Santa's sleigh flying across the moon

High-Flying Christmas Eve in Chapter One

As I was drafting the first two novels of my Other Worldly series, I was hounded by a suggestion in writer’s circles that the all-important Chapter One should begin with a high-octane action scene. I resisted until book three, Aliens Abound, which launched in March 2021. And I’ve now somewhat braved this concept of an adrenaline-inducing opening scene in Altogether Alien, coming early next year, as well as in my recent initial draft of the first chapter for book seven, Aliens Watch.

But back to Aliens Abound, because the story opens on Christmas Eve at the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a tad unconventional for Christmas, albeit apropos for Vegas, because while all is bright, as in glaring bright casino lights, all is definitely not calm.

I wrote the scene during that previous summer when unidentifiable “police” actually appeared in Portland, Oregon to violently harass and threatened peaceful protesters. It was cathartic to address my own visceral take on this real-life dystopian nightmare, and I managed to have some fun with it, surprising myself.

This holiday season, we no longer have a presidential administration that engages in fascist thuggery, so the world seems a bit merrier and brighter. Hence, some Ho! Ho! Ho! fun parts from the opening scenes of Aliens Abound:

“Do you have someplace where we can jitterbug?” Mom asked O.W., also known as Octavius Wynne and proprietor of Planet Wynne, the Las Vegas casino hotel where my family dined Christmas Eve.

My name is Rowan Layne, writer and associate of aliens, which is what Red Orbiters like Mr. Wynne are. Not to be confused with otherworldly, or OW—what I and pretty much everyone on our planet was due to hybrid alien-human DNA. I promote progressive planetary politics, so those who reject their partial alien identities, like the soon-to-be-ex-president, don’t like me much…

“In my next life, I want showgirl legs,” I muttered as we made our way through hordes of people to reach the front of the casino hotel with Mom, fortified by champagne, greeting every employee in sight.

“I’m more matooer than I look,” she said, grasping their hands and pronouncing mature like manure, “but I have to stay with it, especially here in Vegas!”

Mom spoke those words one last time to a parking valet before she and I were snatched by armed henchman and shoved into an unmarked van that peeled away from the curb with a piercingly loud screech. We were flanked in the back seat by two male thugs, not speaking but doing some heavy mouth-breathing.

Plenty of additional screeching came from Mom and me, but I could still hear Raucous Wilde’s voice directly in my ear, because hearing Red Orbiters from a distance is my special power, and many of them can hear me.

“You should have let me fly everyone in my orb and this would not have happened!”

I was gasping for breath but managed to reply, “You know Mom would insist you take her to Italy for shoe shopping if we ever let her in your orb, and what the hell do we do now?”

“Just keep talking and we’ll track you.”

Mom was already on it, addressing the two ham-handed Neanderthals decked out in military camouflage with no identifying symbols as the van careened through downtown Las Vegas. “Those are the tackiest outfits I’ve ever seen! You have no manners or sense of style! And had you been in my kindergarten class, you would have learned bullying is bad!” …

Fourth Amendment! Say it with me, fellas. As in the government shall not engage in unreasonable seizure. You’re the pathetic equivalent of the outgoing president’s personal G.I. Joe! Except he is not a dictator, and you are not identifiable as any particular police and are therefore unconstitutional criminals engaging in assault, battery, kidnapping, and absolute, irrevocable stupidity!”

Mom was yelling, “You better not try to hurt my grandanimals!”

I felt a momentary pang of panic for my dog, Bodie, and cat, Morris, but realized they were surely safe in my home with a protective Red Orbiter magnetic force put in place months ago.

“You punks are more like Ken dolls playing at being big bad warrior wannabes. Please! I’m surprised the word police is even spelled correctly, but it is after all the only word on this desert camouflage meant for battle, not urban thuggery of innocent American citizens!” I yelled. “And on Christmas Eve! Have you no modicum of shame, no human decency?”

The van came to a screeching halt and was immediately slammed by something on the outside, making it rock back and forth.

“What is it, Doodles?” Mom clutched my thigh, fingernails digging in…

As we ascended into the chilly night sky and entered an actual flying saucer, Mom looked at the entities rescuing us and, wide-eyed, over at me.

“They’re not wearing shoes,” she said in a stage whisper…

“What are you girls whispering about?” asked Mom.

“Come on, Audrey,” said Dad, taking her arm. “We get to ride in an orb!”

“Is that better than a town car?” she asked as Rauc guided them up a ramp.

“It’s definitely faster,” I said as we entered a control room complete with lots of lights, buttons, and a big screen that Rauc pointed to.

Mom asked, “Are we going into outer space?”

“No, Audrey,” said Rauc. “We can’t travel that far in an orb, but I can take you around the area so you can see Las Vegas from above if you like.”

Dad said, “That’s why you needed the new spacecraft that George worked on?”

“Yes,” said Rauc. “Orbs aren’t equipped for long-distance travel, and the new iridescent craft is also harder to detect in daylight.”

“Can you take me to Florence to shop for shoes in one of these new eerie decent airplanes?” asked Mom.

I rolled my eyes at Rauc and mouthed, “I told you so,” sitting next to him in the copilot’s seat.

“Hey, bro,” Rowdy said to Rauc. “You better make sure we don’t run into Santa Claus!”

For once I was grateful for his snark, as it made Mom forget about shoes and stare, wide-eyed, at the big screen. It occurred to me that Rudolph’s “nose so bright” was…a red orb. Could there be a correlation?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *