He had seemed so normal in his abnormality. No different from dozens of my peers at school, girls and boys, in that respect. A generation of ordinary kids with freakish personality traits, or freakish kids who had somehow managed to contain themselves within the ordinary every day reality of late 20th century Britain, and who had, come the 21st century, freakishly blossomed, or wilted.
The day the ambulance men came, I should have handed him over to them. The psychiatrist on call at A&E would not have taken anything like as long as it took me to realise he ought to be sectioned. But I had taken him in, I had allowed myself to become responsible for him, and more than that, to fall heavily in love with the contrast between his slim wildness and his unassuming gentleness. And now he was waving bread knives in the face of my petrified elderly neighbours. How I managed to talk them out of ringing the police, I have very little idea. I remember begging them not to, without suggesting who exactly it was that they should not call. I blamed Bill’s ‘somnambulant nightmares’, which wasn’t so very far from the truth. As long as they don’t open the door in the middle of the night again, I don’t think they’ll come to any harm at his hands. And at least he was sufficiently surprised by their appearance – visibly elderly humans who have almost certainly never raised a hand against anyone their whole lives long – not to think that they were the Peldastiquon or Gedavippio he now believes are keeping him here against his will.
I froze though when he accused me of being in league with them. Then I exploded with frustration at how my care, my love, was being misinterpreted. ‘Go if you think anyone is keeping you here – no-one, least of all me, is standing in your way.’ For more than a solitary moment I thought the bread knife was going to end up in me. Those same ambulance men would be back to hurry me away for life-saving surgery; my consciousness heightened by imminent death, I could hear their conversation over my prone body as the ambulance rushed me away: ‘I knew there was something fishy about that bloke’. But it seemed to bring him to his senses, and I led him inside to bed.
There was always the possibility that my retired neighbours would think better of accepting my entreaties and appeasement, and ring the police to tell them about the knife-wielding homicidal maniac that I was harbouring next door. That was just one of the thoughts that was keeping me awake as he slept. In the absence of sleeping pills, I had given him three antihistamine tablets – one had always been enough to knock me out.
But the police calling and what the homicidal maniac might do to me in the privacy of my own home were not in fact the source of my greatest anxiety. Could there be anything worse than this dual threat to a continued and peaceable existence? Well, yes, there could.
I was as certain as my potter’s hand that I was pregnant. For the fifth time. That it was the fifth time gave my certainty a strong case, without any need to test it. The ‘man’ who must be the father was under the impression that he was an alien from a planet called Badezon. I couldn’t help feeling that a paranoid, homicidal extraterrestrial was not ideal fatherhood material, nor for supporting a woman through a fifth pregnancy when the previous four had all ended prematurely. But he couldn’t do worse than the uncommunicative, listless earthling who had overseen each successive failure with increasingly grim reluctance. No, that was not quite fair. Who but a saint would not have wished to escape from the repetitive horror of that time?
Of course I was scared that history was about to repeat itself one dangerously final time. But the fear was intermingled with sudden stabs of optimism and joy that went beyond those I had experienced before. Perhaps that’s what it took to allow me to make it to term and beyond – alien genes! I had often had the sense that Bill was directed to me; by what force I hesitated to speculate. But might this not be an act of kindness on that force’s part? Hadn’t I always known that by allowing Bill into my house in the first place, I was giving my consent to whatever followed? Leaving aside the craziness of the notion that inestimable and unknowable forces might be persuaded into acts of kindness, and the opposing sense that I might really be the subject of an inter-species experiment, I was incredulous that the part of me that I had exerted such an effort to control and then to shut away for good, that part had now burst back into centre stage of my mind, projecting madly, calling out to its audience – my body – to raise the theatre’s rafters with its applause and festoon the platform with flowers, milking the congratulations, revelling in the glory, and seeing nothing but a rosy future for us all together.
What a majestic combination we would make: human, alien, and humano-alien child.