Chapter 3 – Extract 7 from The Paradise Induction!
Vernon went quiet as they drove out of the airport.
Chris peered out the window at the tall palm trees standing outside; an instant indicator that he was in a very different part of the world now.
The drive continued across a long bridge with yellow barriers connecting to the main island, Mortigno—Chris’ new home. He observed the mountainous terrain and detached buildings dotted around the green. Being the largest of the Pharisee Islands, it was shaped so a main road lined the outside of it and the mountains lay in the centre with winding roads cutting through the country.
The sea stretched out, beautiful and clear with schools of fish swimming underneath and the sky was cloudless-blue.
Progressing along a cracked and broken main road, the sea disappeared from view and they entered into a rundown part of the island. Dilapidated apartment buildings, partially-finished construction projects, and wooden shacks scattered the sides of the roads. Men and women, old and young in colourful clothing walked the streets, going about their lives. Many looked fatigued. Some carried bags of groceries, others handled bottles of Guinness or Heineken. Some wore clothes that hung from them like rags and the shine on their foreheads revealed the sun’s heat.
There were few other motorists—not busy—but sufficient to show the atmosphere was alive.
As they proceeded, the roads turned into smoother paving. A huge college building came into sight amid large green grounds, then as they moved over the hills, they were back against the open sea on their left. Chris couldn’t resist a smile, hypnotised by the blue of the ocean and the cleanness of the sky.
“So I got a message waiting for you at home,” said Vernon.
“A message?” replied Chris.
“You remember Saul, the boy from the Administration Complex?”
Images of the people Chris met the last time he was on the islands, flashed through his mind. He remembered Saul quickly. A thirty-eight year old guy with a huge upper frame, about Chris’ height with lighter skin, always smartly dressed. His top left eyelid was permanently lower, he branded a mischievous grin, and he seemed to enjoy inciting political debates in the lobby area of the Administration Complex—the main government building of the island. Regardless, when they’d spoken, he’d assured Chris he’d keep an eye out for writing opportunities.
“Yeah, I remember him,” said Chris. “What’s he saying?”
“He said he has a journalist role for you.”
Chris grinned wider. “Really?”
“Yeah. He’s left a phone message.”
Chris relished the surge of energy that flushed through his body as the car flew across the hilly roads into the centre of the island. The heat of the tropical climate accompanied by the fresh breeze of sea air breathed hope. Life. A new start!
I’ve made it. Chris thought. It’s really happening. And so quickly!
They reached the town hub of the island—Street Village—with its many detached buildings housing offices, banks, retailers, and restaurants. The architecture had a modern city appearance with a Caribbean colour theme. Some buildings maintained a conservative look, but each one made its name clear with a giant sign and accompanying logo.