New arrivals at the Alien Planet.
The bullet-shaped craft sped away unseen and undetected by the British radar. Bithot and Ekurb were pleased with their work and felt fortunate they had found two suitable candidates within minutes of each other.
Roger and Eve slept 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 each other."
"Ah yes, the marriage ritual; a strange, but entertaining, human show. Convince them you say. Is it not an easy task considering we have checked and matched their brain pulses?"
"Some need to be convinced not because they have no attraction to their selected partner, more so that one or both may desire to return home. Maybe you should accompany me on the process Ekurb. 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. There was a lovely aroma of lavender on the bedsheets and she suddenly began to realise that it was not her bed and threw back the covers. "What the hell?" she whispered to herself. It startled her, not just because she had woken up in a strange bed in a strange house, but the room had no ceiling. She could look up to the sky with no upper floor or ceiling above her. The sun caught her in the face and she squinted at the bright sunlight. Had she been kidnapped? She noticed a key in the door and dashed over to lock it, but became nervous in case someone looked down at her through the open space. She heard a blackbird singing, and a robin landed above her as if suspended in the air and looked down at her for a few seconds before flying off. She realised there was some kind of hard invisible cover over the room. Why, why would someone take the trouble to do that? Had an enemy bomb blown the roof off and they had put this clear stuff on as a temporary repair. Her clothes were draped over the back of a padded chair and she hastily dressed while wondering where she was and how she got there. She suddenly felt frightened that she had been drugged and had indeed been kidnapped by a sexual deviant. What was he going to do with her? She had to escape and had to unlock the door and hopefully get out unnoticed.
She suddenly remembered the incident in the lane as if it had been a hazy and horrible dream. Somehow, nothing seemed to be making any sense.
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. Though the view was new to her, it did not seem at all sinister.
There was no clock in the room, but she knew she had missed her shift at the bus garage. 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 decided to make her escape. She unlocked the door and stepped out into the passage where the smell of smoked bacon frying drifted to greet her. The passageway reminded her of an old Victorian terraced house with the lower part of the wall panelled and the upper part having a paisley wallpaper. That was where the similarity ended because all of the terraced houses she knew of had the bedrooms uptairs. This place all the room were on the same level and there was no upper floors. The pleasant smell of the bacon made her feel hungry and she 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 slowly and quietly along 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 wondered how anybody could 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 troubled face as she continued along the passage.
As she got near the street door she 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 hurried past in case she was discovered. The door on the left was closed and now she was curious. The place certainly didn’t seem hostile and maybe it belonged to a friend of hers and she was panicking unnecessarily. She opened the door and looked in. An elderly man was sitting at a large dining table. Eve knew that she had never met him before and was about to run away.
"Hello, Eve, your breakfast will be ready soon."
She wondered how he knew her name. Maybe it was him that took her handbag. She looked at a huge fresh white loaf on the table next to a dish full of butter. As a centrepiece, 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 a sideboard sat 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."
"Husband! 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 then noticed a young man dressed in an RAF uniform walking along the pavement towards her. He had just stepped out of a shop with 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. This is the only place where you will meet your hosts in their natural state. 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. As I have already said, 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. "You shouldn't be saying that to me. What a bleedin' rude thing to say to a person."
"I am sorry you find it rude, however, they are facts you need to know. 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."
"Well, I never," Eve said. She glanced at Roger noting the grin on his face and quickly looked away as she felt a serious flush blossoming on her face.
The old man 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 lingering 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 before we do wake up."
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 job?"
"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 and they both laughted.
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. It was not long though until her thoughts returned to home. She was becoming increasingly worried about her family and friends.