GOING ALL THE WAY • by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

When the spaceship came, Tamsin thought it was some sort of marketing stunt. It landed on the beach just above the high tide mark with a whir and a puff of steam.

People on the boardwalk stopped and stared. A crowd of bikini-clad volley ball players jogged closer to get a better look. It was definitely gaining attention. Even when the lavender slime slithered out of the hatch, Tamsin thought the tentacles were going to hold up cans of Coke (or a McDonald’s burger or a copy of 50 Shades of Grey) and pronounce it the best thing in the entire universe. Cameras would appear everywhere and a marching band would start to play and a small plane would pass overhead towing a banner that declared: Even aliens love it!

Tamsin grinned broadly to make it clear that she was in on the joke and turned just in time to see her boyfriend slump down like a rag doll. His head hit the curb with a loud crack. A red light beam from the ship flickered and then disappeared.

“Steven?” She knelt at his side but he was out cold. This was why she meant to learn CPR! Should she punch him in the chest? Tamsin slapped his face lightly and looked around for help. The couple closest were backing away, eyes firmly on the space ship. Just her luck, she was missing all of the excitement because Steven was falling apart. The volleyball bikini team bolted past her into the road.

A siren blared in the distance. She looked wildly in all directions and then settled on the tentacled slime. “Help! He’s hurt!” Only now did she consider how quickly the slime was moving towards them and that, in fact, there had not yet been any advertisements for popular consumer products. She leapt backwards as the slime enveloped Steven. A tentacle waved in her direction and then the whole goopy mess slithered backwards towards the ship, dragging her boyfriend with it. Her mouth dropped open. Corporate exposure was one thing, but this was going a bit far.

Half a dozen uniformed men ran towards her as the pale slime disappeared into the ship with its bounty. The hatch closed with an audible click.

“The hell?” Tamsin jumped up as comprehension dawned. It was Mom’s birthday dinner tonight. Steven would totally have agreed to this stupid guerilla marketing campaign to get out of an evening with her parents.

A hand snatched at her shoulder but she shook it off and ran towards the space ship. She banged on the hatch as hard as she could, ignoring the shouts behind her.

Something squealed and then the hatch fell open, black and purple ooze showing around the cracks. “I don’t care who you are, you are taking me too,” she shouted, heaving herself up and into the hatch.

She pulled her legs in and tapped on the hatch to signal that they could close it. A slithery tentacle quivered and backed away from her. “Let’s go,” she said. “Just make sure I’m back by 9am on Monday.”

The hatch whirred shut again and her stomach lurched as the ship launched into the air. She crawled over to Steven and shook him a bit. “Hey,” she said. He groaned and rolled over. He’d be fine. Served him right for not telling her about it. She looked about the capsule. “So, I’m guessing Redbull or MonsterEnergy, am I right?” No one answered. Fine, whatever.

Tamsin shuffled to a small porthole and looked out. The sky was black and filled with stars. “Oh. Right.” She wrapped her arms around her knees as she watched the curved earth disappear beneath them. “Virgin. I should have known.”

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Los Angeles. She now splits her time between South Wales and the Costa del Sol, two coastal regions with almost nothing in common. You can find out more about her at www.intrigue.co.uk.

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