Chapter Four: (In the past, George / Helen)
In the first few days of January, George spoke with some newspaper reporters who rang the house but after reading what had subsequently been written, he decided not to speak to any more. He had been miss-quoted and reported to have spoken about UFO’s trying to contact the family. Consequently, he was having his leg pulled at the large city department store where he worked. The media coverage was undermining his authority as manager of the electrical department and he determined to put a stop to it.
George discussed it with Mary and they agreed that more than enough people had seen the lights on New Year’s Eve. The press could interview some of the others. The television people had offered the family a lot of money to go to the studio and do a feature on the lights but they agreed that no amount of money could compensate for the turmoil they would have to put up with after the show was screened. It seemed everyone wanted to talk about spacecraft and aliens, when all they’d seen were a bunch of lights. George told Mary it was turning into a circus and he didn’t want his family to be part of the freak show. Mary agreed with him wholeheartedly, especially as the whole situation had started giving the girls nightmares.
Strangely, Helen and Janine both had bad dreams every night for about four nights after seeing the lights. Neither could remember what the dreams were about but they both woke up screaming at the same time, the first night. The girls were very frightened and could barely speak. Both had a slight nosebleed and Janine wet the bed, which was even more worrying.
George didn’t sleep at all after the fourth consecutive night of both girls suffering the strange nightmares. Then they had a few days’ respite with peaceful nights, before it started again a couple of nights ago. Last night was a bad one. Mary and he had spent the early hours with the girls, trying to comfort them before returning to their own bed. He’d then tossed and turned until the alarm clock went off.
‘Maybe you should stay at home today, George. You look awful.’ Mary cuddled into his side and smoothed the deep lines etched into his brow with her fingers.
‘No, they’ll need me at the shop,’ he said determinedly. ‘The sales end today, it’s going to be busy.’ He sighed and made to get out of bed, then turned back to kiss Mary briefly. ‘The girls could do with a day off, though. They were really bad last night.’
‘You’re right, I was thinking of leaving them to sleep. These nightmares are getting worse instead of better.’ Mary watched as George put on his dressing gown and struggled to bend to put on his slippers. ‘I hope this won’t go on much longer.’
‘It’s all this talk of UFO’s.’ George turned to her. ‘It’s filling their heads with little green men. I blame that journalist fellow.’ He stood and scratched his head as he peered around the curtains to look down into the street at the various people already gathered, waiting to fire more questions at him or the neighbours as they emerged from their houses. ‘The Express will be getting a stiff letter of complaint from me. It’s totally unreasonable what they printed. I never said anything about spaceships. I’ll sue, that’s what I’ll do!’
‘Keep your voice down, love, don’t wake the girls,’ Mary called softly as he went into the bathroom.
George stared at his reflection as he started to shave. All this media hype was causing the girls to be upset, he told himself. They’d read it in the papers and seen it on the TV. Everyone was saying that the New Year’s Eve party had been visited by beings from another world. Well he hadn’t seen them! He told the journalist in no uncertain terms and Mary had told the ones who kept ringing up, that there were no aliens! The trouble was that no one wanted to listen, especially as the lights had been seen over the house again.
George had refused to look out of his windows to confirm the sightings. He was angry that everyone seemed overly interested in lights in the sky that could be explained away logically but logic didn’t seem to enter into the mind of the media, it simply was not good copy and it didn’t make good TV. On the other hand, the very word ‘Aliens’ captured the public’s imagination and like a dog with a bone, the media would not let it go. George hoped it would all settle down soon and his family could then get back to normal.
As soon as the local nightclub took responsibility for the laser light display, the street would soon empty of the strangers who were turning up to visit the spot where the lights had been seen. The reporters would soon get tired of listening to the engaged tone when they rang the house. Even the neighbours might start speaking to them again once the media circus moved on.
George thought it was unfair of the neighbours to lay the blame for all the upset on his shoulders. All he did was have a party and most of the neighbours who were now so cross with him had danced at that party. It was hardly George’s fault that journalists’ cars, UFO hunters and Television teams with cameras and microphones blocked the roads outside their houses.
It wasn’t yet a fortnight since they held the party, but already, it felt like months. George hoped it wouldn’t be too long before the lights were seen somewhere else, then the whole sideshow would move from the front of his home to another unsuspecting family unfortunate enough to witness the spectacle. Mary had accused him of being uncharitable to think in those terms, telling him that she didn’t wish this upset on any other family.
Helen’s bedroom window looked over the side entrance to the house, where her father tried unsuccessfully to leave for work without being noticed. He was met as usual by a horde of shouting reporters, eager to catch his voice on tape and snap his photograph for the front pages. Helen groaned. She tried to shut out the racket by putting her head under the pillow. She had been awake for most of the night, stifling her sobs by putting her pillow over her face. Her tears subsided when she had none left to cry, leaving her eyes and throat, dry and raw. She still hurt all over and felt like she’d been pulled apart and stuck back together in the wrong places. When she felt the tightening in her stomach and the wetness between her legs, she threw off the blankets and ran to the bathroom.
Her mum seemed very concerned, especially as Helen hardly ever complained of stomach-ache, even when she normally got her period. This time it had come a week or so early and her mum explained that perhaps that was the reason for the painful cramps. Helen took a pain killer and her mum made up a hot-water bottle for her to cuddle.
She sat watching the television, the water bottle clutched to her tummy. Every time the news came on, she switched channels. She didn’t want to see any of her friends talking about the lights. They’d nearly all been interviewed, their stories getting more unbelievable with every telling. The interviewers put words into their mouths and some of her friends were too dumb or awestruck to contradict the famous personalities who were questioning them.
Helen was tired but didn’t want to go to sleep. She’d forced herself to stay awake last night, so she wouldn’t dream the same recurring, horrible nightmare she’d had since they saw the lights but tiredness eventually overwhelmed her. She didn’t think she’d been asleep very long before she felt herself being dropped onto her bed, soaking wet with sweat and hurting everywhere. The scream didn’t seem to come from her but it brought her dad in his pyjamas to comfort her. He only left when she calmed down enough to convince him that she was all right.
In the early hours of the morning she had given up trying to sleep and tried to remember. The memories were little more than fragments but they had filled her with dread. The fear and an overwhelming feeling of shame had brought tears surging from her eyes. For some reason, she had felt a deep sense of humiliation and helplessness that caused heaving sobs to tear at her chest. She had tried desperately to stifle the noise so as not to disturb her parents.
In the daylight, when she tried to remember what happened before she was dropped onto her bed, her mind was like cotton wool. All she could see was a dark mist and however hard she tried, she couldn’t see past the veil that had dropped over her memory. She shivered, remembering how real the sensations felt as she awoke. She’d never had a dream that left her feeling so awful, so sick and aching everywhere.
When Janine finally came downstairs, she too had started bleeding. She’d only had a few periods and didn’t have them regularly yet, so it was no big surprise but their mum commented at the coincidence. Maybe the dreams had upset their systems. She told the girls that she once read somewhere that stress could cause things like this to happen. ‘Maybe that was why you both had a nosebleed that first night,’ she said as she fussed around them.
The girls looked at each other and shrugged. Whatever caused the bleeding, it was a pain in the neck, or rather the stomach. They lay end to end on the sofa. Each cuddling a hot-water bottle, while the television played quietly in the corner.
‘Can you remember your dream?’ Janine asked her sister cautiously.
‘No,’ Helen said, warily. ‘Can you?’
‘It’s just a fog, you know, like in that Alfred Hitchcock film that was on before Christmas but it was much scarier.’ Janine swallowed. ‘It frightened the life out of me when I woke up though, especially when I dropped onto the bed.’
Helen sat up. ‘Hey, that’s what happens to me!’ She looked intently into Janine’s face and glanced towards the kitchen door to check that their mother couldn’t hear. ‘How far did you fall, do you think?’
Janine’s small teeth worried at her trembling bottom lip and her eyes grew wide as her hand came up to cover her mouth.
‘It’s okay, Janine, I know.’ Helen reached out and grasped her sister’s hand. ‘It happened to me, too.’
‘Did you wake up floating in the air above the bed?’ Janine whispered.
‘Almost touching the ceiling!’ Helen boasted. ‘I thought it was part of the dream but it seemed real enough to me.’
‘And me.’ Janine nodded. ‘Do you think we should tell Mum?’
‘What for?’ Helen knew how concerned her parents were about the sleepless nights. ‘She’d only worry and there’s no point upsetting her more. What could she do anyway?’ Helen sighed and she too began to chew at her bottom lip.
‘What if it keeps happening?’ Janine’s eyes filled with tears. ‘I don’t think I could bear it.’
‘Well we know now that it’s real. That it’s not a dream. Maybe if it does happen again, we could try not to scream. Maybe we could find out what’s holding us up there.’ Helen was curious to know what the disturbed nights were about and hoped Janine wouldn’t be a sissy about helping her to find out.
‘I don’t know if I could do that.’ Janine shuddered. ‘What if it’s something awful?’
‘Well then you could scream!’ Helen teased her. ‘What do you say? Will you look before you scream?’
‘I’ll try, but it might not happen again.’ The frightened girl said hopefully.
‘Let’s hope it doesn’t.’ Helen smiled, trying to reassure her younger sister. ‘But if it does, we’ll be prepared. Agreed?’
‘Agreed.’ Janine nodded and the two girls shook hands.
To be continued…….
If you can’t wait to read the rest, They Take our children, Book one, The Truth Revealed, is available in Amazon.
They Take our Children, Book Two, Taking Control, is also now available.
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