Following on Part 11:
Many people milled around the stricken doorman, and a woman claiming to be a doctor was soon crouched beside him and confirming that he had a pulse. In the general confusion Adrig nodded his head towards Edrig to indicate that they should try to leave the scene, which they did carefully and slowly as they heard cries of, 'What happened?', 'Did anyone see?' and 'Looks like a fainting fit to me.'
'Just keep walking my boy,' commanded Adrig. 'This way, towards the park. Just keep walking.'
And then eventually, after they had got a good distance away and crossed a road, Adrig decided that they should run.
'You know that guy might tell the police about the stunner,' Edrig called out as they ran into the park.'
'I know, I know. I think we better go home then come back later.'
'Go home? To the Lady Lord? Without her footballers?'
'I know. I know... Let's just see what's up with the pod first. Let's just see if going home is still an option!'
Edrig's concern reached a new level in response to that, and as he contemplated the prospect of being trapped on 717 he realised many people in the park were looking at them. He considered what a strange sight and sound they must present, squawking loudly at each other in their unintelligible high pitched native language as they ran in their garish clothes towards the pod.
By the time they reached the far side of the park nobody else was around, apart from Alan and Edmund, sitting on their park bench and enjoying cans of super-strength lager that were the fruits of an afternoon of begging. A few empty discarded cans lay on the ground beside them.
'Oh damn!' shouted Edrig, at the same time as noticing with relief that the pod was still there but seemed to have been moved a few yards nearer to the seat. Had the old guys been tampering with it? Had they pushed it?
'No so bad lad. Not so bad,' announced Adrig. 'Our pod is still there and I think we may have found our footballers.'
'What! They're old guys. They're not footballers.'
'Would you rather return with nobody for her Lady Lorship? I think we have to get out of here fast, or the police may be looking for us, and from what we have seen people are wearing around here it is not going to be difficult for them to find us. Adapt to survive young man. Adapt to survive. That is the essence of good planning.'
'Good planning!' exclaimed Edrig. And then he was left speechless as he pondered the mess they were in and the plan that Adrig was forming to get out of it.
And then they were getting close to the two homeless drunks, so Adrig ensured they slowed to a steady walking pace, trying to seem as calm as they could.
'This will have to be done quick,' said Adrig, clearly thinking fast. 'How can I get them in? How? Ah...'
Edrig was considering that stunning the two old guys and trying to lift and shove them through the narrow hatchway would be very difficult.
'Hello fine fellows.'
Alan and Edmund looked up at Adrig but had clearly not understood his attempt at communication. So Adrig tried to lower his voice still more.
'Hello fine fellows. It is a nice evening. Would you like to share some whisky with us?'
'Whisky?' asked Alan, having clearly understood that word at least.
There then followed a sequence of introductions and negotiations, in which Adrig tried to convince Alan and Edmund that he had plenty of whisky in his van, while Alan and Edmund didn't understand much apart from the repeated word 'whisky'. This eventually got them onto their feet, rather unsteadily, and induced them to approach the van cautiously while Adrig repeated, 'whisky, whisky,' as he pointed at the van like someone trying to entice a cat towards its food.
At the side of the van Adrig swiped the hatch with his palm and waved his hand in a welcoming manner at the narrow entrance, while repeating, 'whisky' several more times.
'You've got whisky in there?' Edmund asked.
'Yes. A session. Us four men. Drinking whisky together. A good laugh.'
The unusual entry opening did not seen to faze the drunks at all, and pretty soon Alan had been convinced to try to squeeze himself in, but the opening seemed too tight. So he withdrew, took off his heavy overcoat, then tried again, and this time he just made it through.
'Jeezo! What a nifty place this is in here!' he shouted, and on hearing that Edmund seemed keen to follow.
Which was the moment when Adrig noticed his communicator lying beside the path some distance away, and he also noticed a group of people at the far side of the park, and approaching.
'Get him in and get yourself in!' shouted Adrig. 'I've dropped my damn communicator.'
Just as Adrig headed off to retrieve his communicator Edmund half crawled and was half pushed inside, but as he went in his foot hit a switch just beside the hatch on the inside, and within two seconds the hatch slammed shut.
Adrig's palm was the only one that would open the hatch. Bad planning that, Edrig thought, wondering why it had not been programmed to accept his palm as well.
'They've hit the door switch!' Edrig called out, clearly alarmed. 'It's shut them in!'
'Ha ha! Don't worry lad, I'm coming. I've got it. Here I come!'
Inside the pod, Alan and Edmund retained sufficient awareness to be concerned that the hatch had slammed shut, leaving them trapped in semi darkness, but with a large green button flashing on the wall beside them.
'That'll be the open switch maybe?' suggested Edmund. 'Hit it. Hit it.'
And so Alan did indeed hit the flashing green button, vaguely noticing the squiggles across it, but of course completely unaware that what those squiggles said in Adrig and Edrig's language was Auto Return.
Thus it was just as Adrig was returning to the pod, with his palm ready to swipe at the hatch, that the sophisticated vehicle began to hum and de-materialise.
'What?' screamed Edrig, horrified.
'Oh my god!' shouted Adrig, 'They must have pressed the damn Auto Return button. It's too late now. They're on their way!'
And within seconds the pod had seemingly vaporised, while a rather thin beam of light shot skywards, growing brighter as it ascended.
Then it was gone, all trace of it hidden behind some low cloud that was moving in, and Adrig and Edrig were left standing beside the two discarded overcoats, dressed in their brightly coloured 70s gear, all alone on Planet Earth while, on the path, those people were still approaching.