by Miriam English

Two dark figures wade knee deep through the dim swamp slapping at themselves. The leader is about 7 feet tall and except for 2 gleaming yellow, cat eyes, is covered in long, olive green fur. The follower is similar but fatter, only 4 feet tall and carrying what appears to be a bright yellow bowler hat clasped to its chest.

The first greyness of dawn is seeping into the sky. The wide, flat marshland is mostly dark against the water's slightly lighter dimness. All is quiet stillness except for the thin whine of mosquitos.

The taller creature stops, raises its large 3-fingered hand and peers forward into the gloom. The shorter, looking anxiously around and behind, does not see that its companion has halted and walks straight into the rear of the first. This overbalances the leader so that it falls headlong into the water. Splash! The tall one scrambles to its feet gasping - that water is cold, It whispers sharply a long line of syllables, obviously insults and expletives but the small one is peering past it into the dark. It gives the universal shh, finger raised to furry mouth. The tall, angry one slaps the other's hand away and whispers furiously. "I know, imbecile! I was trying to pinpoint them when you pushed me over! Idiot!"

The short one, anxiously fidgeting with the yellow hat-thing whispers. "You don't think they know about us do you? Maybe we should have got the parts for the ship some other way."

The tall one: "Don't be stupid. It will be years before they uncover our credit fraud - if ever. Humans are even dumber than you are."

They start carefully around the treed area ahead slapping at mosquitos. The small one, still looking nervously left and right, asks timidly, "Why are there so many humans out here then? You said this was the perfect place to hide the ship because humans avoid swamps but there must be hundreds here this morning."

"Even my great intellest can't always predict the doings of a race of crazies. It's probably some religious ritual." Dismisses with the flick of a furred hand which it then uses to hit its neck.

The sky is lightening. Apart from the occassional duck call and sporadic twittering of small birds and a healthy humming population of mozzies, the swamplands are quiet and still.

Suddenly gunfire thunders nearby releasing an avalanche of other shots across the landscape resounding nearby and distant, again and again. Terrified birds fill the air with their squawks and honks and their silhouettes.

The two aliens duck. They are sitting up to their armpits in the water, clinging to each other wide eyed with their long, floppy ears standing straight up.

The smaller one whimpers, "They're after us! They're going to kill us!" This sounds like an amplified stomach gurgle,

This snaps the other out of its terror. It leaps to its feet and, pulling the other after it, runs, big feet sploshing. "Gotta get to the ship!" like the snarl of a dog.

They blunder into a group of hunters among the bushes in ankle-deep water who, with screams and someone yelling "Bunyip!", scatter. This adds to the panic of the aliens who scramble faster toward their concealed space ship.

They stumble across another party of shooters surrounded by empty bottles and beer cans on dry ground. After the reaction of the previous group, the tall alien throws up its arms and gives its fiercest roar. But these guys have been drinking all night and, pickled in dutch courage, calmly point their guns at the aliens. "More Greenies eh? Well you can just fuck off!" one slurs between slaps.

The aliens make a hasty and confused exit... straight into a couple of police arresting a few conservationists holding dead and bloodied marsh hens, a swan and a brolga. The police, swatting mozzies, are otherwise unperturbed and calmly arrest the two aliens (who exchange blank looks) and bundle them into the dark interior of a paddy wagon. They sit, somewhat stunned, with the depressed-looking conservationists while the cops close the rear doors. Then, while the police are getting into the front of the car, the two aliens gently detach the rear doors. They and the grinning greenies step out and stand while the police drive away unknowing. "Well done fellows!" a balding human with thick, bushy beard claps the two green, furry creatures on the back then hits himself on the back of the head. "OK everybody, back to work." And the people scatter back into the vegetation leaving the two standing in the gathering light amid the confusion of gunshots all round and fleeing, squawking birds.

The small one, still holding the yellow bowler hat-like object says in wonder, "Are they all mad, do you think?"

"Obviously!" The tall one snatches the 'hat', "Quick, we must connect this into the ship and escape this lunacy,"

Together they run into the shrubs, splash through the reeds and plunge into the water.

The sun is creeping over the horizon. The cold, hard light of early morning unveils all the chaotic commotion of terrified flocks of birds. Turmoil stirred by the rippling staccato of gunfire.

Suddenly a huge dome of water and weed rises like an explosion. A fifty foot, black saucer bursts through and shrieks into the sky at an impossible speed. In seconds it is gone. Water droplets and stray bits of vegetation are still falling. Thousands of panicked birds still fill the air but the hunters are too stunned to shoot.

copyright ©1990 by Miriam English