Ned strolled out of the tent with a belly full of the best toast he had ever eaten. He had also drank the best tasting water he had ever encountered.

He was very curious as to how good the actual meals were. Klizakz had promised him it was worth it to find out, but after watching Leon and Monday eat until they threw up and passed out in the tent, he decided to ‘just imagine it’ instead.

Between frantic face stuffing and noises of joy, Leon and Monday had managed to explain that they woke up in the car. A small woman with a big head lost her shit with them for not ‘being the Ned’ and pulled a gun. They ran away and got thoroughly lost before they eventually met Miscx, where for reasons that baffled Ned, Leon started hitting on her. She told them about the food tent to make them go away, by the sounds of it.

Ned knew that they had come down the same road that he and Viking had, and he knew that he had to kill an hour or so before Viking would be out of drone jail, so he had decided to re-trace his steps until he encountered an elevator to ‘central something or other.’

He hadn’t remembered the hill back to the city street being so steep, but he was also not full of toast when he had walked down it.

The city was strangely less alien by day than it was by night. There were still aliens and floating cars and terrible Shakespearian dance music playing all over the place, but with the light from above obscuring his view of the sky, which he knew contained more ground, it felt like any other big city.

To be honest, the last time Ned had travelled to London, it was probably filled with just as many freaky looking people as this place was. And, oddly, this place felt a lot safer than London had. Though it was hard to worry about being mugged when the food was free, and you likely still couldn’t afford it.


He was deep in thought, and on some level, enjoying his stroll, when an unexpected and familiar voice startled him. “Come on, son, time to stop this silliness.”

Ned almost jumped out of his skin at the voice. There was no way his dad was on this ship with him. He looked around in search of the source. As he did, he felt the world switch and morph around him. Suddenly he was standing in his dad’s living room, the old man in his usual chair. The screen showed some racing game on it, paused.

Ned took a step towards the armchair. His dad looked at him, scratching his moustache and looking slightly annoyed.

“And what silliness would that be then, dad?” Ned asked, sheepishly.

His dad sighed and turned off the television with his ostentatious remote control. He stood up and picked up his empty coffee cup.

As he walked into the kitchen, he said, “All this alien business. Someone spiked your drink, and you walked home with your mate, Viking. You got in a fight with some kids and they spray-painted you blue and ran off. Ned, it was days ago. I get it, you got really fucked up. Does not mean you got abducted by bloody aliens, son.”

Ned was shaken by what he heard. He looked down at his blue hand and then back at his dad, who was in the kitchen. The story fitted the evidence almost perfectly.

“And Monday? Where’s Monday?” He asked, looking at his dad.

“That’s right, son, it happened on Sunday night. It’s Thursday now. You took a few days to get copasetic after getting spiked. I don’t know where all this alien city stuff came from. You’re not good at getting drugged.” His dad paused and looked back at him from the kitchen doorway. “Or you’re fantastic at getting drugged. I mean, I’ve never thought I was in space!”

Ned looked at his blue hand again, feeling suddenly confused. He pulled out his phone. Battery was dead, as usual.

He sat on his dad’s couch and sighed. Had all this been a dream, or a drug induced nightmare? He really hadn’t considered that he was having a hallucination. Given what had happened in the pub, and the Snack-Fuel-Refresh, maybe he should have.

His dad passed him a sausage sandwich on a plate and put a cup of coffee down on the table next to him. “Eat up lad,” he said as he flopped down in his armchair and picked up a newspaper.

Ned smirked.

“Yeah, I bet this sandwich will make it all better, aye dad?”

His dad smiled and nodded comfortingly.

It did smell great. Ned put it down next to him on the couch and looked at his blue hand for a moment.

“Thing is, you did a great job. But, you made two mistakes, you little imp woman,” Ned said with his smirk turning into a gleeful grin.

“What are you talking about, son?” His dad asked.

“Well, the thing is, my dad would sooner burn in hell than turn off that TV and talk to me. Literally never once in my entire life has he spoken to me without looking at a shitty box on the wall.”

His dad raised an eyebrow and rubbed his moustache again.

“And he sure as shit wouldn’t even own a newspaper. Actually, thinking about it, I’m not totally convinced he even knows what one is.”

His dad looked angry now.

“I assume the sandwich is real, though. That the plan? Get me into a food frenzy so you can come scoop me up while I’m sleeping it off?”

His dad clapped. “So, this is the mighty Ned then, is it?” he said with an almost evil glint in his eyes.

“Nice that we’re finally getting to know each other, dad,” Ned smirked. The moment his smirk left his lips, he realised the gravity of what was happening. How was he so calm, how was he so confident, and, most of all, how was he being so cool?

His dad stood up, with a lot more spring in his step than Ned had seen before. Ned forced himself to stay focused. She was messing with his perceptions. He knew she would do this. This was what Viking was rambling about with half a memory when they first picked him up. This was the woman he had been warned about.

“You were in the pub, weren’t you?” he asked.

His dad sat back down again, slowly. As he did, he morphed into a small woman with a large head. This was the woman he had seen in the pub and outside of the petrol station.

“Fuck off!” Ned said, standing up, and stepping toward the door.

“What do you think you are doing, you dick head? You can’t just leave, I’ve got you trapped!” she said with a snarl in her voice.

Ned rolled his eyes. “Luv, I don’t know what’s going on, not really. But I do know that if you knew where I was, you wouldn’t be fucking around with tricks like this, would you?”

She screwed up her little face and growled at him in a way which was not at all menacing. Ned shrugged.

He put his hand on the door handle and looked back at her. “Actually, while I’ve got a second, why are you bothering me, anyway? And where’s my car?”

“Because I want to know how your power works! What else would I want from you?”

Ned was thoroughly confused now. “Look, you bobble headed weirdo, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just looking for my car, my mates, and a way back to Earth.”

The woman screamed. Ned waved his hand in annoyance and left through the door. He blinked for a moment and realised he was standing in the road. A floating car went past him, tooting its horn. The driver, who was some sort of dog-man, barked at him out the window as it went past… though, thinking about it, it could have just been a regular dog who could drive.


Ned found his way back to the pavement just in time to see a familiar face. The woman, well, bug, Miscx came out of a doorway dressed in a leather jacket and boots. No trousers though, which looked odd.

“Oh, monkey!” She said as she lit a cigarette. “Did you find your annoying little chimp friends?”

Ned nodded. Pleased to see at least a vaguely familiar face. “Yeah, I did. They are in the food tent, eating themselves into a coma!”

She offered him a cigarette. He declined, politely. “That’s good. Now you can take them away, and I never have to see the little freaks again.”

The irony of a half naked bug woman wanting to be rid of ‘freaks’ made Ned chuckle. “Not yet, sorry. I still need to find my car, oh and my other friend got arrested by a drone.”

“Fucking drones!” Miscx yelled, waving her cigarette in the air. “Those little pricks pick you up for basically anything and make you wait around for hours before they let you go. Absolute pricks! Fuck them!” she said angrily.

“Wow, yeah! Preach!” Ned replied. “So, Viking will be okay then?” he asked, suddenly realising the underlying worry he had been ignoring.

“Why wouldn’t he be alright?” she asked, a little confused.

Ned shrugged.

“Honey, are you okay?” She put one pincer laden hand on his shoulder.

Ned felt himself awash with emotion, though he tried to keep himself looking stoic on the outside. “Well Miscx, some creepy little woman keeps trying to take over my brain. I lost my car and my friends. I was taken to space by a pretty cowboy in a flying van. Then, I found my friends and they are eating themselves silly. Oh, and my other friend says my mind was wiped, and it’s not the first time I’ve been abducted by aliens. Also, I was painted blue for some reason.”

There was a moments silence, then Miscx pulled Ned in close and hugged him. “Aww, little monkey, shit like this happens all the time. Look, I’ll call work and tell them something came up. I’ll come help you get all this straightened out!”

“You will?” Ned asked, not only feeling oddly reassured but shocked at someone helping him.

“Sure, why wouldn’t I?” she asked.

Ned thought for a moment. Everyone he had met really had been very helpful. Actually, the only person who had been a dick was the little big-headed imp woman who he had only seen in his brain. Ned suddenly worried that she was imaginary.

Chapter 12