“Viking, you bloody boulder! How are you so calm?” Ned ranted, hands on head, pulling at his hair in a wave of anxiety.

“What’s the big deal? This happens a lot, doesn’t it?”

Ned stopped pacing and panicking and looked at Viking with a combination of aghast and confusion. “No Viking! Our friends don’t get abducted by aliens ‘a lot.’ This is literally a fucking first! Also, that was my dad’s car! What the fuck are we going to do?”

Viking finished his bread and meat baton and stood up, as if with purpose. “Well, Ned. This sort of thing does happen a lot. My memories are fried, but yours are wiped. Trust me, this is pretty normal for us. Give it a few more minutes and someone will be along with some nonsense story and give us a ride.”

“Viking, have you lost your fucking mind?” Ned asked. Now well into the realms of annoyed.

“No. Ned. Honestly, I’m a bit scrambled, but this isn’t that unusual for us!” Viking started ruffling his beard, realising he had crumbs in it.

Ned was astounded by Viking’s casual demeanour. He still had that feeling that all this was somehow familiar, but he couldn’t make any sense of it.

“Fine!” Ned finally said. “Lets just do it your way then. Should I take a seat or stick a thumb out for a passing space train?”

Viking grinned at him. “See, it’s in there somewhere. You remember the train!”

The surrounding wind picked up suddenly. Viking and Ned found themselves in a spotlight, like the one the car had been in. Ned steeled himself to be abducted by aliens, like his friends, and his car.

After a few seconds, the light went off. The wind continued to rise. A blue light lowered next to them. A moment later, the light cut out and Ned could make out a shape in the darkness.

A smaller light appeared, and Ned could finally parse what he was seeing. Something had landed. The light was a door, or hatch opening.

“What’s happening Viking?” Ned uttered.

“Told you,” he replied with a grin, clapping him on the back. He nodded to the landed vehicle. “Come on. Oh, and don’t eat anything!”


The man looked amazing; he looked so amazing that he almost looked computer generated, or created by a wizard.

He was tall and athletically built. He had a slightly tanned look, like he had just come back from a nice holiday. He sported a proudly bald head, which was so bald it was shiny. He had blue eyes and designer stubble. He was, somehow, pulling off the open-shirt and half-bare chest look. He was also wearing form hugging jeans and cowboy boots.

Ned was stunned by the man for a moment.

“Hey, gentlemen… I hope you don’t my me stopping by. I’m a little turned around here. Looks like the city-ship has scrambled the local map link. You wouldn’t happen to know what planet this is, would you?” the beautiful man said.

Viking was grinning, so much so that he almost looked menacing. “Well, hi there! Just so happens we have a similar problem. That stupid ship just scooped up our car,” Viking hesitated at this. “Our shuttle,” he corrected. “If you could give us a ride up there, we would really appreciate it. Oh, and the planet’s called Earth.”

The man nodded agreeably and waved for them to come into his ship.

Ned was stunned.

Viking put a hand on his shoulder. “From what I remember, the pretty ones, the cat ones and the vampires with nice suits are, like, so friendly that it makes them stupid. The ghosts and the elves are a pain in the arse though; the robots are hit and miss.”

Ned, in something close to shock at this point, giggled and said, “Of course they are!” strolling towards the shuttle.


Once they were inside, the shuttle felt more like a huge camper van than an alien vessel. They sat on a plush, soft, bench seat, next to a rather nice oak table which was bolted down. The man sat in what looked like a driver’s seat at the front.

“You guys want a drink or anything?” he called back, as he flipped some switches on the panel above his head, where the rear-view mirror would have been, if this were a van.

Viking looked at Ned across the table, shaking his head vigorously.

“No, we’re fine, thanks, sir,” Ned called back in.

“Call me Leo,” he replied as he pulled the steering wheel a little and the ship lifted effortlessly into the air.

“Viking?” Ned asked.

“Yes, Ned?”

“How did you know this was going to happen?”

Viking smirked. “Why do you think Neetu wants you, buddy? You’re a mayhem magnet. Like a literal, medically diagnosed attractor of weirdness. Shit like this is always happening to us. Well, you.”

“Oh,” Ned said, as he pulled back the little curtain next to him to look out of the window. He saw the Earth vanish behind them.

“You want some music on, gentlemen?” Leo asked.

“What sort of music do you listen to in space?” Ned wondered, aloud.

Leo laughed and hit a button next to him. Something that sounded like eighties country music blasted through the speakers, but the lyrics sounded like Shakespeare.

“Why the fuck is he speaking English, anyway?” Ned asked Viking across the table, voice raised a little over the music.

“No idea!” he replied, laughing. “They all do!”

Ned spent the next few minutes looking around at the camper-van-space-ship. It was stunning. Not only did it look exactly like a camper van, but it wasn’t even a particularly nice one.

“Oh, that didn’t take long,” Leo said over the music.

Ned and Viking crouched each side of Leo as the mother-ship came into focus. It was a truly massive tube with lights on it. As they got closer, the size of it became even more apparent.

The ship was enormous, so large that as they got closer, it filled the windows in every direction. The great ship was a tube with an outer wall that may have been a mile thick. It had lit windows all across it. Their comparatively tiny van-shuttle just flew right in.

“Oh, cool!” Leo said, looking at some information coming in through his console. “Whoever they are, they have a public gym and a lot of places to eat! Nice little pit-stop. I think I’ll just land and catch a ride back to mapped space. You guys okay from here?”

“Absolutely,” Viking said as the shuttle entered the city sized ship, casually flipping over to match the gravity of the upper area of the structure.

Ned looked out of the window, realising that the interior shell was all ‘ground’ in every direction. There was a large tubular light running down the centre of it. It was only a soft glow compared to the city below, which was oozing light and noise.

The end of the tube that they had entered from was simply open to space. As far as Ned could tell, while it was obviously moving, there were no engines on the tube.

“Why isn’t all the air getting out?” Ned asked.

Leo looked at him with a face that implied it was a stupid question. “Glass-shield. What else would it be?”


Chapter 9