The postcards kept on coming, and so did Gileon Underfoot. On his second visit he met Maddy, who was delighted by the plump furry alien. She asked him endless questions and Gileon asked her more in reply. They were soon all firm friends. Gileon was fascinated by everything about Earth. He would peer curiously around the house. Everything from the vacuum cleaner to the curtains were fascinating to him.
“We could show you around outside too,” Seb and Maddy offered one day.
“I'm already 243 solar days behind schedule,” he said glumly, “and it's against regulations, I shouldn't even be talking to you!”
“Since you're already talking to us, you've already broken the regulations,” Maddy pointed out, “so why not break them a little more?” Gileon thought about this and his resolve softened.
“Well, maybe I can spare a little time for a quick look,” he said, his nose twitching mischievously.
They started with the garden and ventured out from there a little further every time Gileon visited. They took him to movies, fed him ice cream in the park and even managed to smuggle him on a shopping trip.
“You take that ragged stuffed toy everywhere these days!” Mrs Oakes complained when she saw Gileon in the child seat of the shopping trolley. He was sitting as still as he could, chancing a glance around whenever no one was looking. “Where did you get it? It's filthy!”
“I swapped for it at school,” Maddy muttered. Her mother rolled her eyes.
“I hope you didn't swap anything valuable for it,” she said disapprovingly. Gileon looked rather put out and Sebastian couldn't help muffling a laugh. “You could at least let me wash it,” Mrs Oakes continued. Gileon's fur bristled at the thought. He had seen the washing machine and how it worked and didn't fancy a ride in it. Luckily Mrs Oakes then became distracted by Sebastian trying to sneak his favourite sweets into the trolley, and by the time they got home, she had forgotten all about it. Maddy rushed up to her bedroom with Gileon.
“Phew! That was a close one!” he said shivering all over at the thought of what might have happened. Maddy fell about giggling on the floor. “Hey! It's not funny!” Gileon complained, though a smile crept over his face. The door opened and they both froze. But it was just Sebastian. He sat down on the floor and began sharing sweets out between them.
Gileon got up and went to peer at Maddy's pet goldfish. She had only got it a few days before.
“Reminds me of a guy I once knew,” Gileon muttered. “I always wanted to join the Interplanetary Intelligent Life Survey Expedition Team you know,” he said tapping the fish bowl, “exploring other worlds, finding new life forms like this.”
“Why didn't you?” Sebastian asked.
“It's not the done thing!” Gileon said appalled, “my species always stays together, works together, lives together. A lone Gerbian, out exploring the galaxies, it's unthinkable!” Gileon sighed, “I would never have been accepted anyway. Too short!” he consoled himself. “So I joined the Department of Misdirected Mail as a Recovery Officer. I thought at least I'd still get to see other worlds. But the regulations are so restrictive, and the schedule so tight, there's never time to explore.” Then Gileon's face lit up, “except here, this has been amazing!” He beamed at Maddy and Sebastian, who beamed back at him.
“If you can get back here in exactly four weeks time, we'll show you even more amazing things,” Seb told him.