Owain and Esther sat open mouthed staring at the creature before them.
“What…what just happened?” Owain stuttered.
“I’m afraid that my employer’s Security clearly isn’t as tight as they believe it to be and my mission has been compromised. What is incredibly disconcerting is that whoever was behind this attack is clearly working with someone local.”
“What are you?” Esther exclaimed.
Meredith slipped the beanie hat back on, followed by the dark glasses.
“It’s probably best if I go now, and if you forget that you ever saw me. Go and get your sister. Go and do something fun – away from here.” The alien slipped out of the door, leaving the two conscious humans gaping at each other.
Esther pulled herself together first.
“Quick! After him Owain! We can’t just leave him!”
“I don’t know, bet.” He took in the muscle entangled with furniture and sprawled on the floor in a localised disaster zone around their table. “This looks like it could be serious – and we don’t anything about Meredith really. Maybe he deserved this?”
“Owain Rhodri Griffin! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! I hope Ma and Da never hear you say such a cowardly thing. Meredith is clearly in trouble and we should do what we can to help her.”
Before Owain could react, Esther had slipped round the tables after Meredith, and out of the door.
“Wait! Come back!” Owain’s shoulders slumped and he ran a hand across his face. The gesture turned into an unconscious imitation of his father as he tried to make his adolescent fuzz rasp like a day’s worth of stubble – without success. It suddenly occurred to him that there might be more of these jokers outside.
“Hey! Come back!” he repeated, as he followed the path his sister had taken moments before.
The lady on duty in the cafe came from the kitchen behind the counter, carrying a plate, chattering away.
“I’ve just made some pice bach*, cywion, would you like a few? The Director likes us to have some on the counter all the time, but they much better fresh.”
She looked up and took in the scene of devastation. A goon spread-eagled over a table, head hanging backwards over the edge, twitched. Another, contorted around a chair, groaned.
Esther burst through the door of the Arts Centre and into the car park: Meredith was not there. How could she have moved so quickly. The girl ran to the pavement and looked up and down the road. There! There was the strange creature hurrying along, whilst still somehow looking unobtrusive.
“Meredith! Meredith, bach! Wait!” Esther ran after the alien, as Meredith looked over a shoulder and did a double take.
“Meredith!” The girl panted; youth was on her side, but she was distinctly bookish, not completely hopeless at PE, but it was not her forte. “Meredith, I want to help, if I can. But I need to know why you’re here, and why people are after you.”
Owain fumbled the keys to the Landrover from his pocket as he cannoned down the corridor from the tea room to the main entrance. He nearly dropped the bunch as he barrelled through the door. He regained control on the fourth attempt, having looked like he was juggling a hot potato, the keys slipping, sliding, falling, up again, begin again, as his hands tried to hold on.
“More haste, less speed” he muttered under his breath as he finally caught the bunch, having turned the clumsiness around and caught the bunch with the ignition proud of the rest and ready for action.
As he came through the door, he could hear Esther calling Meredith, but the majority of his attention was taken with the two shiny black SUVs that were parked-up outside the Arts Centre. The two cars looked like sinister twins, and were the sleeker evolution of his own vehicle. They had certainly not been there when he, Esther, and Meredith had arrived some thirty minutes before. As he ran to his own Landrover, he started thinking that perhaps he should do something to slow these monsters down. He had some thought of sticking a screwdriver from his tool kit through some tyres, but as he passed the SUVs, he noticed that the tyres were already flaccid and in fact seemed to be dribbling and flowing.
Owain shook his head and climbed up in to the driver’s seat of his car. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, started the ignition and put the Landrover into gear. He pulled out of the car park and set out in pursuit of his sister.
“Why are you here? Why now?”
Meredith was just drawing breath to reply when Owain pulled up beside them.
“Get in quick, then, and we’ll be off.”
Meredith looked up at Owain and back at Esther and was trying to work out what to say when Esther grabbed an arm in one hand and pulled open the door behind the driver with the other and pushed Meredith in.
“Well done, Owain!”
“Right-o. I’m just going to drive for a bit and then you can tell me where we’re going. If I don’t know just yet, then I won’t give anything away by my direction. But Esther asked you a question, several questions, and I’ve got one of my own: what have you done that’s got you into trouble?”
“Hmmm…it’s probably best if you don’t know everything, but you’ve probably worked out that I’m not from Earth. I’d don’t know who those people were, but they’re obviously trying to stop me. As for what I’m here to do….it’s a…it’s a…well let’s call it a rescue mission.
*I’ve slipped in some Welsh here and there, and hopefully I’ve got it more or less right. If I revise this story, I might add in a few more “in a minute now”s, “ti’n iawn”‘s and “shw mae”‘s…we’ll see. Perhaps I should put in a guide for the words I have used. On the other hand, most of the terms I’ve used are exclamations and terms of endearment, that don’t really need a lot of explanation. Pice bach though might need some description beyond the context: essentially these are what the Welsh call Welsh cakes, although there are a couple of synonyms as well. If you’ve not come across Welsh cakes before, these are a little flat, round cake, cooked on a griddle or stone. They are lightly spiced – nothing too exotic – and contain dried fruit like raisins and sultanas. They are delicious, moreish, slightly crumbly, and best enjoyed with a cup of tea.
© David Jesson, 2019
During 2019, I’m going to be undertaking a writing experiment, as described here.
The shape of story was formed through a four-part prologue: the first part of the prologue is here, if you want to start right at the beginning. All through, I’m hoping that you’ll help me shape the story. Every month there is a poll on some feature or another. We’re over half way now and I know where we are heading but there is still some way to go. I think that we’re due for some plot exposition, so…
Option 1: Straight Q&A between Meredith and friends
Option 2: Flashback, from Meredith’s perspective
Option 3: Cut to Antagonist…
Option 4: Other(?) – Please comment!
I‘ll leave the Twitter poll open for one week, and will add in any votes on here that come in during that time. Feel free to expand on the options in the comments! I’m not promising to incorporate anything but always good to hear where you think this is heading!
See you next month!