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Burgers and Strangers

So, there I was minding my own business when I was mugged by an alien. He was wearing a black hoody over an Eminem T-Shirt, but I could tell he was an alien 'cos he had a big grey head and eyes the size of dinner plates.

"Gimme your money" he demanded, waving a ray gun at me.

"What does an alien want with money?" I asked

"An alien's gotta eat" he replied.

"Tell you what" I said, "I'll buy you a burger if you promise not to zap me"

"OK, deal"

So, we go to a burger bar. I'm chowing down a double-deluxe mega cheese-burger. He's sucking on a raspberry milkshake. Apparently his name's Dave.

"So wattya doing here" I asked.

"Same old same old" said Dave. "Came here on a safari holiday, wandered too far from the coach and got lost. Now I'm stuck here"

"That sucks"

"Happens all the time. There's even warnings about it in the brochure"

So I'm sitting there thinking 'What do you say to an alien in a burger bar?'. I mean, what do you talk about? I sat there for a bit looking at his big-old black eyes and said the first thing that came to mind.

"Do you abduct people and experiment on them?"

"Nah, I'm just a landscape gardener."

"But it does happen?"

"Oh yeah, all the time. Scientific research ya know? The Interstellar Development Commission is trying to get it regulated, but it'll be ages before they agree on anything. You gonna eat those chips?"

"Help yourself. Do you know where they take people from?"

"Quiet places in the middle of nowhere, usually. No point landing in the middle of a city if you only need one guy. Way too much hassle"

"If we went there, you could maybe get picked up by a scientist."

"Now there's a plan."

So, we took a plane and headed for Utah.

So, there we are, in the middle of the night, hanging out in a corn field somewhere near Salt Lake City.

"You reckon this is a good spot" I asked.

"Definitely" he said "but I don't know how often they come"

So we hung about some more, and it's cold out there at that time of night let me tell you. So, I'm getting well bored when suddenly this flying saucer turned up and landed just up the road. So, we walked over to it as these two aliens got out. They took one look at us and ran over.

"Dave!" one of them called

"Phil" Dave called back. "How ya doing? Haven't seen you in ages"

"Not since school" said Phil.

"So," said Dave to me "this is my mate Phil. I used to copy my maths homework off him"

"Hi" I said. "I'm Zeb"

"Hi" said Phil. "So what are you doing here?" he asked Dave.

"I went on safari and got lost" said Dave.

"Didn't you read the warning in the brochure?"

"I know, I know. So what about you"

"Me and Stu here need a couple more people. Two more and we have a full catch. Say, can we have this one?" he pointed to me.

"He's mine" said Dave.

"Oh, OK".

It was just then the Men in Black turned up. Big black sedan, blacked out windows, the whole thing. As soon as they got out of the car I knew we were in trouble.

"MIB's" yelled Phil and started running around madly, firing off his ray gun at anyone in shades. Stu dived back into the flying saucer and started cranking up the engines. The Men in Black were all cool and calm and zapping at us all with these weird stun gun things.

Dave just stood there looking confused. That's landscape gardeners for you I guess. He got zapped by a stun gun and collapsed in a heap.

I tried to surrender, but it was dark and I guess they thought I was an alien too, so they zapped me. When I woke up I was locked in a room with Dave and Phil.

"Where are we?" I asked.

"Dunno." said Phil. "Area 51 probably"

"Is that bad?"

"Do you think being stuck in the middle of nowhere with lab technicians poking you is bad?"

"Sounds bad to me. Can we get out?"

"Depends where Stu is. They took my subdermal comms transmitter, so I can't call him."

"Can't you call him telepathically or something?"

"What? Do I look like a Voldorian to you?"

"Um, no, I guess not."

So there we were. Me and Dave and Phil. Sitting in a cell somewhere in the Nevada desert, when suddenly one of the walls vanished. There stood Stu, brandishing a very large ray gun indeed.

"Come on" he yelled. "I've got personal cloaking fields for everyone. The ship's just outside".

He threw a small metal gadget at each of us, about the size of a matchbox, with one big red button. Dave clipped one to his belt and pushed the button. Instantly he vanished. If I squinted, I could see a shimmer in the air, like heat haze. I clipped on my gadget and pushed the button.

Stu and Phil vanished too, and we all started running. We ran through a long dark corridor, up some stairs, through an empty doorway that I guess Stu must have zapped on the way in. We were running through a big hangar when an alarm started sounding. All of a sudden there were people in military uniforms running all over the place. Still, they couldn't see us, even though we were right there. I mean, I could barely see us, even if I did squint. At least, I thought thy couldn't see us until someone shouted and pointed straight at us. He was wearing night-vision goggles. I guess our cloaking wossnames didn't protect us from them.

So that's when they started shooting. People everywhere were putting on night-vision goggles and taking pot shots at us. Stu fired his ray gun whenever he could, but we were all running so fast he couldn't really aim. Instead he exploded a bunch of boxes, and one of their jeeps. Still, it worried them enough that we managed to get out of the hangar in one piece.

Outside it was night, but there were big spotlights lighting the whole place up. It was an airfield or something. There were planes all over the place. I could just about see Stu's blurry silhouette running ahead, but I couldn't see what he was running towards. Behind us, more people were shooting at us. As you can imagine, it was all a bit worrying.

Then Stu reached into a pocket and brought out what looked like a remote-control. He pushed a button, and something shimmered in front of us. It was the flying saucer. A more welcome sight I could not imagine. Its door opened and we all dived in. Stu jumped into the driver's seat and pushed a couple of buttons. The door slammed shut, and we took off.

I looked out through a small window in time to see the airbase. We were already so high I could barely make it out. Within a few minutes we were so high I could see the whole of the Nevada desert. After twenty minutes, I could see the whole of North America. It occurred to me about then that we were in space.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"Home" said Dave. "Wanna come?"

"Um, sure". I didn't really, but I was stuck on a space ship with three aliens. I didn't think I had much of a choice.

So anyway, about a day later we got to their home planet. I dunno if we'd gone into hyperspace, or used warp drive, or whatever it was, but it made me feel dead queasy. I guess it was just interstellar jet lag. Space lag or something? Anyway, it wasn't good. I tried reading one of their tourist brochures, but of course it was all in alien so I could only look at the pictures. Still, it helped a bit.

We landed in a spaceport. Their planet was called Teo'Rafacca, which apparently translates roughly as 'ground'. I don't know if you've even been down Oxford Street on Christmas Eve, but this place was even more crowded than that. There were aliens all over the shop. Tall skinny grey ones. Short bug-eyed green ones. Aliens with wings. Aliens with fins.

There were all these weird hover-car type things too. Hundreds of them, zipping about everywhere. And the buildings were gigantic. Great towering spiky things. I couldn't see the tops of some of them, and it was a clear day. It was all kinda disorientating, and the space-lag didn't help.

"Right" said Dave. "Remember, stick with us and don't wander off. Remember what it said in the brochure"

"Yeah, I remember" I said.

But of course I forgot. While Phil and Stu were arguing with some alien in a suit, I heard a voice.

"Hello Zeb"

Now, I was surprised as you can imagine. I was on an alien planet and someone knew my name. So I turned to look for who had spoken. There was a tall green alien in long shiny robes. He had these freaky golden eyes.

"Do I know you?" I asked. Stupid question really.

"No." he said, except he didn't say anything, but I heard him anyway. Weird. I think he must have been a Voldorian. "Come with me. I can help you."

"OK". So I followed him behind some kind of huge interstellar bus. Yeah, I know. I dunno what I was thinking. Maybe he had some kind of mind-control thing going on. I dunno. Anyway, sure enough, as soon as we were out of sight, he turned around and pointed a ray gun at me.

"Now Zeb. Give me your money."

"Um, OK. But I've only got Earth money".

"Rodents!" he exclaimed. I thought he might zap me out of spite, but he just wandered off.

Now, I was lost in a spaceport. I didn't speak the language (except with mind-reading Voldorians apparently), and had no Tea'Rafacca money. The only thing I had was the personal cloaking field that Stu had given me.

Now, I'd be lying to say that the first thing I thought of was to sneak up on an alien and mug them. My first thought was to sneak on board the interstellar bus, but then I had no idea where it would be going. And anyway, it turned out that even with the cloaking field they could spot me at the security gates. It was a scary moment when I found that out, let me tell you. I got chased half way across the spaceport by a two-headed blue doberman-type thing.

In the end, I was stuck there for two days without food. So, I got desperate. I found a big rock, turned on my cloaking field, and snuck up behind a big fat brown alien who was munching on the largest burger I have ever seen. Problem is, I bashed him over the head good and proper and he just blinked a couple of times. He turned round and squinted at me. I felt really bad, so I turned off the cloaking field.

"Um, sorry." I said.

He scowled and reached into his backpack, taking out what turned out to be an intergalactic phrasebook.

"Why did you hit me over the head with that rock?" he asked.

"An Earthling's gotta eat"

"What are you doing here?"

"Got brought here by this guy I met, but I kinda wandered off and got lost"

"Should have read the brochure"

"I know"

"Earth you say?"

"Yeah."

"I think my cruise is going that way. I might be able to get them to drop you off. Just promise you won't hit anyone over the head"

"OK. Deal."

So that's how I ended up on an interstellar cruise liner. I had to hide in the cargo hold as I hadn't bought a ticket, but the cloaking field helped a lot with that. I hope this thing's batteries don't run out too soon. The big brown alien, who's name was Cyril, brought me sandwiches now and again.

It's been something like three weeks. I looked out the window just now and I could see Earth in the distance, so with a bit of luck I'll be home soon. I've been writing all this down as it helps with the space-lag.

I tell you, a bit of excitement is all well and good, but you can have too much of a good thing. My advice to you is, if you get mugged by an alien, just give him your money and run. Really, it's just not worth the hassle.

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