An un-edited, first pass written for NaNoWriMo 2007.
Chapter 1: The Visitor
The smoke from the campfire curled upward into the clear sky, dissipating among the myriad of stars. A perfect night for gazing at the night sky.
“That’s enough story telling for tonight,” I said. “Let’s get some star study done. Be careful getting on the pontoon,” I said. “It is dark down there on the dock.”
“Can I take a pillow, Mr Miller?” Patrick asked.
“If any of you want a pillow, go get them,” I said and smiled. A pillow might just be the ticket I thought and grabbed mine as I walked past my tent.
“You going out with us, Ron?” I asked my assistant.
“Nah,” he replied. “I’ll sit here, keep tabs on the fire and when I hear the motor kick back up, start the makings for hot cocoa.” He rubbed his arms. “Starting to chill just a bit and you’ve got a really clear night for checking out the stars. Enjoy yourself, Tom.”
I nodded approval and followed the six boys down the path to the dock and pontoon.
“All right,” I said. “Get laid down, get comfortable and I’ll take us out into the middle.”
The boys sprawled on the deck of the pontoon.”
“Mr. Miller? Bill brought a blanket,” Tom whined. “I didn’t know we could bring them, too”
“I don’t think we’ll freeze out there,” I said and started up the motor. “Shawn? When I tell you, would you please drop the front anchor?”
“Yes, sir,” Shawn replied and rolled over to the front anchor rope.
The pontoon moved effortlessly across the lake. A light wind rippled the water and the motor created a serene cross wave against it. I turned off the motor and the pontoon drifted silently to a slow, rocking motion.
“Drop the anchor, Shawn. Okay, is everyone comfortable?” I ask. “Now try to remain as motionless as possible and don’t talk.”
I lay down on the deck and get my pillow positioned under my head.
“Can somebody tell me where the Big Dipper is? And don’t tell me to your left or right; we’re all laying in different directions. The motor is basically to the southwest and the front anchor is to the northeast. Okay, where is it?”
“Over to the north, right there,” Patrick said. His hand shot up to point where he was talking.
“Correct-a-mundo,” I said. “Now the North Star? Somebody else.”
“Using the two front stars of the Big Dipper’s cup, it points to the North Star which is the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.” He pointed north. “There.”
“Correct-a-mundo,” I said. “Now where is Orion, the Hunter. I want the constellation.”
“To the south,” Patrick said. “There where the three stars make his belt.”
“Very good,” I reply. “Now if you look a little to the left and up you will see a cluster of stars. Anyone got an idea of what that is?”
“Yes, that would be the Plea-bees,” Jim said.
“That is Pleiades, Jim. Plea-A-Dees. It is also known as the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology. It is a well known story about how Orion loved them and sought after them. They prayed that somebody would intervene to protect them and Zeus placed them in the heavens as stars. Ironically, Orion was also made into a constellation which still chases them but never catches them. Now I will tell you a Native American myth where those stars are boys, not sisters and not even brothers. It is a Cherokee tale of seven boys that always played gatayu’sti rather than working in the corn fields.”
“What game was that, Mr. Miller?” Patrick asked.
“Gatayu’sti?” I asked. “That was a stone wheel that was rolled along the ground with a curved stick. Now the mother’s were upset that the boys wouldn’t help in the gardens and one night fixed a meal of boiled corn and the gatayu’sti stone. When the boy sat down to eat, the mother dipped out the stone and offered it to him to eat saying “You prefer gatayu’sti to the cornfield. Enjoy gatayu’sti”
“Oh, that was mean,” Jim said.
“Now wait a minute,” I said. “The boys were upset by this and the seven of them gathered at the big house and danced, asking the spirits to help them because they were hungry. They continued the Feather Dance, getting lighter and lighter so that by the time their mothers thought there might be something wrong, they were already being lifted into the sky like feathers on the wind.”
“What star is that, Mr. Miller?”
“That star there. See how bright it is?”
“That’s a plane, Pat,” Jeff said.
“Boys, please,” I said. “Let’s concentrate on the Pleiades. Now where was I?”
“That star just changed direction,” Patrick said.
“I told you it was a plane,” Jeff repeated.
“Where is this plane?” I asked.
“Right there, to the left of the Big Dipper,” Patrick said. “See? It just moved up.”
I watched the so-called star, now obviously a plane get brighter. It also changed direction two more times while almost doubling in size. ‘Planes don’t fly like that,’ I thought. ‘We need to get back to camp.’ Suddenly I felt awkward, strange, as if possessed.
“Let’s call it a short night,” I said. “Who wants some hot cocoa?”
“And cookies?” Patrick asked.
“I’m sure that we can find some,” I said. “Ask Mr. Robinson when we get back.”
I started up the motor and it screamed into life echoing loudly across the water. I knew that Ron had heard it and was probably already getting things around for the boys. Looking up at the sky I noticed that the object was even larger and headed our way.
I gunned the engine and the pontoon cruised across the water, mists blew in on the passengers.
“Gee, Mr. Miller,” Shawn said. “Look at that thing now.” He pointed to the sky.
I’d been watching it and now it was obvious; this thing was flying directly toward them and it wasn’t a plane. I could see the pulsating lights as the thing rotated in the sky. It was bright.
“Mr. Miller?” Jeff called. “Is that what they call a UFO?”
“I’m not sure what it is,” I said. “Can you grab the dock, Shawn?”
I turned off the motor and glided the pontoon toward the dock. Ron strolled onto the dock and grabbed the pontoon rail. Shawn handed him the rope to secure the pontoon.
“Hope you’re ready for hot cocoa,” Ron said.
Ron smiled at the boys while making a slight nod upward and rolled his eyes toward the object. I blinked an acknowledgment. The boys grabbed their pillows and hurried off the pontoon to race toward the camp fire.
“What do you think it is?” he asked.
“I’m not sure but it keeps coming toward us,” I said. “Right now it is behind the–“
The loud explosion startled me and I fell back onto the pontoon. Ron grabbed a dock pole and hung there momentarily.
Boys yelled in the distance. I got up and hurried off the pontoon and raced down the dock toward the boys and the campsite. In the distance I could see a bright light through the trees. Fire?
“What was that, Mr. Miller?” Jeff asked.
“Is that a fire over there?” Shawn asked.
The boys were alive with questions. Ron was grabbing the emergency fire extinguisher from his car. I walked through the trees; the boys noisily followed.
“What the hell was that?” Ron yelled.
He huffed around the cluster of boys to catch up with me. I continued on, pulled to the glow in the distance.
It was a dazzling dance of changing colors. There wasn’t any heat, only a brilliance that cut sharp shadows of the trees and bushes. It was in a small ravine, hovering.
“Holy shit, Mr. Miller,” Patrick said.
I glanced over at him and cocked an eyebrow.
“Sorry, but what is that thing?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “You boys stay here with Mr. Robinson. I’m going to investigate.”
“You’re what?” Ron asked. He grabbed my shoulder. “I think we need to call the authorities. Why don’t you wait.”
“I’ll be careful,” I said. I couldn’t tell him that I was being pulled, drawn to the object and there was nothing I could do stop it.
I slid down the embankment and held up my hand to shield my eyes. I could hear it; there was a voice yet I was hearing it inside my head, not with my ears. I couldn’t make out the words that haunted my mind not could I stop my feet from moving toward the object.
“Tom?” Ron called. “Tom? Are you okay? What’s happening?”
“Everything is fine,” I said knowing full well that I was lying.
My feet continued to move toward the object, moving me closer. I scrutinized it and could now see that the light emanated not from the spherical object but approximately six to ten inches beyond the mirrored surface.
A light appeared from above. Clouds filled the air; the clear night sky was gone. Somewhere in the clouds something projected the light down and it searched, moving about the area of the sphere.
“Mr. Miller!” Jeff yelled. “Be careful.”
The beam jerked in his direction and the group of boys were washed in the bright light.
“No!” I screamed.
The light swerved away and shone directly on me. I felt lightheaded and weightless. The light went out, the sphere was gone and I was in total darkness.