The Homecoming

Written by Danielle E. Pasqua

Copyright © July 10, 2018

 

 

Somehow, I tried my best to avoid the glare of the sun as I sat on the bleachers and watched my teammates run across the field.  I held a football in my hand, squeezed it tight enough so that the bare bones of my fingers had hurt, a stress relief that I had earned that summer out of frustration. My ambition was to find out more about my native planet.

On the field I could see my friends Xavier and Ian playing.  But they both stopped and took a break to join me.  They were concerned for me, since the three of us had been linked together ever since we discovered “The Rock” in my backyard.  We were inseparable for eternity, that I had believed.

“Noah, maybe the three of us should just practice,” Xavier suggested, sat beside me on my right.  When he took his helmet off, sweat dripped off his forehead and so he washed his face off with a wet towel.

“You know I can’t hold onto that ball,” I moaned as I threw the football to the ground,” I’m not human as you know.”

“But Noah you have to try again,” Ian advised, sat on my left, placed his helmet to the side and drank the ice water from his thermos.

“Alright,” I said as I gave in. My friends helped me out, since my gloves started to rip to shreds because my hands had grown longer, turned green and tough.  This sudden change left me helpless and isolated from our team.

Xavier suggested to practice in the new proposed field for our school. That was where the crater had been, one that my family’s company High Tech Star Gateway Machinery had designed.  It was also where time capsules had once been kept such as “The Drawing” a blueprint of our escape vehicle given to my sister Lacey by some sinister enemy that wanted to destroy our well-being on earth.

The crater was no longer a rising hill of dirt.  Instead it was flat, ready for the yard markings to be painted, on the lush green grass of its’ smooth landscape.  The coach said we could use it for training, but since the bleachers were not built yet, no football games could be played there.  The old field was eventually going to be a building connected to the school that provided STEM research.

“Ready, Noah,” Xavier punt the ball in my direction.  I was hoping to catch it, but my inhuman hands wouldn’t give in, the reptile creature I was, only intelligent and mindful of my decisions.  I sat down on the field ready to sob.

“Maybe you should ask your parents what to do,” Ian suggested.  He had been behind me and caught the ball.

“I don’t even where they- “I said as I forced myself up and then removed my helmet.

“Look, in the air,” Ian shouted at a group of colorful objects above our heads,” They look like fallen stars.  I bet we’re being attacked by aliens.”

“No, they’re hot air balloons,” Xavier corrected.

But the odd thing was I didn’t hear the other students’ excitement about the phenomena in the sky.  Then again, they were in another field, probably too busy playing, or to include me in practice. And this aerial view was likely my story after all.

The hot air balloons flew over the school, only to all stop in mid-air, as if they were being blocked by some imaginary wall.  Then one of the balloons, the largest of the others had landed in front of us.  The basket was covered by the envelope, which made me weary of any survivors.  But inside the overlay was a shadow, the shape of a lizard, that had moved.  I smiled because I knew who it was.

“Dad, what are you doing?” I asked.  My friends stood beside me.

“Preparing for the fall excursion,” my father answered as he untangled himself from the airless balloon and then said,” Listen I need you boys to come with me on “The Ride.”

“How can we all fit in there?” Ian asked.

But my father removed the balloon like an unfurling flag.  Then his triangular asteroid ship was revealed.

I was astounded by this conversion and couldn’t figure out how it happened so quickly.

Before I could ask my father “How” he pointed his hands to the sky, where the smaller hot air balloons waited.  He then moved both his hands down as the hot air balloons evolved into the pronounced EXIT aircraft or EXpress Interstellar Traveling Ships, where inside were robots controlled by operators at HTSGWM.

“Now that I have given you magic.  Hop in.  I must lead you to our prized possession,” my father opened the hatch to the ship.  When we stepped inside and looked in the mirrors, our football uniforms were gone.  We were now astronauts.  But whatever the “prized possession” was I was dying to find out and I believed so were my friends.

 

 

The hot air balloon, transformed spaceship that my father had piloted, now hovered above the field, at the end where “The EXIT” ships stood behind.  Then in front of us a vortex of air had twisted around like a whirlpool of constant energy.  My father broke through this intense gravity.  (It reminded me how he had done that at “The Bridge,” when he cracked through a wall of ice so that my friends and I could get back home.)  We then ended up in the air tunnel, as” The EXIT” ships swarmed behind us.

While my father circled the familiar vast land that lied suddenly below us, I remembered the previous fall when my friends and I took this magical ride on a hot air balloon.  My mother had called it “The Ride,” but its mystery had remained with me since that time.  I mentioned this to my father, who explained, “The balloon festival was a cover up for our work.  A distraction, much like our company “The Dealer.” Remember Noah, I didn’t sell real cars, only those advanced beyond a human’s comprehension.”

Then my father landed the ship on a X-shaped field, where the grass was cut out to the exact precisions.  “The EXIT” ships had landed on smaller X-shapes.  Some EXIT ships were ordered not to land.   While other beings stood outside the ships in the air above.

“How can those creatures fly?” Ian asked my father as he turned the engine off the ship.

“Those creatures belong to ’The Officials,’” my father explained,” We took them, morphed them into intelligent beings. The residue you see beneath their feet is the electricity left inside of them.  They have motors that allow them to do so.”

But outside there were two different crowds of people.  My father led us to a field where smoke was rising from a circular formation of burnt grass.  Robots, lizards and humanoids were there checking out its’ mystery.

“This is where ‘The Official’ left early this summer,” my father explained,” The radiation is so hot that the meter breaks in the detectors.”

“If they’re all broken, then what do you do?” Ian asked.

“We have plenty.  They are designed at the island where ‘The Heirlooms’ are made,” my father explained and then added,” We are figuring out ways to stop ‘The Official’ for good. Put his power up for an indefinite challenge. That way he won’t put the earth in danger.”

On the opposite side of the field was a larger group of beings.  I could make out a dark and shiny structure.  My father led my friends and I through a crowd. My mother and my sister Lacey were standing next to my family’s “prized possession.”  I recognized this starship.  The long-term project.  My mother had designed it.  How in the front was an enormous triangle with tinted windows.  Then in the back were cylinder shaped structures that led to two smaller triangles, where I believed the exhaust lied or if it didn’t need exhaust at all.

“Noah, we are going back to our planet,” my father announced.

“For good?’ I asked.

“No, to test it for now,” my father answered,” Other long-term projects are being built.  That is for those living secretly here on earth.”

Well, good luck Noah,” Xavier said to me and Ian repeated his words.

“No, you both are coming with us,” my father assured my friends,” I received permission from your parents.  They know the bond you have with my son. I expect you will always keep it.”

Xavier and Ian jumped for joy.

“Alright kids let’s go,” my father opened the hatch to the ship, letting my mother and Lacey in first, then my friends, and then me.  He waved goodbye to the robots, lizards and humanoids as the ground next to us opened and my father’s asteroid ship was leveled underground, until we returned to earth.

The long-term project was modern, compared to the asteroid ship, which was small and designed for a few passengers.  But my family’s prized possession was narrow in the front where my parents sat, then gradually widened, with my sister and my friends’ seats, to the luggage compartment in the back.  When all the controls had been turned on by my parents and the engine had started, my father placed a rather large heirloom, in a socket next to the pilot’s seat. I asked,” Why is that bigger?”

“The ship is the biggest we’ve built so far,” my father answered as he moved the ship to the launching pad,” ‘The Heirloom’ is designed to keep up with the size of the ship.”

“Then what did you do with the old ones?” Xavier asked.

“Recycled them,” my father answered as he positioned the ship for take-off.

My mother had turned around and then handed my sister and my friends each a shiny silver box.  I thought it was candy for our adventure, but when I opened it I realized it was something so ancient yet manufactured so uniquely to today’s standards.  My friends had to agree.

“In space, a compass?” Ian asked.

“This is bigger than the one we took on ‘The Trip’ to the island,” Xavier moved the compass around, as if he was drawing some invisible picture.  Maybe a ship like my mother had, the vessel we were on board today.

“It’s not just a normal compass,” my mother explained demonstrating its’ features, while the four of us looked over, though strapped in tight,” It will record our journey.  That way you won’t forget the part of space we have been to.”

Then my father communicated on the ship’s computers with the HTSGWM team.  They signaled him that he was safe to take off.  It amazed me that no words were spoken.  Artificial intelligence had started to creep its’ way on earth.

Then the ship lifted off without a sound of thrusters or burning fuel, only steam from the back two triangles.  I watched the view in the compass as our long-term project took us across the East coast, to the “Sound” where at one point I thought I lived.  Right beyond the “Sound” was my true residency, but west of that point the compass moved to “The Heirloom” island, a factory my planet nation had on earth, only to be discovered by “The Official.”

We then entered a porthole, the top point of the triangle.  The world behind us was dark, but in the front was the unknown infinite universe.  I was never more excited than ever.  The fear of not catching a football was behind be.  The stars were where I belonged.

 

 

As I absorbed both what the compass and windows of the ship had given me of the earth’s solar system, I knew I had had to ask my father where our home planet was located.  He slowed the ship down, seen the eager looks on my friends’ faces from the rear view mirror, as they witnessed space like no one else, in exception of the present-day astronauts aboard the ISS and those that landed on the moon decades before.

“It’s in the Andromeda galaxy,” my father answered as he zoomed in to show us a picture of the celestial mass of stars.  It then rotated around on our compass.  He then said,” Just like the earth is located on the Orion arm, our planet is also on the edge of our galaxy.  There are many earth’s out there.”

I thought to myself, as I had done last winter, watched my father communicate with a being in our basement. That “The Globe” is more common that I thought.

“Our planet is similar, yet different then earth,” my father read my mind.  Then he said,” We are entering interstellar space.  Hold on because I am going to boost the craft’s energy.”

Within seconds the ship flew with the speed of light, as worlds both orbiting stars and those rogue, disappeared in a blink of an eye.  We had now left the Milky Way, in the direction of the Andromeda galaxy.  But just as we reached the beginning of my home galaxy, there was a fleet of circular ships waiting there.

“What is that?” Ian asked.

“’It must be ‘The Official’ and his people,” my fathered answered reaching for some controls,” I’m going to dim the lights on the outside of the ship.”

“Are they going to try and shoot us?’ Xavier asked.

“No, they want us alive,” my father answered,” Since we were the first to escape.”

But while my friends questioned this potential danger, my eyes were on “The Heirloom.”  I saw my reflection again in “The Heirloom” and was worried it would pop out like it did on our journey to space on “The Tour.”  But I felt myself slowly turning inhuman and a reptile being that I had been born into. “The Heirloom” began to rotate around and so did my heart.  My father shouted as he swerved the ship to avoid confrontation with the first enemy ship and warned,” The ‘Official’ knows that Noah is on this ship. They probably have a mechanism that can track ‘The Heirloom’s’ power.”

“Why am I turning into a reptile?’ I asked unbuckling myself from discomfort.  I crawled across the ship’s floor to the cockpit where my parents were.  They too had evolved into our true selves and I wondered if my friends were scared.  Lacey was no longer a teenage girl, but rather a creature who would reside in a swamp.

“Mother why is this happening to us?” I asked.

“Noah, return to your seat.  Put your seat belt back on,” my mother ordered, “Our people are in trouble.  That is why your human disguise is gone.”

“Dad, what are we going to do now?” Lacey asked,” I think we’re trapped.”

“No, were not,” my father disagreed as he opened a control panel located on the floor beneath his seat,” Time for some magic.  As you know I can disguise my cars on earth.  Now I can do it in space with this ship.”

There was a slight movement in the spacecraft, as some of the walls had folded in, bringing the ship closer together.  Then the windows turned dark except for the front where my parents managed the controls.  My father told us to look through the cameras.  The back two triangles were gone.  I asked,” Where are they?”

“They are folded beneath us,” my father answered,” It will unfold as soon as we land on our planet.”

“I figured that much,” I answered.

But my father flew through the obstacle course that “The Official’s” fleet had created.  They managed to breakaway because they couldn’t capture the long-term project and had no knowledge of its’ modification.  When we entered our galaxy, my father said,” I’m going to reboot ‘The Heirloom.’  That way it will reposition itself and take us directly home.”

The Andromeda galaxy was bigger than I had imagined, but my father said we would reach our planet soon.  I asked my father,” What’s the name of our planet?”

“It had many names, though ‘The Official’ likes to control it,” my father answered, but then said,” Noah we are leaving the name of the planet in your hands.  That’s after when you are trained to be ‘The Dealer.’”

If I could’ve named my planet it would be “earth.”  Because just like those photos from space of the earth, a blue sphere with white smoky clouds, my native planet was a mere reflection of it.  But my father told me it was larger than the earth. I also knew from my mother this past summer on her boat ride for “The Trip” our planet had many moons and covered by a greater amount of seas than earth. Our sun was the same size of the earth’s star, powerful enough to had nurtured a planet full of life.  I cried out loud as I thought back to the time on the beach at “The Heirloom” island being attacked by “The Official” when I said,” A nation in the stars I may never get to see.”

There was an area on the south end of the planet that was greener than most.  My father had said there were a lot of swamps in that location.  It was a continent where our family had originated from, before we migrated elsewhere on the planet.

“Where did we end up?” I asked.

“What you are looking at now is ‘The Official’s’ side. Beautiful and vibrant,” my father explained bitterly hiding the ship besides one of the planet’s smaller moons,” But where we are headed now is damaged with craters.  In exception of the metro.  Our nation was once like ‘The Official’s’ side.”

My father maneuvered the ship around the moon discreetly to avoid “The Official’s” from hunting down the long-term project’s tracks.  He swiveled through the rest of the moons’ orbits until he came to our side of the planet, that was heavily cratered.  My friends had mentioned, and I had to agree that it looked much like the earth’s moon. It made me wonder how it could be habitable, but maybe my people were more courageous and determined than I thought.

Once we entered the atmosphere of our planet, the metro area lied ahead.  The skyscrapers lied above the clouds, silver streaks of light that guided our ship to the runway.  But alongside of us were drones, that waited for us, as my father reached under his seat to unfold the ship to its’ normal size and release the landing gear.  The long-term project began to gradually descend to the ground, as the buildings around us created a massive fence, that blocked any being that was not invited to the capital of my nation.

“Where are you taking us?’ Xavier asked.

“To the defense center of our world,” my father answered,” Since ‘The Official’ knows we are here, we must be prepared.”

“We’re going to war?” I asked as I braced myself in my seat.

“This is your homecoming, Noah,” my father announced as he stopped the ship, ordered us of, and said to me, “If you want to succeed in the game, you must make as many catches as possible.  Time to defeat “The Official.”

 

 

In a domed-shaped building that lied in a massive crater gave an aerial view of the sky, there were several personnel, robots, lizards, and humanoids operating computers. These beings oversaw the drones that guarded any entering ships.  They also managed enormous robotic arms that rose from the craters like monsters located deep in the planet.  This gave my native planet the ability to capture fallen and deadly asteroids.  My father introduced us all.

Then we were all given seats and instructions on how to work the gears.  We were told once the robotic arms wrapped around the escape asteroids, it would squeeze the asteroids like a tin can and empty it into a recycling bin used for parts.  But if the asteroid was large enough it would go into a separate hole, where it be constructed into a transport.  It amazed how an object used for war, could be turned into something positive. I believed that my nation intended to make “The Official” mad and succeed in the end.

Practice was the one thing I had to learn with catching asteroids.  But luckily when I missed, either the beings on my native planet caught it or my fellow crew mates.  Just when I was about to give up, an asteroid shaped like a football tumbled slowly down, just like it did on tv with a replay for a professional team.  But I was willing to catch it.  I wanted to prove that I could win this game.

The palm of the hand that I had controlled, angled to the right and the asteroid fell right in.  I was able to hold it in tight in the robotic arm, not crushing it, but enough to keep this object intact to use for further study.  But the commander ordered me to put in the recycling bin since it was too small to be made into a transport. Once I released the football shaped object in the recycling bin, there were cheers because “The Official” and his people had run out of asteroids.

“You know ‘The Official’ will gather more,” my mother’s fear was obvious.

“Where do they get them?” Ian asked.

“Other star systems,” my mother answered as she looked above,” The ones in our skies are not there.  They have been cratered on our grounds for decades.”

“It could’ve been worse, but we’ve strengthened our gravity,” my father explained, “That way we can catch the asteroids in time.”

“So that’s what ‘The Globe’ was for.  A test ground,” I commented.

“Yes,” my father agreed and then added,” Using these arms was invented a while back.  Before the long-term project.  First, we had to defend, before we could escape.  It’s better than to

run from problems and let it escalate.  We must spread our invention, so we can travel to worlds that might not be civilized enough to defend themselves.”

Since the chaos in the skies above were over, my sister, and my friends longed to explore my planet.  A world that we had never been today and place that was after all home to me.  But my parents told us to remember the long-term project was a test run to see the ship’s survival in space.  That we had to go back to earth because we were still in school.

I wondered what my life was going to be like when I returned to the playing field.

 

 

Weeks later the earth’s the air was a little cooler and there were crowds of people on the new football field.  The bleachers had been built and the yard fields goals had been painted.  I was sitting on the side line with my friends, in fear of my hands not being able to catch the ball.

“Noah, you’re, up,” my coach called.

“Believe in yourself,” my father called from behind me,” You can catch the ball.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“That day at practice.  I saw you from my hot air balloon,” my father answered,” but now that our nation is at peace, you will have the strength of a human at play.”

So I stepped out on the field, with Xavier on my right and Ian on my left.  The coin was toss, with tails winning.  I heard the referee’s whistle, as the opposing team punted the ball.  The ball had traveled so high, but I kept my eye on it, as I had done with so many things in the last year and a half.  But right now, I couldn’t think about the “Unfolded Truths” of my family.  I had to think about catching that football and so I did.  I ran, crossed the end zone and made a touchdown for my team.

Hot air balloons flew over the field.  But they weren’t aliens.  They were humans enjoying the air of this glorious day.  They cheered for us, but none of them showed a favorite team.

But I had an idea.

I still had the football in my hand.

Then I threw the football high in the air.

Someone in a hot air balloon caught it.

A kid about my age.

Maybe it was my reflection.

It then slipped out of his hands.

I caught it as I landed on the dirt.

I achieved some big obstacles.

Going home to my planet.

Catching asteroids.

Now footballs.

If only I can do more.

One day I will.

I will name my planet.

My ambition was almost completed.