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by Patricia Keiller
Category: Young Adult/Science Fiction
Description: When fourteen year old Charlie Hughes sees strange lights in the sky in the middle of the night, she does not realize that her life, and the lives of everybody around her are about to change forever as a threat deep from the outer reaches of space is about to endanger not only her existence, but the very continuation of mankind itself.
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, 2008 ebook
eBookwise Release Date: August 2008
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [57 KB]
Reading time: 32-46 min.
The following morning when Charlie went down to breakfast she found her mother in an agitated state.
"What's wrong, Mum?" she asked kindly.
"Auntie Kay was supposed to be here by now. She knows that I have to set off early to be at the conference in Bournemouth by eleven o'clock this morning," Charlie's mother sighed.
"She's probably stuck in traffic or something," Charlie suggested.
"I'll have to go, or else I'm never going to make it. Phone me on my cell phone as soon as she arrives, or as soon as you hear from her," Stella Hughes sighed anxiously.
"Don't worry, Mum. I'm sure she's on her way. Anyway, I can look after myself, I don't need Auntie Kay to come and baby-sit," Charlie told her mother.
"Listen, Charlie, if this conference had been only for today I wouldn't have bothered with Auntie Kay, but it's a two day event, and I won't be back until tomorrow. You can't be in the house on your own overnight," Charlie's mother explained.
"Okay then, I'll wait for Auntie Kay to arrive," Charlie agreed.
Charlie watched as her mother dashed out of the door with her small suitcase, carrying just enough for her brief stay in Bournemouth. She glanced at the kitchen clock, it was already quarter past eight. If she did not leave for school soon she was going to be late. Charlie waited five more minutes for her aunt to turn up, and when she did not, she set off for school.
During the morning break Charlie managed to persuade the school receptionist to let her use one of the school telephones to phone her house and see if her aunt had managed to arrive. To Charlie's dismay and surprise she still was not there. Charlie tried phoning her aunt's cell phone number, but there was no reply. It was worrying that Aunt Kay had still not arrived at their home, however, Charlie decided not to phone her mother just yet, as she did not want to worry her unduly. Charlie knew that the conference she was attending was an important one for her mother's career, and she did not want to spoil it for her.
Later that day Charlie was walking from one of the school buildings to another block. She was deep in discussion with her friends Emma and Amir. A sudden darkening of the sky made her look up. A huge, heavy black cloud was directly above the school.
"I think it's going to pour down with rain any minute now," she exclaimed to her friends.
What happened next was so terrible, sudden and shocking that it was to become imprinted on Charlie's memory for the rest of her life. A beam of blinding white light encompassed the school building in front of her, and the building disintegrated in front of her very eyes, leaving only rubble covered in a greenish, brown sludge where the building had once stood.
"What ... what happened to the building ... all those people?" Amir was barely able to speak.
"I think they're all dead ... our friends ... the teachers ... they're all gone," Emma screamed.
Charlie stared up at the sky, hovering just above the school was a gigantic, spherical, silver UFO.
"Let's hide somewhere or we'll be killed!" Charlie said urgently.
The three teenagers ran for the cover of some trees in the school grounds. Once they were fairly certain they could no longer be seen, they stopped to hold their breath. Charlie was shaking uncontrollably, she turned to her friends, Emma had collapsed onto the grass, her face a ghastly shade of grey, and Amir was vomiting into some nearby bushes. However, after five minutes or so Charlie and her friends began to regain some of their composure.
"What's happening? What was that thing in the sky?" Emma asked anxiously.
"We're under some sort of attack," Amir replied.
"Who ... what?" Emma stammered.
"Could be an enemy nation, terrorists or something..." Amir suggested.
"I don't know, that UFO thing didn't look human," Charlie said thoughtfully.
"You mean it might be alien?" Amir asked, startled by Charlie's suggestion.
"It could be, why not? People have been going on about little green men for years. Perhaps they're not just science fiction after all, perhaps they really do exist," Charlie exclaimed.
"Well, whoever they are, they're not friendly, that's for sure. What are we going to do now?" Amir sighed.
"I think we should head home and make sure that our houses and families are alright. Luckily we all live fairly near one another, so we won't need to split up or anything," Amir suggested.
Ten minutes later when they were finally sure that the UFO had gone, Charlie, Emma and Amir left the safety of the thick, wooded area in the school grounds, and started to make their way to their respective homes.
As they walked along the pavement Charlie noticed that the roads were full of cars trying to head out of London, but because there were so many vehicles traffic congestion had brought everything to a complete standstill. Drivers sat in their cars frustrated by the almost complete lack of movement. Charlie also noticed that there were many people on foot like she and her friends were, and each and every person bore the same frightened expression on their faces.
After about half an hour the teenagers reached Amir's home. He found much to his consternation that no one was at home.
"I hope my parents and big sister are all right," he said anxiously.
"Where do you think they could be?" Charlie asked.