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Alien Estate

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"So now I think you've seen all of it." But Peter and Penelope Harker weren't listening. Alan followed their gaze out of the window and sighed. Clyde was lying on his back on the pavement outside Sarah Jane's house, a small red alien pummelling him. Luke and Maria were trying to pull it off him, without much success. "Kids, eh?" He smiled, trying to make a joke of it. But it was enough to make up their minds not to buy the house.

Ian Goldsberry kept talking about the investment opportunities he could see in the house. Until an alien landed a spaceship in the middle of the road, giving off a sonic boom and smashing all of the windows at the front of the house. It took him a week to get new glass fitted and the insurance company still didn't believe his story. He'd probably still be arguing with them from America.

Susannah Payson had only made as far as the front door before the green-skinned alien's tentacles pulled her away.

Alan had almost given up on the selling the house. He hadn't seen anything odd when he'd viewed the house, before he bought it. But then he'd lived here a while without seeing anything odd, even though it was going on right under his nose. Maybe it had been cursed or maybe he was unconsciously having second thoughts about going. But no, it couldn't be the latter and he refused to believe the former. He wanted to go to America. He was excited about going to America. So was Maria - she wouldn't stop talking about it. They were definitely going to America.

Just as soon as they could sell the house.

"Someone's coming to see the house today," he said to Maria, over breakfast. "Can you tell Sarah Jane to make sure no aliens put them off?"

"She doesn't have control over all aliens," Maria replied, before she bit into her toast. "It's just bad luck."

"Don't talk with your mouth full," he said, on auto-pilot. "But if she can just try…" He raised his eyebrows hopefully, as he passed his daughter a mug of tea.

"I'll ask," Maria promised, after she'd swallowed, and left him with the washing up.

"Oh, you have some geraniums." Gita Chandra bent to smell the flowers Alan had bought this morning from the petrol station down the road. He'd stuck them in a vase in the living room, hoping to brighten the place up a little."I own a flower shop," Gita continued.

He smiled, glad something was going right, at least. "I can't say I have much of a green thumb, but the garden's big enough that you could do a lot with it."

He led them to the kitchen, where they could look out at the back garden. Gita enthused to her husband about what she could plant where. Alan didn't understand any of it. His flower knowledge hadn't extended much beyond what was a rose and what wasn't. Not that even that little piece of information had done him any good in his marriage, in the end. Living on a different continent from Chrissie might well be a good thing.

"Let's see the bedrooms," Gita decided. "You never can tell the size from photos, can you? How long have you lived here?" she asked Alan, after he'd waved them in the direction of the stairs.

"Not long," Alan replied. "About a year and a half."

"Now, this is nice," she said, stopping at the first room and giving the impression she hadn't really been listening.

"My daughter's bedroom," Alan said. The only thing he really knew about the Chandras was that they had a daughter Maria's age. But before he could continue there was a crash from outside. Alan's heart sunk, but he quickly ushered them into the room and attempted to help them forget what they'd just heard. "It's a good size really. Plenty of room for storage and for her to have her own space."

But Haresh was frowning. "What was that noise?"

"Just a car backfiring," Alan lied.

Haresh shook his head. "It sounded more like a car crashing into something. Perhaps we should take a look - someone might be hurt."

Alan went to the window. Haresh had been right - it was a car crashing into something. Or more accurately, something crashing into Sarah Jane's car. Something large and blue and definitely alien. He turned, blocking the window from Haresh, who was coming up behind him. "You were right," he said. "But there are people out there now. I don't think they want any more gawpers. And I'm pretty sure the woman who just moved in two doors down is a nurse."

Haresh didn't look convinced but fortunately for Alan, Gita was. "You don't have to be the hero in every situation." She smiled at her husband and patted his arm, and he seemed to relax.

"Perhaps you'd like to see the main bedroom," Alan said, partly to take their minds off what might be going on outside, but mostly because it was at the back of the house. Fortunately, they did want to see it. The amount that Gita exclaimed over everything made Alan hopeful that they'd buy the house. It was harder to tell what Haresh thought, but he got the impression it was Gita who made the decisions. If he could just keep them away from the aliens, he'd be all right.

"I think that's everything," he said, once they were back downstairs. But he was very glad he'd ended up facing the living room window because that meant the Chandras had their backs to the blue alien that now seemed to be eating Sarah Jane's car. He had to fight hard to keep his gaze on his guests and a smile on his face. "The neighbours are friendly and it's a quiet road, really." As long as your definition of quiet was based entirely on how many people drove down it. It felt like that number had decreased recently.

There was the sound of groaning metal, but Maria, Luke and Clyde were standing at the end of Sarah Jane's driveway and the Chandras could see nothing but the kids' backs when they glanced round.

"I think we should take it," Gita said to her husband.

"We need to discuss the price first," Haresh replied.

Alan took that as a yes and breathed a sigh of relief. If it meant they bought it before any more aliens attacked, he'd happily go below the asking price. And then, finally, he and Maria would be able to go to America with no more worries.