Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
From: (mathew)
Subject: FTSD: Alien Encounter
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Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2000 14:50:37 GMT
Organization: Evil Geniuses For A Better Tomorrow
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I sighed deeply, my breath forming clouds of mist in the cold air. The
town was silent, save for the occasional quiet murmur of a car passing
in the distance. The street lights shone amber, revealing an empty taxi
rank. I glanced at the telephone box, then at my watch, and thought the
better of it. I kicked viciously at a discarded Coke can, splintering
the silence, and began the long walk home.

I began to question my decision some fifteen minutes later as I walked
unsteadily down the deserted road out towards the village. A brisk forty
minute walk into the countryside is just the thing for a sunny Sunday
morning, but somehow it's not so much fun at 2:30 in the morning on a
Saturday. I had forgotten what it means to live in a small village; the
lack of street lighting, the pot-holes in the roads.

Two fields away to the left was my parents' house; they had said
something about a short cut last time we'd gone walking, but I wasn't
about to try and find it in the dark. I'd carry on to the T-junction at
the end of the road and head left into the middle of the village, then
left again.

My foot hit a loose stone and I stumbled, almost falling.


I peered longingly over the hedge in the direction of my parents' house,
then carried on walking, watching the ground as best I could for further
obstacles. After almost a minute, I paused and looked over the hedge
again. The shape was indistinct in the starlight. I walked a little
further, to where an old wooden gate lead into the field. I halted at
the gate, peering into the darkness.

There seemed to be something there. Some sort of vehicle. It was the
wrong shape for a bus, and far too big to be a car or a motorcycle. I
decided it was probably a combine harvester; I'd seen one going past in
the field at the bottom of the garden last summer.

I walked a little further before realizing that it was winter. I don't
know much about farms, but I do know you don't leave combine harvesters
out to rust in the middle of a field in winter. I jogged back to the
gate and stared into the gloom.

The field was even more treacherous than the road, though fortunately
the icy weather meant the ground wasn't too muddy. There seemed to be
some sort of footpath, and I wondered vaguely whether I was trespassing
or not.

Now that I was getting closer to the shape, I could see that it was
bigger than I had thought. If this was a combine harvester, it was the
sort you might find grazing mechanically in the wide-open spaces of the
American Midwest, not the sort you'd use in a small farm in rural

Suddenly I noticed that it seemed to have wings. Perhaps it was an
airplane. A man in the next village owned a plane, maybe he'd landed it
here. It didn't look like it had crashed, though. And it wasn't any sort
of plane I'd ever seen before.

I was less than twenty metres away when my mind suddenly resolved the
shapes. Delta-shaped wings, large protruding exhaust cones at the back
and underneath, strange articulated legs instead of undercarriage, lack
of windows, bulky and unaerodynamic body. Spacecraft. Not of human
design, unless it was some strange top secret MOD project. Which was
unlikely, given the absence of soldiers and police to keep the public
away from it.

I stood in the dark wondering what to do next. It was, of course, a
situation I had thought about on occasion. What exactly should one do if
one chances upon an alien spacecraft whilst walking home?

My conclusion had always been that any hostile alien force capable of
travelling light years would be quite capable of detecting me before I
could detect it. The fact that I was still alive was therefore pretty
good evidence that it wasn't hostile. This argument was, I thought,
intellectually convincing, although my adrenal glands remained
sceptical. I noticed a faint flickering light emerging from an open
hatchway on one side of the ship. I edged closer.

Something was moving just inside the doorway. I wondered what to do
next. For some reason I had never considered the obvious follow-up
question of how one introduces oneself to an alien race. Eventually I
coughed, waved hopefully, and said "Hello?"

The alien stuck its head out of the door and looked at me with curiously
circular eyes. I smiled, then wondered whether showing one's teeth would
mean the same thing to it that it did to me. It stared at me, silently.
Its face was elongated, like a dog's, but with a flattened snout.

"Hi," I tried again, raising my hands to show that they were empty.

"It's a bit late to be out walking, isn't it?"


"I said, it's a bit late to be out walking." The alien's voice was rich,
with a trace of accent. I realised that my mouth was hanging open.


"I get it. It's a tape recording. You're a scarecrow."

I lowered my arms and tried a sentence. "You speak English."

"So do you."

"You're very good at it."

"So are you."

There was another uneasy silence. I'm not very good at starting
conversations with strangers, and this one was particularly strange.

"I was walking home. My parents live just over there." I pointed vaguely
in the direction of the village.

"That must be very convenient for you."

"Well, no, not really, I'm only walking from the station, I got the
train most of the way. I had to travel all the way from Cambridge."

"As far as that?"

I glanced around, feeling foolish. When I looked back, the creature had
retreated into the ship.

"Er, sorry, excuse me..."

It reappeared in the doorway. "Yes? Do you want something?"

"Well, I'd rather like to talk to you. If you don't mind, that is."

"I suppose you want to come inside, don't you?"

"Well, sort of, I'm not entirely sure."

"I've got things to do. If you want to talk to me, you'll have to come
in here."

I somewhat reluctantly followed the creature into the ship. Inside was
completely dark, save for a few dim lights from unidentifiable controls,
and the starlight entering through the doorway.

"It's dark in here," I said nervously.

"Yes, it is, isn't it?"

"Why is it so dark in here?"

"Because all the lights are switched off."

"I see. I don't suppose you could possibly switch one or two of them on,
could you? Just a little bit?"

"That's an excellent idea. While we're at it, why don't I send up a
couple of signal flares?"

The alien was manipulating some sort of cubic object, prodding it with a
pen-like implement. I strained my eyes to make out more detail about the
alien's body. It had a head and at least two limbs, but beyond that it
was rather hard to tell. I sat in the dark watching it for about a
minute. It ignored me. Eventually I decided to try and restart the

"I was only asking about the light because it's a bit hard to see you."

"I can switch the lights on if you like, but I'll have to close the

"Er... OK."

The alien tapped some sort of control. The door slid shut with a
scarcely audible humming noise, and the interior of the spaceship
gradually brightened as a white but slightly greenish light shone from
panels in the roof.

"So you see the same frequencies as me?"



"Yes. Imagine, we could have evolved to see radio waves through eyeballs
a metre across, but instead we evolved to see the sort of light emitted
by our sun and yours. Who'd have thought it?"

"Well, I thought maybe you saw ultra-violet or something. I mean, you're
obviously quite, ah, different to me. For instance, your tentacles
are... er..."

"You look weird to me too."

"No, that wasn't what I meant. It's just it's a bit of a cliché. Aliens
with tentacles."

"We were tree-dwellers, like some of your evolutionary cousins. Instead
of a prehensile tail, we had two tentacle-like limbs as well as our arms
and legs."

"So you kept the tentacles because they were useful for other things,
whereas we lost our tails."

"Basically, yes."

"Do you have two sexes, then?"


"Warm blood?"


"What do you eat?"

"Large bipedal mammals."

The creature had opened its mouth slightly, and I could see lots of
small sharp teeth gleaming inside.  I had a sudden, almost hypnotic
desire to look at the door. I fought it off, and tried to feign

"Oh, really?"

"Yes. Especially ones that keep asking stupid questions."

"Why is it a stupid question to ask what you eat?"

"What do you eat?"

"Well... Plants. Fruit. Nuts. Milk. Bread. Rice. All kinds of things,

"That's why it's a stupid question."

"Yes, but I don't eat other animals. I wondered if you did."


There was another awkward pause.

"So, where have you come from?"


"Oh. That's funny. There's a place called Windsor not too far from

"Yes, that's it."

"No, when I say 'not too far from here', I mean it's a few tens of
kilometres. It's an old town with a castle."

"Yes, that's the one."

"No, when I asked where you had come from, I meant originally. What
planet. What star system."

"You know NGC 891?"

"I've... heard of it."

"Wonderful. It's near there."

"And you travelled here alone?"

"No, there are two others of us with me."

"Oh... So where are they?"

"They're off mutilating cattle."

"That's why you're here? To experiment on cattle?"

The alien made a noise which might have been a sigh.

"We're working on a film."

"Oh. A documentary?"

"Well... A comedy documentary."


"Yes. It's called 'Humans: The Little Clowns of the Milky Way'."


"You humans are funny. You'll believe anything."

"Yes, but... Hmm."

I dug through my satchel for a few moments as the alien fiddled with
some sort of keyboard. Finally, I took out my camera and cleared my

"Would you mind if I took your photograph?"

"I suppose you'd like to saw off one of my legs too?"


"Well, you don't think your scientists will settle for a lousy
photograph do you?"

"Well... they might."

"They'll just say I was created for a movie."

"I could take a picture of the ship as well."

"Your camera has a wide-angle lens and a tiny flashgun. It's completely
dark outside. You'll either take a picture close-up and get a few square
metres of hull that could easily belong to a jet plane, or you'll end up
with the usual picture of a tiny fuzzy blob in the distance."

"Well... it's worth a try."

"Indeed it is. Which is why I have no intention of letting you try it."

"Why not?"

"Does it look like I'm here for the publicity?"

"Why the secrecy?"

"We want to film you acting naturally."

"What about when you're finished?"

"We might want to do a sequel."

"Yes, but this is more important than a bloody TV programme. You should
land in the middle of London and announce your presence to the world."

"And what would that achieve?"

"Well... Maybe people would realise that there was more to life than

"Dream on."

"But... If you helped us, we could get out there and explore space."

"Or fry the entire planet to a cinder."

Another pause.

"So the SF authors were right. We're being ignored by intelligent races
because we're not civilized."

"Oh, you're civilized alright. You have cities and factories and
everything. It's just..."


"Well, you're such arseholes, you know?"

"Not all of us."

"Not you, you mean."

"Well, yes."

"How modest of you."

"Look, I didn't come here to be the butt of your jokes."

"What did you come here for, then?"

"Well... I was curious. I wanted to meet you. I thought maybe you'd have
some information for me, a message or something."

"Klaatu barada nikto."

"Ha bloody ha. You watch too much TV."

"It's my job. I'm a film producer."

"Why couldn't you have been a scientist? Then I could have asked you
important questions."

"Like what?"

"Like... Is P equal to NP? How do you travel interstellar distances when
Special Relativity says it's impossible to travel faster than light?
That sort of thing. I mean, why a TV crew and not a scientific

"They can't get the funding."

"So what you're saying is that great interstellar civilizations spend
all their time and money making documentaries about each other."

"It beats killing each other."

"That's not the point. You could be educating us. Teaching us the right
things to do."

"You know how to make documentaries."

"Ha ha. You know what I mean. Helping us to cure disease, end world
hunger, bring about peace."

"Or we could be teaching pigs to whistle."

I shot it a look of anger. It made a strange gesture with its hands.
"We're not Gods."

"I know, but..."

"But that's what you want, isn't it?"

After a few moments I stood up and walked to the door. "Goodbye."

"Goodbye." The alien tapped a control; the lights winked out and the
door slid open. I stepped out into the cold night air and began trudging
back towards the road.

No taxation without representation!