Chapter One

When I was a kid, being a rebel was knocking on someone's door and legging it down the street before anyone could answer. These days for kids, being a rebel is stuffing someone's decapitated hamster through their letterbox and then waiting for the door to open with a bat in their hands before running inside, stealing everything worth stealing and burning the place down. I think it's safe to say that this generation of kids are just small, pre-pubescent psychopaths that should be locked in rubber rooms with no sharp objects. Whether the reason for their insanity is violent games and movies or being allowed to run riot by bad parents, or something in those bloody Fruit Shoots – the problem is almost an epidemic.

Only last week a bloke from work was grabbed by a group of kids and had his watch and phone stolen. The horrible thing is that if you're a thirty odd year old man and a dozen or so ten year olds jump out at you and demand your wallet, there's not much you can do. You're three times their age, so you can't hit them. You call the police to tell them that ten year olds are mugging you and they would just laugh you off the line. You can try and wade through them, but soon they are hanging off your limbs and back like angry little terriers until you're either too exhausted or they've nipped you so much that you're in too much agony to continue to battle anymore. So you end up giving them your wallet, and one of them kicks you in the balls anyway before legging it to spend your money on sweets or comics or knives or whatever kids spend their money on these days. I'm rambling, but that's nothing new. I should actually get to the point of how a bunch of psychopathic toddlers began the chain of events that led me to meeting a man who called himself the Doctor. Sadly he wasn't the kind of doctor who could turn me away with some prosaic and a sick note for work, but I must admit he was rather helpful.

So there I was; I'd just left my house to head around the shop to get myself some jam because, for some Godforsaken reason I really wanted jam that morning. In a sense, it was that jam that got me in the whole mess in the first place. Safe to say I probably won't be eating jam for a while…

Anyway there I was, heading towards the shop with nothing on my mind apart from if I could afford a bottle of Tizer along with the jar of jam, when they appeared. There were six of them in total, and not one of them came above my chest (but then again I am six foot two, so I suppose there are not a lot of people who do), and all of them looked like miniature Grim Reapers with their black hoods covering their young, hairless faces. For a moment I thought they were all girls and, in a sense, that would be even worse. Being mugged by a group of girls or a group of kids? It's just two sides of the same coin isn't it? You'd rather throw that coin into a deep dark well than to keep it if those were the options.

The smallest one appeared to be the ringleader. He had a kitchen knife that looked more like a bloody sword than anything. He waved it around at me, shrieking this shrill, strange language that no one over the age of twenty-one can decipher. I understood money and give, so I gave him my money. For my cooperation he only gave me a swift kick in the crotch instead of gutting me like a fish. I suppose I was grateful for that whilst I lay on the damp and suspiciously smelling alley floor, but I was still a little bitter.

It turned out that kid had quite a pair of feet on him, because it took me a long time to recover. The shadows had shifted considerably by the time I got to my feet and even then I had to lean against the wall to wish away the horrible, twisted feeling in the bottom of my gut. I thought I was going to be sick for a long time, but it eventually passed. Soon enough I could stagger the rest of the way along the alley, eyes alert for any more children who were waiting in the wings to swoop down on me and take the last of my dignity and probably my cheap five-pound watch. I could see the opening ahead before I saw something that made those insane children look like puppies puking rainbows.

It was definitely a spaceship; that much I'm sure of. It was shaped like an egg and was smooth silver with black trimmings. No windows, but there was probably some kind of elaborate navigational system inside that meant no one actually had to do anything apart from press a button or something. That wasn't the worst thing though. Standing just beside the orb were five creatures. No taller than three feet each. Their heads were smooth and round, their eyes domed and white. There were two black pinpricks in each eyeball, which I just assumed where pupils. They were gathered around a man in a suit, who was apparently unconscious. Each of them had a limb, and the fifth creature held his head.

A couple of awkward seconds passed where the five alien creatures or I knew what to do. I couldn't even bring myself to move in all honesty. I quickly told myself that I had obviously bashed my head when I'd gone down after the whole crotch-kicking thing, but I had to ignore that wishful thinking when the five creatures wailed something and charged me.

The first one ran into my leg like a wet flannel while the others hopped around me excitedly, shrieking and yelling in weird tones that only made my hears sting. The man in the suit was waking up, but that didn't settle me any. It was when he thanked me for the distraction and whipped out what looked like a penlight when I finally screamed and took off down the alley. I would love to say that it was quite a manly scream, somewhere between Tarzan's bellow and Genghis Khan's war cry, but it was more like Paris Hilton being told that her mascara had smudged.

I had no idea whether or not those things or that strange man were following me and I had no intention of finding out. I ran into the street, colliding with a short, stout elderly lady who then proceeded to label me as a thief and pound me with her ridiculously oversized and unbelievably heavy handbag. I escaped her and fled up the road, eventually finding salvation in a dumpster.

In the dark, damp putrid atmosphere I sat and contemplated the idea of aliens in the town centre for a few hours. Their spaceship parked up right behind Poundstretchers, of all the places. Obviously I was insane. Delusional. Half-cut. Completely chicken oriental. I took solace in that fact.

Until the lid lifted and the man who had almost been abducted by vertically impaired aliens peered in at me and grinned.

For the second time, I screamed like a girl.