Sirwin
Sirwin
When a weird dreams gets real.

Balloon

By RTBreach | R.T. Breach | 20 Jul 2022


Balloon by R.T. Breach

I always look forward to waking up—my energy’s high, my mind alert. Everything in a body recharged and operating at its peak. Hence, my excitement to review the video I’d made of myself all night while sleeping.
   Curious why I kept having a recurring dream, I’d resolved to record what happened. The bizarre dream about a worm drilling into my brain motivated me enough to set up the camera. I know it sounds ridiculous, yet why not? I searched the house for a spare cell phone and positioned it in my room, hitting record as I laid down for the night.
   Six hours of video accumulated overnight. The recording held nothing interesting save me sleeping the first two hours. While fast-forwarding through the boring movie of myself in slumber, a birthday balloon-sized shadow came onto the scene. Stunned, I backed the footage up to confirm it wasn’t an anomaly.
   I used the highest infrared night vision resolution the phone’s camera could achieve. Its night vision quality wasn’t clear as a sunny day. The grainy footage recorded a vibrating specter, edges pulsating in and out of focus rapidly. The thing didn’t pause as it entered my bedroom; it floated in until it stopped one meter over my sleeping form. To my horror, it descended toward me as if coming in for a landing. 
   I slept on my right side. The orb stopped centimeters from my left ear. At this camera angle, what happened got obscured. It didn’t hurt me, hence reviewing the recording. My slumbering self never stirred. Not even to swat the apparition away. What is it, and what’s it doing in my house?
   After five minutes and eight seconds, the mysterious orb rose from the bed, retracing its route from my bedroom.
   I stared at the phone’s screen, my mind locked in a state of disbelief. Where did it go? To break the cycle, I viewed the recording several more times and stripped my bedding in search of clues. For the rest of the night’s footage, nothing else happened except me sleeping.
   After a thorough tossing, my apartment turned up nothing. The whole idea grew steadily preposterous. Maybe someone slipped me a Rufie? Accidental drug ingestion wasn’t something I typically engaged in for fun and laughs. A hallucinogenic compound seemed unlikely; I don’t know anybody with access to powerful narcotics. I couldn’t think of any malicious enemies. And I’m not hungover.
   Standing in the middle of my living room, I couldn’t prevent my eyes from homing in on the phone. Perhaps it had all been a dream. Checking the video gallery on the device confirmed the images were there. And it’s 7:14 AM. I’m going to be late for work!
   One might imagine the first thing I’d do is post my experience on social media. Something told me I needed more evidence, though. If I caught it on camera by random chance once, maybe I can do it again. When I say something nutty to the world, I will at least back it up with lots of footage—clear, well-documented proof. I imagined ways chronicle my uninvited visitor.
   At the office, all I could contemplate: the UFO. My curiosity piqued beyond the maximum; the day dragged on. Should I move out? I’d have nowhere else to go; fate left me without a choice. It crossed my mind I’d lost said mind, but an undoctored video didn’t lie. Lacking peer review made me nervous. Maybe I’d gone bonkers? I didn’t scare the neighbors enough to warrant a 911 call. Perhaps someone’s playing an elaborate joke on me?
   An epiphany during lunch about using my car’s phone cradle gave me renewed purpose. Ordinarily, I stuck the holder on the left side of my windshield. My nightstand’s black lacquered wood surface was smooth enough for the cradle’s suction cup. Tonight, I’d get a better angle.
   Near 9:00 PM, camera in place, I went about my bedtime ritual. I slid into bed, anxious. The anxiety I could understand. Fear made no sense. What am I afraid of, anyway? As they say, ignorance is bliss, and now I’ve seen behind the curtain. I’m worried something will change. It took thirty minutes before I succumbed to the sandman.
   My eyes opened at 4 AM. Without a moment’s delay, I ripped off the covers and sat upright on the edge of my bed. Trepidation washed over me like stage fright, and I hesitated, reaching for the old phone still recording. I turned its screen toward my face. My heart leaped. Indeed, the video app recorded seven hours. 
   The shadow appeared again about three hours into the recording. In closer proximity than before, the phone presented a narrower field of view, as the object hove within twenty centimeters of my head. It came into the frame, fuzzy as the first video. I stared in terrified suspense, my hand reflexively clapping to my ear when it stopped a few centimeters above it.
   A small bubble protruded from its underside, split open, and paid out a centimeter wide, faintly glowing white ribbon. The silver band floated down until it daintily touched my ear. Deep in sleep as I was, I didn’t stir from the things ministrations. It appeared inactive until I perceived the ribbon continuing to pay out of the slit. The shadowy invader resolved more into focus. Its outline and surface seemed sharper, skin silver with a dozen flutes running from nose to—tail. Both ends looked the same. And the ribbon kept coming.
   I drilled my pinky finger into my ear as I gawked in horror. Eight minutes, five seconds later, the ribbon retracted, and the balloon waxed fuzzy and dark again. As before, it retraced its flight out of my bedroom.
   For the next hour, I desperately peered into my ear canal. The exam produced nothing except wax flakes and hair. Partly terrified and partly curious as could be, I received another epiphany: cover my ears tonight. My next question: why would I stay around at all? There’s a ghost or alien invader boring into my brain at night, and I’ve no idea how long it’s been going on or why it’s happening.
   Unsatisfied curiosity is a powerful motivator.
   That night, I wrapped my head in gauze. I used the entire roll of bandage to wrap around my head, covering my ears tightly. The thick wad of material uncomfortable, slumber took me reluctantly but eventually I slipped over the edge.
   I awoke, tired and grumpy, I’d resigned to letting the thing hump my ear every night. A notion struck me: what if the UFO’s been with me all my life? Why wouldn’t anybody know about this? There must be a reason. Maybe the government kept a tight lid on aliens after all. First things first, though, I needed to review the night’s footage. I couldn’t bear watching the seconds tick by, so I fast-forwarded to the action.
   It bobbed around my head as if searching for my ear. Honing in on the gauze-covered lump, the silvery ribbon extended and probed around the bump like a dandelion caressing the fabric. Abruptly, the object called off the search; the ribbon retracted, and the slit sealed. Pulsating pink, the floating football methodically rotated until it faced the camera.
   I couldn’t even be sure that’s the front. Aerodynamically, it appeared to be the nose. Playing a mere video, sent ominous terror washing over me. Sweat moistened my palms. The visitor wasn’t pleased with my thwarting of its—efforts.
   What had I done?
   Its nose shimmered, flattening until it formed a rectangle the size of a smartphone, and solidified. The rectangular surface flickered. It darkened, and a white circle with a dot in its center blinked at the lower-left corner.
   What it did next caused me to fling the phone away. It bounced off my mattress, clattering to the floor. Even from across the room, the black rectangle and letters emblazoned across it were discernible. The message disappeared after ten seconds. The rectangle reformed into a blunt point. It rose and left the room.
   Pulse throbbing in my ears, I crept to the bed, picked up the phone, and, with a shaking hand, backed the recording up to the message part. In white letters on a black background, the words ‘We need to talk.’ made me squeeze my eyes shut and utter an impromptu prayer to a deity I neglected too much.
   Go to work? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I explained how raging diarrhea kept me up all night. Within half a second, my boss cut me off. “Ew, okay, whatever. Just take care of yourself so you can return to work tomorrow.” She isn’t into graphic breakdowns regarding employee bowel issues. After a tortuously long day of contemplating my hallucinations and sanity, I settled on one thing; respond to the message. 
   In preparation, I napped throughout the day, nodding off any time I sat still, having slept like shit the night before with night-worms terrorizing me. I’ve never had a recurring dream. They’re always different. I’m seldom able to grasp the vaporous plot. Not this one, though. It kept returning.
   In case I fell asleep, I set the alarm on my phone to wake me at the usual time the UFO paid a visit. I say UFO since it’s unidentified, flies, and it’s an object. Lying awake until the last minute, I shut off the timer. It didn’t need to wake me up, as the moment was upon me. Turning over on my back with the ceiling light on and camera recording, I waited.
   I didn’t wait long before motion at the half-closed door caught my attention. It opened, slow and creepy. Adrenaline shot into my veins. My heart revved up like a hot rod engine. Heat flowed over my body, giving me as much superpower as I’d ever culminated.
   Blankets held in a white knuckle grip across my mouth. My eyes were wide and white as cue balls. I sat frozen as the football peeked around the door at me. The voice of a young man emanated from the thing.
   “Hey, sorry. Don’t shoot,” it said with a chuckle.
   Hearing it and seeing it live and conscious caused the words spoken to take a circuitous route through my brain. The blanket fell from my fingers. My hand reflexively slapped to my mouth. Through my fingers, I asked, “W... what?” It was all my primate mind could muster in the clutch.
   “I’m Xinth,” it said cordially, continuing to float into the room at a non-threatening speed. “You’re probably freaked out right now, judging by your expression. You can talk, right? Am I using the right lingo? I’ve totally done that before. I just went on blathering in the wrong language when some dude discovered me. Man, was I surprised he pulled a gun on me.” Xinth clucked his non-existent tongue. “That was a crazy night that was.”
   Pulling my hand away, I asked, “Xinth? Xinth, why are you here?”
   Xinth bobbed, inclining toward the ground. Finally, it said, “Truth is, we’re always here. I’m a Harvester of brain activity. It’s a long story you wouldn’t understand. Well, you’d understand; I just don’t have time to tell it to you.”
   I subtly moved my legs to the edge of the bed. “M... my brain activity? Why do you do that? Am I just a lab rat?”
   Xinth turned parallel to the wall and floated serenely around the room’s perimeter, chatting with me as he—it—did so. “Lab rat? Hardly! You’re an amazing creature. One of the few that evolved organically.”
   When Xinth reached furthest from the door, I leaped from my bed and ducked behind the open door. Gripping the doorknob tight, I stood ready to pull the door closed behind me if Xinth Pursued. The floating football tracked my action, tilting like a curious dog’s head.
   It watched me a long moment, and I stared back wide-eyed until it finally said, “Yeah, you’re totally freaked out. And here I’d gone and made up this entire speech about how ‘I come in peace’ so you didn’t have a stroke. It looks like all I did is damn near give you a stroke. My masters were right; most humans can’t cope with alien visitation.”
   Bolder with a door-shield between Xinth and me, I retorted, “It’s a little disconcerting to discover aliens rummaging around in my brain every night, you know! And now it wants to talk to me like we’re bros or something. I feel like I should be dreaming.” I rubbed a cheek on my shoulder. Nothing magical happened. I felt lucid, not in a dream.
   The shimmering balloon sighed. “Right, well, I’ll just let you go back to sleep. Seriously, I don’t want to warp someone’s mind again if I can help it. If you remember anything, please remember that one thing. I’m was just doing my Harvester duties when you got curious and recorded me. Ordinarily, I don’t return--”
   “What are you? Are you aliens? What am I talking to? What planet are you talking about, Earth? That sounds absurd, by the way.”
   The football moved toward me. “Yeah, here’s the thing. I gotta get moving. I’ve gotta generate a report of our interaction.”
   “Report? Report to who? Have I been taken?”
   I let the alien balloon come to within thirty centimeters of my face before I said, “Okay, that’s close enough.” The balloon stopped. At this point, I seriously expected it to kill me. Unexpectedly, the thing ejected a ticket from a slit in its nose. “Here, take this and keep it somewhere safe.”
   Completely mystified, I cautiously accepted the card, snatching it away and skimming it over.
   Xinth said, “I’m glad we interacted peacefully. The instructors go on and on about your warring ways. That you never know when a human will go ballistic.” He chuckled again, moving to nudge the door open. “I gotta run, but I’ll be back. By the way, if you don’t already know it--”
   Not wanting the meeting to end, I slipped back into the room, pushing the door closed and leaned back against it, blocking Xinth’s exit.
   "Aw, come on now. I’ve got to get moving. There’s a bunch of harvesting to be done. You’re not the only hairless monkey in la-la-land.”
   Desperate to keep it around a little longer, I raised my hands and said, “Wait. You stay longer than this to—collect my thoughts each night.”
   Xinth sighed again. “Activity. We harvest activity, not thoughts. There’s a difference.” It turned back into the room. “Okay, I can give you a few more minutes. Soon, though, I gotta bounce.”
   Gathering my courage, sure it could be dangerous if it wanted, I stepped closer to examine the thing’s skin. As I studied it, I asked, “Are you an alien? As in extraterrestrial?”
   “Ha, ha! You’re a sharp one. Yep. I am not from Earth. As a matter of fact, I’m not even here. What you’re seeing is a Remote Avatar Vehicle. You’d shit a brick if you saw what I physically looked like.”
   That never occurred to me.
   “Uh-oh, you’re shitting a brick anyway, aren’t you?”
   Peering at where eyes might be on the flying-football, I asked, “When you showed that message on your—nose—couldn’t you display your real self? A selfie?”
   “I was hoping you wouldn’t think of that, but you’re not the average primate. Probably why my masters sent me for your brain waves.”
   “You don’t harvest everyone’s brain activity?”
   Xinth wiggled like a shaking head. “Nah, there’s a certain type with better telemetry resolution. Those are the choice ones.” The alien football chortled. “The ripe ones, you might say.”
   Associating me with flavor wasn’t comforting. Of course, I didn’t say a thing, and the Xinth didn’t help dispel my creeps, though it sounded genuinely concerned about my welfare.
   I swallowed hard, raking a hand through my hair, holding it on top of my head. “Why do you harvest my brain activity?”
   “Ugh, it’s a super long story.” Xinth heaved an indulgent sigh. “Okay, here it is in a nutshell. Humans, you, got sequestered to this solar system, oh, roughly five-hundred thousand years ago. Well, before that, there’s the K’nyne rebellion. But that’s another story. Anyway, the human species is the oldest evolved creature in the known galaxy.” The talking balloon turned ninety degrees and began a slow trek toward the wall as it spoke. “Somewhere along the way, you primates developed a nasty curiosity streak that metastasized into a total God-complex.”
   Xinth turned around and began a leisurely path in the reverse direction, perpendicular to me. I folded my arms and contemplated ‘sequestered humans’ and what that meant. Xinth continued his tale, undeterred.
   “Yeah, so you guys kept figuring the universe out and stuff until you made other life forms from scratch. And that’s what you did—created life. Eventually, though, some of your creations kind of caught on you weren’t God’s at all. There was this big ole, galaxy-wide God-hunt for a few thousand Earth years. Lots of death and destruction.”
   “Hold on. You said ‘sequestered’ and ‘organically’ evolved. What are you talking about?”
   “I’m sorry, kid. I can’t stay any longer. I’ll come back and explain more. The truth; I’ve been seeking someone like you for a long time. Certain rare humans can detect our presence. It’s an evolutionary anomaly occurring in some, but not others. You’re one of the sensitive folks, and we want more feedback on this phenomenon. With your help, we can, hopefully, enlighten humanity fast enough to save us.”
   That got my attention. “Save you? How in the world can we do that?”
   Another sigh. “It’s a long story. The problem; if the K’nyne Evolutionary Bureau finds out we’re interacting overtly, I’m toast.”
   Concerned, I asked, “Why? What will happen?”
   “Depending on how much you know, they’d likely do nothing. If you know too much, they’ll liquidate you as a ‘contaminated resident.’ Look, I really must move on. I’ll be back tomorrow night to fill you in on—well, reality.”
   The alien edged closer to me and the door. I held my ground. The football extended a polyp from its nose, swiped me aside effortlessly, and flung open the door. Like a watermelon seed shot from between two pressed fingers, Xinth darted out of the room.
   “Don’t talk to anyone about me. I’ll see you tomorrow!” His voice trailed off down the hall.
   Before I got to the living room, Xinth dematerialized.
   Hands-on my hips, I said, “Alright, Mr. Xinth. I’ll see you tomorrow, and I’m going to be way the hell more prepared.”
   A million questions overflowed my brain's capacity until I took notes lest I forget what I wanted to ask. The universe wants me to be a night owl. I’ll call in sick again. With that mandate, I laid down for some rest… on the couch.

The end.

 

Check out other stories by R.T. Breach:

Moses the Liberator

Unity Pointe

The Karl Gruben Spy Thriller Series

 

 

rtbreach.com

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RTBreach
RTBreach

100% independent author.


R.T. Breach
R.T. Breach

I'm an author of sci-fi and thriller stories. It will be a mixed bag of short stories and series chapters. I hope you like adventure and enjoy the reads!

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