I am pleased to present exclusively for visitors of Brave Bear Books, the brand new prologue for Mirrorball. Please read and feel free to comment. I am already in love with this story. I was explaining to my wife about it and even she seemed interested. lol. Please understand that I am writing this at present and of course, that means some things may change when I go back over it. Consider this a first draft. Join the conversation. Get involved and who knows, if you have a suggestion I can use, I might even find a place in the acknowledgments for you. (grin). Enjoy.
The Dancing Planets
(Copyright 2015 Paul G Day)
Under the huge planetary sphere, the little boy could not help his delight. He craned his neck and held one hand up over his eyes, as it was mid-morning and the sun glared bright along the crest of the sphere.
“Move into the shadow boy,” came his father’s voice.
He moved into the shadow and from there he could make out the shapes of the clouds and the big red spot.
“Look daddy!” he exclaimed happily. “I can see it. I can see the red spot.”
His father was smiling as he too looked up. His wife, who had hold of the small boy’s hand, was distracted by some activity further up the pathway. She had taken a moment to look up, but as she was still in sunlight, so she found it difficult to see without squinting. A tug on her sleeve reminder her that she was supposed to be looking too.
“Look mummy do you see it? Do you see it too?”
“Well of course darling. I see it. I see the orange and pink bands of clouds as well.”
“And what about the rings, do you see them too?” the boy said cheerfully. Then he started hopping from the shadow of Jupiter to the shadow of the rings, then back again. His parents giggled at his peculiar little dance.
“See I told you he’d love it,” came the confident observation from the boy’s father. His wife just shrugged. She had had her doubts until that moment. She remembered well the time, not two years before, they had taken him to the royal show and after only minutes walking past the rides, he had spotted a scary looking robotic manikin dressed as a vampire above the ghost train and ran behind his mother screaming and squealing. Nothing she could do could convince him the vampire wasn’t real. She had not been prepared for his reaction. They had only been there less than half an hour but because of his incessant wailing, neither of them could calm him and they had to leave the show early.
So of course she had doubts. Who could blame her.
She was relieved to see his enthusiasm and all her fears evaporated as the child skipped along cheerily from one exhibit to the next, clearly fascinated by what there was on show. His father wasn’t much better, eagerly explaining to his son the complexities of the exhibits, unaware the words he was using went right above the boys’ head. It mattered little. They were both happy that their son was responding so excitedly to the park.
For the next two full hours he never once asked to go to the toilet or for an ice-cream. In fact, when it came time for lunch, they had to drag him away from the rocket rides and only then after promising him some chips and a hamburger.
For the rest of the day they wandered through the theme park, missing nothing. The boy wanted to see it all. He went on all the little rides, made friends with at least a dozen other children and only when he was overcome with tiredness and hunger did he ask to go and sit down at the café.
His father listened intently to his son as he rambled on about all the exhibits, explaining to his father what they had seen, as if he was the only one who had seen it.
“Do you want to stay a while longer?” His father finally said. His wife shot him a glance. She had agreed to come, but theme parks with rockets and planets and machines and scientific displays were not her thing. She rolled her eyes and shrugged, then looked at her son, hoping he would want to go home. She wasn’t surprised by his response.
“Can we see the night show daddy? Please? I want to see the night show. Can we?” He waited as patiently as he could for a response, gazing wide eyed first at his father and then his mother. She offered a conditional smile.
“Ok, but as soon as the night show is over we’ve got to go.” She said reluctantly.
“Yippee. I’m going to see the night lights, I’m going to see the night show…” the boy sang and off he went dancing around the café floor as if he had not just spent a whole day walking about and running wildly in the play ground. His father smiled as he watched and then winked at his wife, who couldn’t help smiling herself.
After a hastily downed hotdog, the boy dragged his parents back near the entrance, where they had seen the planets earlier that day. He leapt up onto a bench seat and plonked himself down.
“Will it start soon?” He asked expectantly.
“Not yet son.” His father said.
“When, when will it start? I want to see the lights. I want to see the lights. I want to see the lights…” he repeated over and over, jigging up and down on the spot where he sat. His mother held his arm, fearing he might leap up and run off again. But he didn’t. He sat there, craning again as he gazed up at the large planets. “Jupiter, Jupiter, Jupiter…”
His mother thought he was going to sing and jig forever. She looked over at her husband who this time was distracted by some loud cheering over to their right. He spotted a coffee stand and turned to his wife. “Want a latte?”
“Sure, why not.”
“And what about you,” he said to his son.
“No, I mean what do you want, a soft drink?” His wife shot him a disapproving look. “Juice, perhaps?”
“I want coke, I want coke, I want coke.”
“Sorry.” He offered when he caught sight of his wife’s frown.
“It’s ok,” she said, “just one last coke, but that’s all.”
So the father walked off to join the cue.
The boy’s mother sat, casting her weary eyes across the growing crowd who were quickly filling the remaining bench seats that surrounded the planetary exhibit. So many people, she thought. It shouldn’t have been possible way out in the middle of nowhere. When she first heard they were going to build a theme park, she remembered scoffing at the suggestion. “That’ll never work out here,” she exclaimed to her husband. He of course was less doubtful. He’d been on the town progress association for some time and had served as chairman off and on. “What about Woomera?” He said, pushing his chin up and staring knowingly at her.
“That’s not a theme park, but an actual facility,” she retorted. “Anyway it’s in another state, so it doesn’t count.”
“It’ll be great for the town, for the state in fact.” He had told her unconvincingly.
“I’m sure it will, but out here? Who’s going to bother coming all the way out here and from where?”
But she was wrong, she had to admit. The evidence was all around her. She smiled weakly as she remembered the discussion. A thriving theme park in the middle of nowhere on the other side of a country with not even twenty million people. It shouldn’t have worked, but it had.
Australia did have theme parks of course, but they were all on the East Coast in the tropics, where most of Australia had holidayed at one time or another. So of course it would work there.
While she was thinking about the impossibility of it all, she hadn’t noticed her son had stopped jigging. She was surprised when she looked down to find him nestled into the side of her lap, fast asleep. Typical, she thought and then smiled more warmly this time. She looked up to see her husband struggling to carry three drinks, two of them obviously hot and some donuts. She frowned again.
“Sorry. I couldn’t resist.” He said, a flash of guilt evident on his face. His wife made a motion with her head, nodding down at their son. “Oh dear. Well, I’m not surprised.”
“Should we go?” she said hopefully.
“Why? It’s about to start soon. Besides, the noise might wake him. You wouldn’t want him to miss it, not now.”
His wife rolled her eyes again and gave him an expression of defeat. He handed her a latte and she grasped it with both hands. It was now almost dark and getting cold. Seeing her shivering, he took off his jacket and threw it around her.
He was about to remind her he had told her to bring a jumper or something in case it got cold, but she had insisted she didn’t need one. She smiled cheekily at him and he shook his head a little, trying not to look too annoyed.
No sooner had he sat down the show began. A burst of light flooded the courtyard surrounding the exhibit and a loud noise like an electric trumpet filled the air. At that moment their son sat bolt upright and rubbed his eyes. Fearing he was about to cry, his wife spoke quickly.
“It hasn’t started yet dear. Don’t fret, you haven’t missed it.”
He was clearly relieved. He had screwed up his face in the manner typical of a young boy, as if he would burst into tears, but his expression changed swiftly and he was now beaming through watery eyes up at the bright lights. There was a murmur of machinery as a mechanism sprang into life as first Jupiter and then the planets surrounding it sprang into motion, turning just fast enough for it to be noticeable.
A strange echoing voice filled the air as a woman explained with a weird accent what was happening. From the inside the planets lit up and became iridescent. Then a massive bright light from high up cast a beam across the whole courtyard. Then something amazing happened. There was a grinding sound, followed by a series of clicks as the whole display began rotating, the smaller planets moving around Jupiter in a magical dance of planets. The moment not lost on him, the boy let out a cheer.
“The planets are dancing. Mummy, daddy, the planets are dancing.”