The Bringals of Carly by Michael Schneider - HTML preview
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Jack and Laura run over and hug Janie their older sister.
“Hello Mum! Hi Laura! Hi Jack! Fine, thanks. How’re you doing twins? Thanks for coming,” Janie answers gratefully. “ It’s been really boring today. Did you bring my magazines, mum?”
Two months ago Janie McQueen was on her way to school with her best friend, Alice Jones. As they were crossing the road on a black and white pedestrian crossing with a green walk-light, a speeding car drove through the red light and knocked down the two girls. Janie will be back home in a week or so but after the operation that saved her leg, she will walk with a limp for the rest of her life. She wasn’t able to leave the hospital go to Alice’s funeral. She has nightmares about what happened.
The driver of the car was never caught.
The visiting hour passes slowly. There is so much the twins would like to tell their sister, but can’t. The Bringals, and all they’ve learned, have to remain secret and suddenly, there is nothing to talk about! Even Mary, who normally would have raged about their encounters on the way to the hospital, is ultra-sensitive to her older daughter’s condition and restricts her conversation to the banalities of school gossip.
After the visit, Mary, Jack and Laura go out into the High Street again.
Now all they have to do is to fight their way back home.
Chapter 10: Herbert Hogg – Public Enemy
Let’s go back an hour in time and meet another one of Carly’s citizens who is just about to go for a ride in his car.
Herbert Hogg, a quiet, inoffensive, nerdy, bespectacled, book-keeper is leaving his suburban apartment block near the old part of Carly. He is dressed in very square clothes. Grey trousers, brown suede shoes, shirt and tie and a blue blazer. Apart from being a book-keeper, Herbert Hogg is also one of Carly’s most anti-social citizens!
Herbert Hogg’s Pekinese dog, Henry, is wearing a muzzle and is on a leash. He’s also wearing a dog jacket and a pink bow in his hair. He trots happily next to his master.
Herbert Hogg’s little family car is parked across the pavement causing pedestrians to walk in the road. Someone has sprayed, “GET THIS MESS OFF THE PAVEMENT!” in black paint along the side of the car. “Look what those vandals did to my car!” says Herbert to Henry taking off the muzzle and the leash and getting into the car, “Where are the police when you need them?” As Herbert Hogg starts the engine, his character immediately changes into that of an extremely nasty, vicious, uncaring, selfish man. Little Henry suddenly believes himself to be a huge, dangerous, Rotweiller dog. Henry jumps out of the car, deposits a pile of droppings onto the middle of the pavement and jumps back into the car. Herbert Hogg honks his horn. He’s ready to drive!
The town judge, out walking his pet spaniel dog, Charles, steps into the droppings! With radio at full volume and without putting on his seat belt, Herbert pulls off the pavement and into the road without checking first if other cars are coming. He causes a car to brake violently and skid and a passing cyclist to hit the kerb and be thrown onto the sidewalk. The exhaust pipe falls off Herbert’s car, which roars off down the street with a thundering noise. As Herbert Hogg throws his car at top speed under the old tree in the town square, a leaf falls from the tree and lodges under his windscreen wiper. The Judge watches in dismay as he tries to clean his shoes on the kerb. It’s another day for Herbert and Henry to create chaos on the roads. Let me tell you a little about the judge. He’s an elderly man, known throughout the land for his fairness and wisdom. He lives for truth and justice. A stern man but a good man. Honest through and through. He is a descendant of one of the first settlers of the old village and has been the town judge for many years. (Alright! Alright! It’s not so interesting but it’s nice to know that the judge is a good man.)
Chapter 11: The Answer
The day after Jack and Laura visited their sister Janie they were back in the tree waiting for Michael to return. Earlier, he had come to tell them that he would be delayed for a short while as the Bringals were having a meeting. The twins hadn’t slept so well last night. Something in Michael’s attitude at the end of their previous meeting had left them a little anxious but they didn’t really know why. It was on their minds and would not be pushed away. “What do you think it’s all about, Laura?” Jack asked for the zillionth time.
“I don’t know,” answered Laura for the zillionth time, “But I think we’re about to find out.”
Jack looked in the direction that Laura was looking in and saw Michael next to them on the branch.
“Hi Jack and Laura,” Michael said, “I’m sorry to keep you waiting but we had to make a very important decision about you two and we have made it. I can answer your questions now. Let’s go up to our branch.”
They went up to the place where they had sat yesterday when Michael had told them about the history of the Bringals. Jack and Laura sat facing Michael. “Let’s get down to it,” said Michael. “Do you remember I told you about the number of Bringals there are on the planet?”
“Yes,” said Laura, “100 Bringals in a family, 10,000 families, 1,000,000 Bringals.”
“That’s right, Laura. You have a good memory. One million Bringals came to Earth and settled here, that’s true. But there is a problem that I didn’t tell you about and that is connected to the question that you asked, Jack.”
“Are you going to tell us why you are going against your rules and showing us humans who you are and how you live, Michael?” asked Jack.
Michael smiled. The twins were beginning to see Bringals as they really are and it was good to see Michael smiling. “That’s what we’ve been discussing. The time had come to make a decision and we’ve decided to go ahead and tell you. You might know that the first atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. Since then many, many nuclear weapons have been tested by several countries around the world and there have been disastrous leaks at atomic power stations at 3 mile Island, Chernobyl, the Japanese power station disaster and so on.
We have seen this before on our own planet, Xrig, and it led to us having to leave our home and come here.
The problem is that since 1945 we have had some problems with the ‘Pop-in\Pop-out’ process. Some of the Bringals did not manage to complete the process and did not ‘Pop-in’ to their next families. They have been lost to us. We do know what happened to those Bringals that disappeared but we don’t know where they all are or exactly why it happened. From our past experience we are sure that it’s something to do with atomic radiation. Are you with me so far?”
“Yes,” answered Jack and Laura.
“How many Bringals are missing?” asked Jack.
“168 Bringals are missing up until now,” Michael answered.
“That’s very sad for you but where do we come in to it?” asked Laura
“I’m coming to that now,” said Michael. “I also told you that humans can’t see Bringals as they really are, do you remember that?”
“We remember everything you told us,” said Jack.
“Well, that was absolutely true.” Michael stopped and looked at Jack and Laura.
“Do you understand what I’m telling you?”
Jack and Laura looked at Michael for several seconds.
Laura spoke first. “You said that we see you as you really are.”
“That’s correct, Laura,” Michael said quietly.
“So…, what are you saying,” asked Jack, “That Laura and I are Bringals?”
“I’m saying that we believe that the Bringals that have been lost in the ‘Pop-in\Pop-out’ process somehow end up being born as human beings and that may be what happened to you two.”
“So, are we Bringals?” asked Jack.
“Not exactly,” answered Michael, “But you seem to be part Bringal. You have the Bringal essence in you. We recognized you as two of our missing Bringals as soon as we saw you. We can sort of sense your cluster of ‘coloured sparks’, as you call them. But you must understand you are all human just with some Bringal mixed in”. “That’s why you were so attracted to this tree, for instance. That’s why you can really see us. That’s why it’s so easy for you to accept what we are. That’s why you are twins. There are many clues which point to the fact that you are part Bringal.”
“What about our mother, what about Janie, our sister?” asked Laura.
“They’re still your mother and your sister and they’re humans just like you. Only you are also part Bringal. Your family consists of you two, your mother and your sister and now you can look upon us as your second family – your Bringal family. We thought a long time about this and decided to introduce ourselves to you and see how you reacted. The next step was to decide whether or not to tell you who you are. We decided to tell you.”
“I think it’s great,” said Jack, “I always felt at home here and now I’ve got two great families!”
“I feel the same,” said Laura, “I’m so glad you told us. We’re Bringals, human Bringals!!!!”
Jack and Laura burst into laughter, “We’re human Bringals! Human Bringals!!!”
Michael joined in with them, “Human Bringals! Human Bringals!!!”
The laughing and shouting became louder and louder as the entire Bringal family, compete with whizzing and popping had joined them in the celebrations.
“You see!” said Michael, I told you that the Bringals never miss a celebration!!
Ma asked everyone to be quiet as Pa would like to say a few words.
“Every Pa is always ready to say a few words,” Michael whispered to Laura and Jack.
“Thank you, Michael,” said Ma.
“I have to keep teaching them, don’t I?” Michael answered.
“Yes, yes,” said Pa. “On behalf of the Bringals of Carly, we give you a very warm welcome to our family and hope………..” suddenly, his green nose began to flash orange. Everyone became serious.
“Bring the Bubblevision”, said Pa to Ma.
Chapter 12: Careful! You’re on BV
“When Pa’s nose flashes orange it means that there’s a problem in the area. It could be kids or the environment in possible danger.” Michael explained. “If it flashes red, it means the situation is very serious.”
Ma Bringal took what looked like soapy water and blew a bubble through a small loop. The liquid looked different from the shiny liquid that Michael had used that first day and the loop was also smaller. So was the bubble that Ma blew. A picture, like a television picture but in 3D, appeared in the bubble. “This is called Bubblevision,” Michael told Jack and Laura. “It’s similar to the bubble I blew for you when we first met. Watch it carefully.”
In the Bubblevision they could see a group of several children laughing and joking as they made their way to the park, crossing side roads without checking if it was safe to cross or not. They could see that the kids would soon arrive at a major road junction. Herbert Hogg and Henry were approaching that junction at a very high speed.
Pa’s nose was now flashing red! It was obvious that the kids were not concentrating on the road and were in real danger. Herbert Hogg, his foot heavy on the accelerator, was smoking a cigarette while chatting on his mobile ‘phone and Henry was barking at the drivers they overtook. The children were heading for a nasty meeting with Herbert Hogg and Henry. The children arrived at the junction crossing. They stopped and waited for the walk-light to turn green. Soon, the walk-light turned green and the children began to cross the road but they didn’t look to see if it was really safe to cross. “That’s a problem,” said Michael, “If the walk-light is green they assume everything’s fine.” But someone else hasn’t seen that his light is red and he’s not stopping. Herbert Hogg is speeding toward the crossing while shouting at other drivers as he passes them. He doesn’t see the red light, the crossing or the children. The children have no idea of what’s about to happen. Herbert Hogg is almost on top of them. He’s travelling very fast. “Can’t you do something!?” screamed Laura, “Those children will be killed!” At the very last moment, an old man appears out of nowhere. He pushes the group of children back to the kerb just as Herbert Hogg flashes past them. Herbert Hogg is eating a sandwich and still chatting on the ‘phone. Henry is sitting in Herbert Hogg’s lap with his paws on the steering wheel. A policeman is standing in the middle of the road about 400 meters further on. Herbert Hogg doesn’t see the policeman in the middle of the road. He’s too busy trying to find another music station on the radio. Now the policeman is in mortal danger. Herbert Hogg hears a loud tapping caused by a leaf on the windscreen which causes him to look up and see a dot in the distance. The dot quickly becomes a hand at the end of an arm being held up by the policeman. The hand means STOP! Herbert Hogg jams on his brakes and brings his car to a stop just a few inches from the hand.
“It’s a good thing the leaf that fell off our tree somehow attracted the driver’s attention, isn’t it?” said Michael to Jack and Laura. Laura looked at Michael. “You mean the leaf….” Michael nodded, “A Bringal!” “And the old man that suddenly appeared?” said Jack. Michael smiled. “Guess!” he said. “A Bringal too!” said Jack laughing. “But how did he get there so quickly?” “Remember how you got to ride on a ‘Squawker’ bird?” asked Michael. “Of course! He stepped into the bubble,” said Jack. “Was the policeman a Bringal too?” asked Laura. “Oh no, he’s the real thing,” said Michael. “The police in Carly are used to getting mysterious calls telling them that something is about to happen. They always take those calls seriously because they know it’s good information.” In the Bubblevision Herbert Hogg had reverted to his normal nerdy book-keeper character and Henry had his Pekinese character back again. The policeman, with Herbert Hogg and Henry in handcuffs, warns the children to be very careful when crossing the road. “Keep checking right and left when you cross the road even when you have a green walk-light. Use your eyes and ears. You can never know what lunatics there are around. Alright, kids?”
“Don’t worry about us, we sure will”, answer the children, still in shock. “Thanks very much for the help.” The policeman takes Herbert Hogg and Henry away to the police station and the kids look around for the old man who saved them. They want to thank him too but he is nowhere to be seen. “That’s it!” shouts Pa happily. His nose has returned to its normal green colour. “Let’s hope they’ll take care in future. Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s celebrate!”
“Did we hear the word, celebrate?” says a voice full of hunger. Pa looks round and sees a drooling Glupper face peering over his shoulder. “Ok, you’re invited. But behave yourselves and don’t eat all the food.” Pa tells the Glupper. “That’s very hurtful. Why do you think we’re so greedy? Of course we’ll leave some for you!” answers the Glupper as all ten of them dive into the food. “We’ll leave some. We’ll leave a little bit. A very little bit.”The celebrations start up again in earnest. “What do Bringals and the Gluppers eat?” Laura asked. ‘We eat what the tree eats,” answered Michael. “We drink its sap and we sort of eat the sun’s rays with the help of our super-chlorophyll.” Now the Bringals have even more to celebrate. “What a wonderful week!” said Pa. Two new Elders, a group of children saved from a terrible accident, a successful ‘Pop-in’/ ‘Pop-out’ and two lost Bringals back home again. What more could a Bringal want?” “Well, it could have been better if the Gluppers hadn’t turned up!” said Ma. After the celebrations, Michael was seeing Jack and Laura off as they were getting ready to leave. “How do you two feel now about everything?” he asked. “We feel great!” said Jack. “I’ve never felt so happy, I feel more complete” said Laura. “That’s good! I’m glad to hear it,” said Michael. “We were a little worried about telling you but it was obviously the right thing to do.” “We’re glad you did,” Jack said. “There are a couple of things I wanted to ask you Michael.” “Go ahead!?” “Well, first, why are these ‘Home’ trees so special to the Bringals? There are plenty of other trees to choose from.” “That’s true but the ‘Home’ trees are the ones most like the trees in which we used to live on Xrig, our own planet, all those years ago - trees that provided us with all our needs. The sap suits us and we use its various liquids for our technology as you’ve seen. It’s what’s called a symbiotic relationship. That means that we look after the trees and the trees look after us. It’s also useful that the trees don’t look very interesting to outsiders and we get very few intruders. I know you’ve thought about that too. Another reason is that the wood from the tree is unusable even for firewood so they don’t get chopped down very often.” “Right,” said Jack. “Secondly, you said you’ve been on the planet for 20,000 years.” “Right,” said Michael, “We came here about 20,000 years ago.” “Well, why did you only come to Carly 150 years ago. Where were you before that?” “We’ve had several homes actually, but each time we were forced to move.” “Why was that?” ‘Well, despite what I just told you about the ‘Home’ trees and the fact that we do look after them, no tree can live forever. Bringals can often extend the life of a tree by 3 or 4 times its normal life span but eventually it will die. Ocassionally, our trees have been deliberately destroyed. The last one was cut down to build a barn,” “A barn? But you said the wood was unusable. “It is. The farmer’s son was sent to chop down a tree for the barn and he cut down ours by mistake. I think that he wasn’t too bright! They couldn’t even use it for firewood because it created too much smoke. Anyway, eventually after many, many years we settled here where we could be more useful as Carly was becoming a larger community.” “Anyway,” continues Michael, “Try to come tomorrow if you can. It’s a very big day for us. The Elders will be leaving on a long journey. The 21st. day after ‘Pop-in\Pop-out’ day is the first day of the Bringals ‘Conference of Elders’. The journey from Carly takes nearly 3 weeks on the ‘Hooter’ birds so the Elders have to leave tomorrow. It used to be only a 2 week journey on the ‘Squawkers’ which gave the Elders a bit more time to settle into their new position in the family but times have changed. We have to use the ‘Hooters’ now and they’re much slower.” “We’ll be here! We wouldn’t miss it for the world!””
Chapter 13: Carly Chemicals
Here is John Billings. He is a citizen of Carly. As the managing director of Carly Chemicals he is a very powerful man. He is sitting in his large and well furnished modern office with huge glass windows facing the beautiful hills to the east of Carly. Carly Chemicals is a big company. It sells its products to almost every country in the world. The Carly factory is the first of many factories that Carly Chemicals has established in several other countries. From the outside, the factory is a grey, forbidding place but the executive offices inside the factory are surprisingly luxurious. Mr. Billings is in an unusual meeting with some other directors of the company. Cigar smoke hangs heavy in the air and no secretary is present to take notes. This is a secret meeting. A meeting that no-one will ever admit took place. They are discussing waste. Not a very exciting subject you might think. But these men seem totally engrossed in it. They fiddle with their solid gold watches as they talk. They twist their expensive pens around their well-manicured fingers as they consider the large amounts of extra profit they may make because of this meeting that “never took place”.
What’s so interesting about waste? Well, Carly Chemicals has a problem. In the manufacturing processes of many of its products a dangerous, unwanted side product is also produced. It is toxic waste. ‘Toxic’ means that it contains dangerous substances in it, like poisons and acids, which will harm the environment and the public unless it is cleaned before being got rid of. Cleaning toxic waste is a very expensive process and these men are discussing ways to save money in the disposal of the huge quantities of the toxic waste that Carly Chemicals produces. They are meeting in secret because they want to dispose of the waste and also dispose of the cleaning process. This, of course, would make the costs of their products a lot cheaper and bring larger profits to the company and, by the way, their personal bank balances. It is also against the law and extremely harmful to the world and all that lives in it. Carly Chemicals already pours ‘cleaned-up’ waste into the river and into the air. There are many people in Carly that believe that this waste is not as clean as it should be. Mary McQueen and the hospital doctors are some of them.
Chapter 14: The Journey
As the first rays of the morning sun stream over the hills bathing the upper branches of the ‘Home’ tree in a weak golden glow, the first loud ‘Hoot’ of a ‘Hooter’ bird shatters the silence around the tree. Then, like an infectious yawn, comes another “Hoooot” and then another and another until the air is full of the familiar, noisy calls that give the ‘Hooters’ their name. Three ‘Hooters’ have collected together on the tree several pairs of Bringal elders from other families already aboard and the Hooters are starting to become a little restless. It will soon be time to fly south. New Pa and Ma are ready to leave. They just have to say goodbye, first to the deputy Pa and Ma, then the rest of the family and they will be ready to go. “When the Elders have to leave the ‘Home’ tree for any reason they always hand over responsibility to the two deputy Elders who will become the Elders after them. These are the deputies.” Michael tells Laura and Jack who are with the rest of the family gathered to see the Elders off. Suddenly, the lead ‘Hooter’ gives his “All Aboard!” hoot. “Well, we’re ready,” says Pa to the deputy Elders, “Take good care of everything. We should be back with the ‘Hooters’ in about 6 weeks.” Then they turn to the rest of the family. “Goodbye to all of you. We have a long and difficult journey ahead of us and a lot of hard work to do at the conference. We will do our best…..” “Oh, do come on or we’ll miss the main flock if you give a speech!” complains the Hooter. “Yes, yes, well, I’ll say goodbye then,” said Pa as he and Ma arrange themselves on the back of the Bird. “You feel a bit heavy,” says the Hooter to Ma and Pa, “Didn’t you go on a diet before ‘Pop-in/Pop-out day?” “What are you talking about” answers Ma. You know very well that we don’t have any weight. Stop moaning and start flying!” “Well, you seem a bit heavy to me,” the ‘Hooter’ grunts, “It’s a long flight you know!” “We know,” said Pa, “Just do the best you can.” “I suppose I’ll have too,” answered the ‘Hooter’. “That sort of conversation is quite normal with the ‘Hooters’ says Michael to the twins As you already know, they’re always complaining and we don’t take too much notice of their grumpiness”. “Goodbye, goodbye,” the assembly shouts as the ‘Hooter’ who, with an ear-splitting, “HOOOOOT”, and a great flapping of wings, slowly rises from the branch, with the Elders looking very small on its back, and takes to the sky. “Watch out for those Gluppers!” shouted Pa as they rise higher and higher. The ‘Hooter’ circles the ‘Home’ tree several times while all the other ‘Hooters’ join him in the flight. Another few circles around the tree and off they go, heading south in a small ‘V’ formation of three birds with the Elders on the lead Hooter’s back. New Pa and Ma had been looking forward to this journey for a long time. They had known it would be their first mission as Elders and a very important mission it was. They were eager to make their contribution at the Conference of Elders and they knew they had an important agenda to put forward. They just hoped they could be eloquent enough to present their cause successfully. It was not going to be an easy task. No less important to them was the journey itself. It had been about 50 years since they had last travelled and they were just as excited now as then, to see how things had changed in the meantime. Up in the sky on the back of a ‘Hooter’ you can get a wonderful view of the scenery. But even in the Summer it’s freezing cold so high up in the sky. So Pa and Ma have to give up on the view and snuggle down under the special feathers on the back of the ‘Hooter’ to keep warm. After several days flying due south, with other Hooters joining their flock and their flock joining other flocks and with several stops on the way to pick up other pairs of Elders from Bringal communities on their flight path , the air temperature becomes warmer and the Bringals can emerge from their cover. It is the afternoon of the 17th day of the journey and the flock of 200 ‘Hooters’ has almost arrived at its destination.
This is the tropics and the sun is very hot. The Hooters are declaring their coming arrival as they always do. They are hooting. The noise is tremendous and the Elders that have already arrived at the conference tree from other parts of the world have heard them coming for the last hour. In the distance, Pa and Ma can see the outline of several other formations, all converging on the same flight path. The excitement is tremendous! As look around them, they can see the exhilaration displayed by the other Elders in their flock. Their lights are flickering in a frenetic flurry and some are even jumping up and down!
As always, the Hooters are announcing their impending arrival. Most of the dangers are past now. The ‘Hooters’ have survived bad weather, fatigue, and all the other problems that can occur on a long flight but now they face the biggest danger of all. Eagles!
The eagles that live in this area are waiting for the ‘Hooters’ to arrive. Their small, beady eyes spotted the “V” formation even before the hooting assaulted their ears. They wait for them every year at this time because the ‘Hooters’ migrate to the same place at the same time every year and eagles love ‘Hooters’. They’re so tasty! But the Eagles have one big problem. They have terrible memories! They see their dinner approaching but forget what their dinner sometimes carries with it.
As the ‘Hooters’ cross the plain only about 100 miles from the convention tree the eagles appear circling over-head. The ‘Hooters see them and the hooting becomes even louder. They flap their tired wings, straining to reach the safety of the forest ahead. The ‘Hooters’ have no chance against the strong, fast, hungry eagles.
The eagles swoop down, their sharp talons extended to grab the ‘Hooters’ out of the air. But this time, like every other time, the eagles are going to be out of luck. This flock of Hooters is transporting 3000 Bringal elders on their backs.
Only a few yards away from their prey, the eagles let out terrifying screeches and swerve away from their targets, flying away as fast as possible.
What happened? Well, eagles don’t like lions very much whereas lions are very fond of eagles. They find them very tasty. So when the eagles see 3,000 lions riding on the backs of a flock of ‘Hooters’ they get just a tiny bit panicky and leave the area as quickly as possible.
Where did the lions come from? Remember that a Bringal can take on any shape it wants. It will be a long, long time before the eagles will have a Hooter meal when the Hooter is working with the Bringals. That’s called symbiosis, which translates into, ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
Herbert Hogg is about to appear in court around now.
Chapter 15 – The Magistrates Court in Carly
Herbert Hogg is in the dock. The judge that we saw earlier reads out a list of Herbert Hogg’s offences of which he has been found guilty. “Herbert Hogg, you have been found guilty of committing the following offences:
Parking your car across the pavement. Allowing your dog to use the pavement as a lavatory. Allowing your dog in the street without a muzzle and not on a leash. Driving without a seatbelt.
Using your horn while stationery. Disturbing the peace with a loud radio. Causing an accident. Driving a car with no exhaust pipe. Speeding. Speaking on a mobile telephone while driving. Eating a meal while driving. Not stopping at a red traffic light. Not stopping at a pedestrian crossing while people are crossing the road. Driving dangerously. Driving without due care and attention. Allowing a dog steer the car. Showing very bad manners and not caring about other people. I know the last one is not against the law but it jolly well should be. This list, in its shocking entirety, is evidence, in itself, of the utter contempt that you, Herbert Hogg, possess, not only for the Law, but for Society in general. It is those thoughtless and inconsiderate – nay, even selfish, egotistical people like yourself who create havoc and disharmony for the unsuspecting citizen. You have made it impossible for the ordinary man in the street to be the – um – man in the street. You have turned our public roads into your private domain. You have no respect for either vehicle or citizen, other than yourself, and you do not deserve the privilege of freedom on the roads. You are a disgrace to yourself and to the town of Carly. I, therefore, take great satisfaction in sentencing you to the maximum penalty that the law will allow on each of the aforementioned offences and trust that by the time you are a free man once again, you will be far too old to drive a car. Take him away.” And with a thundering rap of his judicial mallet, Judge Hamilton-Jones sentences the quivering, uncomprehending Hogg to a lengthy term of incarceration.
“ I don’t understand, your honour. I’m just a nerdy accounts manager. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything to hurt anyone or done wrong in my life!” “Take him down!” said the judge
One of the people who came to court to see justice done was a mother of three school children. Mary McQueen was very pleased to see one more dangerous driver off the roads for a very long time. The Bringals in Carly have been watching the court case too, on Bubblevision and are celebrating that everything has come to a happy ending. There was no happy ending for Herbert Hogg.
Chapter 16: The Conference of Elders
The Conference tree was a magnificent sight. Hundreds of years old with a huge canopy giving plenty of shade against the hot midday sun.
20,000 Bringal Elders were comfortably spread out across the tree’s ample branches. What a sight! 20,000 miniature fire-work displays all in the branches of a giant ‘Home’ tree. It was the second week of the conference and the Carly Bringals’ Ma & Pa had been having a wonderful time meeting Elders who were old time friends from families scattered all over the world. One thing was certain, with 20,000 Bringals gathered together, there was no need to worry about a Glupper showing up here. Not every one of the 10,000 pairs would speak at the conference, but any Bringal that wants to speak will be allowed to. Carly’s Pa and Ma will have the opportunity to make their presentation today. It is a tense time for them because they are going to make a proposal which, if accepted, will be very important to them and to every Bringal on the planet.They do feel confident that the 80% minimum votes they need, that’s at least 16,000 Elders, will vote for the proposal but one can never be certain. It only takes a few to change their vote and the reaction may spread quickly among many of the Elders. Perhaps you should know a little more about the way decisions are made in the Bringal families and at the ‘Conference of Elders’. Whenever a family of 100 Bringals discusses an important new idea, one or both of the ‘Deputy Elders’ has to put the points against the idea in the strongest way possible, even if they agree with the idea. In this way the discussion is balanced and the voters can come to a good decision. At least 80 Bringals must vote ‘yes’ for the idea to be accepted. It is the almost the same at the ‘Conference of Elders’. There, Family Elders take it in turns throughout the conference to be the ‘Elders of the Conference’ and one or both of them will argue against each new idea that is proposed before the vote takes place. One of the decisions already made at the conference is not very good news for the Carly Bringals. The request made by the Melbourne Elders to double the range of Bubble Vision has been turned down as it would increase the likelihood that the Bringals would interfere too much in human activities. This is a bad sign for the Carly Bringals as their request could also be refused for the same reason. Now the time has come for the Carly Bringals to present their request. Pa and Ma take their position on the tree’s ‘Address Branch’. Pa Bringal begins: “Fellow Bringals, before we present our proposal we would like to remind you of the situation on our home planet, Xrig, more than 20,000 years ago. The air was yellow. The constant rain was acidic. The rivers and seas had died from pollution. All our ‘Home’ trees had died or were dying. The Bringal population had been reduced from 500,000 families to 10,000. 98% of the entire Bringal community on Xrig had given up their energies to the Universe.due to atomic radiation. The rest of us had only a very short time left. Soon there would be no Bringals left in the whole Universe. We were saved by the Quilogs who were kind enough to drop us off on planet Earth”. Ma Bringal continues: “You can all see what is happening on this planet. History is repeating itself but this is our last home. The Quilogs have gone and the humans don’t have the ability even to save themselves let alone us Bringals even if they knew we existed and then even if they wanted to. We, who have experienced this problem before, have it in our power to save the humans and ourselves. We are here to ask you to amend a basic law again. We did allow ourselves to amend our law of not interfering with the humans when we decided to help human children stay safe from danger. Let us take one more step and help all humans on the long road that leads to saving the planet Earth. Let us become more active in leading the children to protect themselves and the Earth and to bring all humans to treat each other with consideration. Slowly, surely, step by step the children must grow up knowing their future and their children’s future is in safe and friendly hands. We can help them. We’ve seen it all before. Don’t let’s miss this opportunity. It may be our last. Let us do it for the children and their children’s children. Let us do it for our own survival. Lastly, let us not forget that almost all the major problems that the human race faces come from their one problem of not being considerate to each other. Our aim, for their future and for ours, must be to instill this fact into the minds of the children and to help the humans become a people who are considerate to each other. My dear friends, the decision is in your hands. I know you will weigh the pros and cons carefully. Thank you.” Those were the Carly Elders speeches. Now one or both of the ‘Elders of the Conference’ will speak against the Carly Bringals ideas. The Conference Elder Pa speaks: “I won’t take too much of your time. The Carly Elders have put forward a very good argument to help the humans save the planet and be more considerate to each other. It is clear that they do need some help. But I am very worried about this course of action. We have a basic law that does not allow us to interfere in the lives of the humans. We have, wrongly in my opinion, changed this law to help human children. This was a mistake. It increased the danger that the humans will discover that we exist and we all know what happens to other forms of life when the humans discover them. It could also be used as a tool, as the Carly Bringals are now using it, to press us to change the basic law for further interference and involvement in the lives of the humans. Humans should and must be allowed to work out their own destiny without the manipulations of outsiders. Would you want the humans to change your way of life without your agreement or knowledge? Even for what they believe are the best reasons. Can the unguaranteed result of an action justify the action itself? That is a difficult question to answer. Will our actions benefit the humans? Can we even know what will benefit another life form? Will they benefit us? Thank you.”
The vote will take place later in the day. If it is in the Carly Bringals’ favour, the Bringals are going to be very busy in the future. The battle to protect the children on the roads together with the battle to save the environment will take much of their time and will be never ending. All that, plus getting the humans to be considerate to each other will be a huge task. In the meantime Pa and Ma can relax and enjoy the rest of the conference. It’s a couple of days before the ‘Hooters’ make the trip back to Carly and they still have a lot of celebrating to do even before the vote.