over and over, a message would be revealed. The multiple changed with each message. He would usually do this when he wanted me to sit still and be quiet. For instance, MFOR with a multiple of 2 reads FROM. Once you've used a letter, you skip over it in future counts."

Can you read his father's secret message? The Final Puzzle and answers for Part III will be in the next issue of Quest Adventures.


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