Saving Starbird

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Chapter 21

Starbird’s Secret Lair

The dinghy drifted out into the centre of the lake as the two children stared at the strange surroundings they now found them selves in. As Sally gazed up at the moonlight streaming in through the wide opening at the top of the rocky walls, she decided it was like looking up in a vast cathedral.

She had been with her mum and dad to a visit to Westminster Abbey. She remembered how she had stood for a long time looking upwards at the roof. How the walls with the wonderful pillars, statues and beautiful stained glass windows seemed to go upwards becoming more beautiful the higher she looked.

This gave her the same sensation. Westminster Abbey had a wonderful roof; this had the sky with small clouds moving through the moonbeams.

The closer Sally looked she noticed that the rocks had a sheen on them even in the moonlight.

Just as Archie wondered what had happened to the stones and their green light, the beam appeared again just in front of them.

“Thank goodness,” said Archie.

The green light skipped about as if to attract their attention, then pointed to the far side of the lake.

Archie picked up the oars once again and slowly rowed towards the cliff face that the green beam had settled on. As they approached the rocky wall they could see there was a small flat area almost like a landing stage. Archie expertly manoeuvred the dinghy along side this rocky jetty, and as he did so, the beam of light disappeared, but the other stone produced a bright floodlight illuminating the whole side of the cave.

Quickly Archie scrambled out of the dinghy onto the landing area and tied the boat to a small jutting out rock. When he looked around he discovered that the whole floor of the jetty he was standing on was smooth, exactly like the cave they had discovered the probe in earlier.

He walked over to the cliff face to discover that all the rocks had the same smooth and shiny surface.

Sally asked him, “Can you see either of our stones?”

When he looked up Archie spotted the stone that was emitting the green light, hovering in the air about ten feet above his head, but he could not see the other stone anywhere.

From the light of the stone, Sally looked closely at the probe that was still safely resting in the bottom of the dinghy. The markings were very faint, in fact she could only just see them when she bent forward and put her head down close to the surface of the spacecraft.

She called out to Archie, “I am sure that Starbird has very little power left.”

Sally closed her eyes and placed her ear on the probe but could hear nothing at all.

She said, “I am sure that keeping the light shining is all that Starbird can manage.” She went on to say, “I won’t be surprised if the light would soon fail. If it does I am not sure that Starbird will survive.”

Almost as soon as she had said this, the green light went out and the cave was plunged into darkness once more. Because their eyes had been accustomed to the brightness of the green light, it took several seconds before they had the benefit of the moonlight to make out the shape of anything.

Archie, who had been walking back towards the dinghy, stopped dead in his tracks being unable to see the edge of the landing area. He certainly did not wish to step off the edge into the dark water.

He asked Sally in panic, “What do you think we should do now?”

She replied in a whisper, “I am sure that somehow Starbird will tell us.”

“I hope you are right!” said Archie.

However, nothing happened.

Almost thirty minutes passed. Archie squatted down on the cold stone floor, while Sally sat with her arms around her knees straining her ears for any sound. They hardly spoke and began to feel very cold and frightened.

What if Starbird was dead? How would they be able to get out of the cave under Smugglers Rocks? What could Archie’s dad and the coxswain on the Lifeboat do to help them?

Sally was sure that Archie’s dad and the coxswain had been in a deep trance. “They probably would not know where we have gone. In fact that might not even miss us if we don’t get back.”

The more time passed the more frightened they became. To make matters worse a big cloud had passed in front of the moon plunging the cave into total inky darkness.

Softly in the darkness Archie could hear that Sally had begun to cry.

“Please don’t cry Sally. I am sure everything will be OK in the end.”

Suddenly there was a bright light flashing down from above. It came down like a streak of lightning. A blue beam of the brightest light they had ever seen shone down towards the water of the lake. The eerie thing was it did not quite reach the surface of the water, but stopped about six feet above.

Archie and Sally were speechless. They stared with their mouths dropping open in amazement.

Then down the centre of the blue light beam came a silver sphere.

It descended very slowly, coming to a stop, hovering six feet above the water. There was not a ripple in the water, but steam began to rise and then a ring of bubbles appeared. It was almost as if the water below the sphere was boiling, while the surrounding surface remained still, almost solid, in fact Sally thought it looked like ice on a pond.

The only noise was a very faint high-pitched whining sound.

Archie, who had jumped up, backed away until he stood with his back against the cold smooth cave wall. He did not know what to do. He wanted to try and reach Sally who was still crouched in the dinghy, but he found his body seemed paralysed.

In terror he found he could not move at all, nor could he speak, he could only watch in silence.

Sally continued to crouch in the dinghy as she stared at the brilliant light and hovering sphere in the centre of the lake. When she looked down at the probe she saw that the markings were only just discernible. Suddenly both of the original stones flew back to the dinghy, where they hovered above the probe. Her stone gently landed in her hand, while Archie’s continued to hover.

She saw that the markings were very faint although she could just make out the eye that was closed.

She held the stone that was very cold to her touch against her cheek and whispered, “Do you want me to put you back in your slot on the probe?”

As she looked again at the stone she could only just make out the very faint eye that winked at her twice. Then it became so faint it almost disappeared.

Sally realised that the power of Starbird had almost gone.

She quickly pressed the stone into the inlet on the probe. At once it became a solid part of the spacecraft once more. When she rubbed her finger over the stone she could not feel where the rim had been.

Sally held out her hand and Archie’s stone flopped down into her palm. Its markings were even fainter than her stone had been. She quickly pressed it into its slot where it too became a solid part of the probe.

She told Starbird to hold on as help was almost here.

Sally now had no fear and she stood up in the dinghy that rocked violently, but she did not even mind, despite her great fear of falling into the water. She waved her hand above her head and screamed at the hovering sphere. “OVER HERE. STARBIRDS IS DYING PLEASE HELP HIM. PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE!”

For several seconds nothing happened. Then a blinding green beam of light flashed across the lake to light up the dinghy with Sally still standing with her arms raised.

Once again Sally felt the wave of relaxation sweep over her. She sank slowly down until she was sitting again on the seat in the dinghy. She felt her eyes shutting and she slipped into a dreamless sleep.

Archie who was still unable to move or speak watched in amazement at what happened next to Sally. She was sitting on the seat with her eyes tightly shut. Suddenly she slowly lifted up in the air. The beam of green light still was fixed on her as she hovered six feet above the dinghy

The beam of light then moved forward until it was shining on the wall of the cave next to Archie.

Sally slowly flew down the light beam until she was set down gently beside Archie.

She was still in a sleep like state but had got a smile playing on her lips. She looked completely happy and contented.

The strange green light then moved back to shine on the dinghy. It stayed in that position for about one minute without anything else happening.

Then Archie watched as the probe began to rise up in the air in the same way that Sally had. It hovered for several seconds above the dinghy. Then it flew up the beam of light across the lake until it reached the sphere. A door opened in the side of the sphere at the point that the beam was shining. The probe disappeared inside the shiny silver sphere, then the door closed and the green light was switched off.

Starbird had returned home!

Archie found that he could move again and knelt down and gently shook Sally who sleepily opened her eyes and looked at him.

She smiled at Archie who gave her a big hug.

Sally whispered, “He is safe. We have saved him”.

Archie nodded and returned her smile.

Together they stood gazing at the beautiful silver space ship, in which the pilot that they now considered their friend had rejoined his own kind. They held hands without speaking, each lost in their own thoughts, but they were very happy.

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