My Life As A Green Balloon, short story by Richard Allen at Spillwords.com

My Life As A Green Balloon

Whether it, too, was dark or whether it was bright, as I recalled from my very first moments of consciousness, I had no way of telling. Perhaps I would discover that at some stage? Perhaps not. This period lasted so long that I believe I stopped thinking much…or I suppose to be more accurate, thoughts flowed through me for most of the time, but they were partial, ill-formed, ephemeral, unconsidered, irrational and pointless. It was almost as though for that time thinking didn’t fit me. It made me uneasy. I would’ve preferred to have thought nothing, been completely still, rather than have this mass of whirling fragments hurling itself around my consciousness. However, eventually it came to an end. We were raised up, and naturally started to fall all over each other again, as we were moved, sometimes in quite a jerky manner, and placed down again. Then noises with which I was familiar started and we began to move in that smooth way we had previously, accompanied by a rumbling sound, which was occasionally interspersed with louder, higher, sharper noises. As before, from time to time we were flung sideways, but with less force than when the movement wasn’t accompanied by the rumbling sound. This lasted for a shorter time than previously. Then what appeared to be a routine of noise, sudden movement and being placed – still in the dark – on a firm surface in relative silence, occurred. Would this sort of thing continue indefinitely? Was this what my existence was intended to be? Or merely what it was going to be? How long would we remain in this current state? Would my consciousness be assailed again by fragmentary thoughts and ideas? Or might I understand – even though in utter blackness – what my purpose was and why I was where I was?
But we remained in this condition for a relatively short period of time, before suddenly our little world was flooded with light. We were raised up, tumbling into each other, with several of my companions lying on top of me, as I was pressed against the plastic skin of our container. Then we were conveyed through the almost dazzling brightness to a static position on some flat surface. Just as we were placed down, our container appeared to be shaken violently several times. We hurtled up and down and from one side to the other. Afterwards we were still again. The shaking had separated many of us and I found myself towards one side, partly on top of two of my companions – one blue, one yellow. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Indeed, I realised that we’d probably in positions of contact with our companions the whole time we were in darkness, but had been unable to perceive it…or perhaps it had become so familiar, we had stopped noticing after a while. The light was harsh and bewildering at first. But after a while I got used to it. I noticed that its intensity varied from time to time and it seemed to me that we were in a place which was a little cooler than the dark contained where we’d spent most of our time hitherto. In some respects it felt more pleasant. Even slight changes in the intensity of the light provided more interest than the consistent and complete blackness I’d experienced previously. It also seemed to me that within the light there was a movement of darker shapes and shades, sometimes…indeed often….accompanied by a range of different sounds. Evidently in whatever was beyond my plastic enclosure there was movement which occurred to other things. Up to now I’d only experienced movement relating to myself. The idea that other things might move…..and that there appeared to be other things beyond me and my companions, was something of a revelation. I suppose I had never really thought about it. I had assumed that when we moved, it had occurred in some automatic or perhaps even random fashion. But now the possibility opened up that we might have been moved by something. All this movement may have been intentional. We were where we were supposed to be. We hadn’t ended up where we were through chance, but for a reason. Inevitably, I began to puzzle over what this reason might be….as well as the nature of whatever had moved us, perhaps intentionally, to where we were.
And was this where we were intended to remain? Or would we move again? Perhaps into some different light? Or back into darkness? And what were the other things that moved? Plainly they couldn’t be things like us. We couldn’t move ourselves, let alone move anything else. We were only able to move when something else moved us. But these things could move…at least some of them. And who knows, might there also be other things like us somewhere else, possibly sharing the same light as us? But in view of my inability to move of my own accord, I would only discover something like that by accident, I reckoned. Then something extraordinary happened. A large dark shape covered up part of the light and appeared to move something close to us. It didn’t affect us at all, but whatever was next to us was certainly moved in some way, as I could detect that as well as hearing the sort of noises which I now associated with things – including me and my companions – being moved. After a short time, the dark shape receded and we were in the fullness of the light again.
This occurred again several times during the ensuing period. Unfortunately, the plastic of our container wasn’t so clear that I could perceive what was going on through it. The movement to and fro of this large dark shade was hazy, blurred. Invariably it was associated with something near us being moved in some way, but the movement never affected us. Evidently, there was movement which affected us and movement which did not. Inevitably this suggested a much larger world beyond the confines of our enclosure, a world where different things could happen at once. Some might affect us: but others would not. Would this large dark shade approach us at some stage? It certainly didn’t appear in exactly the same place each time…or not as far as I could recall. Perhaps there were other containers like ours close by? But, of course, it could be something utterly different. But “something utterly different” was to me as dark and hazy as the large shade itself. During my existence I’d encountered only myself and my companions, who differed (where we did so) only in colour, the plastic container where we had been originally placed, and the dark contained we had moved around in….and which now appeared to have vanished. What something else might look like was a complete mystery to me. I had no conception of what anything other that what I’d encountered might be like. I’d tended to assume that anything else that was sentient in some way was likely to resemble me and my companions. But I had no way of knowing whether that was so or not. I doubted whether the container in which we were placed was sentient. But as I couldn’t communicate with my companions, that might be an unwise assumption. Indeed, all I could swear to was that I was sentient. As my companions and I were unable to communicate with each other, it was always possible that they weren’t sentient. But on the whole, I felt I should assume that as they appeared to resemble me in every other way – except colour – our similarity extended to being sentient. However, as it appeared we couldn’t communicate, I’d never know, of course. This pattern of the dark shade occasionally moving across the light in different places continued for a while longer. Then the bright light suddenly disappeared accompanied by a cracking sound which I didn’t think I’d heard before. But to my surprise – and pleasure – it was not followed by us being submerged in total darkness again. Instead, we were in a greyish half-light. I could make out my companions and some dim shapes through the plastic of our container. But this dim light appeared to have reduced our colours, which were now various shades of grey. I also noticed that this half-light, as I decided to call it, seemed to bring with it an almost total silence.

Richard Hernaman Allen

Richard Hernaman Allen

I've written all my life. I took early retirement from a career in the UK Civil Service (Commissioner & Board Member of HM Customs & Excise) in 2006, to complete "Through Fire" which I started in 1976. I have written follow-up novels to it, but also a long series of detective stories, mostly set in Customs & Excise. I also write poems and occasional short stories. I live just outside London, have been married for 50 years to Vanessa & have 2 daughters & 2 grandsons.
Richard Hernaman Allen

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