I am writing this book as an expatriate in Saudi Arabia Riyadh. I have started the first chapter and the next expatriate will write the next without completely changing the story but just carrying on from the previous chapter. This will continue with other expatriates writing one or more chapters until the book is finished! Hoping to create a fictional masterpiece with the many minds on board!


3. Escape Plan

Thami should have been asleep since it was 1am in Guangzhou but she had been patiently waiting for the right time to call Riyadh. The difference in time zones made all calls to friends and family a scheduled appointment, the last thing she wanted was to go around waking people up at ungodly hours to chat about her dislike for Chinese food. She had kept herself occupied on an online expat forum. She had to be careful though, even if she was using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access banned websites in China. “You can never be too safe here.” she had told Sakhile once.


Madri, one of Thami’s connections on the expat forum had sent her a private message. Madri had wanted to know how to induce severe stomach cramps and fever like symptoms without causing any permanent damage. She and Thami had been chatting infrequently online for a few months whenever Thami got the chance to go online after crazy long work hours. It was a way to connect with the outside world, see how other people were navigating life as an expat. Madri was asking Thami about this because she knew that Thami had a background in chemistry. Before a full time career in music, Thami was studying chemistry. She completed a four year degree while doing music on the side. When she finally decided to live for herself and not her family’s appearance, she decided to go all in with music. Thami found Madri’s request for such information to be quite peculiar. Why on earth did Madri want to that?


It was a rough sea night and Madri had to get some sleep. She had gone to the crew bar after work. Her mind was restless she needed a drink. “I don’t know how much more I can take.” She was nearing the end of her fifth month on Australian waters. The idea to contact Thami had come to her while she was towel drying her dyed red hair after a quick lukewarm shower. She would have loved a long hot shower but the Bridge had called her cabin too many times this cruise, maybe after a few days. The Bridge were the safety people and whenever she or her cabin-mate took long hot showers, the smoke detector was set off by the steam. This would then be followed by a ringing of the telephone which she obviously did not pick up because she was kind of busy taking a shower. After that there would be a panicked knock on the door and a female security member would ask her if there was a fire and Madri would tell her the same thing she told them every time as she stood in the doorway, bath towel wrapped around her moist body. “I was just taking a shower.”


Working onboard a cruise ship was probably great for some people maybe. But for the Spa people - hmmm?

The Spa department which included the gym was in Madri’s opinion the most stressful department on the ship. It was all about targets. Their morning meetings in a nutshell were: “ How much is your target? How far are you from your cruise target? How do you plan on meeting your target?”  She was mentally exhausted from trying to achieve target every single day, she was physically tired from sleep deprivation and she was emotionally tired from Dennis. Dennis was her most persistent Philipino stalker on the ship. Madri was young and friendly with big green eyes. She had the typical friendliness of a South African which could be easily mistaken for flirting, and maybe it was the cabin fever, or the small hallways and tiny cabins or the constant sway of the ship that you stop feeling after being on the ship for a while, whatever it was - it caused the people on the ship to constantly be on the lookout for another love affair or a good time.


They were using them. Sfyner, the company that hired the spa and gym staff. They were recruiting them in numbers all over the world with the promise of a hefty sum of money at the end of their nine month contracts, and a chance to travel the world. Humans were so predictable. Sfyner was going to take over the world one detox product at a time. It was a brilliant idea. Humans want it all without putting in the work; they love a quick fix and they are ignorant enough to think that they are the smartest in the universe. Yet their smartness and evolution seems to be doing more good harm than good. Just take a look at global warming. Now the bastards only have just over 10 years to reverse the effects of global warming before what’s done cannot be reversed. The brilliant idea was to promote “detox” products on cruise ships across the world. They have ruined their world with genetically modified food and pesticides and pollution in the air and now they have all types of cancers, health issues and psychological issues. The only way they can have better health is to “detox” their bodies with Sfyner endorsed products. Sfyner endorsed “detox” oils, capsules, baths and special treatments which were available at the spa and the gym on hundreds of ships. To target the cruise ships was a great plan because there were so many consumers treating themselves to a well deserved vacation. Sfyner could milk them of as much money as they could, and since capitalism, colonialism and all the stupid structures humans had in place, the economic status within social groups was so disparate; they could hire the desperate ones from all over the world to do the dirty work for them. Promote and sell the detox products for a commission. They made them pay large amounts of money for training and recruitment so that they could be too broke to leave the ship. The only way that they could leave was to pay their own flight ticket home. For many, this was not an option therefore they were stuck working for Sfyner selling “detox” products. Little did the humans know that they are slowly being taken over by aliens masquerading as earthlings.


Madri was tired of being employed by Sfyner and since she didn’t know how she could afford to go home (she was not making much money because she was not good at bullshitting people, she was too genuine for that), she was going to get herself medically disembarked. It was bittersweet because she had met so many nice people, been to so many beautiful beaches and even had brief love affairs - but she had to go. She had to go and start working on becoming a human rights activist. This experience had made her fired up about protecting human rights. Now she had a new found purpose; maybe she would become a vigilante, learn some martial arts, how to use a silencer and maybe some acrobatics...


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