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Dark Autumn
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-480-4
Genre: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 198 Pages
Published: August 2007

Total Readers: 2

From inside the flap

July 20, 2021, was a date nobody would ever forget. It was the day Earth made contact with intelligent beings from another planet. They were human, from the planet Outland. They came because citizens in a private space yacht found one of Earth’s deep space probes, the "Voyager." It had been launched from Earth in 2002, and its mission was to study Charon, the Moon of Pluto. After this, it sped out of the solar system with the hope that one day some intelligent beings would find it. And that was precisely what happened.

When the large delegation from Outland came to Earth, representatives from all nations on Earth descended on the United Nations building in New York. Earth found out that there were hundreds of planets with intelligent beings within two hundred light years.

Dark Autumn (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Town of Superior, Michigan December 6, 2031.

The man was a big football fan, and that was why he was here, to see this game for the National Championship of Junior Colleges. But he also liked to know what was going on in the world, and now the galaxy too. He always kept abreast of the latest news developments.

He had a portable radio with him to listen to news while he watched the game. He shook his head as he heard the reporter say that General Riken, the leader of the planet Marvon, had commented that Earth needed to back off its remarks about his planet, or they could be taken as hostile words.

"Hey, turn that off and watch the game," complained another fan.

Silently, the man did so.

Alan Dartan looked up at the game clock. One minute and fifty-six seconds remained in the game. Alan glanced at the flags at the far end of the stadium. They were snapping briskly in the cold wind, Alan rubbed his hands, trying to keep them warm in the icy wind. Alan knew the wind and cold would play a part in this final drive, he needed to compensate for both. Alan knew also that they had just one time-out left; he’d messed up some plays earlier and had to call them.

His college, North Central Michigan College, was playing Mid-Colorado College for the Junior College National Championship, and it was a home game. They trailed 17-13, but now they had the ball at their own ten-yard line and still had time to drive down the field and win. As they broke the huddle, Alan looked at his teammate and best friend, Bill Menning, who was a wide receiver. They just nodded at each other. Alan called the signals, and the game burst into motion.

Bill faked going to the center of the field, and the cornerback followed. Suddenly, Bill reversed his direction, just as Alan grinned and fired the ball into his waiting arms. Bill quickly ran at an angle away from the nearest defensive player. He had caught the ball at the twenty-yard line, and was sprinting for more, 30, 35, 40, and then he was rudely shoved out of bounds. Bill got up grinning, and spared a look at the clock, still 1:40 left in the game.

Alan called the next play in the huddle, and it shocked his teammates. Was he nuts? Alan could only nod that he wasn’t. They all merely nodded and stepped to the line. Alan sent out five wide receivers, watching with pleasure as the defense scrambled to cover them all. Alan quickly had the center snap the ball. Then, while the defense was still trying to react, he ran straight up the middle, without hesitation. Alan got two key blocks, and then it was a footrace. He broke across the 50, then down to the 40, 30, where he was finally forced out of bounds. He quickly looked at the clock, still 1:10 left to go. He had plenty of time yet! He called the offense together, and called the next play. As the ball was snapped, Alan rolled out, looking for someone. They all seemed to be covered. He saw that Bill was double-teamed, so Alan began to run again, as the defense swarmed to him. Alan stopped just before the line, and gunned it into a receiver who was quickly tackled at the twenty-yard line. Alan then called the final time out. Just fifty-eight seconds left now.

Alan called the next play after a quick conference with his coach.

He went back to the shotgun formation, and the center snapped the ball. But he snapped it instead to the running back. He immediately took off to run, but, as he did, he lofted a soft pass, which Alan leaped up and grabbed. He was hit instantly, getting spilled at the three-yard line. In a hurried fashion he got up, called the offense to the line, and spiked the ball. Twenty-three seconds were left, and it was now second down. Alan barked the signals, took the snap, and quickly rolled out, looking to throw. He was being pursued and had to reverse his direction, just fifteen seconds left. Time ticked away, so Alan did the only thing he could. He fired the ball. The defensive player tipped it, but Bill was there, snatching it and falling down into the end zone.

They had done it! Time had officially expired. North Central Michigan College was now the National Champion! The team ran on the field screaming, helmets flying in the air. They mobbed each other while the other team could only watch the celebration with dejection.

Fans were kept on the fringe of the field as the media began to snap photo after photo. Interviews then began with all the players. Alan and Bill joyfully granted them, but also tried to show proper sportsmanship to the other team, which had played so well that day.

They lined up and began to shake hands with the other team. What a way to start the weekend! Tomorrow night, Alan and Bill would get their degrees in the graduation ceremony. It had been a tough two years for them both. Between all the studying and practices, it wasn’t easy for them to get the degrees. Two girls approached them, and they quickly began to hug them; it was Carrie Webb and Angela Gibson, their girlfriends, who were also cheerleaders. Alan joyfully hugged Angela while Bill did likewise with Carrie. Angela’s long blond hair blew in the wind, while Carrie’s short brown hair stayed pretty much in place.

"Let’s go to Clyde’s Place," suggested Carrie. It was their favorite restaurant.

"Yes, for sure!" bubbled Bill. " And I think I’ll get a triple cheeseburger tonight!" he added. The others laughed, and then Alan and Bill went to change, as did Carrie and Angela. Then they were off to the restaurant.

There was a lot of celebrating going on through the town of Superior that night, as people could be heard whooping and hollering as they drove by. The foursome rolled down the windows and couldn’t resist joining in. It was one of the most joyous occasions they had ever had in their young lives, and they intended to enjoy it as much as possible. A few minutes later, they pulled into Clyde’s. It was a combination drive-in theater and eating facility. The food was great, and it was so much fun to eat in your car while you watched an old-style drive-in movie. It was really packed that evening as people pulled in to celebrate. Of course, this place normally was pretty crowded, but, with the victory that evening, it was even more so.

The movie began playing as they ordered their food. It was Alan who brought up the subject of saying what their future plans would be after tomorrow night’s graduation. Bill shook his head at the idea.

"We already decided: after graduation we will meet on the beach and then tell our plans," he stated firmly.

"But we can’t influence each other now," protested Alan, though weakly, as if he already knew he had lost the idea.

"Well," began Carrie, "the whole idea was to announce our plans late so we can’t change each other’s mind, and we won’t change what we want to do to stick together. But I see the point, one day really doesn’t matter much."

The other three then turned to Angela, who was the last to state her opinion. She looked thoughtful for a second and then glanced around at her close friends.

"I think we should stick to our original plan. After all, it is just one more day," she said, but without a lot of conviction. She was dying to learn what the others were going to do.

"I like the idea of waiting until after graduation tomorrow night. It will make it more official if we wait until then. Besides, I kinda like the drama it gives to the whole situation." The others just laughed, and silently agreed to stick by the original plans.

It then became late and they realized that they should head to their homes. Tomorrow was going to be a big day in all of their lives, and it had started so well with the victory that evening. As he was driving back towards the stadium to drop the girls back at their cars, Alan’s mind wandered greatly. They would graduate the next evening, then what? He accepted the fact that they probably wouldn’t see each other much anymore, that was just a fact of growing up. It was a very hard and cruel fact. But to Alan it was more than just that. There was a whole universe out there now. It was a very dangerous place.

Would he someday see a communication stating that one of his friends had died in some messy way? Or even the opposite, that one of them had been a big hero and maybe stopped a war or something?

Alan laughed silently to himself about that thought. That would be great for an adventure novel, but was probably not likely to happen in real life. But then you never know. That was the beauty of the universe--anything really could happen out there. They could all have real exciting lives, or they could be dull and routine. Alan was determined that he would make his life exciting and fulfilling, and it would be by his standards--no one else’s. He couldn’t care less what anybody else thought about him or his life or career. What was important was that he was proud of himself. Why, if you tried to please other people you would most likely end up shooting yourself in the head out of frustration. People were cruel to others and didn’t care if they hurt your feelings or not. There was no way to please other people, so why try? Besides, Alan told himself firmly, why should you care what other people think of you anyway?

"We are here," said Bill. Alan snapped out of his daze.

"Oh yeah," he said absently. With that they all said goodnight until tomorrow, each with intense thoughts running through their minds.