The first time I saw them was the night our Barry really kicked off about going to bed. He was going through a “stage.” He kept having nightmares and waking us all up in the middle of the night. If Mam tried to make him go back to bed he’d start screaming and kicking out at her. He was a real pain.
That night, he’d been kind of naughty and miserable since coming home from school. Our mam and me thought he might be coming down with the flu or something. He said he didn’t feel well and cried all the way through Dr Who. You’d have thought he was dying the way our mam fussed over him. Between her cooing and Barry’s snivelling I missed all the action with the Cyber men.
Then he left his pie and chips at teatime but I got his for seconds, so it wasn’t all that bad for me. He even left me his orange juice, which is why I needed the lavvy in the middle of the night.
Mam gave our Barry an aspirin and then she tried to put him to bed before Coronation Street started. You’d have thought she was trying to murder him the way he carried on. Mam had to stay with him until he fell asleep and she missed her favourite programme. Then to add insult to injury, she made me have an early night too. Said she needed some peace and quiet after dealing with our Barry. I didn’t see why I had to suffer an early night just because our Barry was making such a fuss over having a bit of a sniffle and being scared to go to bed, so I showed my disgust and annoyance by stamping all the way through to my bedroom.
‘And you can stop that right now, Jodie Johnson!’ Mam hissed at me from the kitchen. ‘Have a bit of sympathy for your wee brother. He’s not well and I’ve only just got him off to sleep!’
‘Yeah, right,’ I whispered to the wall. ‘It’s all right for him to go to bed at eight o’clock. He’s only six. It’s ages ‘till my bedtime.’
Nevertheless, I tried to keep the noise down while I got ready for bed. Barry was a wimp and a pain in the neck but he was only six and he was going through a tough time and I did feel sorry for him. Being scared of going to bed wasn’t nice for him. It was Mam that I was narked with. She didn’t have to take it out on me!
I thought about slamming my door but the picture of my wee brother’s face came into my head and I decided not to. It would be a waste of energy and would only rile Mam even more. I flopped onto my bed instead and stared at the pile of books and papers on my floor.
I suppose I should have tried to do some of my homework. I knew Kettle-belly Kennington would be after me about the weather map I was supposed to hand in yesterday but I couldn’t be bothered. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it properly so what was the point? I’m as thick as two short planks, a right numpty, according to him. He says, the only certificate I’ll have a chance of getting in four years time will be the one for clowning around. Trouble is they don’t do certificates in my speciality.
I must have dropped off to sleep pretty quickly, as I can’t remember a thing after my head touched the pillow. Well, not until our Barry started kicking off again. He was getting to be a regular pain in the butt. He was screaming fit to wake the dead. I peeped at my clock with one eye half open. It was only 2am. I heard Mam go to Barry’s room and I snuggled back under my covers. I was trying to get back to sleep but he was sobbing so loud I had to put the pillow over my head.
Then I needed to go to the lavvy, thanks to all that extra orange juice I’d drunk, but I was all warm and comfy and didn’t really want to get out of bed, so I tried to hang on. I closed my eyes tight and put my fingers in my ears to block our Barry’s crying out but I began to see this strange light through my eyelids. I wondered what it could be and then I began to hear a weird buzzing sound. I hung on for a few more seconds before I gave in to my curiosity. I had to go for a pee anyway, so I took the pillow off my head to see what was making the strange sound and to find out where the light was coming from. There were two really bright floating balls of light hovering near my ceiling. I could hardly believe my eyes.
I’d no idea what they were. They looked like something straight out of a Spielberg film and I don’t mind admitting they scared the life out of me. I mean to say, it’s not the first thing you expect to see when you decide to go to the lavvy in the middle of the night, is it? I forgot all about needing to go, I can tell you. I pulled the cover up over my head and closed my eyes as tight as I could. Didn’t do me much good, though. They didn’t go away.
This strange kind of glow flooded out from the spheres and filled my room. It even shone straight through the covers at me. I peeped out and I found myself staring again at the strangest things I ever saw. More of them were drifting into my room. They seemed to be coming through the wall from Barry’s room. I wondered if Mam had seen them in there but she can’t have or she’d be screaming along with our Barry.
My wee brother was sobbing quietly now. I could hear Mam talking softly to him. I was shivering and clutching my covers to my chin, watching these strange spheres of coloured lightning popping through the wall. They were bobbing up and down like party balloons, the kind they fill with helium. Only they weren’t balloons. They were so bright that they hurt my eyes and they were coming straight for me. That’s when I dived under the covers again and closed my eyes tight.
I lay there shaking like a leaf. Then I started shivering so much my teeth were chattering. I started to feel very cold and I opened my eyes a crack. I was shocked to find that I wasn’t under the covers anymore. I was on top of the quilt but I can’t remember how I came to be lying on top of the bed like that. I didn’t get chance to think about it too much. The huge bubbles were everywhere, spilling this flickering light all over me. I wanted to shut my eyes again and shut them out but I knew they’d still be there, even with my eyes closed, so I tried to be brave.
I put my hands over my eyes and looked at them through the gaps in my fingers. I thought if I could just try to understand what they were, I might not be so frightened of them. I tried to think of some possible explanations for them but I couldn’t think of anything. So I decided to try to remember everything I could about them and I’d ask Jules the next day. She was really brainy. If anyone might know what the balls of light were, she would. I made myself look at them so I could tell her everything.
They were brightly coloured shimmering orbs and were about as big as our television set. There were six of them. They almost filled my tiny bedroom and they wobbled and bobbed all over the place. They looked like the bubbles you make with washing up liquid, all soapy with swirly colours, only these were much bigger. They seemed to be pretty solid but at the same time they looked like they were made of flickering lightning. They were so bright!
I could see through them, into them. They were empty, hollow somehow but at the same time they were filled with this brightness. Blue and pink shifted to violet and green, then to purple and orange, swirling lights. They changed as they moved, like oily colours on a greasy puddle. I’d never seen anything like them in my life.
I tried to move my hand. I wanted to touch one of them. A pink one floated by just inches from my fingertips but I couldn’t move at all. I felt like I was frozen solid. I was paralysed. That’s when I began to feel really frightened.
They moved closer to the bed, crowding around me, hovering over my shivering body. It felt like they were watching me. My skin prickled and my hair crackled. Even the hairs on my arms felt prickly and stood straight out. I wanted to scream but my throat wouldn’t work. I guessed that my voice was paralysed too.
It got colder as they closed ranks over my body and I began to shiver. My teeth started chattering loudly, banging together inside my mouth. My teeth were the only things that were moving in my body but I didn’t have any control over their chattering. My shivering must have broken the spell, because they disappeared. At least I think they disappeared. I can’t really remember the spheres leaving my bedroom. I can’t remember very much at all after I realised I couldn’t move. I must have fallen asleep. It is the only explanation for the gap in my memory. All I know is they were gone when I woke up the next morning. I know I saw them. I know they had been there for real. It wasn’t a dream. At least… it didn’t feel like it had been a dream.