Graphic novels by Nicholas Romer

The Fangs


Our bus capsized into this narrow river called El colmillo. Colmillo is tricky to translate and the closest thing to it is The fangs. But names don’t mean shit. You just don’t want to be caught off guard in this shallow water. 

Forget the sharks and the Hollywood hype around it. The real stuff is here, concealed under some murky water and ready to grab any limb within reach. I have seen them. I know. 

Remember, there is always a nastier fish lurking around. And one that can even turn out as your own salvation. But i’m going a bit ahead of myself. 

I left Bogota to Chiquiri by bus. Best way to keep a low profile. Colombian Narcotic bureau has been on me for some time. Drones were on my trail in Bogota round the clock. 

But those country buses drive their way through some dense amazonian greenery. Thus drones are left blind. I intended to vanish into the forest 30 km before Chiriqui. 

The driver let some local music blast from two homemade loudspeakers. He was more focused on singing in key than checking the road. Some animal crossed his path. He put the bus to a jarring halt while crossing a rickety wooden bridge. The platform caved in and the bus glided down into the river.  

The whole scene lasted less than a few seconds from the sudden stop to our landing at the bottom of the river. Amid baby cries and whines from passengers, I regrouped and immediately checked the windows. They were all sealed. Cool weather and air conditioning saved us. 


Water spilled out from several narrow openings. I concluded we wouldn’t make it over 40 minutes. While large fishes on the hunt were blocked outside, smaller ones could get in. Like the mother fucker Candiru… A 10 centimeters long parasitic motherfucker that can sneak into any corporeal holes… I wore a tight jogger pants but I pity those who were in cargo shorts…

The only way out was through the baggage hold below us. The trapdoor could shield us from a massive flow of water. But I knew something that other passengers failed to recognize. There were muffled sounds against the cabin and that only meant one thing. A big fish was on the loose.

I bribed some cocky bastard to crawl his way through the trapdoor in order to pull back the luggage holder door. The  poor bushy thought he made a fair deal. A few thousands pesos for one great push. Little did he know. 

We heard the screams and the brawl. We didn’t need to see with our own eyes to figure out that he was struggling for his life. In retrospect I believe the fish grabbed his feet and dragged him out in the water. 

I’m not proud of this. But when you have spent years in the streets of Cali, surviving becomes your middle name.. 

When I spotted the upper body of the victim jerking in the Arapaima mouth, I dived into the luggage holder. While I swam frantically off the bus I glimpsed at the passengers and their faces full of dismay. 

A swarm of piranhas emerged from nowhere, their fangs ready to hack any limb to shred. They swam past me and rushed to some foolish passenger behind me. 

I forced my pace until I couldn’t retain my breath any longer.

I emerged in some dead end and knocked myself against a wall of steel. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a pocket submarine standing half sunken right in the middle of this pocket-size lake.

I figured out right away who the owner might be. Cartels always come up with some new wacky ideas to ship their goods. Mini submarines are made for shallow waters but some manage their way through the ocean. This one got stuck into some sand mound. 

I pulled myself up onto the hatch and sneaked in. Inside, one dead guy was sprawled out on his command seat and 500 kilos of snow were stacked up in the back, worth 7 or 8 Mil contingent on your street dealers. 

I didn’t feel well at all. My stomach was rumbling, and I couldn’t stifle a run of stinking farts. Did I indulge some of my past addiction ? Yes ! I stayed away from coke for 12 years. But again I have landed right in the midst of some fucking nightmare. So I let the white candy powder roll into my veins, and it sent shivers down my spine right away. . 

I couldn’t hang around this muggy pocket-size submarine for too long. Cops would have crawled the place anytime soon. As I was sniffing pure coke again, I heard the same dampened sounds against the submarine nose. The Araipama was back. He was not alone. Something was spinning around in my stomach…

I was as high as I could be. Still aware of my dire situation but able to giggle at this hallucinatory atmosphere.  The water was pooling around through several leaks. One third of the coke was already spoiled. I spot a shadow wiggling its way through the bags of coke. The electric eel sneaked between my legs barely touching them with its majestic tail. I giggled nervously to blow off some steam. Wrong move. The thing inside me didn’t like the contraction of my stomach and ripped some part of it. The pain was excruciating.

Ok, no time left. I zeroed in on the eel and grabbed its head in order to pull it off the water. This ugly relic from millions of years of evolution sneered at me while I stuck her mouth to my stomach. The electric discharge made me jump backwards and belched out the candiru. I landed on my ass with a terrifying cramp and massive hiccups vomiting blood…

I blacked out.

Later, I was able to ninja my way up the ladder and off the hatch.

Six hours have passed.

I’m swaying back and forth on this rocking chair. This local bar’s ticky tacky wooden terrace welcomed me despite my mucky look. Im gazing at the muddy water while sipping a warm beer. My stomach twitches sporadically but I’m alive.  I swear that I will never go back to my previous life.

All i needed was an electrochoc


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