Friday, February 12, 2010

#fridayflash

I was inspired to write this as a result of the local news story and my blog post a couple of weeks ago about a UFO sighting in Newfoundland.



…the Home of the Brave


“I just don’t get it,” Sharon said to her sister. “Why anybody would drive 3 hours to eat a sheep’s stomach filled with…nasty stuff… is beyond me.”

Mary Wallace looked through her digital camera, zooming into the lighthouse perched on a rocky outcrop. She snapped a photo. “The Robbie Burns supper helps Tom get in touch with his inner Scottish child. I think the 18 year old scotch is also bit of a lure,” she said, chuckling. “It makes the haggis more palatable.”

“Is he driving back tonight?”

“Yeah. He promised to limit himself to just one drink.”

They looked at each other and said in unison, “When hell freezes over!” The women laughed so hard that Sharon nearly slipped on the hardened snow beneath her boots.

Mary looked through her camera to where the bay merged with the ocean. A cargo vessel inched past, a small speck on the horizon. “I love this time of day. The sky’s filled with such beautiful colours. Like it had a life of its own,” she said.

“What the hell is that?” Sharon said, pointing to the west. Three dark objects arced slowly up from the surface of the water. One headed away from them, the second to the south-west and the third towards them in an easterly direction.

Mary zoomed in on the cylindrical object as it neared and gained altitude. She began snapping off pictures. It emitted orange flames tinted with red from its back end, leaving a trail of smoke in its wake.

“Jesus, Sharon. They looked like missiles or something.” The women watched in silence for another five minutes until the object disappeared into the darkening sky.

“Let’s get back inside,” Sharon said. “We’ve got to find the kids and call the police.”

* * *

The darkness fell upon them like an inky blanket. Mary had washed her youngsters and put them to bed an hour earlier. She poured herself a glass of whiskey and tried to watch a reality show on the television. Every minute her eyes were drawn to the clock on the mantle. Tom wouldn’t be home for hours.

Mary went to the kitchen and poured another whiskey, ignoring the dirty dishes piled in the sink. She put on her coat and boots and went out to the deck to have a cigarette. She leaned against the rail and gazed across the calm bay, wondering if the objects were really missiles. Were they launched from the islands off their coast?

In the deepest waters of the bay, where it met the unforgiving Atlantic, a convex dome of light appeared on the surface of the water. Minutes passed as she watched the light, the ignored cigarette expiring between her trembling fingers.

The dome suddenly burst open and a column of light pierced hundreds of feet into the night sky. Dozens of golden balls flowed from the top of the pillar, proceeding in all directions; they eventually leveled off at a constant altitude and bearing. The display reminded her of the fireworks Tom and the children had set off on New Year’s Eve.

New waves of orbs appeared from the top of the light column in thirty second intervals. Its colour slowly evolved from white to yellow, then orange and finally a blood red. The bay’s familiar marine odours were now overpowered with the smell of sulphur. Mary gagged with the stench, her heart now hammering within her chest.

She took a deep drag from what remained of her cigarette; its smoke slowly wafted from her nose and was spirited away by the breeze now blowing from the distant shaft of light. The objects slowly progressed, forming a golden net across the night sky. Mary now heard a humming noise, emphasized by an underlying mechanical pounding she felt through the soles of her feet. She stubbed out her cigarette on the railing and hurried back inside the house.

Mary tried to call Tom but their line was dead. The power dimmed a moment, brightened briefly, and finally blinked out. She felt along the wall and furniture of the darkened room until she entered the pantry. The scent of cinnamon gave her temporary relief from the stink now permeating the house. She stood on her toes and reached to the top of the oak cabinet. Tom’s rifle was missing. Mary cursed and pounded the cabinet with her fist. It was only last week she had nagged him to store his rifles and ammunition more safely. He had bought a new metal cabinet and kept it locked in the basement. Her body was wracked with sobs as she crumpled to the vinyl floor.

After a few minutes she stopped crying and wiped her eyes and nose with the sleeve of her shirt. She got to her feet and felt her way back to the kitchen. The growing temperature and stench made her feel nauseous. A pale red glow now filtered through the lace curtains, making patterns on the walls. Mary found a few safety candles and a box of matches in the cabinet above the fridge and placed them in a plastic grocery bag. She then removed a large knife from the wooden block on the counter and gingerly placed it in the bag.

The woman slowly walked up the staircase to the children’s bedrooms, trying to ignore the vibrations she felt as her clammy hand gripped the handrail. She would wake the children, light the candles and read them fairy tales for a while.

24 comments:

Anton Gully said...

That was a really compelling read Alan. Complete tease of an ending too. Flowed well and the conversation felt natural. Top marks!

Cathy Olliffe said...

Oh. I hope all she does is read the children fairy tales. That knife in the bag sure makes me nervous.
I read it and then read it again.
You write so well, so naturally. Great scary stuff!

CJ Hodges MacFarlane said...

If it weren't for your little intro, I never would have guessed what was coming. Excellent job of making the transition from an "everyday" moment to "once in a lifetime". Smoothly written, felt very real.

Aaron Polson said...

Very nice, Alan. I'm sort of wrestling with what happened to the kids, too. Fairy tales, right?

Please say it was just the fairy tales.

Marisa Birns said...

Agree with the others who laud your natural writing style.

I, too, hope that the knife is what she hopes will protect all of them if need arises.

Erin Cole said...

A true nightmare, appropriately finished with fariytales! Excellent build-up: little things like Mary almost falling makes me sit up and pay attention.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Thanks, all of you, for reading the story. I'm glad that you liked it. I wrestled with the ending a bit because who knows how any of us would react should we faced with alien attack *adjusts tinfoil on head*

Donald Conrad said...

This is one of those stories that delegates to the reader how it might go on after the words end. One of my favorite writing styles. Great read. Thanks.

Are you on Twitter?

Kat said...

Tin foil becomes you, Alan, lol.

Great tale. I really enjoyed it!

Wish she'd taken the kids and run though. The idea of sitting and waiting for God only knows what...I couldn't do it. But it did twist my gut just pondering it, so job well done.

:)

Laura Eno said...

And what will she do with that knife? Great ending for your readers to ponder.

John Wiswell said...

Maybe the aliens came for haggis.

I agree, fantastic, prickly atmosphere from the sighting on. I hope you'll continue with this event, perhaps spinning out multiple perspectives or episodes. If you've read World War Z, with dozens of perspectives that give different chapters of the zombie apocalypse - that sort of structure could work splendidly with this.

Jarmara Falconer said...

A great tale, Alan. Wonderfully well written too.
Please post more of your work

Alan W. Davidson said...

Donald-I'm glad you like that style. I know that it's not for everyone. No twitter...I'm a technology dinosaur, don't even have a cell phone.

Kat-I'm glad you like the tinfoil. So do I. Though it's not as comfortable as the rubber underwear...hope I didn't twist your gut too much.

Laura-I'm glad you liked the ending. I suppose I could have continued but, darn, it would have exceeded the 1000 word limit...

John-Haggis consuming aliens...now there is a sequel! That's an interesting concept you brought up. I'd have to think about it long and hard as my attention span isn't that good to continue a project like that.

Jarmara- Thanks for the continued support.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Oooh, I LOVE the ending. And the creepy blood-red colour and the stench. Great visuals!

jimdempsey said...

I thought we were in for a modern-day retelling of Tam O'Shanter in that first para, maybe from Kate O'Shanter's point of view. Ended up just as scary, and that's high praise indeed. Great stuff, and looking forward to that sequel.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Mazz and Jim, thanks very much for the positve feedback. Much appreciated.

Laurita said...

Fabulous story, excellent visuals. I love how you left the ending.

I'll be keeping my eye on the skies after this one. Let's hope they stay over in Harbour Mille.

G.P. Ching said...

Vivid. Personally, I liked the open ending. The tension you built around Mary being home alone and the creepiness of the ensuing events was very effective. Nice work.

Al Bruno III said...

Oh that one hit me in the gut. Very well done.

Natalie L. Sin said...

Nice! I love not knowing what happens. The mind is left to wander ; )

Alan W. Davidson said...

Laurita-Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. Hey, you're not suggesting they go after the baymen first, are you?

G.P.-Thanks for the feedback!

Al-Thanks a lot. And thanks, also, for the link to the story.

Natalie-Thanks. It's good to leave it to the imagination once in a while.

katey said...

Like to add my voice to the "please let it be fairytales" thing. Really good read, Alan, thanks for that. Sorry I'm late to the party, but man, that just made my day.

For some reason I'm really happy about the sulfur smell. That was so vivid for me, and made it all so very, very evil. Lovely!

Karen from Mentor said...

I know what she's going to do with the knife. The instructions came with my tinfoil hat.

Very nice pacing. Love the tight writing style.

Karen :0)

Alan W. Davidson said...

Katey-Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you liked the sulphur thing as I was struggling over how to give it more of an evil feel (Muahahahaha)

Karen-Shhh! Don't give away the secret, Karen!
Thanks very much.