“How can I help you, Ma‘am?”
I pull up a chair at the desk of a handsome young travel agent and begin to describe the type of vacation I would like. I explain that I’m not sure of the destination yet.
He types something into the computer. I glance at his name tag, positioned beside a photo of a beautiful blonde girl. I sigh. ‘Mr. D. Monique’ must have charmed quite a few girls in his time.
“I think I have just the place.” A smile creeps over his face, slowly lifting his chiselled jaw, though never reaching his dark eyes. “I’ve just returned from there myself.”
Judging by that tan, it must be hot.
And so the sales pitch begins, as Mr. Monique depicts the popular tourist spot in the southern hemisphere with year-long high temperatures, and a guarantee of no rain. He goes on to describe the buzz of activity, as the area heaves with an inferno of people. It seems like a party-goer’s paradise.
“That's just what I need,” I reply eventually, snapping out of listening to his hypnotic voice. I tell myself to concentrate, to not let him talk me into this too quickly. There must be some catch.
“Isn’t the journey terribly long, though?”
He explains that I won’t even notice time passing on this trip. Apparently the ride is so good that I won’t even want to get off, and I’ll probably meet lots of people I know heading there. The free drinks and entertainment are all designed to help you forget about all the serious things that burden you, and lighten up for your vacation.
“What about luggage?” I ask, picturing all the hair products, cosmetics and clothes I won‘t be able to live without, and will undoubtedly pay a fortune for.
I am most surprised to hear that there are no charges for excess luggage. The gorgeous travel agent just winks at me, then says that the more baggage I carry, the better.
“So what sort of attractions are there once I arrive?” I inquire.
My eyes light up as I hear about the massive theme park, central to the resort, featuring rides such as The Destroyer, The Wicked Snare and The Pit of Doom.
For the more cultured, there is also a great history to this place, as it dates back to the beginning of time itself. Mr. Monique’s forefathers, leading founders saw the introduction of philosophy, independence and freedom stemming from this land. There’s also a glowing lake of lava, which apparently draws a lot of tourists in.
I can’t wait to pack up and go! Mr. Monique continues to win me over with stories of his friends who have lived there for what seems like an eternity. He says that he visits there from time to time himself, and will probably see me there. He also seems keen that I bring a few friends too. Maybe I can get some of the other girls talked into this trip.
I am even more shocked to hear that there are hundreds of flights leaving daily on this journey. When Mr. Monique checks the computer, he says that I can fly out on any available date, and there’s no limit as to how many people I can bring with me.
I begin to wonder about the cost of this wonderful experience, though I’m not so bothered about that. I don’t think I mind spending on having a good time, no matter what the price!
“Would you like me to pay a deposit?” I offer.
“Oh, that won’t be necessary….or possible,” Mr. Monique now mutters. He touches my arm. I feel goose bumps rising. “You can pay it all in full just before you set out. It’ll just take one sole payment.”
“Thanks.” I smile demurely. When I shake his hand, he takes a firm grip. “I’ll pop in next week.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing you,” he says, as he opens the door. “Oh, and don’t forget to bring those friends. We wouldn’t want them to miss out.”
Glancing back, I see that he has gone. A large black door with letters spelling, ‘Gehenna Tours’ now separates the two of us. I study the words for a second, as a vague memory returns. Didn’t someone once tell me there was something dodgy about this company?
I tell myself that I’m thinking of somewhere else, and begin to imagine sun-bathing around the fiery lake.
1 Peter 5:8 - Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (NIV)
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