A face. Moving, but not speaking. Speaking without making any sound. Floating about 2 and a half metres from Zander Briggs, bodiless (and one may guess, mindless, for it was a news caster on Vox Pop, one of those popular channels that thrives on sensation - a sort of television equivalent of a newspaper whose entire front page is taken up by three large words, an out of focus photograph and an exclamation mark; TWO HEADED BABY!). The expression on the face of the newscaster, as Zander finally gained conscious, left room for hearty debate as to whom, or what, was the more surprised, Zander at opening his eyes to a floating apparition, or the apparition at suddenly being watched.
Aaagh. Zander’s head was full of the sound of the sound of 100 Pipers. Aaaagh. The floating head. Its mouth was grinning the last movement of a piano concerto - too many notes - too many teeth - its keys catching the light in a very practised fashion. Were TV personalities chosen for their teeth, or did the networks employ dentists as a matter of course, like they did make-up artists.
The teeth were the first things Zander saw through the haze that rises as a mist in that land between asleep and awake, and they looked like a space ship. Or was that a dream? Ask The Pipers. Zander’s dreams seldom broached the surface of his consciousness, no doubt scared into hiding by the sound of bagpipes. But this one was different. A space ship had landed, or crashed, it was hard to tell, there was so much smoke. What was weird, however, and zander pondered its peculiarity, was that the whole dream had seemed sped up, much like a video machine going fast forward. Maybe your dreams go faster as you get older. If that’s the case, he thought, I must be older than I feared.
He reached over, grabbed the beeper and instinctively turned up the sound. “Fuck, I’m more used to driving this, these days, than my car,” he thought, out loud. But the floating head gave no indication that it had heard, and boomed back. “...the UFO sighting occurred early this morning over Appleton,” and suddenly, it changed into a flickering picture of the night sky over Appleton, and was, the picture itself proclaimed proudly in one corner, in fact “amateur video.”
The TV continued, “lets cross now to Janis Lansky, our reporter on the scene, Janis.”
The picture changed once again, and became another floating head labelled “Janis Lansky.” Behind it were other floating, inquisitive heads. Locals, guessed Zander, gullible, rubbernecking, small town minds with nothing better to do than peer up a camera lens at the rest of the world, like rats in a cage waiting to be fed. VDR’s, all of them, Very Disappointing Race.
“Hello Steve. And welcome to a cold and very windy Appleton,” said the Janis-head. “As you might guess, this morning’s sighting has made quite an impression on the people of Appleton, and quite a hero out of Mrs. Heather Kiminsky.”
The well-upholstered Mrs. Kiminsky was no doubt the auteur of the aforementioned amateur video (and no doubt many other such genre pieces as “Bert and Sally Come To Tea,” and “Kiminskys at the Sea.” Give me a break. Go home. Zander tried to think Mrs. Kiminsky off the face of the planet. But Mrs. Kiminsky wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, if anything, she was now edging closer to the camera, her grin growing in inanity in direct proportion to her proximity to the camera. What’s more, she seemed to be grinning directly at Zander, defying him. The woman obviously had something to say, and it looked as though she was going to say it now.
“Well, you know this is not the first sighting in Appleton, you know.”
“Really?” came Janis’ reply.
If there had been other sightings why hadn’t she been informed? She’d have to kick some butts, and from where she stood, her producer’s butt seemed like a rather nice place to start.
“Yes.” Mrs. Kiminsky was firing on all cylinders - the result, no doubt, of that particularly powerful fuel, sherry. “About the time all those children disappeared with the Sunday School Teacher.” What? The butt of the aforementioned producer was now in severe danger of grievous bodily harm.
“The disappearances?” Janis blurted at Mrs. Kiminsky. This could have been a scoop, but now because of a brain-dead producer and live television, every reporter on the planet would get the story 9 nanoseconds after she did.
“Just last year. Government people were here. Of course they denied being from the government. But we knew.”
“Who else has seen these things?” asked Janis.
“My sister, Beatrice,” said Mrs’ Kiminsky, gaining momentum like a bowling ball, “ has also seen them, and one of our aunts was a medium, you know, so I guess it runs in the family.”
Pity brain cells don’t run in the family, thought Zander, fucking woman’s not playing with ten skittles. What drivel, UFO. shmooo-ef-oh. He picked up the beeper to change channels.