By the same author
|© Copyright 2003-2009 K S Mulholland|
Chapter 15 - The BlackEagle flys...
The next day passed in slow motion.
After a restless night of tossing and turning, Priscilla awoke to find Monique, in her borrowed dressing gown, staring out the window, her hands thrust deep into the pockets: her black face in profile, quite striking.
So proud, so vulnerable, such a brave, good new friend, thought Priscilla, blinking in the daylight.
'What would you like to be when you grow up?' said Monique without turning her gaze from the garden below.
'Phew! Good morning might be a nice way of starting the day, and yes, I want to be a writer.'
'A writer of what?'
'Oh, life, my little life, I suppose,' Priscilla said, sliding out of bed. 'That's why I keep a diary, you know.'
'No, I did not know,' Monique replied. 'I have never seen you writing in it.'
Priscilla pulled a face. 'Well, it's kinda private, I do my writing when I'm on my own.'
'When you had Missey as your confidant?'
'Yes, and anyway, what would you like to be? I mean when you grow up?'
Monique turned to her, 'I want this nightmare behind me. I want to have them back so that I can have a family and a future.'
Priscilla nodded and heaved a long sigh, 'I know you do Kiddo. Keep your dreams and your faith. I'm with you all the way.'
The rest of the day dwindled by without event. Mathew and Rachael were away at various commitments, Granny Black was busy out shopping, the boys came and went in the process of moving Louis downstairs. Breakfast was followed by lunch; chores, and helping Louis and Henry, then the day slipped away into dusk, and dinner.
Both Mathew and Rachael arrived home and became involved in deep conversation about schedules, call times, and locations. Eventually Amelia shooed the two boys away from the computer and the television and herded them up to bed. Monique and Priscilla were already tucked in, reading.
When 'goodnights' had been said, and lights downstairs started to be switched off, Monique whispered, 'Are we going to be absolutely foolish if we do as Tsu told us?'
'O.K. So we put on some clothes and get into bed. What's the big deal? When we wake up tomorrow we'll just look as silly as we will tonight. And after what we both remember of our talk with Tsuang Tsu, who knows? Don't forget, we had a crazy experience the first night you arrived, and yes, I know we've talked about what happened at the restaurant on and off all day without making any sense of it, except that somehow Tsu seems to know more about us than she would say. Therefore, I vote that we wait for half an hour then, by torchlight, get dressed, boots and all, and see what happens.'
Monique giggled in the darkness.
After doing as Priscilla suggested, both girls lay down under their coverlets and waited. Time passed. An hour, possibly more, went by. Try as they might to fight against it, Priscilla and Monique slowly drifted into sleep.
The sound of a SNAP!
Priscilla opened her eyes to find that she was standing alongside Monique at the window overlooking the garden. On that instant, something made them both turn their gaze toward the beds. There they saw two prone figures lying beneath the covers: the smooth shape of the heads, eyeless and indistinct. For some reason Priscilla didn't feel alarmed and when she turned back she found that Monique was already engaged in opening the window and that a cool night breeze was blowing into the room. Then Priscilla felt her feet lifting. It was as if she knew that she could levitate, could rise up to defy gravity as she had done many times before in dreams that took her over open waters, where her subconscious fear of drowning led her.
Without speaking, the two slipped out onto the roof line and for some moments, hovered on the tiles. Above them the dark night sky, strewn with glittering stars, beckoned. Monique, her face just visible in the pale light of the waning moon, took hold of Priscilla's hand. Without speaking they pushed off, and were amazed. Together, they lifted up into the faint breeze and began to drift higher.
'Ohmygosh!' Priscilla managed, watching the dark form of the big tree come so close that she actually started to fend herself away from the branches.
'Mon Dieu!' exclaimed Monique, stifling her words even as she spoke them, whilst they were drawn into the foliage and muffling leaves surrounded them. After some moments they found themselves hovering on a rough wooden platform that was situated somewhere higher than the roof of the house. And before them, dimly, they could see the outline of what seemed to be a tree-house. A single light, that was not a star, glimmered.
'What do you suppose this can be?' whispered Monique, still clutching at Priscilla's fingers.
'Like, you're asking me?' Priscilla whispered back. 'This must be a dream. We can't just fly like Peter Pan and Wendy. What do we do now, if this is a dream?'
'If this is a dream, whatever we do will not matter, but if it is not, we can go back. Of that I am sure.'
'How do you know that?'
Monique tightened her grip on Priscilla's hand, 'We were told that we had choices. Now I think we must make a decision. Do we go on and if it is yes, we must go to that little starlight door before us.'
Priscilla considered: 'Dream, or real? Let's go for it!'
The two girls pushed against the fragile, wooden door of the tree-house. It slewed back and at once a beam of light issued forth, though beyond that nothing more could be seen.
'Do you dare?' said Priscilla.
'I do dare,' Monique nodded, drifting forward.
Once they stepped inside they were met with a dazzling pale-blue glow that swamped their vision for some moments. After acclimatizing, the girls began to look about at the shiny silver walls, and slowly came to the realization that what they had entered was a full-scale version of the silver sheet from the album in the attic that had unwrapped to form a box shape with cabinets and what seemed to be miniature doors inside.
'Hey Monique, we're not floating anymore, notice?'
'Yes, although my head still feels very light,' whispered Monique, running her fingers over the smooth surfaces of cabinets that had no exposed handles. 'What do we do now?'
'Welcome,' said a voice that appeared to come from nowhere in particular. 'Do you wish to proceed?'
The girls clutched at each other in fright, although the voice itself did not seem overly threatening.
'Pro...proceed to where?' said Priscilla, as both she and Monique stared around the empty space with goggling eyes.
'Miss Bateleur, you expressed a desire to be appraised of your parents' location and state of welfare. Do you wish to proceed?'
'What'd it say?' Priscilla asked, somewhat confused.
Monique shook her head, listening hard, 'Shhh, I know what it is asking,' she said in a low voice, and then louder, 'Yes, I wish to, but does my friend here proceed as well?'
'If Miss Black so desires?'
'I...well, yes, sure, er...absolutely,' said Priscilla, holding on to Monique's arm and unconsciously squeezing.
There came a soft sliding sound as the doorway through which they had entered was sealed behind them.
'You have still the choice at this point to go back. Once we begin, you may abort the journey at any point. When you dock and leave the protection of the craft the risk to your own safety will commence.'
Priscilla picked up on this. 'Hang on a second, you said "Once we begin," and "When you dock." Where will you be? Are you here with us now?'
'Yes, I am here with you.' There was a pause. 'In a sense...In another sense, I am not with you. But you may rest assured that I will not be with you every step of the way.'
'Comforting,' Priscilla muttered, her eyes sweeping across the shining ceiling, down the walls and over the silver floor.
'Who are you?' Monique asked, prising Priscilla's fingers from her arm.
'Certainly not someone to be afraid of.'
'Oh good,' said Priscilla, 'it's nice to know who you aren't...' she left the rest unspoken.
A sigh seemed to quiver in the air above their heads. 'Hmmm...Yes...Sort of a standard question. Very well, standard reply I suppose: This is your Captain speaking...No, not really...I like to jest from time to time...That was another jest, you know, about time?'
'Oh, of course, you both wouldn't...Well anyway, to answer your question, I am a representative of those who designed this vehicle. And now, if you wish to avail yourselves of its facilities, I suggest that you listen carefully. Time is of the essence, especially as you will want to be back to recharge your batteries for tomorrow...'
'Recharge our bat...'
'Shh! Priscilla, we might miss something.'
'You will both be subjected to some strange sensations on the voyage, however these will lessen as you become accustomed. I suggest that you be seated or recline on the modules provided...' Nearby, a pair of cabinets slid open and unfolded into two low couches. 'You may stretch your legs at any point, and if need arises there are toilet facilities provided...' Two more cabinets opened to reveal wash basins and lidded seats. 'Do not attempt to flush, this process is automatic.'
'Phew! I am flushing right now,' whispered Priscilla, her face turning a deep pink, 'this is embarrassing.'
'Water is available and receptacles are provided if you feel the need to top-up your essential life-force reserves.'
'I think I know what he means,' said Monique, crossing to the open bay and inspecting the stainless steel tumblers secured in metal holders.
'There isn't any toilet paper,' hissed Priscilla, close on her heels.
'I repeat, this process is automatic,' said the voice. 'Now, do you wish to proceed?'
The girls looked at each other, nodded, and took their seats on the couches.
'I take it that this means yes, and that you are not just having a Bad-Hair day.'
'Ha-ha, very funny,' said Priscilla. 'O.K. Do your worst!' She began to drum her fingers impatiently and in a whispered aside, said to Monique, 'It's gotta be a dream, this can't be really happening.'
'Tell that to the bruises on my arm caused by your pinching,' Monique returned, rubbing her elbow.
'Bruises? How can you tell if you're bruised, when your bla...'
'Because it hurts, my white friend, anywhooa...!' Monique's face began to distort, her eyes widened and her mouth opened in a silent O.
Priscilla didn't care, she was being forced sideways, then abruptly down into the couch. She dragged her gaze over to Monique and saw that she too was being pressed deep into the padded surface, her mouth doing a fhut-fhut flare and flap, just like her own. There was a screaming whirlwind in Priscilla's ears, and a sonic boom up her nose, her fingers weren't drumming anymore, they were too busy being seized by unseen forces attempting to plunge them into the surface of the couch.
Lots of other stuff happened, like on the Scenic Railway and the Big Dipper and the Big Bopper and the Ghost Train and all the Disney and Sea World rides combined...
Chapter 16 [Next]
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