Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unexpected Encounter - first chapter

Finished already last Autumn - now placing it into my blog:

This is actually the first longer story I wrote. To have the final version ready as a book took me over two years of writing, adding and editing.
The idea for this story I had already as teenager. When I finally wrote it down now, it turned out quite different to the little bit I had written years ago. 
A long time I had no title for this book. It was just this summer, after having finally decided to bring this project to a finish, that I came up with the title: Unexpected Encounter
Following the first chapter:
"Oh, well!" He sighed and turned his attention away from the early autumn view outside the window back to the teacher and the blackboard.
Another formula to copy down and it was just as boring as the ones before! For him it was all just repetition. To have moved to this town from another state just before school started here was bad enough.
But to realize that in his old school they had a much faster tempo in learning than here, was even worse. There was no subject he wasn't ahead, not enough for him to skip a class though. He would have to watch out that he wouldn’t miss it when they started with things new to him as well. So far, he hasn't found any friends yet and the weekend was coming. His father would be away both days. Actually, he hasn't been home the whole week. So, instead of listening to the lessons, he was planning on what to do with his free time. 
The bell to end the school day rang, waking him out of his brooding. Hastily he scribbled down the last formulas and packed his papers and book away.
The others were already moving out. Some were collecting in the hall and the open area before the building to discuss their plans for the weekend.
He walked past them, feeling rather lonely right now. Even if he was here now for more than a month, he still didn't feel that he belonged here.
"Jason! Wait!" Peter called when he was about to turn into the street leading home. "What are you going to do on Sunday?" 
Jason stopped and turned to him with a smile. "I don't know yet. I guess, I'll just watch TV or do some biking. The weather should be still fine on Sunday for that." 
"I'll be going to watch the new documentary about the "Deep-Sea-Station" they are planning. You can come and watch it with me. After this, we could eat out", Peter suggested.
Jason thought about this a bit. "No, I think I won't have time for it. My father should be home on Sunday evening and I'm supposed to keep the house clean and get some more of our things unpacked. I actually haven't done anything yet."
"You are strange. And the way your family lives is even stranger. But OK, it was just a suggestion. If you don't want to, you don't have to. You have my phone number. Just call me, if you change your mind." And with that Peter was off with his friends that had been waiting a few steps away. 
Jason slowly went down the street, in thought about this short talk. Peter was a classmate and, from the first day, the one that tried to get him into the class community. But, with all the negative experiences he had in the past years, Jason resisted to get too involved with any of them so far. He wanted to observe them a little more before he was ready to accept any of them as something similar to a friend.
He was getting used to being alone, at school and at home too. There was no one waiting for him at home. Not even his cat. That was still with his mother and sister in the old house. Susan, his sister, would finish her last year in the old school, and then go and study somewhere even further away, or so were the plans so far. Mum had a good job she didn't want to quit, earning some extra money for the university he was going to go to in two years time. If he passed the exams for it, that is. His father had gotten this new job here, planning and helping to build the "Deep-Sea-Research-Center"; that was the full name of the project. Jason was supposed to join in later after his studies and he sure was interested in this research work. That was just something he didn't tell his classmates. He remembered too well the bad experiences with that sort of thing in his old school. For him, there was no need to repeat that here. 
But, no matter how slow he walked, finally he reached the front door of his new home. Even after six weeks, he still didn't think of it as his home. And many boxes weren't unpacked yet, adding to that feeling of not being at home, but still on the move.
With another deep sigh he went inside, threw his bookcase in a corner. And immediately went to where it had fallen and picked it up to carry it upstairs to his room. Why make more mess than there already is? he thought and put it next to his desk.
Thoughtfully, he looked out of the window which still had no curtains. Seeing the bright autumn sunshine, he suddenly knew what he would do this weekend. No matter how much homework he got or how messy the place would still be when his father came back home.
All motivated now, he went to the kitchen and packed some foods and water bottles in a carrier box, ran back upstairs, got some fresh clothes and an extra sweater for the nights and wrapped it in the spare blanket from the foot end of his bed.
All of this he stuffed onto the back seat of the car. Actually, it was his father's car, but since he had his driver's license, he was allowed to use it too. He only was supposed to ask and tell where he would go beforehand. As his father wasn't here, and most probably won't be back before him anyway, he just took the keys and drove off.
With this new job, his father also had the service of having someone coming, picking him up and bringing him home, so Jason could always use the car when he thought he needed it. After asking! His father had no real need for it and trusted him to drive carefully. 
Jason felt a bit guilty though, for not having left a notice on the entry desk. But now, he sure wasn't going to waste any time by turning back to do so. It would be a good five hours drive to the summer lodge of the family. It will be worth it to spend one last weekend out alone in the woods. This weekend the weather would be nice for his little adventure. Why should he waste it alone at home with boring cleaning and brooding about his life?
This is wrong. This is entirely wrong! He had programmed the computer himself and they should be right on target now. However, they were somewhere in the middle of nowhere here. At least, he didn't recognize the stars that were on the screen. He asked his two comrades, but they too were simply puzzled at where they had ended up now.
Usually, they didn't use this old type of spaceship anymore. But, if they wanted to take back samples for testing, there was no other way yet for getting them home without damage or change in substance. Or so they had been told. He still didn't understand all the "secrets" the elders knew about space travel.
His intention had been to help his people this way before it was too late. By now though, he was starting to doubt if it really had been such a good idea. With his two friends here, he couldn't discuss it. They believed everything he told them. They didn't understand a thing about what was happening on their home planet, knew nothing of the dangers and the war that might start. They were simple people, only for service to the "noble" ones.
However, in his opinion, they were just as good as any other people. Even if they weren't as "advanced" as his own kind. That was no reason though to make them live and work like slaves. He had had many discussions with his father about this, never-ending discussions.
He silently sighed, remembering those discussions.
"Marq", the younger of the two called out, "I can see a solar system there with a planet that might carry life on it." 
"Yes, I can see it too. But the sensors tell me, that we shouldn't go any closer to it. It has the "forbidden" signature around it", the other answered.
Both were sitting in the front with their hands over the steering system, guiding the ship manually now and staring on the screen that was showing stars and possible planets with all attainable information the long-range sensors could pick up.
"Well, if it has the forbidden signature, then we should move around it at a very big distance", Marq answered, standing in the back, still trying to figure out from the constellations he could see, where they were.
A forbidden planet. I really should have listened better to the lessons about space and those forbidden planets.He tried to remember, why they were so dangerous.
This one didn't look dangerous to him as they were coming closer to it: nice, blue water and white clouds and enough dry, partly green land in between.
Like his home planet once had been. That was in very ancient times. He didn't know of any person alive that had actually ever seen a green plant growing outside, on the surface. He could see nothing in the real-life image that would make it "forbidden". It must be something right on the planet and not just around it as the over-layering digital image implied.
They were still moving closer to that solar system. Marq had not given any directions to set a new course and his two friends were expecting him to make the decisions and give the commands. This was what they were used to when traveling in space with a "noble" person. Alone, which rarely happened, they did have to make decisions in situations like these. Now, they just relied on their friend, Marq, who was a very "noble" person, to tell them what to do.
Suddenly, lights flashed up, calling him to attention out of his nostalgic dreams.
"Hurry, get this ship further away from this planet!" He shouted his orders and both friends started to push buttons and turn switches.
The ship didn't respond. No matter what they did, they kept getting closer and closer. As if the ship was still on automatic and had started the landing program.
Marq opened a small door in the back and squeezed himself into the small chamber behind. Maybe some wires had gotten undone. This sure was an old ship and not really made for long-distance flights like this. Lose wires from the automatic to the manual steering were what he first suspected and checked, twisting his body in the cramped space to see and reach where those wires ran. Luckily, he knew a bit of the set up of the ship’s wiring. 
Often enough he had helped repair similar ones used for short training flights in their own solar system.
To reach this part of the galaxy, they had used one of the old "gates", a fast means of traveling the long distance between solar systems, speeding through space and time. In the wink of an eye it seemed. It was faster this way than light. Although not yet the maximum gravitational speed that was theoretically possible. Nothing would survive that speed in the physical form.
However, to go through a solar system between the planets, they had to use "slow" drive and no "high-speed" transport. First, so they didn't bump into any fragments, comets, moons, planets and the like. Second, so they had the time to use the sensors and check the information they received if they didn't want to miss the kind of planet they were looking for.
He was sure by now that where they had ended after the "jump" through the "gate" was not the solar system he had programmed the ship to reach, although it was in the correct galactic area. Something had been wrong already then, so maybe even more had been damaged right from the start of their flight than just that automatic-manual switching system.
Marq was still trying to figure out where they were. As if that wasn't enough to worry about, now all these alarms rang in his ears, distracting his attention from what he was doing.
His doubts about the good in his "mission" were getting stronger from moment to moment. Maybe his father had been right in the end, and he just should have let things go the way they would and not try to interfere or change them to his ideas. However, he had felt and still felt that urge to do something about the situation on his home planet. He just couldn't leave it the way it was. Finally, he found some loose wires, but with all the noise and the shouting of his friends and the shaking of the spaceship, it was hard to figure out where they had come undone or where he should reconnect them. And, it got very hot in here too.
There definitely is something very wrong now.
It was a nice drive away from the town and across the country. This way he also was coming closer to the place he so far had lived his whole life. Jason was thinking about the changes that had taken place recently. He had many friends where he had been. But somehow, over the years, they were not as close to him as he thought they were. 
He had always been good in school and learned fast, and it was natural for him to help his classmates after school and explain things to them when they asked. As they grew older this changed. 
Most of his friends now thought him to be arrogant and selfishly interested only in his own advancement in school. Just because they didn't understand things anymore when he explained them. Their knowledge gaps were getting bigger every year, it seemed.
He had talked with his parents about this drifting apart of friends and agreed eventually that it was a phase of becoming adult. Everything changed so fast during this time and interests varied so much more than before. This could cause friendships to just end without anyone noticing when or how. Slowly, Jason had become a "loner". Mainly interested in his studies at school and not in the common activities of his friends. 
Certainly, the work his father had at the time as a scientist, had influenced him a lot. He got along well with his friends and classmates. No one fought or mobbed him. Not as he could observe happening with some others in school. His friends were just not as close as they had been years ago when they had done a lot of foolish things together.
To Jason it seemed, he grew up faster than the rest. When his classmates started to get interested in girls, he already had kissed his first girl. He understood them better too. At least, all his friends at that time had said that. And they sometimes asked his advice on this subject because of their assumptions of him having had the most experiences.
Well, he had an advantage: an older sister, who didn't hide her problems at home. So, when she fell in love for the first time and it broke apart only a few weeks later, the whole family was involved and helped her to get over it.
He had learned a lot about friendship, relationship and trust at that time. What he learned most though was that this "love-thing" would hinder him in fulfilling the plans he had for his future working life. 
Like his father, he wanted to become a scientist: to help lessen all the problems in the world. This too was something that his friends didn't understand. They were mostly interested in living, having parties and girls. Sure, he was interested in those things too. They just were not his main concern for now.
Some time later, his father had received that offer to help with the "Deep-Sea-Research-Center". The goal of this project was simply to "heal the world", as his father put it. 
Jason straight away had agreed that his father should participate in that project. It was their shared idea. Mum and Susan weren't so exited about it. Not because of the project itself, but more because of all the changes it would bring. In the end, it happened that he and his father moved closer to the coast and the project area, and Mum and Susan stayed in their old place. 
His new classmates thought that a strange way to live. He sighed. He didn't bother to explain to them in detail about how and why it was this way right now. Or how he thought it would change in maybe even less than a year. Sure, it could have made things more understandable if he had talked about it right from the start. But he hadn't. 
Now, he was still a loner, just because he didn't really let the others know anything about him. If he was going to have good friends, actually any friends at all, he would have to explain many things to them soon.
But not this weekend. This was for him to relax and forget all the worries and troubles he felt. 
It was getting dusk outside when he finally neared the junction. Here he had to get off the main road and drive into the forest. He nearly was at his destination.
There he would quickly get the things from the car into the lodge and start a small fire in the hearth and EAT. He really was hungry now. He hadn't had lunch, he just noticed. He had been so eager to get here. He hoped, Mum and Susan had left some food tins, the torch and spare batteries when they had left the house at the end of the summer vacation.
They had spent a few very nice weeks together there. Before the big move from him and his father! 
Jason also would check that everything was ready for autumn and winter season. This was something he could do without having anyone tell him to do it. Or have his father come and do it. If there were some necessary repairs, he would do them too.
But, first things first:! Unpack, make the fire and eat, then maybe prepare some more wood (no it will be too dark to do that), then sleep. The rest, well, that would have to wait until tomorrow when it got light again.
He reached the lodge, unpacked the things he had taken along and did everything as he had planned just before arriving. He made a check through the cupboards and found the torch and spare batteries where they were supposed to be. 
After a very short round outside with the torch, making sure everything was as it should be, he placed it next to his bed. He felt rather tired now.
With his mind thinking about his difficulties with friends right now and wanting to change that very soon, he went to bed. 
After having dampened the fire of course.

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