Every Sparrow – Chapter Six
Note: I’ve been writing this mostly because I have a few friends and family who want to know “what happens next”. I have been writing it because Terry Pratchett says the best way to become a better writer is to write 300 words a day.
I didn’t write on Sunday because I was writing 300 words on Cyber Safety and Online citizenship for the iPad presentation our school gave on Monday. We handed out 120 iPads to the Year 9 students as part of the Government’s 1-1 program. I talked to them about respect, and making sure they ensured their own privacy and that of others.
I didn’t write yesterday because I was writing up detention forms, suspension notices and emails to parents (easily 300 words) after a number of students were involved in a massive Facebook page that targeted teachers and students at the school. So apparently, the 300 words from Sunday were completely wasted.
But I’m back now. Here’s Chapter Six:
His teeth stopped vibrating first. He shook his head like a wet dog. He stretched his jaws. They were absolutely buzz-free. His skin lost that crawling-with-ants feeling shortly afterwards. Chuck stopped walking. He dropped his bag. He did a little victory dance. And then he saw the min-min light.
‘Holy Bob!’ he yelped, stepping into his backpack straps and falling onto his rear. The min-min light hovered at head height, waving serenely back and forth. It was a pale blue, and pulsed with a gentle glow that was almost invisible in the bright sunlight. Chuck fixed his eyes on the light while he scrabbled in his pack for the tablet.
‘Scout to ship, come in. Caitlin, talk to me!’
‘Whaff, oo ooann? Iff dinna ‘ime,’ was the cryptic response. Chuck, who had known Caitlin through training school and four years of an interstellar voyage, was quick to translate.
‘I don’t care about your food. Scan my area. Can you see anything?’ There was no response from the other side, except for the faintly nauseating sound of loud chewing. Eventually, Cait replied.
‘What do you mean? No. Hang on. Yes. But it’s just the energy signatures you had around you from the start. Why?’
‘I have a min-min floating in front of me,’ said Chuck.
‘Um,’ said Cait.
‘A little ball of light. Sort of. . . hovering. I think it’s watching me.’ And indeed, the light did seem to be focused on him. He swished a hand at it, and the light retreated slightly before returning to the same spot. He moved his head. The min-min revolved slightly to follow his movement.
‘What did you call it?’
‘A min-min. My grandmother used to talk about them. They helped travellers lost in the bush, back when there was bush.’ Chuck looked around. Trees and shrubs were taking over the city, squeezing up through the man-made paths and roads and taking back the land that once belonged to it. ‘I guess, the bush is back, the min-min followed. Oh!’ he said, standing up carefully. ‘Make that min-mins. There’s another one. And a third!’ In a loose formation around the light blue min-min, two more glowing balls had materialised. One was a violet swirl. The third of the trio was a faded yellow blob. None of them were overly bright in the sunlight. Chuck assumed that they might be more visible at nighttime.
‘Ah, Chuck?’ said Cait.
‘Are you OK?’
Chuck bent down to pick up his backpack. He kept a wary eye on the trio of glowing shapes. ‘I think so,’ he said. ‘At the moment, they’re just hovering. No, wait. What are they- AAAARGH!’
‘Heh. No, I’m fine. They’re just floating there.’
‘Yeah, sorry.’ Chuck raised his tablet and ran a simple image scan. He sent it off to the ship with a flick of his finger. ‘That’s them. Hang on, they’re moving.’ Apparently taking their picture let the energy beings know that he was watching them. They moved away from him, slowly but with purpose. A short way away, they stopped. They bobbed a little closer, then away again. Chuck laughed.
‘That is fantastic!’ he said. ‘Hey, you know those kids’ shows that have the smart animal who runs to get help when the hero falls down the well?’
‘I think I just landed in an episode of Gordo the Wonder-blob.’ Chuck started off after the shapes, and they in turn, noticing that he was indeed following, set off at a leisurely pace towards the cube-shaped building. ‘Keep scanning, Cait. I need to know if they’re about to do something.’
‘Shall do. Keep an eye out.’