GENRE: MG Sci-Fi
As their hot air balloon ascended, the air became thin and frigid, and the fabric of the balloon flapped in the wind. Above them the night sky glowed with waves of undulating green and pinks. Everywhere the horizon was streaked with colors as if an artist had taken a brush to the sky.
Orion shivered and zipped his jacket to his chin making him look like a turtle. He rested his gloved fingers on the edge of the wicker basket and looked down. The island of Tromso and its tiny lights disappeared as the balloon rose. The colorful wooden houses turned into shrinking specks and the fjords, narrow strips of sea sandwiched by icy cliffs, reflected the misty colors of the aurora dancing across the sky.
Mr. Christensen, the elderly pilot of the balloon, gazed up at the green and magenta waves. “In all my life, I’ve never seen the lights so big.”
Orion pulled his gaze away from the fjords. “Really?”
“Portent of bad things, it is,” Mr. Christensen grumbled under his breath, shaking his head.
“Rubbish,” Orion’s Dad said. Orion watched his Dad extend a long bronze telescope and press the eye piece below his brow. “There’s a scientific explanation for everything old man.” Wind gusts ruffled his dark curly hair as he pointed to a patch of sky where the Aurora Borealis seemed especially bright.
“Whatever you say, Ackerman,” Mr. Christensen growled and his gnarled hands pulled on the valve that ignited the burner. As a blast of flames shot into the bottom of the balloon, Mr. Christensen’s face broke into a wrinkly grin. Flames roared again from the burner and Orion wondered if this was what a fire breathing dragon would be like.
“Get her as high as she’ll go,” Dr. Ackerman yelled.
The wicker basket swayed and vibrated as the balloon lifted higher into the sky. The smell of kerosene burned Orion’s nose. He gripped the edge of the basket to steady himself. “Dad, aren’t we high enough?”
“Almost,” he answered, and reached to open a large nylon bag propped in the corner of the basket.
“What’s in the—” Orion’s question stuck in his throat. Dr. Ackerman pulled a miniature torpedo launcher out of the bag.
Mr. Christensen narrowed his eyes and gave Dr. Ackerman a skeptical frown. “That better not blow up my balloon!”
Dad buckled under the weight, staggering a bit, before he hoisted it atop his right shoulder. “Nonsense, old man.” He patted the side of the launcher like it was a pet dog. “This is how we’re going to talk to the lights.”
Orion swallowed hard as cold air stung his face. Shivers wracked his body and he wasn’t sure if it was from the cold or freaking out that they were going to die. “Why do we need to talk to the lights?”
“The Aurora Borealis is bigger and brighter this year than it’s ever been in recorded history,” Dr. Ackerman explained, then turned to Mr. Christensen.