Author: Timothy Goss

Mother watched from the kitchen. Johnny witnessed her disgust, she no longer recognised her son, neither recognised nor understood him.

It was strange, one night three weeks ago he went to bed and everybody was acting and speaking normally, using words he understood, expressions that related, his mother and father said goodnight as he ascended the stairway. The following morning everything was changed, every action, every reaction, and every goddamn word was gibberish, like they were speaking in tongues, it was frightening.

Johnny watched them all dumbfounded. He knew what he was saying, he could hear what he was saying, he had not changed his vernacular and spoke as he always had. But mother and father and everyone else had changed. Presenters on the TV, with their recognisable smiles, spoke the same gobbledegook, the radio, the internet, everybody. He tried writing things down, but his parent’s just gesticulated their confusion and frustration. He used a couple of expletives in an attempt to provoke a reaction but achieved nothing. Neighbours came to examine him and asked questions he couldn’t understand in a language which made no sense. Everybody sounded the same using syntax with no rhythmic pattern, no formalised structure, they either grunted, groaned, or growled, it was positively simian in simplicity.

One morning Mother and father dragged young Johnny out of bed early, yelling their simian lingo as they did so. He was dressed and packed into the car within three minutes, breathless and befuddled. When they arrived he didn’t know where he was, the buildings were grey and ominous, hanging over the roadway ready to pounce.

They were introduced to an elderly man, who looked barely human, in a small blue office with a small white window. He was sat behind a small wooden frame desk with only a few things on it. He knew of mother and father shaking their hands knowingly, he then wiped his on an anti-bacterial disposable. This man opened a file on the desk in front of him and began to read aloud. Mother and father nodded their heads in unison, occasionally they looked at Johnny. Meanwhile, Johnny looked on bewitched, bewildered, and bemused by the entire affair.

After they had listened to the man behind the desk mother spoke for an extended period, father continued nodding. The man then spoke again raising two then three fingers. Next, he jotted something on a prescription pad. This was not Johnny’s usual surgery and he certainly wasn’t his Doctor. The Quack passed the script to mother and they left. He saw father wink at the receptionist as they passed.

Over the next few weeks and months, Johnny was forced to apply a topical gel to his throat, and he noticed that his food tasted strange. Mother and father showed him bottles of pills with odd markings on them, no words, no logical patterns, so he didn’t know what he was taking, but he took the pills anyway even though they gave him terrible gas. But still, his world became more and more isolated, weirder and weirder. Good friends visited less and less and Johnny retreated further and further from everybody and everything shutting himself away from an alien world.

In his room at night, his favoured place and time now, when the world outside was quieter and all the aliens were tucked up in bed, Johnny would stare out the window listening keenly for the words he understood. They had to be out there somewhere. His world, his people, his mother and father, had to be out there somewhere, he couldn’t be the only one?