Native Claim. By ninja5 "What don't we know Billings?" Jared Eppsworth project director for the Pacific exploration unit's surgical voice came over the computer speaker.
Jillian typed the question and paused looking at Mr Billings who always spoke as if she were not in the room. Jillian held her painted fingers over the keys waiting for Billings to speak with haste as he had the entire satellite video chat. Billings checked his gold wrist watch despite the time being displayed on the monitor. The satellites would move out of position soon and Billings had a plan to disclose.
One that he didn't want the powers that be to interfere with. For the bulk of the negotiations with the island chain nations that Jillian, the bright young intern, had served as stenographer for, Billings had spoken hastily to his superior. Billings was Eppsworth senor in years, not position, and he constantly raced through conversations as if to make up time so he could slow down when it came to matter he thought pertinent. 'Bright young intern', Jillian thought to herself in the pause.
The corner of her mouth twitched. In reality she knew she'd landed the secretive assignment over the other two interns because she had a current passport and didn't get seasick. Jillian sat opposite Billing's on the cargo ships mess tiny hall. The metal walls of the mess hall were cream to waist level, then navy grey down to the deck. Apex oil had detected what could be a sizeable deposit under an island chain that ran parallel to the China Sea, but still in the Pacific territories.
The cargo ship was conscripted so they could go in stealthily and meet with the islands chains Council of Elders and its Chiefs. Legality, directly proof of disclosure of the environmental impact on the island reefs and subsequent fishing if drilling rights were accepted, meant that the petite and pale, copper haired Jillian was swept along with Billings.
"The Islands Council has declined our offer, but they are aware of what they are sitting on now. Perhaps they know China will pay double what we are offering due to the proximity to their coast." Billings had indeed slowed down. Jillian typed Billings' comments. "For fucks sake Billings. The deal would have increased their economy tenfold.
How can you fuck that up? These are inbreed pigmies with spears." Eppsworth mood shifted dramatically to the point he didn't car e what was recorded on the transcript. He answered to the shareholders and Apex oil had projected the next annum's profits based on Billings closing this deal. After all, he had a reputation of doing whatever it takes. Jillian flashed her emerald green eyes at him in the camaraderie and admiration. Billings noticed the dazzling eyes smiling at him.
He was above her reassurances. She had been trying to win Billings over for a good word when they got back, maybe even a spot on his staff.
Billings was immune to it, but Jillian's lithe figure and submissive charm made her quiet appealing around the office. She easily had in as an executive assistant for her charms alone. All was wasted on Billings, expensive divorces saw his celibate from anger.
"There's One Island that isn't represented on the Council." Billings looked at his watch again. "Which Island?" On the other end of the screen Eppsworth was scanning the map from the file.
"Mumbahah… Mumbara…" Billings seemed to get frustrated. "Mumbahoo." Jillian corrected and skipped over transcribing Billings' error. "Mumbahoo." Billings didn't acknowledge Jillian's contribution nor the diligence on the mission for retaining the information without knowing its significance. "We offer them half of what we offered the Council combined less if we can get away with it." Billings checked his watch again and Jillian realised. He hadn't just timed it so they could finish before they lost the satellite, he had timed it so Billings would outlay the plan and not give Eppsworth a chance to counter act his plan.
"We can't ignore the impact to the other Islands reef systems…" The screen became distorted as Eppsworth spoke. 'Cheeky bugger' Jillian thought, but had to admit she'd learnt a thing or two. "Sorry Jared, you're breaking up. I'm taking a boat to the island tomorrow. I'll send you a copy of the transcript." Billing switched off the monitor and looked for the first time at Jillian.
"Note time communication ended as 13:07 hours Australian Western Standard time. Jillian typed the final note and looked up at Billings. The cargo ships crew were all men, uneducated, from Thailand. The Captain must have warned them not to go near Jillian and she hadn't had a conversation in over a week. She looked at Billings hopefully as she backed away the blue tooth keyboard for the table.
Billings must have anticipated Jillian about to attempt small talk and cut her off. "Be ready to head to Mumbahoo sunrise tomorrow." He turned a left for his private quarters. Jillian's graceful shoulders dropped. She sighed. Another day locked away in her tiny cabin listening to the rhythmic chatter of the engines and playing solitaire on her iPad.
*** Jillian waited at the railings where the ladder had been dropped to the outboard motor boat. The boat had been lowered before the sun had come up, but the tropical night had resulted in the morning being pleasant. She looked out at Mumbahoo, the large Island that was home to the Mumbahoo tribe. It was out of a fantasy, a rich green surrounding a dormant volcano with picturesque white sand welcoming them.
The Island covered in palms and the beach was rimmed with coconut trees. The first cracks of the sun appeared over the blue horizon and struck the island. It seemed to glow golden surrounded by the pale blue waters. The sun also struck Jillian. As a redhead with pale skin she immediately thought of sunburn. Like an albino she burnt at the slightest provocation by the sun. She had opted out of the business shirt for the first time of the business trip. In place of her jacket she wore a white sleeveless shirt.
On her left shoulder a green and aqua half sleeved tattoo was on display. The colours contrast her fiery copper hair and pale skin. Her usual attire and repose around the office had kept it hidden. As she saw the cargo ships crewman eyeing it, she was becoming self-conscious that perhaps today was a bad day to dress to stay cool. The crew man smiled and lifted his grease stained and tattered red singlet up above his chest.
He had a kick boxer's body and a faded green tattoo of a serpent coiling up around his torso. Jillian gave him smile that said she liked. Her body language was almost flirtatious, but both she and the crewman were on the same level, this was not a sexual display.
The ink marked spirits for them. Jillian's green and aqua tea pots represented her grandmother, and the crewman's represented his fighter's spirit. The crewman eyed her up and down as if she were forbidden fruit. Jillian stepped out to the side and faced him straight on.
Her posture said no, but the smile on her face told him he was welcome to admire. Jillian's first exchange with a person other than Billings was cut short as Billings and the Captain walked out on deck. "Translator?" Billings barked.
He always barked when he didn't get his way. "No." The Captain was definite. He seemed frustrated like Billings had been on him for a while. "Christ. At least a guide!" "No." The Captain waved his hands in front of him into a cross and then opened them. He was being clear. "My agreement with Apex does not have me putting my men at risk Mr Billings. We have accommodated you and your Company as far as we can. Remember I am a businessman and this is a cargo ship.
Once you have been taken to shore Nahuatl will leave you with a radio for you to signal you want to come back." Jillian looked at the serpented man in front of her. His name was Nahuatl and as he watched the two authoritarian males play it out he looked uncomfortable. "Why can't he come inland with us?" Nahuatl looked uncomfortable. "There is a reason the Mumbahoo are not on the Tribal Council Mr Billings." The Captain said.
"There will be someone there who speaks English, or French, or at the very least Vietnamese. It is your problem. My problem is explaining to my clients why their shipments have been delayed." As he finished he turned from Billings a disappeared back inside. Billings was left with a snarl on his face muttering profanities under his breathe. As he walked to the ladder he took a look at Jillian. His upper lipped curled condemning her attire, but it seemed she was so far below him he wouldn't waste his time chastising her.
"Come on", he muttered and started down the ladder to the boat. Nahuatl looked at Jillian and shrugged before following Billings down. Jillian sighed and wondered if she had ruined any chance of that good word back to HR. She tapped her carry bag to make sure the tablet and keyboard were still inside.
She lugged it onto her back and once secured started down the ladder in her white loafers. Nahuatl stood at the wheel as the outboard roared and the boat skipped on the gentile surf.
Billings was still fuming as he sat in the front steading himself. Jillian sat at the back and got over worrying about sunburn and the statement of her attire. Her khaki shorts allowed her legs to feel the cool breeze of their velocity, but the rays of sun kept her warm.
She thought back to the science elective she'd taken when she'd done her arts degree. Something about the caldera of island volcanoes meant the beaches had surf. The shallow waves of Mumbahoo beaches meant the volcano was long dormant and had subsided or something like that.
As they entered a natural bay amidst the coral reefs Nahuatl cutback on the engines. Figures clad in dried fronds pointed and then ran up the beach behind the wall of coconut trees. It seemed as if any welcoming committee would be frightened of them. Nahuatl cut the engines all together and the boat slide up unto the shallow beach and gently stopped. Billings rose and then sat back down. Despite the boat having come to a stop the shallow waves still rocked the boat.
Nahuatl jumped into the spray and walked around the boat to Jillian. He extended his hand for her to take. She put the backpack on and took his hand, climbing up of the side and jumping into the warm tropical surf, it came up to her thighs but no higher. Nahuatl steadied her and formed a barrier with his arms till he saw she had her footing. As he came back around to the front of the boat Billings finally rose expecting the same aid. Nahuatl gave him annoyed look and walked around to the front of the boat.
He started pushing. Billings panicked realising he was making ready to push off. As he placed one leg over the side of the boat a wave rocked it setting him off balance. After a moment he found himself teetering over the edge off balance and splashing awkwardly beneath the shallow water.
Jillian who had been taking long strides against the resistance of the waters and week currents turned back. Nahuatl pushed the boat out of its soft resting place.
As Billings fumbled up from being submerged, Nahuatl reached for a radio and handed it to Billings. Billings wobbled in place, finally getting his footing, before snatching the radio and giving Nahuatl a foul look.
Nahuatl shrugged at Jillian and hit the engine, the boat flew back in reverse, slowly heading back out to deeper water. "God damn Thai Dog." Billings snapped as Nahuatl spun the boat around and headed back out to the cargo ship far off shore.
He looked at Jillian who had never seen Billings so dishevelled before.
His white shirt was transparent when wet and she could see his beer gut and his man breasts in all their glory. Jillian waited for him to compose himself and Billings huffed in the surf. "Ok. Let's get to shore", he said regaining composure. Jillian turned and continued her walk. As she headed onto dry land the figures in primitive dress reappeared through the trees, seemingly only afraid of the boat. They stood back and stared at the pair of Apex employees walking out of the waves onto their island.
Jillian was enchanted as the number of figures up the beach grew. She looked on with fascination and felt that when they pointed, they were pointing at her.
She wanted to forget her place and walk up to them, but was held back by Billings attempt to make himself respectable. He had taken off his Italian loafers and was ringing the water out of his business socks. He sat on the beach with his back to them and started rolling up the legs of his pressed suit. As Jillian waited patiently she could see he was still processing the disrespect from Nahuatl, still angry at being made a fool. "Mr Billings Sir", Jillian finally voiced.
"What in damnation is it?" Billings shouted and gave up trying to puts his sand covered socks back on. "They're coming… a couple of them are coming over." Jillian buzzed with excitement. Their skin was a dark olive like a sun sustained Thai and they looked more like natives.
The fronds skirts that the two men wore saved modesty and they weren't short like most Islanders. Their hair pointed out from their heads like a character from Drangonball, spikey dreads. Jillian's eyes crew wide as they approached. Both seemed mesmerised by her there was something about her they liked. Billings rose and turned to the two natives.
He discarded his socks and gave the two men his full attention. Not wanting to insult the men by assuming they didn't speak English he assumed they did. His foul mood of the morning vanished under his professional manner. He extended his hand to shake theirs and took a step forward. "Good morning gentlemen my name is…" He was left standing stunned as both men walked straight past him towards Jillian. Jillian became slightly unnerved and cringed back nervously.
Both men reached forward and she thought of stepping back, her hands came up in defence, but the men ignored them. Fear of angering Billings prevented her and as the natives hands drew closer she leaned back.
Both men touched her hair at the same time and vocalized sounds of amazement. Jillian calmed and realised that these men might never have seen a redhead before. She relaxed and smiled. Billings was dumbfounded. "Ah, Gentlemen…" Both natives ignored Billings and the men continued to inspect Jillian's hair.
They lifted it out to the side and dropped it; leaned in a smelt it; tapped the tips of her locks, as if they were testing it for magical properties. "Gentlemen, if I might interrupt?" Billings reached forward and tapped one of the natives on the shoulder. The native turned and looked Billings up and down.
"Missionary?" He dipped his head. It was obvious he wanted to go back to looking at Jillian's magical red hair that smells of lavender, curtesy of her conditioner.
"I'm sorry I don't understand. Do you speak English?" Billings was obviously regretting Jillian coming along. Despite the investigating hands Jillian felt she could get their attention better. "English?" She said. Both natives seemed mesmerised by her voice. They hummed two notes. The one Billings was addressing nodded enthusiastically. "English Missionary." He rubbed his belly in a circular motion. Billings tapped the nearest native on the shoulder again. "English Apex", he repeated the tribal's gesture of rubbing his belly in a circular motion.
The mood of both men lifted and they nodded, though it was impossible they could know who Apex was. An oil company was more foreign to them than a redhead intern. Both men started rubbing their bellies together smiling. "English Apex, come." Both native gently took one of Jillian's hands each and guided her towards the trees.
Jillian giggled and let herself be pulled along leaving Billings behind.
He lingered for a moment picking up his shoes. "God damn intern", he muttered under his breath and started off after them.
By chance the opening in the coconut trees lay directly above were they had landed. As Jillian was led she started to giggle. The two natives seemed in a hurry.
As she was pulled into the clearing beyond the trees the others, those watching as they had come assure came forward eagerly. There were no children amongst them, but for the first time Jillian saw the native women, dress as the men were, beautiful breast hanging free. The more vocal of the two men guiding her sounded "English Apex" and rubbed his belly. Smiles erupted from the onlookers and it was as if some caution had been dropped.
All the natives rushed around Jillian like groupies to a rock star. She felt hands gently feeling her hair and they sighed and exclaimed in wonder. Billings caught up panting. He was not in shape. "Listen…" he started trying to caught his breathe. "I would like to speak to your…" He lost his patience. "Oh for heaven sakes." He blundered through the crowd and grabbed Jillian, pulling her behind him.
Several of the natives back away as if confrontation were an occurrence of seriousness not natural to them. Jillian portrayed an apologetic expression, charmed by the attention as she was. Now that Billings had the object of interest under his control he sounded his demand again. "Chief. I need to speak to your chief." He sounded the words slowly, the pretence of them understanding him dropped.
Even if they had clearly understood him he was beyond talking to these idiots in a civil tongue. "English-Apex", the vocal native rebuked rubbing his belly. "No!" Billings shook his head and waved his hands clearly stating 'no'.
"Chief, then English-Apex", he rubbed his belly. A glimmer of understanding returned to the native's eyes though Billings wasn't sure what he was saying. He nodded. "Chief. Yes, yes. Chief." He walked ahead. "This way English-Apex." He waved his hands, gesturing for Billings and Jillian to follow. "Come, come." Billings grabbed Jillian by the arm and yanked her along. The rest of the natives followed behind in a sort of procession.
Jillian tried to smile back at them as Billings rudely pulled her along. After a few minutes of being pulled off balance with every step Billings took Jillian finally protested. "Mr Billings, please, you're hurting me." Billings seemed to slacken his grip a little and finally let go. Jillian rubbed her wrist as he released her, her pale skin was red from the friction.
"I'm… I'm sorry." He said as if under internal protest from an aspect of his personality. "Just try not to get in the way." Though the walk up the beach had taxed him, now Billings was under the power of his determination.
The Natives walked ahead chattering amongst themselves. As the path opened up the light of a clearing marked the end of the path they had taken from the beach. As Billings and Jillian followed the progression back into the village its inhabitants all looked at Jillian with wonder. The women sat around straw huts making textiles out of vines and fronds. A teenage boy was ponding open coconuts with a heavy wooden tool, collecting the coconut water.
The men had blowguns and pouches of darts as if they were preparing to hunt. In the centre was a grand fire pit and a clay large oven by its side. Jillian smiled back at them with her new found celebrity. The native who had been so vocal stood addressing the village.
"English-Apex", he rubbed his belly. Excitement broke out. Jillian smiled back at them as Billings tried to remind the vocal native that they were to meet the chief. As the surrounding natives cheered on the verge of celebration, Jillian rubbed her belly in greeting. The natives became more excited and laughter came. They were so peaceful and innocent of all the trappings of Jillian's home that she fell under their spell instantly. A few feet to her side Billings was yelling 'Chief' over and over again.
As almost celebratory dance broke out and members of the island tribe called out in joy and serious figure walked out from a hut and the commotion. His stride was not that of the islanders, it had a western quality to it. Similarly though obviously native to the island he wore Western clothes.
They were old and dirty. He looked at Jillian and the mounting annoyance of Billings as he yelled 'chief' over and over again slowly losing all trace of manners.
Jillian's smile faded slightly and he bee-lined for Jillian and Billings. As he approached there was no mistaking he had learned cautious eyes as he looked at Billings.
Having seen her from a distance he did not inspect Jillian like the other islanders had. He raised his head superiorly and spoke in a clear deep voice. "Good day to you Sir." He spoke English without trace of an accent, that is to say it was almost Boston's, or a generic English accent.
Billings did a double take and eyed the native. He was taller than most of the Islander natives and his t-shirt bore the emblem of St Pauls Missionary, as too did his baseball cap. "English-Apex", the vocal native sounded to the one wearing the Western clothes. He rubbed his belly and continued doing so. "Good day Sir. Are you the Chief of this Island Nation?" Billings was all manners desperately trying to make a good impression. Jillian watched on eagerly. "No my good man I am not. My name is Peter.
I was named by one of the many groups of Missionary's who have come to this island. I learnt English from them, before…" Billings cut him off with urgency.
"I need to speak to your Chief on a very urgent matter. Is it possible to…" Billings had already regained his composure now that he was getting somewhere. "Yes of course. This way." He gestured toward a straw hut, larger than all the others. This hut had an opening in the centre of its roof and smoke billowed out. The English speaking native walked on ahead. "This way." He called back.
Billings turned excitedly to Jillian. "Now we're getting somewhere." He pointed at Jillian. "You! All smiles to the chief. Do that stomach rubbing thing they all liked." He marched off. Jillian waved to the natives all looking on at her and her fiery red hair.
She smiled and rubbed her belly before kicking back her leg like she'd been kissed and skipped off after Billings towards the Chief's hut. Billings was already through the entrance as she stepped into the large hut. As she did so she noted the feathers hanging by threads on tiny sculptures either side of the door way.
They were like dream catchers with rodent skulls at the centre. The site of the morbid native art challenged Jillian's happiness at the culture that had greeted her with such celebrity. Despite the chimney in the centre of the mud coated straw hut the interior was dim. Almost immediately Jillian could see the giant figure of the chief sitting on a thrown made of tropical wood. Inside the hut a couple of hunters, possible guards a tribal secret service, sat to the side.
There were two female counter parts on the other side of the hut. They sat behind palm leaves loaded with red and yellow berries as if waiting to be summoned like serving girls. Instead of the grey brown of dried fronds the Chief wore a hemp like skirt, almost like a quilt stained a faded purple by some dye cultivated on the island.
Like all the islanders he had thick dreads, his by far longer than his citizens. Emerald green feather adorned his head and his hairless chest bulged as big as Billings.
He had a stern look on his face as if his station meant he was beyond the carefree happiness of his tribe and he surveyed the entrance of Billings with a serious demeanour. As Jillian stepped all the way through the doorway his eyes turned to her and widened.
Peter was talking to the chief, hunched over whispering in his ear in his native tongue. He pointed to Jillian, for the first time on the island the attention did not have the same thrilling appeal of innocence. Jillian's body language became reserved and she realised they were about to get down to business. Billings too was putting on his game face.
Billings stood passively at ease in front of the Chief by the dying fire in the centre of the hut.
Jillian took of her backpack and placed it on the sand floor of the hut. She removed the tablet and awoke it from sleep mode before pulling out the tiny Bluetooth keyboard and linking it.
She sat on the floor and crossed her legs like a schoolgirl the Chief was watching her through narrow eyes. "Toss your hair!" Billings sounded the words quietly through the corner of his mouth. Jillian hesitated. The Islanders had been all smiles, a stark contrast to the Chief's serious expression.
"Toss your hair and rub your belly." Billings wasn't getting impatient. He was playing the negotiations. Jillian finally complied. She tossed her hair so her tails spun around and rested on her left shoulder. She looked up at the Chief and fluttered her eyes, her addition and charm, smiled and rubbed her belly like a child resiting a dance from Sesame Street.
The Chiefs eyes widened and became passive. He nodded to himself, then to Peter who stepped back to the Chief's left side as he sat on his Island throne. Finally he looked at Billings acceptingly. "The Chief will hear your business English-Apex." Peter spoke in his clear voice. Negotiation had commenced. Jillian, at a loss to type the specifics of the non-verbal communication started typing from Peters first words.
Billings bought his hands forward. He did not simplify his English and despite his wet shirt and water thrashed hair he spoke precisely of Apex's plans. Like an artisan of the boardroom he laid out the benefits, hinted that there may be some draw backs, but on the whole disclosed Apex's intent. The whole time Peter translated to his native tongue and spoke quickly.
Only once did he raise his hand to Billings to have him pause to catch up. During the pause Jillian looked up to see the Chief peering at her before turning his eyes back to Billings. 'Good word for sure', she thought and smiled. The Chief rubbed his chin in contemplation of Billings' proposal. 'Surely he cannot comprehend watch is being proposed', Jillian thought as she typed Billings words, but then again, they were an evil oil company.
The transcript was decidedly one sided, but concise. From her experience with the other transcript to the other Islands Tribal Council, Billings had outlined all that need to be disclosed… at least what would stand up to test in the world court when the EPA got word. "… and so you see Chief, your Island, Mumbahoo, could become the wealthiest of the Islands by far." Billings finished and crossed his arms and rested them in front of him as if his presentation were an offering.
Peter finished translating Billings final words and then stood dutifully to the side as the Chief, still stroking his chin mused on the information at hand. He continued to do so as if challenging Billings to remain stationary a play on power.
Jillian knew the distraction of her hair, the magic they seemed to classify her with, would take from the seriousness of the situation. If Billings got a go ahead if he got the contract signed, then Apex could become the largest producer of oil in the Pacific in three years and dominate the Asian market. The Chief stirred. He spoke for the first time. His voice was deep and resinated perfectly with the stereotype of a strong Chieftain figure.
Jillian could feel Billings mind lean in with anticipation. Peter nodded, the universal sign of agreement. He didn't translate until the Chief had finished speaking.
Jillian held her figures above the letters on the keyboard. As the Chief finished his declaration to Peter, the tall tattered Western dress Islander spoke up. "The Chief agree to your deal and will sign you're… How you say?" "Contract." Billings spoke with all the satisfaction. His face turned to that of a victorious dictator upon the news he'd successfully invaded Poland.
"Contract, Yes!" Peter smiled at learning anew word. "The Chief will sign your contract." Billings looked down at Jillian. She smiled back at him in congratulations. Surely her attire and the commotion over her hair would be forgotten amidst the fervour of success. She saved the transcript and swiped the screen bringing up the tablets icons.
She tapped the contract and presented the tablet to Billings. Billings took it and walked to the Chief. The gravitative presence of the Chief became animated. All six Islanders in the hut peered forward at the light emanating from the tablets screen. Billings turned it so the screen faced the Chief. "If I could just get you to place your thumb here…" Billings pointed to the box of the inbuilt scanner. The Chief thumb print would seal the deal ironclad.
It was child's play. The contractee didn't even have a lawyer to read through the deal. Peter translated and gestured with his thumb seemingly grasping the concept.
The Chief held out his thumb and pressed it on the scanner. There was a beep. The deal was finalized. Billings almost snatched the tablet away from the Chief. "Thank you Chief." He said victoriously. "Thank you very much." Despite Billings decline in respect at his greed the Chief nodded and gestured to assert his authority in the hut again. Against his nature now that he had them by their naked balls, Billings stepped back graciously.
It was Peter who saw the mood relax. "Wonderful", he cried out raising his hands like a soccer fan at a goal. "Now we can eat." Jillian heard a puff and felt a sting at her neck. Her hand slapped to what she thought was an insect bite and caught something sticking out of her neck. It came out with a gentle pull and as Billings clasped the tablet in his hands like the treasure it was she examined the cause of the bite.
A plant barb wrapped with a feather attached to it by natural fibre lay in her hand. It was… It was a dart from a blow gun. She barely had time to turn and see one of the hunters who had been in the tent lower his blowgun before a wave of nausea and dizziness came over her.
"Mr Billings." she started and then found herself dropping to her side from her setting position. Billings caught the movement of his intern and frowned puzzled. "What's going on?" He questioned, but even as he did so the two native woman stepped forward and caught Jillian. Immediately and gently as Jillian's strength failed they tugged at the white sleeveless shirt.
One started removing her loafers whilst the others started on her buttons. "Wait! What the hell are you doing?" Jillian seemed to have gone limp. Her head rocked from side to side and her eyes were fighting to stay open. It was obvious to an onlooker like Billings that she was still conscious still aware of what was happening.
The two native women laughed and giggled as they pulled the clothes from her paralysed body. The Chief peered forward to take a glance at the pale reflective skin. "Chief", Billings questioned still unsure of what was going on.
The mood in the hut was jovial despite Billings confusion at what at the very least was sexual assault. He looked at the chief marvelling at the show as Jillian's Khaki shorts were pulled from her waist. Billings realised the Chief was at peace with the display. It was by his blessing. "Peter!" Billings called to the translator, now captivated onlooker of such a magical creature being unwrapped.
"Peter!" Billings tried again. Peter turned and saw the confusion on Billings face. Sedately he realised Billings' confusion, but it was obvious he thought it trivial. "Is Ok English-Apex. We eat the one you bought to celebrate the very good contract." Peter rubbed his belly like Jillian had as if to explain. "Magical girl. She tastes very good, yes? That is why you bought her?" Peter was nodding as if to convey an obvious thank you. "Wait…" Billings looked around frantically. The two native woman cried out in delight as they removed Jillian's white cotton panties to reveal ginger pubic hair.
The Chief, no longer interested in Billings' protests leaned forward, not prepared to leave his throne. The two hunters came forward and sighed in amazement, as if to highlight the magic of the red curly hairs one of the native women leant forward stroking Jillian's sex.
As she did Billings caught sight of Jillian's helpless eyes caught up in terror. The terror translated to Billings himself. Peter translated. "It's ok English-Apex. Not like Missionaries. We don't have to listen for months before we get to eat. We eat now. Is good." Peter was all smiles and nods.
Billings had gone pale.
They weren't part of the tribal Council because they were… He stared at Peter humbled by fear as the two hunters took over and lifted the naked Jillian up and carried her out of the hut.
Her body was limp and her arms flopped down and were dragged against the sand as she was carried from her shoulders and ankles. Billings took a step to halt the procession. His mouth opened and closed unable to articulate his words. The whole process was so innocent that Billings felt the entirety of a life's worth needed to be justified. The reference to the missionaries. The sanctity of life, of a person having a soul, had been taught to these people, but all the same they had… Peter bowed his head to the chief and went to take his leave to see the glorious spectacle.
Billings panic as the translator left before he could find the priori of civilization. His desperation came across abrupt and rude as he placed his flat hand on Peter's chest as he walked by. "Wait… For God's sake man wait!" Peter frowned at the physical confrontation, but Billings' desperation seemed to pacify him.
"You can't… You mustn't eat my Intern." He implored the words. Peter cropped his head. He looked back to his chief who was also frowning at this potential hurdle to and expected banquette.
The place of Peter in the consumed Missionaries close became apparent and despite his tribal culture. He was the diplomat calm and open to negotiation. "English-Apex", he addressed Billings. "You want contract?" He reached forward and clasped the table Billings held to his chest preciously. He pulled on it.
Billings let it slip from his hands slightly but then tugged back. "Wait… Wait! I want the contract, but you can't…" "English-Apex. Mumbahoo no eat no contract." Peter applied force to his leverage on the tablet. "No… No, I want the contract, but I don't want you to…" Billings' boardroom prowess crumpled at the severity of the situation. "English-Apex no contract and you are not our friend.
You like Missionaries." As Peters face turned to a smile Billings dropped into a cold sweat. His pasty skin went paler and he saw the severity of his situation. Peter smiled a sinister brickwork of pearl white teeth. He released his hold on the table and turned and smiled at the Chief who turned his head away from the trivial concerns of Billings.
"All happy." Peter slapped Billings on the shoulder and exited the hut leaving Billings shaking in the realisation of his predicament. A commotion began outside the Chiefs hut. The commencement of drums, laughter and happy voices greeted the shell-shocked Billings as he walked out of the hut. As if in tribute the large clay oven faced the very place Billings exit. Jillian was the centre of attention. Her pale painted skin, stark in its lithe form, made a terrifyingly beautiful contrast to the barely dressed tribe.
She rested on her knees, hunched over. Her ankles had been tied with natural fibre and her arms pulled through the gap between her knees and tangled in the same knot. Her face was pressed into the ceramic tray she'd been placed on and her head was turned to Billings. Her eyes were open now and wide with teared terror as her sex pointed outward in taken submission. A bright yellow native fruit had been placed in her mouth and Billings couldn't tell if he was hearing her sobs muffled amongst the chorus of happy, unintelligible banter of the tribesmen as the gathered.
As Billings watched in horror she spasmed and jerked, the temporary paralysis gone and the mercy of its numbness not able to sedate the coming heat that was the fire being built beneath the oven. Jillian's beauty made the scene the more terrifying. Billings watched on in paralysed horror, choking as he tried to swallow, as one of the supposed female cooks placed a long root vegetable, like a carrot, in her sex.
Another woman poured an oil over her soft skin and started painting her body with her hand, rubbing her down. He stepped out of time as the panic of the scene sent him into shock.
It was not a ritual that was rare to them. The deliberate actions of a few of the tribe spoke of roles and responsibilities a honed procedure that had been practised.
Billings was staring at Jillian as she was helplessly prepared for the oven whose fire had been perfected with similar practise.
The whole time Billings stood stunned at the entrance to the Chiefs hut Jillian's eyes stared at him in wide horror pleaded for some type of rescue as the native hands caressed her body finishing of her preparation. Finally the time came for the tribes spoils to be cooked and the preparers surrendered their intimacy of the redheaded bounty won in their deal. A man stepped forward and started pushing the ceramic tray towards the hatch of the oven.
Jillian's moans and sobs finally became audible as her eyes darted with panic as she realised the immanence of her fate. Billings clasped the tablet that contained the contracts as the clay oven swallowed Jillian and the sobs became a muffled scream.
Billings stumbled as he ran down the trail that led back to the beach. As the hatch on the oven had been closed and the transfixing horror of Jillian's preparation became concealed his brain had finally let his impotent mind to flee. As he ran in panic he stumbled and fell, his aging body wasn't aware of jarring joints and stubbed toes. Frantically he picked himself up and continued to run, the whole time clasping the tablet as if his life depended upon. As the encroaching trees parted and he stumbled unto the open beach he allowed himself to look back.
No one was following. The tribe was all enjoying Jillian's song of terror and agony as she roasted in the oven. Billings could hear her too or his terror meant he imagined with a clarity only seeing the precursory acts would allow. His desperation to flee meant that he could at least remember the radio. He snatched it to his mouth and pressed the button. The small outboard boat sounded its approach long before Billings could see its answer to his desperate call for it.
Nahuatl stood again at the helm only this time he spun to boat around and reversed back onto the beach. Billings ran forward in bare feet holding the contract to his chest and launched his upper body into the boat. He fell into the canopy of his rescue vessel and before he had even pulled his legs in shouted, "Go.
Go!" Nahuatl paused and peered at the beach looking for Jillian. "Go", Billings pleaded. "Just fucking go you Thai dog." He pulled himself up in the boat.
Nahuatl peered at him disgusted, about to act on his concern for his absent intern, but as if to answer his question a faint chorus of screams could be heard through the palm tree curtain. His serious look dropped as if he understood, but a venomous sneer returned as he calculated the events that had taken place on the island.
He spat a hiss of saliva onto Billings' bare feet and revved the engine launching the boat. Billings was thrown back against the rear of the boat and tablet bouncing into a slide as it landed next to his prone head. He stared at it with abject bewilderment at the cost of success.