There’s an alien in my fridge. I saw him there in the wee hours of yesterday morning.
I came downstairs for some water, opened the fridge door for a bottle, and there he was. He was sitting on the second shelf, using an ice cream spoon to work his way through my crème caramels. He was small, like a child’s toy, with smooth green skin and huge bat ears. He was so engrossed in his task, he didn’t look up. I closed the fridge door, shocked at what I’d seen. I paused for a moment, and then quickly opened the door again and the alien had disappeared. Only the debris of his feast remained.
I was the first awake as usual and was washing up the alien’s pots and spoon when my husband and Davey came down to breakfast. Simon reached into the fridge for the milk and his face changed. He didn’t say anything, but I caught his expression and could guess what he was thinking.
“OK,” he said, perhaps a little too brightly. “Who’s for cornflakes?”
“It’s Becky,” he said to the voice console. “I’m going to have to take a personal day. Yes, I know. And I’m sorry about that, but I’ll make it up with overtime when she’s better.”
“No,” I said. “Definitely not. You tricked me into going the last time, and that won’t happen again. I’m not going.” Hum-bug.
“Becks,” he stroked my shoulder. That’s what he does when he wants me to be reasonable. I shook him off. I didn’t think it was very reasonable to be told I was going shopping. I didn’t think it was very reasonable to be confronted with a teenager telling me that I needed a new prescription.
“He had spots and was wearing jeans,” I complained.
“He was bearded, in his fifties and wearing the same slacks my dad wears,” said Simon. “What are you seeing?”
“I’m not seeing anything.” Hum-bug.
Simon ran his hand through his hair. “Becks, I know what’s happening. What are you seeing?”
“You keep saying ‘humbug’.”
“Oh, that’s not me, that’s the spacecraft. What you can hear is the motor; it whirrs and pops, like hummm bug.”
He’d tricked me. Simon’s clever like that. “So the aliens are back?” He sighed as if all the cares of the world were on his shoulders.
“It’s not like they’re expecting anything of you,” I pointed out. “They’re only curious about us and after the journey they’ve had, it’s only natural that they’d be hungry.”
“So, where are they?”
“One is standing right behind you,” I said, pointing.
This one was a lot larger than the one in the fridge. He was completely naked apart from a brightly coloured headdress, and he must have eaten the majority of our food, because he was carrying an empty food bowl.
Simon reached out and took the bowl and yanked the headdress away. “That’s not where underwear goes,” he said. “Go and put them on properly, Davey. That’s not nice.”
Simon thinks I’m mad. He thinks that sometimes I’ll raid the fridge at night. He thinks I’ll leave windows open and doors unlocked and set fire to the kitchen, but that only happened once and it wasn’t my fault; Davey’s evil teddy bear did that.
“Where’s the spacecraft?”
I pointed to the top of the fridge.
“That’s the rice cooker I bought you last year. That’s what this is,” he said, lifting it down. “Stress is always the trigger. Now that the run up to Christmas has begun, you’ve stressed yourself again.” He shook the spacecraft. “See, it’s only a rice cooker.”
“You mustn’t do that!” I took the craft from him carefully and put it back. “You’ll hurt the occupants.”
“It’s a rice cooker! Look, there’s the plug.”
“That’s their recharging unit.”
“Ugh! God, I hate this time of year! I hate the expense, I hate the stress, and I hate what it does to people. I hate the pressure. I hate seeing you like this.”
Simon took my hand. “Come with me.” He led me back upstairs and sat me on the side of the bed. He picked up the aliens control box and slid out the motherboard. “One, two, three... God, Becks! You’re five pills up!”
“They don’t like me touching their control box,” I whispered. “It makes them nervous.”
“Why are you whispering?”
The big naked alien had followed us upstairs and was standing in the doorway of our bedroom, this time with his headdress somewhere around his middle.
“Go back downstairs, Davey,” said Simon. “It’s ok. Here, Becks. I want you to take this.” He broke a piece off the motherboard and gave it to me.
“Take it where?”
“You need to swallow it, Becks.”
“But you’ve damaged their control system and if I swallow that, they’ll track me. I don’t want them to track me.”
“They won’t track you. You have to swallow it.” Simon’s voice was becoming impatient.
“But I don’t want to.”
Just then the big alien came into the room and picked up the water bottle that was still sitting on the bedside table. He picked up the component and put it in my mouth, and then handed me the bottle.
I looked at my husband. “He wants me to swallow it,” I said with a component in my mouth.
“Yes, Becks. He wants you to swallow it.”
So I did. When I woke up the aliens had gone and my son and I were curled up on the bed like spoons in a tray.
On Simon’s bedside table was an early Christmas present from his colleagues; a jar of black and white sweets cuddled by a small green toy, with giant ears. Davey saw me looking at it.
“Humbug,” he said.