“Where’s the transport, Captain?”
“What?” the captain looked up from the viewfinder of her camera and looked over. Puzzled, she said “It’s not there.”
“I didn’t hear it, did you?”
“No, Private, I didn’t.”
They looked at each other for a moment.
“So… what do we do now?”
The captain raised a hand and scratched her chin.
“I mean,” the private said. “It’s not like we’re millions of miles away from home and due to be discovered by aliens at any moment.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t help.” the captain replied. “And they’re the locals – we’re the aliens here, remember. And let’s be honest, they’re hardly likely to discover us, here in the middle of nowhere, are they?”
The private shuddered and walked over.
“Still,” he said. “They’re creepy. So tall, with those tiny little heads and weird eyes where their eyelids go the wrong way.”
“Well, let’s hope we don’t bump into one, eh?” The captain laughed, lining up the camera on the plant again.
“What is that?” the private asked.
“It’s a very interesting plant,” the captain began. “You see, I think it -”
“No,” he cut in. “That noise?”
A low rumbling sound was getting louder. Getting nearer. The two ducked down, out of sight as a vehicle drew to the side of the road.
“The camera, Captain,” he whispered. “You left the camera behind.”
Under her breath, the Captain swore slightly.
The door of the transporter opened and the occupant got out. It was between two and three times taller than the two researchers, with a small head and strange eyes that blinked so often in the sunlight.
“The camera,” the Private hissed again, tugging at the Captain’s arm. She held up a hand to silence him.
The strange looking creature walked out of the transporter and began looking around.
“What do you think it’s doing?”
“No idea,” the Captain hissed back. “But let’s get out of here.”
The strange being took something out of a pocket, and pressed on the screen. It put the device to its ear and began to talk.
The Private grabbed at the camera, and the two researchers began to run.
“Where are we going?”
“Don’t know yet. Improvise as we go along.”
They ran into the fields, away from the roadway, putting as much distance between themselves and other possible beings as they could.
“That might be good cover,” the Private said, pointing to a field of tall crops.
“It could also be poisonous to us,” the Captain muttered. “But I haven’t got any better ideas.”
They ran into the yellow plants, which towered above them at least twice their height. The crops were planted in rows, with space to walk between.
“Stop for a moment,” the Captain said, holding the Private’s arm. “We ought to be safe here for a bit.”
The Private nodded, and tried to catch his breath.
“A bit like home, this,” he said, between puffs. “I mean, planted in rows like this.”
“It is,” she replied. “They’re so like us and yet… so weird.”
She put the camera down and sat on the ground. They waited there for a few minutes, regaining their breath.
“Gravity’s stronger here,” the Private said.
“Yep,” the superior struggled to say. “Makes it harder.”
“Back home I could run for hours.”
“That’s why you were picked,” the Captain said. “Fitter. More gravity.”
“Come on,” she said. “We’re marooned here. I have no idea what we’re supposed to do in this situation, but I guess we better try and find some food and shelter at least.”
She pointed at the camera and began to walk; he picked it up and followed her.
They walked through the tall crop, until they came to the edge of the field. They climbed over a small fence, into what was clearly a farmyard.
“That looks like a tractor,” she said. “And that must be a farmhouse.”
“And I’m guessing that’s a gun,” the Private said, tugging on the Captain’s arm.
The captain turned around to see a tall, fierce looking creature holding a weapon of some kind.
“I’m thinking you’re right,” the Captain replied.
The strange being barked something at them.
“I think that probably translates to ‘hands up and shut up’,” she said.
The Private put his hands up, and nodded.
The creature gestured towards the open door of the farmhouse with the weapon, and they walked inside.
The inside of the farmhouse seemed strangely like one from home: photos and pictures on the wall, small ornaments here and there. What could only be a cooking area loomed on their left, with a sink to its right.
“Looks like a kitchen,” the Private whispered. The Captain nodded. The creature heard, barked something at them and pointed the weapon again. The Private forced a smile, or at least something that he hoped would be recognised as a smile.
The creature barked something at them, and gestured with the gun.
“It looks angry with us,” the Private whispered. “Should we risk trying to take the weapon? Do you think it can hurt us much?”
“Probably,” the Captain hissed back. “I don’t want to take the risk, though, do you?”
The creature poked the Private in the shoulder with the gun and barked something at them. They grinned back, still not understanding.
“What do we do?”
“As little as possible,” the Captain replied. “Maybe -”
There was a ring, and the creature shouted to another room. A second creature appeared, and shuffled slowly down the hallway at the far end of the house.
“That could be trouble,” said the Private. The creature hit him in the stomach, hard, with the end of the weapon. It turned to look at the Captain. She grinned, wide, and held her hands as high in the air as possible.
They heard talking at the other end of the house and another of the creatures, this one wearing all black, walked into the kitchen.
“There you are,” it said. They blinked with surprise to hear their language spoken.
The creature talked with the other two for a moment, and then the one nearest them took the weapon away. He put it away and then offered a hand to each of the creatures.
“Shake hands,” the one in black said. “Try to make it look good.”
They shook hands with the creature.
The one in black talked some more, then picked up the camera and led the two outside.
“Who are you?” the Captain asked.
“Just call me David,” it said.
The Captain closed her eyes.
“David,” she said. “I’d heard we had someone on this planet who was sympathetic.”
“Let’s get to my vehicle,” David said. “We need to get you to the rendez-vous in about thirty minutes.”
“Thank you,” the Captain said.
They began walking.
“What did you tell them?” she asked after a few moments.
“I said we were looking for two actors from a TV shoot. That you were short, covered in prosthetics and from a foreign land so you didn’t speak the local language. Because we wanted you to look and sound like you were from another planet, of course.”
“You have TV on this planet?”
“Same sort of thing, yes,” David explained. “I said we were shooting a pilot and hoping to get a full series. That way when they don’t see it on TV they won’t ask too many questions. I hope.”
The Captain nodded.
David opened the door of a vehicle, and gestured for them to get in.
“How do you speak our language so well?” the Private asked.
“It’s a long story,” David said.
“You know something,” the Captain said. “After today, I never want to come back here again. The locals aren’t friendly, I nearly got shot. What do you call this planet again?”
“Earth,” David said.
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