Nearly six months had passed since the battle to save the Earth from the effects of the mysterious planet that had suddenly appeared in the sky. Most of the population however, had no awareness of the true nature of events that had taken place at that time, and now virtually all knowledge of the previous months events had also mysteriously disappeared. The Earth was officially back under a type of quarantine, which amounted to nothing less than an inter-dimensional security shield resulting in all ‘Off Worlder’s’ being annexed from their native planet. The establishment had quickly regained control over the populous, and a small group of them had embarked on a quest for total control with any resistance to this policy being quickly silenced. The whole fate of mankind now resided almost entirely in the hands of only a few individuals, and very soon there would be no one who would be able to stand up to them, or was there…
Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Nearly six months had passed since the battle to save the Earth from the effects of the mysterious planet that had suddenly appeared in the sky. Most of the population however, had no awareness of the true nature of events that had taken place at that time, and now virtually all knowledge of the previous month’s events had all but disappeared.
The Earth was officially back under a type of quarantine, which amounted to nothing less than an inter-dimensional security shield resulting in all those ‘Off World’ being annexed from their native planet.
The Establishment had quickly regained control over the populous, and a small group of them had embarked on a quest for total control with any resistance to this policy being quickly silenced.
The whole fate of mankind now resided almost entirely in the hands of only a few individuals, and very soon there would be no one to stand in their way, or was there…
An air of gloom filled the kitchen at the sight of the empty packed of marshmallows sitting on the work surface. Marty looked longingly at it hoping that with just a little more effort he could will it full again. But try as he might, the packet remained empty!
There was now a battle emerging between his desire to eat, and his lack of enthusiasm for a journey to the local shops. It was early December, and although the winter’s sun was shining brightly outside, there was an unpleasant easterly wind that threatened to slice through anyone foolish enough to venture outside.
The hands on the kitchen clock moved round a little further, as he stood in contemplation. A compromise was soon established which resulted in a decision to venture out after all. However, substantial supplies would be required to compensate for the effort involved!
Marty put on his warm winter clothes, looking at his trusty bicycle which lent against the kitchen wall. He always kept it there as he lived in a small downstairs flat, and there was no garage. His flat was one of a series of three story blocks that formed part of a small housing estate which sat on the edge of town. He lived alone apart from Oliver, the cat from next door. He often popped in through the cat flap left in the door by the previous occupiers. However, it was so cold outside that Oliver had yet to put in an appearance so far today.
Alongside the bicycle lay the recycling bags filled with tins and bottles, not to mention the compacted cardboard boxes that had contained a majority of the ready meals, which he had consumed over the past few days. Marty was far from a healthy eater!
He moved the bags to one side, taking hold of the handlebars. Then after taking a deep breath, he opened the kitchen door which creaked ominously as he ventured outside. It was bitterly cold and he shivered almost retreating back inside again, as an icy blast slipped down the back of his coat. Marty struggled with his zip in a vain effort to keep the cold air out, as the door suddenly blew shut with a strong gust of wind, nearly making him drop his bicycle with surprise. Perhaps it was not such a good idea after all, and he almost reconsidered his planned journey until he thought of the marshmallows!
Delicately he slipped onto the saddle, balancing himself before peddling down the drive and out onto the pavement. The bicycle groaned as he bumped off the curb landing on the road with a dull thud. Marty was no lightweight; in fact, he was considerably overweight!
He had tried to do something about it, but with his sweet tooth, it had proved almost impossible. The situation had worsened since being made redundant from the supermarket last month, following a takeover. The stress of that combined with his attempts to loose weight had caused him to eat even more than before, and he had actually gained weight instead!
Marty looked absolutely enormous in his thick winter coat, and felt a little more self conscious than usual. His large stomach wobbled as he went over a small break in the tarmac, and his bicycle groaned again under the strain. Marty briefly looked down, watching the front tire bulge as it went round slowly. His new year’s resolution was definitely going to be loosing weight, which meant that he only had eight eating days left until Christmas!
There was a queue outside the chemist’s shop, as he approached the small parade of shops that were only a few minutes ride away from his flat. He could hear the people talking as he slowed down ready to slip off onto the pavement.
“I’ve never known anything like it!”
“It’s this dammed headache, I seem to have had it for weeks!”
“I blame all that genetically modified food, you never know what you’re eating these days!”
“Well it’s certainly more feasible than solar flares!”
One of them pointed to the newspaper headlines written on the board outside the newsagents.
Headache epidemic blamed on Solar Flares
Marty had instinctively looked across at the mention of the word food, as a very thin woman with a hooked nose stared back at him. She had a very unkind face, which did nothing to disguise a rather cruel streak which Marty could almost sense running through her body. The woman had him firmly fixed in her gaze, which made him feel more than a little uncomfortable. His fears were well founded, as without warning she unleashed a very cutting remark, which sliced through his less than confident demeanour.
“He looks like a traffic island on wheels!”
Her remark cut Marty right through to the bone as he held onto the brake leavers as he swung a leg over the crossbar, pushing his bicycle towards the local mini market. A few people looked over towards him as he lent it against the wall. He quickly unclipped the small battery powered lights from their little holders placing them in his pocket, and was about to grab the chain lock which hung around the frame, when he felt them all staring at him. Marty just left it, eager to get inside before she had another go at him.
Fortunately, the shop had less of a hustle and bustle about it than usual, with everyone appearing to be rather subdued. This suited Marty as he often faced unpleasant remarks about his weight. This in turn made him eat even more as he found consolation in food, particularly when it was marshmallows!
Marty ambled along the isles of neatly stacked groceries, until he found the marshmallows sitting in the cake section. He looked around to see if there was anyone watching, but luckily, there were only a few people in the shop. They seemed to be oblivious to his presence, so he grabbed practically all of the marshmallows hurrying towards the counter.
A woman stared at him from behind a pair of dark glasses, as he approached the till. She also seemed to have a headache, and he surmised that she was wearing the glasses to counteract the rather bright florescent lights that were glaring down upon them.
Marty felt uncomfortable, embarrassed by his impending gluttony. He really hoped that he could get out of there as soon as possible, dreading the prospect of having to hold any sort of a conversation with her. He gingerly placed the marshmallows on the counter, reaching into his trouser pocket for money. The woman took a packet off the top of the pile, passing it over the scanner, which failed to register. She tried again, before calling another assistant.
“Ere Keith, how much are these marshmallows?”
Her shrill voice made everyone look up. Marty went red, sensing that they were all looking at him.
Keith, a very thin teenager shouted out the price, as the woman gave him a rather disgusted look. Marty knew that she was thinking about his weight and the fact that all of these marshmallows were only going to make matters worse!
Blushing, he handed over the money as she stuffed them into a plastic bag before handing him his change. Marty felt relieved as he put it in his pocket, heading straight for the door. There was still a large queue outside the chemist’s shop, which was already overflowing with people after headache tablets.
Marty went to put the plastic bag over the handlebars, when he noticed that his bicycle was missing. He looked up to see a teenager wearing a baseball cap riding away on it. Marty tried to give chase, but he was not very agile on his feet as he pounded across the pavement.
The horrible woman insulted him again, much to the amusement of the other unpleasant people in the queue who started laughing as the teenager got away.
Marty felt terrible, realising that he had forgotten to chain up his bicycle in his efforts to avoid further humiliation. But, at least he was free from the headaches that were plaguing all of them, which was at least something!
Marty was still doing his best to give chase, and without thinking ran out into the road. There was this sudden blast of horn and a screeching of brakes, as a motorbike and sidecar combination came hurtling towards him. He looked round just as the front wheel made contact with his leg, as he fell to the ground.
If Marty had felt embarrassed before, then nothing had prepared him for this. The laughter echoed around the shop front as people doubled up at his misfortune.
Marty just froze as the laughter continued, unable to move whilst they all ridiculed him. Fortunately, the only thing injured was what was left of his pride!
He just lay there helpless for a few minutes, until this shadow suddenly fell over him, and as he looked up, he could see a figure dressed in black leathers.
“Are you hurt?”
A voice came from behind the dark visor, but Marty failed to respond. The fall had really shaken him up, and it was going to take a few minutes for him to regain his composure.
“Are you hurt?”
The voice seemed strangely familiar, with a recognisable air of authority, combined with a domineering tone!
Marty could just not place it, and listened for it again. But all his ears could detect were the few distant comments from those awful people standing in the queue outside the chemist’s shop, as he lay there prostrate like a proverbial beached whale!
A cold shiver ran down his spine, penetrating much further than the odd icy blast which he had had to contend with since leaving the comparative comfort of the kitchen.
Marty had a very uneasy feeling, as he studied the mysterious leather clad figure. He was sure it was a woman, due to the voice and the small size of the protective clothing.
He waited anxiously, as the leather gloves held onto the darkened helmet raising it off the occupant’s head. Marty had a real shock, for there standing in front of him was this elderly woman. He felt himself staring at her, and she smiled as his face flushed slightly.
“Great Aunt Celia?”
He suddenly recognised his mother’s wayward aunt. Her expression suddenly changed as he staggered to his feet.
“Just look at the size of you. How on earth have you managed to get so large?”
Marty stood guiltily transfixed by her protruding green eyes, not even daring to look down towards the plastic bag crammed full of marshmallows. He felt overwhelmed by her presence, which felt like an electric shock, numbing his body for a few seconds. This sensation was compounded by the fact that somewhere underneath he knew that she was right!
Marty broke away from her gaze to look back towards the baseball-capped teenager. A look of dismay filled his face as he watched his bicycle disappear out of sight.
Marty felt guiltier than ever. He knew how heavy he was and for the first time he realized that maybe, it might be a good time to do something about it.
The bag of marshmallows sat on the pavement. If he was going to try and loose weight, then he would definitely have to cut down – after he had finished them all off, that was!
He looked longingly in the direction of the teenager, wondering if he would ever see his bicycle again. Marty did not relish having to walk everywhere, as his excessive weight made his feet sore.
“I suppose you’d like a lift home!”
She must have read his thoughts. Marty gladly accepted, picking his bag of marshmallows up off the floor before she had a chance to change her mind.
Celia pointed to the sidecar, lifting up part of the front section. The motorbike was one of those old British models with lots of thick black metal and shiny chrome.
Marty moved a little closer, trying to squeeze past her into the little compartment. There was not a lot of room for someone of his size, and he had trouble forcing his way into the seat. Celia glared at him, as he eased himself in, rocking the suspension from side to side.
Celia lowered the open section which clipped back into position, whilst he held onto his bag of marshmallows. There was a clang of metal as she got the spare helmet out of one of the panniers. It gave Marty a bit of a start when she tried to force it onto his head. The helmet was a bit tight, and it squashed his ears as she slid it on. Then before it had settled properly, he felt the unpleasant slap of elastic as she pulled the goggles out over the little peek before letting them go.
This seemed to sum up her domineering manner, and the feeling grew as she looked at her watch before kick starting the engine, revving it several times before shooting off in the direction of his flat. He tried to ask her to follow the teenager, hoping that he may be able to recover his bicycle, but she was going so fast that Marty just sat there peering at her through the goggles.
Celia picked up speed, before suddenly veering off down a side street. A look of shock filled his face as he pointed towards the teenager who was just visible in the distance.
There was an uneasy silence as he tried to say something, but for some reason he was unable to speak. Marty began to panic, instinctively reaching for the sidecar handle, even though they were going much too fast for him to jump out. Celia just turned her head round and looked at him mysteriously.
“We haven’t got time for that now, we only have three hours to save the Earth!”