Every great story has a great beginning, the story begins long, long ago in a galaxy… well this one actually. This isn’t the most catchy way to start us off on a story, but it’s a start nonetheless and we’re not even going to start at the real beginning because it would take to long to get going from that point and the possibility of writing prequels will be somewhat diminished.
At this point in the story it’s worth pointing out to those that might be wondering that the universe is rather large. very large in fact and it is full of difference races of being flying about the place in search of things that they don’t really need. One of these species is a race called the Taparians. They’re known throughout the galaxy as having a love of making long tape measures, very long, so long that you really can’t imagine it. Some of them decided it would be a good PR exercise to measure the universe once with the longest tape measure they could create. Many problems with this were found with this. They ran out of the amount of zero’s is was physically possible to imagine and had to re-invent maths, the return spring was never strong enough and the plastic case kept on breaking open. The whole project was abandoned after the two Taparians that were sent to measure the universe vanished with their tape measure they decided to give up and settle on the fact the the universe is ‘very large indeed’. The population of Tap were not happy about this though, they banished the leaders of Tap and anyone that worked on the tape measure and are now quite happy making cheap coloured tape measures for Homebase. The two Taparians that disappeared decided that measuring the universe wasn’t a good use of time, that and they couldn’t find anything suitable to hook the end on. They are often found drinking IPA in The Green Dragon in Grimsby.
Some may think that this small tale has nothing at all to do with the story and is just there to fill some white space and generally the writer is being rather unfunny. While this is partially true this is will give some useful background for events later in the story.
Bringing us closer to the start of the story, what humans suspect but don’t know for real is that there are a lot of living beings in the universe. For the most part they are all going about doing their own thing. There are a lot of them running around on planet Earth too, becasue of the somewhat displeasing nature of humans they tend to hide away and only come out during science fiction and fantasy conventions. Some of these aliens also seem to do well as politicians and they can make a lot of noise about nothing and not do very much without it being noticed. The principle behind this is that if they admitted to being alien no one would believe them anyway and being a politician one can get away with being very strange indeed. One or two occasionally become a nuisance but on the whole they keep out of the way.
Anyway, our story starts in a rather dull and ordinary way, a human called Ralph to be exact. Ralph like many humans leads a rather dull and ordinary life, he gets up in the morning, makes tea (white with three sugars for those wondering) and had two slices of strawberry jam on toast. When he’s excited he tends to have raspberry jam, but this isn’t important right now in the story. He drives to work at his local hardware store (not Homebase, he can’t stand the tape measures they make) as an assistant manager for tools. He comes home, to watch TV and then goes to bed. To show you how boring he is, he owns an iPhone, always the latest one and queues up every year when the new one comes out . The only glimmer of hope for this man is that he watches Dave on TV and this is where he gets most of his views on the world as he knows it. Dave Gorman’s modern life is good(ish) is by far his favourite program and follows after him, believing he can right the world by reading the small print on anything and everything. This is Ralph – in a nutshell.
Things changed one day though, it was an ordinary day for most of us. Ralph’s day had started well, you won’t remember – it was the day after the letter fell off the wall behind some British Prime minister during what will forever be remembered as a fairly crappy speech. He was going through his usual routine when his doorbell rang. He went to the door, wondering who could be at the door this early. Opening the door with a slice of toast in his hand and a splodge of raspberry jam on his shirt he was greeted by the sight of three rather odd looking strangers. A man stood at the front, he had a somewhat creepy grin on his face with nearly crossed eyes and was dressed as if he was something of a seventies style icon with blue flared trousers and a white patterned shirt half undone with massive collar and a huge chain. His thick blonde hair looked like the kind of mess Boris Johnson would be envious of.
The woman on his left looked more normal, but was sporting a huge cheesy grin, he had never seen a woman in a white blouse and business jacket with torn jeans as well though. She had a clipboard under her arm and a pencil behind each ear holding back her long dark hair. The third was the strangest of all though, short, bald looking as if he had just gone three rounds with a world boxing champion – he had bruises all over him. What finished off this curious chaps look was he was dressed as if he had only just got up. Ralph could swear they were pajamas.
“Good afternoon.” The seventies style icon greeted Ralph. “We’re wondering where the service station is?”
“Sorry?” replied Ralph. This couldn’t be more confusing, firstly it was only 7.45am and what was this service station they were asking for? “Erm, don’t you mean morning?” Ralph continued “There’s no service station here, the nearest one I can think of is a mile over there” Ralph pointed.
This seemed to displease all of them, but the woman most. She brought out her clip board, took a pen from her top pocket and began writing.
“No, it should be right here, you were told to put it here!” The seventies style icon continued. The beaten up bald guy was getting redder in the face and looked like he might explode into a viscous temper.
As if there wasn’t enough going on his neighbour shouted at him from the back garden. “Ralph, get whatever that is out of the back now!!!”
Shutting the door on his weird visitors Ralph went into the back garden to see what the fuss was about. He was greeted by his next door neighbour Pete with a blue hair cap on and wearing a pink dressing gown, many sizes too small for him. It must have been his girlfriend Laura’s. Ralph imagined that Laura looked amazing in it, but the same couldn’t be said for Pete.
“What is it Pete?” Ralph asked.
“I don’t know what you’ve put into the back field this time, but please move it Ralph!”
” I haven’t put anything in there, you told me to keep it clear so I have!” Ralph protested.
“Whatever Ralph, just move it!” Pete barked back as he turned and strode back into the house.
Ralph decided to have a look, wandering into the back of the garden he opened the gate and there before him was a yellow and red bouncy castle. Ralph tried processing this and had no idea where this had come from. After a moment he wondered how it was inflated as there wasn’t an air pump in sight. He only had a moment to digest this as when he turned around his three strange visitors were in from of him.
“Well – where is it?” the seventies style icon insisted.
“Look” Ralph was getting annoyed now “I have no idea what you’re talking about, there is no service station here and no one has asked me to build one either!” This seemed to throw them into confusion and they started talking among themselves. Then the woman addressed him.
“This location was selected and we put two people onto the the job, I know it was a little while back but you must remember!”
” How long ago are we talking about here?” Ralph asked.
“Only about twelve thousand years!” the woman replied. “It’s not that long ago.”
Ralph was now starting to feel more than a little freaked out, this was like a joke but something told him it wasn’t. “I’m only forty two years old!” Ralph protested.
“I told you they didn’t live that long!” the bald guy finally spoke up in a grating gremlin kind of voice that was both scary and silly.
“No you didn’t!” the woman retorted “You said they weren’t that clever!”
“Well that too!” the bald guy retorted.
The seventies style icon piped up again “Were are we meant to get X6 rated hyperspace fuel that we need? We won’t get home without it!”
“I don’t know!” Ralph replied ” I don’t care either!” He shouted “I have to go to work!” Pushing past his three unusual visitors, fed up with the day already and more than a little freaked out he strode away. He didn’t get more than three paces as suddenly he was frozen to the spot. A bluey swirly glow enveloped him, the woman was zapping him with some kind of device. Ralph could only look on helplessly as the woman, joined by her fellow strangelings carried him though the red arch of the bouncy castle (which Ralph noticed had a pleasing happy kitten at the arch’s centre) and then into darkness.
To be continued…
©Simon Farnell 2017