••• The International Writers Magazine - 24 Years on-line - Extract from Mission Longshot
Aliens – 12.30.1999 - Clearlake, Florida
The day before Y2K day ...
“There are no aliens, son. If anyone should know, it’s me. I spend god knows how many hours tracking stuff out there in space and no one, ever, not ever, not once, has seen anything that could be construed as an ‘alien’.”
Gerry frowned as his father pulled on his USAF uniform jacket, climbed into his Ford Explorer and started up the engine.
It was an unusually hot afternoon and Gerry had wanted to get his boat ready on lake, not listen to yet another lecture on why he was a such a disappointment to his father. It was his own fault he’d mentioned something about it being a good time for aliens to arrive, what with everyone going crazy about the world ending on New Year’s Eve. Neither parent had any truck with millennial hysteria around Y2K, when many were predicting all the power and computers would crash at midnight. They were prepped and ready for anything that might happen.
His father lowered his truck window and lit a cigarette, blowing smoke over Gerry. “Many idiots think the world’s coming to end tomorrow, Gerry. It won’t, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be riots or craziness. So, support your mother. Don’t let her drink too much, keep the door locked in case I don’t get back in time and make sure the guns are loaded. You understand me? It won’t be aliens trying to bust our doors down, it will be our lovely crazy neighbors.”
“Yes sir.” Gerry answered. “But …”
“No buts, Gerry. I want you to forget this stuff. Time to move on, you’re nearly fifteen. Aliens are for kids. Your grades are sharp; but I just wish you’d grow up, boy. Stop hanging out with those girls. It’s embarrassing y’know. People notice that kind of thing.”
He raised the window and started backing out of the yard. Gerry watched him go and turned back to the house deflated. So, now he couldn’t have friends. He tried to suppress his anger. It was always the same. Whatever he was interested in, his father hated it. Why couldn’t he be normal and interested in baseball, or football or anything to do with stupid balls? ‘Get on a team, boy. Be like me. I was basketball champ, got medals for track and field. Got accepted for USAFA in Colorado Springs straight off the bat.’
Gerry had no ambition to join the Air Force, even though he was desperate to go into space. If he actually had to confess his real ambition, he wanted to run Mission Control. He wanted to be the guy who made things work, made decisions. Not be like his dad, stuck behind a computer in a windowless building, a faceless mind-numbing job he probably hated, wondering when things went wrong and he stopped getting promoted.
He entered the house – his Ma was avidly watching CNN and the countdown to chaos. Y2K was going to destroy everything. “What to do when the Grid goes down and the stock market crashes," someone was saying on the screen.
If there was one thing Gerry was pretty certain about, it was that if the aliens were coming, the best time to do it would be in the chaos of December 31st, 1999 and that date was tomorrow.
Aliens! 12.31.1999 Florida
Gerry was still asleep. His bedside clock radio showed 5.58 am. The house was quiet. A book lay half open on his bed and on the walls sci-fi movie posters, maps of the universe and a giant schematic of ‘Construct your own Space Shuttle’. He was probably dreaming of the stars and aliens and …
The sonic boom shattered the early morning silence. Windows rattled, car alarms were set off. Gerry jumped out of bed, jolted from his deep sleep, disorientated, but very conscious of having heard a huge bang. He ran to his window and looked out across the lake. All over Clearlake lights were coming on – at least half the small Florida town had been woken. You could hear frightened babies crying in the still night air.
Gerry thought he saw something move across the lake. He stared harder towards Ochee Island where an abandoned Sanatorium lay. There … trees bending despite the windless morning. Something was landing over there. Definitely not a chopper, something silver, shaped like the space shuttle but smaller. An alien spaceship? The trees seem to part as the vessel lowered itself to the ground. No thrusters, no flames, but Gerry knew aliens wouldn’t be using fossil fuels. Landing something that big without thrusters meant they were using some other energy. Electric rotors maybe? How many would you need to keep something as heavy as a shuttle suspended in the air?
And then it was gone from view. An Alien spaceship had just landed on Ochee Island and he was the only person in the world who knew about it! He dived for his brand-new Nokia cell phone, the best Christmas present ever and punched in Kali’s number. Kali was part of the troika of space nuts at his school. Him, Kali, the South Indian girl and Jolene. Each one of them just knew that they were going to work for NASA when they graduated college in some distant future. There wasn’t a thing they didn’t know about space or the definite fact that someone in Government was hiding the truth about aliens.
“It’s six am, Gerry. This better be good.”
“You didn’t hear the bang? Loudest sonic boom I ever heard. I almost fell out of bed.”
“You forget I sleep in the basement since my cousin and her husband arrived.”
“Get your ass to the lake, Kali. Aliens just landed. I saw it. No one else knows.”
“Seriously? Aliens? Six am? And today of all days, just when the world is going to come to an end.”
Gerry shook his head. “Aliens don’t know what time it is. Besides you know the world isn’t going to end. Anyways we’ve got iMacs. Let the crazies go back to the stone age with their crappy PCs. Get dressed. Get your ass to the lake and bring your camera. Now!”
Gerry disconnected. He wondered whether to call Jolene; but knew Kali would be already calling her. Better she did it, Jolene was not a morning person and he could do without her cussing him out. He pulled on his clothes and quickly headed to the bathroom. He noted his mother was awake. Awkward.
“You hear that bang?” His mother called out. “I swear the Air Force does it to wind people up.”
“Wasn’t the Air Force, Ma. I’m going to meet Kali.”
“It’s still dark, Gerry. Isn’t a bit early for hunting aliens?” She knew her son well enough and his obsessions with Aliens.
“We wanted to catch the sunrise on the last day of civilization.” He grinned as he washed his hands. His Mom was a prepper and the bomb shelter out back was stuffed with dried foods and booze. His Dad had bought new guns and ammo. They were definitely ready for whatever was going to happen this night.
“Damn right it is. You take care, Gerry. It’s going to be a crazy day. I do not want you out on the street after eight tonight. Understood? Your father will be closing up the house and no one, not even you, will be coming through that door after eight. Got that?”
“I’ll be back. Don’t forget to stock up on your drugs, Ma.”
“Don’t you worry, Gerry. I’ve got a year’s supply. Your father is still trying to get his blood pressure pills.”
Gerry stopped outside his mother’s bedroom door, frowning. His father was not lying next to her. “Where’s Dad?”
“Night shift at the base, remember? They only wanted him to work tonight as well. I told him no way am I going to spend this Millennium New Year’s Eve without him being home.”
“I guess they’re pretty worried about the computers there.”
“Your father has spent six months making them Y2K compliant. It’s the rest of Florida that worries him. If the grid goes down, that’s when things will go crazy.”
Gerry nodded. He’d heard all this a thousand times.
“Sunrise won’t wait for me. Got to go. Bye Ma.”
His mother put her eyepatches back on and turned over in bed. She was not going to get up at six in the morning. No way.
© Sam Hawksmoor February 2023
how far will you go to save one life?
Gerry is convinced aliens are going to attack on Millennium Eve - Y2K night. Everyone is preparing for the end of civilisation. When it happens only Gerry notices the alien ship land. He and his spacenut pals Jolene and Kali race to be the first to greet them...
'Gripping adventures with highly engaging characters.' W. Leff - Goodreads
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