So for today, below is the latest portion of my online novel. Things are starting to heat up for Julyanna and her friend Valentine, and unfortunately as time will reveal...the world!
In the year of our Lord
Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One
This August Twenty Third
231 C Rue Claire
So you see, my dear friends, that I was not so innocent after all at the age of four. Or at least that is what I feel at this time after the loss of so much that was dear to me and my loved ones at the time.
Valentine and I peeked into the living room and we had been right. Our family was busy in the kitchen, talking in low voices. We could hear the clink of glasses. Wine. The downfall of many a civilized man when done in excess was diverting their attention.
We tiptoed across the hardwood floor and the beautiful Victorian carpets that sprawled between our room and the front door. We reached it and Valentine, who was the taller was able to reach the latch to unlock it and I the lower twist that locked the knob itself.
She opened the door and without another look back, we slipped it shut, then ran down the hallway to the stairs and made our way to the street below. And wouldn't you know it, but the same Gendarme I had met many times earlier that day was posted at the corner, whistling a merry tune, "Madamoseilles of Paris," a new and merry song composed by Pierre Commerc, a young man in his early twenties known for writing love songs with a hint of bawdiness.
Mama would usually shut the windows if she heard someone singing one of his songs, saying they were too mature for myself and Valentine, but we would just go to my bedroom, and fling open the window there to listen. We were too young to understand many of the words, which is maybe just as well.
I put a finger to my lips and indicated that we should go back the other way. We did, we scooted quickly and quietly as possible until we struck the alley. We cut down the alley which opened up onto Avignon Street, then backtracked along it until we reached behind the warehouse. I knew where Papa kept a spare key and found it beneath its usual place. Safe and sound. The floor mat in front of the door.
You see, people back then didn't break into homes and businesses like they do now. A more genteel atmosphere prevailed in our lovely Paris. Maybe because of the innocence of the times or its peoples, or maybe because they were just too lazy to believe that thieves existed. Of one thing I am sure they did exist. For if two small children such as we were could conceive of breaking into an establishment, couldn't adults as well?
We were about to open the door when the same Gendarme came singing down the street, his eyes looking up at the stars or he would surely have spotted us. We leaped back behind several Dumpster's set against the wall on our right and hid, not even daring to breathe.
His singing stopped and we heard his footsteps nearing. He was checking the warehouse! Merci! I thought to myself. We are caught for sure! I was ready to plead my innocence, but knew Papa would be mad and spank me for sure. Valentine feared the same, for Jules was kind, but had a firm hand when it came to our safety.
We pressed ourselves as deeply into the shadows of the Dumpster as we could, but even so, he came even with us, and had he even suspected something was off, he would have spotted us in an instant. But instead, he tried the lock. When finding it firm, he began humming to himself again in that lovely voice of his and turned to look up at the stars again.
For they were lovely. No vicious smog as we have these days. No foul factory smoke polluting the skies. No cars belching carbon monoxide into the air. We were not as advanced as these days, but neither were we destroying our environment either.
We waited until his shadow no longer fell into the walkway to the warehouse and then his singing diminished and finally vanished. We started out, then dropped back when a lonely Parisian taxi carriage clip clopped past, its large horse taking its time, a long day behind it and its driver snoring loudly as the horse took them both home after a long, long day.
We giggled. It was funny to us then that men could do such things, but later as we grew older and were pressed into service of our country, things changed in our vision as well as our attitude towards older people.
Valentine had the front door open in a moment and we slipped inside, locking it firmly, just in case. I knew a back way out if we had to use it.
I took her carefully around all the instruments and debris my Papas left on the floor until we reached the rear where the sphere was. And it still hovered in the air, its beauty untarnished.
"It's so beautiful, Julyanna." Valentine whispered.
I nodded. "Papa says it's Mars."
Her eyes widened. She remembered what I had said earlier. "But it's so tiny. How can it be Mars and so tiny?"
I was pretty smart, even at the age of four approaching five. "Because they shrank it." I said proudly in my wisdom.
Valentine slapped my right arm lightly in that warm gesture she always used when she doubted me. "July!" She exclaimed. A term of endearment between us.
We got closer to the glowing orb, and then gasped for we could see devices of some kind moving across its vast desert spaces.
"It's alive!" I exclaimed.
"Qui!" Valentine joined in. "Very."
What I and Valentine didn't see was that I was pressing against a dial on the box that the sphere was being emitted from. The dial turned impertiptibly to the right, slowly and slowly. And as it did, something happened that should not have, it gave that world an image of our own and more importantly of ourselves.
Nothing changed on the sphere of Mars as we watched, but it had changed forever. For even as we on earth are watching, watching the skies, so were they. Those horrible, squalid, gross creatures who had no sense of purpose other than conquest and destruction!
But once again I get ahead of my story. For now, let it be seen as just a harmless prank committed by two loving daughters of two brilliant fathers. But in reality it was a mistake that would come back to haunt us for the rest of our lives!