Anne Woodborne

Evening falls on the Al-haktu oasis in the middle of the desert. A green alien with long antennae stands there, chewing the cud dejectedly. It stands on stick legs, wavering as its antennae twitch a handful of clicks and blips into the still air. ‘Where the kcuf am I?’ This universal expression of bewilderment exists as far afield as Verdigris Vertigo in the outer galaxy of Veridian from which our little alien hails.

Its antennae absorb the hot, dry feel of the desert and it grows ever more despondent. Its solitary eye scans the surroundings with 360° mathematical precision. The images are relayed to its perpetual motion mind machine – dry, gold sand dunes, blue fading to grey sky. The few leaves and grasses around the waterhole are green but in too small a quantity to sustain the lives of fellow Vertigians.Its inner mincers chew the remnants of its last meal back on Verdigris Vertigo –green filigree fillips – it has to maintain its mind machine’s output. The green juices send Omega threes and sixes to oil the myriad cogs, wheels and pistons and fire up the synapses of its think tank.

After some deliberation, its antennae jerk into action and fire off a series of beep-beep-blips through the stratosphere, into the ether. ‘Calling all Vertigians. Mission impossible. Destination error. Situation code black. Send new wormhole ASAP. Repeat ASAP to the source of this signal. BEAM ME BACK EITTOCS.’

The antennae stop relaying their fractured signals, the solitary eye waits, its lid half-mast, the inner munchkin-mincers still their grinding. Our little green alien waits on wafer-thin struts. As the evening darkens, its solitary eye notes the bone white of the round moon with deep cynicism – not even that is green. Whose supreme error of calculation was this? Eittocs? Then, after hours of contemplation, it senses a faint ripple in the atmosphere, a barely discernible movement of atoms but the solitary eye jerks open, the antennae begin to quiver. A portal is descending on the Al-haktu oasis. Alien hops, jumps, emits squeals and squeaks from its antennae. The whirling portal reaches the little creature, sucks it into its spiral, bleeps, then zip,zap,zing, our little alien whips through a timeless fast track back to Verdigris Vertigo, safe and sound, leaving a set of small blimp prints in the sand to confuse weary travellers at the Al-haktu oasis.

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