The Space Alien Hat

        Anna simply could not find the remote control for the television. She had looked in all the usual places, and she had looked in all the usual unusual places, but it wasn't in any of them. It wasn't even in the place it was supposed to be in. The only explanation was that her mother must have found a totally new place to hide it.
        Anna sighed.
        No remote control meant she couldn't change the channel on the TV. If she couldn't change the channel, she'd have to watch a boring programme where two puppets explained how letters can move from post boxes to people's houses in one day. If she had to watch the boring programme, she'd get so bored that she'd have to switch off the TV and do her homework.
        Anna did not want to do her homework. Why should she have to learn how to spell the word 'school' anyway? Couldn't she just avoid ever using it?
        It was with some surprise, then, that Anna saw the TV puppets suddenly twink off, to be replaced by the cat and mouse cartoon on the other channel that she really wanted to watch.
        It was with some annoyance, though, that 5 seconds later the cat and mouse twinked off and the puppets came back.
        At first, Anna thought it was her mother using the remote control to play tricks. She stood up to go into the kitchen and complain, when she saw a flash of green light outside. At that same moment, the TV changed channel to The News (arrgh! no!). What on Earth was going on?
        Anna decided to investigate.
        She walked over to the window and looked outside. There, in the garden, was a shiny ball about the size of a large shed. It was standing on 3 long, metal rods for legs, and it had a large disc round the middle so it looked like the planet Saturn. Leading from the ball to the ground was a small, flip-down staircase. At the bottom of the staircase stood a space alien.
        Anna knew it was a space alien because it was green and small, with feet that were green and big, and a ray-gun thing that was green and ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE. The space alien had to use both hands just to lift it up. When he (Anna decided the space alien was a 'he') did lift it up and pointed it at anything, the result was frightening! A bright green light shot out of the end, Anna's TV turned over, and whatever had been pointed at disappeared. The car, the cherry tree, and next door's cat were zapped, one after the other. Whoosh! A flash of green light, and there they weren't!
        Anna began to suspect that this was probably an unfriendly space alien, and not one of the more friendly kind that people would normally expect to have land in their gardens.
        She ran into the kitchen. "Mum, mum!" she shouted. "There's a space alien in the garden shooting things! It's already disappeared next door's cat!"
        Anna's mother was trying to chip some black stuff off a cake tin. "Well perhaps," she said, "that'll stop the silly animal from coming through the hedge and eating our daffodils."
        Anna looked back into the living room, and saw another green flash. "We don't have any daffodils at all now," she said. There was another flash. "We don't have a hedge, either."
        "Well never mind, dear. Perhaps Mr Penson from next door will come and sort it all out. He did used to be in the army, you know."
        At that moment, Mr Penson did indeed come out. Anna heard him shout, "Oi! Greeny! Put that hedge back right this min - "
        There was a flash of light.
        Anna's mother had heard Mr Penson shout, too. "What's going on?" she frowned, taking off her apron. "Are you playing games, Anna?"
        "No, Mum, it's the space alien! He's disappeared Mr Penson!"
        Anna's mother followed Anna into the living room. They arrived just in time to see the space alien zapping Mr Penson's wheelbarrow, and ... oh dear.
        "Did he just shoot that ray gun at Mrs Penson?" asked Anna's mother?
        Anna was watching the TV, which had momentarily switched back to the cat and mouse cartoon. "What? Oh, I think so, yes. Except he seems to have missed her shoes. Those are her shoes, aren't they?"
        "I think so, but they didn't used to smoke like that before," said Anna's mum. "Listen, dear, be a good girl and hide under the table while I telephone the police, would you?"
        The space alien had by now also zapped Mrs Penson's shoes, so the TV was back on the puppets explaining how letters are sorted in a big machine.
        Anna sighed, and went over to the table.
        Anna's mother did not, however, go to the telephone. The space alien had seen her standing at the window, and took a shot at her with his green ray gun. Half the window, half a chair, and all of Anna's mum disappeared.
        At this point, Anna realised that she was very likely in a lot of trouble.
        She was. The space alien had seen her, too, and was walking over to the house. His big feet were making loud CLUMP CLUMP noises as he dragged his ray gun behind. He stopped at the hole in the window that he had made when he disappeared Anna's mum.
        Anna hid under the table and tried to breathe only very quietly
        Whoosh! There was a flash of green light! Anna looked up, and noticed that the table had gone! All that remained were the legs, which fell down in surprise. The space alien was looking straight at her.
        "Hello, Mr Space Alien," said Anna, trying to smile. "Do you speak English?"
        "Prtix?" said the space alien, lifting up his gun.
        "So that's a no, then?" said Anna.
        The space alien pulled the trigger, but Anna was too quick for him! She leapt from where underneath the table had been, just in time to avoid the green light. There was now a large hole in the wall. The television had The News on again.
        "Prtix!" said the alien, loudly. Anna got the feeling that he was rather cross. He lifted up his gun again, but by then Anna had run into the hall.
        All sorts of thoughts were rushing through Anna's mind. Should she call the police, or would the space alien zap her while she tried to explain what was happening? Should she try and make the space alien shoot out all the walls of the living room so the roof fell on his head? Should she run into the garden and hide in his spaceship, because he wouldn't want to zap that with his gun, would he? Besides, it was shiny, and if he did...
        Anna got an idea! She jumped out of the way of another green light, and raced upstairs to her room. On her dressing table was a large mirror.
        "This ought to fix you," she said, picking up the mirror and holding it in front of herself like a shield.
        The little green man was having trouble getting up the stairs, because his legs were too short and his feet were too big. He had to go up sideways. He seemed very happy to see Anna appear at the top, and pointed his gun at her.
        Whoosh! There was a green flash! Anna fell backwards, but she hadn't disappeared! Unluckily, though, her mirror had disappeared. Anna realised to her horror that her plan hadn't worked!
        Things were looking grim.
        Anna could hear the CLUMP CLUMP of the space alien climbing the stairs. It wouldn't be long before he reached the top, and then he'd get her for sure. Maybe if she threw something big and heavy at him, she could knock him down and escape? But the biggest and heaviest thing she could lift was the teddy bear on her bed, and she didn't want him to disappear that.
        Still, if it saved her life, it was worth it. She ran back into her room, picked up her bear, and noticed something that had been lying underneath it: the TV remote control. Now she remembered! She'd been experimenting to see how far away it worked, and then got interested in a half-finished jigsaw, and then a book, until she'd sort of forgotten all about it. Her mother hadn't hidden the remote control - she'd lost it herself!
        Whoosh! Anna's teddy bear disappeared. In the doorway stood the space alien.
        "Prtix?" said Anna, hopefully.
        "Prtix prtix prtix," said the space alien. He almost looked like he was laughing at her.
        Anna decided that if she was going to disappear, she wanted to disappear in her own bed. She sat down, closed her eyes, and suddenly found her hand on the TV remote control.
        Wait! If the space alien's gun interfered with her TV, maybe her remote control interfered with his gun? She picked it up, quickly, pointed it at him, and shouted, "BBC1!"
        The space alien seemed surprised. "BBC1?" he said. Then he lifted up his gun, pointed it at Anna, and pulled the trigger.
        A blue light shot out, and Anna did not disappear. Rather, her teddy bear did appear.
        "Prtix? Prtix?" The space alien began hitting the side of his ray gun, trying to make it work again. It didn't.
        "Now," said Anna, smiling. "It seems to me that I'm so much bigger than you that I shouldn't have much trouble taking that gun off you at all..."
        She was right. The space alien tried to run away, but his big, green feet weren't made for running, and Anna soon caught him up.
        "Give me the gun," she said. "Your turn's over: it's my turn now." The space alien hugged the gun with both arms, but he was far too puny. Anna took it from him with ease.
        "Now, let's have back my mirror," she said, and fired the gun. A blue light shot out, and her mirror appeared where she had been holding it when it disappeared. Although this meant it fell to the ground and broke into 343 years' worth of bad luck pieces, Anna wasn't superstitious so she didn't mind.
        "Prtix BBC1!" said the space alien, frowning.
        Anna made him go downstairs, and pressed the trigger on the gun as she did so. Every time, something that had been disappeared reappeared. Mrs Penson complained a little that her shoes seemed rather hot, but in the end everything was right back where it should have been.
        "What are we going to do with this little chap?" said Anna's mum. "He doesn't seem too dangerous now you've taken his gun off him. Maybe he wants some milk or something?"
        "Milk?" gasped Mr Penson. "He just tried to disappear us all! We ought to give him to the police!"
        "If we give him to the police, I expect that scientists will take him to pieces to see how he works," said Anna. "We can't really let them do that."
        "It would stop him from disappearing us again..." said Mr Penson, darkly.
        "Wait!" said Anna. "I wonder... I've shot blue rays out of this to bring back everything that the space alien destroyed..."
        "Yes?" said Mr Penson.
        "What would happen if I fired it once more?"
        "It depends what he last disappeared before he arrived on Earth, I suppose," said Anna's mum.
        "Prtix!" said the space alien.
        "I think the blue light is a put-things-back-to-like-how-they-were-before ray," said Anna, firmly. "I think that if I fire it, he'll disappear."
        She pulled the trigger. An instant later, the space alien, his spaceship, and the ray gun were all gone.
        The TV changed channel. The cat and mouse cartoon had finished, and there was now a programme on where young children were playing musical instruments in a band very badly.
        "Right, young lady, I suppose you still haven't done your homework?" said Anna's mum, sternly.
        "Mr Penson! Your cat's eating our daffodils!" said Anna, but her mother paid no attention and took her back indoors.
        "So," said Anna's mother. "Here's your spelling book. Are you ready?"
        But Anna wasn't listening. "I wonder," she said. "If BBC1 made the ray gun shoot a put-things-back-to-like-how-they-were-before ray, do you think there might have been something good on the other channels, too?"
        Anna's mum decided it was very unlikely that Anna would learn how to spell 'school' that day.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: alien.htm