“Look, all the evidence points to Stonehenge being built by aliens; visitors to this planet back in the year dot” Lenny insisted heatedly. “They just didn’t have the technology back then to build something this… grand” he added, sweeping his arms around the mystical circle of ancient stones that had puzzled and fascinated mankind for eons.
Marcus snorted derisively.
“You’ve been reading too much of that mumbo-jumbo nonsense, mate,” he laughed.” “Modern science has pretty-much established this place was built as a site of worship, maybe by Druids” he added uncertainly.
“Yeah, I’ve read that theory, too, but it doesn’t hold water. My same argument prevails: the Druids didn’t have the technology to construct this place any more than our Neolithic ancestors did. It was aliens, mate, no argument about it” Lenny added decisively.
In the fading sunlight the ancient stones looked their grandest. Silhouetted against the orange tinged inky-blue sky, colour faded from the stones as the sun set in a fiery blaze on the horizon. That sarsens looked black and forbidding, casting long shadows into the central circle of well-trodden grass.
“You’re bloody mad, you know that?” Marcus laughed as he poured brandy-laced black coffee from a stainless steel Thermos into a plastic mug. With the demise of the sun the air had taken on a definite chill that the warm drink helped keep the worst effects of the cold at bay.
“You know, there is a lot of myth and mystique about the solstice’s, don’t you?” Lenny asked conversationally as he accepted the refilled Thermos mug from his companion. He sipped thoughtfully. “All sorts of mad theories and speculation as to what this place was built for.”
“Almost certainly some form of religious worship” Marcus stated. “That large stone over there, the one that’s almost buried under that fallen lintel, that’s called the altar stone.”
“I still don’t believe it. Personally I think this is some sort of beacon to visitors from other planets in our solar system, like a sort-of homing signal” Lenny said.
“You have got to be kidding me, right?” he chuckled.
“No, I am not!” Lenny retorted sharply. “Why is that my any more outlandish than yours of this place being built by Druids, huh?” he demanded hotly.
“Because, mate, if Stonehenge was built as an astral homing beacon, why haven’t we seen any other-world visitors for the four-thousand years or so since it was built?”
Lenny puffed out a breath of exasperation.
This was a familiar topic of conversation for the two friends. Lenny, the believer in all things extra-terrestrial and avid collector of UFO literature, had been trying for years to convince Marcus, scientist and rationalist, disbeliever and cynic refused to be swayed by his friend’s often impassioned rants on the existence of non-Earth lifeforms.
“We have been visited many, many times in the past and right up to today” he said wearily. “There has to be something to all those people’s claims to have seen or contacted or abducted by aliens” he said, not for the first time.
“Mental illness? And, of course we have little green men running the country in disguise” Marcus mocked affectionately in the full knowledge that Lenny would get ‘huffy’ with him and drop the topic. He watched with a small smile on his lips as Lenny hunched his shoulders inside his thick coat and stalked away across the uneven surface of the sparse grass.
As full darkness fell, a bone-chilling coldness enveloped Stonehenge. Lenny and Marcus sat side by side on one of the fallen stones, not speaking, but each comfortable with the companionable silence between them, born of more than twenty years of friendship and shared experiences.
A mystical, magical atmosphere developed as December twenty-first slipped past the midnight hour and became the day of the Winter Solstice. The clear-black sky bore not a single star and the darkness was all-enveloping.
“Can you feel it?” Marcus asked his friend. “Can you feel the magic of this place?”
“I can barely feel my bloody feet, mate” Lenny huffed, his breath condensing in a white cloud in front of his face. “I don’t remember it being this cold before” he said as he rose and stamped his feet to try and reintroduce blood circulation into them.
“You’re right, it does feel colder than normal” Marcus agreed.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a piercing bright white light appeared in the distance, about where the sun had fallen from the sky.
“What in heaven’s name is that?” Marcus asked as he leapt to his feet.
“I don’t know mate, but it’s moving towards us” Lenny said, watching the light grow bigger by the second as it moved towards the ancient site.
“Can you feel something, like a buzz in the air?” Marcus asked, a tremor of fear in his voice now.
“Like static electricity? Yeah, I feel it” Lenny answered without taking his eyes off the painfully-bright object. He raised his hand to his eyes to shield them from the unusual white light.
“It has to be an aeroplane, surely?” Marcus speculated.
“No, no it’s not!” Lenny gasped excitedly. “Marcus, mate, this is it!” he cried as the craft neared the standing stones.
“Don’t be so stupid!” Marcus spat derisively.
The brightness continued to approach at a stately pace. Awestruck the friends could only watch.
"Now do you believe?" Lenny asked. "Now do you believe?"
"It's a 'plane. It has to be." Marcus insisted as the brightness hovered overhead.
"No mate, no it's not," Lenny said solemnly. "Look, it's landing".
A low humming sound accompanied the craft as it settled sedately a hundred feet or so from the stone circle. The brightness dimmed. Then silence enveloped the site for several long moments.
Marcus could barely watch as a sibilant hiss preceded an opening appearing in the side of the craft.
His heart began to beat erratically. He felt faint.
Lenny grinned excitedly as the opening widened and a figure appeared...