I was talking to a friend one night when I abruptly ended the conversation.
“I’m sorry I have to go,” I said. “Otherwise I’ll miss the 8:16.”
“Oh, are you catching a train?” she asked me.
“No,” I replied. “An alien.”
The truth was, we had a quandary. Well, it wasn’t really that much of a quandary. It was more like an event. A very long, slow and slimy event.
It started one day when I was outside pruning my plants. I looked down and noticed a path of slime across my back patio. I hosed it down, but when I returned to the patio the next day, a new line of slime was there. The slime reappeared for several days running and it was always in the same place, starting at one end of the patio, and ending at the other. Since I’m not all that familiar with things that make small, narrow lines of slime, I was curious to find out what was behind it.
“I think it might be very small slimy aliens,” I said to my husband.
“No doubt,” he said. “I’m sure the first thing aliens would want to do after landing on our planet is take a tour of our back patio.”
“Go ahead and laugh, but I’m going on a scientific fact-finding mission to solve the mystery of the slime line.”
“What if they really are aliens and you get abducted?” he said.
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take,” I replied.
“That’s fine,” he said. “But can you pick up the dry cleaning before you get abducted by the aliens?”
The next night at 7 p.m., I went outside and saw no sign of aliens or anything else making slime. I returned at 7:30 p.m. and then 8 p.m., but there was still no slime. But when I went out to my patio at 8:30 p.m., I caught the culprit slime-handed.
It was, in fact, a slug, and a pretty large one at that. It was the usual sluggy orange color with two feelers on the top of its head. There was nothing really remarkable about it at all, other than the fact that it seemed to come back every night.
The next night I went out at 8 p.m. again and waited. Sure enough, the slug arrived at 8:16 to do his thing. And the next night. And the next. Naturally I wondered where he was going and why he did it at the same exact time every night, but the bigger question was how he got back to the other side of the yard by 8:16 the next night.
I finally decided to stake out the slug to the end of his trip. I waited with a flashlight until the slug had made its way nearly to the end of the patio. But before he could finish his journey, a bird swooped out of the sky and scooped it up with his beak. However, the slug must have tasted nasty because the bird flew back across the patio and then spit the slug back out on the other side.
“So the same bird picks up the same slug every night at the same time?” my husband asked me.
“Apparently,” I replied.
“And every night he spits the slug out on the other side?”
“I guess the bird doesn’t like the taste of slugs,” he said.
I shrugged. “Or maybe the taste of slimy little aliens.”
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