My Dearest Claudette,
What I have witnessed should shock and horrify, and certainly bring the rabid attention of some greater regional or tribal authority. Such grotesque sights as what we have witnessed by the hand of my infernal sister and whatever cohorts she may be travelling with are not so aberrant, however.
The Peruvian Amazon Company had committed virtual genocide in attempting to pacify and enslave the native population by the near end of the nineteenth century: it castrated and beheaded Indians, poured kerosene on them and lit them afire, crucified them upside down, beat them, mutilated them, starved them, drowned them, and fed them to dogs. The company’s henchmen also raped women and girls and smashed children’s heads open. “In some sections such an odor of putrefying flesh arises from the numerous bodies of the victims that the places must be temporarily abandoned,” said an engineer who visited the area, which was dubbed the “devil’s paradise.”
I myself, who had always found refuge in the natural world, no longer recognized the wilderness of butchered villagers, trees denuded in blood, and sunbaked skeletons. As the explorer Percy Fawcett once wrote in his diary, “Dante would never have condemned lost souls to wander in so terrible a purgatory.”
Perhaps this is Hell and I have already died and do not recall the moment of my demise. A sobering thought, if not an encouraging one.
Endearingly yours, Allan Quartermain