10: Restless natives

Human beings are an emotional species. We hide behind a veneer of supposed rationality, civilisation and logical thought, but it doesn’t take much for that thin facade to be chipped and the true beast of our nature to roar.

Blake had prided herself on her ability to conceal her emotions, as a defence, a show of strength, a barrier against the madness of the world. That veneer was crumbling in Vanuatu as her control on events slipped away. Now, she was ready to explode, and so she did.

Toby was buying the island. He was grabbing the islander’s land for whatever pittance they’d accept, and because no-one had ever offered them anything before (and certainly never any intention to build), they were happy to accept. Vanuatu was littered with sale plots left undeveloped, invariably to return to the natives while the foreign wannabe sharks left as shrimps with their tails between their legs.

But Toby had plans, real architect’s plans and contracts drawn to develop Crab Island as a resort – hotel, villas, amusements; his own magic kingdom where he could reign supreme, with Blake beside him as his queen and Madison their angel-haired princess. His scheme was an escape of sorts, as Blake had suspected, but not away from them. It was for them and that made it worse.

Blake could practically hear the cogs whirring in the stupid shit’s head as he planned how he’d surprise them. Stupid ignorant bastard, holding delusions of grandeur as false and ill-conceived as her ex-fiancee Leo’s* were.

He had bought guns and gunpowder to a remote island to clear the way by force if necessary, or more likely just to brag about it as a story to tell with brandy and cigar as to how the resort was won. White man’s braggadaccio. And he’d bought it with the last of her fucking money.

It made it worse realising he hadn’t run away. Realising that if he was still on the island he probably was dead, and the dumb wanker had died trying to do (what his pea-brain thought was) the right thing.

Something snapped in Blake then. Her cool couldn’t collect this insanity any longer. She lashed out, and the islanders were the nearest thing in spitting distance.

“Where is he?” she screamed, exploding out of the hut carrying wads of contracts they couldn’t read. “What the fuck have you done with my bitch husband? Did you kill him? Did you kill him before I could?”

The Crabbies instinctively backed away from the howling banshee, such outbursts of anger rarely seen in their peaceful, happy village, and never so vicious. But Blake didn’t stop, didn’t spare the innocent, she couldn’t.

“I want his body. Shit on your hallowed piss ant ground. I want his stinking carcass and I want to know which one of you ass-clowns had the balls to murder my husband?”

Anger creates anger, just as fear and loss of control combined with ignorance can lead to hate. The perfect storm. The natives began to stir under the onslaught. Jack could see the wave rippling through the crowd. He grabbed Blake by the arm and yanked her inches away from a stoic Ni-Van’s puzzled face just as his expression began to change, leaving spittle flying in her wake.

“We’re going back to the boat,” he said, nodding to Neri, who took Madison by the hand and led her through the murmuring crowd.

Maddie had never seen her mother angry before. Moody maybe, but not like this. The unknown sight scared her, just as it seemed to rattle the islanders. Blake was still screaming as Jack marched her down the jetty.

“You think just because he’s dead you get your land back? Doesn’t work like that busters, I’m his wife and heir, I own your shitty land now. I own the whole lot of it.”

The first orange embers in the sky were already casting shadows. “We’re not sleeping on land tonight,” said Jack.

Blake stood up on the deck of the Island Dreamer, holding high a wad of papers in her clenched fist. “You like those T-shirts? Plenty more where that came from. How about some Happy Meals? I’ll put a McDonald’s up on that hill, with a sign so big you can see it from fucking space!”


*Protected Species

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