The brunette had a face I didn’t recognise, but from her voice I knew she was an old girlfriend from about 15 years ago.
‘Do you still have my Mothers of Invention album?’ I asked, even though something told me I had never owned one.
‘It’s at home, come with me and you can pick it up. My car’s over there.’ She pointed a thumb at a blue Mercedes.
Sitting in the driving seat, I look across to her. She is blonde now and cuter than a minute ago. The car’s interior is familiar: my old Audi. I put the key in the ignition and turn it. Nothing happens. I try again, but the key won’t turn. I focus on the key which seems to grow. I try again and again. She’s shouting at me.
‘You’re stupid. You’re stupid. Start the car, stupid.’ She lunges forward and tries to grab the key.
It’s dark, I’m in bed laying on my back, sweating. My heart is beating very fast; pounding in my ears and there is a kind of zuzz which seems to be coming from the back of my head. I am shaking. Remembering a relaxation exercise, I take deep breaths and after a minute or so my heartbeat has slowed, but I am still shaking. The dream swirls in and out of my consciousness like when a train goes through a series of short tunnels. Soon the dream is gone, but I'm still hyped. I won’t be able to go back to sleep yet.
I get out of bed and go to the toilet for a pee. It seems a good idea to stay up for a while. Feeling a chill from the sweat evaporating from my body, I slip on my dressing gown and descend the stairs, switching on the light as I go.
After drinking a mug-full of cold skimmed-milk I feel calm, and hungry. I spot the fruit bowl and take a banana. It takes about thirty seconds peel it and eat it. Looking at the window, all I see is my face reflected back from the darkness. I switch off the kitchen-light and turn on the porch-light so I can see outside.
It’s a clear night. Orion is posing for me. The grass is wet from the rain that fell during a thunder-storm just before I went to bed and the porch light is reflected in the droplets of water on the grass. There seem to be points of brighter greenish light in the lawn. Curious, I switch off the porch light so the garden is in darkness. Near the edge of the lawn, by the hedge, I can still see five points of light.
Wow, glow-worms. I’ve never seen glow worms in my lawn before. In fact I’ve never seen glow-worms before. After slipping on a pair of Crocs, I go out for a closer look. I walk over to the nearest point of light. As I draw near it goes out.
‘Okay. I get the picture, you don’t want to be disturbed,’ I whisper.
Happy with the knowledge I have glow worms in my lawn, I respect their wishes and walk round to the front of the house to drink in the peace and quiet. There’s no wind: total silence. Standing on the end of my driveway, I stare at the darkened fields across from the house and the black shape of the trees beyond. In the east, there’s a soft orange glow from the nearby town. Lights flashing in the sky catch my eye. I can just make out a twin vapour trail, illuminated in the weak half-moon light, silently chasing an invisible jet which is only there is because of its flashing wing lights.
‘You poor bastards.’ I say at the jet. There’s clear picture in my mind of what it’s like up there: easy after my own experiences from many long-haul flights to Australia. I know what’s being played out up there.
Four-hundred souls voluntarily trapped in a thin fifty-metre aluminium tube, ten kilometres above the earth. People sleeping or trying to sleep, maybe even one dying: it happens. Some getting quietly drunk; other’s nursing hangovers. Young (and not so young) couples grope each other’s bodies under cover of a darkened cabin and airline-blankets. I’ve seen them – even had to sit next to them and pretend not to notice.
There are babies: some get fed; some cry; others sleep. Possibly, by highly ingenious sexual manipulations, babies are conceived. Nappies (or diapers if it’s an American flight) get changed and filled while small children run silently along the darkened carpeted aisles: eye-level ghosts, making dozing passengers jump.
Some of the cabin crew will be taking a break. Resting from the effort of pushing trolleys, heavy with food and booze, in the narrow aisles while dodging the kids or steadying the rocking vehicles during the spell of turbulence which always comes just as the meals are served. Some may get a chance to make out in some private part of the aircraft (and who can blame them: it’s a shitty job really).
Elsewhere in the aircraft books are being read or written. Computer games are being played; business is getting done or perhaps lost. Relationships getting started: affairs ending. People are peeing; defecating; washing; cleaning their teeth: putting on make up. Some are having fun, some are frightened. People are going home, folks are leaving. Maybe wars are being planned: or managed. The list is endless
At the front of the cabin, the privileged few: middle-class in business section on big expense accounts and those who can afford to pay to separate themselves from the hoi-polloi. In the nose: the super rich (or super lucky). All take advantage of the privileges that come from having the money to pay (theirs or somebody else’s).
The whole thing is guided on its way by the pilot and his flight-crew, each with upwards of one-hundred lives in a busy pair of hands. Everybody on board hopes they are infallible, like God and his Christ or Allah and his Mohammed. Even the devil is there hoping to bring everything crashing to the ground. Occasionally in the high profile form of a terrorist, but mostly as faceless incompetent and lazy maintenance staff or airline management maximizing profits at the expense of safety.
As the lights and their icy hanger-on pass overhead, I hear the faint roar of the four engines on the invisible aircraft, the volume exaggerated in the still summer air. A perfect sample of modern society (except smoking is banned)
A thought occurs to me: if aliens wanted to study the human race, they wouldn’t need to land on our planet. All they need to do is to slip into the stratosphere and cherry-pick a few long-haul airliners from around the globe. No energy consuming landing and taking off: very cost effective. As a bonus, they’d get an idea of our technology and our cultures from the on-board entertainment systems.
The aircraft gone, I’m alone in small hours silence below an empty sky. Just me, a few billion stars, a couple of planets and the moon. Feeling relaxed and sleepy, I return to the house. As I pass my five glowing neighbours, I whisper, ‘Goodnight boys and girls, keep it up.’ Back in bed, thankful to the glow worms for making my life a little richer, my last thought before falling into a deep sleep:
I wonder if it’s allowed to smoke on Flying Saucers.
Last edited by Keith exD
on Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:08 am, edited 3 times in total.