O’Malley crashed into the police station and stumbled towards the front desk. The duty sergeant glanced up from his crossword puzzle.
“This is a turn-up!” he laughed. “You bringing yourself in. Your usual cell do you?”
O’Malley shook his head. The sergeant could smell the whisky. “Lock me up if you must,” the old drunkard sounded weary, “but first hear what I have to tell you.”
“Favourite for tomorrow’s 1:15 at Chepstow is it?”
“Will you just listen? I ain’t after talking about racing tips on this occasion. I’ve seen it – something terrible – and I’m telling you so you can do something about it.”
“Oh?” the duty sergeant actually put down his pen. He folded his arms. “Go on then – and this better be good.”
O’Malley leant over the counter, his eyes wide and urgent.
“Up the hill behind the flats,” he swung his arm in the vague direction of the location he mentioned. “I’d just come out of the Cobbler’s Arms and I was after taking a short cut. Well, I hadn’t gone far when the call of nature forced me to seek out a – well, you can imagine. I found a bush and I was just finishing my business when I saw it. Just hovering in the air, about as far from the end of my nose as you are now.”
The duty sergeant felt his nose itch. “What was it?”
O’Malley’s face contorted into a mask of wonder. “Oh, it was beautiful! A perfect sphere, like a soap bubble but made of something else. Not glass, not even thin air. But there it was just hanging in front of my very eyes. Like it was having a good look at me. And then it bobs away, about six foot off the ground. Well, I zips up and stumbles after it. It was heading towards the first block of flats and getting higher and higher. I had to strain my eyes to see it and then, all of a sudden, it comes rushing back at me. Fair bowls me over, it does. See here on my hands, where I’ve skinned them on the tarmac. That bloody ball thing did that to me. That sphere! That orb! And then I picks myself up and it was gone.”
The duty sergeant sighed. He’d been a fool to entertain the old drunkard’s latest tall tale. He got to his feet and reached for a bunch of keys. “Come on then; number three. You can sleep it off in there.”
But O’Malley clung to the counter. “They’re here, I tells you! They’ve come at last! That was just the first. There’ll be millions of them. It’s the end of the world as we know it!”
“Now, now, I’m sure it’s nothing like that. Probably a kid’s toy you saw. They have all sorts these days.”
O’Malley let out a wail. “It weren’t no toy! They’re coming, I tells you.”
It took the duty sergeant and two other officers a while to peel O’Malley away from the desk and steer him toward the cell. He would have a sore head in the morning and would remember nothing of this latest wild claim.
But up on the hill, near the tower blocks, a tiny craft in the guise of a colourless orb hovered in the air.
“Shit,” said one of the occupants. “They’re onto us. Abort the mission!”