Chapter 2

If reading this story sets you on a path to building a Superluminal Hyperdrive, you should know that you are going to need a microchip to process a 16 bit instruction set. Luckily they’re cheap and easy to obtain. However, when the invasion took place it was a bit more tricky to get your hands on one.

Kevin stood up and walked towards the window.

 ‘We need to build a spaceship.’

His statement was met with silence.

 ‘Now, I know you think it sounds crazy’

 ‘That’s because it is crazy’, muttered Martina.

 ‘You are just thinking that because you’ve never built one, but ask yourself this; where’s the one place the invaders won’t expect to find humans?’

 ‘Neptune?’

 ‘Close Pa, inside their command ship is where …we’d take them totally by surprise, and once inside it’d be no bother to fuck up all of the controls’

Kevin began pacing back and forth as he talked.

 ‘I dunno why I never thought of it before, all we need are some wheels in static equilibrium. Then we move one clockwise …if the bearings are good enough it’ll continue to rotate. And then if we bolt a hammer to it, it’ll turn till it’s pointed straight up, and fall. That’d give an anticlockwise force on the first wheel. If I stick a spring at the bottom it’ll bounce back up with an opposite impulse …and gain energy from the gravitational field …and repulse the positive gravitational charge of matter. Then we just point ourselves and it at the mothership …and we’re there’

The room was briefly silent again when he finished.

 ‘It’s very early in the morning for that kind of stuff, what do you think Martina?’

 ‘Sorry, I kinda spaced off, I’m sure it’s great Kev, but we should still warn the others’.

Kevin was now doing laps of the room with excitement.

 ‘…we’ll need a processor, and something that can insulate the drive …and a large battery’

 ‘Kev, slow down, you’re gonna do my head in, here, skin up’

Pa handed Kevin the tobacco tin.

 ‘I’ll try get the van started, we should warn the others before we do anything’

Kevin handed the tin to Martina as Pa walked out.

 ‘Actually, will you skin up Martina? I need to write down the materials we’re gonna need’

The van Pa went to start was a ten year old three liter Ford transit. It was parked sideways across a shingle driveway outside a B & B in South Sligo.

It had served well for five festival/ fruit picking seasons. 

It’s disadvantages were:

  •     Rusty locks
       
  •     A missing driver side window
       
  •     Torn upholstery
       
  •     And it was difficult to start.

It’s advantages were:

  •     It could handle rough driving
       
  •     And at a push it could comfortably sleep four adults and a dog.

Pa climbed into the cab and turned the ignition.

Bram. The sputter of the engine made its way indoors.

 ‘Martina, will you hand me the cardboard from the papers, I need to make a list’

Bram. Clunk.

 ‘No Kev, I need it for roach material’

Bram.

 ‘Ah come on, I’m trying to save the world’

Bram. Bram.

 ‘Fine. you can have half of it.’

Bram. Bram. Bramm.

 ‘Sounds like Pa’s got the van going Kev, we better head’.

Kevin handed over a tiny rectangle of cardboard as they left.

 ‘Here’s a list of stuff we’re gonna need, make sure and give that to Pa; once ye get that stuff I’ll build the engine’.

Martina and Kevin jumped into the cab of the van and it rattled out onto the road. The sun was long gone but the eerie light of a comet lit the sky. It would have been a journey best suited to silence, but Pa gave out about the MC all the way.

 ‘What d’ya say they call him Martina?’

 ‘Billy the rant’

The van pulled off the main road onto a bohreen, and from there onto a forestry track.

 ‘Billy what?’

 ‘the rant, he’s a poet’

 ‘oh alright, fair enough, I’m still not going up to him though, you do it’

 ‘No way, it’s Kev’s idea, you go up there Kev -you know how to explain all the technical stuff’

 ‘Fine so lads, I’ll do the talking.’

The throb of a bass drum grew louder as they made their way along the track. Every now and then a straggler from the party wandered out of the trees. The van pulled into a sloped clearing that was being used as a car park.

It was not far from the car park to a larger clearing where decks and a sound system had been set up, but another speaker played noisily in one corner. A small crowd danced messily around it. One of the group staggered towards the van clutching a flagon of cider. 

The woman had the bedraggled look of someone aged roughly between twenty-five and eighty, and who neither knew exactly nor cared either.

 ‘Fuck the system’, she said cheerily, and stuck her head in the window.

Kevin nodded back towards her.

 ‘Howya, planet Earth has been attacked by aliens and most of the world’s cities have been destroyed’

The woman stared blankly, her focus was only partly on what was in front of her.

 ‘The comet is their mothership, and they’ll soon have destroyed all the world’s armies’

Something sparkled in the woman’s eyes.

 ‘Woohoo’ she shouted, and stuck her head back out of the window.

She began yelling at the rest of the group, and they called back.

 ‘Babylon is falling’

 ‘Yeah, woohoo’

 ‘Fuck Babylon, tear it down’

She turned back towards Kevin, smiled, muttered ‘nice one’, and staggered back to the group.

Pa parked the van along the edge of the makeshift car park. The three passengers climbed out and headed along a narrow trail to where the party was taking place. Music was part of the landscape now, and it was getting louder.

A trail of paraffin filled lamps led them through trees into the party. At one end of a large clearing was a set of decks flanked by two stacks of speakers. A crowd pulsed and throbbed in between the trail and the speakers.

Martina pointed to a figure standing in front of the decks and gesturing wildly at the dancers.

 ‘D’ya see the skinny blondy haired fella in front of the decks Kev, with the beard and flat top … that’s Billy the rant, he’s meant to be sound enough, just tell him what the story is’.

Kevin made his way through the crowd towards the front of the speakers. Pa and Martina waited at the other end of the clearing, soaking up the atmosphere for the second time in the night.

Billy the rant gurned relentlessly and his eyes bulged while Kevin explained.

 ‘That’s deadly, but we’re not knocking the tunes off man’

 ‘It’s not deadly, I mean it is deadly …deadly serious, can ya at least give me the mic so I can warn the crowd?’

Billy handed Kevin a microphone.

 ‘work away man, but to the beat, yeah?’

Kevin looked at the crowd swaying with the music. Three spotlights at the decks lit up those nearest him. Shadows swarmed and danced beyond them. He brought the microphone to his face.

 ‘Planet earth has been attacked by alien spaceships.’

Whump, whump, dudda, dudda.

 ‘Most of the major cities have been destroyed’

Bdrrang, whump, whump, dudda, dudda

 ‘The world’s armies are going to launch an offensive any moment’

Whump, whump, dudda, dudda

 ‘They will all be wiped out, and we will be too, unless we do something right now…’

Billy placed his hand on the microphone. He stuck a finger on his lips, smiled a toothy grin, and took the microphone back. The music stopped on a thundering bass drop.

Billy began pacing up and down.

Boom. The sound of a single note echoed through the trees, followed by silence. The crowd had fallen quiet too.

Boom.

 ‘Where are all my people?’

Billy had just finished yelling when the note struck again.

 ‘Where are all my fucking people at?’

Boom, and silence, followed by a kick drum.

Boom. The notes began to increase in tempo, before ripping through the octaves and settling into a pattern. Psychedelic sound effects zipped and whirred into the night.

The crowd cheered.

 ‘whoop, whoop, fucking hardcore, yeah, to the beat, to the beat, all my people are right here.’

Billy turned and handed the microphone back to Kevin, grinning again. Sweat was dripping from his forehead, and several of his bottom teeth were missing. He motioned for Kevin to continue.

Kevin cleared his throat.

 ‘Uh, we’re going to build a spaceship and destroy the alien mothership’

The crowd, and Billy, were now bouncing up and down.

 ‘It’s going to be powered by the world’s first superluminal hyperdrive…’

Billy yanked the microphone out of Kevin’s hand and started roaring

 ‘Hypa, hypa, we’re going fucking hypadrive, whoop, whoop’

The crowd roared.

He turned to hand the microphone back to Kevin, but Kevin was gone.

Pa and Martina saw Kevin approaching from a good distance. He stuck out in the crowd. His face was like thunder.

 ‘You’re right Pa, that fella’s a dipstick’

 ‘Told ya’

 ‘So what now?’, asked Martina.

 ‘We’re just gonna have to save the world by ourselves, you and Pa can go and fetch the materials, I’ll make a take off strip below the car park’.

Martina, Pa and Kevin followed the trail back to the makeshift car park. Martina and Pa climbed into the cab of the van and Pa began the process of starting it. Kevin paced over to the opposite edge of the clearing, looking at the gaps between the trees.

 ‘What ya up to?’, came a voice behind him. It’s owner was dressed in a leather jacket and jeans, had a full head of dreadlocks, and was unsteady on his feet. Kevin picked up a stick and tried using it to measure the distance between tree branches. 

 ‘Measuring a take off path for a spaceship’

 ‘Oh yeah, done that plenty of times meself. It’s not too bad here, ya have it pretty easy …I had to make one once on the side of a mountain in a full force gale. And I tell ya, there was no lights from a party to help me. Why don’t you make it on the other side of the hill?’

Kevin didn’t reply.

 ‘The other clearing is closer to the moon, but you probably didn’t know that …have you got any tobacco?’

 ‘Here…’, snapped Kevin. He reached into one of his pockets and fired a pouch onto the ground.

The owner of the voice began rolling a cigarette, and stepped closer to Kevin as he did. It was clear he wanted to involve himself in the activity.

Bram. Pa was struggling with the ignition.

 ‘First time making a launch strip eh?, can be a hard thing to get right …I was like you when I started too, I learned pretty quickly though, ended up building them all over the world, don’t mean to boast but if I could clear a take off strip in my sleep at this stage …have you got any papers?’

Kevin handed over a cigarette paper.

 ‘Fuck sake…’ he muttered.

Bram. Bram. The van sounded louder, but was still not moving.

 ‘What’s your name?’

 ‘Kevin’

 ‘Mine’s Paul, but people call me Terry’

Paul turned and shouted behind him ‘here Tony, there’s a fella here making a take off path for a spaceship’

A voice replied from the shadows.

 ‘Oh yeah, made plenty of them over the years; pretty easy to do it here though; not like some of the ones I’ve had to make’

Bram. Clunk. The van sputtered into life.

 ‘Can I get a light off ya?’, asked Paul.

Kevin was now struggling with his task. It would have been a tall order on a good day but darkness, the noise of the party, and a sputtering van were making it very difficult for him to think. He did not welcome the addition of two drunken experts.

 ‘would you like me to smoke it for ya too?’ 

He threw the lighter on the ground.

 ‘Take it easy mate, there’s no need to get uptight about space travel, when you get to be as good as me you’ll find it no bother …Tony, I was just telling Kevin here that he should make the strip on top of the hill.’

Tony staggered over to them and propped himself against a branch. He seemed pleased to have an audience, and appeared ready to hold court.

 ‘You won’t know this Terry, cos you’re too young; but the top of a hill is always the closest to the moon, good to meet ya Kevin, can I get a smoke off ya?’ 

Bram. Bram. Brammm. The van drove out of the clearing and onto the forestry track. Kevin watched it disappear between the trees, glanced towards his two new advisors, rolled his eyes, and went back to measuring.

 ‘It’s gonna be a long night’, he muttered.