by Ellis Taylor 1977
I first started composing this series of stories in 1977, well before the film E.T. was released, and it has some similarities. I adapted it from a part-autobiographical story I used to tell my daughter when she was little. The story is set in South Oxfordshire, where I grew up.
It isn’t finished, and it does need editing.
Early one morning a curious light appeared on the horizon, moving very swiftly through the early morning haze down towards the big hill at the end of the lane. Just as it reached the oak trees at the top of the hill, the light stopped, popped and turned into a small object that looked rather like a mustard pot. Floating gently down in short jerky movements it landed on a small patch of grass right beside a big oak tree. There was another pop and a flash, a door opened and out stepped Plog.
Plog was a visitor from Mai, a planet far out in deep space. Standing 90 cms tall in his soft silvery boots he had long arms and short legs. He was bald and missing a nose but he did have two very large eyes that peered out from inside a glass-like helmet. His body which resembled a ribbed ice-cream cone was clothed in a stretchy blue one- piece suit.
Where his neck should have been was a jade green belt studded with seven flashing crystals. Through these crystals he could speak, express his emotions and sense things like smell. Each crystal was a different colour that corresponded to the colours of the rainbow. It was very easy to tell how Plog was feeling by the colour of his rainbow belt.
Plog had landed atop a small hill called White Lamb Clumps where Plog could see a hedge, a wooden gate and beyond that a little country lane that wound down the hill flanked by hedges and fields. In the distance he could just make out the lights of a small village.
“What a strange place, place,” said Plog out loud. “It seems a bit dark, though, though. I wonder if anyone’s around, around.”
Just then a breeze drifted through the top of a large oak tree beside him causing the leaves to rustle. Plog approached the oak tree and addressed it in his politest voice.
“Good morning Sir, Sir. My name is Plog, and I’m lost, lost. Would you mind telling me where I am, am?” Plog waited for a reply, but of course the tree could not answer him. “I must say” thought Plog, flashing red. “These people are very rude.” Just then the sun began to shine and everywhere the birds broke into their first song of the day.
A little later as Plog gazed at the perfect blue sky, and the abundant lush greenery, watched the bustling bird-life and dancing butterflies he thought he must have arrived in heaven.
“I wonder why that big scaly person was so rude when he lives in such a beautiful place like this? Some people just don’t appreciate anything,” Plog mused as he set off to explore; and very soon Plog’s band of crystals were flashing a glorious blue.
Plog had never seen anything as lovely as this. There were no trees, birds, nor even grass where he came from. There were roads of a sort, but not like this small country lane he was hopping and skipping down. Plog felt like he was going to burst with happiness, everything was so wonderful and as he made his way down the lane he began to sing.
“Back in the land of Mai, Mai
We dance and sing, sing
On a brand new day, day …….”
Suddenly he stopped. There was a loud rustling noise coming from the hedge. The twinkling crystals quickly turned to red, orange and yellow as he gingerly made his way over to the noise.
“Hello, my name is Plog, Plog” he said to the hedge and just then a huge tawny head appeared above him. “Moooo” said the head and Plog nearly jumped out of his shiny shoes.
“And Moooo to you too, too.” said Plog. “You frightened me, you nasty old thing, thing,” sobbed Plog as he picked himself up and brushed the dust of his suit…his belt turning a fiery red and then a peachy orange. But the cow just stared back at him with her big brown eyes, and just carried on chewing her mouthful of shiny green grass.
Just then though he heard a different noise, a familiar kind of a noise, a happy vibrant kind of noise…and the noise was coming closer.
Plog ducked down behind a bush and peered through the leaves. Coming up the lane he could see a band of small people, children, approaching. It was Ellie, Abbie, Johnny and Harry. Ellie had dark-brown shoulder length hair. She was a pretty, olive skinned girl with a strong personality. She liked to mother Abbie and to a certain extent the two boys, Johnny and Harry.
Abbie had curly blond hair that her mother liked to arrange in pigtails. She hated them, mostly because the boys at school pulled them when they felt bored, and the teacher wasn’t looking. She was quite a shy girl, very pretty, almost angelic to look at; but, if she was pushed too far… then look out! Johnny and Harry could both vouch for this; they’d both sported red ears from pulling her pigtails just once too often. Unfortunately, as is the manner of most boys they didn’t know when to stop. In spite of this the four children were great friends and spent their spare time together at every opportunity. Johnny was the
clown, he had wavy fair hair over a cheeky round face. He was shorter than Ellie but taller than Abbie. Johnny wore glasses but he was always breaking them. Consequently, his glasses were always patched together with bits of tape and string. Harry liked to think he was the leader. He could be a bit of a bossy-boots. He was tall and fair-haired with a thin angled face. People would consider him quite a serious boy but he would say that he was the sensible one.
Ellie, Abbie and Johnny are 9 years old but Harry had just had his birthday and was now 10. This of course made him feel very important.
As Plog peeked from behind the bush he could see Ellie and Abbie holding hands and skipping. Johnny was pedalling a bicycle with Harry sitting on the saddle behind him. The busy, happy chatter of their voices excited Plog so much that he jumped from behind the bush. Ellie and Abbie stopped in their tracks; Johnny jammed his brakes on so hard that he and Harry tumbled to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. The speed at which the boys stood up scared the pants of Plog and he dived back behind the hedge.
“Moooo,” said the cow.
“Aaaagh! Aaaagh!” screamed Plog dashing back into the lane and tumbling down the verge.
“There he is,” shouted Harry, pointing towards Plog and rubbing his sore knees.
“Hey you!” shouted Johnny. “You shouldn’t scare people like that.”
“I’m sorry, sorry,” replied the little alien. He’d landed on his bottom on the dry dusty road, and he began to sob… and his collar throbbed an orange hue.
“Hey come on little one, don’t cry, there’s no need,” said Ellie kindly.
“Why don’t you come and play with us,” Johnny suggested. “We’re going to the swinging tree, it’s great fun. Ellie was the first to find it so we call it Ellie’s tree.”
“Yes come on, do come” they all chorused as they dragged poor Plog to his feet.
“What’s your name?” asked Harry.
“My name is Plog, Plog.”
“Plog, Plog?” said Johnny. “What a funny name” and they all started laughing.
“No, no my name is Plog, Plog,” said Plog.
“That’s what we said, said ,” ribbed Johnny, and all the friends couldn’t stop laughing.
“No Plog is my name, name,” said Plog who was slightly annoyed and embarrassed at the same time.
“Name, name!” replied Johnny. “Are you sure you’re name is not Echo?” Harry and Johnny curled up at such a funny joke.
“Oh don’t be so cruel you two,” interrupted Abbie, sometimes you both think you are so smart.”
“Where have you come from Plog?” asked Ellie.
“Yes, where have you come from? the others joined in. “Are you on your holidays?”
“Yes … yes, yes,” answered Plog. “That’s right, right … on my holidays, holidays.”
“Why are you on your own?” asked Harry. “Surely you can’t be on holidays without any grown-ups, you’re much too little.”
“I am not, not,” replied Plog indignantly. “I’ll have you know that I am the tallest in my family, family.”
“AH HA HA HA!” roared Johnny. “The tallest in your family? What a fib. How can you be taller than your mum and dad, you’re not even as tall as us.”
“I am so, so,” countered Plog.
“Fibber, fibber,” taunted Johnny.
“Oh shut up Johnnie!” said Ellie. “We won’t have time to play at this rate, come on let’s go.”
“Where are we going, going?” protested Plog.
“We’re going right to the top of that hill,” Harry informed him, pointing exactly to where Plog had just come from.
…”Oh, no,” thought Plog, ‘They will find my ship. What on Earth am I going to do?’
Before Plog had time to think of a plan Ellie grabbed him by the hand and started to run towards the hill.
“Can’t you run properly either?” teased Johnny. “Only girls skip!”
Plog didn’t know how to run like the other children. Instead of walking he hopped with both feet moving at the same time.
His flexible body would compress and then quickly expand to shoot him into the air; his legs were so short there wasn’t any room for knees. With his elastic body he didn’t need them anyway because when he wanted to go faster he would just bound.
Everyone back home moved around like this. It wasn’t HIM who was odd, it was THEM.
“That’s not skipping, that’s hopping, said Harry”.
“Same difference,” said Johnny.
Plog couldn’t understand what was happening. His crystals were a constant orange. Why were the boys making fun of him? It is not nice to make fun of others just because they are different. The girls seemed kind though. Plog decided that the boys were probably just showing off and decided not to take them seriously.
“I have told you my name, name. Do you think you could tell me yours, yours?”
“Of course” said Harry” “I’m Harry, this is Abbie. The stupid one is Johnny.”
“And I’m Ellie” said Ellie squeezing Plog’s hand. “Come on everyone, let’s have some fun.”
It wasn’t long before they reached Ellie’s oak tree.
“I’ll go first!” shouted Harry diving onto the rope.
“And me,! yelled Johnny, leaping on top of Harry.
“Whooooah look out!” Harry screamed as they both crashed to the ground.
“You idiot Johnny,! shouted Harry. “That was your fault.”
“Aahh, I thought you could hold on tighter than that.” Johnny gasped, a little winded from his tumble.
“I wish you two would grow up,” Ellie said crossly. “Anyway you should have let Plog go first, he’s our guest.”
“Would you like to have a turn Plog?” asked Abbie.
Plog wasn’t sure after seeing what had happened to Johnny and Harry.
“Go on, it’s good fun” Ellie assured him. “We can hold on to you the first time if you like, you won’t fall. Come on.”
As his collar flashed intermittently orange through yellow, Ellie and Abbie lifted Plog up to the rope. Plog held on for dear life. The girls pushed him gently backwards and forwards.
“Shall we let go of you now?”
Plog felt he ought to at least pretend to be brave, so he agreed, reluctantly. As soon as he left the ground he lost his nerve stretched his body and all of a sudden he was two metres tall and standing on the ground. You should have seen the children, they looked like those wide-mouthed sideshow clown dummies that you throw ping-pong balls into.
“WHOAAAAA!” they screamed as they scattered like buckshot into the woods.
“What’s the matter, matter, ” Plog shouted after the fleeing children, letting go of the rope and chasing after them. Plog thought there must be a monster or something coming after them.
“Get away from us, H.E.E.E.L.L.P.! Go awAAYY!” the poor children were terrified.
“Get away from us, H.E.E.E.L.L.P.! H.E.E.E.L.L.P.! Go awAAYY! Go awAAY!” screamed Plog, his crystals madly flashing yellow, not thinking to look behind him, to see what was chasing them. “What is it, it?” “What is it, it?” he called to them.
The kids had never been chased by a two metre tall blue ice cream cone before. What did he expect?
“Wait for me, me!”
The kids weren’t going to wait for Plog, but he didn’t know that. In their panic to escape the friends ran into the thickest and tangliest part of the wood. Ellie glanced behind her tripped and fell into a deep hole. It was a dry abandoned well shaft that had once belonged to a long gone cottage. She was lucky, she managed to break her fall on some tree roots that were growing through the walls of the shaft and landed softly on the leaf- strewn floor far below.
© Ellis Taylor