I’ve been a sleepwalker all my life, on and off.
Back in February, the thud of an alien falling to Earth woke me up in the middle of the tram tracks in Princes Street. Nobody else was around. Just me and this dead alien, with only the dusky city skyline for company.
The alien was the size of a football. It had things resembling arms and legs, although not in the same places as my arms and legs. I know CPR. Maybe I should have tried to save it. But for all I know about alien anatomy, I could have ended up pumping and blowing away at its reproductive organs. I prefer to at least go for coffee first, so I just let it stay dead with its dignity intact.
I didn’t want the morning rush hour inconvenienced due to an extra-terrestrial on a main transport line, so I scooped it up, carried it home and hid it in my wardrobe. I went back to bed, woke up and took the tram to work, where all day people queued to tell me I’d fucked up their lives and they wanted to speak to a supervisor. My supervisors told me to deal with it myself. My managers told me they planned to automate my job anyway. My directors told me how rich they were getting. How crucial we were to it all. The heart and soul. On my half-hour lunch break, I went on my phone and scrolled through as much bad news as I could to remind myself others were worse off than me. I got home and went straight to bed without eating or looking in the wardrobe.
Next morning, I had two dead aliens in there. The morning after, three. By the end of the following week, my wardrobe was overflowing with dead aliens.
The internet tells you to take warm baths before bed. Get a regular sleeping pattern. Eat good food. Stay off the drink and drugs.
The internet has no advice for acquiring dead aliens in the middle of the night.
By Summer, I stopped having people round to my place because I could no longer hide all the dead aliens. By October, my floor was a ball-pit of dead aliens.
I had nothing to wear for Halloween, so I took one out with me. Won a prize for best costume. That night, more than one person came up to me and said, “Hey, I really love your dead alien. Can I tell you something?”
On November 1st, I founded the Fallen Alien Society. By December, we had members from every country in the world. People were finding dead aliens in alleyways and toilet cubicles and park benches, hiding them in cupboards and garages and warehouses.
Their dead aliens keep piling up, as do mine. Nobody in the society has figured out how to stop it or what to do with them.
I still sleepwalk. I still doomscroll. After a hard day, I still go straight to bed without eating.
But now, at least when those tram tracks go thud in the middle of the night, I feel a little less alone.
Neil Clark lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. His collection of cosmic stories – TIME. WOW. – is out now on Back Patio Press. You can find him on Twitter @NeilRClark or visit neilclarkwrites.com for a full list of publications.