New arrivals at the Alien Planet.
BOOK 1. CHAPTER 3
Bithot sat next to Ekurb in the bullet-shaped craft as it sped away undetected by the British radar. They were pleased with their work and felt fortunate they had found two suitable candidates within minutes of each other.
Roger and Eve were sleeping side by side in transparent tubes, motionless as if in a deep state of hibernation. A bright pink gas drifted gently around Eve while the same gas swirled around Roger in a furious and seemingly erratic state gradually healing his wounds and burns.
"Do you want me to scan America?" Ekurb asked. "To see how your pretend friend Marvin is doing with his soldier career?"
Bithot laughed at his companion's attempt at sarcasm. "No point now Martha is gone. Let us just get home."
"Do not like the human men much, do you?"
"I do not mind them, but I much prefer the females."
"I think you need a visit to the pleasure centre." He paused. "With Axonia."
Bithot laughed. "Maybe I do, and why not?"
"Then perhaps a stroll to the birth-breeder complex."
Bithot grinned at his companion's smiling eyes but shook his head. "Unlike you, my work will not finish on our return. I will have to introduce the humans to their new existence and convince them to marry."
"Ah yes, the marriage ritual; a strange, but entertaining, human show."
"Maybe you should accompany me. You need to get the experience if you are to proceed with your promotion prospects."
"I need to see Arnia. Perhaps next time."
"What, the Anolaids!"
"Or maybe the time after that."
"Or maybe you will always be a second."
"We will see. I am happy with that."
They put on their masks, began to breathe the pink gas, and were soon in a deep sleep themselves. It would be many days until they were home.
Eve woke feeling cosy and warm with the bed covers over her head, but she suddenly threw them back wondering whose bed she was in. She looked up at the sky and was startled because there was no ceiling or roof and she squinted as the bright sunlight caught her full in the face. She heard a blackbird singing, and a robin landed above her and looked down for a few seconds before flying off. She sat up and laughed, realising there was some kind of hard transparent cover over the room. She noticed her clothes draped over the back of a padded chair and she got out of bed and hastily dressed while wondering where she was and how she got there.
She remembered the incident in the lane as if it had been a hazy and horrible dream. Somehow, nothing seemed to be making any sense. If she had too much to drink the night before she would have woken up feeling groggy, but she felt so fresh and vibrant. She certainly didn't feel as if she had been drunk, but she couldn't remember coming to the house or even whose house it was. She looked back up at the sky, wondering why there was no roof. She thought perhaps it had been blown off by a bomb and they had put this clear stuff on as a temporary repair.
She looked out the window to the large well-kept yard and garden with an outside toilet back to back with the one next door. There was a lovely view from the window: playing fields, hills, a lake, and all manner of trees and bushes.
There was no clock in the room, but she knew she had missed her shift. She never missed a shift before and it worried her. She searched for her handbag. She needed it and checked all around the room, feeling frustrated that she could find no sign of it. Eventually, she gave up looking and walked out into the passage where the smell of smoked bacon being fried drifted to greet her. She felt hungry and closed her eyes for a few seconds as she enjoyed the aroma. Again, she looked up through the clear ceiling to the sky, thinking how bright it made the passageway. She looked briefly into the bedroom opposite before setting off down the passageway but stopped halfway along to look into the bathroom, surprised to see a proper plumbed-in bath and another toilet inside the house. Although it looked luxurious, she thought she could never bring herself to bathe in a room with a see-through flat roof. She thought back to the bedroom and wondered how she would have felt if one of those air force types flew over and saw her dressing. The thought brought a slight smile to her face as she continued along the passage.
She got near the front door and looked into the room on the right. It was a well set out kitchen with all the latest contraptions. The bacon was sizzling alongside some sausages that were popping in the pan. Someone was moving some jars in the pantry out of sight. She was about to call out, but decided not to and turned to the room opposite, opened the door, and looked in.
"Hello, Eve, your breakfast will be ready soon."
It was an elderly man who Eve knew she had never met. She looked at the huge white loaf on the table next to a dish full of butter. There was a glass bowl filled with fruit, not just apples and pears, but oranges, peaches and bananas as well, with half a pineapple lying across the top. On the sideboard was a huge open box of chocolates. She stared at the man. "What's going on? Who are you? Where on earth am I?"
The old man gave a laugh. "It will all be explained to you in good time, but for now sit down and I'll pour you some tea. There is a lot to take in. Roger has just gone for a newspaper, but he will be back soon and I will introduce you. I am sure you two will get on well."
"Us two! Who the bleedin' heck is Roger?"
"He is to be your husband. It has all been arranged for you. You are a lucky girl marrying a pilot."
"Me, marry an aeroplane pilot who I don't even know. You must be off your rocker. I'm going thank you very much." She rushed out of the room, opened the street door, and then dashed out across the front garden and onto the pavement. She looked at the bungalows opposite, along the street, and up into the hills. She saw many buildings, all of them single storey, a public house, a church, and not one of them with a roof. She stood staring at the church and noticed a young man dressed in a RAF uniform walking along the pavement towards her. He had just stepped out of a shop and had a newspaper in his hand. Eve stood watching him as he approached smiling at her.
"And you will be, Eve, I suppose," he said. "Well, this is a curious turnout. Still, it's better than being dead."
"What a strange thing to say," Eve said as she stood looking at him, feeling a slight thrill because such a good-looking RAF pilot was talking to her, but also feeling apprehension and confusion because of the bizarre situation thrust on her. Despite his good looks, she was unsure if he could be trusted.
"I suppose I'd better introduce myself, I'm Roger. It appears I'm to be your future husband."
"Are you now," she said. "Well, you can go and scratch. What the heck is going on?"
"Oh you haven't been briefed yet, haven't been inducted as they say."
"Haven't been anything mate, except I've been spoken to by some mad old geezer in there."
"I have, I've been up since 0-five-hundred hours and I've been fully briefed." Roger looked straight into Eve's eyes and smiled at her. "I like what I've heard and I like what I've seen, and you are by far the prettiest girl I've ever met in my life."
"Never mind the blarney and the air force mumbo jumbo. What's going on?"
"Well from what I've been told, we've been saved from the jaws of death so to speak. These people have saved our lives and in return we've become, well, sort of like their pets I suppose."
"I'm nobody's bleedin' pet and even if I was, where's me owner then?" The expression on her face suddenly changed and her breathing became shallow and fast as she began to realise the incident in the lane might not have been a dream. "Those screaming noises, they were bombs weren't they, falling on me?" The colour drained from her face as she stared at him wide-eyed. "I'm dead ain't I? Oh bleedin' heck no, I've had me chips. I'm a ghost." She began to sway and felt dizzy as if she were going to pass out.
Roger stepped forward and put his arm around her as he guided her back into the sitting room of the house.
Eve settled on the sofa looking, listening, and trying to take in the amazing things the old man was telling her about where she was and how she got there.
"This is your house now," he said. "It has been redecorated and the old furniture has been replaced. If you want to change anything just look through the catalogue and put an order in at the shop."
"I've lost me purse," she said. "I've got no money."
"I have your finance card with me. We do not have money here. Just present your card and points will be deducted for your purchases. You will get a weekly allowance, enough to live on, but you can get extra points for working. Everyone gets the same hourly rate here irrespective of what job they do. You can order copies of newspapers and magazines from your home country and every house has a wireless that can be tuned to the BBC as well as the broadcasts from the island radio station. Later I will show you the way to the medical and administration centre. There you will meet some of your hosts. Be warned they are not like you, human, but you will find them pleasant, not scary or hideous. And do not forget, you can call at the medical and administration centre at any time if you have a problem."
"I've got a problem now," Eve said indignantly. "What right, what bloody right have they to kidnap me and bring me here, like a prisoner?"
"You have not been kidnapped and you are not a prisoner. You have been saved from certain death. A German aircraft discarded some high explosive bombs and they destroyed the lane where you were walking. You would have been blown to pieces. If you strongly object to being here and want to go back to Earth, you can be returned to the exact place and time you were, shall we say, rescued."
Eve stared at him and decided to change the subject. Although she was not happy to be in this place, the thought of going back just to be blown to pieces didn't appeal to her. "So if I become ill, I just go to the medical centre like the doctors at home?"
"Yes, but you will be cured. People only die of old age here. And your fertility will be suspended until you wish to reproduce." Eve looked at him disapprovingly, finding his last statement intrusive and rude. "You will be allowed up to two children, but it is entirely your choice. Just go to the medical centre when you feel the need. There will be no problems with your fertility, you will conceive when you have chosen to, and your children will be born healthy."
He got up to leave. "There is a reception for you in The Red Lion at midday. You will be able to meet some of the local residents and perhaps settle the wedding arrangements, but do not get drunk, because I will be calling back for you at two o'clock and we have much to do. In the meantime, you two can get better acquainted."
A woman walked in from the kitchen with two breakfasts on a large tray. She set the tray down on the table. "Get stuck in," she said.
Eve had never seen such a full and tempting plate of food; two fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms. She was hungry, the food was inviting, and the aroma of the fried bacon drifted across to tempt her further. She walked over and sat opposite Roger. The woman smiled, curtsied almost, and left the room with the old man.
Eve looked across to Roger. "This is like a dream, isn't it? I'll wake up in a minute, won't I?"
"Wake up to what? To bombs, to suffering, illness, rationing, and all the other hellish things? This is no dream, but if it were, then I think we should make the most of it and jolly well enjoy it while we can."
Eve gave Roger his first friendly smile. He instantly returned it causing Eve to give out a small uncontrolled laugh, which embarrassed her and prompted her into conversation. "Erm, so what were you before the war then?"
"A younger man."
Eve laughed again, but this time she felt more comfortable. "No, what did you do, what was your work?"
"I was a Junior Schoolmaster in Cheshire."
"Bet that was good. It's nice down there near Devon."
It was Roger's turn to laugh. "Cheshire's nowhere near Devon, it's up in the north of England, near Manchester."
"I bleedin' know that, don't I. I was joking," Eve said, feeling embarrassed again, this time by her lack of geographical knowledge. "Never been out of Kent me, 'sept when I was a kid and we lived in Catford. Bit like chalk and cheese us two, ain't we?"
"Yes, Kent chalk, the finest in the world."
"And Cheshire cheese, the finest in, in Devon," she replied, causing a joint and fond laughter.
They continued to chat over breakfast and Eve was pleased a well-to-do fighter pilot could show such an interest in her tales of work on the buses. She thought maybe he was just pretending to be interested, to be polite, but she didn't mind because she was becoming fond of him and was enjoying his company.
Three o'clock the next day and Eve was looking into the wardrobe mirror and thinking how it only seemed like yesterday when she was arguing with her boyfriend Johnny. Now here she was on a different planet, in a fabulous wedding dress, and about to marry a RAF fighter pilot.
A tear began to trickle down her face and she wiped it away. She was hurting, thinking how her family would have loved to see the wedding. She thought how devastated they must be thinking she had been blown to pieces. Another tear formed in her eye as she suddenly thought of the old woman going to the bus garage with the freshly baked apple pie and she knew the woman would be upset. She thought of the woman with the three-ha'pence, her driver Charlie, her boyfriend Johnny, and all her friends. How would they have taken the news?
The neighbour, who Eve met the day before, knocked on the bedroom door and walked in. "Cheer up, girl. This is supposed to be a happy event."
"I was thinking of my Mum and Dad, my family, my friends. At that induction thing yesterday they told me I'd never see them again. I just don't know if I can cope with that."
"I know it's hard, but we have all been through it. We know just how you feel. You must try to realise how lucky we all are. This is a second chance. Your life on Earth is over, and this is a bonus."
"Yes, I know what you are saying, but it makes me so sad. And today I'll be married to someone I hardly know, and tonight he will want to do those rude things, and I'm so frightened."
"Come on, love, don't get yourself in a tizzy, the car will be here soon. And you don't have to worry about Roger. He's a nice caring young man and I'm sure he won't do anything like that until you're ready."
Eve gave a large sigh. "You've been here a while, don't you get homesick, don't you feel a longing to go back home?"
"This is my home, Eve, I've never been happier back there, back on Earth. I lost my baby sister to the scarlet fever. But we coped, Mother, Father and my three brothers. With God's help, we got through it and eventually managed to become a happy family once more. Then the Great War came. We were so proud when the boys went off to fight for their country." The woman paused for a few seconds. "Not one of them came home, not one. After the war, Mother and Father just gave up. They just gave up, wasted away and died, heartbroken. I was left alone. No, Eve, I've no wish to go back there. My daughter and son have grown up healthy, I have never once had to worry about losing them to some disease nor to worry about my son going off to fight somebody else's war. Nobody buries their children here Eve, and that makes it a damn fine place to live."
"But why do they do it? All the trouble they go through just so they can watch us."
"There's a bit more to it than that. It's a bit like the zoos back home I suppose. People go for a day out to look at the animals, but there's another side to it. They help to stop some species from becoming extinct. These are doing the same. My Bert was chatting to the old man one day and he said our planet was at risk. It's not just the war or the bigger and more powerful weapons. It's also to do with germ warfare and experiments. Either deliberately or by mistake, or even by a freak of nature, a bad virus could be created which would destroy all human life. Eventually, they would re-populate from here. All the people here are nice people; it's quite a compliment to be chosen. We are like an insurance policy for the human race."
"When's this going to happen?" Eve said, clearly showing her concern about her family's safety.
"Don't worry it may never happen, it's just a risk. Come on now let's get the final touches done. I want you looking perfect at the church."
Eve looked back into the mirror. "It's hard to believe it's me. I look so… You've all been so good to me."
"Amazing is the word you're looking for or beautiful."
Eve felt slightly embarrassed and suddenly changed the subject. "I need to know what's happening at home. I need to know if the invasion has started."
"They'll have to beat the air force and the navy first. I suspect London will be taking another hammering though. We'll listen to the BBC news later if you like."
"Yes, yes I have to know."