Funny how these things happen. I walk this way regularly with my chocolate brown Springer Spaniel. She likes to sniff the hedgerows that form the boundary of the lane to the football pitch… but I’ve never actually noticed this before. A large, weatherbeaten bike shed, with padlocked double doors, tucked into a corner of land behind the bushes and under a tree near the field entry. Nothing remarkable; it fits into the landscape as if it was always there, but I only came to notice it because of Lola… She dragged me straight to it.
She is a ‘giddy kipper’ at the best of times, always pulling at her lead, whimpering to be let go and explore on her own – but I have tried that, and on one occasion it took me the best part of a whole day to catch her, so now she stays on a lead when we are out walking. All the same, I am certain I have not seen this shed before. It isn’t new. The timbers are aged and need varnishing again, although it’s still solid. No window so I can’t see in and the brass padlock is big and still shiny. It has rolling numbers in a four figure combination. How on earth did the shed get here ? Lola of course, is sniffing everything in a very concentrated manner, especially around the door. She is so engrossed she processes her wonder in a very puzzled manner, looking up at me frequently as if to ask “What is this wondrous thing ? Tell me what this is !”
I have no idea – it is just a bike shed. I shrug and pull her away.
We circle the shed again. Lola is still fascinated by something she can smell. We come back to the door and her nose is virtually pushing under the wood, her tail wagging like a feathery metronome.
She gives a short bark “ Do something ! Let me in… “
I tug at the padlock. All sealed up tight, as it should be. Not my business anyway… I am just turning to go when I spot the metal hasp of the padlock fitting on the door is a little loose. The two screws that hold it in place are not firmly screwed in. Without conscious thought, curiosity overtakes me. Using my thumb and first finger nails, I wiggle the screw head and surprisingly, it comes out quite quickly. Ditto, the second screw… this particular fitting is attached with screws that are too small for the hole, so there is little tension or grip. The door was open, so I intended to go in, slowly and carefully. Not so Lola – she bounds in joyfully, dragging me in with her!
Suddenly, we are in a light filled cavern of a room, filled by consoles and humming dials, levers and technical screens with coloured grids. My mouth drops open, not at this – but at the sight of another canine, yapping and yelping with Lola, as they bark and dance around each other with joy… Not a Springer, this dog is a hound, stocky, sturdy and delighted to meet Lola. As my eyes adjust and I take this in, they both decide as one, to turn tail and rush past me, bounding out of the doorway into the freedom of the football field beyond.
In confusion I shout, trying to stop their escape, noticing as I turn to look, that the hound is squatting in the long grass already, while Lola skips about, all thoughts of toileting far from her mind. She is enjoying having a potential playmate… Turning back to the unbelievably vast interior, I now see two glowing, green figures, vaguely humanoid – who before my eyes change into two men looking and dressed, just like me – which is weird !
“ Wow – where did you come from ? “ I gasp involuntarily.
A few seconds to process the language , the two ‘men’ look at each other and then one answers, in English
“We are not from earth, but we want to gather evidence about your civilisation and collect different species of living creatures. It is harder than we anticipated.”
“Yes,” the other one said – “We thought a canine would be easy. Our observations show that humans enjoy their company and we wanted to see for ourselves… but this one was not content and kept barking all the time. We have to let him go.”
“So you can morph or clone yourselves into anyone on earth ?” I ask in wonder.
And they nod calmly, smiling at me as if I were an imbecile. They usher me to the door before I can ask anything further, and then I am standing on the grass verge, with one foot slowly sinking into a huge pile of the brown stuff… Great – that is all I need. Thoroughly bewildered, I go through my pockets looking for the poo bags and tissues, as I see Lola and the hound come lolloping towards me over the field.
I turn to the bike shed behind me, to ask what they will do now, and blow me down ! The shed is gone. Totally gone – just a pale impression in the flattened grass. I clean myself up and take myself home, now followed happily by Lola and her new friend. How will I ever make sense of this?