Genre: Light sci-fi
Author: Jennifer K. Oliver. Find more of my fiction here.
Mundane (pop. 1,112), Dorset, is a dense little market town hunkered in a cradle of rollercoaster hills and sparsely dotted woodland. Its only claim to fame, aside from its generous turn-out of livestock, is that it’s a well-documented UFO hotspot.
Old Norm runs the Wind Whistle Café on the A3-“Intergalactic Highway”-05. Out-of-towners constantly jibe and debunk him, so go right ahead if you want. He’s long in the tooth and he’s heard it all before. What’s with the limp, Norm—one anal probe too many? (Old Norm’s a veteran; took a bullet in ’51, and was one of the 2,674 wounded British to come out of Korea after the war, but he’s tired of relaying this, and nobody cares these days anyway.) Wouldn’t Starbucks be more up their alley? Why would aliens waste their time in Mundane when they could go for our natural resources or world leaders?
Any Mundane resident would tell you the aliens aren’t here to harvest our water or mine our oil or metal or politicians. They’re here for one thing only: Norm’s prized sausage rolls. As Norm himself would attest, they’re the best damn sausages rolls in sixty-eight galaxies.
Take Wednesday last: a spaceship hovering low over a nearby field (with extortionate parking charges, can you blame them?), four lanky figures sitting at the café window, their weird eyes blinking diagonally; their spindly fingers prodding paper food wrappers; their grey, lipless mouths slurping sausage bliss through a funnel of pastry. A more contented picture couldn’t be found—not in Dorset, not on Earth, not anywhere.
Weekenders from London chuckle and purchase their Little Green Men souvenir mugs and t-shirts and key rings, and they ask to try the sausage rolls—never able to resist a gimmick, they say. But over the course of lunch, their laughter turns nervous and their gazes dart to the window too often, and when they leave Mundane, they choose not to remark on the crop circles stretching out of town like gargantuan Spirograph designs, or the fact that Mundane’s livestock flourishes fatter, happier, more robust than any other in the country, possibly in the world. Perhaps they realise it unwise to look too closely at the piglets in the piggeries with their grey-hued skin and small, black eyes that blink diagonally.
That’s fine with Old Norm, though. It works for him. Because as Old Norm would say, it’s far easier taking the odd joke on the chin for the sake of his prized hog lot. It brings in the business from far and wide, after all.