Wish You Were Here: Nadia Bulkin
Indonesia, F - 2016
“Tell us a ghost story,” said one of the women, the pouty one, the one named Melissa. She was the nice, friendly one for now, the one asking questions, the one who wanted to stop at every little roadside fruit stall and pose next to every possibly rabid monkey, but Dimas knew this kind of tourist. Eventually, she was going to exhaust herself, and then—fueled by a high metabolism and the vengeance of unmet expectations—she was going to become his worst enemy. That was why he was counting on the other woman, Rose, to keep the group stable when they reached their breaking point, which was probably going to be on Day 3. He could already tell that both Melissa’s and Rose’s men would be useless.
For now, however, the tour was still in its “honeymoon” phase. Melissa was still excited, leaning out of the seatbelt that Dimas had forced her to buckle; Rose’s man Ben’s cellphone was still fully-charged, and Melissa’s man Josh was still full from breakfast, too. Rose was—well, it was hard to tell how she was, sitting in the back row and not having spoken the whole morning except to say that she and her husband had slept “fine.” So, Rose was fine.
“A ghost story, eh?” Dimas glanced over at his driver, Nyoman, who shrugged. “Well . . . here’s a story. An army unit is sent to a remote village in the middle of the jungle in order to move the villagers to a new settlement that’s, uh, less remote. They need the land for an army base. But the villagers have lived there for a hundred years, and even though the government offered to buy the land, many times, they always refused to go. So the army drives up to the village in the middle of the night. They go to the first house on the main road—nobody home. They go to the second house—nobody home there, either. Third house—”