– You’d think we’d be more shook up by the whole ordeal.
Harold settled in to his chair and crossed his legs, there were several sombre faces around him that nodded and murmured amongst themselves.
– But the thing is…
He started while fumbling in his pocket for a lighter, getting one handed to him, he lit his roll up and smiled a quick thank you. The next words fell out at the same time as a cloud of brownish grey smoke.
– We started doubting that we should be freaked out at all. I mean, so there were these things…orbs, blobs of shimmering colours floating above us, some had thick purple skin and could almost pass as rocks, if rocks could fly. Others resembled small globes of condensed aurora borealis, shifting so slowly in colour you were never really sure what it looked like. I saw one floating in my window that time and it had the texture of what I always imagined dragon eggs would look. I mean I think I did, or maybe I heard about it. I’m not sure.
He tipped the cigarette ashes into an ashtray and looked about himself, the pub had grown silent as he started talking. Nanny, the resident landlady was sat on the bar, her dirty jeans sparkled with a residue that could be mistaken by fish scales. She smiled at him and urged him on. Harold took a sip of his beer and continued.
– So anyway, my point was that we were all scared right. But then after coming to the conclusion that in fact we weren’t the only ones seeing these things and weren’t going bonkers, well… Anyway we started talking to each other and the mayor said that, you know, there had been so many books and films about making contact, should we really start screaming and flailing when it finally happened?
A few people chuckled and Harold himself smirked and scratched his three week beard, there was little sign of the 42 year old nervous accountant that used to get a pickles and cheddar roll in his lunch break every day with a diet soda and three cigarettes.
– Most agreed, but we did drag into question the fact that he had been seen the other day out with his niece blowing bubbles in the park. So there was that. After that we started talking to them, like they were that neighbour you’re straining to keep up a relationship with even though you’re pretty sure he borrowed that thingy that time and hasn’t returned it. But since you can’t remember what it was you sorta let it go. Sorta. So we did our “how do you do”-s and “your nice weather today”. But the thing was that, I’m not sure they could actually produce human noises, or even of any animal I’ve heard, but their …flesh, I suppose, parted and a stream of air travelled through a series of small bubbles coming out as a bass deep hiss saying “Is it?”.
The room shuddered by the vague memory and Harold pause to roll himself another cigarette, someone in the back wiped a tear, someone made a distasteful joke about flesh parting, a fight almost broke out, but Harold coughed and started speaking again.
– Anyway! …In the beginning you would just shrug and walk away. Alien blobs don’t know anything about spring or nice weather anyway, so you just assumed it was a bit confused about the whole ordeal. I mean, we were. After that everything escalated very quickly. Did we have dinner yesterday? I could have sworn we had pork chops, but even as I looked down on the scraps of food on the leftover plate, I couldn’t be sure. My uncle started taking his medicine in funny ways, and I don’t mean haha funny, 3 tablets after each other and then nothing for days. When I asked him if he was fine he said that he had been to a doctor the other day, or so he thought, he didn’t recall. He died on the morning of the Shimmer Day.
He shook his head and finished his beer, signalling to Nanny for another one. The sun was setting over the smog outside, when the sun was in this angle you could look outside the windows and have it mistaken for something beautiful, all in colours of pink, purples, gold…
– So we were obviously not sure why they came, and after several attempts of communicating the world leaders got together in a conference room down in the US, because they liked to think they had any sort of say back then, and they said that a sit down with the blobs had been organised. Well, I mean, first of all the blobs couldn’t sit, I think that was their first error, but second, they might have thought about a sit down and arguing for them to please go away, but once they got together they all sorta just wandered about in front of the camera saying that “uhm and yeah… so…uh, I think there was supposed to be cake”. Someone fired a gun, or at least someone shouted that a gun had been fired. The camera stayed on the entire time but we had difficulty actually focusing on what happened, some of us, I mean I’m still not entirely sure I was watching anything at all or even that I owned a telly.
He sighed and Nanny came to stand behind him, leaning her hands on his shoulders and Harold cleared his throat and looked down on the crumpled pile of papers on the table.
– There was trampling, fires, chaos and the president was sitting in the corner eating cheesecake claiming that he had the situation under control. When later they retold this story to the press outside, someone said there was a shimmering wall stopping them from going outside, another person said yeah, yeah it must have been. I mean it just had to be the blobs! What else could it have been? There was no explanation to be had, but someone nodded to someone else and the president abandoned his cheese cake to pull himself together long enough to remember that he was the president and he had certain duties to the world.
Harold got up from his chair, stumped his cigarette and looked out over the pub.
– Or maybe not, maybe someone pulled him in to the room. We had no proof that the blobs were dangerous and no real concentration to talk about, the human race was a caged wild animal that day, and as animals do when backed in a corner we lashed out. We couldn’t prove anything, but to be certain we decided to nuke everything. It might have been a good idea I suppose.
Glasses clinked, tears ran down dusty sparkly cheeks.
– Today marks the 400th day since the shimmer day.
Harold finished and marked with coal on a sheet of paper. Someone had to gather them all every few days and tell the story, so they remembered and ate and then went out to shovel up the shimmer.