Invaders from Mars: The adventures of Joaquim and Eduardo

By Michael Ruman

Action & adventure, Children's, Fantasy


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13 mins


My name is Joaquim, I’m 11 years old, and the story I’m about to tell you is true. It happened the last Sunday. I had nothing to do, so I decided to go to the lake that rests close to the boarding school where I study. My friends and I always meet there on weekends, I mean, when it’s not very cold or raining. We usually swim for hours and hours and when we get tired, we go explore the jungle that is opposite to our margin and expands through the hillside of the mountain. At this time of the year, the place becomes practically empty and people only show up for picnics, hang out or simply walk from one side to the other. Getting into the cold water is like asking to become an ice cream. I confess that, sometimes, I even enjoy throwing myself in the lake only for fun to feel the whole body almost freeze and then get out and cry like mad! But, then, I will have serious problems in case my mother discovers my boyish trick and, believe me, she has a sixth, a seventh and an eighth senses to know that I lied or played some trick. You will catch a cold, she says. If this happens, you will be punished! Argh! Since when cold water makes us get cold, uh? The adults have so odd stories! Anyway, on that day, I had no intention to wet not even my ankles. To get rid of the boredom, a simple round walk to the lake would be enough. I felt like meeting some friend who, like me, was in vain there. We could play football, tag, or hide-and-seek.
I waited. Nobody showed up.
The fools must have been shrunk in their beds, covered up to the neck, trembling of cold! Bad lucky of them, I will play alone!
After running from one side to the other, looking for treasuries lost under the stones and digging trenches to defend myself from pirates, I got tired and leaned on a tree to read again “A Captain at fifteen," one of my favourite books of Jules Verne. Despite I already know how the story ends, I always have fun with the adventures of Dick Sand, who, aged only fifteen, was obliged to command a ship called Pilgrim, after the captain died.
I was about to finish the book, when I heard a strange noise, a continuous buzz, followed of a bump. I went out of my refuge and looked around, trying to find the source of that sound, when I noticed a reddish light in the middle of the jungle. Immediately I caught my backpack and ran to the other side of the margin. After that, I walked some 100 metres up to find a clearing in the woods, right in the middle of the path that leads to the hillside of the mountain. This place is largely used by groups of youngsters who come for camping, and I imagined an accident had happened, like a gas container that exploded and stuff like that, that would explain the sound and the intense light. There was nobody, and my theory failed.
I thought, and thought and thought a bit more… Then I found an explanation: a single-motor airplane out of route.
That’s it! The dense mist that forms in this time of the year has misled the pilot who turned and turned, ended up without fuel and need to make an emergency landing. Therefore, it’s better to make a search, find the scraps and help the survivors, I decided.
I crossed the glade up to the other part of the jungle and walked some 30 or 40 metres more, when I felt that someone would observe me.
I stopped, looked around and shivered when I heard the steps.
— Who is there? — I asked, hoping no one answers.
My reaction was a mix of relief and apprehension. Not having obtained a reply didn’t necessarily mean I was alone, right? If I was the pilot of the plane crashed, I would certainly nod, in the other hand, a beast waiting for its prey wouldn’t!
I’m not a coward, then, I advanced. I had already walked so much that would be no difference to follow some more and find what had caused those so strange sound and light.
It was worth being insistent. When I was close to the hillside, I sought three men in suspicious attitude. When I approached, I noted they carried a metallic object, a shiny cylinder with more than one metre length. They were standing in front of the hillside and, unless they had no intention to climb, they had nowhere to go. I hid myself behind a shrub, in case they returned to the glade path. But it was not what they did. One of them, white-haired, went to a very large and round stone, and stirred up in something that made a hole to be opened from the wall, quite in front of him. So they took the cylinder into the mountain. Moved by curiosity, I kept after them. In spite the tunnel was narrow and dark, I decided not to use my flashlight to prevent from drawing attention, therefore, I needed to be very careful not to slide and hurt myself, get lost in some labyrinth or something worse… Step on some roach. I hate them roaches! They are made of a peel formed of nasty strangles that spread about the ground when… Irgh… You step them.
Irgh! Irgh! Irgh!
I didn’t see any, it’s true, but only thinking of the chance of one of them getting up through my leg, irgh! So I decided to go ahead using the tactics of walking through dark places where there could be roaches at each step, with the leg highly raised, then the other and so on, as if I was a Russian soldier marching. Well, it made me almost lose sight of them, but then I doubled my pace and managed to reach the trio. If ever so little they had taken me: when I crossed the curve, I was faced with the trio… By the way, at the back of them. They didn’t only see me because they examined a stone wall that closed the way. It was a dead end. When I thought they would give up, the white-haired man took off a small black object from his jacket pocket and set it into an opening of the wall. In the twinkle of an eye, a new passage was opened and they went on. I let them get away and got through the opening that led to a cave. While I looked for a safe place to hide, the three of them took the cylinder up to the granite platform and put it on it. Then, they opened a suitcase and pulled from it several coloured wires. They stretched and connected one by one, into the object. As my eyes got used with the weak light, my attention turned to the incredible place in which I found myself. I got amazed by the big statues displayed through the walls, forming a semicircle around the platform where the men worked.
One more shiver throughout my body. The eyes of those stone giants were all turned to the centre, as if they watched the place and knew all that happened around. A fixed and frightening look. Their clothes were similar to those used by Priests I had seen in illustrations of History books. Were they Phoenicians? Our teacher had told us they had been in the region many, many… many years ago. Here could be one of their Temples, I thought.
Then, I had a bad feeling: Aren’t those who profane a sacred place punished for this? I’d read that many explorers died mysteriously after invading the Pyramids and the tombs of the pharaohs. What if by opening the passage some mortal virus was released and we were convicted to die slowly? That’s all I needed: get poisoned for my own curiosity! Damn it, I was already imagining the scolding I was going to take from my mother, in case I got sick! How to explain that it was not my fault but theirs? I was only spying.
It took a little while to remove this thinking from my head and concentrate in the mission: investigate what those individuals were plotting. While the other two stirred up in the instruments they connected to the wires they had just linked to the cylinder, the white-haired man took a book with a shiny cover and opened it. But what the hell is this book about? I thought instead of paper it had an illuminated surface on one of the sides and keys on the other? I’m not stupid, I soon realised it was a beautiful and modern typing machine. As he wrote, several texts, symbols and coloured drawings appeared in the glass. If only I could have one of these! Remington, Hermes or Royal, which of these companies would have adopted an apple as a symbol?
When the man finished using the machine, wrote down in a notebook, than he kept everything inside the suitcase and signalised to the others. In a few seconds, they were ready to go away. I abandoned my hiding-place slowly before they saw me. I got out of the cave, followed through the dark tunnel and when I was already outside I ran to the shrub where I had waited for the three to show up. Once again the white-haired one surrounded the stone and activated the mechanism he had done for the secret passage to close. Right after this, they abandoned the place.
I waited a little, to be sure they wouldn’t return, and then I ran to the stone to look for the button or whatever he had used.
Nothing, Damn it! How did he do that?
The only thing I found was a lot of cockroaches.
I felt so much like exploring that amazing place, but how? I even tried to use a branch to make a lever, but there were no openings in the wall.
Nothing whatsoever!
I thought and thought…
Damn it, a thousand times, damn it!
That cylinder didn’t get out of my head. It was heavy, this was for sure! I saw the effort they did to carry it. Would there be a treasure inside it? Silver, gold, jewels! If it was the case, why didn’t they simply open it? Only if… How didn’t I think of this before?
A bomb! Would they have found a bomb of the World War II and tried to disarm it?
Intended to activate it to destroy some secret base in the City of Colombo?
Secret base, no way! Here there was nothing to destroy, only the boarding school.
Aaaah! They wouldn’t be so idiot. They were interested in what there was inside that silver object, this was for sure.
But what?
I thought and thought and thought…
I needed to get answers, but it was beginning to grow night and there are things about which even a fearless explorer like me has to worry: getting late for dinner is one of them. If this happened, the school beadle would snitch me to the principal, who would call my mother that in the first opportunity would give me a good punishment!
Doesn’t anybody understand that the mysteries hunters cannot have a so stringent time? We have rights!
I remember the school report. Maybe it was better to forget the rights of the great grubbers, for a little while. This was not a month in which I can be proud of, because of that… Those two…three little red marks!
Argh, school report!
Nothing else could be done, I turned around.
In the middle of the way, one more time I had the feeling that someone was following me. For a moment I thought the men had returned, but when I heard the snarling, I discarded the possibility.
The third shiver today!
Calm down, Joaquim. You need to slow the pace and breathe in peace, I tried to convince myself. I read somewhere that the predators are attracted by the smell of the fear of their preys and when this happens, they know it is time to attack! I don’t know if this actually has a smell, but in my case they would feel a stinking fear!
One step after another. Take it easy…Slow breathe… Slowly… Slowly… Very soft without fear, without…
The bellow of the bloody animal made me run like crazy. No peace, no way! At the moment of danger, nothing that is written in the books or what people say… The thing is running fast and not looking behind!
When I finally got to the edge of the lake, I stopped to take a breath. It was when the most fearful, horrible and nasty creature that I had never seen in my whole life appeared from the woods! It was not an ocelot nor a jaguar, it also didn’t seem like any animal known in this region. It had the human form, but its body was dark, the skin greenish with scales and covered with a yellow secretion like catarrh! The eyes were red and the teeth were so big that they appeared out of the jaw. My heart discharged and my legs got tremulous, but I know I needed to gather strength and courage to run or I would turn into pieces.
I drew back.
I took two steps behind. It advanced in the same proportion. I looked aside, searching an escape route, but, before I tried anything, it jumped in front of me and cut my way. I understood it was playing with me, showing I was an easy prey and that whenever it wanted, it would kill me! Then, the most incredible happened: he smiled and made a nod with the finger for me to approach.
You can call me nuts, but the way he looked at me, it was as though as he knew me! Then he opened his mouth and roared… One, two, three times! I swear I heard my name, Joaquim. I screamed like mad and ran as fast as I could. I took the little road of earth and only stopped running when I got to the school, at the top of the mountain.
You can call me coward, but it’s going to take time until I have courage to go back to the lake alone!

The Best Friends

The best friends.
He stirs up his bright brown hair, wrinkles his forehead, scratches the tip of his nose, opens wide his green eyes, jogs his ear, swings his feet from one side to the other, makes up his hair again and finally…
— Huahuahuahua! — Eduardo bursts into laughter.
— So what was it?
— Huahuahuahua!
— Didn’t you like it?
— Huahuahuahua!
— Hey, stop laughing!
— Sorry, but…
— You didn’t like it, did you?
— That’s not it.
— Don’t you beat around the bush!
— Don’t you think this story is a little… unsuitable to use as a composition?
— Mrs. Maria Aparecida always incentives creativity.
— I know, Joaquim. The problem is that the theme of the composition was: “What of most interesting happened in your weekend”. That’s what I meant with unsuitable!
— This was the most interesting thing that happened in my weekend, what can I do?
— But you said it was a dream!
— It was an interesting dream I had in the weekend. Isn’t it worth considering?
— Huahuahuahua!
— Oooooo!
— OK, sorry. It’s because you make a funny face when…
— Oooooo!
— OK, I’m done! — he recomposes himself — The thing is I enjoy what you wrote.
— You’ve just said it’s not a good composition!
— It’s because it seems more like… — he thinks — a true story, you know?
— What?
— Like a chapter of a book.
— Book?
— Yes. You could even write the rest. An adventure with much mystery, monsters and all!
— No, I don’t know if I can do it, I have problems with commas, semicolons and stuff like that!
— Hahaha!
— You think it’s funny because for you this is easy.
— Your mother is a teacher, why don’t you ask her to help?
— Private lessons with my mother, are you mad?
— It was only a suggestion. You should think the subject over, it’s a waste not to take these ideas.
— I don’t know. I thing nobody will take the things written by a boy seriously.
— No way! Take Helena as an example, she is only some years older than us and her parents are already looking for an editor to publish her first book of short stories.
— She writes well, but the stories are a little boring, full of fussy things of girls falling in love, red shoes, ponies and such.
— Ahhh, it’s not actually so.
— You think so because you’re falling in love — I tease him.
— Who said that?
— It’s obvious, isn’t it?
— Nothing like that, I only… — he scratches his head.
— Only what?
— We are friends, I mean. Don’t you think we can be friends with a girl?
— Yes, indeed. But we’re only friends, we don’t have that silly face every time we approach.
— I don’t get a silly face!
— Huahuahuahua!
— Hey… I already told you I’m not in love. Don’t you mislead the subject.
— Which subject? If this is the idea of writing a book, I already told you I’m not good at it.
— How do you know if you didn’t try?
— I never jumped on an abyss to know it’s not worth doing so, hahaha!
— You smart mate!
Eduardo throws himself in the bed and keeps looking at the ceiling, quiet. Meanwhile, I keep my manuscript in the drawer of the writing table, along with so many others I’ve already written. I think he’s right, it’s not the kind of work Mrs. Maria Aparecida expects.
— How about you, what’s your composition about?
— I still didn’t do it.
— No?
— I got a blank. You know, my weekend was not so exciting as yours!
— Huahuahuahua! As I said, it was only a dream.
— That’s it. At least, you dream!
— Well, we spent a long time at your mothers’ bookstore, it was cool!
— We always do this.
— We run from the dog.
— Irrrrgh, I don’t even want to remember!
— We stole oranges from Mrs. Titina’s orchard.
— My weekend was very nice. My friend Joaquim and I almost got some good sweepings from Mrs. Titina, all because of his obsession for oranges!
— Huahuahuahua!
— There was the circus!
— I hate circus.
— You can write about your fear of clowns.
— Oooooo! Who told you I fear them? I don’t like them, that’s all — he scratches his head again.
— Yeah! I saw your expression when that bloody fatty one came close to us.
— OK — he faces me —, let’s make believe I fear them… Writing about this is a death sentence there in the school, isn’t it?
— Hummm. You’re right. What would your pretty Helena think of you?
— Oooooo! Can you change the subject?
— You know what? I also don’t enjoy clowns, they are very strange.
— You see? Why don’t you write about this?
— I’ll think about it. Before that, I need an impacting title.
— My life as a clown!
— You clever boy!
— Hehehehe.
— Hummm… The astronaut clowns, a horror story. — I begin my narration with a dark voice: — In this new composition of Joaquim, Mr. Maria Aparecida and all our team of the secondary school will get to know Zilomar, the spy clown of another planet. His mission: make contact with the terrestrial and discover their weak point, preparing the attack of the destroying forces of his boring world! What do you think?
— Huahuahuahua!
— No?
— Huahuahuahua!
— You’re not helping much, you know?
— Ahhh… You know what? It’s better to go home and see if I have some idea for this composition, unless I want to take a negative mark.
— Right. See you tomorrow.
— See you, Joaquim.
— Bye.
I open my notebook and keep looking to the blank page. I hate clowns…

My weekend was such a boredom

Nothing interesting happened. We went to the circus, for lack of option. I felt like going to the cinema, but all the films were for adults.
There was only the circus.
Jugglers, trapezists and those clowns hitting and through things on one another.
I have to admit that the trapezists are actually nice, they defy death by doing all those acrobatics from above, only to entertain us. But the clowns… They look sad.
One of them was called Scratchy. The poor clown was hit by everyone: he took kicks on his ass, they threw water and paint on him and did all kinds of wickedness. If I did this to some colleague, I’d be suspended in the school, and, at least would be blown by my mother. But there in the circus, they can do whatever they want with Scratchy. After the spectacle, he goes to the dressing room, takes off his stained make-up and looks at his image through the dirty and broken mirror. Then, he cries.
Why do people laugh of such violence? What if someday Scratchy decided to revenge, would they think it was funny? Probably he would be fired! Disappointed, he would follow the little desert road up to the next city, without money and nothing to eat. He would ask for a job in another circus and once again, he would be Scratchy, the clown, ready to be humiliated in change of some smiles.
The clowns are sad. My weekend was such a boredom!

Mrs. Maria Aparecida

Everyone looks at me. So what, didn’t you like it? Of course not! After hearing lots of silliness such as: “How educational was my visit to Ipiranga’s Museum”, “My birthday Party”, “I got a beautiful little dog”… They were forced to swallow my cruel and desolating view about the world of the circus!
No one will make any comment? Stop biting your fingernails! Stop this little laughter! Say something. Hey, Mrs. Maria Aparecida, how about you? Don’t disappoint me, Mrs. Maria Aparecida, you are one of my favourite teachers!
The end of class sign finished the silent torture.
— Boys… Those who didn’t have time to read their composition during the lesson, place it on the table for me to take and correct. Next week I will give everyone’s marks!
She warns and waits. Mrs. Maria Aparecida seems to have fun with the rushing of the class running over one another to deliver their works and after crashing each other at the door vain, fighting to be the first to leave the room.
I look at Helena, who peacefully organises notebooks and books before putting them into the case. Seven desks behind, I see my friend, amazed. Ah, how much I wish I had a camera to register this moment! Afterwards he comes with the story he’s not falling in love with her completely. Liar!
Without any hurry, Helena approaches the teacher, smiles widely and delivers her three foils of foolscap, linked by a little lace of wrapping prezzies.
— It’s a pity the lesson finished, Helena. Next time, you will be one of the first ones to read, OK?
— Yes, teacher — the girl answers with a superior look —, without modesty, it was pretty nice! But I understand our time is limited.
— Yes, Helena.
Eduardo opens the way and timidly places two foils on the table.
— How about you, Eduardo, was your weekend also boring?
Mrs. Maria Aparecida looks at me discreetly with her wide brown eyes, while she waits for the answer from my friend. It was personal. Certainly, she wasn’t very happy with my criticism to the world of the circus.
More or less — he retracts —, nothing important occurred.
I see.
Without too much hurry, the most beautiful teacher of the world closes her purse, passes her hands in her black and straight hair, makes up the neckband of her silk blouse and as a final touch, she makes up the white skirt with blue flower motives. I try to disguise, but I can’t let to admire her. I could do this for hours, days and weeks! It didn’t take too long because Helena gets between me and my beloved teacher, attracting attention to herself.
— I enjoyed your work, Joaquim. — She starts conversation — I just don’t agree that the clowns are sad people. At last, they bring so much joy for the audience.
— Humpf! — I answer without will to discuss the subject.
— And you, Eduardo? — Helena follows with the subject.
— What about me?
— Don’t you like clowns?
He gives up commenting.
— Well, boys — Mrs. Maria Aparecida interrupts us —, goodbye!
— Bye, Teacher!
— Well, — Helena nods —, see you tomorrow!
— Uh, Helena. — Eduardo cuts the way of the beloved one.
— Yes?
— You…
— Yes?
— I’d like to know if...
— What?
— I’d like to know if you…
— Hey, you three!
Damn it! When he was finally about to speak out, there appears Oswaldo, the man with the ridiculous little moustache, hair anointed with Brylcreem and a bright grey suit. Mr. Oswaldo, the beadle, the stoolie, the wicked man.
— It’s forbidden to remain in the rooms after the end of the lessons — he informs us with his traditional impatience. — Get out all of you!
— We were already…
— Now! — he insists and points to the corridor.
We got out under the severe look of Mr. Oswaldo, the weasel!
At the pavement, the curious Helena gives one more chance to my mate.
— What did you want to say, Eduardo?
— Nothing too important, we talk of it later.
— OK, then, I see you tomorrow.
— See you.
She turns her back and goes meet her friends, Berenice and Lurdinha. The girls remain talking, smiling and staring at the older boys that pass by.
Mr. Pedroso, the school van driver, sounds his horn.
— Let’s go away, you little boys!
The kids board without any hurry only to tease the man. Others wait for their parents. Slowly, the pavement in front of the school becomes empty.
Note: The images used are not part of the complete book and were used only to illustrate this sample.



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