As the sun began its cooling descent, Eva felt the humidity of the summer day finally begin to lift from her head, a pressure had built around it all day. Normally the oppressive atmosphere signalled to her a storm was coming, but she couldn't see a cloud in the clear blue sky. She rubbed her temples to clear her mind and gently pushed herself back and forth on the swing in the park, allowing the breeze from her motion to wash away the stifling humidity.
Her friends sat crossed legged on the floor in front. They swung in and out of her view whilst they tapped away on their phones, texting, face-booking or twittering. She didn’t know which, or cared much. The day grew late, and she would have to say goodbye to another summer’s day and head home for a late tea.
She closed her blue eyes, swung back and forth, and continued to enjoy the cooling breeze on her face, while her dark bobbed hair floated away in the air. At home she imagined her parents would be enjoying the peace and quiet now she'd reached those dreaded teenage years. She got on with them okay, for parents they were good and they had allowed her to go to the park by herself.
She had spent most of the day with her friends exchanging gossip about school friends and celebrities. They had teased her a little about her crush on Josh, and encouraged her to finally try and do something about it this year. She had tried as they broke up for summer holidays to arrange a get together, but he was in such a rush to go off and play football with his friends, that she hadn't gotten the chance. Eva had been told through a friend of a friend that he was interested. That was as far as it went.
Definitely this year. She idly daydreamed about being his girlfriend and her pulse raced faster. She pushed her legs harder back and forth on the swing, gaining extra height and speed with each movement.
“No way,” Gemma, her friend, shouted out.
“What?” Jean answered, looking up from her phone.
“Check this out,” she said, and shoved her phone into her friend's lap.
A moment passed and she guessed they had stumbled across some celebrity gossip. She waited the news without any excitement - who's dating who, and who looks fat? That kind of trashy celebrity headline.
Jean gasped. “No way. It’s been photo shopped. They are messing with you.”
“Yeah, what about all the others. It's tweeting everywhere, follow the hashtag #aliens,” Gemma answered, her voice quickening.
That wasn’t the sentence she expected to hear, and leapt off the swing and staggered over.
On the phone in front of her, a multitude of photos of huge shiny white rectangle ships forcing their way through the Earth’s atmosphere. She dropped to her knees by their side and drew in a sharp intake of breath while placing a hand to her chest.
They flicked through the pictures being reported all across the world and posted online. A huge space ship had cast a shadow over the Whitehouse in America, and then one over the Houses of Parliament in London.
London! That meant they weren't far away. Her immediate reaction was a hoax. Maybe a CGI stunt to advertise the latest Sci-fi blockbuster. But that hope had evaporated when the BBC streamed live pictures from the Houses of Parliament as the massive white spaceship drowned out the sunlight. She rubbed her temples again, the oppressive atmosphere was squeezing her head further and the tension in her body mounted.
The storm broke and thunder banged over head. A shock wave squeezed her face first into the soft tarmac of the playground. Eva rolled over onto her back and looked up into the sky. The summer’s clear blue sky had darkened as a huge white spaceship masked the warming glory of the Sun and a cold shiver shuddered through her spine. They are here.
She wriggled her phone free from her jean’s pocket and held it up. Her hands shook making the image of the space craft wobble on the screen. She swallowed at her dry throat and tensed up to click a few photos, and then sent them to her social media accounts. Her friends did the same as the ship continued to descend bellowing plumes of smoke into the sky from which ash rained down.
Eva lay next to her friends transfixed at the descending space ship. She couldn't think of anything to say. Aliens had arrived and all she could think to do was take a photo.
The first of the ash floated within reach, and Eva raised her hand up to greet it but it wafted through her fingers. The next piece of ash floated down onto her gaping mouth and she wiped it away.
Behind, shouting and screaming came from the road, and a smashing of metal and screeching of tyres. Soon sirens began to whirl and the old air raid warning wailed out. It was a sound she had only ever heard in second world war films, but she knew what it meant - get somewhere safe.
The chaos made it real, this wasn't some fantastic special effects or 3D movie, this was real life. Aliens were coming and no one knew what that really meant. She stared at her friends laying either side of her on the soft tarmac of the playground, hoping they had an answer, but they stared mouths slacked and eyes enlarged.
“I am going home,” Eva said, and jumped to her feet as more ash drifted down into her face.
She ran, her heart pounding and muscles on fire. Her two friends had likewise taken the hint and headed their separate ways back to what they would normally consider safety. She wanted to get home to tell her parents and feel protected. As she ran home, the ship dominated the sky bringing its reality shattering bulk closer to the ground. Home and safety, mum and dad, was all she could think of as she sprinted through the chaotic streets.
A blue Ford fiesta skidded across the road towards her and she leapt out the way as it collided with the lamppost. In front her teacher, Miss Clark, staggered out into the road and stared up at the ship. A car skidded across the road as it swerved to avoid hitting a man in the back as he ran home, only to smash Miss Clarke onto its bonnet. Other cars screeched to a halt and shunted into one another as too distracted by the spaceship overhead, or trying to avoid the collision.
She should have stopped, but the reactions of the people spiralled her into a panic. Instead she sprinted harder, pushing past people to get home as quickly as possible. Tears rolled down her face, but she wouldn't slow to brush them away.
The road quickly became littered with cars and people as they stopped in their tracks to watch. She carried on weaving her way through the mass of people staring mouths open and eyes wide to soak in the space ships, like zombies caught in a trance. She continued down the street, through the alley and avoided the red post office van turning right as it hit a motorcyclist. Her heart jolted again and body jerked away from the accident.
She burst through the front door and straight into the living room to find her parents sat on the sofa glued to the TV set showing the alien space ships. She jumped on to the sofa and into the safety of her parents arms.
“It will be okay, Eva,” her father said, as he looked down into her tear filled eyes.
But she could tell from his frown he was as scared as her. The safety she craved from her parents wasn’t something they could offer. It occurred to her no one could guarantee her safety. The planet lay at the mercy of these unknown space ships and the entities that had brought them here. Any technology that could travel across space, would have powerful weapons that Earth could never match.
She silently passed him the phone and brought up the pictures.
“Here?” he asked.She just nodded, swallowed and pointed outside.