Alex lay on his bed and stared at the bright rays of summer sunlight piercing the slats of his venetian blinds, his Spider-Man t-shirt rumpled and sweaty. Half dozing he watched a myriad of dust motes trapped in an unfelt draft swirl in unison as if they were dancers performing a slow, graceful ballet. It was calming and Alex felt completely relaxed for the first time in days. The exams had been exhausting. Outside an ice cream van passed by with a grating burst of the Popeye theme-tune.
His cat, Schrodinger, languidly yawned and stretched. Alex reciprocated with a yawn and a stretch of his own and then turned his attention back to the motes and their silent ballet. As they continued to gently float in harmony something caught his eye, a somewhat larger mote was moving against the flow. Whilst the draft sent all other specks to the right of the window, this lone, somewhat larger individual, travelled left and away from the rest.
How could that be Alex wondered? Maybe the draft affected this one differently because it was bigger than the rest? He laid perfectly still, shallow breathing in an attempt not to disturb the air currents and continued to study the rebellious mote.
He watched as it drifted across the room, apparently defying the draft that dominated all the others and landed gracefully atop his bedside cabinet. Was it his imagination or was the speck glinting in the sunlight? There it was again, a flickering of reflected light. How odd. Alex felt a need to see this up close, he remembered his grandfather's small but powerful jewellers loupe, perfect.
Very slowly and with great care Alex rolled away from the cabinet to the opposite side of the bed gently shoving Schrodinger out of his path as he went. Schrodinger with an air of contempt promptly licked the spot where Alex had dared to touch his fur. Alex left the room and went into his small study where he rifled through a few drawers until he found the old loupe.
He returned to the bedroom and at a snail's pace knelt next to the cabinet. There it was again a couple of glints of reflected light. Holding the eyepiece in place with a squint, Alex drew in a deep breath as he slowly leant forward so as not to disturb the speck.
The shock as the mote came into focus caused Alex to fall backwards, 'What the ….no way' he mumbled as he landed on his rump.
Composing himself he again knelt next to the cabinet and replaced the eyepiece. Leaning forward once more to focus Alex let out a whispered expletive.
There on the cabinet was a tiny coalescing swirl of multi-coloured light, blending and morphing like a gaseous fire opal. The light would wrap and fold in upon itself, then bloom again with a fluid, almost sensual, flow.
As Alex watched, the minute swirling cloud slowly began to lose its colouration, fading to watery smudges. The swirling movement slowed and then stopped completely. Alex leaned back and adjusted the position of the loupe with a firmer squint.
From a Star Wars poster above the bed Yoda looked on with disinterest.
Holding another deep breath he leant forward again. The cloud had taken on a spherical shape and was now completely white and opaque.
Alex sat upright on his haunches and removed the eyepiece and used his already perspiration dampened t-shirt to wipe away the sweat that had accumulated around his eyes. It was at this point that Alex noticed Schrodinger had rolled onto his stomach and was intently staring in the direction of the cloud sphere, his ears drawn back and twitching. Taking the cat's lead Alex slowed his breathing and listened carefully. Barely audible and coming from the direction of the sphere Alex could just make out a very high pitched whine, similar to that of a mosquito but more subtle.
Wiping his face again Alex returned the eyepiece. He was about to lean in when Schrodinger stood up with his tail fluffed to its fullest, hissed at the sphere, leapt from the bed and darted out of the room. At that same moment several neighbourhood dogs began to bark and yap.
With a mixture of puzzlement, trepidation and excitement Alex again focused on the sphere. For several seconds nothing happened. Then the high pitched whine, which could be heard only between the continued barks and yaps, ceased and a thin neon blue line appeared, lengthened and bisected the sphere. Slowly the sphere began to part and from within a fog-like vapour began to spread out and engulf the two halves and the immediate area around it.
Alex watched with rapt attention as the fog-like gas grew denser. Should he gently blow to disperse the fog so he could see inside the sphere? He thought better of it and decided to be patient and wait it out.
His neck was beginning to ache with the strain of leaning over and he decided to move back and away in order to stretch out and relieve the knots that had formed.
He lay back onto the stained carpet and stared at the ceiling with its plastic glow-in-the-dark stars and moons. It was difficult to focus his thoughts and he was finding it somewhat hard to breath normally. Was he hallucinating? Was the marijuana he smoked last night laced with something? The pulse in his neck had quickened and he felt as though he was on the brink of a panic attack similar to the one he had in the middle of his physics exam last Tuesday.
He remembered the three remaining Valium in his coat pocket that his friend Micky had given him that Tuesday evening after they had sent him home from the exam. No that was no good, they had turned him into a zombie for hours. He looked towards his dressing table and the bong that sat atop it, no that was as bad as the Valium and if he had a bad high he would get paranoid and be even more stressed out. No, he had to chill out and think things through calmly and rationally.
A movement caught his eye, Schrodinger peeping over the top of the stairs at him, the cat nonchalantly looked away. Alex imagined what was going through Schrodinger's mind, if that cat could tut he would have done.
'Yeah, well you weren't so brave ya self Schrodinger, so don't you look at me like that'. The cat ignored him and proceeded to lick a paw. Right! I'll show you.' Alex sat up and found the eyepiece again.
As before he slowly approached the cabinet and leant forward to focus. As his eye adjusted Alex let out a whimper and gripped the sides of the cabinet.
The vapour had thinned out, the two halves of the sphere had vanished and in their place standing on three metallic filigreed legs stood a tiny silver orb. Alex's pulse had increased again; he couldn't hold his breath any longer and turned his head to one side. The air escaped his nostrils promptly followed by a snot bubble. He drew in another gulp of air and gripping the cabinet for support returned his gaze to the orb. The vapour was now completely gone and the orb, despite its size, was now more visible.
Alex strained to see yet more detail. What was that? No it can't be, surely this can't be happening? Descending from the silver orb Alex could see a fine filligreed step ladder. And what was that next to it? He leant even closer. There, just a millimetre or two from the ornate ladder someone or more to the point something had erected a barely visible, minuscule flag!
The last thing that went through Alex's mind as he fled the room, tripped over Schrodinger at the top of the stairs and took flight was 'What the Hell did I smoke last night?'
About the Author:
David lives on the edge of Epping Forest having been raised on a council estate in London. Recently resigned from a stressful job after twenty years he finds that his mind is decluttering and is now able to concentrate on hobbies and interests. He hopes, despite a crippling fear of grammar and punctuation, that writing will become one of them. Married to Jane who is also his best friend.