Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Barington Encounter: Part Nine


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However you might have imagined an alien invasion of Earth would go - with your brain poisoned by a lot of xenophobic blather courtesy of Hollywood and fed a similarly toxic diet which like American movies consisted almost entirely of additives and filler - well, you’d be wrong in this case...

There was no sky blackened by a flotilla of ships, no anarchy amongst the about-to-be-subjugated, and an almost disappointing (and certainly un-entertaining, at least in Earth terms) lack of people being evaporated to death by laser cannons. In fact, Felicia Fripp's invasion of her own front garden was considerably more terrifying than anything these five could have ever devised. One lady outside a nearby pub did scream, but it turns out she’d just bought the regular crisps instead of the bacon; just to be on the safe side, she was sectioned.

On that very ordinary day it was just five very ordinary Andromedans and an awful lot of flat pack from the local outlet of ├╝ber-costermonger DIYnot?, which had only recently turned ten hectares of uniquely lovely English countryside into a million square feet of entirely ordinary yet cheerfully fascistic retail space, complete with generous pourings of tarmac - all of it located not five miles away from the house that was the only place on Earth the Andromedans had any intention of occupying.

Possibly the reason for the less-than-stellar reaction to the arrival of these particular interstellar travelers is the fact that a great many aliens were already here. Better (or worse, depending upon your world-view) than that, even more had been here before, given the amazing exchange rate. Space - and not just according to Einstein either - is a very inflationary place indeed, making Earth a bargain even at many thousands of times the price; to put things into perspective, a litre of petrol on Beta Centauri cost the same as the annual gross domestic product of Cameroon on a good day, so you can imagine what they’d gouge you for a bottle of water.

Scientists, missionaries, and tourists of every kind and from every sector of the galaxy had been making their way to Earth for the better part of the past hundred million years, often on fancy dress excursions in which they would all play Japanese businessmen, for instance, or triceratopses. The Centauris alone had made so many movies about the toga party they held during that one fateful Spring Break which succeeded in levelling Troy that it was officially recognized as its own genre; the actual wooden horse they’d partied in then was today a major tourist attraction, the centrepiece of the Hard Rock Cafe in Gordlinginin, their capital.

So while some came for edification on a spiritual quest, and still others came strictly to see the sights and thus record them documentarily - although, since none of them were Andromedan neither deadlily nor dully - truth be told, most of them came for a super cheap piss-up and a bit of upsy-skirtsy with slappers whose reputation was legendary across the galaxy; on these delightful pleasures was built Earth’s reputation as the Blackpool of the Milky Way. One popular slogan on travel brochures was ‘Earth: Home of the Easy Anal Probe’, which made the place as well-beloved amongst them as was into that sort of thing as it was well-feared by them that wasn’t.

Many of these same aliens, of course, had taken to decrying how touristy the place had gotten lately, how completely overrun by such uppity locals, even though neither offense was ever adjudged terrible enough to make even one of them stop coming; others bemoaned the removal of the unicorns or the Ancient Romans, or else some other favoured exhibit from yesteryear that they could now only experience in their personal photograph albums or lavishly illustrated souvenir tomes. Yet still they came; in fact, you've undoubtedly seen them yourselves. You just didn’t recognize them because a) you weren’t expecting to see them, or b) you yourself were pissed, up to your ears in labia (or both), or otherwise couldn’t be bothered to notice.

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An ordinary constable, PC Gary Carlisle, was first on the scene (as they were so fond of saying in the American cop shows which were his favourite viewing material) then taking place in Juniper Mews...

Out on patrol, where ordinarily he might find a couple of truant fourth formers arsed on Alco-Pops and/or a beggar wandered away from the favoured spot - outside the Balls chemist in the High Street - Gary Carlisle instead saw three men in turbans struggling to fit a nine foot mattress through an eight foot door while what appeared to be their employer, a willowy bloke with blue skin in fancy dress - stood in the next garden over being argued at by a middle-aged housewife who appeared to be committing several sorts of hate crimes and/or grievous bodily harm simultaneously upon him. Fortunately for Gary Carlisle he hadn’t come by a few minutes earlier, as there’s no telling what the sight of this blue person sneezing like a cat would have done to his delicate police constable’s psyche.

‘ ‘Ello, ‘ello,’ he might have said, or even ‘What’s all this then?’ - both of which were recommended by the aptly-titled self-help book Police Work for Dummies - but he did not. ‘Take me to your leader,’ they might have responded if they were feeling particularly old school, or even ‘Resistance is futile,’ if they were in the mood for a little whimsy (or indeed known anything about sci-fi). But they were not (and they did not) so they could not. Gary Carlisle might have even offered that he’d earned an O level in geometry, not that it would have mattered now since the vast blobby thing with which they struggled seemed irrevocably jammed in, well, the jamb; he might have even loaned them his protractor, which he carried upon his person at all times for just these sorts of conundra (not that one had ever come up, but it never hurts to be prepared, as he'd learned in the Boy Scouts). But he would not so they did not so he did not.

Instead, when ordinary constable Gary Carlisle first rounded the corner from Castlewood Avenue (where there was neither a castle nor a wood) onto Juniper Mews (where no juniper had ever grown, nor no horse ever been stabled, although it had been the site of much gin drinking and the home of many noisy cats) he let out a small shriek. The tallest, bluest alien - always eager to get along - shrieked back, a high-pitched girly sound being an informal Andromedan word for ‘greetings’.

Then the entirely ordinary alien (who nevertheless possessed extraordinary powers of leadership) gave the mattress the subtlest of shoves - really more of a glancing hand gesture than any concerted effort - whereupon it fell through the doorway and landed with a sighing thud in the centre of the kitchen. As the movers scrambled to remove it even further into the house he then invited the even more ordinary police constable into 14 Juniper Mews for a spot of tea and to meet his four friends who were, at least compared to either of them, even more incredible...

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