A 650-word piece of flash fiction. Just because 🙂
There was a gentle knock at the door. Confused, I paused the TV, wrapped my dressing gown to conceal my Batman pyjamas, and trudged to the door.
There was no one there.
I looked down.
“Hi, didn’t want to startle you,” said a suggestively purple snail on my doorstep.
“You’re a snail,” I said, never one to miss an opportunity to state the obvious.
“Not really, but the confusion is understandable. Mind if I come in?”
I shrugged an agreement, and the not-snail insinuated itself through the open door and into my house. There was something very unusual about the way it moved. Not at all snail-like.
“How did you knock on the door?” I asked, dealing with the weightiest questions first.
“I’m slightly psychic,” it replied, an air of pride unmistakeable.
“You’re a slightly psychic snail?…” I closed the door behind it. Did it control me to do that?…
“Not a snail.”
“Right. Cup of tea?” Social conventions offer a lifeline out of any situation.
“Err, no thanks. Tea is poisonous to my race. The effects can be …unpredictable. Violently so. Tea is banned under our version of the Geneva Convention. The Tannin Wars were a dark time in our history.” It looked up, saw my reaction. “You weren’t to know.”
“Sorry…. Coffee then?”
“Yeah, that’d be great. I take it black.” With that, it glided (glid?) into the living room, while I went on autopilot into the kitchen to dig out the coffee from the back of the cupboard.
I took a minute to compose myself, while the chrome kettle did its thing. Keep it together, Al. There’s a snail-thing in your living room, that’s popped in for coffee. Totally normal. Just a normal day.
I returned a minute later with two coffees, and some rich tea biscuits. “It’s the best I had,” I explained, by way of apology.
The not-snail did not look pleased, but made no comment. Is anyone ever happy getting offered rich tea biscuits?
“You’re probably wondering why I’m here,” said the snail, psychically moving the coffee from cup to mouth. I tried not to stare.
“I come from an alien world. You would identify it in the constellation Sirius. Our homeworld is quite unpronounceable in your language.” That pride again.
It continued: “I am here to make first contact. To form an impression of humanity, and build towards a pan-galactic alliance between our peoples.”
I kicked myself at the rich tea offer.
“We are a far more technologically advanced civilisation than yours. We have evolved beyond war, disease, poverty, intergalactic travel, and the distortion of time felt in dentist’s waiting rooms… in fact, we have conquered not only death, but the suggestion of it. Poof, gone.”
It bristled in its shell, waiting for all of this to sink in.
I sensed it was waiting for a reply. “Err… well done?” I glanced at the paused TV. Homes Under the Hammer would be on soon. Wonder how much longer this will take?
It sensed my impatience; slurped down the rest of its coffee. It looked at the biscuits and shook its small head. “Right, well I’d better be off then. I’ve only travelled 137 light years across space, left a glorious home and family that I’ll never see again, only devoted my entire existence and every waking thought to this moment, but I wouldn’t want to keep you.”
I showed it to the door, waved it goodbye, instinctively. It did not speak another word, or look back at me as it glided out of my front gate.
I closed the door and leant against it; exhaled loudly. I re-attached the “no cold callers” sign that had slipped down behind the landline phone. Then, “a-ha!” and rushed back to the kitchen, rummaging around, deep in the bottom cupboard. The emergency Hobnobs!
I shuffled back to the living room, and unpaused the TV.
This day’s taken a turn for the better.
ET, crawl home…
Photo by Johan Desaeyere on Unsplash
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