The Playmate


The first time they met was in the garden. Normally John would not have been out that late. But that evening his parents had company, and had allowed him to stay up late.

The people and the noise made the inside of the house an unbearable place to be. He had therefore gone outside to rest his ears a bit. Out here the music sounded almost soporific, and for a while he considered fetching his duvet and pillow and lie down to sleep under a tree.

The garden seemed larger than usual, so that the house almost disappeared from his view. The bushes looked flat in the darkness, as if made of cardboard. But they also contained a whispering he had not noticed before. A whispering that penetrated his inner ear like ice cold water, and made him giddy.

And there, among the outlines of known objects, he found one that he did not know. He walked over quickly, as if worried that it would disappear before he had identified it.

But the little figure did not move. The shape flickered as his brain explored all possibilities. A lost toy, a cat, a tree stub, a child.

The figure was at least a head shorter than he, but broader, almost conical. The arms, which stuck out comically, almost touched the ground, as its legs were extremely short.

The boy was curious to see its face, and it suddenly appeared in a moon beam, very broad with large staring eyes over a broad mouth and a turned-up nose in between. The creature looked as friendly as it looked alien, and John was not as afraid as he would have expected.

“Hello!” he said. “What s your name?”

The creature flapped its arms and doddered slightly forwards on its huge plates. “Are you a troll?” asked the boy. “You look like a troll. Where do you come from?”

The creature stretched. The little man reached towards the sky and yawned.

“From up there?” asked the boy. “From space?” The creature nodded contentedly.

“John?” It was his father calling.

“I have to go now,” said John. “I'll be back tomorrow. Are you hungry? Shall I bring you some food? I'M COMING!” The creature groaned and pulled its head back between its shoulders.

When John looked back the second time, it was gone. John told no-one of his acquaintance with the extra terrestrial, and this made the following day uncommonly long.

This time he waited till his parents had gone to bed. He took a half-eaten bar of chocolate and a picture book and went out into the night.

The alien was standing on exactly the same spot, as if it had not moved since yesterday. It munched gratefully at the chocolate and listened to the boy s chattering.

“I've brought a book,” said John. “It's called: The Earth.

Here you see all the countries and inhabitants. It s a geography book for children.

I have grown out of it, so you can have it for keeps. The scholars of your planet will be able to learn much from it about our planet.”

The little man leafed through the book clumsily while John pointed and explained. In the end he grew sleepy and once again took his leave promising to return.

At school John asked his teacher whether she thought that creatures from other planets had landed on earth, and if so, where they might have come from.

“Some people think so,” she answered. “The universe is infinite. Maybe there really are other sentient beings out there. And if there are, why shouldn't they visit us?”

“Where do you come from?” John asked the alien the following night. “I mean, which planet? Where is your space craft, by the way?”

The space man wobbled round and signaled for John to follow. They walked far on paths which John couldn't remember having seen before. But then everything looks different at night.

In the end they came to a large forest, and the moon almost disappeared behind the tall trees. Now John noticed a different light, a light which grew stronger as they approached its source.

A weird round object stood on the forest floor. The light came from a window at the front. It was so strong that it made it impossible to look inside the vehicle.

“Are you going home now?” asked the boy sadly. The creature nodded, friendly as always.

“If only I could come with you!” whined the boy. “Can I take a trip in your space craft before you leave?”

The space man doddered over in his good-natured way and pressed a button. The entire front part of the space craft glided down, and he carefully helped the boy climb up.

It was no big ship, there was room for one person only. He pressed the button again, and the ship closed.

Then he adjusted a large disc beneath the window pane. The machine started to buzz, and John waved to the little man.

The little man turned around and strolled towards the thicket. He rummaged around the forest floor for a while, finding some roots here, some mushrooms there. Then he made his way back to the shining object.

He took his time. No more than an hour had passed, and if there is one thing that forest trolls hate it is a little boy that is not properly done.



This text is a story from the book "Skrækkens ABC" (ABC of Horror).
COPYRIGHT © Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff and Borgen Publishers, 1992
Translated by Robin Wildt Hansen.
All Rights Reserved
First published 1992 by Borgen Publishers.
This text may under no circumstances be resold or redistributed for compensation of any kind, in either printed, electronic, or any other forms, without prior written permission from Borgen Publishers.
For further information contact Borgens Forlag, Valbygaardsvej 33, DK-2500 Copenhagen Valby, Denmark, phone +45 46 36 21 00, fax +45 36 44 14 88