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September 26, 2022

Existence of the Unasked

By Lydia Manx

Well, this was a fine mess. I mean after all, all I wanted was a nice cuppa. You know what I am talking about -- that lovely scented cup of tea that was like perfume on the tongue. Maybe have it with just a little a biscuit to chase away the rainy skies.

But now I was hurtling along the path and looking down on the world while a shadow covered the land. Not any shadow, but a dark inky bit of horror. Pretty much gagged me right away. But I get ahead of myself. Sorry.

It all started when that silly man came running in and snatched the china cup with my cooled tea out of my hand. I'd only just got my tea to the right temperature. Salivating, I'd raised the cup towards my mouth, anticipating the first sip, when the wind blew open the door of the café. The clatter stopped a few folks in their tracks but not me. I was quite content to savor my tea and find a biscuit while the weather raged outside.

There was a gust of rain chased by bits of leaves and twigs followed by that silly man. Imagine -- leaving the comforts of wherever he'd been clad just in his dark charcoal sweatpants and a wisp of a t-shirt? What was he thinking? The tie-dyed shirt was long past its prime. The scattered holes weren't artful fashion statements, but acquired through multiple washings and age. Not like the melted print of 'Make Love not War' hadn't already attested to the time factor. The man's looks were in no way accentuated with the hippy attire. He quite looked wretched and like he'd have his own personal aroma. And not one that I wished to experience, I must add.

His long white hair was plastered to his pale skull and streams of rainwater dripped from his knife-sharp nose. That just further accented his scraggly beard. The beard was unkempt and needed the attention of a good barber or hedge clippers -- at the least. His eyes were red rimmed and deeply sunken into his face. Exhaustion oozed from him like a patina hard earned and colored by desperation.

It was then his eyes found me and he dashed over, removing my teacup from my hands.

"This just won't do! Why are you still here? Hasn't anyone contacted you? This is so unbelievable! I mean how is it that you haven't left this cursed place?" I didn't know who he was, but he was certainly intense in his convictions.

"Excuse me," I edged away unsuccessfully. Most of the folks had resumed their own pursuits and were happy to see the vagrant taking an interest in me. Nobody valiantly rose to defend my honor. Not that it mattered since his hands were far stronger than ever expected and he easily hauled me upright and off my chair. He didn't take much time to put the cup down insomuch as he dropped it on the counter top and proceeded to yank me out of the café and directly into the vile weather. I was slapped in the face with the rain and tumbling leaves: everything I had been avoiding. I hated the bitter cold rivets of rain running down my face and tucking into every corner of my body. I shuddered.

"No, no excuses at all. Let's go. Hurry along now. There isn't much time." His fingers dug into my arm just above my elbow and I tried to pull away.

My shoes, stoutly sensible as they were, gave me no purchase as I tried to backpedal from him. He outweighed me by half again and was madly strong. I took a swing at his face with my purse and gagged when his face went wonky. Seriously off kilter with his nose cast off under his left eye and his ear just shoved inside the head. I concluded that this wasn't merely some random hippy.

"Oh, you are one of them."

I'd heard tell they were amok and causing problems. My umbrella wasn't with me since I'd hung it over the coat rack by the door along with my overcoat. To my further disgust he reached up with his free hand and readjusted his features. He wasn't horrid anymore but still the image was in my head.

"We must go off." He didn't argue but pushed a button on his belt and like that, I was suddenly airborne. My purse dangled freely as did ninety percent of my body. This was unexpected.

"Pardon me, but who are you and why are you taking me? I am not some mad scientist or famous personality." I spoke loudly over the sound of the wind and crackling of electricity. These aliens really were quite odd. The papers hadn't quite done them justice. I had read they only took famous or scientist sorts. I was upset I didn't have my umbrella. The weather was playing with my hair and I wasn't willing to risk a glance down to see what had come of my skirt.

"Oh, I'm Cranston, your humble servant." He sounded less than humble.

"Quite right. And why me? Are you sure you have the right person?" I didn't wish to be dropped from the middle of the sky due to an error but it really wasn't good. He seemed to be concentrating and I didn't wish to be pesty but we were getting further and further away from my tea and umbrella.

No matter, a proper woman should not be flying without a nice safe plane surrounding her. It just wasn't done. The way the country set would talk would make my mother entirely too embarrassed and it would play hell with the holidays. She already found my lack of marriage appalling and me being in a snapshot flying with an alien wasn't going to be well received. I chanced a glance down and didn't see anyone with a camera focusing upwards.

As I grew accustomed to the dizzying sensation of racing through the sky barely attached to the alien, I noticed quite a bit of activity below me. None of it was helpful. There were bombs exploding and fires trying to sustain their heat in the rainfall. Given that the fires were burning odd shades of purple and green, I didn't think they were normal fires. A rather large pyre flared up and I saw a metallic creature in the middle of the inferno. The machine wasn't being burned but glowing and sparking. It was then the limb pointed up at me and I saw the tip glowing and remarked, "Oh, dear. Cranston, that creature below is firing at us."

An arc of green sliced upwards and was rapidly heading towards my dangling feet.

"NO!" Cranston wrapped his sinewy arms around me. We bounced sideways as he twisted midair and I distinctly could smell raw fish emanating from his body when we landed in the belly of a ship. There was a huge roar and a large flap shut us inside. Water splashed all around us and a bubble came down effectively covering my body thankfully separating me from Cranston.

An odd humming ... then a raspy voice saying, "Very good, Cranston, you found us the female."

The voice came from a rather unfortunate creature that resembled a Jersey cow. I hadn't realized the bovine population had begun to use the Queen's English when it dawned on me I was in a cage. Thumping it softly I watched the bubble give and move. Yes, clear and somewhat resilient but nevertheless a cage. It was not looking good for me.

"Excuse me, Cranston?" I said rather loudly. The sounds bounced a bit then seemed to leave the cage. I found I could easily breathe so I concluded the bubble was semi-permeable.

"Yes?" He was wallowing in the chest high water still inside the ship. The water didn't disappear so I concluded it was part of the ship's design not a mistake in our entrance.

"Do you even know my name?" It never hurt to ask.

"Of course, you are Molly Finnegan." He sounded so proud.

"No, that's my mother's name. I am Jilly." I'd been told I looked just like her when she was my age.

"Dare I ask what year you think this is?" I went for the best possible mistakes. Aliens, after all, weren't from our dimension, the local press had confidently informed us.

"1968, of course." Well, that explained Cranston's t-shirt.

"You're just a tad off, it's 2009 to be precise." I felt the tremble before my ears registered that the mad cow was screaming.

"Not again! Cranston, fix this." The interior of the ship's hull went dark and Cranston reached through the bubble to grab me. The back opened up and again I was hurtling through the atmosphere. As we dropped rapidly into the night towards Earth I asked, "How do you fix this?"

It was then I saw the growing mass of darkness eating the landscape with a battalion of metal creatures shooting everything and anything in their way.

"Well, obviously I go back for your mum." His tone implied I was stupid for even questioning his next action.

"But what about me?" I rather liked my existence.

"Don't ask."

That didn't sound promising. Shutting my eyes, I waited for the ground to slam into me. All I could hear was the roar of the wind and Cranston muttering. Aliens really weren't as agreeable as the papers claimed. While my life rushed before my closed eyes I decided to cancel my subscription if I survived. This was what I got for going out in a storm.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-08-24
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
1 Reader Comments
GuardianOfTheFronds
08/27/2009
07:32:35 PM
I've never had a cup of tea interrupted in quite this way . . . but it would make me VERY cranky!
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