“He’s only gone and bloody done it again,” said Mr. Russell, pointing at the hillock of piled-up rubbish bags outside the house on the other side of the street.
“What’s that, love?” said Mrs. Russell, barely looking up from her post-coital cup of tea and copy of Woman’s Own.
“That bloke opposite us. Number 33. He’s over-filled his rubbish bins. The bags are all piling up on the pavement.” He shook his head in despair. “That’s the second week in a row. The foxes’ll be at them, mark my words. Then there’ll be fox shit all over the street.” He turned to his wife, who, in turn, turned the page of her magazine. “How the hell can one man produce so much rubbish?”
“Well why don’t you go over,” said Mrs. Russell, taking a bite out of a chocolate digestive, “and ask him?”
“Oh, I don’t think I need to do tha—” he began, but was interrupted by a cough from his wife that sounded an awful lot like “typical”.
“You know what?” Mr. Russell said, fixing his wife with a defiant stare and striding into the hall. “I think I just might do that.”
He was already reaching for the front door latch when he heard his wife say from the lounge: “Forgot something, love?”
He turned to see her dangling his trousers and pants from an idle finger. With a gruff exhalation he strode back to the lounge, duly snatched and donned his bottoms, his wife barely glancing from her magazine, and set off across the street.
* * *
Commander San’ook O’ng of the Inter-dimensional Waste Disposal Initiative sat in his control unit attached to Number 33’s cerebellum. He dexterously unfurled one of the black bags from the roll and placed it carefully over the aperture, holding it in place while the enormous refuse depositors back in his own dimension filled it with several million zooks of non-biodegradable garbage.
It was exhausting work, operating the Egad, and negotiating the species’ complex garbage disposal system was no mean feat either, especially if the Initiative’s operations in this dimension were to remain undetected. If only the aperture had appeared in some remote, uninhabited region rather than right in the centre of an Egad’s nest. But, O’ng had to periodically remind himself, such an opportunity could not be squandered.
The knock on the door shocked him. Certain encounters they had learnt to anticipate—registered post, paying the milkman, window cleaners; this knock was unanticipated, however, and sounded hostile.
“Mission control,” he radioed to Command HQ, which had set up its forward base on what they suspected was the Egad‘s version of a telephote. “This is Commander O’ng, did you hear that, over?”
“Commander O’ng, this is Mission control. We heard it all right. Our drones report that the visitor is Number 30, from the other side of the grey waste. To ignore him would cause undue suspicion. Misdirect only. Do not engage, over.”
“Understood. Over and out.”
He steered 33 to the door of the nest—there was a slight lag, as if the Egad were resisting, but Commander O’ng deftly wrestled its will back under his control, like a firm-handed construction Alpha directing a workforce of petulant new-born Deltas.
He raised the Egad’s upper right appendage, and with some concentration, flexed the digits in the particular way required to open the door.
* * *
The door opened and Mr. Russell cleared his throat. “Good morning,” he said as assertively as possible.
“Good morning,” said the man in number 33.
“Now, I’m sorry to bother you—no, damn—I’m not sorry—My wife told me—no, no—I decided—” Mr. Russell composed himself. “Look here, neighbour. These rubbish bags of yours are piling up something terrible. The foxes’ll be on them and before long the whole street will stink of fox business.”
“I’m sorYY-Y-Y,” said the man.
Mr. Russell raised an eyebrow. It sounded, he thought, like the man in number 33 was having trouble controlling his vocal chords. Had he upset him? Was he really so intimidating? Mr. Russell’s ego glowed at the possibility.
“Well I should imagine you are,” he said. “Get this sorted out or my wife will—I will—we will report you to the council.”
“It w-w-won’t haPPEN aGAaaain.”
The man looked on the brink of tears. “Right, well, good.” Mr. Russell nodded. “Good-bye, then.” He turned to leave, eager to return and tell his wife just how ruthless he’d been, when suddenly, from behind, came a voice rasping and panicked:
“Eh? What’s that?” He spun around.
“They came through a hole in the air, tiny aliens. They’re—using—us—as—a landfiLLL!”
“As a what? Look here, pal, I don’t—” But before he could finish his sentence, the man in number 33 had jerked an arm forwards, grabbed his shoulder, and was now proceeding to yank him into the house.
* * *
Words flashed on Commander O’ng’s translator. “Christ on a bike! Gettyer hands off me, you loony!”
“Code red. Code red.” O’ng barked into his comm system. “Activate emergency protocol 554. I need a take-over unit here now! I have engaged Number 30. I repeat. I have engaged 30!”
He’d managed to drag the Egad half-way through the entrance, but now it was regaining balance and pushing against 33’s chest. He couldn’t hold it, not for long. And if the Egad retreated across the grey waste and alerted the council of elders . . . We’ll be done for, O’ng thought. The Great Cleanup: our last chance—doomed. And what if the Egad found a way through the aperture—the havoc they’d wreak . . . We’re finished, thought O’ng. Finished.
* * *
“So, did you have a word with him, then?” asked Mrs Russell, closing her magazine. “You were over there long enough.”
Mr. Russell nodded, a little stiffly. His eyes were glassy, as if he’d seen strange and marvellous things.
“And what did he say?” asked Mrs. Russell.
“Nothing,” he answered. “Everything is fiIINE.”
“Bin Day” © 2017 by Dafydd McKimm. All rights reserved.
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