The plane was the pilot, two silent passengers, and the mail bags. Jonathan waved goodbye to the pilot as he left the building, Abigail walking close behind him. In the car-park – big enough for six cars and never full – she paused by a white Ford and spoke.
“Going home to Estelle?”
“Of course,” said Jonathan. “She’ll be waiting for me. Probably with some problem that absolutely has to fixed there and then, that I never should have left the house without having anticipated. That’s the way it’s been for the last three months.”
“How can you love a woman who never stops moaning?”
“My mother moaned all the time too,” said Jonathan. “And my gran. My gran was worse, in fact. She’d moan when you did something nice for her, complaining that she felt obliged to do something nice back then. Not that she ever did.”
“Not all women moan constantly,” said Abigail. “You should explore that idea, you know.”
“Thanks,” said Jonathan with a smile. “I’d probably need a divorce first though.”
“Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. Would you ask her for one?”
Jonathan opened the driver’s side door of his Mini and shrugged. He smiled, boyishly at her. “Probably not,” he said. “She might like that.”
The Pastor opened Estelle’s cell phone cautiously, watching the alien as he did so. The creature didn’t seem interested in what they were doing at the moment, though it turned round and paid attention when they tried to move away. It was going through Estelle’s photograph albums.
“Seven, four one.” said Estelle, completing the phone number. The Pastor tapped the digits in and then pressed the dial key, the one with the little green handset on. The phone beeped and then did nothing. The Pastor and Estelle both stared at in, consternation furrowing their brows and puckering their mouths, and then the phone made the connection and start ringing Jonathan. Dialling appeared on the screen in green letters.
“He won’t answer,” said Estelle acidly. “I bet he’s found a floozy to spend the night with while we’re here being held hostage by an alien creature. I bet he’s wrapped in her arms right now, nuzzling into the side of her neck, kissing and licking at the soft, tender skin there.”
She broke off, realising that the Pastor was staring at her. ‘Well, he might,” she said defensively.
“Hello Estelle!” Jonathan’s voice from the phone was echoey and metallic. The Pastor put the phone to his ear and started to talk urgently. Something soft and spongy gripped Estelle’s elbow, and she started.
Turning her head, she found that the alien had stretched out a long arm, or maybe leg, and had wrapped the end of it around her elbow. It looked like a strand of grey spaghetti that had been overcooked until it was ready to tear apart under its own weight. She tugged her elbow, but the alien appendage held firm. Another arm snaked across, holding the photograph album. It was turned to a page where Estelle was sitting coquettishly on a log, one leg demurely crossed over the other. She was wearing her white skirt, completely inappropriate for being out in the woods, and a sailor’s blouse that she’d always felt Jonathan didn’t appreciate enough. Behind her were cows. A third tentacular appendage tapped the picture, and she felt the alien’s grip tighten.
“What does he want?” asked the Pastor, who’d ended the phone call. “Let him have it!”
“I think he wants cows,” said Estelle. “Unless he wants me dressed in clothes I’ve not worn in ten years!”
“Cows?” asked the Pastor. “Why?”