It wasn't my fault. How was I to know? You can't blame me for this. The aliens would have taken over the planet anyway. Oh, you're right. I'm kidding myself. I have just killed six billion people. Bugger.
So I get this phone call at five in the morning. It was the newspaper editor in London. He says that reports are coming in that aliens have landed a flying saucer somewhere near Inverness. As I'm the only journalist within 100 miles of the site I have to cover the story. Well of course I didn't believe him.
"Aliens?" I croaked.
"Yes I know it sounds weird but we need someone to check it out." He sounded serious. I tried to make all my thoughts go in one direction. Not easy at 5AM on a Sunday morning. Particularly not this Sunday morning as the night before was spent celebrating my 30th birthday and I started drinking at four in the afternoon.
"Yeah but.... Aliens?" I noticed that I was dribbling on the mouthpiece of the phone. My thoughts wandered off to last night again. I remembered leaving the pub at eleven. I can't have had that much to drink then. Oh no wait. I didn't come home at eleven did I? Where did I go?
I was dragged back to the present by the screeching on the other end of the phone line. He was shouting something about the newspaper paying my wages. Then he started on the whole 'I say jump you say how high' lecture.
"Right. OK. I'm on my way." I slurred. I put the phone down and fell out of bed. I tried opening my eyes. They wouldn't open of their own accord so I pulled my eyelids with my fingers pulling about a dozen eyelashes out in the process. I blinked a couple of times then put my face on the floor and lapsed into unconsciousness again.
I was startled by a loud chirping noise. I opened my eyes and looked about confused. It was the phone again. I fumbled with the receiver.
"Hhhmm?" was the best I could manage.
"You'll need to know where the aliens have landed," said the editor with a patronising patient tone.
He told me the exact location and directions. He had to repeat them because I wasn't paying attention. He had to repeat them again because I didn't write them down. He repeated them a third time because writing the directions on the desk wasn't helpful as I couldn't take the desk with me in the car. He insisted on repeating them again just to be sure.
I put the phone down again and got dressed as quickly as I could manage, tripping over a couple of people who I didn't recognise who were sleeping beside the bed.
"Don't worry" I thought. "I'm sure they'll be gone when I get back."
The cold morning air woke me up a bit as I walked out to my rusting VW Beetle. I got to the car, turned around and walked back to the house. "Keys!" I thought. I retrieved the keys, walked back to the car and started it up. "Directions!" I thought. I went back into the house and retrieved the directions from beside my bed, tripping over the two strangers again. I walked out to the car again. "Passport!" I thought. What? "Just kidding". Fuck off. The last thing I need now is a mind that thinks it's a comedian.
The location wasn't all that far from where I lived. The difficult part of following the directions was deciphering my own handwriting. I made a couple of quick stops on the journey - once to be sick and once to grab a coffee and a paper from a garage. I drove away drinking my coffee. I realised that drinking boiling hot coffee whilst driving on a bumpy country road is not a good idea.
A combination of scalding pain on my crotch and caffeine in my blood made my thinking a little more coherent. I sensed that I had something of a mental block though. What was I forgetting? It must be something I did last night. I could remember very little after about eleven o'clock. No that wasn't it. It was something that happened the day after my birthday every year. I concentrated. Something to do with the date my birthday fell on. March 31st. What's significant about that? What's significant about today? April 1st.
The pieces clicked together in my mind. Aliens landing in Inverness. On April 1st. After I didn't invite the editor to my birthday do. This is all a stupid April fool joke. Nnyrgggh! I started shouting random swearwords at the steering wheel.
I decided to keep going to where the aliens were supposed to have landed. Perhaps the editor would show up to shout "April fool" at me in his typical smug fashion. God, I'd love to hit his stupid smug gormless face with a big shovel.
I arrived at the location described in the directions muttering obscenities through gritted teeth. It was a small gravel car park used by hikers and climbers in the summer months. When I stepped out of the car and stood up, to my surprise there was actually an alien craft there. Or rather there was something about the size of a Ford transit van painted silver with wings and a fin sticking out of the roof. I was quite surprised by the amount of effort put into this hoax. But then I noticed all the other people standing round. There were at least a hundred military types, many of them armed as well as a few tanks. There was no way that the editor or any of my colleagues could pull a stunt this size. I almost believed it for a second but then I thought that it wasn't necessarily them pulling the hoax. It must Jeremy Beadle or someone like that.
Then the back doors of the transit van spaceship opened and a humanoid creature stepped out. It was about six feet tall, green and had antennae sticking out of its head which looked like a cheap pair of deely-boppers. It also had a beard. "Nice disguise Jeremy," I thought.
The 'alien' spoke. It sounded just like a normal person speaking in staccato monosyllables in a silly high pitched voice. In short, it sounded like a bad dalek impression. It said "Take me to your leader." Some of the military people murmured among themselves.
I had had enough of this stupid childish prank. I was not a fan of Jeremy Beadle (although on second thought the creature looked more like Noel Edmonds who I hate even more). I stepped forward and shouted "You can't be serious. You expect me to believe this ridiculous set up do you?"
The creature looked confused. It looked for back up from its colleague in the transit van craft. The other creature urged the spokes-alien on.
"Are you the leader of this planet?" the spokes-alien asked.
"Yeah!" I said. I was going to add "Do you want to make something of it?" but that was perhaps a little over the top.
"We hereby give notice that we wish to colonise your planet," the alien said. "As your planet is already overcrowded we do not see cohabitation as an option. We therefore wish to eradicate your species. You have the right to appeal against this at the Galactic High Court. All court proceedings would be conducted according to Earth law..."
"No. You go ahead. Kill the lot of us. That's not a problem." I said. "You didn't expect that did you Noel?" I thought feeling smug.
The alien looked surprised. It faltered a bit. Then the alien in the van handed it some papers.
"As I said, legal proceedings have to be conducted according to Earth law so we require you to sign this contract." It handed me the papers. They looked pretty legal. Evidently Noel had been expecting this. I looked at the 'alien'. Now that I was close to it, it didn't look all that much like Noel Edmonds after all. "Must just be a good costume," I thought. I signed the papers using the name Mickey Mouse and handed them back.
"Thank you," the alien said. "We'll have you all killed in just a few minutes. Don't worry, you won't feel a thing." It went back into it's transit van and pulled the door shut.
"Now what?" I wondered. Then the transit van craft slowly lifted off the ground and headed up into the morning drizzle. As I watched it fly away I saw it was heading towards a large object in the sky which was partially obscured by clouds. I hadn't noticed it before. It was, well it was a flying saucer. I estimated that it was half a mile across although it was difficult to tell. I could just make out a door in the side sliding open and the landing craft docking with the mother ship.
I just stood there, dumbstruck, my mouth hanging open. My mind, being the smart-arse that it is told me "The word you are looking for is bugger."
Stuart Leitch, March 1999