He sat up, stunned. Then quickly went into the lounge and woke Hank, who was sleeping on the sofa.
“I think you’d better come and see this.” They padded, together into the dining room. “I found it outside. It’s just called to me, in Cat.”
Hank tilted his head to one side and studied the creature. “Did it say anything useful?”
“It said, ‘Hey you,’ and then, ‘Take me to your leader.’ Do I have a leader?”
“Shouldn’t think so. What’s a leader?”
“Should I poke it?”
“No.” Hank pushed his nose towards the alien. “Let’s humour it. What are you and where are you from, little creature?”
Well, so far so good. There were two of the terrifying predators now, but she had not been eaten. The second alien was even bigger though less stocky and a darker orange. It did not look any less dangerous. YFnyrdh’s throat was dry and she was trembling slightly – imperceptibly, she hoped.
“I am YFnyrdh of the Kwmbry and I come from up there…”
The two cats looked up.
“Did it just say it fell off the ceiling?” asked Hank.
“It’s making it up.” replied Digby, “I brought it in from next door’s garden.”
“No…” YFnyrdh indicated towards a large transparent rectangle in one of the walls, “…out there. I come from the stars.”
“Now it says it fell through one of the shiny holes in the big black roof. Has it got concussion?”
Digby had dropped onto his elbows and was beginning to wiggle his bottom. Before he could pounce Hank stopped him. “Give it a bit longer, this is fun.”
“I am a space wrecked traveller, sole survivor from a doomed Galaxy Class ore carrier. I am unable to return to my home world without your assistance.” YFnyrdh assumed the posture of a supplicant. Then, indicating her surroundings with a wide sweeping gesture of her arms, she continued, “Your species has obviously achieved wondrous technological advances, are you capable of interstellar flight?”
“What is a technological?” asked Hank.
“What is advances?” asked Digby.
“You are too modest, this vast hall with its amazing artefacts, the many buildings beyond, only a great civilisation could construct such marvels or take all this for granted.”
“This…” explained Hank, “…is Home. You don’t construct Home, it just is; it’s more to do with philosophy than physics.”
“And we are ginger moggies from the planet Hereandnow,” added Digby, “and we eat small creatures; even annoyingly deluded, gobby ones that think they are aliens.”
Not going quite so well now, then. Oh, Sqwrll! If this had been an episode of Star Quest she’d just shoot her way out of this mess and steal herself one of their space ships. Only they didn’t seem to have any space ships and Leading Spacepeople were hardly going to be let loose near guns. The crews on VLBCs were notoriously quirky. It was a long time between ports and you had to be a bit mad to be out there in the first place.
“We may have got off on the wrong foot here. Please, let me try to explain. I have inadvertently become trapped on your planet, which, pleasant as it may seem to you, is far from my home. I am considering the possibility that you are not the dominant species here and I wonder if you could put me in touch with…” The voice of the translator distorted. There was a pause, then it said, “Battery low!” in all known languages and went silent. YFnyrdh carried on for a while in Kwmbrysh, but it was pointless.