Many thanks to the wonderful, enthusiastic and conscientious Year 5 children at St. Edward's Catholic Primary School, Swadlincote, who judged the SCBWI Chalkface Challenge competition and chose the opening extract from Help! I Think I'm An Alien! as a runner-up!
Help! I Think I'm An Alien!
It comes to me in a blinding flash on my 12th birthday.
Like being struck by a sonic screw-driver and a jet of ice-cold water all at the same time.
Suddenly the tiny portion of my brain that works zooms up twenty-zillion levels. And I know. Just like that. Something that’s so blindingly obvious I can’t believe I haven’t seen it in the whole of my twelve years, two hours, ten minutes and thirty-two seconds on this planet.
I’ve always known I’m different, of course. You can’t live with a family who thinks that football is less important than world peace without realising they’re not like you. But when Dad says he doesn’t see the point of ice-cream cake and Mum and my brothers agree, suddenly it hits me. Not the cake. Well it does,but that comes later. My family are all incredibly, unbelievably different to me.
Me My Family
Loves ice-cream cake Fave cake is stodgy fruit cake!!
Loves playing any sport especially football Thinks a ball is what you throw
for a dog (or Cinderella)
Loves solving real-life crime mysteries Loves solving silly crosswords
Loves watching football, tennis, rugby, cricket, Only sport they like is silly pigeons snooker, cycling, athletics, basketball getting lost
Thinks garden is for playing football in Thinks garden is for growing
perfect lawns and keeping silly
pigeons in (see above)
Brilliant eyesight, braces Half-blind, perfect pearly-white
Serious – though brothers can be Fun incredibly immature
Hates lessons and being inside Permanently glued to computers
even in summer except when
watching silly racing pigeons
Adores burgers, sausages and chips Loves curries so hot they burn
through your mouth
Invaded by spots Oh-so perfect skin
Thin - like stick insects Round - like Teletubbies
“Here, Charlie, let’s take a photo of everyone happy together on your birthday – before you discover we forgot to buy you a birthday cake!” Dad cries and everyone giggles. That’s another thing – my family’s sense of humour. It’s the pits. Totes.
“Smile!” Dad cries. Suddenly there’s a flash.
“Nice one!” he grins and hands me the camera. And then it’s there before my eyes. Digital confirmation. Irrefutable proof. Me... and them.
I’ve never cared what I look like, never gazed adoringly at my reflection in mirrors like girls (and let’s face it – some boys!) do. Just as well, with my face. Of course I’m thinner than the rest of my family, but I always thought that’s because they devour each meal like they’re never gonna eat again. But their hair and eyes and smiles all match. They have great big furry caterpillars for eyebrows. I’m the odd one out.
I have to tell Will. Right now. I dash up to the bathroom, pulling out my new mega-cool mobile. Dad gave it to me earlier, as a surprise birthday present, despite Mum’s opposition to mobiles and 12-year old boys. It’s the mobiles she objects to, not the boys. I think... Then again, maybe not...
Hurriedly, I shut the door. I’m not sure Mum knows about the phone. Dad said it was just for emergencies. I didn’t realise I’d need it the very first day. In my own home.
I sit on the loo. My fingers are shaking so much, I can hardly punch in Will’s number. As a founder member of KIDS – Kray-Z’s Incredible Detective Services, I’ve longed for a tricky mystery to solve. And all the time here it was, waiting for me, right under my nose. Well, in my nose! No, not the bogeys! The nose itself. It’s big. Embrassingly so. Especially compared to the lovely small ones my parents and brothers have.
But Will just doesn’t see it. My problem – not my nose.
“Kray-Z!” he cries down the phone almost deafening me. “You’re getting old! Becoming 12 has warped your brain!”
“But I’m the complete opposite of everyone in my family! You should see this photo!”
“Send it over!”
I’m not a techno-wizard like the rest of my family. Suddenly nothing, absolutely nothing, seems to link me to them.
“Look, Kray-Z,” Will argues, “sometimes people in the same family look different “I’m sure I’m Sam’s brother, but we don’t look the same – thank goodness.”
“Will! Of course you don’t! Sam’s only three...”
“Exactly!” he interrupts.
“...and a girl!”
“And over-fond of pink. I mean, can you see me in pink? And skirts? With bunches in pink ribbons?”
I can, actually.
But I have more important things on my mind right now.