The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 1
“Ali, what are you doing up? It’s nearly midnight.”
“I had another nightmare.” Ali stood in the lounge doorway knuckling his eyelids.
“You poor thing, come and sit down.” He shuffled over to his mum at the computer - right sock snaking from his foot, left sock already escaped. Mum crouched beside him and swept the fringe from his clammy forehead. “Is it something to do with your new school?”
“I hate it!” His head drooped like a snowdrop. “Everyone thinks I’m stupid.”
“It’s always hard when you change schools. No one thinks you’re stupid.”
“They do! The teacher made me stand up and talk. She asked about my favourite things.”
Slime-creatures from Ali's bedroom posters squelched and oozed into Mum's head. “What did you say?”
“I said I believe in aliens and I’ve seen spaceships.”
Mum held Ali’s hand. “You didn’t tell them about your Uncle Mo did you love?”
“You know what your Uncle’s Mo’s like – always inventing crazy stories.”
Ali pulled his hand away. “It’s not a story – it’s true! Uncle Mo told me about it. Him and his whole class were abducted by aliens when they were little.”
Mum slid her trendy specs to the top of her head and took a deep breath. “So then what happened?”
“Everyone burst out laughing, especially Frankie Lime. At playtime Frankie told his brother in Year 6, and he told everyone else. Boys kept running past making alien noises. Frankie says I’m from Poopiter." Ali looked at his Mum. "And he says you’re from Faturn.”
“Right, I’m going into school on Monday morning. I’ll have a word with that Frankie Lime.”
“No Mum.” Ali lifted his head and watched his mum pace like a pigeon. “Please don't.”
She saw Ali’s eyes fill up. “OK... but if anything else happens, you’ll tell me won't you?” She put her arm round Ali and squashed next to him on the chair. Ali nodded.
“Not good enough,” Mum said. “Say: ‘I promise to tell Mum everything for the rest of my life, because if I don’t she can keep all my pocket money and spend it on shoes.'” A grin fought its way across Ali's face. Mum smiled a sigh as his new front teeth brightened the room.
Ali swivelled to look at the computer screen. There was a column of 5 smiling photos beneath the sentence, ‘You have five new friend requests.’
“Who are those people?”
“Oh it’s that Facebook - it’s addictive. They’re just old friends trying to get in touch.” Ali’s crooked smile disappeared in a blink. Mum yanked her cardigan from the back of the chair and threw it over the monitor. “Who needs silly computers anyway. Tell you what - I'll go and make us a delicious hot chocolate. Then we’ll work on getting that smile back.”
Spoons and cups clinked in the kitchen. Ali pulled the cardy from the monitor and looked at his mum's long list of friends. "I want some friends," he said and dropped his chin into his hands.
Suddenly, a tiny black dot appeared in the centre of the screen. It zigzagged like a blind fly, then stopped in a corner. Ali rubbed his eyes. The spec began to grow. It wasn’t a dot anymore. It was a small rectangle. Ali leaned in. There was something written on it. The rectangle was now the size of a thumb. It wobbled in the middle of the screen and exploded into a million pixels. He jumped back into the chair.
The dots reconnected and formed a cosmictastic envelope. It was covered in stars and a planet and had a weird, slobbering creature on the stamp.
Weirder still – Ali’s name hovered across the front.
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 2
The smell of sweet chocolate drifted in from the kitchen. “I won’t be a minute - I’m popping to the loo,” Mum called.
Ali scrunched his eyes tight and started counting, "One, two, three..." A thousand tiny squares swirled beneath his eyelids. "... seven, eight, nine, ten." His super-long lashes untangled as he peeped at the screen. The swirl faded but the envelope was still there. “To Ali. You have 1 new friend request on Spacebook. Click stamp to accept.” He looked at the drooling creature wearing a crooked crown. It had eyes on its cheeks and lips on its forehead. He wondered if Frankie Lime had something to do with this.
The envelope started to shake and burp. The pen pot vibrated in front of the speaker. "Mum'll hear." Ali clicked ‘accept.’
A Spacebook logo flashed at the top of the screen. Below was the maddest photo - a yellow three-headed creature, with an octopus tentacle body - all growing from a huge pair of juicy, purple lips.
Under the photo it read, “Hi I’m Jazingalip – Commander of S.K.R.E.A.M. I’m originally from Planet Belch but haven’t been back in years. I’m an intergalactic traveller who loves swimming, burping and visiting new planets. At the moment I’m looking for a friend on Planet Earth – it must be so weird having only one head! LOL!!!”
“An alien!” Ali scrolled further down.
Jazingalip had zillions of friends who looked just like him. They must come from the same planet, Ali guessed. Others were equally wild - cactus-nosed red ones, headless-poodle pink ones, and a completely see-through alien with a belly button on the end of each toe.
The toilet flushed upstairs. Ali closed the Spacebook page. But it kept opening, making terrible sounds – belch, squelch, plop.
“Here you are love. Be careful - it’s hot.” Ali stood in front of the P.C. “Let me shut down - then we can talk.” His mum nudged him sideways. “Oh my god! What’s this?” Her eyeballs looked like they were about to ping from their sockets and pong onto the screen. “Come here Ali.”
“It wasn’t me,” he said. “They just appeared.” Mum pulled Ali to her side.
“See him?” She pointed to a photo of a bald, grinning man. “He was my first boyfriend when I was 10. Fancy him getting in touch after all these years.” Ali breathed again. There was nothing else on screen. “Anyway, who just appeared?
“It doesn’t matter.” He picked up his hot chocolate. “I’m tired. See you in the morning.”
Ali tossed and turned under the duvet. He wondered if he’d imagined it. Maybe Frankie Lime’s big brother was a computer genius and had sent the message to make fun of him.
“There’s no such thing as Spacebook,” he said and pulled the duvet over his head. His gulp thudded in the airless dark. “But it seemed so real.”
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 3
Saturday morning, Ali raced downstairs in a dressing gown. A lopsided fin of hair wavered on top of his head. Mum was reading the paper in the kitchen. “Hi love. How are you feeling today?”
“I’m OK. Can I go on the computer for a bit?”
“Yes love.” Mum stood up and clicked the kettle on. “What do you want for breakfast?”
Ali had to keep her busy. “Erm... Sausages... bacon, eggs, beans...”
“You must be feeling better.”
“And I’ll have some mushrooms and toast and grilled tomatoes.”
“But you don’t like tomatoes.” She drizzled oil into the frying pan.
“I do.” He rushed into the living room and closed the door. He pressed the button. The computer whirred into life.
Ali’s feet drummed on the floor and his fingers tangled. The icons appeared. Ali waited. He watched. He tapped a few buttons on the keyboard. He double-checked he was online.
Nothing happened. Zilch.
He typed ‘Spacebook’ into Google, but there were no results. He flicked a pencil onto the floor and slouched back to the kitchen.
“So what are you doing today?” Mum asked. She wafted the smoke above the bacon. “You can play out after breakfast.”
“Who with? I’ve got no friends.”
Suddenly, a loud ripping sound vibrated in the lounge, “Buuuuuuuuuuurp.”
“What the heck was that?” Mum asked, dodging the oil splattering from the sausages.
“I think it’s the TV. I’ll turn it down.” Ali ran into the living room. A cosmic envelope bounced and glowed on screen. Popcorn pinged in his belly.
“To Ali. You have been invited to a party. Click stamp to accept.”
Ali accepted straight away. The page opened and Commander Jazingalip grinned out from his photo. Underneath, wobbly sentences fanfared from a trumpet. “Dear Ali, You are invited to a Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M party, tonight at 7 at the town hall. Come in fancy dress - the theme is Aliens. Can’t wait to meet you, Jazingalip.”
The page shrank, made one final squelch and then disappeared completely.
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 4
“Breakfast’s ready!” Ali returned to the kitchen and winced at the huge plate of food. Mum sat down and poured her muesli.
“Mum, there’s a party tonight at the town hall. Can I go?” Ali nibbled the end his sausage.
“Fab – I love parties. You never said anything. Whose party is it?”
“Erm... this kid at school. I forgot to tell you about it.” He mashed the pile of beans with his fork. “You don’t have to come.”
“Of course I have to come - you can hardly go by yourself.” Mum leant back and looked at her hair in the mirror. “I can wear my new skirt.”
“It’s a fancy dress party. I have to wear something to do with aliens.” Ali sliced the tomato. Juice and seeds flooded his plate.
“Can I see the invite?”
“Err... I left it at school.” He changed the subject quickly. “Mmm, these mushrooms are delicious.”
Mum stole a mushroom from his plate and popped it into her mouth. “OK - we can make something this afternoon. I’ll get the junk box down from the attic. It’s full of Granny's stuff from her hippie days.”
Ali managed one more bite of soggy sausage. His stomach was too full of zips and tickles. “There are kids starving in the world you know,” Mum moaned.
Ali went to his room. He buzzed around like a trapped bluebottle. It wasn’t popcorn bursting in his belly now - more like a posse of porcupines, trampolining in his tummy.
Later on, Mum helped him make a mask. They used a sheet for an alien cloak and pinned things all over it – stripy socks, hippie wigs and bug-eyes painted onto paper plates.
"How did he know my name?" Jazingalip danced around Ali’s imagination all afternoon. “And how did he find me?”
Eventually his watch beeped 6, and with a big toothless grin, Frankie Lime elbowed Jazingalip straight out of Ali's brain. Frankie fell onto his back and screamed with laughter. Ali shook his head and slapped his cheeks.
“Maybe aliens don’t exist.” He stared at the costume draped over the chair. “Forget the stupid party.”
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 5
Mum barged into Ali’s room. “Come on Al, we’re going to be late. Why aren't you wearing your costume?”
“I’m not going!”
“Don’t be silly love.” Mum wrapped him in his alien cloak. “This is your chance to make friends.”
“No buts.” She clutched Ali’s hand and rushed downstairs. She checked her lipstick in the mirror and opened the front door. “This is going to be fun.”
They hurried into town. A storm was brewing. One of Ali’s eyeballs tore from his costume and flew into the air. As he jumped to catch it, he saw something in the sky – a golden smudge of star flakes, speeding between the dark clouds. “Look Mum!”
“Just leave it Al – there’s plenty more eyeballs on your costume. We’ll be late.” Mum clip-clopped ahead.
“I meant that.” He pointed to the sky.
Mum sighed and looked up. “Yes I can see it – a big fat storm cloud that’ll transform you into a very soggy alien, if you don’t hurry up!”
“But there was a... ” Ali sighed. He plucked his eyeball from a hedge and caught up with his mum.
Turning the corner, Ali saw the town hall in the distance. The steps were crammed with children and parents. He stopped dead. They were the kids from his class, but he was the only one in fancy dress. One of the shivering Mums waved to him, “Thanks for inviting us to your party. We got your wonderful email this morning. I’ve never heard of Spacebook – I must join.”
“My party?” Ali looked up at his mum, but she was already gossiping with the other mums about hairstyles and dresses. He stood by himself.
Frankie Lime pushed his way through the clutter of classmates. “Nice costume!” The children sniggered. “Are you going to let us in or what? The door’s locked.” Ali looked up at the huge sandstone building. Velvet curtains were drawn tight across the windows.
“I don’t have the key,” Ali said. He pushed through the gang of mums and climbed the steps. He saw his hand's reflection in the fat, brass door knob. Just as his fingertips landed on the cold metal, the door swung open. The children barged past and ran into the hall, whooping and screaming.
Ali hesitated. “Go on,” his mum said, “you’ll make new friends. Me and the other Mums are popping upstairs. Ribena's mum said there's a tea room up there. Any problems – you know where I am.”
Ali was left alone in a cloud of perfume. He watched the kids through the doorway. Boys slid up and down on their knees. Girls chased each other and squealed.
Frankie spotted him. “This party’s rubbish! Where’s the music?”
“And the food?” somebody else shouted. “And why’s it so dark in here?”
Ali ran his hand along the wall. He felt a switch and flicked it on. Flashing lights ignited the hall and music shook the floor. Ali glared at his fingers. The kids started dancing and strutting. Frankie pointed. “Alien-boy can’t dance.”
Someone noticed the incredible feast at the far end of the room. "Foooooooood!" There were pyramids of cakes, mountains of sweets and a bath-sized tub full of a bubbling chocolate. They raced to the table like banana-starved chimps. Except Ali. He turned his back on the party and headed for the door.
All of a sudden, a crazy screech drowned out the music. The burgundy curtains flapped and billowed like ghosts. A blaze of golden star flakes sped through an open window and squealed past Ali’s head. The blur landed in front of the food and came to a sudden halt.
The children skidded to a stop and shoved their fingers in their ears. The object spun by their feet and star-sparks singed their socks. “Look, it’s a tiny golden cube,” said Frankie. Ali stayed back and stretched onto his tiptoes. A single letter was branded onto each face.
The kids fell to their knees. They pushed their noses right up to the box and squinted. “S... K... R... E... A...”
“M!” said Ali.
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 6
The metallic cube began to wobble and whir. Suddenly, one side flipped open. The classmates screamed and flew backwards. They sprawled across the floor like socks.
Ali watched, mouth open, as a gigantic yellow blur shot upwards. It grew and grew until it touched the ceiling. Three heads popped out of the blob, and a massive pair of purple lips inflated at the end its tentacles.
The children sat up and looked at each other. They shuffled backwards slowly. One girl pulled a pigtail over her eyes. “What’s that?”
The boy next to her reached for her other pigtail. “It’s an alien!”
Jazingalip’s three eyes blinked and honed in on Ali. “Hey Al – cool costume! Sorry we’re late - we had to stop for a loo break on the moon. It only takes nine years to get here and still they can’t hold it. Never mind, we’re here now.”
“Who do you mean – ‘they’?”
“Sorry - how rude of me. Let me introduce my team.” Jazingalip stuck his antennae between his lips and whistled. It was incredible. Blob after multi-coloured blob rocketed from the tiny cube and shimmied into all sorts of shapes. Some were as tall as Jazingalip. Some were short and fat. One looked like a pineapple with an elephant's trunk.
Soon the hall was crammed with floating, gassy, grinning aliens. Jazingalip’s middle head began to shake. His antenna extended upwards. The aliens let out an almighty belch in the same deep note.
“Wow! That’s loud.” Ali waggled his fingers in his ears. “What does it mean?”
“It’s really very simple,” Jazingalip said. “One burp for ‘hello’, two for ‘goodbye.’" Jazingalip’s antenna shrank back into his head and all at once, the aliens’ lips banged shut. The strange greeting echoed around the hall and then faded to silence. “So Al - are you having a great party, with your fantastic friends?”
The tribe of aliens turned to look at the quaking kids, huddled like penguins.
“Well...” Ali looked at his classmates. “Erm...”
Jazingalip bent down and eyeballed the children. “I do hope so. Horrible children make us really mad. Especially ones who don’t believe in aliens.” The other aliens nodded. They swallowed their grins and drooled.
“Hold on a minute!” Jazingalip flew round the hall like a deflating balloon. Slimy blobs of dribble showered the children. “Did you read your invitations? It said to come in alien fancy dress. Why aren’t you wearing costumes?”
The children pointed to a stack of chairs in the dimmest corner of the hall. Jazingalip glided over and spied a shaking body. “Who do we have here then?"
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 7
“That’s Frankie Lime,” Ali said.
Jazingalip shoved the chairs out of the way and pressed his three eyeballs against Frankie’s face. “So this is Frankie Lime eh?” One eyeball swung round and stared back at the others. “But what’s he got to do with you lot turning up in normal clothes?”
One girl cleared her throat and fairy-stepped forward. “He told us to.”
Jazingalip rocketed towards the ceiling and turned Fanta orange, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!”
The girl kangarooed backwards. She dived into the clustered classmates and poked her head up. “He told us to?”
The bobbing bunch of aliens gasped. Jazingalip turned paprika. “If he told you to bungee jump using your granny’s knickers, would you?” The children shook their heads and snivelled.
All jelly-legged, the same girl pushed her way out of the group and walked towards Ali. “We should have believed you. Sorry Ali. Can I get you a cake?” The other children copied and formed a queue. They offered to fetch Ali cakes, sweets and mugs of chocolate. They told Ali how cool his alien costume was and how they wanted to be his best friend. Except for Frankie Lime. He rocked and scowled in the corner.
“That’s more like it!” Jazingalip said, as children scurried backwards and forwards bringing Ali anything he wanted. “I bet the rest of you wouldn’t mind a taste of my yumptious chocy drink eh?” The aliens sniggered.
The children stopped. Their tongues hung out like dehydrated desert-dogs. “Yes please,” they said.
“No problemo!” said Jazingalip. “But I warn you – it’s irresistible.” He ordered a table to be set up in the middle of the hall. “Take a seat my little Earthlings."
Jazingalip wrapped a tentacle around Ali, lifted him towards the ceiling and sat him on top of his middle head. He then pursed his purple lips and nodded. Two of the fattest aliens lifted the bath-sized container into the air. They flew over the table and hovered. The slobbering kids tilted their heads back, hypnotised by the bubbling chocolate above them.
Jazingalip made a kissy-suck sound that rocked the room. The aliens turned the gigantic tub onto its side. A waterfall of chocolate splattered down onto the children. They shrieked as the muddy goo splashed onto their faces; howled as it soaked their clothes; and whimpered as it filled their shoes.
The aliens hollered. Laughter rumbled in Ali's tummy, spewed up his windpipe and erupted from his nostrils. The splodge-kids licked themselves like crazed cats. But some places they couldn’t reach. So they began slurping each other – ears, armpits and belly buttons. Frankie Lime even scurried under the table and stuck his tongue between his classmates' toes. They didn’t stop until they’d devoured every irresistible drop. Ali’s tummy was hurting.
When the final splat was slurped, the children themselves began to snigger. Sniggers turned to giggles and giggles to guffaws.
“Right, let’s get this party started,” Jazingalip said. The music shook the children’s bones and fat beats pulsed into their bodies. The aliens boogie-bounced around them.
High above, Jazingalip rotated his antennae until all three pointed at Ali. “What’s going on?” A surge of golden sparks shot from each aerial and buzzed into his body. Ali leapt from Jazingalip’s head and somersaulted to the floor. A spiral of stars trailed from his heels. He popped and locked, swayed and swung, moonwalked and mash-potatoed. The children chanted his name. It was out of this world.
As the song faded, Ali opened his eyes. His classmates were still bopping to the beat. He twisted his head to scan the hall. “You lot! Stop!” The children shook their heads. “They’ve gone.”
The hall was as empty. No lights, no food, no cube and no aliens.
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 8
The crowd of mums chattered into the hall. “You lot look like you’ve had fun.” The children were wide-eyed and open-mouthed. They scratched their heads and stared around the room.
“It was fantastic,” Frankie said. “All these aliens came to see Ali. They were massive and yellow and red and blue. Their spaceship was made of gold. We ate magic chocolate and danced like pop stars. You should have seen Ali - he was amazing.”
“Aliens and golden spaceships eh?” The mums winked. “We better get going before they come back and abduct us.”
The kids crowded round Ali and thanked him for an amazing party. “Best party in the universe!" he said.
“See you at school on Monday Al,” the children said. “Promise you’ll teach us some cool moves.”
“And tell us about your Uncle Mo being abducted,” said Frankie.
Ali’s mum took his hand as they walked into the night. “I never knew you could dance love.”
“Me neither!” Ali smiled and looked up at the stars.
The Spacebook S.K.R.E.A.M Team - Chapter 9
Back at the house, Ali begged his mum for five minutes on the computer.
“Go on then - I’m getting soft in my old age. I’m going to put my pyjamas on. Back in a min.”
Ali turned on the computer and waited. He was sure a big, black envelope would burp onto the screen. Seconds turned into minutes, but nothing happened – no message and no Spacebook. He shut the computer down, climbed the stairs and said goodnight to his mum.
Ali closed his bedroom door. He took one last look at the night sky and drew the curtains. "Maybe I imagined it all."
As he wriggled into bed, he felt something cold and stiff by his feet. His heart thumped as he explored the object with his toes. He hurried under the duvet and tunnelled to the bottom of the bed. He grabbed whatever it was and pulled his torch from the drawer. He shone it towards his hand.
He knew it! A cosmic envelope glowed between his fingertips.
To Ali. Mission Accomplished!
Ali tore open the envelope. He buried himself under the covers and directed his torch onto the sentences.
Sorry we had to leave so suddenly. There was an emergency on Planet Tikka – another child needed help.
We knew you’d be fine – especially when you started to dance. My friends on Planet Hip-hop can’t even move like that!
Say hello to your Uncle Mo. Tell him I’ve not been back to Planet Belch since that supersonic day trip with Ernie Lime and the rest of his class, all those years ago.
Your alien friend,
Beneath his name was that word again.
Commander of S.K.R.E.A.M
And underneath that, in tiny brackets, were six more words. Ali shone his torch on each one in turn.
(Supersonic Kid Rescue - Extraordinary Alien Missions)
Ali grinned and slid the card back into the envelope. He pulled his secret box from under the bed and buried the card at the bottom.
Ali climbed under his duvet. Memories flashed in his mind, like a movie he never wanted to end. But soon, every eyelash felt like a dumbbell and the film flickered and faded. Somewhere between sleep and slumber, Ali heard a sound - a muffled sound beneath his bed. In fact it was two. Two deep notes that made his secret box vibrate.
“One for hello, two for goodbye,” Ali mumbled and rolled onto his side.
Brilliant dreams sparked and blazed in his brain. The double-burp drifted past his head and tickled his ear. It fluttered upwards, and for a moment hovered above his sleeping body. Finally, it sneaked through the window and zoomed into the starry night.