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Written in the stars

Here's the first chapter of an e-book written by one of our readers...

Nigel Fairs was lying on the beach drifting in and out of a lazy sleep. He was dreaming a dream he had not thought about since his childhood. In his dream, he was talking to his mother as a little boy. Suddenly, the placid smile was wiped off his face as a nudge drove into his side. He awoke with a jolt. His wife, Sandra, grinned at him

"You were starting to get some funny looks" she smiled, as Nigel looked at her ruefully.

"I was really enjoying that dream", he sighed

"sorry, darling, but talking in your sleep is all well and good when you are at home, but it's a little different on a beach where there are other people listening to you. And you certainly have some strange dreams. What was that one about? You were whispering something about the stars?"

Nigel didn't reply to the question from his wife. He seemed a little distracted, his eyes glazed over slightly. Then suddenly he shook his head and said

"oh, it was nothing really. Just a childhood dream. I know better than to take any notice of it now"

Nigel had a lively and interesting childhood. He had been a bit of a dreamer, and always had his head in the clouds. He used to spend all his time reading books about space travel and UFOs and anything else he could get his hands on to do with other worlds. It was partly to do with the fact that he grown up in a very sedate little country village in which life was, if anything, predictable. Excitement in that village, Dormley, was very hard to come by. It usually consisted of a new person travelling through the village, or perhaps the farmer having a couple of new born calves each Spring. Either way life was not particularly exciting, and the young Nigel had overcompensated.

Now he was grown-up himself and settled into the routine way of life. He even had his own daughter, Ellie, who he was very proud of. She was very much her father's daughter, in more ways than one. She had the same scruffy blonde hair and piercing, bright green eyes he had. Admittedly she was only 2 years old, but the resemblance was definitely there for all to see. He was tall and wiry, and how sat up to pick up a sandwich

"What flavour would you like, dear? There is cheese and tomato, and ham and salad" enquired Sandra

"ooh, cheese and tomato please" said the smiling Nigel. She was much shorter than he was, a little woman by anyone's standards, with a slim figure. She had flows of brown tussled hairs reaching down her shoulders, and light hazel eyes, thin lips and a pleasant smile. Her skin was a little darker than her husbands, but still quite fair.

The scene was idyllic. There were seagulls squawking loudly overhead, and also a soft chatter as excited people wandered around the beach, playing. Nigel munched his sandwich - it tasted especially good when consumed in the fresh breeze of the sea air riffling around him.

"Good idea to come down to the coast for the holiday, dear" he said, whilst picking up a piece of tomato that had just fallen out of his sandwich onto his lap.

"You deserved a good break, dear. And Ellie loves the seaside, doesn't she?" She looked up to see her young daughter laughing and giggling whilst trying to fill a bucket with sand. She had wandered to the entrance of a small cave to collect the drier, golden sand there, to mix to the wetter sand she had at the bottom of her little bucket.

"Careful Ellie", called Sandra, "those rocks can be sharp - don't go far". Her daughter giggled. With that, Sandra lay down and pulled her floppy white hat over her eyes, relaxed and started to drift off to sleep.

Nigel, his appetite satiated for the moment, lay on his side, digging his left elbow into the sand through the groundsheet so as to keep watch over his daughter. He meant to stay awake, but the soothing sound of the waves lapping down the shore made him sleepy again. He too gently closed his eyes, after applying a little sunscreen to his chest - he really was fair by name and nature.

He didn't get to rest for much longer. He was just starting to get comfortable, when he heard a loud, piercing scream. He sat bolt upright, instantly. It sounded like it acme from the little cave that Ellie had entered, and it sounded like her voice.

Quickly he stood up and raced to the entrance of the cave. Sandra also got up and was on his heels. He was greeted by the sight of his little daughter, looking at him with her bright eyes, shaking slightly. The small girl also had a bruise on her left leg, between the knee and her ankle.

"Poor mite, she must have tried to climb that little ledge and fallen off", Nigel said, pointing to a natural shelf of rock at the back left of the cave... as he turned around and picked up Ellie, to carry her out of the cave, he thought the ledge gave out a soft orange glow. Thinking it was a trick of the light (it was very bright in the sun outside), he thought nothing of it.

As he got outside, Sandra came over with a piece of paper in her hand. "Read this", she said, giving him the piece of paper she was clutching. It looked very old and was fragile, almost crumbling in his hands. He unfolded the paper gently, making sure it didn't break in to pieces. Squinting now that he was back in the bright sunlight, he coughed to clear his throat and then read out loud

"on that day the birds will flee from the very trees in which they have made their home. But if you can survive his wrath, then do not be afraid when he comes again"

"Stupid kids" muttered Nigel, as he threw the paper away and looked at his daughter. They quickly gathered up their towels, put the sandwiches back in the cool box, and trudged back to their holiday home, a little cottage on the seafront only a couple of hundred metres away.

After eating a little chocolate, Ellie settled down nicely, and the incident was soon forgotten - apart from Sandra telling her husband that he should have been paying more attention. But she wasn't too hard on him as she herself and fallen asleep, and the bruise looked as though it would heal in a matter of days.

That night as they all lay in bed, a fierce storm brew up, it had been a humid day. The thunder rolled and roared in the sky, but Ellie slept through it, tired after a day on the beach and its adventures. She slept the sleep of the just, whilst Nigel lay awake, his eyes looking through the gloom. The curtains flapped noisily as the window was open, but still Ellie slept through.

Nigel could hear the sea whip up as the wind got stronger still, the waves crashing down on the beach below.

Then, as quickly as it had whipped up, the storm seemed to abate. Nigel closed his eyes and settled down to sleep. He was not a fan of storms, having been drenched to his skin several times as a child whilst playing in the big open fields of Dormley.

As he lay there, drifting off to sleep, Nigel thought he heard the waves whispering to him. He wasn't sure what, but it definitely was as though the sea was speaking to him, in a soft, reassuring voice. What was it saying to him? And with that thought rolling around his mind, he fell fast asleep.

* end of chapter 1 *

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