Prologue March 19, 2014 0300hrs Un-named Village West of Eirunepe, Brazil The rainy season was nearly over in the western Amazon, but evening storms were still common and strong. The one that had sprung up that afternoon in the hottest part of the day had raged for hours, long past sunset. The tall grass that surrounded a handful of wood and thatch-roofed long houses was beaten flat by that rain. The houses stood in a rough semi-circle facing the Jurua River, one of the many tributaries of the Amazon River that eventually drained into the sea far to the east. People in the village enjoyed a lifestyle their ancestors had perfected thousands of years before. They lived largely off the river and the lush green forest that rose in staggered emerald green hills to a high plateau in the distance to the west.There were a few small plots cultivated around the clearing, but the villagers gathered most of what they needed from the forest rather than growing it.They had contact with the outside world, but not much beyond the few vessels that moved and traded on the river this far west, and the villagers rarely made it to any of the larger communities. In one of the thatched long houses was a man, Ivo Duarte, who didn't notice the pounding rain or the rolling, rumbling thunder that made his wife jump and his younger children tremble. In his mid thirties, he was well-established as a dependable worker in the village and, though he didn't follow the traditional path of fishing the rivers and hunting the forests, he provided well for his wife and his children. He often took jobs as a porter, carrying equipment for biologists, ecologists, and other groups conducting studies in the jungles that were his ancestors' ancient home. Most of the villagers fished and sold their catch in the villages and towns along the river, but Ivo's ambitions had always been larger, and he liked to talk about sending their children to a university one day, which always made his wife smile. But he had been ill the past few days, ever since his return home from the latest trip, and his wife wasn't smiling—it was getting worse. When Ivo slept all day, even missing two meals and sleeping through the thunderstorm, his wife began to worry. Her husband had always been a strong man and a source of strength for the rest of their family. To see him weakened to the point he couldn't climb out of bed made her gut twist with fear. For a long time she sat up and watched him sleep an uneasy and fitful sleep before she could finally close her own eyes and rest as evening deepened into night. * Ivo suddenly awoke in his blankets, his head pounding bad enough to make his ears ring. It was night outside and he could hear the soft sound of his wife's rasping snore behind him on their pallet. Their two young daughters were asleep at the other end of their longhouse, curled up in hammocks that were tied to the roof support beams. Being as quiet as he could, Ivo stumbled outside and down to the banks of the Jurua where he splashed water on his face and neck. Even with a nearly full moon overhead his eyes burned and were so blurry he could barely see the dirt path cutting through the grass and the shimmering moonlight reflected on the water. The handful of longhouses that formed his village were all dark and silent; no one was awake at this hour–no one but Ivo. He sat down heavily in the wet sand near the river and rubbed his arms and legs. His joints were aching, his chest and throat burned, and his head felt like it was being crushed. He hoped that being outside in the fresh air would keep his family from catching whatever he had, and maybe it would help him feel better. He thought he'd picked up a new flu virus on a recent job that had taken him deep into the jungles around Eirunepe. Ivo had worked as a porter helping to carry supplies and photography equipment for part of an expedition by a nature photographer and his local guide. It was difficult, physically demanding work and it meant days or even weeks away from his family, but there was more money to be made on one such trip than on an entire year of selling salted and smoked fish in the markets. If there was a high demand Ivo could sometimes make three or four trips in a single season. But there was a very real risk of being injured or falling ill while on these trips. Several years earlier he'd broken his wrist in a fall while on a biologist's expedition, and the year before he'd had a serious case of malaria as a result of a trip during the wet season for an ecologist ironically studying mosquito breeding trends. Shortly after returning home from his most recent trip a few days earlier, Ivo had started feeling sick. He felt like he had a low fever and a few aches and pains, but nothing he hadn't been through before. The symptoms weren't terrible at first and Ivo had assumed it was a case of the flu, which he'd caught from fellow workers on past expeditions. He was starting to wonder if he had something more serious since he couldn't remember having a case of flu this bad in his entire life. His head was hurting worse than he could ever remember, his eyes felt like they were about to pop out of his head, and there was a strange, persistent burning in his throat and stomach. Whenever he felt his head with his own hand it felt alarmingly hot, but he shivered and trembled rather than sweating. The pain behind Ivo's eyes became too much, and he laid his head back on the wet sandy bank, his eyes closed. He could feel hot tears running down his cheeks from his eyes as they watered from the pain. He tried to focus on figuring out a way to lessen the pounding in his head, but his thoughts didn't seem to want to form together very well. Slowly the gurgling sound of the river lulled him to sleep. Ivo's wife found him laying in the sand the next morning, his skin was hot and he was delirious for a while after waking. His eyes were horribly bloodshot, and there was slow bleeding around his teeth. Ivo took every tonic and concoction the village medicine man gave him. Some of them had to be poured into his mouth with a funnel as he became too weak to swallow throughout that day, but none of it seemed to help. Without a thermometer in the village it was difficult to tell if his fever was going up but it didn't seem to be breaking. Ivo and his family didn't have the fuel for a trip upriver to the doctors in Eirunepe. They watched and hoped for a vessel to pass by the village heading downriver and that they'd give passage to a sick stranger. The rest of the village only had simple dugout canoes that had to be paddled, and Ivo's wife didn't think he would live through a trip downriver like that. Over the next few days Ivo's condition continued to get worse. Blinding pains began shooting through his body, especially in his gut and lower abdomen. He began vomiting up anything he ate or drank, and was barely able to keep even water in his system. His hands and feet began to shake and his skin developed large dark bruised patches. Blood began to leak from his nose, ears, and the corners of his eyes. When he finally lost consciousness and slipped into a shallow coma, there was no doubt that whatever he had it was not a simple case of the flu. Ivo's family was terrified as they watched him slowly and painfully dying before their eyes. A little less than a week after Ivo began showing symptoms, his youngest daughter developed a fever and bloodshot eyes, the same first symptoms Ivo had shown. She began coughing the next day, a ragged and wet sounding cough that left bloody foam on her lips sometimes. Ivo died the night his daughter started her bloody cough, and the next morning his wife woke up with a headache and bloodshot eyes. By that night their oldest daughter was sick as well, vomitting and shaking with a fever. Their neighbor in the longhouse to the right of theirs had three children, all boys. The middle child developed a fever and bloodshot eyes shortly after Ivo died. The entire extended family fled, disappearing overnight with all of their children and as much food and water as they could carry. Ivo's wife and both children were already coughing up blood, their youngest daughter didn't even have enough strength to stand or lift her head to watch the neighbors pile into their dugout canoe and disappear into the darkness. By the end of the third week since Ivo's sickness began, his entire family was dead and the rest of the village was abandoned. Three of the four families living around Ivo sought healing with relatives who live deeper in the jungle. One family fled east, downriver towards the ever larger villages, towns, and cities with their two sick children, one nephew, and a grandmother. The father stumbled into the small town of Fogoso a few miles west of Eirunepe four days later with the body of his infant son cradled in his arms. He was the last surviving member of the village. A local healer tended to the father as best he could, and they sent for doctors from the municipal hospital in Rio Branco. Before any doctors could arrive, though, the man died of his illness. In his last moments he called out for his wife and children, reaching blindly for them until one of the healer's teenage nieces who was studying to be his apprentice took the sick man's hand and held it. She whispered to him to calm him down and after a few minutes the man laid back on his bed, drew one long, rattling breath, and died. A few weeks later someone stopped at the semicircle of longhouses and set them all on fire. The longhouse containing the bodies of Ivo Duarte, his wife, and their two young children burned to the ground leaving their bones buried together in a tomb of burnt timbers and ash as the Jurua River rolled by bearing silent witness.