World on Fire – Excerpt

Tankers streamed in and out of Port Charles with the ebb and flow of the tide, bringing people, places, happiness, and sorrow from the four corners of the Earth. The town

thrived on the transitory influx of customers and money. Floating behemoths arrived empty and left with a gluttonous excess of oil, destined for other refineries and communities like Port Charles. Most residents were employed by businesses linked to the port, with the remaining either servicing the community, or at the wrong end of useful.

It was a utilitarian place where brutalist houses sprung up driven by need, with no regard to aesthetic; function and efficiency were the driving force of progress. The old and the young were a by-product of workers, like the slag left over from ore smelting – they weren’t required, but a use was eventually found for them.

Every road in Port Charles started at the hub of tankers and fanned out along pipelines into the hills and valleys that surrounded the epicentre; one of these roads ran parallel to the coast and into the village of Fairbanks.

Clusters of crabbing pots still hung from the short pier at Fairbanks and small fishing boats still sailed when the light was low. In Port Charles you could bury your head and drink yourself into oblivion, in Fairbanks you rose early and tendered your lawn.

It was where the settled went to lay claim to a permanent foundation of respectability. There was only one road that ran through the village and the offshoots were a warren of houses, fanning out into small holdings, then farms. The position along this line depended on how much you’d accumulated in Port Charles – the farms being the eventual prize.

Every few months the Fairbanks players put on a play, the rights to which they purchased years in advance. On New Year Day they closed the streets for a wheelbarrow race, ending in a jump off the pier into the ice cold water.

If the community in Port Charles was dependent on the influxes, then Fairbanks was dependent on nothing but the weather. Then one summer a storm descended, at first only the thunder could be heard, raging in the distance over Port Charles, then before anyone could seek shelter, Kay Turner arrived.

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