No 167 - 2002
A Ta£e of Money, A£ien Inva$ion & $ex
Fytte Number 1:
In which the scene of the action is briefly described and the scene is set
Between mountains and sea grew the town of Croeso (meaning Welcome, for any who cares to know). A town caught and held by geography where the mountains approach the sea, where the sea approaches the mountains - neither with much enthusiasm. In the small flat gap, the narrowest point between land and sea, under a grey and drizzling sky, a road linked east to west, west to east: a railway line snaked across grassy dunes dotted with staring sheep. To the north a long broken comb of black hills raked the skyline. Between the dunes and hills detached houses, cottages, town-embraced farm buildings, council houses, lapsed industry, shops, a chapel, a second chapel (in every Welsh town there are always two), several pubs, a school, a closed-down cinema advertising ‘intimate seats’, a working men’s club (only a few of whose clients were actually working), a crumbling music hall, a shopping precinct with vacant windows, and an ancient burial mound constructed before writing was invented. Croeso. Ordinary. A place where ordinary people do ordinary things.
Fytte Number 2: In which we meet Mr and Mrs Caradoc
Mrs Caradoc was from a small village on the West Wales coast. She had met Caradoc while he was on a rugby club outing. He worked on the railways at a time when there was still a railway on the west coast of Wales. She had calculated that he would rise up through the railway network in a steady series of promotions to become a station master, or even something higher. The idea of marriage to Caradoc had seemed sensible. Her family had joked that a man on the railways was bound to be ‘going places’. They were proud of her catch. However, almost as soon as they were married, the amputation of huge sections of the rail network turned Mrs Caradoc’s dreams of promotion for her husband into pre-post modern fantasy. She advised her husband to retrain as a Department of Employment clerk. Alternatively, she urged him to set up a private bus service to replace the axed railway lines. But he did nothing like that. Her husband was not interested in high-risk ventures, nor was he interested in becoming a civil servant. He became a small scale market gardener in his home town of Croeso, producing fresh vegetables. He was not, she realised, going anywhere after all.
The sale of produce earned him a good living so he was a wise railwayman in some respects. But a rather boring one. Caradoc lapsed into a kind of waking somnolence, selling vegetables to the hippies who lived in nearby Cwm Ddu encampment. Until, that is, Mrs Caradoc directed his attention to the town a few miles to the south west, where English people liked to retire. On the strength of the rumour of oil in the Celtic Sea, and the construction of an oil terminal, several shopping centres had sprung up there, and in one of them a young immigrant English couple had set up a Health Food Store called Patatar and Tamatar. Health conscious in-comers would help create a much more profitable outlet for vegetable produce than the hippies of Cwm Ddu. When Mrs Caradoc realised she could get a better price with business oriented merchants, surplus beans and pulses suddenly became ‘Organic Produce’. All of which would have been very fine and profitable if the expected Celtic Sea oil had actually been found, if the expected oil refinery had grown as planned, if the expected influx of upwardly mobile, white collar, diet conscious young English people had ever materialised.
The oil was never found, and within a few months Patatar and Tamatar went out of business in a spectacular blaze which the fire brigade said was arson designed to collect insurance money. Caradoc went back to the hippies with his beans and pulses, but he had let them down badly: they decided they wanted even less to do with the outside world than before. With Caradoc in particular they wanted no contact. The hippies had started growing their own vegetables. Caradoc invested in a special barrow to sell his produce at the weekly market. Mrs Caradoc stood there week after week, her prices consistently undercut by the hippies. Eventually she refused to take produce to market at all, and Caradoc had been forced to come to an arrangement with a travelling trader, which involved him driving down to the railway station with a large box of produce every Wednesday night, so that the stuff might be sold at the Thursday Market in Cardiff.
Mrs Caradoc had long nursed an ambition to live in the south east of England. She had been there once on a school trip, and the quiet, dense little towns, the ease and comfort she saw there contrasted strongly with the silence, the windswept beaches and hillsides of Croeso. You can’t eat the scenery, she kept saying to Caradoc, but he had no such ambition. He did not want to move away. His desire was to do what he had always done. If he could not run trains from east to west or from west to east, then he would tend his vegetable garden. If he could not be happy doing the one, then he was content to do the other.
Denied access to Caradoc’s real world, Mrs Caradoc drifted into a thoughtful silence one day. A few days later she lapsed again and this time she smelled of alcohol. Caradoc may have noticed her silence, but he said nothing. By the time Caradoc decided to voice the observation that his wife was not speaking to him, silence had reigned for over a week. While she would speak to the kids, she had nothing at all to say to her husband. It was not malice. She fed and tended Caradoc as if he were some kind of prize animal being readied for a show. She fulfilled all her wifely duties when and as required. She took her marriage vow very seriously (her family were chapel) otherwise she would have left him. She did not contemplate divorce, but she did not contemplate talking to Caradoc either. In any case, neither she nor Caradoc had ever been great conversationalists, so she told herself that her silence was no great loss to Caradoc. and as for herself, she said it was her own fault. She should have quizzed him more intently about his plans before contracting the marriage. As Siôn, her son, was later to say, in the Caradoc marital interface a silent mode had been engaged. Mrs Caradoc began to drink steadily. She drank for company. She drank to help her sleep. And when she drank she sometimes spoke to Caradoc. And sometimes he replied. It was not an ideal arrangement.
Caradoc had fumed and paced around the house all evening. Mrs Caradoc had, as usual, taken refuge in her gin and slowly slid the length of the settee. At last she could stand it no longer:
- Stop that pacing, she suddenly yelled.
- Sian’s still out.
- She’s got a key.
- It’s after midnight.
- One of us has to show some sense of responsibility.
- Well show it quiet, eh?
- They should marry if they want to stay out this late.
- If they was married they wouldn’t have to stay out.
- I’m only thinking of her. She’s too young…
- No she’s bloody not.
- But I’m her father!
- And I’m her mother... she’s been out late before and you haven’t said a word.
- Well, I’m saying the word now.
- Separate beds, we should have.
- Separate bloody rooms... Separate bloody houses for all I care…
- Maybe it’ll come to that...
They stopped. They were almost having a conversation. This would never do.
Fytte Number 3: In which we meet Patrick and Sian and are introduced to their hobbies
Patrick leaned against the wooden stall, chewing on a straw. Sian squirmed next to him. She lay on her back, felt the warm evening air play across he breasts and pictured how they looked. But Patrick was thinking of something else. Patrick was 18. Willie Taylor, his maths teacher, had understood the ponderous nature of Patrick’s intelligence. Willie Taylor had taken time to bring Patrick on. In private Willie had said: ‘If he could get to university it would do wonders for him. But even if he never gets there, the important thing is that he should try.’ But Willie had gone. No-one knew where. He had walked out after some kind of a breakdown, so all classes were suspended. Patrick saw his chance of going to University fade.
- I’m fed up.
- Me too.
- So am I.
There was a long silence.
- Going away, said Sian. That’s drastic.
- If I can’t go to university I’ve got to get a job. Maybe try again next year.
- And what am I supposed to do?
- You got any other ideas?
They hung on, both reluctant to speak, reluctant to part.
- Where will you go?
- Dunno. Swansea, Cardiff maybe. Day return. Have a look around the job centres, see what they got. Bristol. Even London…
- That’s a bloody long way.
There was another long silence.
- Would it cheer you up to rub my tits?
- Not if that’s all we’re gonna do.
- I told you before. We can’t do it. Not here.
- You said…
- I know what I said.
There was a long silence.
- You sure it wouldn’t cheer you up...?
She felt her breast move under Patrick’s hand, his fingernail scraped along the outer curve. She drew in her breath sharply and almost at the same moment felt the warm wetness of his tongue flicker on her nipple. She felt herself stir and Patrick’s hand move up the line of her thigh... suddenly she sat up.
- No Patrick. I said no and I meant it.
- I said we could fool around. I never said we’d do it…
Their clothes rearranged, they walked along the back lane from Plas y Gwyn barn towards the glow of Croeso town. Patrick tore up a sapling and lashed at the hedgerow until even in the gathering dusk, birds abandoned their young in panic.
- I thought we’d got this all sorted out…
Sian did not reply.
- So what the bloody hell do you want then?
- I wanna be married and for it to be nice and all that.
- I wanna have kids and a car.
- Shit, shit and double bloody shit.
- If you got a car before we were married it would be different.
- And where will I find the money for a car?
- If you had a car you could take me out. We could go for miles, we could go to quiet places, private places…
- That’d be nice.
- I got to get my ‘A’ levels. I can’t get a car until I get a job. If I get a job I’ll never get my ‘A’ levels.
- Well if I have to wait for a car, you’ll have to wait for you know what.
- ‘A’ levels or you, is it?
- You could get a part time job?
- Do you walk around with your eyes shut or something? There’s no jobs!
- Well too bloody bad.
- Look we had it all planned. You said it was all right.
- I know, but it wasn’t nice. It wasn’t private. And I never said we’d do it again... I just said it would be nice if we could, that’s all.
- Nice. Everything’s got to be nice... Look, I’ve got... precautions.…
Sian halted in the middle of the lane.
- I don’t care if you got a pocket full of precautions. Until you’ve got a car, what I say goes, and you needn’t think I’m going in the barn no more neither. I’ve told you how it is. If you don’t like it, walk.
Patrick watched her blur into the deeper gloom of the lane. He made one last effort. He called:
- You’re putting a price on it, not me.
- When you’ve got a car. Not before, came her voice from the dark. Patrick lashed the verge with his sapling. And don’t be shouting things like that in public. People might hear.
Fytte Number 4: In which Mrs Caradoc hears noises in the night, sees lights in the sky
Caradoc was woken by a low booming noise. The windows rattled in their frames, the lamp standard jiggled. Mrs Caradoc was snoring. He put on his dressing gown, clutching it to his throat, went down to the front door and stepped out onto the garden path. The night sky was lit by horizontal lines, red and orange, glowing like reflections on water. There was a sound like bacon frying, the dull grumble and crack of detonations. Suddenly there was a flash of silver. The sky whitened like milk; a stream of red Morse dots crawled vertically, winked, faded and vanished. The noise faded like cats fighting in the distance. Morse blips made their way overhead towards the rim of purple hills. Millions of tiny snow flakes whirled about in the breeze of light, fell upwards and fading. Slowly the sky over Croeso darkened, the stars came out again. Caradoc became aware of Sian standing at the garden gate.
- Just like before, she said.
- What the hell is it?
- Fireworks in Cardiff they told us last time.
- Impossible... Cardiff is in the opposite direction.
- Maybe somebody dropped the bomb, Sian said.
- We’d all be blind or dead.
- And there’s nothing in the hills to drop a bomb on.
There was now only a vague red glow over the jagged peaks. They returned to the house. Caradoc massaged his ears. He could still hear a bass rumbling inside his chest. The two of them stood there squinting at each other in the glare of the hall light bulb.
- What time of night do you call this? He tapped his wrist watch.
- I call it Alfred.
- Don’t give me any cheek, girl.
- You don’t usually bother.
- Well I’m bothering now. If you come home this late you can stay out all night. Permanently, for all I care.
- Can’t we talk about this in the morning?
- No. We’ll sort it out now.
- In the morning.
She tried to brush past him. He grabbed her wrist. She pulled free and pushed him away. Caradoc swung his hand across her face. She jerked under the blow. There was silence.
- Better now? she said, her hand to her cheek.
He thrust his hands in his dressing gown pockets, nodded towards the garden.
- Yeah... well... Maybe it was one of them touring theatre shows, lights and all, he said without conviction, and then shuffling, made his way upstairs.
Fytte Number 7: In which strange doings in the market place figure large
Ffordd y Croes, the market place, had last been the hub of a thriving community about 1914. The stone cross in the centre of the square showed over thirty names - almost a whole generation of young men - fallen on the Somme. This had been enough to blunt growth for the next twenty years. The reverse side of the cross listed only six names for the Second World War, and below them three names from the Falklands War. But today was Wednesday, Market day, when the local farmers brought their produce to town, sold their animals and retired to the pubs to renew acquaintance with old friends, liquid and human, before returning to their farms.
Today the Women’s Guild had set up a cake stall, there was another for knitwear. A few ageing hippies had arrived too. They spread their carvings and jewellery on a blanket and sat cross legged beside it, twiddling their beards, clicking worry beads, and occasionally drinking cider. To the local youngsters the hippies were boring old dinosaurs, left overs from the late 1960s, when they had flocked to Cwm Ddu for a festival and set up indian tepees. They had been there ever since, living without gas or electricity, scraping a subsistence from what they could grow and what they could make. Cider was neither of these, but from the quantities they consumed it was clear they had not totally rejected every aspect of their old life style in favour of the red-man.
A van drove past and parked on the side of the square. It was painted in bright colours, there was lettering on the sides in a Victorian Playbill script - a fact that prompted several people to surmise that this was the vanguard of some travelling circus.
The people who emerged from the van were every bit as distinctive as the van. First came a man in the tightest of tight leopard-skin leotards. Round his waist a gaily coloured ammunition belt filled with glistening brass cartridges was slung. He was polished bald, but had a flaming red flowing moustache and dark glasses. He looked as if he had just returned from a long and intense body building course, and a light oily film clung to his skin, which was unusually pale. Those who stood near him later admitted, both male and female alike, that they had a strong, almost overpowering desire to touch him. The muscleman lounged against the vehicle, his arms folded across his glistening chest.
The second member of the group was also very pale, slight of build and dressed in a tail suit. He carried a leather medical grip, and on his lapel he wore a badge with ‘Dr Doktor’ stencilled on it, next to a small photo of himself. He too had dark glasses, but his red hair was plastered down to his skull. Dr Doktor began set up some equipment on the tailgate of the van.
The third member of the group was a very tall pale woman with a mass of flame red hair and wrap-around dark glasses. She wore a tail-suit, white bib and white gloves. Her hands were huge and she was at least a head taller than most of the men. She looked fearsome. She moved among the crowd handing out leaflets. No-one refused. People stepped back to let her pass. The leaflet read:
We Introduce 2 U
Brand New Concept
From a secret process
Devised in our Very Own Laboratories!
Nifty & essential!
Divines what Needs 2 be Done
Goes right ahead and Does It!!!
U don’t believe?
Buy 1 and see 4 yourself!
The machine on the tailgate started up. Lights. Strange music in some odd ancient rhythm - a catchy 5/11 time - not unattractive after you got used to it. The lights, all shades of pink and purple and red, pulsed to the music. After a minute or two Dr Doktor stepped forward, and while he did a fast tap dance, he crooned to himself. But he didn’t croon along to the music, it was as if he sang across the rhythms, between the notes, as if instead of playing the ivories on a piano, he was playing the cracks. It was as if the notes and rhythms were in a different relation to one another. As he rotated past the crowd, his hands, encased in painfully white gloves, commenced a fast hand jive. He tapped and jived, then he sang:
- It’ll set black coffee white, it’ll turn white coffee black, it’ll restore virginity, cure frigidity, diminish stupidity, guarantee rigidity, (we all know, a stiff prick, is also deaf), it’s better than a morning after pill, it’ll improve a moaning rafter’s skill, if you’re dead it’ll read your will, it’ll even pay the Homosexual Bill, it’ll drink your little drink, think your little think, with a bit of luck, it’ll throw you a fuck, it’ll cook your stew, polish the dew, reserve your pew, restore your view, plait your queue, clean up doggy-do, vanquish Zulu, (a boring chore, for the boring Boer), it’ll dry your tears, wash behind your ears, reduce your years, shake out the mat, put out the cat, make a bowler bat, or a bowler hat, or a witch Sabbat, it’ll clean potatoes, peel tomatoes, proliferate Nato’s, lengthen a car hose, strengthen a panty hose, dry a runny nose, scent a garden rose, trust me I’m a doctor, it’ll put a Saturday in your week, a rose in your cheek, life in your breek, make Grandma chic, teach a little Greek, and what is it? It’s a KsssS, give us a KsssS! The investment of a lifetime, and it’s yours, for only a few pence, step right this way, get yours today. Step step step, hup hup hup, It’s a KsssS. Yes it is. It’s a KsssS. Yes. It’s a KsssS...
People were half way home when they realised that like everyone around them on the market square, they too had bought a KsssS, though they had absolutely no recollection of making the purchase. They took out their new acquisition and with an air of great puzzlement examined it. The KsssS proved to be a small, dark grey box made of some metalo-plastic compound. There were no sharp edges, seams, rivets or joints in the surface. Weighed in the hand, it felt comfortable in the palm, was cool to the touch and heavy for its size. Shaken or held to the ear, it made no sound. There did not seem to be any moving or mechanical parts. In their pockets purchasers found a sheet of paper. Across the top in a peculiarly liquid script was written:
Martia Enterprises. KsssS. This is a lifetime guarantee.
Buyers felt like laughing. But they didn’t know why.
Fytte Number 8: In which Mr Caradoc discovers his son has an unusual hobby and is learning a strange new language.
Morning in the Caradoc household could hardly be anything other than a minefield. Weekends were the worst. Since Mrs Caradoc’s addiction to alcohol the level of chaos had risen considerably. Desperate for the family to get out of her way so that she could have her first gin of the day, Mrs Caradoc had once set fire to a frying pan and a tea towel, badly damaging kitchen cupboards installed by Caradoc himself. By common consent Mrs Caradoc was no longer expected to cook breakfasts. No-one commented, but all understood. It was safer this way. The family would shift for itself. Thus, as waves upon a beach, the members of the household would throw off the covers and descend upon the kitchen at whatever hour best suited them. Caradoc made a pot of tea. While it brewed, he laid out the breakfast table. When the tea was ready he took a cup upstairs to his wife. He set it on the bedside table, next to the tablets, and said:
- I’ve brought you a nice cup of tea, dear.
No answer. He expected none. He returned to the kitchen and poured another cup of tea, took it to the cupboard under the stairs and knocked on the door. The door opened, Siôn took the tea. One of the reasons that Siôn got into trouble with his father so infrequently was that he was a boy; the other reason was that since he had begun to use the cupboard under the stairs, he was rarely seen, except at meal times. Inside the cupboard Siôn had built a small radio station. With the reward from finding a lost thoroughbred dog and the income from a large paper round Siôn had bought up second hand equipment and slowly pieced it together. He had an aerial from his bedroom window. And it worked.
While Sian and Caradoc had been differing in the hallway the previous night, Siôn had been in his cupboard, headphones clamped tight, searching the airwaves for distant but like minded souls. That night he had listened to the weather forecast in Japanese, had heard about a mud slide in Peru, a road accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, and airline pilots reporting unusual turbulence. In short he had listened right through the night. Tired, he now sat with the headset pressed to his ears, a notepad on his knee, scribbling an ill-regulated script at high speed while his tea grew cold. Beside him a tape recorder purred. Siôn took off his earphones for a moment.
- And it’s a big good morning good buddy. You are eyeballing Big Daddy, said Caradoc.
- Sh! said Siôn abruptly. The ionosphere is very disturbed... Listen.
Siôn switched the sound from earphones to loudspeaker. There was intense static, white noise, but amid the noise there was a voice - perhaps two. They were speaking very fast. It sounded like Donald Duck played backwards to Caradoc.
- I’ve heard it before. Last night I made a tape and slowed it down.
The static was less brittle on the slowed down version, much less painful. A voice was speaking a language that seemed to lack all vowels. There was a consonant and a sibilant, but that was all. Through the static a voice said:
- Kss ssk kssS KsssS sssks...
- They both stared at the revolving spools of the tape recorder.
Fytte Number 4x4+8: In which Sian introduces her mother to a remarkable new cure for Cold Turkey
The bedroom was a mess. Sian picked her way through the clothes, set the tea on the bedside table and twitched open the curtains. The room was deluged in warm, sunlight. Mrs Caradoc struggled to sit up, shielding her eyes.
- What is it? What happened?
- Just brought you a cup of tea is all. Time for your tablets.
Sian handed her mother a pair of wrap-around dark glasses. After a moment’s hesitation Mrs Caradoc put them on.
- There’s terrible. Sunglasses first thing of a morning.
- Right in with the fashion. Everybody’s wearing them.
- Last thing I’m worrying about is fashion, lovey. So what you up to then?
- This and that. Watched the telly, got a few things mended. Got some fruit and veg down to the stall. You know.
- Being good for your dad?
All points covered Mrs Caradoc took a sip of tea to please her daughter and lay back.
- You forgot the milk, lovey. No sugar, and plenty of milk.
- I didn’t forget.
- Oh? Part of my cure? Denied milk I am now, is it?
- No. I want to show you something.
Sian drew from her pocket a small metal object about the size of a retractable steel rule.
- The people over the road gave it to me.
- They got names?
- Martia and Martin.
- Funny looking lot.
- Yeah, but they got some great things.
- Well we could certainly do with great things round here.
- It’s called a KsssS.
- Sound like Miss Piggy. Kissy, kissy, kissy.
- Your tea’s got no milk, right?
Sian put the KsssS against the cup, and Mrs Caradoc saw the tea whiten, as if someone had poured in a liberal quantity of milk.
- Go on, drink it.
Mrs Caradoc raised the cup and took a sip, then she took another sip.
- Perfect, she said, and drained the cup. Another one in the pot is there?
Fytte Number 4x4+4x4: In which we pay a visit to the Marti(a)n home and Patrick has inter-species sex (cosmic)
The back garden of the Martin home was badly neglected. The house had been unoccupied for several years before the Martins moved in, so nature had gone its own way. There were a couple of dilapidated outhouses, a back gate that was off its hinges, fruit trees in need of pruning, some dark straggling bushes and a great cloud of matted dog roses running along the side of what had once been a lawn. They had placed a brazier in the middle of the tufted lawn, and in it there was a fire of rotten planks. On top of the planks coke glowed and pulsed. The garden warped and shimmered in the haze.
Mr and Mrs Martin wore black tail suits and dark glasses, their red hair was cut like a pudding basin on one side, but flowed long on the other. They looked like mirror images of each other. Martia, their daughter was there too, though she wore her hair in a long waving red cascade down her back, where small spangled birds, jewelled snakes and enamelled butterflies were caught in it. The son, Martin Martin was there too. He was absorbed in the activities of a small machine that had long legs and which ran backwards and forwards along his upturned hand. When he turned his hand over, palm down, the machine did not fall off, but squeaked out: Oh Dear! and carried on its peregrinations unchecked, but upside down.
Mr Martin brought out a wheelbarrow from one of the sheds. It was piled high with books. He took one and showed his wife the title: War of The Worlds. She said:
- Trash. Propaganda.
She nodded and her husband dropped it into the flames.
- Not too many at once or you will smother the fire, she warned.
Slowly they fed in books from the barrow and watched them consumed.
They knew Patrick was watching them. They did not appear to be shocked when he approached and through the smoke and flame said:
- I know who you are. I know where you’re from.
Nobody moved. Martin did not put away his machine. Patrick faltered.
- I’m not afraid... I mean... I’m here aren’t I?
He cast about for what he wanted to say.
- I’m 18 years old. I can do things. I can learn. If you give me a chance I can try anything. You just give me a start and I’ll learn. I’ll do it. Whatever you say…
Mr Martin stepped forward around the flaming brazier.
- Patrick. I’m pleased to meet you at last. You’ve been through a rough time just lately. I’ll try to help you in any way I can. What is it you want exactly?
- Well, we’ll have to see what you’re suited for, won’t we? Your girl friend Sian, and her brother Siôn, both have an aptitude for enterprise, ideal for business. But from what I hear, you are more of a philosopher, no? Frankly, I don’t know how we could use a philosopher…
- You could take me with you.
- With us...?
- When you go.
- Go? Where to?
- Wherever... to Mars… I dunno... but you could...
- I’m sorry Patrick, but you are mistaken. We are not going anywhere, nor, when we go, are we taking anybody with us. We hope to be here for quite a while. for all practical purposes, this is our destination.
- What? This place?
Patrick felt his hope ebb like used bath water. He sniffed and a tear began to trickle from the corner of his eye. He brushed it away. Mr Martin said:
- It’s the smoke, Patrick. It catches us all like that.
Mr Martin put his arm round Patrick’s shoulders and drew him towards the house.
- Can I offer you a Mars bar? We’re very fond of them…
Blinded by smoke and tears Patrick could hear Mr Martin saying:
- Don’t despair, Patrick. I’m sure we’ll find something for you eventually... Marta, please make sure our young friend is aware of our position.
Marta took Patrick by the hand and led him into the house.
- Humans are a peculiar lot. Where I come from we have seven sexes. In order to make a baby you need a combination of any three. So far you have only seen two of our sexes - the two that approximate most nearly to your own. Your system is very economical, but ours is much more fun, which is strange. Given the different inclinations of our races you might think it would be the other way round. I mean humans mix everything up; love and marriage and babies and sex and home and career. and then you’re surprised that things don’t work out. We can breed for each of these qualities. We can partner for these qualities. We have a simple, basic, commercial exchange or we have pleasure. We do not mix the two except when this is strictly unavoidable. In many ways I think we are luckier than you. One of our partners need not even be sentient - that simplifies things a lot. Or do you find that terrible?
Patrick lay back on the bed naked. Marta quickly took her clothes off, leaving only her T-shirt. She stood at the side of the bed, smiling. He pushed his hand under the T-shirt. Her nipples were like cherries. He kissed them, squashing her breasts, sinking his nose into her flesh, running his tongue over her ribs. She took off the T-shirt in one flowing motion and dropped it. Patrick said:
- You don’t look like an alien.
- Oh? and what do aliens usually look like?
- Don’t know... sort of... alien.
She had a bluebird tattooed on the inside of her thigh. He stroked the bluebird. She said:
- Don’t you know that all aliens are actually humans in disguise?
- Are you sure it isn’t the other way round?
She laughed and said:
- I’m no bug eyed monster, but I’m no human either.
She pushed him down on the pillow.
- Don’t worry, we are vegetarian.
He closed his eyes.
She straddled him, settled, pushing against him, saying:
- While we make gentle pornography I’ll tell you about aliens... Though strictly speaking I’m not sure that having sex with an alien can be classified as pornograp..... not yet anyway...
- I suppose you came down here in... The Star Ship Enterprise?
- Close. We named our ship very carefully. We rejected the name Enterprise, though. Our little joke at your expense. In our language we call it something else.
- Seems to me you aliens are no different from anybody else. You even make love like we do.
- Not quite like you. I go on top for a good alien reason.
She stopped moving her body, held perfectly still, closed her eyes, threw her head back. He felt warm, strong fingers grasp him. The fingers moved in a rippling series of waves. Her body was not moving, but inside her a pianist’s fingers played the organ faster and faster. She leaned back, holding his hands hard to her breasts, and came in a series of twitching hiccups. Patrick felt as if someone had hit him over the head with a tea tray, shone a bright light in his eyes and stuffed pepper up his nose all at the same moment. He struggled to clear his head. She brushed hair from her eyes, laughed and said:
- We’ve been here before, several times. We made a deal with a German chap called Faust, but it didn’t work out. He had no imagination. Just interested in magic tricks. We tried again later but that was a terrible, terrible mess. H.G.Wells wrote about it. We think we are doing rather well this time. You’ve progressed a little. So have we. You appreciate us a little better, hence the joke about the name of our ship. By the way, when we make love you can’t get out until I decide I’m completely finished. And I’m not.
She smiled down at him. Patrick felt the pianist’s fingers practice a smooth arpeggio. She laughed again, her head thrown back.
- We call our ship The Second Coming.
These extracts are selected from a novel in progress. Carl Tighe has written two collections of short stories: Pax: Variations won him the City Life Writer of the Year 2000 Award, and Rejoice! which was nominated for the David Higham Prize and short listed for The Irish Times Fiction Award. He has had plays and stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and his stage play A Whisper in the Wind won the All London Drama Prize. Burning Worm was short listed for the 2001 Whitbread First Novel Award.
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