The Mysterious Disappearance of Colby Blue
An Invitation to the Fifth Dimension
U.S. Copyright 2013
WGA registered 2018
Welcome All to The 10th Annual Colby Blue Day - 2028
A boy points up, marveling at the topaz-blue sky on a bright spring day.
His mother holds his hand and looks up as well, both smiling at the sight.
Families waiting to enter the park form a meandering line that runs through a vast green field dotted with wildflowers. Cheerful chatter and children’s laughter fill the air.
A rainbow-colored banner flapping above the entrance announces:
"Welcome All to The 10th Annual Colby Blue Day –
The one day a year we cure our Nature-Deficit-Disorder"
A smaller banner flies above the Phone-Check table –a red circle with a diagonal line crossing out an image of a smartphone. People happily drop their smartphones into wicker baskets and are given numbered wooden tokens painted gold to look like coins.
A boy looks at the other side of the coin, noticing Colby Blue’s likeness carved on its face.
“Look ma’, It’s Colby Blue!”
His mother looks at the coin lovingly, “That is him, son! Isn’t that cute? He’s even got on his little explorer goggles.”
She looks up at the sky, “Whenever you look up, think of Colby exploring that big ol’ Universe. They say that one day he’ll return. I’m sure when he does, he’s going to change our world for the better with all the discoveries he’s made meeting people from other worlds.”
At the center of the field, looms the ruins of a dark crooked structure, made entirely of books of all sizes and colors, reaching up, up and up – almost to the clouds. Children clamber around the base. Ivy and moss wind up the cemented layers of weathered books. The doorway was completely boarded up with a faded sign – “DO NOT ENTER” in bold letters.
Sculpted bronze books form a grand archway spanning over the main entrance to the park. Across the archway, it reads:
“Take a Book, Give a Book
The Bookman Foundation"
A caravan of book trucks sits parked in a circle on a grassy knoll, each chock-full of a wide variety of books.
A banner flaps in the wind – Imagination library in rainbow-colored letters. People excitedly pick their favorite read for the day, jockeying around each other inside the mobile libraries.
A freckled, red-haired teenage girl in a blue gingham dress hums a happy tune while swinging a small handbell, selling glass bottles of juices and fruit smoothies fresh from her family’s farm.
Frolicking children chase butterflies and tease ladybugs. Lovers are scattered about, lying in the meadow reading to each other.
A young woman asks for her lover’s hand in marriage and the crowd erupts in raucous applause as he kisses her, shouting "yes-yes-yes!" towards the sky.
Near the base of Colby’s ruined tower of books, two young women are lying on a blanket decorated with an image of the planet Mars.
“I can't believe you knitted the whole planet of Mars onto this blanket for me. I love the little craters. Oh, and of course you included the face on Mars! It’s brilliant, Gaiel!”
“Yeah, I'm kind of a knitting boss, so glad you like it, Kaya”, her friend replying with a grin, playing with a newborn praying mantis scurrying along the tips of her fingers. She marvels as the tiny mantis opens its lime-green wings, trying to fly for the first time.
Kaya reaches over to pluck a lone dandelion seed head swaying in the breeze.
"Here. Blow on it and make three wishes...but…you have to catch one for each wish or they won't come true", Kaya said, her blue-grey eyes sparkling.
Dandelion seeds fluttered about the air, like tiny, delicate spinning ballerinas. Gaiel released the praying mantis to scurry off into the grass. Moving back and forth until she could coax four florets into her hands.
"Hey, I got four of these feathery critters! Is that good…or bad?”, giggled Gaiel.
"Oh, four?!…Four’s mega-lucky…Now you have a bonus wish to save for later!"
Kaya suddenly serious, looked at Gaiel, “I know you just moved to town and all and we’ve only been friends for a minute, but…it would be totally mind-blowing if you could consider joining me on the Mars Colonization Project. You know, I’ve already been accepted…but…our cool, Madam President just held a press conference last week and she called for new recruits to lead the mission. They’re looking for healthy women with high levels of compassion, strong minds, and a ridiculous amount of courage. I immediately thought of you, of course,” Kaya said grinning, nudging her with her elbow.
Gaiel shrugged, sighing in reply. The sun lit her curly brown hair. Her green eyes seemed to reflect the fields surrounding them. She looked away, up towards the ruined tower of books.
“Some people in town say there's no mystery about this Colby Blue kid. They say that he just fell from that tower and died…” said Gaiel.
“I refuse to believe that! – I think they’re just too scared to accept anything but their limited worldview. I think he's out there, traveling space...discovering new life forms, and experiencing things that we can’t even imagine. Bet he’s doing a heckuva lot better than us here on this overcrowded, messed-up planet,” replied Kaya.
“Tell me more about this mysterious boy-hero of yours, then may-be I’ll decide if I want to join you on this one-way Mars mission thingamajig...”
A bright smile lit Kaya’s face, “Hmm. Where do I begin? Colby Blue was a super sensitive kid. He was friendly but he generally kept to himself, kind of always living inside his head, you know. Not many people really knew him on a deeper level, but just the same he left a mark. After he disappeared, we all united. Our divisions disappeared overnight. We all got together to try to find out what happened to him. He’s a big part of why I got interested in the Mars Mission in the first place…and he inspired us all to be here today. To have a relationship with the cosmos in a different way than we ever did before…”
An Ethereal Visitor at Midnight
The room was peaceful with the sound of a light breeze through an open window and the soft, rhythmic breathing of a baby boy, fast asleep. A full moon cast a pale glow on the infant lying inside his crib, surrounded by a nest of plush stuffed animals.
Bursting through, a faint dark circle formed in the air just above the wooden crib. Spilling out from its multi-dimensional portal, delicate tentacles invaded the room – reaching, exploring, seeking. Spindly tentacles tapped their bumpy feelers along a colorful mobile of the solar system, setting each planet in motion.
The sleeping baby stirred. The tentacles recoiled, swiftly shifting direction, knocking over a fluffy E.T. doll, and passing over a bowl of smooth rose quartz crystals on the nightstand. Hungry tendrils passed over each painted letter on the crib's headboard, sensing the name: C-o-l-b-y B-l-u-e.
The feelers gathered excitedly around the infant, pulling back to form a thick, grey fog. From the blurred mass of retreating tentacles, the face of a beautiful woman slowly materialized. Hovering above the sleeping baby, her curled tentacles inched across his upper lip reaching to touch his bare chest, caressing the area of his heart with the tenderness of a loving mother.
Emerging from a gauzy shroud, a woman’s angelic face gradually grew more defined. An eerie etheric hum suffused the quiet room as her luminous, porcelain-white visage gazed intently at the waking infant.
She whispered with a sensual, comforting voice as gentle as the breeze:
“Be strong, child of the light. Your troubles will be great, you will suffer loss, endure much pain, but remember to never, ever lose your faith. You are unlike any other child that has come to this planet. For you are a Starchild.”
Entranced by her presence, the baby boy watched calmly as the entity’s face fluidly evaporated into nothingness. A burst of air swirled round and round the room, faster and faster, concentrating into a spinning haze, until finally whooshing out towards the night sky in a blaze of light.
The bright flash illuminated the baby’s face lying in his crib, gazing toward the stars.
Chapter 1 - Bon Voyage
“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in the cradle forever.”
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky - 1899
Russian scientist & founding father of modern rocket science
Colby Blue was a young man with an unusual name. Colby’s name was chosen by his father, Roquefort who had a passion for cheese and a propensity for playing practical jokes on his family when they least expected it. Above all other cheeses, Roquefort’s favorite was Colby, an American variety with a delightfully sharp and tangy flavor. Ever the prankster, he thought it would be especially amusing to keep with tradition and name his first son after his favorite cheese. This was a generational family tradition, for his father Cam – Camembert – had named him Roquefort, and his sister, Brie.
Colby’s father was a certified cheesemonger who proudly displayed his gilded certification from the American Cheese Society front and center on the wall above his desk. Rocco loved to remind his customers with a special song –
“Cheese every day
Keeps the blues away
Your cheese guy wouldn’t lie
It’s mother nature’s best high!”
He relished the rare privilege of making a living doing what he loved – selling artisanal cheeses from local cooperatives, helping farmers support their families, and spreading cheese-eating euphoria across the world.
Colby’s name made him an easy target for his classmates who filled their days by teasing him with inventive names like Cheese Ball, Cheesus Christ, or Cheesy Farts. They would taunt him continually, throwing Cheese Balls at him during lunchtime, gym class, on the school bus, and even while in the bathroom stall. One day while removing his books from his backpack, he pulled out a book slathered in smelly yellow goop. His classmates had poured Mac & Cheese into his backpack.
No matter how many taunts or teases were thrown his way, Colby would shrug it off, never allowing himself to become “blue” like his name. He would spend most of his school days feeling like an alien, wondering why humans were so weird. Colby was an optimistic youngster, always finding something to be cheerful about…that is until his parents set sail on their anniversary cruise.
In his mother’s bedroom Colby sat frowning on the floor, repeatedly bouncing a tennis ball against the wall, trying his best to annoy his mother sitting in front of her computer, typing her latest children’s story. All over the room, open suitcases and clothes separated by outfits splayed across the room.
“Colby, can you please stop with the maldita pelota! I’m stressed out of my mind!” huffed Colby’s mother, Vanessa.
Colby hung his head in protest, his tangled black curls half-hiding his pouting face.
“But…but I still don’t understand why I can’t go with you Mama’. They have kids’ activity centers on cruises, and I promise not to bother you guys at all,” whined Colby, with his best sad-puppy face.
Vanessa slid down the wall to crouch next to Colby. Clearing his black curls away, she tenderly placed her hand under his chin, running her fingers across his buttery-brown skin. Colby’s almond-shaped eyes reflected his mother’s Cuban roots. She smiled as she looked into his big brown eyes with their little dark specks that to her seemed like stars swirling inside their very own galaxy.
“I know, mi quesito-caramelito but sometimes your parents need their private time and it’s a special anniversary. We’ve been together for ten whole years now. One day when you find love, you’ll learn how important it is to go somewhere new and exciting with your special love, to keep it all…fresh and fun. You wouldn’t want to be a son of divorced parents and have some mean, witchy-woman for a stepmom, would you?” said Vanessa, tickling him until his pout was overtaken by a series of giggles and hiccups.
“There’s that laugh I love so much! Now, get to bed because you have that test tomorrow. You know how much trouble you have focusing if you don’t get a good night’s sleep,” said Vanessa in her honey-sweet tone.
Colby sulked back to his room, dragging his feet.
Lying on his bed, he tried his best to lull himself to sleep by watching his beloved mobile of the solar system above his open window, swaying in the wind. The calm was interrupted by a rustling in the bushes just outside.
Rolling over to find the source of the noise, Colby peeked through the curtain. He jumped back in shock. A pair of red eyes peered out of the darkness, a pink, snub-nosed monster panting and grunting inches from Colby’s face. A hairy white gorilla lunged at him, growling. Screaming in a panic, Colby kicked and tumbled-jumbled off the bed, tangling himself in a mess of sheets.
Vanessa rushed to investigate. At the door, she stood with arms folded, knowingly shaking her head. Vanessa’s friend Maggie followed, standing beside her with red wine splattered all over her blouse. They both hurried over to Colby’s bed to help unravel the frightened boy.
Colby’s father was doubled over laughing just outside the window. Pulling off his rubber gorilla mask, he jumped up to the windowsill. Barely able to hoist himself inside, his large, furry gorilla hands were comically flailing about.
“Come on guys…help me up!” plead his father.
“I’m not helping you! You know, you’re going to traumatize our boy one day, Roc-co!” scolded Vanessa.
Rocco finally got a hold of the windowsill, catapulted himself inside, and slid down to sit next to Colby, who was slumped, arms folded against his bed.
Rocco sat laughing, holding his stomach. His laughter was a loud, goofy laugh that would overtake him like a wave, infecting anyone nearby. Vanessa and Maggie tried their hardest to not laugh, until finally succumbing. Colby joined in the chorus of laughter with his series of giggles and hiccups.
“That has got to be the best reaction I’ve gotten yet! A hundred percent Oscar-worthy.”
Rocco waved the rubber hairy hands in front of Colby, teasing him with his best scary monster faces.
“Ya’ gotta watch out for Rum-Boogie!
Ya’ gotta be-ware, coz you never know when you never know where!
Rum-boogie, rum-boogie, he’ll give you a noogie!” chanted Rocco.
“Yeah-yeah-yeah! You’re not fooling me, Dad! Not one bit! There’s no such thing as a white gorilla named Rum-Boogie that eats children! I Google’d, YouTube’d, and Wikipedia’d it!”
“And you really need to work on your cheesy rhymes, Rocco,” said Vanessa.
“That’s the whole point! I’m the cheese guy!” replied Rocco.
They all groan in response.
Rocco pulled off his hairy gorilla gloves. Colby snatched and tossed them against the wall, angrily folding his arms. Rocco put his arm around him. “Alright son, you can doubt me all you want but don't come crying to me when Rum-Boogie starts gnawing on your leg while you’re sleeping.”
“It’s okay, next time I’ll just hit him over the head with my great big, baseball bat!” Colby shot back with a sneer.
“Honey, ya basta, that’s enough!” pleaded Vanessa. “You’re going to give him nightmares.”
“Aw come on. It’s all fun and games. Besides, this keeps him tough and on his toes! Keeps the blood flowing to the ol’ noggin’.”
“You’re a horrible father…and you’re paying for the years of therapy he’s going to need when he grows up,” said Vanessa.
Vanessa busied herself with fixing Colby’s sheets back onto his bed.
“Please be a good boy while we are away and obey whatever Maggie asks of you. There will be absolutely no shenanigans or playing of any practical jokes on her like your dad usually does. She isn’t used to that kind of thing,” said Vanessa shooting an angry side-eye at Rocco.
Maggie stood by the door, nodding and mouthing “n-o”, with a fearful expression.
“Um, definitely do not do that! Unless you want me to run frantically out of this house and leave you here all alone,” said Maggie with a wink.
Colby smiled, nodding assuredly at Maggie.
Rocco playfully rolled over to Colby’s mom, bobbing his head behind her shoulders, playfully rapping “Yes, Colby…be-have…but don’t be me-di-o-cre…always be…”
With a finishing flourish, he leapt onto the bed “…ex-ceptional!”
“Dad…You’re such a goof,” sniggered Colby.
Early the next morning, Maggie stood beside the front door, helping Rocco and Vanessa with their suitcases. Colby’s parents tickled and smothered him with kisses as they said their goodbyes. He leaned against the door, solemnly watching them walk away, while Maggie waved goodbye.
“Bon Voyage, you two funny birds! It’ll be a beautiful cruise and I’ll make sure to spoil this one with loads of ice cream.”
As Colby’s father stepped into their Uber ride Colby darted away, disappearing into the woods behind their home.
Vanessa shouted, “Colby! Come back here! Ugh, not again! Honey, can you go get him? I’ll kill myself in these wedge heels.”
Rocco chased after him. He stopped to call Colby from under a ramshackle treehouse made from recycled pieces of wood, covered in vines.
“Come on down Colby, I know you’re up there!” called Rocco, throwing rocks against the wooden hideout.
“Alrighty then. I’m coming up!” shouted Rocco as he climbed up the tree using the child-sized wooden ladder, and stepped onto a rung that cracked under his weight. His foot slipped and he nearly lost his balance. Panting, Rocco dropped down next to Colby who was sitting in a dark corner, peering at the dawn sky still dotted with stars through the skylight.
“Wow, I haven’t been up here in a while. We did a pretty good job building it, didn’t we, sport? I didn’t think it would make it past last summer. I gotta fix one of the steps though…pretty sure it’s gone.”
Rocco put his arm around Colby to calm him down. “Look, I know you don’t want us to leave but you know how important this trip is.”
Colby nodded slowly. He looked down, hiding behind his curly hair.
“What’s buggin’ you champ? Why’d you run off like that?” asked Rocco.
Colby sighed aloud, quickly wiping a tear that escaped. He paused to find the words to explain. “You know how I get scared at night and see those shadow people in my room sometimes?”
Rocco tapped Colby’s nose, “Yeah, but remember what I told you...No ghost or creepy night-time visitors…nothing in this great big, beautiful world can hurt you unless you let it. It is fundamental to always have a hundred percent faith for the Intentional Force Field to work, son.”
“Well…you being in the next room was part of my force field and I’m scared it won’t work if you’re not here,” whined Colby.
Rocco grabbed a small box with a tiny hand crank from a shelf on the wall, held it in his hands for a moment with eyes closed then placed it on the floor in front of Colby.
Colby looked at it for several seconds before picking it up. He turned the lever and it started to softly play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.
“I energized this here pocket-sized device with super special powers. Think of it as a mini force field generator to protect you whenever you’re scared,” said Rocco lovingly.
Colby finally looked up and cracked a smile.
“And if that doesn’t work, I gave Maggie a super-powered taser so she can shock the bejeesus out of any of those shady nightcrawlers. Now come on…” Rocco stood above Colby, offering his hand. “My ship’s going to sail out there and your mom will never forgive me if we don’t make this trip.”
Colby rode Rocco’s shoulders, kicking and shouting like a cowboy.
“H’yah-giddyup! This horse is way too slow, I’m gonna have to put it out to pasture,” said Colby giggling.
Vanessa lifted him down from Rocco’s shoulders, hugging and showering him with kisses.
“Listen, you will be okay. Remember what Abuela Mozzarella says in the new book I’m writing?” asked Vanessa, raising one eyebrow with a tender smile.
“Um…no matter how far we go, our love is stronger than any silly distance between us,” chanted Colby.
“That’s mi quesito-caramelito!” said Vanessa, nudging his chin.
“…I’m sorry that I kind of freaked out. I hope you guys have a nice trip, and all” said Colby, looking downward.
Vanessa scooped him into a final hug.
Rocco cupped Colby’s chin…“Fist bump?!”
Colby lit up, eagerly bumping fists with his dad “...Jellyfish!!” they sang together, wiggling their fingers in the air, mimicking jellyfish tentacles.
“Hug it out, hug it out!” they sang, hugging and then separating. Their arms opened wider with wiggling fingers.
“Bigger-jellyfish!” they sang in chorus.
Rocco nudged Colby to show the music box, “Now Maggie, it is of supreme importance that Colby never, ever, ever be separated from this magical apparatus. I cannot reveal why, for Colby and I are sworn to secrecy,” said Rocco raising his index finger into the air.
“Duly noted sir! Now, get going!” replied Maggie, draping her arms across Colby’s shoulders.
From the rear window, Vanessa put her hands together, forming a heart, blowing kisses, while Rocco made funny faces as their car drove off.
Chapter 2 - The Super-Storm of the Century
Colby’s parents relished every minute of their stress-free escape, lounging under the sun, sipping a continual stream of mojitos, and feeding on heaping servings at the all-you-can-eat buffet while cruising the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. By all accounts, it was an idyllic vacation, until their third night on board.