By Paul McAvoy
"It was an eventful day. I decided to skip school – not something I ever did I must add, as it’s not big and it’s not clever. But I was being bullied in class and needed time out. I should have spoken to someone about it, but it is not always that easy. Good thing I did, as I just happened along an alien and managed to save his life. I then decided to help him get home and keep him from the clutches of men in dark suits who wanted to catch him and run tests on him… Yes, an eventful day all round. And I had my first kiss! Not with the alien, you weirdoes… So... I met an Alien is a fun adventure book from the author of "So... I Met a Ghost," Paul McAvoy."
Read the first Chapter:
A make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of day
Once upon a time, I met an alien. There… I’ve said it. I feel such a relief now, like one of those people at one of those meetings for men and women who drink too much wine or whatever. Have you heard of them? They stand up and admit to everyone in the room their problem. Not that I know a lot about these meetings, I don’t even know much about alcohol, except it makes my dad snore. I can hear him even from my room sometimes – it’s like some kind of demented pig-like creature - and it makes him fart a lot the next day. Some of the older kids at school drink beer. I think they are just losers and they only do it to show off. I’ve no idea if it makes them snore, or fart, though.
When I left for my day of learning that fateful morning, I did not think I would actually stay off school and I certainly did not think I would meet an alien. Who in the world would? (This world, anyway). That’s right, no one! Except, perhaps, for some loony person who wears tin foil hats on their head, so that aliens cannot send messages straight to their brains? Not a regular sort of kid - one who likes sports and reading.
I began my day as I normally did. I got up to the sound of the alarm clock blasting in my ears. I had to call Kate on the way to the bathroom, who gave me her usual groan in reply. She is fourteen and a teenager. Enough said. I then headed to the bathroom to do what everyone does, before going downstairs to see Dad in the kitchen buttering toast.
Kate joined us soon after, smelling like sickly sweet roses but looking very much like a vampire with her face white and hair as black as coal. It was her image, and I am sure she looked very cool to some people. You may have gathered she was my big sister. She was okay really, as far as sisters go. She never bullied me – annoyed me a lot, but never picked on me really.
We used to get on well before she became a ‘teen.’ Overnight she changed, like some being had entered her body. She looked the same, she talked the same, but she wasn’t the same! We get on well, but she mostly just grunted at me and looked at me as though I had ‘Pratt’ written on my forehead.
Mornings in the Reid family (Reid – that’s our surname), were peaceful as none of us were very good first thing and just liked to eat, drink and be off. I think it was noisier when we were younger, especially when Mum was around…
There, I slipped the ‘Mum’ thing in quite causally there, didn’t I? But that is all I am going to say on the subject of Mum for now.
Dad worked from home, I don’t know what he did exactly. Something to do with computers, anyway. He asked Kate and me if we wanted a lift into school.
‘I’ll walk,’ I said. ‘Thanks anyway, but…’
I was going to continue by enthusing on at how it was such a nice June day with a hot sun and a perfect blue sky and it was too good to miss, but Kate piped up, ‘I’ll have a lift, Dad. Thanks.’
‘Sure,’ he nodded. ‘You two okay at school? Any problems? I know it has been hard, leaving London, and the rat race… But in the long run, you will see that life here is better.’
I wanted to say, Well, actually Dad, life isn’t really that good. I quite preferred London, rat race and all! And living here is okay, but I hardly know anyone, and most of those I do know pretty much hate me!
But Kate said, ‘Sure Dad, Danny and me are just fine! Aren’t we kid?’ She didn’t wait for an answer, she didn’t want one. Instead, she gave Dad a kiss on his forehead. ‘You are doing great, Dad.’
So, I kept quiet – I didn’t really want to ruin the moment. You see, Dad was doing great. Doing just great!
They set off in the Renault; I set off on foot. It was a nice day, and that was the only reason, then, that I did not want a lift off Dad. But as I neared school the reasons for entering the building and being there became less and less critical. Okay, we all need an education, but I could read and write, so wasn’t that enough?
They would be there. A little voice said, Why go, if you don’t want to go? But how could I not go? Unless I skived. The thought alarmed me. I had never bunked off before. If I did, where would I go? Would Kate not wonder where I was if she did not see me at school during the course of the day? Would the teachers not need to know where I was, get some kind of call from my father?
Dad once taught Kate and I a lesson, and that was: if you want something badly enough, you will not worry about the obstacles. Okay, I guess it is not exactly the same thing, but I had to justify what I was thinking of doing. Did I not want to go to school badly enough? Why was I wondering too much about the obstacles? I was just another kid, one of hundreds, and anyway, many days had gone by when I hadn’t see Kate at school.
Up ahead was a junction in the road. To turn right was the way that led to school, and left was the road that took a school kid to freedom. I walked slowly up. I thought of them and I thought of another day like yesterday. It was Wednesday, just like any other kind of day, the world was spinning on its axis, carrying on with its business. But I was deciding what to do and was about to make a choice that would change the way I looked at life forever.
Are our lives mapped out, or just a series of random events? It is strange when I think of what might have been if my parents had not met – where would that leave Kate and I? And what about whether Mum had not gone to that restaurant? Would we be here, in this town in Somerset? Hundred miles from London, but a million miles from what I knew?
I will decide what to do when I get to the junction, I thought. I slowed down as I neared, as though home, and sensibility were pulling me back. But when I got to the junction I knew where I would go. I had known as soon as the thought had entered my head. The thought of school tasted bitter in my mouth. I had a quick look around, saw no one and turned left.
Obviously! There would be no story if I had not…
But it is strange really - the people who I was trying to avoid had exactly same idea as me.
I crossed the road briskly and climbed over a dry stone wall to get out of sight. A small path lead through foliage and a slope led downwards towards a reservoir. I looked over at it as I neared. It was about four hundred kilometres long, and half that size wide. My legs were like jelly…
I was bunking off school!
There were some disused buildings nearby. The reservoir shimmered with the sunlight and looked very picturesque. There! What a sight… if I had gone to school I would not have had the good fortune to see such a wonderful sight, I thought, poetically. I approached the reservoir. I realised I didn’t having any plans. The idea of heading to school crossed my mind, of returning to the road, but I crushed it, deciding not to think of it again.
No, I had no idea what I was going to do, but that particular day was not actually for plans. It was simply a make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of day.
I once read in a paper that a lady had been sent to prison because her kid had bunked off school. He repeatedly skipped school and because he was her responsibility she had had to spend time behind bars. I felt that was so thoughtless at the time. What a jerk of a kid! But sometimes school is hard. Kids are mean. But I have to tell you now, in case you might be thinking of that woman too, that I did not intend to stay off school again. I was not going to become a habitual truant. I needed that day out, to think of things. And I also feel that destiny was calling to me as well.
I walked along the path to the reservoir, looking around nervously. I expected one of my teachers to pop up from nowhere, maybe leap from the ground like a vampire or something, but none did. It was very quiet that day. The reservoir was peaceful. The mass of water looked very friendly and inviting, just as it always looked on such days.
On the side of the reservoir where I was stood were most of the disused buildings, but on the other side were some small buildings that were usually locked and I think work men sometimes did things to the reservoir and used the buildings to store equipment.
I reached the reservoir finally and looked out at the grey mass. The water gently lapped and I could make out a few ducks further along to my right.
The reservoir was a kind of retreat for me. I came here quite a lot, usually when I needed space, when I was thinking of Mum mostly. Sometimes I came when I had had a bad day with them at school. I was not the sort of kid who liked to sit in front of some game's console all day long. I needed to be out, to breathe in fresh air, otherwise I would go nuts. I did have the latest Nintendo, and I did play on it, but it was okay in small doses. I did not like watching cartoons for a long time either. I sometimes came with my football.
Some days I played football with Sean but I was usually here alone, save for people walking their dogs, or couples kissing. When there were kids about, they mostly kept themselves within their own gangs and ignored me.
I gave the water a wide berth though. It was a killer, as people had drowned in the reservoir, both in the summer and in the winter. Mostly children, they had thought of a cooling down in the summer, or walking along the ice in the winter when it was frozen up. There were ‘No Swimming’ and ‘Danger - Deep Water!’ signs all over the place, and people mostly took heed of these warnings. I know I did. I was all right at swimming, but that reservoir could take the lives of the best swimmers. One of the teachers had told us this a few months before, not able to stress enough how no one should swim there, or even paddle.
Most people stayed clear of the water and skimmed stones across it, so much so that it was hard to find good ‘skimmers.’ Most of them been used. I was considering locating skimmers when I heard the splashing sound.
The sound came from my left and I looked over, thinking it was ducks squabbling. About twenty metres along the shore I saw the source of the splashing, in the water, probably about two meters out. My heart skipped a beat.
That could not be ducks squabbling! I thought. I acted instantly, and looking back I didn’t think I had anything like that kind of courage in me! Nor that I could think so quickly on my feet. I think it was when I saw the hand appear from the water, surrounded by bubbling water, that I knew.
Someone was drowning in the reservoir!
I saw a head, I heard a cry. I rushed over. Everything seemed to slow down, even though I know I was rushing as fast as I could to save the person who was drowning, if I could. I waded into the water, seeing the small body splashing. Up to just above my knees, I grabbed hold of the body. Must have slipped, I thought, lost his footing, that was why he was struggling in the shallow water. I grabbed the person and pulled him to the shore.
It all happened very fast, so quickly that I did not take in anything about the person I was saving. But when I got to the shore and we both led on our backs breathing heavily, I looked at him. He was a few inches shorter than I was. He was thinner than I was too. But the most startling aspect was that his skin was as green as the grass we were led on, his hair was silver and his eyes were orange…
‘Thanks,’ he said, breathing heavy.
‘Er…’ I said. ‘Okay.’