Welcome to my very first blog, below I’ve added the beginning chapter of my soft science fiction novel SYMAN, being able to read is a privilege we should never take for granted, it gives us the ability to escape from our world and enter another, entertaining and broadening our imaginations. So please feel free to comment on my attempt on escapism.
Where do I begin my unique story? Well now, I guess a good a place as any is at the very beginning, when I saw him or should I say his vessel for the very first time.
As I recollect it was sometime in the third week of July 1999, on a beautiful crisp and cool night, while standing on the balcony of my small and meager appointed home in Tasmania, which faced the banks of the beautiful Tamar River. The location offered generous panoramas of the Batman Bridge and surrounding river frontage. It was roughly around 9 o’clock in the evening and I recollect there was a moonless sky above me.
The night air was so clear and so clean with zero pollution, as the westerly winds predominately blow from one side of the island to the other. They begin from as far away as the Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometers away, rounding Cape Town at the bottom of Africa. Another benefit of living in a rural area was having the advantage of no street lights interfering with the view from above, giving me 100 per cent visibility.
One of the many passions of mine has and always will be, staring at the stars on a crystal-clear night. Why even as a young boy I would drag out my sleeping bag and lie out on the back lawn while gazing skyward for hours at a time, mesmerized by the amazing vista above me. I would lay there and think of the possibilities of distant Worlds, trying to imagine what they would look like. Is there any type of plant life on those Worlds? And, who or what type of beings live on them? Also, on that odd occasion when I was lucky enough, I’d catch a glimpse of an asteroid’s last moments, watching it fall towards Earth in a white-hot death roll.
Why? even being a new father hadn’t dampened my interest in star-gazing, generally most evenings that’s where you’ll find me, especially after a hard day’s work. I’d star gaze while having a coffee and a roll-your-own cigarette on my balcony, mainly so I don’t smoke inside the house for young Timothy’s benefit. Relaxing and unwinding watching for asteroids, orbiting satellites and space junk to drift by.
I gave my glasses a good clean on the corner of my flannelette shirt, so I could see more clearly. There was nothing worse than gazing through dirty spectacles at the fine details above. It never ceased to amaze me just how much crap was floating around up there, including parts of old multistaged rockets and old satellites no longer in use.
Suddenly my eyes were drawn to a particularly bright object, a satellite moving rapidly from East to West. Wow! Isn’t that amazing! I thought. I could even see its anti-clockwise rotation. Once again I thought, how clear the air was here.
What I saw next defied everything you ever heard from governmental authorities, especially in regard to UFOs. ‘Officially they don’t exist’. However, I was following the path of the satellite when a vessel swerved out of its way. In doing so, the reflection from the sun hit what I thought was the underside of its hull, exposing all of its texture and details, especially its overall size. It was huge, bloody huge in fact.
Guessing by the size of the satellite it missed, it was roughly the size of a large family home, of course that’s only the one side I was able to see. God knows how tall it was. Although, the texture of the side facing me was pitted and rough like an orange skin. In some strange way it appeared to be almost organic. Only when the vessel changed its course did it come into view, which made me assume it has some type of stealth capability, because once it had dodged the oncoming satellite, it vanished from my sight.
So, there I was, alone and standing on my balcony with 101 questions running through my mind. I started imagining all types of creatures which may inhabit this vessel, or perhaps it was a fully automated probe of some kind? But as I said before, it was a crisp, cool night and I was freezing my ass off out there, it was now time for me to get back inside next to the fire and warm up.
After rinsing my coffee mug in the kitchen sink, I sat down in my favorite lounge chair, right next to the blazing fire, the warmth coming from it was both calming and comfortable.
My wife Stella was staring at me rather strangely. “What’s wrong Jim? Looks like you’ve just seen a ghost,” she said, after turning around from viewing the TV.
“Maybe I have,” I replied, still deep in thought.
“What did you see out there?” she continued to ask.
“You won’t believe me if I told you,” I said, leaning forward to rest my elbows on my knees and cupped my hands together.
“Ok, try me,” she replied, scrutinizing me with greater interest.
“Well, I was watching a satellite pass overhead, when suddenly a vessel or ship swerved abruptly out of its way, reflecting the sun underneath on its hull, making it clearly visible and Stella, it was big. Damn big!”
She was wearing the glare of a non-believer on her face and by the changing expression on her face, I could clearly tell what she was thinking, something like, what the hell have you been smoking out there? I know Stella well, very well in fact and can tell if I kept on with this line of conversation she’d be searching in the phone book for the nearest available shrink and arrange an appointment.
I decided it was a good tact to change the subject. “How’s Timothy? Is he finally asleep?” I asked sheepishly.
“Yes, he drifted off pretty quickly tonight. Speaking of which, I’m pretty tired as well. Goodnight Jim, I’m off to bed. Are you coming?” asked Stella, getting out of her chair.
“Yeah, I suppose so, it is kind of late,” I said, glad the awkward moment had passed.
It wasn’t long before the events of that night were well and truly forgotten, as the daily grind of family and work overtook any remaining thoughts I may have had in regard to my sighting.
One year, two years and then three years went by somewhat quickly. Oh well! Just like the saying goes, “Time waits for no one.”
In January 2002, my health undertook a turn for the worse. My doctor put it down to overworking. I was a certified mechanic contracted to two of the largest car yards in Launceston, I also picked up some local work from around home, every now and then. This resulted in me usually spending six to seven days a week under the bonnet of a car.
“An unknown illness,” said the doctor as he began explaining, he said, “I had simply worn myself out, allowing the unknown virus to takeover.”
The doc was unsure what type of medical condition I was suffering from, but I started to experience widespread body pain with horrendous fatigue. Beginning with the doc’s expert advice, I was to cut back on my workload immediately. So naturally the first work to suffer was my weekend clientele, much to my customer’s disappointment. I was only charging them $15.00 an hour, mainly because it was cash-in-hand work. No point in giving the taxman all your hard earnings, is there? This had the desirable result in making life a little bit easier for a while, however, it only prolonged the end of my working career just one more year till March 2003.
At this time, I was left with just the one company to work for. Even this was becoming extremely hard to manage due to my symptoms increasing in severity. I struggled to maintain the three days of work they expected from me.
Totally frustrated and exhausted, I returned to the doctor again for some much-needed help. Much to my surprise and dismay, the doctor suggested I move to a warmer climate to help alleviate my symptoms.
“Where?” I asked, squirming in my seat and starting to dread his response.
The doctor stared me squarely in the eyes and said, “North of the Tropic of Capricorn.”
“Are your serious?” I replied, displaying a shocked appearance upon my face.
“Very serious,” said a completely calm Dr Phillips. “If you base your search on somewhere between Mackay and Cairns, you’ll be in a far better climate to achieving a reasonable return to health.”
“What do you mean ‘reasonable’? What, no chance of a full recovery?” I asked, quite shocked at the news.
“You’ve run yourself into the ground Jim, I’d say you came very close to a complete physical breakdown. Try not to worry though. Once you’ve relocated, you’ll start to feel the benefits straight away,” said Dr Phillips in the usual doctor-patient banter he uses with all his patients.
“Once I get up there, how long before I can expect to see some kind of return to good health?” I asked. I was definitely having trouble coming to terms with my new dilemma and hoping the doctor’s answer was a simple one.
“Six months to a year,” the doctor responded as he wrote out another script for yet more pain-killers.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather after that.
After thanking and shaking hands with him, I paid the fee for my visit at the front reception desk on my way out. Then I began to think, Now all I have to do is give Stella and Timothy the bad news somehow.
The next morning at the breakfast table, after a very disturbed night of sleep, tossing and turning, I began to think of how best to inform Stella and Timothy of what the doc had suggested. Finally, we were seated and beginning to eat our breakfast when it just happened, I’d decided to break the news. I know I was still half-asleep and disoriented from the lack of sleep and I remember my choice of words were a little bit off that morning. If I had another chance to do it all over again, I’m sure I would’ve put a great deal more effort and thought into it. I really didn’t know what I was thinking, but my exact statement didn’t go down to well.
“We need to move to Cairns,” the words just fell out of my mouth. Before I had a chance to correct myself and begin to explain my reasons why? Timothy began crying and Stella just sat there with a stunned expression upon her face. Realizing my error, I quickly changed the subject by glancing at my watch and saying. “Damn I’m late for work,” I haphazardly blurted out.
I quickly grabbed my work bag and made a hasty exit towards the back door, while wishing them both to have a good day. I must say, it wasn’t one of my most memorable exits as I recalled driving into Launceston.
Later that evening, I drove home and parked the car after returning home. I was dreading the frosty reception I’d receive from Stella. Grabbing my work bag off the passenger seat, I headed for the back door, taking a few slow, deep breaths, I gathered my courage and entered.
“Hello Dad, how was work?” asked Timothy, lifting his gaze up from the computer in our make shift office in the spare room.
“Really well, thanks Tim, how was school today?” I asked in return. He noticed me glancing around everywhere.
“Good thanks Dad, Mom’s in the kitchen if you’re looking for her,” he said, turning back to the computer screen to continue his homework.
“Thanks Tim,” I placed my work bag in the hall and made my way through to the kitchen.
“Hello kiddo,” I said, peering around the side of the doorway.
“Oh! Hello Jim, dinner is almost ready, go and wash up, by the time you’re finished it’ll be on the table,” she said, sounding warm and welcoming in a positive way.
Well, that went better than I thought it would, I thought, while washing my hands in the bathroom sink.
Over dinner, we talked at great length about where we might base our search for properties, Stella even suggested we all sit in front of the computer after we’ve eaten and start house hunting online. “You know, to see what types of houses are available up North,” she said, rather excitedly.
A few weeks later, we’d both decided to settle in a town west of Cairns called Mareeba. After checking the weather details online, we discovered Mareeba has an average annual temperature of 16 to 32 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 65 per cent.
“Perfect,” we both said. No sooner was our house put on the market, in hardly no time at all it was sold to a young couple from Brisbane wanting to live in a cooler climate.
Once we had organized the removal company, Stella and I settled on the final leaving date and held a large party to say farewell to all our family and friends. With the station wagon packed and filled to the brim, and our ferry tickets booked to take us from Devonport across Bass Strait to the Victorian City of Melbourne, aboard the Spirit of Tasmania, we set off on the long road trip ahead.
From Melbourne, we started the 2,992 kilometer journey North. As we were in no rush to get there, Stella and I decided to show Timothy some of the sights on the way up.
Twelve days later we arrived in Mareeba. Our first lodgings were at the local caravan park, where we stayed for a total of two weeks, until we found ‘Casa De Wilson’, an old Queenslander styled home-built in 1943. She was the perfect fixer upper, a renovator’s delight.
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