An awful thought woke me:
The Mootilokygogrifies are back!
With that putrid possibility pumping my brain, I remembered what had really woken me.
A thud, some knocking and thumping, a swish, a bang and a squeak.
I swallowed and looked around in the dark. I couldn’t see much, just dim shapes of the furniture in my room, like filmy, grey ghosts in the corners.
The first time the Mootilokygogrifies had found me, one of them had fallen onto my bed in the middle of the night.
And then not long after that, there had been lots of them, all over Earth.
But eventually they’d all disappeared when, with some help from others, I’d discovered something they didn’t like…
Surely, they wouldn’t just come back? Not so soon after being forced to leave?
I cocked my head sideways and listened.
With my eyes now more accustomed to the dark in my room, I realised that other than the sounds of my family sleeping along the corridor, all was quiet upstairs.
The noises hadn’t been in my room after all - they had come from downstairs.
Possibly the kitchen.
And then there were more noises.
A thump. Some rustling. A bang and a small plop.
I lurched out of bed. It was like my legs had a mind of their own, and they were taking me there without me wanting to go.
No time for panic, but I could feel my heart thumping in my chest, like a mad drum.
As I slipped past their bedrooms, I could hear the usual strange sounds my family make when they sleep.
My dad, snoring, gasping and murmuring in his sleep.
My mum, snoring softly, letting out a little whining squeak every time she breathed out.
Good - so they hadn’t woken yet.
Dylan, moaning slightly and breathing loudly. He must be having a nightmare.
Oh no, that means she’d probably woken up too.
I peeped around her doorway, hoping she was just talking in her sleep.
“Hello, Il,” she said, pleased to see me.
It was as if she’d been waiting for someone to come and chat to her.
She sat up in her bed as soon as my head peeped around the corner.
Oh no, this wasn’t good.
I had a feeling that the noises from downstairs weren’t… human.
So, my sister needed to be quiet and stay away from whatever was happening on the ground floor of our house.
But I knew what Shelley was like. She didn’t let go of something easily, once she could sense you wanted her to.
Guess it’s how five year olds are.
“Shh, Shelley,” I said, holding my finger up to my lips, hoping she’d be quiet.
“What you doing?” she said, this time a little more loudly than a whisper.
There was more rustling and then a slurping, gurgling sound coming from down those stairs, and I desperately hoped she hadn’t heard it.
“What’s that noise?” she asked, sounding more excited than scared, and looking around her.
“Er, nothing… Probably just the cat from next door,” I whispered, hoping she’d just go back to sleep.
But it was almost like the more I said, the more awake she became.
“Are you going to call Dad?” she said, sounding a little worried.
“No!” I whisper-shouted, thinking we really didn’t need more people awake at this stage.
I had to try and appear calm or Shelley would become even more suspicious. I forced myself to talk normally, trying to sound like I was relaxed.
“It’s fine, I’ll let the cat out. It’s only looking for food.”
I gave her a quick smile. I don’t know if she could see it in the dark, but I was now frantic, worried that whatever was downstairs might hear us talking.
“Maybe its family didn’t feed it,” she said, and I nodded, trying to appear casual, as if we were having an everyday chat.
I started backing away from her room, saying, “I’ll feed it. Go back to sleep, it’s okay.”
For a moment I thought she was going to get out of bed to come with me. I could sense her mind whirring, considering it, but then thankfully she settled down and lay back in her bed.
Relieved, I turned and walked carefully and very slowly down the stairs, one step at a time.
Although I was barely breathing, my breaths seemed to me as loud as if I’d just run a mile.
I stopped, frozen on the top stair, and listened.
The house was dark, but in places there was some soft, reflected light, shining in through the windows from the street, giving me just enough muted light to make my way.
The sounds seemed to have moved from the kitchen, where I thought I’d heard them first.
Now there were rumbling and shifting sounds coming from the living room.
I stepped onto the last stair.
I held my breath.
The sounds stopped.
Whatever was in my living room had stopped too.
Time stood still.
It waited too.
After what seemed like an Iconic, it must have decided everything was safe, and some swishing, crinkling sounds started up again.
I used those sounds as cover to walk quickly and quietly across the hall towards the arched doorway of the living room.
I waited until I could hear the thing, whatever it was, get busy again, then I leaned in the smallest amount around the doorway, with half an eye looking into the living room.
At first, in the dimness, everything seemed as it should be. The sofa, chairs and coffee table looked like dirty blobs in the murky darkness.
But some little scratching noises drew my attention towards the mantlepiece.
And there, with its back to me, was the large, unmistakable shape of a Pookintabbilnoopod.
I drew in my breath sharply, then bit my lip to stop it hearing me. It was too busy and hadn’t heard me. Yet.
Despite the camouflage of darkness, I could make out its body shape. Being the tallest and strangest looking Universal, I didn’t really need to see any other details to know what it was.
There was simply nothing else in the Universe like it.
Its skin, if you can call it that, was wrinkled and baggy, like a spacesuit which was too big.
And it was the colour of… well really there’s only one thing that colour. Even in the shadows, the yellowish and pinkish folds reflected like vomit on a patchily lit pavement.
The shadows in the room added mottled grey and black spots, and deep additional folds of skin across its back created dark, rolling chasms against the yellow and pink skin, like an oil spill in a churning sea of sick.
It had tufts of greenish and yellowish-brown fur, the colour of rotting leaves, growing out of its body in places you wouldn’t expect a creature to have fur.
Sparse, irregular tufts grew on its knees and elbows (or about halfway along its thin, gangly limbs), and even though I couldn’t see its face right now, I knew tufts also grew on the part of its face you might call cheeks, right under its eyes. And even under its feet.
Which meant it could walk very quietly.
So perhaps it had made those crashing sounds when it had first landed in my house.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention. Those dark folds across its back were wings. Pookintabbilnoopods can also fly.
Okay, so perhaps I should say something about who I am.
My name is Ilnoblet Elmer.
Well, that’s the short version. And really, I’m just an ordinary boy.
My first name is Ilnoblet, that much is true. And my family’s surname is Elmer, so that’s my surname too.
Okay, my Earthian family, that is.
My real, proper, full name is… wait for it…
… Ilnoblet Hysnificanker Gapiton Earth-Link Swainderzink 589-642.
I look like an Earthian boy, and I have Earthian friends and family.
Like I said, I’m just like any other Earthian boy.
But not many Earthians know I’m really from somewhere else. Not even my family or friends.
And it’s sometimes a little tricky to keep the truth from them.
Especially when Universal baddies like the Mootilokygogrifies and Pookintabbilnoopods keep coming to Earth, looking for me and trying to make trouble.
Many Iconics ago, some Universals called the Bryarcentarians had assimil-nihilated a few Gapitonians who were visiting Bryarcentar for research. In retaliation the Gapitonians had gone and pretty much wiped them out, using the Radion-Nexuas Dreadoficker, a very powerful and destructive old weapon.
It was so destructive that it devastated most of their planet.
The Gapitonians had got into trouble about that.
A lot of trouble.
But we’re not that warlike anymore.
And we’re never, ever allowed to use the Radion-Nexuas Dreadoficker again.
I say ‘we’ because I’m Gapitonian too. Well, part Gapitonian.
Technically, I’m now Gapitonian-Earthian.
If you’re wondering about some of the weird words and spellings I’m using - well, they’re Gapitonian-Earthian transliterations. They’re like translations from my Gapitonian language into the closest Earthian English words which are roughly similar in meaning.
To make it easier, there’s a Glossary at the end of this book, so you can look things up and learn to speak Gapitonian-Earthian too!