Out there book one par.., p.1
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       Out There - Book One: Paradise, p.1

           David Gordon
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Out There - Book One: Paradise
Out There

  Book One: Paradise

  By David Gordon

  Copyright 2014 David Gordon

  Cover design by Alex Gordon

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Peek at OUT THERE 2: Adonae

  Our Timbuktu

  About the Author

  Chapter 1

  “They’re letting them go”

  The aliens landed almost exactly one year ago. I can tell you almost everything about the big mess that nearly ended the world. I mean, our world. And I will.

  How do I know so much? Let’s just say that I have special ways of knowing things. I get around. I see. I hear. Just like you, but with a little something extra. I can’t tell you what that extra is right now, or how I know so much. Who I am will have to be a secret. For now, anyway. Perhaps you will figure out who I am. If so, then YOU will have a secret.

  At least for a while. At least until the whole story is told, and we have straightened out the terrible mess we got ourselves into.

  See that lump under the sheet on the bed there? That is Sami Lightfoot. She likes to go to bed late and hates to get up early. It’s early now. Worse than that, it’s a school day. If you look out the window of her room you can see the sun coming up. It’s the middle of October. At this time of the year, in many places in the country, the air is cool and crisp, and the leaves on the trees are turning red, orange, and yellow. They rain down to cover lawns and sidewalks, then get raked into great piles for kids to kick and jump into.

  But you won’t see any of that when you look out of Sami’s window. Already it’s getting hot. Across the street there is a dog panting in the shade of a cactus that is twenty feet tall. Did that surprise you? Did you expect the dog to be sitting in the shade of a tree? Not here, not in this town. This is Paradise, Arizona. This is the desert.

  In the best of times it would be hot and dry here, of course. But it is not the best of times. Things are a lot worse now—as they are everywhere—because of the water shortage.

  “Samantha! Get up!”

  The person yelling is Sami’s mother, Melanie Lightfoot. Like most adults, she’s in a hurry. A moment later she yanks the sheet off of Sami, and growls, “Now!”

  Sami squints up at her. “Do I have to?”

  “Don’t make me late again.” Her mother hurries back out of the room.

  Sami swings her legs over the edge of the bed and sits up. She groans and mutters, “Rats.” Then she closes her eyes and drops back onto the bed.

  She has no idea what this particular day has in store for her. (We never do know, do we?) But it does have something in store for her, something that will change everything.

  Sami’s mother was at the kitchen table, staring at a news program on the television. This was the only table in their apartment, except for a narrow table next to the sofa. The place was small. The living room and the kitchen were connected into one room, there was Sami’s bedroom, a bedroom for her mother, and the bathroom. That was it.

  “Did you brush?” Sami’s mother called out, without taking her eyes off of the TV. Sami came out of the bathroom, wiping a smear of toothpaste from her mouth with her wrist. She sat down at the table and started eating the cereal her mother had prepared for her. When she heard the cereal crunching, Mrs. Lightfoot glanced at Sami’s wild hair, and frowned. “Comb,” was all she said, and then turned back to the television. As usual, the word comb went straight through Sami's head and disappeared forever.

  “What are you watching?” she asked.

  “It’s about them,” her mother answered. “They’re letting them go.”

  Ugh, thought Sami, the aliens again. She was tired of hearing about them, and muttered, “Boy, do I have a bone to pick with them!” Sami did not really know what it meant to pick a bone with someone, but she understood that it had to do with being angry. And “picking bones” sounded just like how she felt about the aliens.

  Mrs. Lightfoot had heard Sami say this nearly every day for the past year.

  The particular bone Sami had to pick with the aliens was that they had landed on her birthday. On that day, like everyone in Paradise—in the world, in fact—Mrs. Lightfoot had been glued to her television to watch the endless news reports about the aliens. She had completely forgotten that she was supposed to be making Sami a birthday cake. Sami had been pretty mad and very disappointed. “You know,” she had complained, “my birthday comes only once a year! That’s 366 days, which is a long time to wait for your cake!” She had made a mistake about how many days there were in a year, of course. But no matter how many days it has, a year is a very long time when you are waiting for something important.

  Still, that long year did pass, and Sami has just had another birthday. This time her mother remembered to make the birthday cake. But Sami can hold a grudge for a long time. So she glared at the images on the television screen.

  Actually, the aliens had not really landed. They fell. Like a giant meteor, their spaceship streaked down one night and crashed into a huge field of wheat in Kansas. The ship was smashed to smithereens. Fortunately, the aliens had ejected from the spaceship in emergency pods just before the crash. A farmer who saw the whole thing said, “It was just like squeezing watermelon seeds between your fingers. Pop pop pop… They were flying out of that ship in every direction.”

  You can bet that the authorities—police, National Guard, Army, Air Force, Sheriff, Highway Patrol, fire department, FBI, CIA—and all of the news stations got to that field in no time. Seventeen pods had squirted out of that doomed spaceship, and in each one the authorities found a family of three aliens: a dad, a mom, and child. Weird. They quickly collected all fifty-one of the aliens and put them in a detention center. Naturally, the world went crazy for a while. Some people were afraid and wanted to immediately kill them. The aliens were strange, but they seemed friendly and harmless, and they were stuck here. After a few months the people of Earth stopped worrying about them and lost interest.

  We lost interest for a good reason, too. We had a much bigger problem than homeless aliens. Everywhere in the world we were running out of fresh water.

  Sami glanced at the TV. A newsman was talking, and what she heard was, “Blah blah blah blah blah.” On the screen were those same old videos of the pulverized spaceship burning in that Kansas wheat field. And of the scared aliens surrounded by National Guard troops. And, later, of aliens staring with fear at snow falling, and listening with joy to music, and touching with wonder the feathers of birds. But this time Alice Liddell, the president of the United States, appeared on the screen. Speaking to dozens of reporters, she announced that now, a year after rounding up the aliens, they were letting them go.

  Sami sighed. She looked around her tiny apartment. The kitchen and living room were neat and tidy. Melanie insisted on that, and liked to remind Sami, “A messy room makes a messy mind!” Sami found this very annoying. She knew very well that a messy room is a great place to be, and that messy minds can be a lot of fun.

  Even though it was tidy, the apartment looked old. There was a big stain on the carpet where Sami’s dog had peed. Their furniture was shabby, with holes and stains and scratches. The sofa was missing a cushion
because the dog had chewed it up. (The next day he ran away, and that was the last they ever saw of him.) Mrs. Lightfoot had tacked to the walls posters of places in the world she wished she could visit. There was Venice, where there are canals— waterways —instead of streets and boats instead of cars. Another one was of a huge stone pyramid, with pictures of jaguars and parrots and warriors carved right into the stone. “Tikal” was printed on the poster bottom in large, fancy letters. Sami thought Tikal was somewhere in Mexico. And there was a poster of the northern lights shining like red silk curtains over the snow in Fairbanks, Alaska.

  The wall behind the television was covered with things Sami had written and drawn on scraps and sheets of paper since she was a baby. There were a few photographs, and papers from school, too. Mrs. Lightfoot called it “The Wall of Fame,” and it always made her smile.

  Sami put down her spoon and pulled up both of her feet so that she could tie her new sneakers. They were bright red and made out of some special, shiny material so that they sparkled. Sami had fallen in love with them the moment she saw them, and begged and pleaded with her mother to get them for her. Mrs. Lightfoot had pretended to ignore her begging. But those sparkling red sneakers were waiting for Sami by her bed when she woke up on her birthday last week.

  Other than her sneakers, Sami wore jeans and a striped t-shirt. Always. She said that it was comfortable and easy to do things dressed that way, and that was what she liked. For the same reasons she kept her hair cut short. After washing her hair all she had to do was shake her head—like a dog shakes after coming out of the water—and she was done! Her hair usually looked like she had been in a windstorm. This drove her mother crazy. And often the kids at school teased her. They said she looked like a boy, that she wasn’t cool, that she looked dumb. But Sami liked her hair the way it was.

  “Mom,” said Sami, “we need a new sofa.”

  Mrs. Lightfoot looked away from the television and down at her cup of coffee. “We have no money for new anything now. You know that.” She glanced at her watch and yelped. “Look at the time!”

  She grabbed the remote and snapped off the television, snatched up her cup and Sami’s cereal bowl, and tumbled them into the sink. “I have a double shift at the hospital today. Ask Mr. Sanchez if he will look after you when you get home.”

  Sami instantly looked grumpy. “Always double shifts.”

  “Well,” said her mother, “I always like for us to eat.”

  “Do you have to be a nurse?” Sami wanted to know.

  Melanie turned to look at Sami, then smiled. She put her arms around her and gave her a kiss on the top of her head.

  “I’ll be home in time to tuck you in. Promise.” She swept Sami off of the chair and shoved her toward the door. “Now get going.”

  Sami made a sour face, picked up her backpack, checked that her iPod was in there, then opened the door. “Bye,” she said, and just stood there.

  “Go,” her mother said, and watched until the door closed.

  Out in the hallway, Sami heard her mother's voice boom through the door, "And comb your hair!" Sami slung her backpack over her shoulder. “Rats,” she mumbled, and walked down the hall to the next apartment and knocked. There was no answer. She put her ear to the door and heard the muffled sound of a television. She opened the door and stuck her head in.

  An old man was sitting in a big, soft chair that was covered in green velvet. The chair was so big that all Sami could see of the man was the back of his head, his shoulders, and one knee and foot sticking out to the side. Even though he was old he still had a full head of black hair, and it was combed straight back. He was staring at his TV and shaking his head.

  Sami called to him. “Hi, Mr. Sanchez.”

  The old man jerked forward at the sound of her voice so that, for a moment, he was completely hidden by the back of the chair. Sami could not see him at all. Then he sat up again and leaned around the side of the green chair to look at her. He was wearing sunglasses. Sami did not think that this was strange. There had been many times that she had seen Mr. Sanchez wearing his sunglasses in the apartment. He smiled at her and said, “Buenos dias, mija. Mande?”

  “Can I stay with you after school today until mom gets home?”

  Mr. Sanchez nodded. “Of course. Of course.” He waved goodbye to her, then turned back to the television. Sami closed the door and hurried off to catch the school bus.

  Chapter 2

  “I’m thirsty”

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