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The Bonus New Year Story



THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY POND


The koi carp in the big pond were getting thinned-out. It wasn’t the grass snakes: I got rid of them two years ago.

‘Martians,’ said Polly and Percy, my twins, and started building Martian traps.

Polly saw a big swirl across the surface one evening. It was coming towards her from under the tress, across the far side.

The security camera caught multiple cats, a fox and a badger. One splash in the water could have been anything. ‘Including a Martian,’ the kids insisted, with their fixated, joint mentality.

The resident heron vanished, leaving a flurry of feathers. So… Alligator? Catfish? Pike?

‘This is Kingston upon Trent,’ Jill patiently pointed out.

‘Otter,’ said the zoo-man who came to see, and didn’t want one, whatever it was.

‘Mink,’ said the HSE woman who arrived at the same time. ‘Nothing is at risk as an individual, or endangered as a species.’ They departed, smugly, holding hands.

‘You could poison it all and start again,’ suggested a blogger on the kids’ “We’ve discovered a Martian” website.

‘No you cant it cud get in the locul warter suply,’ was voted most helpful response.

Then the three biggest koi went – two feet long plus tails. There were deep scratches in the shallows. ‘Whatever we’ve discovered, it’s at least the size of our Labradors.’

‘Dad, we haven’t actually discovered anything until we know what it is.’

‘A baby Loch Ness Monster,’ I held out for.

We thought a bit wider – the internet, the telly, the pub.

Goliath Tigerfish… freshwater shark… anaconda… mutant snapping turtles. We became familiar with them all.

‘Build a Trump Wall round it.’

‘Fill it with concrete.’

‘Stick of dynamite.’ They were particularly helpful down the Dog and Partridge late on Friday nights.

Then the Labradors vanished.

‘Plenty deep enough for a Martian to hide in,’ Polly’n’Percy insisted, treating me to their darkest “we-know-best” look.

The team from Harvey and Son began to drain it, but stopped in a panic. They left a fifty-metre roll of hundred-millimetre hose on the back lawn. They wouldn’t come back for it, and wouldn’t say why.

‘Hmm,’ pondered the RSPCA woman. ‘I see no endangered animals here.’

‘Aah,’ said the council official, and ate his sandwiches on the bench in the sun.

‘No law has been broken,’ stated the police as they sniffed and departed.

‘Underwater Discovery’s our middle name,’ said the volunteers from Nottdale Sub-Aqua Society, just before they disappeared in a massive thrash and splash event.

Followed the next day by two police officers and a cameraman in an inflatable boat, in an eruption of rubber and blood.

‘They discovered our Martians,’ Polly said.

Next day, they chain-sawed half my trees down, and erected a massive marquee over the whole pond. Floodlights and an eight-foot fence were up before dusk. Eight “government people” were poking and whispering round by then.

‘They’ve discovered something,’ the telly people complained. ‘But they’re not saying anything.’

‘Martians,’ Polly and Percy smiled knowingly.


Compulsorily moved out two days later, our belongings vanished into storage. The TV exposure programme was pulled just before it was due to be screened. Rumours abounded in the Dog and Martian.

‘Midwich,’ Percy says.

‘Martians,’ Polly insists.

‘Jill… You remember that job they offered me in California?’

‘Yes, Dear. Ask about their Hawaii branch; it’s further away.’

***

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