Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Betty Cooper’s Last Flight

Betty Cooper opened her eyes. The place was aglow in crimson hues. Dark Shadows of the ghastly fire danced in front of her eyes. Instinctively, Betty tried to move away from the immediate danger. A cry escaped her lips as she tried to move. There was immense pain in her body. She closed her eyes instead. She tried to remember what had happened before this.

About fifteen minutes before:

Betty and her friends were getting ready for their nightly tour of the jungle to get fresh blood. Blood was an important meal in the diet of the Anopheles mosquitoes. That is exactly when they heard an ear-splitting noise, followed by a huge crash in the nearby foliage. The noise was not something they had heard before. Almost immediately after the crash something hit Betty and knocked her unconscious. 

At present:

The crash had resulted in a fire which was slowly gathering strength. The flames were growing taller by the minute. Betty opened her eyes, she had to move to survive. She tried again to move her wings. They seemed heavy and swollen. Are the wings injured? Betty panicked. She spied a movement on her right.

Betty turned her gaze and gasped. What was that? It looked like Alice but was giant-sized. Alice had a puzzled look on her face as well. Just then she noticed Betty and she gasped too. Betty saw Alice’s reaction and realised that her own body must have been blown up in size as well. She was confused now. What was happening to them?

“Are you able to move Alice?” Betty cried out. Her voice boomed in the forest.

“No! My whole body aches. What is all this Betty? Why are you so big?”

“Don’t worry sister you are no smaller yourself.” Betty tried to find humour even at such odd times. “Let’s put in some more effort to fly, the heat is unbearable.”

Betty tried to pull herself up once again, this time with greater force. Her wings did not move much as she was on the ground. She flapped once again. On the third try, she managed to move her wings a bit. It was difficult to find her balance. She was never so big after all. Her wings were a few millimeters long all her life and all of a sudden now they were a couple of feet long on either side. With a bit more effort she started to fly with a wobbly stance. Alice followed Betty and she too was able to float a bit.

Betty started to think about what to do. Betty Cooper was the lead charger after all. She had to find a way out of this mess but first, they needed to run from the monstrous heat. 

Betty called on Alice and they looked around for their friends. They found most of their friends scattered around the area. All the tiny mosquitoes were now gigantic ones. 

“Get up everyone, we have to flee this area, the orange monster is eating up the forest,” Betty called out to her clan. The mosquitoes were confused by their sudden change of dimensions. They took time to respond to Betty’s call.

Flying was a challenge now as their bodies were bigger and the wings got caught in the big foliages. However, the girls didn’t give up and continued to run away from the fire. They did not see any other animal alive. There were hundreds of carcasses scattered in the forest. Something strange had happened there, the mosquitoes bloated up in size while all the other animals died.

Their progress was slow while the fire was approaching fast. The heat made it all the more difficult to think through the situation. Betty and her friends reached a clearing after trudging for some time. It was easy to reach higher up in the sky and fly faster. They went above the trees. From up there Betty turned her head and saw the monster glowing behind, the flames leaping high up in the sky.

“We have to go higher up in the sky, the monster’s hands are very long.” She instructed.

Alice came over, “What do we do now? The forest has to be saved else we all are doomed as well.”

“I…I don’t know Alice… there should be something that will stop the monster. We need to find out what.”

Janice heard the conversation, “Can I say something?”

“Yes Janice, do you have any idea?” Betty wanted some help.

“Now that we are bigger in size, maybe we can pull the clouds here and make it rain?”

Betty rolled her eyes, “Something more realistic would be more helpful guys.”

Janice withdrew and fell back in line. At that moment they heard another sharp noise coming from the eastern sky.  They also spotted some blinking lights. 

“Wha…what are th…those?” stammered a scared voice.

“Be still, let us all hide near that big rock,” Betty ordered. 

Soon the noise and lights both grew in their parameters. The sound was unbearable. It was coming from those spacecraft in the sky. And those things seemed to be coming towards Betty and group. The five spacecraft scattered over the forest. They dropped lights in the forest and kept moving it in circles. 

Betty thought they were searching for something. But what could it be? Then she saw that the lights pulled up the dead animals to those flying things! Betty could not believe her eyes. She asked all her friends to move under some bigger shade. Betty herself kept walking towards the light to take a better look. Suddenly one light fell on Betty, she stiffened. The light stopped on her. Betty felt a pull upwards. With all her might she flapped her wings and tried to fly away from the light. But due to the trees and the undergrowth, her wings could not move and she was pulled towards the spacecraft. Betty could see the fire creeping up towards their hideout. Once she was above the tree range she put together all her strength once again and tried to move away from the light. And this time she could.

Betty was suddenly flying free next to the spacecraft. She could see a few strange animals sitting inside. They started to look for her frantically. The other four spacecraft changed their direction and moved to the spot where the first one had lost Betty. All the five spacecraft started looking for her while Betty perched on top of one of them. She saw that the dead animals that the spacecraft had picked up were dumped in one corner. Betty needed to warn her friends. So she flew high up in the sky. That is when she hit a cloud and remembered what Janice had said. She tried to pull on the cloud and yes it did move with her! She was surprised at her strength. She left the cloud to be and flew toward her friends.

Betty landed on the ground. The lights were still searching the sky for her. She went to her friends and asked them to follow her. Together they all flew high into the sky.

“Sorry Janice, I laughed at your idea, but when I tried I could move the clouds! Maybe we all should pull one over the forest where the monster is making its way. Let’s go, guys!” All the mosquitoes got to their act. Soon they had pulled a lot of clouds over the forest. 

“But how to make it rain?” Quipped a little one.

“I don’t know that yet Skipper. But we will find out. Let us drive out these flying things now.”

Betty divided her friends into five groups.  Each group was to attack one spacecraft each. Soon they were all over the five spacecraft. The spacecraft started running amuck trying to free themselves from the attack of the giant mosquitoes. During the commotion that ensured there was a loud clang as two of the spacecraft collided. They went down and took along some of Betty’s friends who were fighting there.

Soon the remaining three of the spacecraft collided amongst themselves and a huge flash emerged from there. Betty and her friends took the impact of the clash and perished along with the flying things.

The flash was big enough to reach the clouds and burst it. Rain drenched the forest and eventually doused the deadly fire.

Next day:

Newspapers carried a headline about the forest fire and how a timely shower saved the forest. It also reported that strangely all the animals were missing from the forest. The papers did not mention anything about the spacecraft or Betty and her friends. The heroism of the great leader Betty Cooper went into the pages of the cosmic history. Mere mortals would never know about their great sacrifice.

Thirty-seven light-years away:

“This probe was a success.” Said the grumpy P200.

“How can you call it a success? We lost six of our ships.” Grumbled G5R9.

“But…but those images of those animals you saw, they all were dead. Our chemical worked.” P200 tried to put out a point.

“What about the remaining ones that were flying? No. No. There was certainly something terribly wrong. We cannot conquer that planet like this. I need a better chemical composer and a foolproof plan.” Growled G5R9 then he looked up at the sky, “I have to start this again from scratch, this time there will be no errors. Go find out what those flying creatures were.”  

***

Photo By: Matt Howard

***

This is an entry for #InnsWoods, #Artales18, A Room8 writing event. Checkout the event guidelines here:  https://writers.artoonsinn.com/artales18
The event is sponsored by Manoj Paprikar, Author of Death at Midnight by ArtoonsInn room9 publications. Manoj Paprikar is a doctor by profession and a writer at heart. Through his latest venture with room9publications, he earnestly brings forth the plight of the medical profession that affects both the healthcare providers and patients at large.
Get your copy of Death at Midnight here:
www.artoonsinn.com/shop or
https://www.amazon.in/dp/8194132649

Room8 appreciates your rating of the story out of 10 in the comments.

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Manidipa Bhattacharyya
Manidipa Bhattacharyya
Manidipa is a full-time mom of a story lover 6-year-old. Stories have made their presence stronger in mom and son's life as they read and re-read and re-interpret the same story over and over again. Manidipa hopes to weave more stories together with her son in future.
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