FERAL EYE OF THE BLACKBIRD
A Journey Reveals the Power of Reason
Feral Eye of the Blackbird
Based on the novel by John Katsoulis
Copyright 2021 John Katsoulis
Contact: James Clois Smith Jr., Sunstone Press / (505) 988-4418
LOGLINE: Two men are kidnapped, sent to an African diamond mine to complete an equipment installation, and must find a way to escape.
Opening credits, voice over: “High-boned Congolese men walked by taking us in. They spat in the dust when they looked at us, and their gazes left me empty inside. I looked at Logos and realized for the first time—we were the strangers.”
The A-frame rises out of the bush like a temple. It lies still and quiet and no one will approach it. Thousands of villagers wait for a man to come and fix it or they will starve. The temple is a diamond drilling platform which they hope will breathe new life into the Kivu Territory. Although they are desperate, they remain careful. If anyone crosses the owners, or damages the temple, they will “go bye-bye.”
It’s April 7, 1994, and the Rwandan Civil War has unraveled into one hundred days of genocide, where more than a half million people were killed. In the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, the owners of a decaying diamond mine have troubles of their own. Due to the war, refugees flooding in, and remoteness of the Kivu Equatorial Mine (KEM), they can’t find a man to fix their temple.
There is one man with the ability to save them. He is difficult to deal with and even more difficult to hire. The shadowy Consortium will do and say anything to get him. They kidnap him and his assistant and send them to the DRC.
Logos is known in the mining industry as the man who can fix anything in the field. He’s so good at it, he can improvise with his bare hands. He has an intelligence background few know about and he won’t discuss. It allows him to see the world for what it is. He’s traveled the world, done things for governments he no longer remembers, and must conquer a fear, or it will destroy him.
Robert, his assistant, is a privileged kid with anger issues who just graduated college. He’s on his own for the first time. He must reconcile his old life, where everything is easy and nothing matters, with the new one as a forced laborer. He’s plagued by his inner demon—the blackbird—the violent temper he must control. There are things Logos, his mentor, can teach him, but it’s time for him to stand up on his own.
They’ve been led to believe they’ll be flying to Peru to work on mining equipment under a lucrative employment contract. Both men are hurting for money and see this as their way to pay off their debts and make a new start. When their cargo plane is diverted, the loadmaster, an old Congo war veteran, Mr. K. K., tells them they’ll work to the brink of death. Why? Only one man in the world is capable of the “special installation” to make the owners rich again—Logos.
Mr. K. K.’s a cold bastard but an excellent employee. He values tracking his human inventory over the humans themselves. Not only is he escorting the two men back to the KEM, but three massive crates which take up the belly of the fuselage. The crates smell of fresh pine and conceal their contents.
The plane lands in the DRC. Dozens of armed Congolese men move the inventory from the plane to a waiting convoy. Logos and Robert are amazed at their efficiency. They meet Izbart, Mr. K. K.’s “number one,” and he makes Logos understand the hopes and dreams of an entire village are on his shoulders. Everyone is waiting for him. Everything is on the line. When they ask him about the contents of the crates, Izbart does the old Ziplock on the lips.
The convoy stops to re-supply. During the stay, the men are escorted by armed guards through the town, where Logos meets the lovely Brit, Eden. She’s a relief worker and will help Logos find himself. She is rugged and fearless, alone in the middle of this nothingness which surrounds them. She has the ability to see past people’s weaknesses, to understand someone at their depths. If empathy were a talent, and talent were the light, hers shone as brightly as his. They recognize the other’s qualities, and one will help the other. But she’s running from something.
After a harrowing drive through the bush, they arrive at the KEM. It is more remote than they even imagined. It sits on a plateau where only the sound of the wind rushes by. Everything is shut down and men have gone missing. An entire village is being sacrificed to manually produce diamonds; men, women, and even children are forced to work at gunpoint.
Marc, the site geologist, tells them the previous mechanic is missing. He was the only other mechanic who could’ve made the installation. Marc’s a crafty operator who has his own plan for the future of the mine. He will take risks to keep his side operation humming, despite a new man brought there to bring them out of the muck. It will put Robert and Logos in a predicament where no man can escape.
Chicotte, the supervisor, reveals a cruel labor hierarchy of Masters and Workers in place since the days of the Belgian Congo and King Leopold. He’s half wrestler, half Idi Amin, and all business. After many confrontations, he becomes Logos’s nemesis. Mr. K. K., after several run-ins with Robert, becomes his. Logos and Robert will submit to Chicotte’s rules to become Workers, or be flogged, or worse, “go bye-bye.”
Upon hearing there’s no one else to complete the installation, Logos holds the cards. He doesn’t always play them well, though. His talent is double-edged. He’s a brilliant problem-solver, and intolerant of anyone who challenges his brilliance. The talent, the reputation, the dark past, has made him the target of the kidnappers. The Consortium stalked him for years, and now he’ll learn why.
Robert has to grow into a man amongst brutal men, with only one thing on their minds—money and the enslavement of other men. His secret to survival will be fighting his inner demon—the blackbird. When it reveals itself, it fills him with a bogus power, but it is the opposite of rational thinking. Logos tries to teach Robert to believe what he sees, not to see what he believes. It’s the only way they can survive this prison camp and escape.
Logos informs him of a plan he’s set into motion with Izbart’s help. It’s risky, but staying and dying a little more each day, is even riskier.
Logos has a run-in with King Ulindi, the chief of the Kivu Territory. He’s one of these pricks who thinks he was born with a better pot to piss in. As Chicotte controls the Workers with threats of violence, King Ulindi controls all of Kivu with mysticism, ritual, and a witch-doctor’s air. A mysterious voluptuous woman is always at his side, too, casting glances and intimidating the villagers. Everyone falls under their spell, except for Logos and Robert.
There are good Workers and bad Workers, and Chicotte presses the men to become his good Workers, officially. This will lighten the sadistic workload on Logos to revive the entire mine. He refuses, and they are placed in solitary. Why is it important for Masters to make men Workers? It is the ultimate capitulation given by one man to another, to the Masters. Workers who have become friends with them begin to “go bye-bye.”
They discover the crates carry the parts necessary for it to rain down wealth on the village again. During the forced “special installation,” Robert’s arm is injured in an accident. But it’s not an “accident” as he thinks. It’s retribution for not following the rules. The installation fails and both men are scared about the outcome.
Robert’s taken to the field hospital at Médecins Assistance International, where he sees Eden. Armed guards take Logos to see Robert. Logos tells him the KEM is now under lockdown because of the failure, and he’s been warned, one more time and they’ll both pay. Robert is scared. They discuss the nature of fear, and how it can be controlled.
Robert goes in and out of consciousness. He wakes and sees Logos and Eden at the foot of his bed talking. She helps him through a childhood trauma which has made him see things in his unique way. Logos helps her find her place in this world, in the nothingness. They leave, and later, he delivers the softest kiss ever recorded in time, and they become one.
Robert returns to the KEM late one night to discover it looks different. There are spotlights everywhere like a movie premiere in full-swing. But there’s no one around, again. He runs into Marc and unearths his crooked side business. Marc challenges Robert’s beliefs. He teaches him about fear, as well. Robert has a breakthrough.
The day has arrived. Thousands from the village rush onto the plateau to watch history in the making. Logos and Robert are forced to make the “special installation” for a second time. They are on the A-frame platform, the people’s temple, five stories in the sky.
Logos will be tested like never before. He encounters a major problem with the equipment tooling, and all the Masters and Workers line up to watch him figure out a solution, including King Ulundi. A mob of villagers fight to see if Logos can deliver them a new life.
On top of the hell they have fallen into, Logos and Robert must face off against the King, who believes his Spirit Charla is the one who has made all this possible—not the rational-thinking Logos. The Workers can’t be fooled, and all eyes are on Logos to make their lives better. If the installation works, everyone might eat, drink, and have something to live for again. If he can complete it, he and Robert might be able to escape. But it won’t be easy.
Logos’s agent provocateur days in South America have come in handy. He’s been fomenting a revolt from the beginning under Chicotte’s nose, with the help of Izbart, the head of the Workers. Some men are with Logos, some are not. It will come down to what the Workers believe.
Do they believe in Logos, or do they believe in their Masters? Has Logos’s insurgent strategy spread as planned? Has man learned to think with reason? The mob swarms the platform expecting their dreams will come true. The boiling point is reached in the middle of the nothingness. Logos will play with nothing to lose, or they’ll die as slaves.
The jungle keeps secrets. They’re about to find out why.