I know I usually write humor on this blog, but just for this week, I am straying from the norm.
For the past month I've been working on something I felt weirdly inspired to do - write a science-fiction mystery novel. When I started, I had no idea where I was going with it, but as I kept writing, an avalanche of thoughts and crazy ideas began to fill my head. So by the time I reached the final two chapters, I had so many loose ends to tie up, my brain felt as if it had just run the Boston marathon!
But I made it to the finish line.
Anyway, because you are my dedicated readers, I thought I would share the first chapter with you - an exclusive - (don't you feel honored? 😉) which will tell you where I got the inspiration to write it - a NH event that took place 60 years ago. I set my novel in 2011, however, the 50th anniversary, not only because I thought it would be more significant, but because Covid didn't exist back then!
Hope you enjoy it! With luck, the book should be published by March 1st...come what may. At least it kept me out of trouble while I was working on it!
Ó Copyright 2021 Sally A. Breslin
This book is a work of fiction. Although some of the locations and celebrities mentioned actually do exist, they are used in a purely fictitious manner for purposes of this work. All other characters are fictional. Any names or characteristics similar to those of any person, past or present, are purely coincidental.
New Hampshire – 2011
Lyla Wilder awoke inside a metal cube.
Actually, it was more like a 10-by-10 metal room. There were no windows, no doors, no seams at the corners, no overhead lights…just shiny metal on the walls, ceiling and floor…and all of it glowed a pale blue.
She sat up, shook her head in an attempt to clear it, and rubbed her temples.
Where the heck am I and how did I get here? And why does my head feel the way it usually feels after a keg party?
She stood, testing her legs. They felt weak, even a bit shaky, but they still worked. She noticed her feet were bare and her clothing – a long, fitted black gown with what looked like a fluff of ostrich feathers at each wrist – wasn’t anything she’d ever seen in her closet before.
A bit too “Morticia Addams” to suit my tastes, but hey, at least I’m not naked.
The thought did cross her mind that someone had put her into the dress and thus, obviously had seen her naked, especially since she could feel nothing but her skin separating her from the dress.
The metal room was empty, completely void of any sort of bed, furniture, blankets, decorations…nothing but a cube of metal. Lyla took a deep breath and inched her way toward one of the glowing blue walls, then extended her index finger to touch it. The moment the tip of her fingernail made contact, a pain shot through it all the way up her arm and across her chest, causing her to jump back. Her heart felt as if it were beating 400 times per minute and imitating the rhythm of the performers’ feet in Riverdance. She feared she might black out.
Gasping for breath, she clasped her hand over her chest and lowered herself back onto the floor, where she stretched out on her back and closed her eyes.
Stay calm and try to remember what happened before you ended up here! Don’t panic…at least not yet. There has to be a logical explanation.
“There has to be,” she whispered.
Her mind struggled to clear itself as her heart struggled to return to its normal rhythm. As both slowly began to succeed, she was able to recall some of the details about where she had been prior to waking up in this chunk of metal.
She had attended the annual gathering to commemorate what she considered to be one of the biggest news events in the history of New Hampshire, her home state…the alien abduction of Betty and Barney Hill.
Lyla always had been a big science-fiction fan. She was so obsessed with Star Wars, she’d seen the original trilogy at least a hundred times and could recite nearly every line of dialogue by heart. But her favorite sci-fi films were the old “B” movies from the 1950s and ‘60s, back when technology was so limited, metal pie plates hanging from strings were used to emulate flying saucers. Nothing, she thought, involved more creativity or ingenuity than those old movies.
So when her grandmother first told her the story about how Betty and Barney Hill had been abducted on a lonely highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire late one evening back in 1961, Lyla was intrigued…very intrigued. She researched and mentally devoured everything about the incident she could find. She even made several trips north to the area in Lincoln where the abduction allegedly had taken place.
Over the years, she managed to amass and fill two scrapbooks with copies of newspaper clippings and photos about the Hills, including several of her own photographs of the historical marker the state recently had erected near the abduction site to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event.
And she faithfully had attended, with her now ex-boyfriend, Kyle, the last three annual “abduction” gatherings, sponsored by an area science-fiction fans group.
Even though attending the event always had been her and Kyle’s thing, they had split five months prior to this year’s party. As a result, Lyla had been forced to suffer through countless days of asking herself, “Should I still go without him?” before she finally decided she would…but only because last night’s event was the special 50th anniversary party. It also was significant because it was held on September 19th, the exact date of the abduction. And that was important to her.
At least I think last night was September 19th. I have no clue how long I’ve been stuck inside this metal prison.
The party was held in a banquet hall at a hotel in the mountains, about a 90-minute drive from Lyla’s house. There were approximately 150 people at the gathering, which, when compared with the past parties, was a good-sized crowd. The hall was decorated with cutouts of flying saucers and cardboard stand-ups of aliens, along with maps of the double-star system of Zeta Reticuli, from where the aliens, according to the Hills’ testimony, reportedly had hailed. And of course, large posters of the departed guests of honor, Betty and Barney, were visible everywhere throughout the venue. Flashing lights in glowing neon greens and blues had been draped across the ceiling and walls, illuminating a long buffet-table that featured an assortment of sci-fi themed foods such as meatballs in the shape of humanoid heads with whole almonds for eyes, and for dessert, cookies decorated with silver icing to resemble UFOs.
The highlight of the event every year always took place at 10:30 PM, the time at which the Hills reportedly had been abducted. Lyla recalled that at that precise moment last night, the lights at the party had flashed off and on in a strobe-like pattern as the guests gathered to toast the Hills with a glass of “alien elixir” (typically something green like crème de menthe mixed with ginger ale) in honor of them being the first people in the USA who’d been courageous enough to report an alien abduction to the authorities and then stick with their story…even through hypnosis, numerous interrogations and investigations…and endless ridicule.
After that, Lyla remembered nothing.
She didn’t recall anyone at the gathering who’d stood out or acted in a mysterious or weird way that would have made her think “red flag.” She also hadn’t flirted with any of the men there or made them think she’d like to connect with them after the party.
Or allow them do something kinky like lock me in a metal cube!
She wondered if the elixir might have had something to do with it, seeing she couldn’t recall anything past the toast. She also wondered if other people at the party had met with the same fate as she had and were being held here in their own separate metal cubes, awaiting whatever was in store for them. Or maybe, she thought, all of this was just some elaborate hoax to make the party seem more exciting and intriguing this year.
Darkness suddenly engulfed the cube. The pale blue glow was replaced with a depth of darkness so thick and black, Lyla felt as if she’d been plunged into a vat of tar. She sat up and cocked her head, struggling to detect any sounds.
She heard metal sliding against metal, like that of a door slowly being slid open, yet no light entered.
Door? There are no doors in this thing, are there? But then, I suppose there has to be at least one somewhere, otherwise, how did I get in here?
She then heard a footstep, followed by another, approaching her. When she felt a hand clasp around her upper arm, she jumped, and so did her heart, once again resuming its Riverdance beat. Through the thin material of her dress, long, bony fingers, colder than ice, dug into her, yanking her to her feet.
“Who are you?” Lyla snapped, struggling to keep her balance in the complete darkness. “Where am I and why am I here?”
A soft, calm voice that sounded neither male nor female answered, “He wishes to speak with you.”
“He? Who is he?”
“You will see.”
# # #
Sally Breslin is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor,” “The Common-Sense Approach to Dream Interpretation” and “Christmas, a Cabin and a Stranger.” Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org