Strangers in the Night   Leave a comment

  Rupert Fothergill looked out of his turret in amazement. The night sky was lit up with strange machines zooming backwards and forwards. He had to cover his ears because of the booming bangs exploding every few minutes. Some machines were hit, and burnt up as they fell to earth. One by one the machines fell, until there was only one left in the sky. It whirred round and round like a spinning-top in a downward spiral,  landing like a whirling dervish down by the National Forest that bordered Rupert’s estate. It went eerily quiet, and night’s black curtain descended once more.

Rupert was not so much frightened as mystified. He loved a jolly adventure. He had lived alone in the castle since his elderly parents had died, and really welcomed guests, unexpected or not. The youthful-looking fifty year old wrapped his brown comfy dressing-gown around his spindly body, and went downstairs. In the boot room off the kitchen he pulled on a pair of green wellington boots, and grabbed a flash-lamp. Rupert called to his dog Waffles who had been growling at all the noise outside.

“Come on boy, let’s take a look.”

Waffles eyed him suspiciously, and came over to his master reluctantly. They headed down towards the National Forest which stood on the land once owned by Rupert’s ancestors. Down the steps in front of the house, along the path that passes the old walled garden, turning right at the gazebo, over the stile and across the fields, they hunted their prey.

Just beside where the forest started, was a huge battered flying craft. It was blackened with the fire of the dog-fight it had been involved in; but the shiny silver of its original colour still reflected the light of Rupert’s flash-lamp. The grass where it had landed was flat and scorched. Rupert shone his light up at the craft; he could make out small circular windows like port holes all the way round. Immediately in front of Rupert was a small arched doorway. There was a grating sound and the door slowly slid side-ways. Waffles began to bark and whimper alternately. Rupert’s heart started to beat faster with excitement in anticipation of what might happen next.

A blinding shaft of light illuminated everything in the vicinity. Rupert put his hands over his eyes, and Waffles hid between his legs. Peeping through his fingers, Rupert saw the strangest creature or being, he had ever seen. It was only about three foot tall with long gangly arms ending in crab-like pincers, squat little legs, and tiny hairy feet with cloven hooves. From a distance the head looked horse-like, and as the creature approached it definitely had the look of a Shetland pony. Rupert stood his ground as it came closer. Waffles ran to a nearby bush and cowered behind it.

When it stood directly in front of Rupert, Rupert stuck out his hand and said, “How do you do?” The entity clacked its teeth in response, and made a peculiar chocking sound.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Tch  tch tch!”

“My name is Rupert, and what is yours?”

“Tch tch.”

“If you don’t mind me saying, you sound like a train, so I’ll call you Choo-Choo for now.”

The creature made a croaky gurgling sound deep in its throat.

“Is it possible to look inside your space craft ?” 

In reply Choo-Choo grabbed hold of Rupert’s sleeve with one of its pincers and tugged him towards the machine. Waffles emerged slowly from the bush and trailed behind them.

Shading his eyes from the glaring light, Rupert looked around inside. There were bleeping buttons, and monitors whizzing with information on a circular control area in the centre of the spacecraft. Off from the central area were various living spaces partitioned into cubicles. Choo-Choo indicated to Rupert to sit down on a box-like seat near a hexagonal stone carved table. Rupert did so, and Waffles rested by his feet. Choo-Choo twisted some levers on a dispenser type machine, with his pincers. There were a couple of plopping sounds, and then Choo-Choo presented Rupert with some rainbow-coloured tablets, and some weird bubbly green drink in a container with a straw.

“For me?  Well thank you. How kind” said Rupert politely eyeing the alien repast. Big brown eyes looked at him intently, from under mane-like black hair. Rupert gallantly put a tablet in his mouth, and swallowed it. Then he took a big slurp of the drink. A myriad of flavours burst in his mouth, and he had a wonderful feeling of satisfaction, just as if he had eaten a tasty three-course meal.

“My dear Choo-Choo that was absolutely marvellous,” declared Rupert beaming broadly.

Waffles put his head down between his paws. Choo-Choo went over to the dispensing machine again, and repeated the actions. This time it was Waffles who was presented with some hard crunchy tit-bits and a bowl of clear shimmering liquid. Waffles looked up, rose from the floor and sniffed the tit-bits. Then he snapped them up hungrily. Afterwards he lapped up the liquid in one go, until there were just a few drops hanging off his snout, which he licked off with relish. Choo-Choo made the croaky gurgling noise again.

“I do believe you’re laughing Choo-Choo,” exclaimed Rupert slapping his hand off his knee. Then Waffles did a most unusual thing; he jumped up and licked Choo-Choo. Being a big strong dog, he bowled Choo-Choo over. Choo-Choo lay on the floor pinned down by Waffles who licked him all over. Choo-Choo started gurgling hysterically.  Rupert called Waffles off in case Choo-Choo was upset. But the little creature rolled over, got up and scratched Waffles lovingly with its pincers.

Rupert was completely fascinated with Choo-Choo and wondered should Choo-Choo stay with him and Waffles in the castle, or would that be unkind to this unique being from space? Anyway it would only be polite to invite Choo-Choo back to his place for the time being. So he led Choo-Choo outside and pointed to the dark silhouette of his castle on the hill, where he had left the lights on. Choo-Choo jumped up and down with apparent excitement; and so the odd trio made their way back to the castle.

Rupert gave Choo-Choo a full tour of the castle, pointing out his ancestors in the large pictures displayed everywhere, the once resplendent rooms and the long vacated servants’ quarters. Choo-Choo looked exhausted by the time they were finished, so Rupert directed him to the bed in the nursery where he had slept as a boy.

Over the next few weeks Rupert showed Choo-Choo the gardens and the rest of the dwindling estate. He also spent hours with Choo-Choo in the space-craft fiddling with the control table. Rupert learnt a lot about the mechanical engineering involved. He even began to understand some of Choo-Choo’s language, and Choo-Choo his. Finally the day came when the space-craft was ready to fly again, and an awful decision had to be made. Would Choo-Choo stay or go? Rupert agonized over it for days. He saw that Choo-Choo was just as troubled. But then the decision was made for them. Rupert, Choo-Choo and Waffles were in the space-craft when Waffles spied a random tit-bit on the control table. He leapt up to get it, and unknowingly pushed the ignition lever. There was a roar and a shudder, and before they knew it they were all hurtling to outer space.





Posted February 25, 2014 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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