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This short story is the result of a friend trying to catch me out by challenging me to write an 'instant' tale given a Character, a Scene and a Conflict that she devised. You can find these listed at the end of the story.

Theobald, a native of the Elegant Ring of Inner Mungtalia, was on holiday on Earth for a couple of weeks.

  That wasn't the problem.

  He was in Cromer, in the east of England to be exact.

  That wasn't the problem, either.

  No, the problem was the freshly chewed, fleshless human skull in his hands. He stared at the way it grinned back at him and felt the still-warm ooze that dripped from it.

  “Oh hell,” he thought (in Mungtalese, of course), “it's happened again and this time it's happened to me. And I only drank a thimbleful of their damned whisky. Why on Mungtalia did it have to be me?”

  He closed at least seventy percent of his eyes and tried to dredge up the memories. He remembered walking into the quaint English pub and trying to ignore the stares of the human residents who were still unused to having tall, green, multi-eyed aliens wandering about in their midst, despite having been members to the Galactic Federation for over five years. Then he had ordered a drink. A “nice mild non-alcoholic drink” had been his exact request, wanting to sample something the natives found pleasurable. Obviously, the bartender had understood neither the meaning of ‘nice’ nor 'mild'. Inexplicably, he had not understood 'non-alcoholic' either.

  The last thing Theobald remembered had been taking the aromatic liquid into his mouth pouch and then, as was normal for his species, transferring a sip from pouch to stomach.

  And then nothing - a complete blank.

  At that point he had been attired in his normal, one-piece, dour grey tunic; he had also been over two metres in height.

  Now, when he looked down at himself, he estimated he was now about a metre and a half tall, and could see he was dressed in something pink and fluffy. That was the trouble with his particular species - at no point in their long, peaceful history had they discovered alcohol - it had not even occurred naturally on Mungtalia. It was only after his planet had joined the Galactic Federation that it was found that not only did alcohol induce almost instant dwarfism in his people, it also imbued the victim with a complete lack of dress sense. More to the point, it turned them from mild-mannered creatures into raging berserkers - a point which, it must be said, had been duly stressed in no uncertain terms to all other members of the Federation.

  After flicking some slimy grey matter from his hands, Theobald flung the skull away to where it splashed into some moving water.

  “Where am I?” he thought, looking around in the deepening twilight. He was beneath a tall structure that jutted far out into the moving, crashing water. Around him stood dozens of large stilts that supported the structure. Rounded stones were hard under his bare, miniaturised feet.

  In the distance, to his left, he could hear voices growing closer. He focussed his eyes and noticed that some of the crowd coming towards him resembled those who had occupied the pub earlier. He wasn't one hundred percent certain of course, for, to him, all humans looked very much alike - was it the women or the men that wore longer beards on their heads? What was certain, however, was that many of them appeared to be brandishing what could be very dangerous weapons.

  Theobald looked in the opposite direction but the moving water - the sea, he corrected himself - had cut off any escape that way and, behind him, the sea wall was far too high to scale.

  He licked his lips in consternation at his predicament and grimaced as the taste of human flesh and blood reached his senses. That action, he noted, seemed to make the advancing mob angrier.

  So, he thought, despite my plainly-stated request, they tricked me into drinking alcohol and now they are coming to punish or even kill me just because I happened to turn into a raging dwarf and eat one of them. Was there no justice on this silly little planet?

  The angry, rushing crowd had almost reached him. What could he do to escape them? There appeared to be thousands of them - no, he refocused several of his eyes properly - there were no more than twenty or thirty of them.

  He sighed – an action that, as usual for his people, resulted in a sound like three out-of-tune trombones - there was only one thing for it. He closed ninety-five percent of his eyes and transferred the rest of the whisky from his mouth pouch to his stomach and, again, the lights went out.

  Twenty minutes later, sized at just two-thirds of a metre and wearing a bright gold tutu and luminous green headband, Theobald regained his senses. He looked about at the carnage, picked someone's gristle from his teeth, kicked a couple more skinned skulls into the water and strode - as best he could on his tiny legs - off into the night.

Here are the three 'set-up' parameters:

  • Character: A dwarf of ethnic origin wearing bright pink fluffy clothes;
  • Scene: Under the board walk of a very long pier and the tide is coming in;
  • Conflict: There is a skull in his/her hands and thousands of people running after him/her.

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