This one for Tim…
“Why are we going this way?”
He had been waiting for her to say that since he turned off the turnpike five minutes ago, laying a bet with himself that she would say that exact same sentence.
He muttered something about being a millionaire and she turned to glare at him.
“Nothing. This way is quicker.”
“Is it? It’s not as fast as the turnpike.”
“Maybe, but it’s more fuel efficient and you’re always on at me to save money.”
“I am not ‘always on at you’.”
He said it in that resigned, ‘I’m not really listening to you anymore’ way that she hated.
The low burble of the radio, tuned to some 70’s rock station that he liked filled the car again.
“You managed to save yourself some money at the fundraiser, didn’t you?”
He took his eyes from the road to look at her.
She just starred ahead and gritted her teeth.
“You were put in charge of the liquor at the fundraiser.”
“There was an excess of liquor at the fundraiser.”
“Stop speaking like an accountant and just spit it out will you!”
She turned on him, “There were two cases of Bud left over from that fundraiser and a few days later a case turned up in our garage and Marjorie told me that a case appeared in Brad’s garage too!”
“The fundraiser was a success, the kids got their jungle gym right?”
“That’s not the point! I gave you that money from the committee and you deliberately over stocked on beer so you could take some home for you and your buddies!”
“We needed beer, I got beer, the kids got play equipment, where is the problem here?”
She closed her eyes for a few seconds and took some deep breaths.
“That wasn’t your beer, it was the committees, you can’t spend charity money on yourself!”
“Oh right, I see, so it’s okay for you to buy Martinis for you and Frank Williams though?”
“Don’t think I didn’t notice you were tucking away the cocktails tonight with Frank, just like you did at the last meeting and the one before that. I noticed cos I’ve been drinking root beer, because I’m driving again. Just like I did last time and the time before that…”
She threw her hands in the air.
“I wanted a drink tonight, you like SEVERAL drinks, I can’t put up with you getting loaded in front of our friends, yet again and if you want to accuse me of having an affair with Frank Williams, just Goddam come out and say it!”
He was interrupted by the radio suddenly reaching an ear-splitting volume before turning to a horrible bray of static, which, in turn became an unintelligible burst of binary before it and the car shut down.
He was about to say something when the light enveloped the car.
There was no sound at all, nothing from the engine or outside, no crickets, not even the sound of them breathing.
They exchanged glances and without thinking of the consequences, as if gently compelled, opened their card doors and walked to the front of the vehicle.
Ahead of them, in the light, something was moving.
A shape, tall, slender, gently flailing.
They stood near to each other, not touching, looking on in wonder.
It was very tall, eight or nine feet. Such a pale green colour, slightly mottled flesh. It’s body was like a slender cone, blunt at the top and pinched at the bottom. A slit ran almost the entire length of the cone, pulsing open and closed gently and slightly, revealing a glassy surface with a dark diamond shape. It was an eye, like a giant cat’s eye.
At the base of the cone, four very long tendrils or tentacles pulsed and moved, allowing it to almost glide from the light and travel towards them.
It smelled like citrus, gently wafting towards them.
He stared at it open mouthed, his head tilted slightly towards one side and then he smiled.
“It looks kinda like a lava lamp.”
She broke her gaze and looked at him.
“It’s body…it kinda looks like a lava lamp…the shape of it…”
The creature raised it’s appendages slightly higher and pulsed, as if maybe taking breath to speak but before it could say anything she spoke first.
“It’s an alien, we’re probably the first people to meet it and you compare it too some 60’s furniture?”
The creature blinked and looked at the woman.
“It’s not going to know what a lava lamp is…hell, it doesn’t know what the 60’s are.”
The creature shifted it’s strange gaze towards the man.
“This is history, right here, right now and all you can think of is a lava lamp!?”
As the thing in the road looked back at the woman, movement began behind it, further back in the light.
“Yes, all I can think of is a lava lamp and what do you care. How do you know we’re the first humans it’s seen? Maybe they’ve been watching us for years, maybe the president knows about them already, maybe they’ve been for fucking tea and sandwiches at the White House!”
“Oh well that’s just great! Swear why not, start a scene, here, right now of all places!”
The creature quickly shifted its attention between the arguing couple, unaware that a second creature, exactly like the first, was now making it’s way towards all of them.
The second creature raised one of it’s tentacles into the air, holding aloft something almost like a piece of coral, studded with small, flashing lights and tiny satellite dishes.
There was a brief hum and the man, woman and car all vanished in a flash of electric purple light, replaced by a small, twist of vapour in the road.
The first creature slowly turned to face the second.
“What did you do that for?”
The second creature approximated a shrug with all four tentacles.
“They were obviously of no use to us.”
The first creature narrowed it’s eye-slit.
“That is so typical of your sex, always unable to ask for directions!”
By now the second creature was already heading back into the craft.
“It wasn’t I that got us lost in the first place, you insisted of dropping out of sub-space 60 parsecs too early.”
Both beings were now inside the craft which began to rise on a pulsing, yellow light.
“I was trying to conserve the fuel element, you have been made aware of this many times by the spacing guild, which…”
“Yes, yes, you have told me, you spawning-unit is the head of the Spacing Guild and she is always correct. You and your spawning-unit…”
The light of the crafts engines began to fade, the road and the scorch mark that was all that remained of the man, woman and car grew dark.
“You always have to drag my mother into these things don’t you? What is wrong with my mother!?”
The second creature sighed.
“Don’t get me started!…”