Saturday, 25 August 2018

First Prize

I've been thinking of Men In Black - the last viewing of when the Earth turns in to a marble and gets tossed into a sack filled with other marbles... well, I've thought to turn that idea into something similar.


I couldn’t sleep, so I stepped outside into the crisp night air to look up at the huge scattering of diamonds of the Milky Way Constellation – and what a great display Mother Nature had put on this night!
It was then I noticed something really weird.
Off in the distance, I saw a bright light glowing on the horizon I hadn’t noticed before. It wasn’t there when I headed in for the night, but it was there now. Checking my watch, I saw it was around 1am and so dawn wasn’t near.
“What the hell is that?” I mumbled, my breathing turning white as I spoke. Thinking it was my imagination, I shook my head and went back inside my caravan and tried to sleep again.

The morning was brilliant and bright, and I had almost forgotten about the glowing weird light on the horizon. But I looked over there again as I sipped my coffee and found it wasn’t there – well of course it wasn’t there. How could it be? I was out in the middle of Central Queensland on a photo shoot for the next three weeks.
Tossing out the remains of the coffee, I kick dirt over my camp fire and start packing up. It’s time to move onto my next port of call to photograph.

Detle Pffed watched his experiment carefully. The Human looked like he was throwing out the brown liquid he had been drinking and packing up his travelling machine. He frowned, “Why doesn’t he fly? Doesn’t he know how to?”
“Detle! It’s time to go!” His mother’s voice screeched from the screen on the wall.
“Of course!” he put down his computerised clipboard, switching it off as it touched the table and picked up his satchel for school. As he opened the door, his father stood there, “Sorry I’m late, my experiment for the Science Fair had me up all night.”
“Aaah of course, how is it going?” he put a suckered arm around his son’s shoulders as they walked out of the room and door closed.
“Well, the Human was up last night... he couldn’t sleep. He was looking at the Milky Way Constellation I had installed on the ceiling of my bedroom.” He smiled, “Thanks for suggesting that, I think that’s what happened to the last one – he freaked out and lost his mind.”
“It’s just as well we got a moving one so this one doesn’t know the difference.” His father’s eyes swung up on their stalks as his gills flared, “Oh we’re running late!”
Detle didn’t mention what his science fair project was about to anyone at school. He entered into the Science Fair, paid the ten scroners – which was a month’s pocket money – and promised his teachers a good project.
When he arrived home, he found his project hadn’t travelled as far as he first thought he would. But he figured it was the machine he was using that held the Human back. He sat down and started his homework as his mother walked into the room, gazed disdainfully at the project sitting at the window and frowned, “I really don’t like it that you have a Human in your bedroom.” He put down a tray of afternoon snacks for her son nearby.
“He won’t be here for long, Mother.” Detle said glancing over at the large tank holding the Human, “I’ll take him back to Earth. He thinks he’s on a photographic holiday for three weeks. I’ll get graded and then return him home – he won’t know the difference.”
Peering into the tank, she swung her stalked eyes toward her son, “Does he know we’re here?”
“I don’t think so. He saw my night light on last night, but he didn’t look into it. I won’t make that mistake again.” He mumbled.
“Night light? You’re still using that?”
“I did for the time being to be able to find my way around the room to watch him at night. I forgot to turn it off after watching him for a while. I think I woke him up.” He sighed, “That could have gone really wrong, but I think he’s okay.”
She stood and smiled, “Okay, well I hope you go well at the Science Fair. There’s your snack.”

A week passed by and Detle worked hard on his project – day and night. He gave up his weekend and watched his Human doing what he did for that week. Then, came the day the Human was to be taken to Detle’s school for the Science Fair; and Mr Pffed offered to take both his son and the experiment there for the whole day. Mr Pffed was a scientist and he believed that his son was onto something with the Humans from Earth – that they had changed in some way. It had been over fifty years since Mr Pffed had been to Earth with his father to conduct this very same experiment on a Human and he had offered up his notes to his son to compare the times fifty years ago compared to now.

But had they changed really?

There had been a gas leak somewhere.
I woke and found myself being peered in on by some of the most butt-ugliest things I’ve ever laid eyes on!
Where was I?
Was I hallucinating? Did something happen to me?

“Detle! The switch, you bumped it, he can see us!” Mr Pffed pointed to the tank.
“Oh no!” he turned a little red lever and the walls of the tank ghosted over again, “I hope he’s okay.” He peered inside the tank.

The landscape returned to the parched desert of the sunset I’d been photographing just outside Alice Springs. I stayed on the ground for a few more moments before getting up and picking up my camera and checking it to see if I’d taken any photos of what I had seen, “Oh crap, what in the hell is that?” I stared at the screen to find I had taken a photo of some huge stalked eyed creatures which were peering across the horizon at me. After three shots, the blue sky took over.
I put this down to ... well, I dunno.
Packing up my shit and cameras, I returned to my caravan for the day and chilled out.

“What does this lever do?” Mr Eealie asked.
“That keeps my experiment in a state of calm. He can’t see us right now, as the tank is ghosted. If he does, he’ll freak out and well, my last Human died.” He blushed, “He saw me and... it didn’t end well.”
Mr Pffed nodded, “I was there, Mr Eealie, we really did try to calm him down, but our speech isn’t the same as theirs; and we had to return him home to Earth... which is what we will do with this one.”
“Good. We don’t wish to be cruel to Humans, just study them.” He looked at Detle’s notes, compared to his father’s notes and smiled, “Very impressive that you both studied a Human and that you, Detle, has impressed me.

Today was cooler than yesterday – thank god! – and so I thought it would be good to photograph things. But after seeing ... those things... I’m not so sure anymore.
I tossed another chunk of wood on the fire and waited for it to heat up more. Rabbit stew was on the menu tonight. Sitting back in my chair, I looked out at the wavering horizon, “Yeah, this is the life – without those creepy things I saw – I could live like this forever.”

“Hey Detle, your project is on fire. There’s smoke coming out of it.” One of his friends said, “Is this okay? Is that supposed to happen?”
He turned and saw that smoke was filtering from the top corner of the tank, “Yes. I’m studying a Human out in the field. He doesn’t know he’s being studied. The smoke from his camp fire has to go somewhere.”
Mr Eealie came back from looking at all the other projects and handed Detle the large blue ribbon, “First prize, Detle. But on one condition.”
“I return the Human back to Earth unharmed.” He nodded.

Night fell and the rabbit stew was delicious! I drank a few cans of redi-mixed bourbon and cola and crashed early. When I woke to the songs of the kookaburras nearby, I realised I hadn’t heard one in a long time – over two weeks actually.
Walking out into the early morning, I saw the trees moving, heard the sound of a flock of cockatoos screeching and flying nearby. I felt as though I had been in a vacuum for the past few weeks... but I knew it was time to go home. After taking photos of some really weird things lately, I had to.

Detle and his Dad arrived home from the long intergalactic round flight late. They ordered in some food and went through the photographs the Human had taken and found that he had also taken some of them. His Dad was good enough to delete those off the Human’s camera before they left him on Earth, just outside Alice Springs, where they found him.

Besides, who would believe him?