I was alone on the balcony. It wasn’t really what I would call ‘spacious’ but it was large enough to hold me, my telescope and the other odds and ends that I required. I looked at my watch, a glow-in-the-dark type. It was almost one in the morning. I had school tomorrow but this was my Passion. I loved space. I could spend hours looking through my telescope and have more fun doing it than other people would have doing, well, other stuff, I guess.
Anyway, I knew that I should be sleeping but I just couldn’t tear myself away from my telescope. I spent another hour or so using it. Finally, I knew if I didn’t go to bed then, then I wouldn’t be able to go to school. So I started packing up my things. I glanced up at the sky one last time. And that’s when I saw it.
Something streaked across the face of the moon. Intrigued, I dropped my things and peered through the telescope. Sure enough, it was something. A meteorite, maybe.
I tried to zoom in. And that was when I blacked out.
Mrs. Jamal flicked the light switch in her daughter’s room. Just as she’d suspected, Ambar wasn’t in her bed. She turned around, thoroughly disgruntled. To her surprise, Ambar was standing right behind her.
“Greetings, female progenitor.” Ambar said stiffly.
“Oh, for a minute there, I thought something had happened to you!” Mrs. Jamal said with a sigh of relief, “I did hear something, you know.”
“Incorrect. The cacophonous audible vibrations were merely created by our felis domesticus.”
“Who?” asked Mrs. Jamal, puzzled.
Ambar looked at her incredulously for a minute, then her eyes widened with understanding.
“Kitty made the noise, Mother.” she said.
“Oh, okay. Go to bed, honey, you have school tomorrow.” Mrs. Jamal said and went down the hall. Ambar watched her go till she’d gone inside her bedroom. Then Ambar went inside her own room.
At breakfast time, the family trudged downstairs to find that Ambar had already made breakfast and laid it on the table. Ambar, however, was nowhere to be seen. Her own place had been cleared, so they assumed that she had already eaten.
They were half-way through their breakfast, which was quite good, when Ambar came downstairs. She was already dressed for school.
“Oh, Ambar, you’re ready?” Mr. Jamal asked. He didn’t seem too happy about it; perhaps the thought of leaving a delicious breakfast to drive someone to school on a chilly winter morning was especially painful for him.
“Ok.” He mumbled and stuffed a piece of generously buttered (low fat butter, of course) toast in his mouth. Then he started to look around for his shoes, but realized that Ambar had already gone out. The sound of a car being started came from outside. He gave a yell and ran outside. Sure enough, Ambar was sitting in the drivers’ seat.
“Ambar, you can’t drive! You don’t know how!” he yelled in surprise.
“Noted.” said Ambar and turned off the engine.
“It was an incorrect assumption on my part and shall not be repeated.” she said.
“Huh?” said Mr. Jamal.
“Sorry. My bad. Won’t happen again.”
Mr. Jamal looked at her, eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, well, move over.” he said.
Ambar obeyed. Mr. Jamal got in and drove her over to school.
Ambar walked into the school building and paused. Her face contorted, as if she were concentrating on something. Then she walked over to her class. She sat down in her place and folded her hands in her lap, while keeping her back, and her gaze, straight.
“What’re you doing?” a girl asked.
“Correcting posture for optimum mental alertness and effect, thereby increasing maximum reception capability.”
“What?! You’re planning a wedding ?!!” the girl exclaimed.
“I’m sitting straight.”
The teacher walked in and the lesson began. Ambar listened attentively, took notes diligently and raised her hand numerous times to answer questions correctly. The teacher was surprised, but happy. The other students were just surprised.
When recess finally came around, Ambar took out a physics book and started reading. Her two best friends, Sehrish and Moeed, came over.
“Hey Amb, have you forgotten your two best mates?” said Sehrish.
“Mates?” asked Ambar and looked up. She looked at them intently.
“Yeah, we’re your mates, of course.” Said Moeed.
Ambar turned to Sehrish, pointed to Moeed, and asked,
“He’s a mate?”
“Duh! And me too!”
Ambar narrowed her eyes at Sehrish and asked,
“How can I possibly breed with you?”
Moeed and Sehrish gaped at her.
“B-breed ?” they chorused and blushed.
“Positive. I am quite certain that you two affirmed yourselves as my mates.”
“We meant ‘friends’, Ambar.” said Sehrish, still blushing.
“Yeah.” mumbled Moeed, blushing and staring down at his toes.
“Comrades? Yes, that is quite acceptable.” said Ambar.
But Sehrish and Moeed walked away quietly.
That evening, Moeed was sitting quietly in his room, reminiscing. Just thinking about what Ambar had said made him blush with embarrassment. Suddenly, he thought he heard Ambar calling him, faintly, as if from far away.
“Ambar?” he called out.
No answer. He called out again.
No answer. He tried a third time.
“Well get going you idiot!”
The park was dark and creepy. It was, after all, almost mid-night. Moeed tip-toed quietly, trying to figure out where Ambar could be. Suddenly he bumped into something.
“Ahhh!” screamed Moeed.
“Ahhh!” screamed Sehrish.
They stopped and looked at each other in surprise.
“Ambar told me to come here.” Moeed said.
“Me too!” said Sehrish.
“She called you ‘Moeed’?!”
“No, airhead!” snapped Sehrish.
Moeed made a face and opened his mouth to speak. But, suddenly, they heard a strange noise coming from some way off. They hid in the bushes and looked out onto an open space, where a strange, disc-shaped object was standing on three thin metallic legs.
“A flying saucer? How clichéd.” Sehrish said, rolling her eyes.
“I think we should rescue Ambar, who’s probably in there.” said Moeed.
“How do you know?”
“Dumb stories like this one always go like that.”
I was strapped to a metal table. Three green, slimy aliens, with tentacles and huge eyes, were looking down at me.
“Oh wow. Kidnapped by sideshow freaks.” I drawled.
The alien in the middle yelled something incoherent.
“Oh, you don’t expect me to believe that you can’t actually talk, do you?” I asked, eyebrow raised.
“Very clever, pathetic human! You have discovered that we talk and that we are planning to attack your pathetic planet and enslave it’s pathetic inhabitants.” said the alien in the middle.
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, you see we really need to-” began the alien on the right. The other slapped him on the head with a slimy tentacle.
“You idiot! Don’t tell the pathetic human that! Now as I was saying, pathetic human, you have discovered more than is good for you and now we must eat your brain!”
“Well, actually, I prefer ice-cream.” said the alien to the left.
“Shut up, you fool!” barked the alien in the middle. He was probably their leader.
“I like ice-cream too!” I said happily.
“You do?” asked the alien on the left, gleefully.
The aliens on the sides, and I, started chanting,
“I scream, you scream!
We all scream for ice-cream!
“Shut up, all of you! Klazor, Zork, stop fraternizing with the prisoner!” yelled the leader.
We all stopped.
“Sheesh. Kidnapped by aliens who have a grumpy leader. Y’know, leader alien, you’re so crabby! You’re a crabby patty!” I said.
The aliens gasped.
“How’d she find out his real name?” said the alien on the left to the alien on the right, in a not-so-quiet whisper.
“Zork, shut up!” whined the leader.
“Sorry!” said Zork.
The leader turned to me and said, “Ignore the foolish one’s banter. I am Thaydor, the Vanquisher of numerous galaxies!”
“Really? I always thought his name was Patty.”
“Whoops! Sorry again, Pa…no…Thaydor.”
Thaydor turned to me once again and was bout to say something when Klazor wondered aloud, “Numerous? I thought he only conquered two.”
“Accept my apology, Thaydor.”
“You’re not a very good alien invader, are you?” I said. Thaydor looked at me with a pained expression and said, “Hey, cut me some slack, it’s my first day on the job.”
“What ?!” Klazor screamed in surprise.
We all looked at him.
“Are you quite finished?” Zork asked.
“I never began.” Klazor said indignantly.
Suddenly, Moeed and Sehrish stumbled through a doorway which had been conveniently left open.
“See! Ambar really is here!” said Moeed, triumphantly.
Thaydor gaped and asked, “How did you find out?”
“Oh, Ambar told us using telepathy.” said Moeed.
“Impossible! How could she possibly-”
“Have telepathic powers ?” I finished Thaydor’s sentence and sneered evilly.
I started laughing in a sinister way: “Mwahahaha!”
Then I stopped.
“Actually, Zork here brought me your communicator.”
“Zork!” cried Thaydor and Klazor.
Zork giggled nervously and said, “ I had a perfectly good reason!”
“What?” asked Thaydor.
“She promised me ice-cream!” whined Zork.
Thaydor shook his head solemnly.
“Now all we have to do is kill these aliens and then we can go home!” chirped Moeed.
“How do we do that?” asked Sehrish.
“Well, I always carry a baseball bat with me. In dumb stories, you hit an alien with that and it dies, no matter how strong it appeared to be!”
“Why do you carry a baseball bat?” asked Sehrish.
“Don’t ask.” Said Moeed. Then, with a war whoop, he ran forward and bashed Thaydor’s head.
Thaydor grinned, showing lots of sharp, white teeth. Commercial break:-
“For minty-fresh breath and gleaming teeth, always use Colgate!” – Thaydor.
“Oh, we do!” – Everyone else says in unison, while giving extremely toothy grins.
Back to the story:-
“Ha! We’re no that easy to kill, y’know!” said Thaydor menacingly.
Moeed looked stunned for a moment. Then he said, “Well, time to use my handy-dandy pail o’ water!”
He took out a bucket full of water.
“Oh, so you always carry a bucket of water with you as well?” asked Sehrish mockingly.
“No, only on Wednesdays.” Moeed said matter-of-factly. Then he emptied the bucket on Thaydor.
“Ahh! I’m melting!” screamed Thaydor as he melted into a pool of green slime.
“Gee. That’s too bad.” said Klazor, not very sadly.
Zork nodded solemnly.
“Well, we’d better be going now.” said Klazor, positively beaming.
“Don’t forget to write!” I said, smiling. Moeed and Sehrish had un-strapped me by now.
“Oh no. We use e-mail.” said Zork.
“Ok. Then here’s my e-mail address.” I said. I wrote down my e-mail address on a piece of paper, which Moeed just happened to have. I used my own pen, though.
“Dollar pen: never leave home without it…no, seriously.” – Ambar
Back to the story:-
We walked out and the flying saucer took off. We were walking home when we met a girl who looked exactly like me.
“Has Klazor taken off without me?” she asked.
“Hey! I think this alien was pretending to be you!” said Moeed.
“Your keen sense of observation astounds me Moeed.” said Sehrish, sarcastically.
“Uh, yeah, sorry, they have.” I said to the alien.
The alien groaned.
“Oh, why does this always happen to me?” she whined. Since the alien looked like me, for the moment, I assumed that it was a ‘she’.
“If you run, maybe you can still catch ’em.” said Sehrish.
“Really?” the alien said, relieved.
“Nah, I just said that to make you feel better.” Said Sehrish, non-chalently.
The alien gave a small sob and continued running. We went on walking.
“I can’t believe those aliens thought that no one would notice my abduction. I mean, I could practically see the green slime on that thing! You guys had already realized that I’d been kidnapped, right?” I asked.
“Well, actually, we hadn’t.” said Sehrish.
“Yeah, we thought you were acting crazy like you always do twice a week.” said Moeed.
“Mondays and Thursdays, to be precise.” added Sehrish.
“WHAT?!” I yelled.
They looked at each other and then said, together, “Right. Of course we’d noticed.”
I nodded and we walked home in peace.
N.B. This story was later published in Us Magazine.