The time was, well... one day some time ago, and Aileen the Alien stood in front of me, flanked by two larger and I suspected male colleagues, and declared, ‘It is time.’
‘Time for what?’ I asked, which seemed a reasonable question when faced by two somewhat humanoid but mainly lizardy little aliens who had suddenly wandered up from the stream at the bottom of my garden to stand at the end of the plastic lounger on which I had been reclining and enjoying the unseasonal sunshine, albeit swaddled in a thick coat.
Aileen’s deep dark eyes seemed to widen somewhat, while her companions stared at me expressionless. I noticed that Aileen was the only one wearing a translator ring around the neck. And she was naked as ever. How primitive for beings so sophisticated... Do they never get cold?
I was startled, of course, even though she generally arrived unannounced like this.
‘Time for the next phase. Time for another trip. Get Margaret.’
Margaret! My lady! How did Aileen know her name?
‘But Margaret doesn’t believe in you, even though she’s read the books, of course.’
‘Well she will believe in me soon, won’t she? Use your phone and call her out.’
There was a firmness, and a certain bluntness in her voice that I had not heard before. And her companions stood there motionless, but seemed rather threatening, even if they were so much smaller than me. But lying on the low lounger I felt vulnerable, which again seemed reasonable for a mere human confronted by space- and dimension-travelling aliens such as these three, even if I did have some experience of them.
So I pulled out my phone and called Margaret.
‘Eh… could you come to the garden please. And be prepared for a bit of a shock.’
‘Come out please, and be ready for a surprise.’
And so a few moments later she came through the conservatory doorway, seemingly not having looked out through the glass on her way, and then when she did look up she stood stock still and her face grew white.
‘I told you it was true.’
‘Meet Aileen,’ I said, just as Margaret’s legs crumpled and she flopped to the grass.
‘Oh dear,’ said Aileen. ‘Humans are so easily shocked.’ And she gave a little sigh. A little impatient sigh, I thought.
When my lady regained consciousness we were already on our way, crammed into the rather small craft with us two humans sitting on ridiculously small seats that could take only one bum cheek each.
I had asked Aileen if I had any choice about accompanying her on this journey to discover what it was “time” for, and she had just shrugged. I suspected I did not really have any choice, but I had survived the previous encounters, and they had been interesting, and had led to two little books, so I went, having allowed (as if I had any choice) Aileen’s companions to lift the slumped Margaret in beside me. They were rather strong for such little fellas, I had thought as the lady was manhandled, or at least lizardhandled, inside.
When Margaret came back to life she was remarkably calm, although not so remarkably I suppose, since Aileen had sprayed some strong relaxer up the dear lady’s nostrils when she had collapsed.
I could have done with some of that spray on occasion over the years, I thought, as I prepared for some questions and further introductions while the sky, or whatever it was out there now, turned deep black.