Travellers -‘The Island Connection 10’
Due to be published in March 2018
Travellers arrive unseen and stay hidden for millions of years until their accidental discovery revives their chances of survival. But what will they do with their new-found freedom, if indeed they can escape their prison? The discovery of a mysterious pod that glistens black during the day and glows red at night sets people’s imaginations running wild. Soon, the mysterious object becomes the focus of attention for the world’s media. But does the pod contain anything? And if so, what? What are Travellers? Some people know the facts, but they dare not speak out. “I wonder what people would think if they knew what we were enabling?” she said. “I think they would string us up quicker than you could say ‘traitor’,” the tall man replied. “I don’t suppose that many would realise that we are gambling with the future of the planet.”
After a further five minutes of digging, Jimmy raised one eyebrow, causing his brow to pucker. Something didn’t sit right. Every time he dragged his bucket back, it scraped on something which, at a glance, didn’t look like metal or plastic, but wasn’t sandstone either. An experienced digger driver like Jimmy was like an artist. He could feel the soil and the rock and the obstructions through the hydraulic levers that he manipulated with just the tips of his fingers. He couldn’t see what was causing the blockage because each time he scooped out sandstone, a stream of crumbled soil ran back into the hole to cover the obstruction. Jimmy jumped down from his cab, grabbed a shovel, and dropped down into the hole. He scraped at the loose earth and shovelled it to one side.
What he found was something with a smooth surface that looked like some sort of plastic, but which shimmered and flashed a little in the sunlight. A bit like glittery unicorn dust when his six-year-old daughter had finished playing with her make-up kit. The only trouble was that this unicorn dust held no bright colours. It was black as night, yet reflected the sunlight. Jimmy rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands. Flashing black light wasn’t something his brain could unscramble. And whatever the object was, it was rounded. Not a small pipe like a standard 100mm or 150mm uPVC drain. If it was something circular, it was far bigger than that, judging from the slow radius.
“Everything alright, Jimmy?”
The voice belonged to Stitcher, the site foreman. Not many knew his real name, but everyone called him Stitcher on account of the fact that a surgeon had thrown his heart away and given him a new one from a donor in Manchester. When sewing him back up, the surgeon had left Cecil English with a considerable scar and a new nickname.
“Yeah, I guess everything’s okay,” Jimmy said, “but damned if I know what this is, and close up it’s got these dark flashes bouncing round on it to it. There’s some weird shit going on here.”
Stitcher peered down into the hole. He had been a digger driver himself in his day, so knew that there was nothing unusual about getting out of the cab to take a closer look at the dig. “It looks like it’s plastic from here.”
“True, but I’m now four feet down in virgin sandstone. How would something plastic get here?”
“You mean it’s not old backfill that you’ve been digging out?”
“No. Apart from a bit of topsoil, I’ve pulled out nothing but unspoiled sandstone so far. There’s no signs of any previous digging and filling. But that doesn’t make sense since plastic has only been used in the building trade for the last fifty years. How does something big and plastic turn up under four feet of virgin sandstone? And what the hell are these flashes of black light?”
“Damned if I know, old son. Black light doesn’t make sense. It was just public toilets here before we began digging, wasn’t it?”
“Toilets, sailors’ shelter, the yacht club, some old garages and a storage yard. Demolition team got rid of them all in a week flat. The sailors’ shelter and the yacht club have been relocated down the side of the marina and they plan building new public loos when this new treatment plant is finished. The demolition guys cleared all the rubble away and left us with a clean site. One of the easiest to work on too, being right next to the promenade. I’ve already ripped out all the drains that served the old buildings. They were less than a couple of feet down.”
“Could it be a septic tank or cesspit?”
“No. Like I say, I’m pulling out virgin rock. Stitcher. Whatever it is, it wasn’t buried here and covered over again. It sort of grew here!”
“You sure of that?”
“Positive. Come take a look yourself.”
“No, I trust your judgment, Jimmy. Why not dig round the thing for the moment? See how far it goes and how deep. That way we’ll get some idea of size and can decide what to do with it.”
Jimmy knelt down and slowly moved his hand towards the object, expecting to get an electric shock at any moment. But his hand passed through the layer of black flashes with nothing more than a slight tingle. He tapped on the plastic. “Sounds hollow. There’s a sort of echo. Do we need to call anyone?”
“No, let’s expose it a bit first, then we can decide.”
“I’ve banged it a few times with the bucket. What happens if I damage it?”
Stitcher laughed. “I’ve seen you get your bucket to within a centimetre of an object, Jimmy. The only reason you’d damage something is if you meant to. Perhaps best we take a bit of care now we know it’s there, eh?”
Image used and published according to the licence granted by the artist