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Open Features: Community Spirits - Part Six

Martin Rother concludes his sci-fi tale.

Georgie and Bobby awoke to hear their father shuffling about on the landing. It was still dark, but they knew it must be fast approaching sunrise. Quietly they crept from under their covers and began pulling on the clothes they’d carefully stashed the night before, determined to join the expedition sure they would get another look at the Martians.

Halfway through getting dressed, they were suddenly startled by a shout from their father, followed by a large splash.

“Aagh, what’s happening?”

Bobby and Georgie ran out onto the landing, closely followed by their mother still in her nightgown and carrying a candle that cast a low light down the stairs. What they saw was their father floundering around in water up to his waist.

“Paul, Paul, what’s going on? Where’d all that water come from?” Mrs Samson shrieked in panic at her husband. “Is the river flooding?”

Mr Samson’s face showed utter confusion. “Can’t be, there’s been no rain.”

“Then what….”

Mrs Samson and the boys went to the nearest window and pulled back the curtains and were shocked to see the entire street full of water up to the level of the downstairs sills. With horror they realised it was still rising and rising fast. Looking across at the other houses in the street they could see other faces in candlelight, peering out and mirroring their expressions.

“Everybody, grab what you can. We need to get out of here now! We can make our way up the valley sides.” Mr Samson was panicked but trying to appear calm for the sake of the boys. It didn’t work as they could see what was happening with their own eyes and weren’t daft.

“The Martians are trying to kill us,” whimpered Bobby.
Grabbing what they clothes and food they could, the Samson family waded out through the front door with water already up to Bobby’s chest.

It was rising too quickly.

Other villagers, in the same predicament, were also trying exiting their houses in search of a safer place to get out of the all enveloping water. There were screams of panic, shouts of men trying to take control of the situation, crying babies and shouts for help from the more elderly residents.
All in vain.

Mr Samson grabbled Georgie and Bobby and dragged them through the rising swell, closely followed by Mrs Samson struggling to drag a large sack of provisions.

“Let it go, Sarah. No time for possessions. It’s too much; I can barely touch the bottom. We’re going to have to swim.”

The sun had started to rise casting a dull glow across the village giving the residents their first clear view of what was happening. People were still managing to dip their heads under door jambs and escape houses that now looked like islands in a lake. The giant shadow at the foot of the valley loomed out of the dark holding the rising tide against it.

Everyone was struggling now, fighting for every breath.
Mrs Samson could barely keep her head above the water and was trying in vain to swim whilst Mr Samson, his chin skimming the surface was trying to hold Georgie and Bobby above the tide. They could see what was now the newly formed shore of the valley side, but as the water arose it got further and further away; out of reach.

Now they were all trying to swim, but it was cold and their limbs were numb. Splashing in desperation towards the escaping safety of the valley bank, the deep chill began to overwhelm them.

The water level was above the roofs now, only the mill and church tower were visible, but they were disappearing fast. Heads of villagers bobbed on the surface, disappearing one by one as fatigue set in followed by wails of despair from mothers, cries of alarm from fathers and tears of fear from children as loved ones vanished.

It wasn’t long before Georgie realised they were the only heads left.

“Dad, mum, I can’t….I can’t swim anymore….I’m tired.”

Bobby suddenly disappeared.

“Bobby!” Mrs Samson screamed and dived under attempting to find her youngest son.

As Georgie and Mr Samson trod water, long agonising seconds passed, the frosty feeling of loss slowly rising through them. Heads turned quickly from side to side to searching for any sign of them.

They never reappeared.

“Sarah! Sarah? Oh my god! Oh…my…god!”

“Dad, are they coming back?” Georgie’s voice was slow and tired and Mr Samson grabbed him trying to keep him afloat. A large branch slowly drifted into range and Mr Samson pulled it over allowing Georgie to grab hold of it.

“Georgie, now hold tight. Real tight. I have to get your mum and brother. I won’t be long, I promise.”

Georgie’s eyes widened. “Don’t leave me dad, don’t leave me.”
But Mr Samson had already taken his deep breath and disappeared below the surface.

“Dad? Mum? Bobby?” Georgie tried to hold on, waiting for his father to return. Alone, cold, tired and weary.

*

The day continued to lighten, the shore continued to recede into the distance and the strange edifice now looked like a wall. Georgie’s vision blurred as tears began to form as he realised he was alone.

His father never came back.

Then movement caught his eye.

A big white triangle appeared on the waters horizon, then another and another. They were gently flapping around in the breeze.

Georgie looked in confusion. Boats? That can’t be right, he thought. How did they get here, the village was inland from and nowhere near the sea.

His overwhelmed body slowly began to give up and he lost his grip on the branch. So tired. No energy to swim.

The cold was deep in his muscles and ceased to respond anymore and surely enough he was sucked down into the depths. As he numbingly descended, he looked yearningly at the surface while his lungs began to ache.

There were keels and hulls skimming above him, catching the morning light dancing over the surface like angels.

How? What? Blackness.

*

On the dinghy above, a father and son were enjoying a day out sailing on the reservoir created by the dam.

“You now son, there used to be a village down there, a long, long time ago.”

“Was there? Nah, you’re having me on.”

“Honest. It was believed abandoned by the time they flooded the valley to create the reservoir. It just sits on the bottom the wreck of buildings preserved in mud.”

“What happened to the villagers, dad?”

“No-one knows. It was an old village and they probably all moved on after the great plague wiped most villages out. A lot of villages were also abandoned as towns grew. But I guess we’ll never know.”

“That’s a shame, it’s nice around here. Hey watch out for that buoy.”

*

The following day, the air was thick with fog again.

In front of the hearth a young boy played with his wooden animals.

“Go and help your brother fetch water from the well, Georgie,” Mrs Samson shouted, “You know he struggles with the bucket.”

There was a strange unnatural fog outside…

***

To read earlier episodes please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=martin+rothery

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