The girls followed Jack as he broke trail through the sweltering forest. He stepped high and his footfalls were voiceless. Once, upon coming to a section of brooding ferns he stopped, waited and watched. The girls held themselves like nervous statues behind him. After another thirty minutes of walking Jack pushed his way up to the base of a large Kapok tree, rotated his head to the side, and stared up the enormous trunk.
"Perfect," he said triumphantly side-winding, still looking up like a parishioner praying to God in the dying light.
Amanda and Carly followed his line of sight and both of them let out a shriek. Scarlet scrambled back. Fixed on the tree forty feet from the ground was a monstrous bug the size of a shack.
"Relax," Jack stated pushing his hands toward the ground. "It's just a shell. Keep screaming and the bugs will think you're a free meal." He turned and took a deep breath and then pointed up to the translucent alien shape stuck on the tree. "That is where we are staying tonight. That's our scare crow."
"What is it?" Amanda asked, her lines becoming silhouette in the low light.
"The skin of a cicada. They're the bugs that make that noise this time of year. Every season they shed those. It's safe to sleep in. Done it more times than I can count."
Scarlet's posture elevated and her stance loosened. The sisters followed suit and stepped forward. The shell was as thick as a dinner plate, with a sharp slice running down the back. Jack noticed that the girls seemed to accept the thing as harmless but the sight still made them uneasy. Its sharp, tiny appendages were nailed into the tree. The former eyes of the beast were as large as watermelons.
"Follow me," Jack spoke as he began scaling the tree.