Another excerpt from the first draft further adventures of the lads from Report on Sample 717, a little further on from the previous one, which can be found here...
The front desk at the police station was manned, or rather womanned, by a lady in civilian clothes, not a police officer as Edrig had expected.
She looked at the four beings in front of her, two ageing men in brown fur gowns and two large fat women in silver suits, and she said, 'Yes?' with a distinctly wary tone.
Edrig hesitated, then he began.
'We are from another world, another planet, and we are stranded here with no proper clothes, no money, no food, nothing.'
The lady behind the counter looked back at Edrig, then slowly scanned his three companions, then looked back at Edrig, then frowned.
'Have you been here before? Quite recently?'
'Ah yes indeed, but I don't remember you.'
'No, but I remember hearing about you, if you are who I think you are.'
'Well I'm fairly sure that I am who you think I am.'
'The man from another planet?'
'Who had the stack of money and the credit card?'
'And then who, with an accomplice, mugged two of our officers and a security guard in the vehicle compound and left them so concussed and traumatized they went rather crazy for a while and thought they had been abducted?'
'Ah, no... Not exactly. That is... well the two officers really were abducted, sorry... The security guard, well... he was just stunned... Sorry...'
'Yes, of course... And then you dumped our two officers in the woodland car park using the van that we found and that was then driven away?'
'Ah... well no. It wasn't a van. It was a transportation pod. And it wasn't driven away. It was returned to our own place. The other world...'
'Of course it was,' said the lady. 'Of course it was.'
'We saw Jack and Lesley on the television while we were here. They will verify everything.'
'Oh... Jack and Lesley eh? You know their names? You saw them on the television? And I suppose you enjoyed that eh? The humiliation of two traumatized officers after a mugging?'
'Eh... No... not exactly. But... Anyway... We are back and we need help. Please.'
The lady had been pressing some buttons on a console while this conversation proceeded.
'You probably do need help,' she conceded. 'And who are your friends?'
'Ah. This is Adrig, and then we have Lady Ezma and Lady Arma. The Ladies can't speak your language so they will not understand what is going on.'
'Oh. And you do understand what is going on do you, eh... Mr...'
'Edrig, my name is Edrig.'
'Of course it is.'
And at that point two uniformed male officers arrived through a side door and quickly looked the visitors up and down. One of these men was talking into a radio, saying 'Yes Jack. Get back here please. Okay?'
A crackly voice on the radio said, 'Okay,' but it did not sound very enthusiastic.
The four superior beings were soon led into a bare room with just a table surrounded by a few plastic chairs, and were commanded to sit and wait. No offer of food, or tea, or coffee. Nothing.
'How's it going?' Lady Ezma inquired.
'Okay said Edrig. At least they remember me.'
And they sat there for quite some time. Really rather a long time, with Edrig all the while expecting to meet Jack and Lesley again, and at one point thinking he might have perceived some shadowy movement behind a square mirror on the wall. It occurred to him that it might be a one-way viewing panel. And he heard voices. Raised voices. It almost sounded like an argument, and it proceeded for a while.
Then eventually the two male officers that they had briefly met in the reception area returned and announced, 'You lot can go now. And you are very lucky,' at which point he nodded towards Edrig and Adrig. 'Go. Do not come back, and if you are not from here I rather strongly suggest that you just leave town.'
'But Jack and Lesley,' Edrig pleaded, 'They can verify everything.'
'All they can verify mate, is that they are prepared to adopt some frankly astonishing and rather inappropriate and legally very questionable leniency with you, for the sake of... Well, quite why I don't really know. But you should go.'
'Can I have my money and my credit card?'
'No. Do you want to make an issue of that? You idiot. Go. Do you really want to make an issue of this?'
'Go where? We have nowhere to go. Me and Adrig don't even have any shoes.'
'Try the Salvation Army mate. Out there, across the junction, the next street down from the High Street, as I expect you already know perfectly well.'
'The Salvation Army?'
'Yes. Now go.' And he held the door open and waved the superior beings from another world out and back towards the reception.
Adrig and the Ladies frowned, but said nothing.
Edrig remonstrated some more, but to no avail.
Soon they were standing outside the police station, looking out at the street scene of a world they had little experience of, still dressed like stranded party-goers in rather ludicrous fancy dress. And Adrig and Edrig still had no shoes on their feet.
With little alternative, they headed off in the direction of The Salvation Army, with the Ladies demanding to know why Edrig's plan had failed and Adrig saying, 'Salvation Army? What can that be? Doesn't sound very promising to me.'
'I am very tired,' announced Lady Ezma, 'and I do feel the need to sleep.'
'So am I,' said Arma, 'If we can just find somewhere sheltered to rest surely we will be rescued before too long.'
'I'm not so sure,' said Edrig. 'I'm really not so sure. Down here though... I think down this street here is where they meant.'
And they proceeded along the streets, drawing stares and a few ripples of laughter as they went.
But The Salvation Army office, when they found it, was closed.
Outside of the shabby maroon doorway beneath the flaking paintwork of an awning that bore the words 'The Salvation Army' in faded gold lettering, they stood wondering what to do next, having pushed at the door and knocked at it and rattled the letterbox all to no avail.
'We should just go back to the woods and wait,' Lady Ezma suggested.
'But we will be cold, and maybe wet, if it rains.'
'But we will be at the point from which the pod departed. That may be where they will come looking for us. We should just go back to the woods and wait. It seems rather obvious to me, but then I am a Lady and you are just an idiot.'
'Hah! What a coincidence,' Adrig exclaimed, 'That's exactly what the policeman called him in their language. Ha ha.'
So eventually, heading back to the arrival point is what they decided to do, with the Ladies more or less commanding that it was what they were to do, making a miserable foursome as they were at last climbing up the stony path again with Adrig and Edrig letting out, 'Ouch,' and 'Oh,' and 'Ah...' as their sore cold feet hit the irregular stones.
And when they reached the little clearing beside the stream they sat down, leaning against two wide tree trunks, while some pale sunshine took the edge off the now cold air just a little bit.
After some considerable time just sitting saying nothing to each other Edrig noticed that Lady Arma had begun to cry. A big tear rolled down her cheek as she sniffled quietly.
'Don't worry, my Lady,' Edrig told her, surprised at his feelings of both concern and some guilt, in amongst much worry. 'They'll come for us. We'll soon get this sorted out.' But his voice carried little confidence as the four of them sat there miserable and increasingly cold.
'We could just sit and die here, if we don't do something,' Adrig said quietly.
'Do what?' asked Lady Ezma, now with her arm around Arma's shoulder.
'I don't know my Lady. I'm sorry, but I just don't know.'
And they sat there, almost drifting into a cold sleep...
Until beneath a sudden blazing beam of light their transportation pod began to rematerialize, in just exactly the location from which it had departed.
And the hatch opened.
And a bumble bee buzzed lazily out.
And the gleeful superior beings rushed to get inside, noticing the sopping wet floor as they did so but not really paying much attention to it. Not really realizing that it was actually several inches deep in watery fluid now. Much deeper than the minor but unpleasantly soiled wetness when they had left it.
It was only when a long and multi-suckered tentacle reached purposefully and intelligently up from the floor and pressed at a button on the destination display screen that the four weary travelers noticed the two fairly small octopuses with big black eyes on bulging heads that were also inside the pod. And as the hatch door shut the two big Ladies began to scream.