Down in the Park | Rhys Hughes
There had been another report of a flying saucer over our town and this time I believed it. I saw it with my own eyes, not with anyone else's, when I rose in the early hours to fetch a glass of water back to my bedside table. Flashing lights, weird flight path, eerie low drone and no sign of any trickery at all.
It hovered above my garden briefly, as if waiting for something, but I didn't run out in my pyjamas; the grass was wet and I couldn't find my slippers. So I forsook the opportunity.
The next morning I met Clive in the bakery. I was buying iced buns and so was he, but to my mild surprise he also bought a pizza, vegetarian, with a topping of extra olives.
"Did you hear about the—" I began.
"Yes, Douglas, yes; I saw it myself and I stood and wondered. It hovered above many gardens, including mine, and then moved on. What purpose did it have? I pondered long and suddenly I realised!"
"You did what?" I croaked.
"I realised the truth about them, about the flying saucers. I know what they are and why they come here. I'm going to the park now and if you accompany me there I'll explain everything."
The chance was too good to miss, so I followed Clive along the street that led to the nearest park. When we got there we gravitated to the lake, as always, and watched the ducks. I munched on an iced bun and cast my spare crumbs into the ripples.
The ducks were happy to eat the morsels I offered them, but Clive held my arm in a powerful grip, most unlike him, and stopped me casting more pieces. "Watch this!" he cried.
Like a discus thrower he span on the spot and cast his pizza as far as he could. It was still warm and the olives glittered like crystals and steam rose from the tomato paste as it soared over the waters. I know little about the aerodynamic properties of Italian cuisine, but it seemed to hang in the air for ages. Then it dropped into the lake and sank.
"I was expecting it to float," I remarked feebly.
But Clive was ecstatic. "Did you see? The ducks misunderstood it! They simply didn't know what to make of it! They didn't recognise it as food and why should they? That proves my point!"
I frowned. "You mean that—"
"Yes, Douglas, yes! Flying saucers are scraps of food that are being thrown to us by aliens from outer space. It's so obvious! Why has no one thought of this before? We throw food for ducks; the aliens throw food for us. It's a perfect analogy!"
I didn't believe him and I told him so. But that same night I moved my dining table and a solitary chair into my garden and sat there, expectantly, with a knife and fork.
I'm still there, waiting. And I've drunk all the wine.