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

My Life As A Green Balloon

The large dark shapes seemed to have disappeared also. Indeed, there appeared to me no movement at all, just the occasional faint noise which seemed to be some way distant. As time passed, I began to notice that the light had become darker. It developed slowly – so gradually that I was barely aware of it. Indeed, it was only when a sharp flash of bright light passed over me in an instant that I suddenly realised how dark it had got. I wondered whether it would slowly turn into the pitch blackness which we had been in earlier. But for the next period of time, though it got a little darker, it was more of a very dark grey – an almost bluish-grey – than the darkness in which I could see absolutely nothing. And further flashes of bright yellow or white light streaked over us and in the spaces around us from time to time. Often they were accompanied by a far distant rumbling noise. But after a while, the lights and the noise ceased completely.
We had been in this state for quite a while when I began to hear a strange sound. It was almost noiseless, but left like something moving – though I couldn’t perceive any movement. So it might just have been a sound which was made by something not moving. But so far in my experience, noise had always been accompanied by movement of some sort. Perhaps, therefore, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. It was not quite like scraping, more a sort of very rapid tapping…but not quite tapping – more like tapping mingled with swishing. Sometimes it grew louder, while at other times it seemed further away. Also it appeared to change its height, going up above us, below us and even level with us. Then suddenly the noise came very close to us and a small dark shape – appreciably darker than the rest of the light surrounding us – seemed to flash past us. It was most definitely moving – and at some speed too. What it was I had no idea. Nothing in my experience had prepared me for anything like that. I couldn’t even speculate as to what it might have been…..as it moved rapidly away and shortly afterwards the sounds it made ceased too. Plainly, it wasn’t an entity like me or my companions. This shape could move itself, presumably going where it wished to go. I imagined that might be rather enjoyable, if perhaps worrying. Why did the idea that it might be worrying come to me? I suppose the idea that one might go somewhere which one didn’t understand or where one was unable to get out. I guess if I could move myself I wouldn’t wish to be in a position where that ability was restricted or stopped altogether. As it was, a touch of envy for this shape which could move itself came over me. Not being at the mercy of movement which tumbled me around without me being able to do anything about it seemed good. But who knows what I might discover if I was able to move on my own? Though it might be better, I had to admit to myself that it could be worse. I knew nothing of the space where the small shape moved about. It might be suitable for that shape, but might prove extremely hazardous for me. Besides, as it seemed impossible that such a thing might happen to me, it wasn’t worth thinking about….and certainly not worrying about. After a very long time, I realised that the half-light was becoming lighter and more muffled sounds could be heard in the distance. Gradually the light and the noise increased and eventually the large dark shape appeared again, emerging from the brightness of the light and receding again very much as before. This continued for a while, until something extraordinary happened. The dark shape loomed up over us and something darker seemed to protrude from it, apparently grasping our container and raising us up high into the light. As we tumbled over each other, I could see nothing. But our positions stabilised and I was fortunately again on top of many of my companions and at one side of our container. In the brightness of the light, the dark shape seemed less dark grey, but more a lightish brown.
But there was virtually no time to observe it before we were plunged downwards again into something white and bright, which rustled and crackled noisily as we were apparently dropped into it. On this occasion, I was less fortunate. I fell right in the middle of several of my companions and was unable to see anything other than them. However, I could tell that we were being moved again, through a white light and then into something darker. At first our movement was jerky but also quite ponderous, accompanied by a variety of noises, none of which were familiar to me. Then after a loud crashing, crunching sound, it seemed to become much darker again and we moved in a more even manner, with a familiar rumbling sound. After a fairly short while, the movement ceased along with the rumbling sound. The crashing and crunching sound was repeated and we were again raised up into the light, falling against each other. Somehow, I ended up pressed against the side of our container, able to perceive the light and various blurred shapes. We were then placed down on something firm, with bright light apparently quite close to us. Indeed, from what I could tell, there were several bright lights with slightly less bright light between them. I began to wonder how long we might be in this situation, but I quickly reminded myself that the only guidance my experience so far could give me was that what might happened next was likely to be completely unpredictable. Anyhow, we remained like that for a while. Then a dark shape loomed over us and there was a tremendous scraping, ripping sound, and the top of our container was torn apart and some long, thin dark shapes, which suddenly assumed a pinkish-brown hardness which smelled of something completely different to anything else I’d ever encountered, thrust themselves into the container and drew out one of my companions….coloured dark red. As the dark shapes receded, they appeared to knock against the recently-made opening in our container, making the container tilt sideways and then fall sideways. As had occurred previously, whenever something violent happened to our container, we were all knocked into and all over each other. However, because the container was now open, several of us were thrown out of it on to a hard, brown surface which smelled strongly. But what the smell was, I had no idea. And, indeed, I rapidly took little interest in my immediate surroundings. For the dark shape suddenly appeared much more clearly. Evidently the walls of our container let through plenty of light, but obscured what was in that light. But now I could see that the shapes were large and extended high above me. The three or four I could see all resembled each other in having dark on their very top, below which was a sort of greyish-pinkness, which was also at the end of their limbs. Between that they were various colours, mostly bright. But the much clearer sight of them was nothing compared to what I could see being done to my crimson companion. One of these shapes had lifted it up and seemed to take its life hole into it. Then followed a loud wheezing, swishing noise and to my amazement and horror, my crimson companion started to swell, not just slightly but many, many times its original size. I couldn’t begin to imagine how that must be feeling like for my crimson companion – now turned a shade of bright red. Once it got to a certain point, an enormous size, circular and vast, the thin shapes that came out from the body of the bigger shape seemed to take hold of its life hole – which for no obvious reason appeared not to have swollen at all – and twisted it round and through itself, so that the life hole wasn’t just blocked: it was secured with ferocity and in a manner that I could not believe it could ever be opened again. A long thin strip of something that looked quite hard was then tied across the life hole, presumably to make absolutely certain that my companion couldn’t return to its former state. Then one of the protruding shapes grasped this thin strip and pulled my companion away into the distance.

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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