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Friday, 16 December 2011

Chapter One - Birthday Surprise.

  December 14th is not traditionally any kind of special day but it's the most important day on the calender as far as I'm concerned, for three reasons, one, it's my birthday, two, it was the first day owning my own tuna trawler and three, it is the last day of my life, as I knew it anyway. Details about that morning are kind of sketchy because you don't tend to remember the totally mundane bits of your life. I know I got up, got dressed and had something to eat but I was busting so much to get down to the pier that I'll always regret that I never even went into my parents bedroom to say goodbye, but why would I? I was only going to take the boat out for a safety test run for an hour or two then come home for cake from Mom and a lecture from Dad about ''How I was risking my entire future on a dying industry...blah blah'', he did have some good points though, dropping out of college at 23 and laying down my college fund on a deposit for a fishing boat does seem crazy from the outside looking in but as we've all probably said before, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

  I had a surprise waiting for me down at the pier, my siblings. My sister Anna 19 and my brother Jeff 14 had woken up even before me to get me a birthday breakfast burrito from the 24 hour service station to try and bribe me to take them on the maiden voyage of the trawler. I said something like ''What do you you jerks want?'' joking around, and they said ''We're your crew for the day'' tentatively. I pretended to grudgingly let them come along, really I was glad for the company, even though I'd been on the seas all my life there was something unsettling about being out on the boat by myself today, like I was responsible or something, and that felt really weird. One thing I can picture clearly is the sky that morning, it was like a blanket of twinkle lights that the dawn extinguished one by one, there was not one cloud in the sky that morning and I thought '' Keep your eyes on the instruments you moron, you are supposed to be testing everything for safety'' but I couldn't stay focused and Anna and Jeff were chatting away so I eventually abandoned my clipboard and dropped anchor about 3 miles from Port Wesley.As I was watching the fishing fleet head out North to try their luck I remembered that tomorrow I was going to be doing the same, and with a 5 man crew! I felt a big wave of panic come over me for a few seconds, I guess it was because I was about to take the first step of becoming a grown up but then I thought ''There's cake ashore, cake will make it all better''. 

  We'd been out for about 90 minutes when I said to the kids we should probably head back, there wasn't going to be any work done today anyway. Ever since Anna had been diagnosed with epilepsy I have been worried that she might have a seizure when I'm the only adult around, even though everyone in the family has been trained how to deal with one and her medicines generally kept them at bay, I felt guilty I didn't enjoy spending time with my kid sister anymore but I guess that's nothing special for older brothers to feel. This is where this so far perfect day went more than little off track. Jeff was weighing anchor when he yelled ''Hey, an air balloon!'' he yelled, I said ''Whaaaat?''  I'd never seen an air balloon around Port Wesley before, actually I'd never seen one at all, except on television. But as I turned around you could not miss it, the only object in a clear blue cloudless sky. It seemed to be hovering just above the church steeple and it wasn't the traditional globe shaped balloons you might see, or like those weird shaped ones that's sometimes made for advertising, this was cylindrical and black and enormous!

  I was so naive then looking back now, I turned over the motor and went full speed towards the mouth of the marina, some dumb part of my brain thought it might be a birthday gift from the whole town and there might be a fair and buffet laid on when we got back something like; Happy Birthday, New Boat and Failed College Degree Day Ben, but that didn't seem really likely. I think Anna and Jeff knew something was wrong right from the start, they both stood at the bow of the boat just staring at the thing and not talking at all. In a second eight or ten glowing orbs sort of popped out of the balloon and slowly moved towards the ground. When you first see something like this you can't look away, you don't really believe it's happening you just stare silently, that's what us three were doing anyway and this wasn't going to be the first time I was struck dumb by the way. The kids both started screaming ''It's a UFO, it's a UFO'' I don't know exactly what I said but I tried to calm them down telling them it'll be alright. From the distance we were now we could see people gathering around one of the orbs that had landed by the pier, you could see them approach then disappear, approach then disappear in ones, twos and small groups. I cut the motor then because I don't mind telling you that I was terrified, this was all right out of movie that's been taken right out of science fiction novel. We just watched for about a minute people being eaten up by nothing, but continuing to approach the orb not running away or shooting it or anything!

  Jeff jolted out of out trance first and screamed at me ''We got to get back too Mom and Dad!'' I said ''We can't go in there now can we? We'll have to wait until those things go, Dad's got the shotgun, I'm sure they're fine''. Of course I knew they weren't fine, I knew deep down they were going to be killed or vaporised or whatever those things were doing too the people? But my big brother instincts had finally kicked in a little. All at once the orbs rose up from the town, quite quickly, I was so relieved I think I laughed nervously which made Anna look angrily at me so I chirped out ''Let's go home guys'', one by one each orb flew back too the black cylinder and disappeared within it bar for one. The orb that was landed near the pier came straight for us, the kids squealed and ran into the cabin and I wasn't far behind them, I tried to start the motor once but in about three seconds the orb was upon us already. It was silently floating in front of the cabin, not making a sound then I looked around and realised neither was Anna or Jeff or me! 

  And that's the last thing I can recall before waking up 200 or so years later.    

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