When Herr Biar and his son, Amie and Joseph dragged their dripping bodies back to the house, Frau Biar was on the front porch sweeping the last of the cockroach carcases into a pile on the garden path.
‘Ooh! Someone’s been unartig! Sehr unartig!’ Wilma said.
Frau Biar stopped her sweeping and placed her hands on her hips. ‘Who left the door open?’
‘Oops, sorry!’ said Amie.
‘You weren’t to know,’ Frau Biar said. ‘At least they were only kleine ones this time. I doused them mit vinegar. They don’t seem to like vinegar.’
‘And all out of a dead rooster.’
Frau Biar sighed. ‘What did you do this time to upset Herr Roach?’
‘Ich weiss nicht,’ Herr Biar said.
Friedrich shrugged and then avoiding eye contact with anyone, crept towards the door. He looked like he was guilty—of something…
‘Oh, no, you can’t go in,’ Wilma said, ‘the floor ist wet.’
‘But I’m wet and cold. I need to dry by the fire.’ Friedrich trembled.
Amie hugged her wet waist and she shivered. ‘We can’t stand here, Frau Biar. We’ll die of cold.’
‘I know that,’ Frau said. ‘Here, we will make a bonfire in the garden. We will burn the cockroaches and dry you all at the same time.’
‘Sounds good to me,’ said the father. ‘Und, I’ll douse the yard and by the lake with oil and then burn off to rid our land of cockroaches.’
‘Great! A bonfire! It’ll be like New Year’s!’ Friedrich cheered.
‘Careful you don’t start a wildfire,’ Frau Biar warned.
‘We have to do something.’ Herr Biar shrugged. ‘I’ll be careful, I promise.’
‘You better,’ Jane Biar said, then struck a match on the slate step and lit the fire.
Joseph nudged Amie. ‘Don’t—’
The Biar family gathered sticks and piled them on the mound of roaches. Meanwhile Amie hung back and argued with Joseph.
‘Why can’t I talk?’ she whispered in English. Amie had visions of the family, Joseph and her, dying from the stench of cooked cockroach.
‘They already think you have a big mouth. You’re a girl, remember?’
‘You’re in the world of the Wends, and the Wends are from the olden times, the nineteenth century—what now is Eastern Germany. In those times girls never spoke up.’
‘Well that’s a stupid idea,’ Amie muttered. ‘What did women do? Stay barefoot and pregnant?’
Joseph chucked a stick into the flames. ‘More or less.’
‘So much for women’s liberation.’
‘Not for another hundred years.’
‘Maybe they should think about some changes—I mean, if Dad here had listened to his wife, maybe they wouldn’t be in this mess—on another planet being conned by this cockroach Boris character and bullied by him.’
They stepped up to the growing fire and spread their hands over the flames.
Frau Biar scurried into the house, and then emerged carrying blankets. Amie, Joseph, Herr Biar and Friedrich, under the cover of their blankets, peeled off their damp clothes. Then, wrapped in their blankets they began to thaw by the bonfire. Friedrich snuggled up to his father and soon both sat curled against each other, and dozing.
A second sun shimmered on the horizon and the morning buzzed with heat.
Amie turned to Joseph. ‘This place is crazy. We’re not staying.’
‘I don’t know. I quite like the place. The Wends grow on you.’
Amie rolled her eyes. ‘Suit yourself. But I’m not hanging around to see what this Boris guy’s going to get up to. Anyway, my Dad’s going to be stressed out ‘cos I’m missing.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: Bonfire © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
Curious who exactly is this Boris character? Read about the first, too close for comfort encounter with this alien in my novella,
The Hitch-hiker, free on Amazon Kindle from May 3 to 7, 2017.