Chapter 1: Flying Saucer Sighting
Zoe held her eyes tightly shut. Her freckled face was screwed in concentration and tilted towards the warm sun.
‘What are you doing, Zoe?' Kirsty asked.
‘Shush,' said Zoe. ‘I'm trying to make a wish. I'm wishing for you not to go.'
‘It's no good wishing it wasn't happening,' Kirsty told her. ‘I have to leave tomorrow, and there's nothing we can do about it.'
‘Don't say that, Kirsty!' Zoe snapped. She didn't want to get cross with her best friend. It wasn't Kirsty's fault that she was moving away. ‘I'm sorry, Kirsty, but maybe if we both wish hard enough for you to stay, it might come true, and then you wouldn't have to go at all.'
‘All the wishing in the world won't make my parents change their minds, Zoe.'
‘It's not fair,' wailed Zoe, giving up on the wish and opening her eyes. ‘You can't go to Middlesbrough. It's miles away. I'll never see you again!'
‘I know, but it's not like I've got any choice!' Kirsty kicked at a stone in the gutter, sending the wheels of her rollerblades spinning in the air. ‘Dad got a new job in that poxy town and he's rented a house for us down the road from my granny's place. I don't want to go, but he arranged for me to start at the high school there in September. It's a mess. I hate it.'
‘Not half as much as I hate it! I'm going to be left here all alone with no friends! And I have to move up to Heaton Comp on my own!' Zoe bit down on her bottom lip and squeezed her eyes tighter to try to stop her tears from making her look like a drip.
She turned her back to Kirsty so her friend wouldn't see her wet face. ‘It's all right for you, at least you have some friends up there, and your cousins will be going to the same school.'
Zoe pulled herself along on her rollerblades by gripping the waist-high wall. ‘What am I going to do, Kirsty? What about Jackie and her gang? They're going to be waiting for me around every corner when you've gone!'
‘They'll soon get tired of chasing you,' Kirsty tried to comfort Zoe. ‘Remember, they'll be just as lost in that big school as you. Look on the bright side!' She grinned. ‘They might never find you in that massive building, and at least there'll be plenty of places to hide.'
‘But you won't be there, Kirsty! I'll have to hide on my own!' Zoe moaned.
‘Stop worrying about it. Let's go rollerblading in Thornton's yard.' Kirsty skated off down the alley on her wheels.
‘Wait for me!' Zoe skated after her friend. Zoe wished she were moving to Middlesbrough too. Then she wouldn't have to face Jackie Wainwright's gang ever again. She thought Kirsty was lucky to be getting away from the bullies for good.
The two girls glided over the pavements and into the dark underpass that took them beneath the dual carriageway and out to the disused estate of old factory buildings.
‘Will you have places like this to hang around in Middlesbrough?' Zoe asked. ‘Or will you have to go to boring old parks and skating rinks?'
‘Don't know!' Kirsty pushed aside a loose plank in a high fence and squeezed through the narrow gap. ‘My cousins might know some cool places to skate.'
‘Bet there'll be nowhere like this!' Zoe clambered through the hole in the fence and let the plank ‘clunk' back into position behind her.
Both girls skated off across the massive, old factory car park. They whooped and yelled as their wheels rolled easily over the smooth, concrete surface.
‘I'm a bird!' Kirsty shouted, lifting her leg behind her and holding her arms out to the side as she glided from one end to the other.
‘I'm a ballerina!' Zoe yelled, and went into a slow spin with her arms over her head.
‘Let's make a ramp!' Kirsty skated to a pile of broken, wooden pallets and started moving some lengths of wood.
‘I'm sure I saw some bricks around here last week.' Zoe said as she helped Kirsty look for suitable ramp-making equipment.
Both girls had their heads down searching through the jumble of discarded factory rubbish when a low hum began in the distance. When she first heard the noise, Zoe thought it was an aeroplane and ignored it. As the noise of the drone grew, the sun seemed to disappear, and the whole factory yard was plunged instantly into deep shadow. Zoe glanced at the sky, expecting to see a jumbo jet flying low, but what she saw made her mouth fall open and her eyes grow wide. She tried to speak but her throat seemed stuck, and all she could do was squeak.
Kirsty glanced at Zoe, and then looked to see what her friend was staring at. The large shape was nothing like a jumbo jet or any other kind of aeroplane. It was a large, silver disc-shaped object with coloured lights dancing around the edge of it. The saucer-like object was the size of a football pitch. The huge thing was hovering above the roof of the ancient factory.
‘Zoe?' Kirsty's eyes never left the strange aircraft, and she groped around, reaching for her friend's hand. ‘What is it?' she whispered.
‘A flying saucer?' Zoe offered, finding her voice at last. ‘Look at the lights flashing around the edge.'
‘It's like something from the X-Files.' Kirsty's hand gripped Zoe's tightly.
The large, silver body of the object glowed as it dropped lower. The girls' eyes grew wider and they started trembling. They seemed frozen to the spot and clung to each other as they watched the flying disc settle above the building and then slip out of sight behind the sloping roof of the old factory.
‘What should we do?' Kirsty whispered, clutching Zoe's hand tightly.
‘I think we should leave. Quickly!' Zoe was already edging away to the fence. ‘Come on!' she urged her friend, pulling at her hand. ‘Run!'
‘I'm right with you, Zoe!'
They skimmed over the concrete as if their feet had wings instead of rollerblades, and slipped through the fence in a flash.
The plank had barely dropped back into place before the girls were skating at full pelt for the underpass. They didn't stop to look back until they entered the gloomy tunnel where they began to feel a little safer.
They cowered in the shadows and turned just in time to watch the disc take off and shoot up into the sky. Before they had the chance to take another breath, the disc was out of sight.
‘Wow!' Zoe turned to look at her friend. ‘Did you see that?'
Kirsty nodded and stared at Thornton's factory roof, and then at the empty sky.
‘Where is it?' Zoe searched the cloudless blue above them.
‘Never mind where it is. What was it?' Kirsty was still shaking.
‘A spaceship.' Zoe had seen something like it on the television. ‘Do you think we should tell anyone?'
‘Tell them what? A flying saucer landed on Thornton's factory!' Kirsty shrugged.
‘Yeah, I have to admit, it sounds weird, doesn't it.' Zoe laughed nervously. ‘Who'd believe us anyway?'
‘They'd think we’d gone loopy.' Kirsty giggled.
‘I’m going to miss you, Zoe Briggs.’ Kirsty put her arm around Zoe.
‘Not as much as I’ll miss you, Kirsty.’