IMAGINATION (I wonder what was in the coffee) by Barbara Shean
And the coffee is good, I reflected as I sat in the newly refurbished cafe this cold Saturday morning, escaping the icy winds blowing through the outdoor market. The new soft lighting and leafy green foliage around the leather seating areas was inviting, I would certainly come here again. Now, which door was the way out?
I exited by a green door and immediately the heat hit me; it was overwhelming. I felt the sweat prickle across my forehead and trickling into the palms of my hands enough for me to wipe them carelessly across my clothes.
I looked round expecting the high street. This was a glass house, I thought, as I made my way through a mini paradise of exotic blooms and heady fragrances.
I saw a large blue moth flapping weakly against a window and as I gave it freedom my eyes caught the sheen of a spiders web coiled across the opening, gleaming with globules of shiny water in exciting rainbow colours. It was hotter as I walked along between the rows of heady aromatic greenery.
Eventually, the whitened glass roof gave way to blue sky and a gentler heat hit me. A breeze lifted my coat around my knees as I walked forward in the bright sunlight toward the muffled sound of breaking waves on shingle. Looking over the ivied wall in front of me I saw steps down to a beach where white capped sea broke onto glistening golden sand just waiting for my footprints.
I put down my shopping bag and removed my coat, boots and socks to feel the hot sun caress bare limbs and the heat gently drift around me, protecting.I walked along each crest of breaking spume toward a large driftwood canopy throbbing with tin-drum Caribbean melody.
Life felt good, the fragrant air smelt good. My heart beat contentedly and the blood coursing through my veins felt invigorated, new. I felt happy, very happy.
My eyes caught the gleam of a tall glass sparkling with nectar, waiting to be drunk slowly, all the time watching the rhythmic waves breaking beyond. I inhaled the scents of a thousand flowers and listened to the raw sounds around me intoxicated with beauty, colour and timelessness. I closed my eyes in awe.
"Oi! I think you've come through the wrong door luv. The public are not allowed in the kitchen. You'll have to turn round and go back through to the shop. Shut the door after you."
The white coat and hatted voice reverberated around the glass-roofed hot and busy kitchen space. I stammered my apologies and turned vaguely looking for the exit. Vexation burned my cheeks a glowing pink as I hurried out back through the green door into the busy cafe area, then out onto the windy street.
Back home I put away the shopping and with a nice cup of tea and the morning paper, I sought sanctuary in the conservatory relaxing against the cushions. With my feet curled under me I took stock of the busy morning, only briefly getting up to fetch the biscuit tin from the kitchen. As I sat down again I noticed grains of sand streaking their way across the folds of the cushions. Wherever had they come from?
ZEBRON by Hermoine Ford
The spaceship would be landing very soon now. It was the year 2075 and a new planet had been discovered. Water was shown to be there, so it was hoped that life existed too. Three astronauts had been chosen from the many who had applied. They had to be very special people as they would be out of earth’s orbit for at least four years and many could not make this commitment.
Finally, three were chosen and trained to get ready for the huge journey ahead. While their task was enviable, especially by the young men who would like to have been chosen, their hero worship did not take into account the massive risks that would beset them. To get to the planet that had been named Zebron, would take nearly two years, flying at the newly achieved speed of 100,000 miles per minute. Although astronauts had made smaller journeys at this phenomenal speed, the planet could not have been reached until this speed had been tested many times.
Mark Winterbourne, Jeremy Stephenson and Barry Lowry had endured; after gruelling training, twenty seven months of being ensconced in a small space and most of their conversation had long been exhausted. They had books to read, logs to keep and the spaceship to operate. Excitement and apprehension was in equal measure to mull over as the spaceship slowed and landed safely on the surface of Zebron.
Before they could step out of the capsule, they had to rest and acclimatize their bodies and minds to whatever lay before them. Keen anticipation could not cope with the tasks until they had de-sensitized themselves. All the excitement could not squeeze any more effort from their exhausted minds and bodies and, one by one, they fell asleep.
As they woke they could see that it seemed like a sunny day on earth. Looking out they could see lush, green vegetation and brilliant flowers, giving them a wonderful sense that it had all been worth it. Donning their spacesuits, they stepped down the ladder of the ship for their huge adventure.. They tested the air and found that breathing would be easy, so they divested themselves of the helmets and then the spacesuits and were surprised that the temperatures were like a summer’s day. Elated with everything, they now wanted to see if there was life similar to that on Earth.
Climate change had rocked earth and done irreparable damage. Countries had just burned out and water had become scarce. Although scientists fought hard to find ways forward, disease was rife and there was unhappiness and unrest throughout earth. It was felt that, perhaps this planet could point the way forward.
The vegetation appeared abundant and there seemed to be fruit on some of the bushes. But it had to be tested first to see if it was fit to eat. Then, in great excitement they saw small animals, not too unlike rabbits on earth and they ran freely and without fear. Birds, too were seen and their beautiful singing was like an orchestra. They began to wonder if, in fact, they had left earth, because everything looked familiar. They had brought some food in capsule form with them and they stopped to eat it when suddenly walking towards them in a clearing they saw people. Their flesh tingled as they saw these beings so far from earth and looking so familiar. They were smaller, their skin was green, but they did not seem alien. This was a vast relief.
As they drew nearer, they raised their hands in greeting and the astronauts did likewise. Conversation was going to be difficult, but they would have to work at it. The Zebron people were driven by great curiosity and came up to the astronauts, touching their hair and their hands and babbling in their own language. The astronauts, meanwhile, to show friendliness smiled and laughed. Mark decided to sing a happy little song and this made a huge hit as they clapped their hands on which they had many fingers. It was all unbelievable wonderment. But also seemingly familiar,just like walking from one room to the next.
Among the Zebron people, it was easy to distinguish between male and female, but they could not see any children. The females appeared to be very pretty, with hair of every hue and their clothes were dramatic and of strange fabrics and designs. They could not believe the fantastic spectacle before them.
Then they were beckoned to follow the people, which they did and soon came to incredible buildings, in which the people lived, apparently in great togetherness and harmony. Not in families, but in togetherness. Everyone gathered around them in awe, but none in aggression. They were welcomed, inspected, offered all hospitality. Then food was served.
The astronauts realised that it would take a long time to assimilate all the evidence of the technicolour spectacle before them and they hardly knew when to start. Then the door opened and walking towards them was the obvious ruler with sparkling robes and smiles of welcome.
The astronauts woke from sleep and their various dreams. Today was the day they would set off in the spacecraft toward the planet Zebron. Filled with excitement and apprehension they walked towards the spaceship…..
A FANTASY by Barbara Girardet
“Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars’
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars…”
She lay cradled in the deckchair, a warm summer breeze drifting over her. She gazed up into the clear night sky, the silver luminescent moon transforming the garden into a magical place of liquid gleaming light, dancing and glancing off the leaves. The flowers iridescent in the mysterious still darkness perfumed the air, inviting moths to dine. Bats swooped, owls hooted and showers of shooting stars cascaded down the sky. And the honeyed voice of Frank Sinatra sang quietly from within the house.
She looked out over the garden to the meadow where Pegasus was trotting lightly on the soft turf, his mane and white coat silvered by the moon. He looked towards her, silently calling. She rose and went to him, stroked his forehead and cupped his velvety nose in her hand, all the time whispering to him. She could see the stars deep within his sapphire blue eyes.
Light as air she leapt onto his bare back, calling out to her little golden haired terrier to do the same. She felt a shiver run over Pegasus, an electric current of excitement. He started to move, walking, trotting, cantering and then into a swift gallop. Silver wings unfurled and in a rushing gust of wind they were up, up and away smoothly flying into the sky. Swerving to the North they were at the Pole in seconds weaving in and out of the pink and blue waterfalls of light. The Aurora Borealis, wrapping the scarves of gossamer light around them, dancing, gliding, swirling to the sighing sound of their metallic music. She heard a distant, faint muffled chanting and rhythmic drumming coming from far, far across the Prairies as the Cree Indians danced with these graceful manifestations of their tribal ancestors.
On and up they went flying, free from the gravitational grasp of the Earth into the silence of the dark sky, up to the shadowy moon. Landing on its dusty surface they looked back to Earth, a cobalt blue jewel suspended in a diamond-studded indigo. Pegasus pawed at the surface, excited. They raced across the Sea of Tranquillity throwing up clouds of gleaming moonstones, leaving a trail sparkling behind them.
Taking off again, they flew swiftly up to the blood red light of Mars, the menacing planet of the God of War, iron clad in an ancient coat of rusting armour. They landed in a roaring storm of choking red dust. Battling against ferocious winds they reached Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the Solar System. Buffeted and battered Pegasus toiled up to the summit where he managed a shaky, uneven take off and they were soon floating free of the evil-smelling breath of the angry, always bellicose God of War.
Crashing into the Asteroid belt, Pegasus had to dip and dive constantly to avoid the rocks hurtling past in an endless procession. On and on, colliding and smashing, exploding, bursting apart, spewing out millions of razor-edged shards and splinters. Lurching from side to side, Pegasus steered them expertly through this beautiful crystalline whirlpool of death and danger.
Safely through, with only a few minor cuts and bruises they flew weightlessly across the dark sky studded with sparkling lights, crystal chandeliers hanging in the heavens.
Jupiter, King of the Gods, King of the Planets filled their entire field of vision as they drew closer, rearing up in front of them, overpowering, terrifying. Rivers of red, ochre, grey and blue gases rippling, curling, whipped by roaring winds in eternal turmoil circled and raced on forever. The gigantic red roiling storm rolled angrily, raggedly past. Lightning flashed, forked arrows of blue burning electricity hurled by -a raging god, with diamond rain falling.
Pegasus veered sharply away from the angry turmoil of Jupiter and journeyed quietly to the silver silence of Saturn, shining a soft opalescent blue, garlanded by rings of light-reflecting dust, precious stones and glistening rocks, guardians of this “oldest of the old” gods supporting him on his lumbering orbit around the Sun. They landed on a rock in the innermost ring, circling, in a merry-go-round ride, the planet whipped by wild winds glowing in the unforgiving grip of ice, frozen forever.
Catching sight of Orion, Pegasus had to gallop as fast as he could to keep pace with the Blinded Hunter, striding forever Eastwards but never reaching the Sun to restore his sight.
In free fall they tumbled and chased, rolling and racing, playing with the Little Bear under the watchful eye of Great Mother Bear. A shade too boisterous and a gentle smack with her giant paw sent them somersaulting weightlessly over and over laughing, dumped disoriented into Libra’s scales. The gentle seesawing restored their equilibrium, affording time to catch their breath.
Tipped out of the scales they raced neck and neck with starry Pegasus, manes and tails flying, stopping to drink the celestial waters eternally flowing out of Aquarius’ goblet. They leapt onto an arrow released from Sagittarius’ bow, hitching a ride, a comet streaking across the sky and skittered to a stop on a starry spiral pathway of the Milky Way. They followed the winding star path leading them to the very centre of the galaxy, to the grinding, churning, massive machine, the heartbeat that powered the rotation of the cartwheel of stars forever spiralling through space on a journey without end.
Nudging her heels into Pegasus she urged him into the direction of the distant cobalt-blue diamond bright jewel that was home.
Lying cradled in her deckchair, her terrier sleeping peacefully, Pegasus nibbling dew- drenched grass in his meadow, she noticed, at her feet, a jam jar glowing the same opalescent blue.
“Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar...”