Here’s part three of my short story.
The Invasion – part three
Despite thinking she wouldn’t be able to sleep, Elayne’s exhaustion took over and she quickly fell into a deep, dreamless slumber, but the morning came all too quickly.
She woke suddenly and without knowing why. Getting out of bed, she glided noiselessly across the floor to the window so as not to wake her sleeping sister. As she stood by the window looking out over the valley, magical in the hazy summer morning mist, she heard a strange whirring noise. Selena, who had also woken, came and stood beside her. Silently the two girls watched as a big helicopter flew low over their house. They stood slightly to the side so as not to be seen from outside. The big machine paused for an instant, hovering over their lawn. From their vantage point Elayne and Selena glimpsed a man in dark clothes sitting in the helicopter, his face obscured inside the machine and beside him a strange looking blond woman with very distinguished features; a strong nose and chin and an expressive mouth. Both of them were carrying machine guns. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the helicopter was gone and the girls were left alone gazing out the window, the beauty of the summer morning wasted on them as the memory of the previous day’s events came flooding back.
Their parents were already up when the two girls went downstairs, and the family breakfasted together. It was another silent meal, the girls remaining quite about the early morning encounter. Just as they were about to clear the breakfast away, there was a knock on the door and their aunt Lena entered followed by the distinguished looking blond lady the girls had seen earlier that morning. Selena turned deathly pale and quickly excused herself and ran up the stairs. Lena introduced the blond woman as her old friend Marla who she had met while studying abroad. Marla approached Elayne who was trying her best to leave the room unnoticed, and began to chat to her; apparently her aunt had told her a lot about Elayne and Selena.
On leaving the kitchen and going upstairs, Elayne found Selena huddled on the bed shaking. Sitting down beside her, Elayne hugged her tightly and told her to be brave and that she would be back in a bit. Amid Selena’s protest Elayne slipped her jacket and boots on and crept down the stairs and out the side door into the forest. She headed at a sprint to Mat’s house, where his mum opened the back door to her urgent knocks. He appeared immediately and without a question he too donned his coat and boots and promising his mum to be back soon the two of them disappeared into the woods.
Elayne didn’t say a word until they were deep within the safety of the woods. Looking around them to make sure no one had followed the two friends slowed to a brisk walk, their jackets touching. Then it all came out; from the helicopter over the house, the strange blond lady and the dark clad man with their guns to Lena’s arrival with the blond woman Marla.
Mat listened without commenting and when she finally finished he simply said, “I need to show you something,” and with that he headed off further into the forest with Elayne in tow.
They jogged along for about twenty minutes before arriving at a clearing of beech trees and pines, in the distance they could see the sparkle of water from a small lake where they often came to picnic and fish in the summer. Mat led her slightly away from the lake and up a steep rocky path covered in moss and lichen, still slippery from the early morning dew, and further along through brushwood until he finally stopped in front of a ledge with a steep incline which was completely overgrown.
“What is this place,” inquired Elayne looking around her slightly bemused.
Without responding, Mat checked no one was around, nodding to himself he pulled aside the undergrowth and led her on hands and knees into a small damp, dark cave. Completely blinded after the bright sunlight outside it took their eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness, once they could see Elayne looked around. Covered with fine sand the cave wasn’t very big, and it was so low that they both had to stoop half bent over in order to stand up. Telling her to sit down near the entrance Mat went further into the cave, returning a few minutes later with a black box which he laid on the ground near Elayne before lowering himself beside her.
“This,” he said opening the box “is something my father gave to me before he died.”
Mat’s father had died a few years ago, a loss that the whole family had still not come to terms with. Mat had idolized his father and after his death he had suddenly found himself the head of the family with the responsibility of supporting his mother who had literally fallen apart after the accident. It didn’t help that his father’s body was never recovered along with the other mine workers’ after the explosion where they worked. They had had nothing to bury, no way of getting complete closure and it took Mat two years before he stopped hoping every knock at the front door was his father returning home. For Mat’s mother, it was many a month before she was able to go about her daily chores again, but even then she never completely returned to her former cheerful self.
As the sun glinted through the foliage in front of the cave mouth it caught the content of the box which Mat had just opened. For a moment they were both dazzled by the glare.
“Is that what I think it is?” asked Elayne, shrinking back toward the cave wall.
“It’s ok, it’s not loaded,” replied Mat taking a gleaming gun out of the box. “My father gave me this before he died, he took me aside one evening and gave me this box with the gun and explosives, he said if something ever happened to him I would be the man of the house and that I’d have to look after my mother and sister. A few weeks later he died. It was almost as if he knew something would happen. He told me to put it somewhere safe in case we ever needed it, so I brought it here and it’s been hidden here ever since.”
Elayne didn’t know what to say. She’d never seen a real gun before, never mind fired one, the whole idea terrified her. “What are you planning on doing with it?” she asked, then stopped, “what’s that?” she said reaching to pick up something that had fallen out of the box when Mat took the gun out, “it looks like a note.” She gave it to Mat who opened the folded paper, slightly faded with age and read it out loud.
“If they catch me and take me away, don’t come looking for me, Uncle Tom, he’ll explain everything.” They looked at each other, their puzzled faced reflected each other. Mat read it again, “Why have I never seen this before?” he asked, not really expecting an answer. “It doesn’t make any sense, dad’s been dead three years,” he muttered as he fingered the note before putting it in his pocket, closing the box and standing up.
After safely stowing the gun away again, the two friends sat on a rock outside the cave for a while in the sunshine talking, Mat repeatedly re reading the note and shaking his head. Mat’s mum, like Elayne’s, seemed to think it was another invasion but neither of them had said much, so the two young people didn’t have much to work with apart from the bits and pieces of information they had gleaned over the years. But why now and what should they do?
To be continued …