"The bridge, incredibly, was still there. It had slipped perceptibly and hung, dishevelled, in the water, probably a foot under in the middle. It did not look safe, but it was there. Dunstan and the carriers were grinning madly.
We sat and rested. I handed round my glucose sweets. The carriers thanked me but waited for me to go first. The sweets dissolved tastelessly and fizzed like sherbet. They swallowed theirs hurriedly, wiping their mouths on the backs of their hands.
Dunstan rolled himself a cigarette. 'I thought they might try to cut us off, up there.' He looked past me, up the mountains. 'Now we are at the river they can't cut us off. They have to catch us.'
I took off my shoes to cross the bridge and laced them round my neck. In the middle, the water came up to my knees. When I lifted one foot to step forward it was knocked sideways by the current. The bamboo underfoot was slimy and almost free of support. The vines that lashed it to the handrails had mostly swollen and split away. Standing on the far pylon, I looked at the joints. The criss-cross of vine ropings were all coming loose. The bridge was unravelling itself. When the others crossed it floundered and creaked. It was a sinking ship, half down, the deck swimming.
We climbed and fell and talked little. I followed closely behind Andrew, or Dunstan, or whoever was leading. At one point we were joined by a hunter, who carried his arrows in one hand and a small, glass-eyed pig in the other. He climbed with his toes deep in the mud and I walked right on his heels. He smelled of firesmoke and week-old sweat.
Literally Lost: 2
Last week's extract was set in Cambodia, and came from 'Gecko Trails' (Phoenix, pounds 6.99) by Carol Livingstone