Watch carefully. We are witnessing the recreation of a trick of the cinema.

***

A fleet of ships is cutting through space, accelerating over time. As they get faster, relative to their surroundings, the stars begin to elongate. The ships start to tilt, forming a spiral as they enter a star field at light speed. The stars, and the darkness, appear to clump to make shapes, to look like

the stones on the sea bed. As the tide receded they were revealed, wet and clung to by seaweed.

Had Jody been looking out her window she would see the red ribcage of the wreckage she had walked through earlier. She was nursing a coffee and looking over crime reports. She perused the assessment of the attack on her bar. They hadn’t done nearly as good a job on it as she would have, when she was still in the game. She sipped her coffee, turned a page –

“MUM! MUM!” Damien was beside himself. “It’s Aaron.”

Jody leapt up and followed her son.

Aaron was face down in the water. Shallow, but deep enough. His filtration mask was on, so the water he was drowning in would be pure. She jumped in, pulling Aaron to her. He was pale, breathing shallow and fast. He had a small cut over his eye where the stones had cut him.

She waded to an ladder, put him over her shoulder and started to climb. Each rung got her a moan. He was a dead weight.

Ten rungs later and the lay him on the ground.

“Aaron. Listen to me. Can you walk?”

Damien stood sobbing as he watched. “It’s not this fault mum. He saved me. There was a man. He had a knife.”

She checked her son. No cuts on the coat. She lifted him again, and got him inside.

“Damien. Kitchen. Under the sink. Green Box. Go.” He stood and looked at his brother. “Now, Damien.” The howling stopped now he had a job to do.

Jody lifted Aaron and took him to the table. Damien came thumping back with the medbox. “Damien – push all the plazz off the table on the floor. Hurry.”

This time he didn’t need telling twice.

Jody lay her eldest down and got him out of his coat. He had a large bruise at his side. She touched it and he winced.

“Aaron, breath in for me. Take a deep breath.”

Fast and shallow. She held his nose. He started panting. She closed his mouth.

He struggled, slammed open his eyes in panic. She let go and he took huge gulps of air in.

Satisfied, she felt around his ribs. Nothing seemed broken, but that was a nasty bruise. She pulled some bandages from the box and wrapped her son, before tending to the cut. All kinds of bacteria could have got in there. She cleaned the wound, dabbed iodine on it, and took advantage of the screaming to shoot a tetanus jab into his arm. Once he had calmed down, she transferred him to the sofa and letting him rest.

“Now, Damien. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

It took many attempts, going over each element over and over again.

“What’s that?”

“It’s what we were looking at.”

Instinctively Jody jumped back. But if it had been dangerous, the alarms would have gone off by now. Still, she found a glove to flick through the book with.

It was filled with stories of the ships for 54N74. Images on … was this paper? It would have been worth a fortune.

“Darling – what did this man look like?”

Damien described his jerking movements, his mad eyes, his bared teeth, his knife, the way his head twitched.

“Stop. Again?”

“His head twitched and jerked. Like this.” He did his best to impersonate his attacker.

Jody blanched, and turn to her other son.

His eyes were open. “Aaron, is this true?”

He nodded.

“And the guy?”

Another nod. She searched on the floor for a second spime. She held up a picture for Aaron to look at. “Him?”

“Shit, mum. That’s him!”

“From what I gather you did something very brave earlier today. That was very good thinking. But the punishment you’re getting for going there in the first case will be legendary. Do you understand me?”

Aaron nodded.

The boat rocked back and forth, the base scraping itself on the stones. The tide was going out.