Exit - Pursued by a Bee by Geoff Nelder
Mysterious spheres have emerged from within the Earth. A newly qualified journalist hopes to make her name. You’ll have to imagine her Mississippi accent.
Tabitha Wish heard the dinner bubbling and hissing in the kitchen, forcing her to abandon her viewing of the CNN channel. Her family, exasperated by her fixation on the spheres, have conspired to be out of the house so she had to get out of her chair.
“I know what you’re doing,” she shouted at no one, but possibly everyone outside the door of the newly bought home in Jackson, Mississippi.
In the steam-filled kitchen she met three saucepans whose lids danced with uninhibited rage at being abandoned for so long. Peering into the condensation she discovered sweet potatoes gurgling in one pan, turnips boiling down to pot liquor in another, and a mysterious mishmash including Yellow Crookneck Squash and tomatoes plotting to escape.
“I’m turning it all off,” she yelled to her conspirators. The first in the family to gain a degree, and still she was expected to be momma in everything. The twins were only a week from being teens so they shouldn’t need their noses being wiped. Nor should her pop, who had taken on man-of-the-house duties since her rat-husband deserted after his Iraq duty. Not deserted from the army—that’d be understandable, but from his family. Last seen in a New Orleans topless bar - she’d top him if he came near Jackson. No child support in money or any other kind.
Tabitha pulled a face at the lace-curtained window, in case any of the three playing hooky were peeping in. She sat back in her computer chair and logged onto SpheresWatch.com.
She clicked through the webcams at the five spheres, especially at Glastonbury, and Ayers Rock. The metallic spheres floated thirty metres above their exit holes. Military presence surrounded them, too. From missile launchers to tanks, fire brigades with hoses at the ready in case the spheres or the landscape turned incendiary. Scaffolding was climbing towards the Glastonbury sphere. She rapid read the scrolled text, which informed her of the human need to probe the mysterious spheres, test their structures.
With bloodshot eyes from zooming too close to the screen, Tabitha hardly dared blink. Her fascination would have bordered on insanity, but like those probes, she was gathering data too. Although plenty of front pages had blurted the unusual phenomenon to the populace, she, as a newly qualified journalist, searched for an angle. To make her breakthrough at The Clarion Ledger, and beyond, she needed to be the first to make a connection and get it out there.
“Hey, Mom,” shouted Roma, “You’ve let the dinner go cold.”
“Sorry, daughter, you know how important it is for me to show those men at the office how brilliant us women are?” She swivelled the chair and grabbed her daughter for a hug.
“It’s KFC again tonight then?”
Roma laughed as Tabitha tickled her. “No, it’s just about done. I’ll butter the bread. Ah, I see Charlie’s beaten me to it.”
“Sure I have,” said Roma’s twin, with his mouth full of peanut-buttered bread.
A walking stick came in horizontally through the front doorway, signalling the entry of Tabitha’s father.
“Hey, Pop, sorry to have left you with them, but—”
“I know, I know. Matters nothing to me. You get on with your studies, maybe you’ll pass them exams this time.”
“I’ve already passed them, Pop, it’s…oh, never mind.” She stood to belatedly sort the dinner when a Reuter’s news item, scrolling across the computer screen caught her eye, and then her breath.
“...Vatican spokesperson says the spheres are a warning to non-believers...”
Amazing, considering the Vatican works in centuries not in days. She hit her journalist’s link to Vatican statements, but that report wasn’t there yet. Good, that meant others wouldn’t find it either, increasing her chances of a scoop. She used her Press ID password to get into the innards of Reuters and found the source of the item. She was curious how the Vatican would’ve thought the spheres favoured Christians.
“Whaddya think, Pop? Could aliens have the same God as us?”
“Damn Mexicans say they do.”
“No, outer space aliens.” Tabitha stifled a laugh.
Link to more about Jeff: