(200 words)

Wig an’ Mitre, eight o’clock, important meeting!” Wearing large, black-framed glasses, Derek resembled Stephen Hawking.
“What about?”
“Oh.” I nodded acquiescence.
That evening I climbed Lincoln’s ‘Steep Hill,’ passing intriguing old shops and cafes. Attending were Derek, several earnest young men, two tittering teenage girls and an old gentleman, ridiculous in shorts.
A hush fell and a neat, grey-suited man appeared. “Ladies and Gentlemen, a star known as Nibiru and its four planets are approaching Earth. This is being suppressed!”
A murmur of surprise swept the room.
“These images are from the International Space Station.”
The brilliant northern hemisphere filled a screen. Against the blackness of space, he indicated something resembling a dull red Catherine wheel. “So what can we do?”
The decision, optimistically reached, was for us to disseminate the pictures on social media.
A year later, I stood in Castle Square, watching a green-uniformed WW1 soldier parade evil-looking owls. Above, in the clear blue sky, opposite the sun was a smaller, less brilliant object and four pinpricks of light. The governments of the world had finally ‘come clean.’ They ‘hadn’t wanted to cause panic’ and anyway, ‘the system would bypass Earth.’
I wondered.

Featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories

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