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by Luggy 

Posted: 29 August 2006
Word Count: 989

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Ian had been fascinated by the night sky since he'd been about a year old and had seen the moon for the first time. A brilliant, silver full-moon cast shadows of houses, trees and cars parked in the road. The boy's father, who was putting him to bed, held Ian up in front of the window. "Moon," he said.

Stars first came to Ian's notice when he was about two. It was winter and his mother was carrying him into the house after a visit to a neighbour. The boy looked up into the darkness searching for the moon. There was just a velvety darkness sprinkled with winkling, twinkling points of light. "Oooooh!" he said in a high, clear, startled tone.

His mother stopped to let him look. "Those are stars darling." she had explained.

As Ian grew older his interest grew too. He would take every opportunity on clear nights to stare into the sky. The stars gave it a depth that seemed to stretch away forever.

Then one night Ian saw something new. A shower of shooting stars. And, as he searched the heavens for more he heard a soft whistling and a gentle thud. Something had fallen close to him in the garden.

For a moment Ian froze. Then his muscles unlocked and almost against his will his legs took him in the direction of the sound. In the dim light from the back door window he saw a small, shadowy object half buried in the soil. He stooped to pick it up. It was a rock, and although warm to the touch it was much like any other rock and just slightly smaller than his hand.

Where had it come from? Ian was puzzled, then had a flash of inspiration. He'd found a shooting-star; something from the star-misted depths of night. Who could tell what powers it might have? He decided to keep it a secret.

"Ian! Come in please. Your dinner's ready."

Hiding the rock inside his anorak Ian dashed into the house and upstairs to his room. Closing the door he looked longingly at his 'magic' rock and was surprised to notice it was still warm. As he made this discovery the word "Skystone" came into his head. Ian repeated the word aloud, quietly, then hurriedly hid the aptly-named Skystone under his bed.

"Come on! Get a move on!" came his father's voice from downstairs. "We're waiting to start our meal!"

Dinner over, Ian shot off to his room. Recovering the shooting-star from its hiding place he examined closely its rough, pitted surface. Finally he put it on his bedside cabinet. Settling himself on his bed he leaned back and stared unblinkingly at his special fragment of the universe.

Ian reached over and picked up the Skystone. He had just time to notice it was still warm then, FLASH!

He was flying through the air above his house, rising higher and higher. The street lights grew smaller. The further he went, the more he could see. Soon the whole night side of the world was in view.

"Aaagh!" There was a bright, hurtful light as he rose out of the Earth's shadow into the full glare of the sun. Relief came quickly as the reflective sun visor of his space helmet snapped down automatically.

That he was wearing a space suit was no surprise. The Skystone was looking after him. On he went, further and further from his home planet, faster and faster.

In a few instants Ian had passed the moon. Then Mars sped into view and, just as quickly, receded into the distance.

About now the first feelings of fear entered the boy's mind He seemed to be moving ever faster. And the Sun, which at first had appeared so large and bright, was getting smaller and dimmer with every second.

But what really set his heart thumping was that he could no longer see the Earth which had become just another of the millions of dots of light surrounding him. He suddenly felt very small and lonely.

So, by the time the youngster was passing through Jupiter's orbit panic had taken a firm hold. And as he crossed Saturn's path his fears increased even more. He pleaded with the Skystone. "Please, please take me home!" Nothing happened. The boy begged desperately, "Do stop, please. I don't like this anymore. I want to go home." Ian had closed his eyes and tensed every muscle in his body to give extra force to his plea.

Something told him to open his eyes. Somehow he could feel warmth from the Skystone seeping through his spacesuit gloves. At first Ian couldn't see anything for the tears. But gradually his vision cleared and the lad noticed thankfully that he was slowing.

FLASH! Everything went black.

When Ian came to he was lying on his bedroom floor, his dad bending over him.

"Come on lad, up you get."

"What happened?" asked Ian.

"Well, we were downstairs and we heard a thump." replied his father "You must have fallen asleep then rolled off your bed."

Suddenly Ian remembered his space flight. He looked round urgently for the Skystone then realised with relief that it was still clasped firmly in his hand.

"No, dad, I've been up in space."

"Dreaming more like!" exclaimed his dad.

"No I wasn't. I really did go!" said the boy defiantly. And he told the story.

His father remained unconvinced. "Sorry son, that sounds like a dream to me."

Ian abruptly realised that he hadn't mentioned the Skystone. That would prove his story. He was about to produce it then stopped. A small voice inside his head sounded a warning. He wasn't surprised to find that the Skystone was warm again.

"Yes," he finally agreed, "I suppose it must have been a dream."

"But," he said to himself, "I'll be going up again tomorrow night." And he squeezed the Skystone in his hand.

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