CH 1 The Missing Pieces of Teravaza

The sky was dark; not a cloud was in sight. Soon the sun would rise with the hope that the earth would warm, sunbathers would wake, rushing to the ocean side. 

Not a minute past six, the alarm screeched. Debbie groaned loudly, forcing her eyes to open. She leaned, switching off the alarm, then peered towards the window in disbelief. It was daybreak, time to rise. 

She let out a faint sigh while mumbling beneath her breath. Crawling out of bed, she opened the curtains; the moon still lingered. The sun was yet to rise, but at least it wasn’t raining. 

She grabbed her clothes from the lower drawer and dressed. Today was the beginning of a new adventure; three months ago, she signed up for a competition on Shark Island. A local game show network; is celebrating its tenth anniversary by holding a special contest. A survival competition; the trick is to survive for six months. If you manage to win, you’ll be presented with one million dollars. 

Debbie had just gotten out of school last year; she graduated with a master’s degree in agriculture. However, it took her five and a half years to complete it; hopefully, this would help her win the competition. 

She already had her bag packed; the rules stated participants were only allowed one small duffle bag of personal items. Debbie refused to go anywhere without her notebook; she assured her boyfriend John that she’d write everything down; then tell him about it once she got home. 

At first, he wasn’t thrilled with her decision, but he adjusted to the idea quickly, especially once he heard about the million dollars. 

Debbie filled the silver kettle; then put it to a boil. She wasn’t sure how she’d be without her morning tea; however, once she won, there’d be plenty of tea to be had. 

She sat munching a granola bar; it was something she enjoyed as a snack. The front section of her duffle bag held a dozen. Debbie figured it would be wise since the details of the competition were never explained. 

It was a game show! What could happen that she couldn’t handle? She chuckled to herself while throwing the bar’s wrapper in the trash. 

Debbie stared towards the entrance; someone rattled the door handle, followed by a jingle of a key. “Is that you, John?” She paused, waiting for an answer. Seconds later, there was a scuff of a shoe just before the door opened.

John popped his head in. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you. I couldn’t make out what you were saying, and the fucking key was stuck.”

Debbie took a deep breath, smiling. “You’re a bit early. Did you want tea?” 

John sat on the couch. “No. I’m good. I was thinking about something; it kept me thinking all night. You said we’d buy a house in the country if you win. Well, what if instead we purchase an apartment in the city? Something downtown, close to everything.” 

Debbie watched the dollar signs pervade his eyes; her heart sank to her stomach. Her nostrils flared while a distant stare emerged. “No! I think a place in the country would be just fine and if I win, it will be my money, so I decide where I want to buy.” 

John let out an aggravated sigh. “Well, if we were married, it would be both of ours. Why didn’t we get married?” 

Debbie stood to grab her bag. “Because you didn’t fucking want to. Let’s go! I don’t want to be late. We can deal with this when I get home.” 

John scowled, “But you said I was early.” 

Debbie glanced towards him before walking out the door. “Not anymore!”

* * *

Debbie stepped into the waiting room, where twenty-five already sat waiting. She leaned quietly by the door, glancing around at them. All of them were from Florida; in some ways, the place appeared small, but no one knew each other except the Evan twins. 

Her stomach sank; it left her wondering if she made the right decision. What would my mother say if she were still alive? Don’t second guess yourself; you chose this for a reason. Just do it!

Debbie placed her bag at her feet, then sank down the wall. Next to her was Kate Storn, an American author. She wasn’t well known but had been writing for years.

” Hi, whispered Debbie.” 

Kate glanced at her, smiling. Then raised a brow. “Do you know if we are competing against each other or if it’s a team event?” 

Debbie shrugged, “I don’t know. Although; I’ve given it a lot of thought. Why are so many unanswered questions? The lack of information is driving me nuts. Yet, on the other hand, I can’t see it being dangerous; maybe it’s the type of situation where if you tire of being there, you can drop out of the competition. What do you think?” 

Kate agreed. “I gave it a bit of thought, too. My mother thinks I let my imagination take over. She declared many times that my mind works differently than others. My mom is usually correct, so I just stopped worrying.”

Debbie grinned; it was nice to find another with the same amount of ambition.

Harold Manning, the head honcho from the game show network, sauntered into the room. With him walked the winners of the design competition; these folks created Shark Island.

Debbie elbowed Kate, “That’s them!” She spoke in a low tone while grinning at her new friend. 

Kate’s eyes combed the room. “So this amazing adventure came from those ordinary-looking people?” The two girls giggled quietly among themselves.

Across the way, Jason Gordon, Toni Evans, and Tess Baker stood arguing over who would be the winner. Tess laughed loudly when Jason spoke about the danger he faced daily being a race car driver and how the lack of fear would keep him going no matter what the company threw at them. Tess shook her head when Toni chimed in about his martial arts. 

Tess raised a brow. “What about eating? Who’s going to feed you guys? I’m an expert at fishing. I can live off the ocean. Is your race car going to provide for you?”

Charles Buckle, the show’s security guard, leaned over, whispering. “Guys, you need to keep it down. The head honcho’s here and about to speak.” 

Tony muttered beneath his breath, “Whatever!” Tess rolled her eyes, then leaned against the wall.

Harold Manning centred himself in the middle of the room, clearing his throat. “Hello, everyone. I’m Harold Manning, the host of Teravaza’s local gaming network. I’m happy to see you all here and excited to get this ball rolling. We have everything ready to go. I prepare the island with the necessities; all that’s missing is you! I know you have a lot of questions, but anticipation is half the fun.”

Debbie raised her hand, hoping to get a word in, but was told to put her hand down. A feeling of dread entered her stomach; this wasn’t the first time she had it, but once again, she ignored it. 

Kate rose, handing Debbie her bag. “Maybe we can work together?” 

Debbie shrugged, “There don’t seem to be any rules; so why not. You would think they’d state the regulations or at least tell us if it’s a team event.” Debbie grew irritable; releasing a sigh, she followed the crowd onto the bus, which would take them to the helicopters.

Kate sat next to Debbie on the bus, the Evan twins directly in front of them. Debbie overheard Toni rambling about how good he was at martial arts; however, she made it a point to block him out. She observed silently as the city flashed by through the bus’s tiny windows. Why did it feel as if she was saying goodbye? It was only six months. 

An angry shout echoed within the bus. “Fuck! I forgot my toothbrush.” Kim Lawton threw her bag aside, frowning miserably. Debbie chuckled to herself.

Kate glanced over, whispering. “Reminds you of camp, doesn’t it?” 

Debbie nodded, “It sure does.”

* * *

After hours of travel, the island was finally in sight; the surrounding water shimmered; it was a shade of emerald. Palms trees swayed in the wind on the tranquil sands. 

Debbie enjoyed a warm, gentle breeze sweeping over her face; it left her feeling refreshed. 

The beaches were a sheet of white; they left the illusion of never being touched. Debbie couldn’t imagine this place being anything but a vacation; the entire game felt like a hoax. 

In the center of the landing strip sat a crate; the size of a garden shed. These were the supplies they were given for the following six months. 

Kate grinned, nudging Debbie; “I wonder if there’s any hammocks in there.” The two chuckled quietly; both agreed that this was paradise. 

* * *

The sand swirled wickedly as the helicopter’s blades rotated. They led all the contestants to the side. Charles, the security guard, remained on the island; he would be the only contact between the island and the real world. Once the participants were off to the side, the head honcho waved, yelling. “Good luck! As the chopper lifted and flew away. 

The contestants stood silently, peering around at the island surrounding them; it was serene. Birds were singing from within the trees. The music of the ocean waves echoed in their ears as they smashed into the rocks. 

Kate stared at Debbie, who stood in awe. “This might be just what the doctor ordered. What do you think? Should we find a place to set up camp?” 

Debbie agreed, then followed Kate. “Let’s do this!”

Everyone found themselves in a spot, then sat waiting for instructions.

Charles peered around at them all. “If you’re waiting for me, you’re crazy. I know nothing about what’s going on. Only what I could overhear. See that box?” He pointed. “I say we open it and see what’s in it, then we all decide how to work together.” 

Debbie jumped up then walked towards the box; soon, others followed. Charles smiled at her while unlatching the crate; it dropped to the ground, landing with a heavy thud. 

Inside the container were gardening tools, seeds, tarps, and knives. Packs filled with fishing line, netting and a bag of knickknacks shoved in the back, along with a shitload of rope. There was nothing in it except long-term material, nothing that would keep them going for today.

Debbie stepped back, thinking to herself. I can grow a garden, but that takes time. Steven and Johanna emptied the crate, piling it on the ground. 

Krissy, arms crossed, noted it all. “There’s nothing to eat or snack on. I thought they’d at least give us rations or something.” She sighed loudly while rolling her eyes at Jace. “Looks like we better get going. Someone needs to explore this island before dark.” 

Jace agreed, “Let’s go!” 

No one else volunteered; Krissy shook her head in disgust. She let out a deep sigh as she accompanied Jace. The two became close while travelling on the bus; they discovered they had a lot in common. 

Johanna watched them walk into the jungle, “So Charles, what is it you overheard? Do you know if there will be more supplies?” 

Charles shrugged. “All I know is that this is the crate we’re supposed to live off, no more, no less. However, I know they placed critters all over this island. An entirely new food chain, they’re not from this environment. With that said, we should be cautious. This island is part of the Amazon and has its own dangers, which should be taken seriously.” 

Johanna looked around; it seemed harmless enough. Charles glanced around at the island’s beauty. “Don’t let it fool you.” 

Johanna looked back at him, then gave a slight nod. “I won’t.”

Mary took some gardening tools; her eyes gleamed as she spoke to Johanna. “I’ll go search for the best growing spot, then plant.” Jim picked up some supplies, then followed closely behind her. 

Johanna glanced at Charles. “Do you consider this the best place to camp?” Charles nodded. 

Debbie interrupted, “Shouldn’t we be someplace where everything’s at a safe distance for us? We have no idea where there’s a water source or how far away it is to the best place to grow food. I realize this is where they dropped the crate, but if we want to stay safe in the long run, having everything close by is better.”

Charles paused. “I think you’re right. I’m not part of the competition; however, I would like to remain safe. It would be ideal to slide through these six months as if it were a vacation.” 

Debbie agreed. “Without food to begin with, it doesn’t look good. I hope Krissy and Jace come back with good news. They appear to be a good team, bossy, maybe.”

Kate chuckled in the background. Debbie turned, smiling, remembering she had someone on her side. She examined her surroundings; she could see the beautiful beach from where they were standing. The white sand drew her eyes, and the wind blowing against the leaves of the palms made it easy to forget why they were there. Debbie saw bright red and yellow birds fly overhead; the colours were magnificent. 

Kate tapped her on the shoulder. “We could walk the beach, see what’s along the way.” 

Debbie shook her head; she knew it was essential to figure out a food source first. “What if we attempt to catch some fish? Charles, will you and a few others set up a temporary camp; maybe get a fire going? Kate and I are going fishing; hopefully, we can catch dinner.” 

Both Greg and Brock grabbed netting along with some fishing line. They looked around for a container to put the fish in once they caught them. It pleased Brock to discover the bag for the gardening tools was empty.

The four walked to the oceanfront. Brock smiled at Debbie. “Sorry to invite myself into your project. I just needed something to do. I was feeling like a tool hanging around, doing nothing.” 

Debbie smirked, “Me too. Let’s hope this works; if not, there’ll be a lot of hungry people tonight.” 

Both men searched the empty beach for wood, hoping to make fishing rods. Greg scowled before shouting, “I see nothing that’ll do the job.”

Brock stood puzzled. He scanned the area from one end to the other. He wasn’t a rich man, so he was used to making something out of nothing. “What if we use the driftwood to hold the nets? It will trap the fish. Once it’s set up, Greg and I can go break the crate and use the wood strips to create fishing rods. What do you think?” 

Debbie beamed. “Great Idea, although driftwood floats. Perhaps we can place heavy rocks against the wood? Then, if we attach another piece of driftwood by rope, it can work like a bobber, letting us know if we catch anything. The four of us make an excellent team; let’s get this started.” 

The group hauled some large chunks of driftwood by the ocean side.

“How far out do you think we need it to be?” Groaned Kate. 

Brock examined the calm water. “I would think it should be to our waist. The fish need room to swim. Plus, we need to allow room for the bobber to work.” 

Debbie stared at the scarf wrapped around her waist. “Why don’t we tie my scarf around that tree? That way, we know it’s directly in front of it. I knew this colourful scarf would come in handy.” 

Brock laughed while grabbing driftwood and dragging it to the bright blue sea. Kate grabbed the fine netting while Greg picked up a heavy rock to lean against the wood. 

* * *

Meanwhile, back at the camp, Charles and Johanna recruited others to help set up a temporary headquarters until they found a better spot. They required a place to sleep, eat and somewhere dry to keep the limited volume of supplies. 

Johanna prayed it would get easier; in her mind, she envisioned it being simple. Back home right about now, she’d be sitting by the pool with a margarita. Watching the pool boy while he cleaned the pool, wearing nothing but a thong. Oh, how she loved those days. 

She peered around at their new accommodations; They attached tarps to large palm trees using only rope, with nothing but the drifting sand and green leaves to rest their weary heads.

Johanna watched a tiny red crab scurry by; she shuddered inside; nothing about this screamed vacation. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, hoping it would be different once she opened them, but it wasn’t.

Charles chuckled to himself but tried to hide it. He knew by her expression precisely what was going on inside her head. Charles helped Johanna place leaves across the ground beneath her tarp; he gave her half of his. 

Johanna, hands on her hips, examined the setup, then scanned Ada’s. “I wasn’t expecting this. I actually do not know what I was expecting.” She got down on her knees then stretched out onto the bed created out of leaves. Johanna stared up at the tarp for a few silent moments. 

Charles bit his lip and waited; he knew it wouldn’t be long before she complained. 

Finally, Johanna sat, letting out a deep sigh. “I feel like I’m lying on a thorn bush layered with stones. God, I miss the Hilton!” 

Charles couldn’t help but laugh. “What did you think you would get in a survival competition? In your defence, they didn’t tell us what we should expect, only about the money; however, you had to have known we’d be roughing it.” 

Kay giggled from across the way. “I got the fire started. I didn’t think I could, but I guess we learn something new every day.”

Ada chuckled with her. “The magnifying glass works every time.” 

Henry finished setting up the sheltered area for the equipment. He wasn’t sure what they would store there, but he put a layer of large rocks around the edge in case of rain. 

Charles piled the supplies into the sheltered area. “This looks as if it will do the job.” He glanced at the box of seeds; a picture of potatoes was on the label. “Do you know why they gave us potatoes?” 

Henry shrugged, “No!” 

Charles continued, “Because you can grow a potato off another potato, and it doesn’t take forever to grow them.” 

Henry smirked. “I’m not a fan of potatoes. Looks like I might have to get over that.” He snickered while shaking his head.

Pre order link mybook.to/Teravaza

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