First Line Fiction (8)

The first line of this fictional short story was supplied by Carolyn, a cat-loving blogger who lives in America.

A loud humming that had started as a gentle vibration, invaded the peace and quiet of my Saturday morning, not so much a sound as a sensation.

I looked across at Carl, who was reading his newspaper. “Can you hear that?” He carried on reading. “Hear what?” I didn’t bother to explain, if he couldn’t hear anything there was no point in describing it. Besides, it felt more like it was inside me, than coming from somewhere in the house or outside. But I felt the need to check anyway, so put down my coffee cup and walked down to the basement.

The boiler wasn’t making any noise. Both the washing machine and drier were turned off too. But the humming inside my head was getting louder, and the vibration felt more like something physical, increasing in intensity. I was worried that it could be something medical. You hear about such things. Wake up feeling fine in the morning, and by lunchtime you are fighting for your life on a ventilator. I was going to go back up and drag Carl away from his reading, tell him what was going on.

By the time my right foot reached the third step, I could no longer move. All I could hear was the humming, which had shut off my thought processes. Then the vibration increased even more, until my whole body was shaking in a terrifying convulsion.

And then I was gone.

With no sensation of exiting the house, I found myself in a small metal room, no bigger than eight by eight. The humming had gone, and the vibration had stopped. Both had been replaced by complete silence. I surprised myself by remaining completely calm. I had disappeared from the house I had lived in with Carl for almost twenty years, and ended up in something little more than a metal cell with no windows. And I wasn’t in the least bit scared.

There was light in the room, but no visible light source. No bulb, no light fitting. Then one of the walls slid down into the floor, revealing a corridor outside. I heard a voice, telling me “Come”. Not speech, it was in my head. For some reason, I knew where to go.

They were seated around what I knew was a control panel, and I smiled as I saw them. Four arms, not two like me, and hairless, earless heads that I found attractive to behold. Their presence confirmed what I had started to realise, and that was settled by the view through the huge screen at the front.

That voice in my head again. A language that was completely unfamiliar, yet I understood it instinctively. “You will soon be able to change back. The technicians on board will arrange that. Then you will have so much to tell us”.

Swirling yellow mists danced over the surface of a neon-green planet in the distance. It looked so close, but I knew it was still a human lifetime away.

After forty years on Earth, I was finally going home.

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