Winston McNeil was pissed off. He had been sacked from yet another job in the tourist resort of Runaway Springs. This time it was for taking home a half finished bottle of port one of the rich white hotel guests had left in their room when they left. Now all three of the main hotels had sacked him he was unlikely to find another job at the resort. He would, reluctantly, have to try to get a job back on the sugar plantation, where he was brought up.
Before leaving Runaway Springs he decided to pay a visit to the Free Library to check the papers for job adverts. It was a hot day and it would be a long walk inland to the plantation and his mothers shack. He would wait a bit until it was cooler. The ceiling fan slowly turned, slightly cooling him as he put the papers back in the racks. Turning round he spotted a book left on the table by a slightly older, well dressed, man who had just left. It was a book on the history of the island of Saint-Marie. Winston sat back down and idly turned the pages.
There were chapters on the island's 'discovery' by the Spanish and on the later disputes between the French and the English over its ownership. There was a picture of an early sugar planter wearing a queer curly white wig who had hanged for piracy. Winston became more interested as he started to read about the importing of slaves from Africa to work the plantations. His ancestors.
He was still reading an hour later. He wasn't a fast reader. He read with horror and anger about the treatment of the slaves. He read of how one ship embarked 600 slaves in west Africa yet only landed 400 in a saleable condition when it arrived at Saint-Marie.
Although he had been brought up with songs about his ancestors being brought over from Africa, his anger and resentment grew as he read in detail how native African traders would seize men, women and children from villages of a different tribe, slaughter those too young or too old to work then march the rest of them to places on the coast where they would be coated with palm oil to make their black skin glisten before selling them to the white skinned 'merchant venturers'. But eventually many of these native traders were unfortunate enough to find themselves seized as slaves too!
Winston had to leave when the library closed for the day. It would be dark in a couple of hours. Although he had been evicted from the workers' bunkhouse there was no rush for him to get back to the plantation. He would be quite happy to sleep under a palm tree just beyond the limits of the hotel beaches.
As the orange sun set below the roofs of the town Winston sat watched the tourists, some drunk, cavorting on the beach. He watched slim bikini clad girls teasing their boyfriends, and their friends' boyfriends, at the edge of the surf. He lay back and watched other girls, presumably single, drunkenly flaunting their lithe, or in some cases not so lithe, bodies before any passing male.
He remembered Anna, a rich, single, young American who he had had to help back to her room. She insisted he come in to 'make sure I'm safe 'cos I'm a bit tiddly.' Even though it was against the rules for the local black staff to fraternise with the guests Winston felt obliged to comply with her pleading. The assistant manager happened along just a couple of minutes later at the moment when Anna was drunkenly trying to pull Winston's shorts off him - that was the end of his first hotel job!
A slim giggling late teenager and an older man staggered away from the other guests nearer the hotel to the quieter, darker part of the beach not far from where Winston lay, watching. The boy and girl both quickly slipped off their scanty swimwear and lay on the still warm sand. Their pale naked bodies quickly becoming a single writhing entity as they made love.
As he watched them Winston recalled how sweet little Magdalene who worked in the laundry, still in her teens with tightly curled black hair with little coloured ribbons, was raped by a burly hotel guest. She had a weeks pay deducted for 'fraternising' with a guest and then, six or seven months later she was sacked as the pregnancy started to show itself by her swelling belly. Two days later she was found floating face down in bed the hotel pool, having been too ashamed to return to her parents.
Winston returned to the library the next morning. He started reading more of the history of the slave trade that had brought his ancestors to Saint-Marie from Africa. He read how the manacled and chained slaves were stacked tween decks like any other cargo, in various arrangements all designed to fit as many bodies as possible in the restricted space available. It described the foul stench that emanated from ships in the slave trade, making them immediately recognisable to any other vessel to leeward. He read how when, during fine weather, slaves were exercised on deck sometimes one would leap overboard to drown.
As Winston was reading how the plantation owners found it quite acceptable for their white overseers to rape the female slaves because they found the resulting half-caste children more aesthetically pleasing than those of pure African lineage he was startled by a voice behind him 'White bastards! '
He looked around at a tall, muscular negro who now stood behind him.
'Wouldn't you like to take revenge for what they did to our ancestors?'
'What the fuck are you going on about' Winston replied.
'I've been watching you reading that book' the stranger replied. 'Its disgusting how those bastards treated the slaves' he paused. 'Our ancestors, our family.'
'But they're all long dead now, the slave traders' replied Winston, wondering what he had in mind.
'Let's take a walk along the coast, my friend.'
As they walked the man, who introduced himself as Osasu, said how the whites regarded all the blacks and coloureds as being the same so he saw no reason for them to regard the whites any differently. At first sceptical ,Winston listened to Osasu's plan with growing excitement.
He was gathering together a crew to capture white slaves to be shipped to Africa in conditions paralleling those suffered by their ancestors two and a half centuries earlier.
'But who will you sell the slaves to?' was Winston's first question.
'I'm not aware of any market for slave labour such as our people were subjected to back then' Osasu admitted.
'Conditions here, on some of the plantations aren't much fucking better now' complained Winston 'Even though we are all free men, and despite us having a black prime minister!'
'However' continued Osasu, ignoring Winston's interruption, 'There is a market for girls to be kept in brothels in North Africa and parts of Europe.' He paused with a sigh 'Unfortunately there seems to be a plentiful supply of young white whores from eastern Europe who flee their own countries without passports or identification and are easily manipulated by the vice gangs.' All we have come up with so far is to land the slaves somewhere along the former slave coast of West Africa, probably in Benin then drug them so they can neither resist nor speak and see if we can sell, or even give them away, to a whore house in, perhaps, Nigeria, making sure we are well away before the bitches come round and start shouting their loud mouths off.
Winston suddenly realised the full import of what Osasu was suggesting and grinned broadly, showing his white teeth 'So - in fact the more of the cunts who fail to survive the sea passage the better!'
As they continued walking in the warm evening Winston considered Osasu's plan. The more he considered the detail the less practicable it seemed. 'But if we can't get much money for the slaves' he paused, getting into the spirit of things 'I mean the cargo; how will you finance the boat, or do you already have a yacht or something we can use?'
'A yacht!' you must be joking laughed Osasu. 'If we do this properly, and film every moment to a professional standard we will be able to sell copies of the film for thousands of pounds on the black market!' He paused 'Black market, yes, I like that' and he laughed and thumped Winston on the back.
'So you will charter a small cargo ship or something?' asked Winston.
Osasu laughed again 'Wait and see, I have something far better than that in mind.'
Osasu arranged to meet Winston the following morning back at the library. Their first task he explained was to start collecting the slaves. It would need to be done slowly over several months and from several islands, after all the disappearance of a large number of tourists from one small island in a short space of time would immediately attract attention, not just locally but probably even internationally.
He was introduced to two more of Osasu's 'crew'. Both were, like Winston, in their late teens. Lincoln was, like Winston, slim and athletic but Robert was eighteen stone with the strength of an ox. Winston and Lincoln decided the name Atlas suited him better and Robert laughed when he overheard them referring to him by that name and suggested that is what they should call him as he would rather not use his real name anyway.
Helena Ford was to start university at the end of summer and had persuaded Daddy that he should let her have a holiday to remember in the Caribbean before the start of fall semester. She even got her father to pay for her best friend, Karen, to accompany her. However her father, concerned that his slim blonde haired daughter might be vulnerable to a holiday romance, arranged for her uncle and aunt to go along too, much to Helena's dismay.
Luckily her uncle and aunt relaxed in the atmosphere of the luxury hotel. Drinks were included in the tariff and her uncle was determined to take full advantage of the fact. She and her friend Karen, who, in contrast to Helena, had jet black hair and somewhat larger breasts, spent much of their time eyeing up several of the younger male guests. They all seemed to have come with wives or girl friends but Helena felt sure she must be able to tempt at least one of them to join her for an evening's fun. After all some of their partners were so frumpy and boring compared to her, or to Karen.
Despite the hotel dress code Helena 'accidentally' allowed her bikini top to come adrift when diving into the pool, while in the sea she allowed herself to be 'rescued' by a particularly handsome man in his late twenties after feigning cramps in her right leg. But it was Karen who got invited back to the room of a hunky muscular businessman from Texas whose somewhat overweight wife had got so drunk that she had ended up spending the night in the infirmary.
Well pissed off Helena decided to walk further along the beach then scramble over the small rocky headland at the end of the bay. There were obviously no eligible young men staying at her hotel, though some of the older, somewhat overweight, male guests had certainly made a few suggestive comments to her which she just found disgusting.
The next beach was dark and deserted. A complete contrast to the beaches in front of the modern hotels at Runaway Springs, but she felt it suited her mood that evening. She slowly walked the length of the beach, then turned and headed back walking along the water's edge, little waves washing over her feet. Hell, she hated rules, being respectable, being responsible. She kicked off her sandals, removed her shorts and bikini and waded out, naked into the cool sea. She knew she shouldn't swim alone after drinking but who cared. She lifted her feet off the bottom and swam straight out to sea. After four or five minutes she could see round the headland and the lights of the resort could be seen. That rather spoiled things so she swam back to the beach.
Unfortunately she had obviously landed in a different place from where she had started and it took her about twenty minutes wandering about the featureless beach to find her shorts, swimsuit and sandals. She was getting tired now and wanted either to get to bed or get drunk. Getting up over the rocks of the headland wasn't so easy from this side but eventually she made it to the top. Just as she saw the lights of Runaway Springs a strong arm wrapped itself round her neck. In just a few seconds she found her arms pinned behind her back and being bound together while another assailant pushed a gag into her mouth, tying it tight round the back of her head. Once her ankles were also tightly bound she found herself slung over the shoulder of a strong heavily built black man and carried into the deserted back streets of a part of the town hardly ever seen by tourists.
They carried her into a hut where her scanty clothing was quickly removed before she was bundled up and further bound in a large piece of sacking.
Although their first capture struggled, twisted and tried to scream through her gag they managed to carry her unnoticed through the town to the fishing beach. Here she was loaded into a dory with a powerful outboard, arranged by Osasu, which carried them at speed to another island.
Osasu actually considered this one of the riskiest parts of the whole undertaking, there was a real risk that such a craft might be identified as a drug smuggling boat and be intercepted by a helicopter from a patrolling naval vessel.
The tiny island of Petite Abandonnee or Saint Armel was almost worthless after the devastation caused by two decades of bauxite extraction. Pierre Moreau had originally taken a ten year lease of the islet with the idea of using it as an extra set for his Guadeloupe based film company. But, unattractive to visitors with its uneven mounds of disturbed earth and an ugly, dlisused drying kiln with a rusting jetty by the main beach, it was an ideal place to gather the captured slaves. Pierre and a couple of guards now lived in the former works manager's house which overlooked the whole island, which was just a barren waste about half a mile across at its widest point and little more than a mile long.
Helena was surprised to just be released when the dory landed just after dawn. She instinctively ran inland away from her kidnappers. It took her less than a quarter of an hour to work out that she was on a bleak barren islet with little obvious means of escape. She could see no other land on the horizon in any direction. Perhaps a boat would be left unguarded that she could steal though it seemed unlikely that they would be that careless. She was tired, thirsty and her feet hurt from running on the gritty mineral waste. There was a large but somewhat dilapidated house on the highest point of the almost flat island, from which three armed men were walking towards her kidnappers on the beach by the boat. She began to find that the fact they were making no attempt to recapture her was illogically filling her with terror. As the sun rose higher through the morning she became even more despondent. She was getting hot and she knew the sun would soon start to burn her fair skin in the absence of a new application of sun-block, especially those parts previously always covered by a bikini. Helena couldn't see a single tree of any size on the whole island. The only shade was likely to come from one of the few small untidy shrubs growing here or there or, perhaps from some abandoned rusty machinery near the beach they had landed her on. While she was exploring she heard the boat's motor as it left but by the time she ran to a point where she could see it it was already too far away to see who had left on it. She sank to her knees on the hot dirt, then slumped to lie on her side, crying.
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