An implacable sun beat down on an immutable flat, white, plain. The sky was clear blue with not a cloud to be seen.

An elderly man with whisps of greying hair sat quietly on a deckchair. He wore a tank top which sported a rusty red and navy blue pattern. His collarless shirt was undone at the neck, and the sleeves rolled up above his elbows. His trousers were dark flannel with turn-ups and he wore dark grey socks and black lace-up shoes. The deck chair had blue and green stripes, and beside it was a small table with a glass of liquid on it. The man wore a pair of spectacles, and held a book in his hand.

The unchanging scene persisted for some time until, in the distance, a silver globe floated down from the sky and slowly moved closer. It settled down a few yards away and after some muffled clunks and whines, a being stepped out onto the plain. ‘Hi!’ it said.

The man lifted his head slowly. Looking over the top of his spectacles, he uttered the single word, ‘Hello’, before resuming his reading.

The being shrugged and returned to his transport. Within a short time, he had erected a pink, tented pavilion with an open front containing a chaise-longue, coffee table, a beverage dispenser and a small device that emitted harmonious music. All this provoked no reaction from the man, who continued reading. However, as the being manoeuvred his barbecue into place, his backside caught the table, making it wobble and spilling some of the liquid from the glass.

‘Can you be a little more careful, please.’ The man’s tone was marginally cold.

The being was not abashed. ‘It would make more sense if you placed your table on the other side of your chair, would it not? It’s really asking for trouble leaving it there, next to my barbecue, where I shall undoubtedly be preparing some choice meats this evening. Here, I will move it for you.’ So saying, he picked the table up, glass and all, walked around the man’s outstretched feet, and plonked it down by his left elbow, spilling yet more liquid. He then returned to his tasks.

The man continued to read. The liquid on the table slowly dried, leaving a stain.

‘So, what’s it like here then?’

The man looked up at his questioner. ‘Quiet,’ he replied, and turned back to his book.

‘Soon fix that,’ the being said, and twiddled a knob on his music device. A full orchestra filled the plain with music. After a pause, the man put his book on the table, picked up the deckchair and moved it some distance away, returning for the table which he carried carefully over to join it, placing it to the right side of the chair as before. He then resumed his seat, and his reading.

The being had been preoccupied erecting what appeared to be an inflatable swimming pool, and had started a small pump which hummed merrily in the few silences not occupied by the symphony orchestra’s strident efforts. It was an annoying, buzzy hum. Having finished, he now saw the man was some distance away.

‘Hey you!’ he called. ‘What is wrong with you? Need you be so rude?’

He made his way over to the man, who sat placidly, his book lowered to his knees.

‘Look, we all have to get along together, be tolerant neighbours, you know. That’s what makes you part of the human race.’

The man looked offended. ‘Sir, I am not part of the human race.’

The being, for once, appeared flustered. ‘Well, of course, neither am I, but I was trying to make the point. I mean us sentient beings, of course.’

‘I am not a “being”!’ The elderly man stood up. The being cowered as he kept on standing up until he towered a hundred feet into the blue sky, his legs planted wide apart on the white plain. He flung one arm to the heavens.

‘Let there be dark!’ he cried. And there was dark.


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