Colin the Alligator

As the train approached Euston Station, Colin and Michelle were talking about the conference they'd attended in Birmingham. Colin was complaining about some of the irritating people they'd met there.

They stopped talking to listen to the announcement ... Euston is the final stop - all change at Euston - all change ...

Colin smiled and said ... Perhaps I'll change into an alligator - then I could bite lots of people on the underground on the way to Victoria ... especially the irritating ones!

Go on, then ... said Michelle … close your eyes and try really hard to change into an alligator! ... and laughed so much the man opposite raised his eyebrows and glared at them.

Colin closed his eyes, and said to himself ... I am an alligator ... I am an alligator ... and I bite people!!

He opened his eyes and looked at Michelle ... she had a look of terror on her face ... and then she jumped up and started to back away down the compartment ... he turned to look at the grumpy man opposite, and he was red faced, clutching at his chest as if he was about to have a heart attack.

Colin looked at him and tried to move closer, but found it really difficult to move around in the seat ... he looked down at himself and saw dark brown, lumpy skin, like leather that had been hammered in a thousand places ... then he saw the legs - four of them, all with great big claws on the end ... and then he realised that he was looking at the man down a long, flat, lumpy nose ... his own nose!

Wow ... I AM an alligator!! said Colin to himself ... trying to say it out loud but only managing a gurgly growl.

In that case, he thought, I'll do what alligators do ... and he leaned forward and bit off the head of the grumpy man.

That'll teach you to be more pleasant in future, he thought ... then he laughed ... well more of a gurgly growl, as it seemed that alligators can't laugh ... and said to himself ... as his head's been bitten off he can't be anything now ... well, apart from dead !!

Colin looked around and realised two things then, one that the train had stopped - they'd arrived at Euston - and two, he needed to get off the train and find the underground.

He slid off the seat and waddled along the compartment - empty of course, as all the other passengers had panicked and ran into other compartments and then jumped off at the station as fast as they could.

Never mind, thought Colin, there'll be plenty of legs and arms to bite on the underground, and he waddled down the platform with a big alligator grin on his face.

It was easy finding the underground, the concourse was completely empty of human beings, but Colin found it irritating that he had to bend his head upwards to see the signs ... why don't they put signs at ground level, he wondered ... it would be so much more helpful.

He flopped onto the escalator and then just managed to step off at the bottom without damaging his back legs, or his tail, but ... irritated at not finding anyone to bite since leaving the train, he gave the escalator a hefty swipe with his tail as he left it.

The underground platform was better ... lots of legs and arms, big bodies, little bodies, and almost all of them staring at the wall opposite ... so, taking advantage, he bit off a couple of legs, three arms, and one head, and then moved on up the platform, where a few people spotted him and ran away screaming, but most still stared at the posters on the wall opposite - particularly the one with the British Gas price cut offer.

The train arrived and he waddled on into the compartment, and began biting off legs and arms. It was fun, there were dozens and dozens of them, all packed in like those fishy things in tins ... he couldn't remember the proper name, but had a vague recollection that they were smelly little things that humans ate on toast.

By the time they'd reached Victoria, he'd eaten most of the people in his compartment ... well, not exactly eaten them ... mostly just nibbled at the long dangly bits and the occasional head.

He waddled off and then up the escalator ... giving it a swipe with his tail every now and again, just for fun.

At the ticket barrier he found that there wasn't room for him to waddle underneath, so he turned and headed for the exit with the ticket collector standing at it.

Ticket ? said the man ... Ticket? thought Colin ... I'm an alligator, I don't need a ticket !! ... and gave a gurgly growl and bared his 234 teeth at the ticket collector.

The man looked down at him and said ... Don't get aggressive with me, mate ... if you don't have a ticket you don't get through ....

Mmmm, thought Colin ... and then he leapt up and bit the head off the ticket collector.

Amazingly, the dead ticket collector's hand was still upright, giving a clear signal that Colin was not to pass through ....... so Colin bit that off as well ... and as the man - well, what was left of him - fell to the floor, Colin waddled through and then up the steps and onto the Victoria station concourse.

Looking around, he saw WH Smith's .. and, searching around in his alligator brain - which was quite small so it didn't take long to search everywhere in it - tried to remember why the name was familiar to him ... but could only recall fragments of images .. of things called cameras, whatever they were, and bits of bodies, which did interest him as they did look quite appetising ... so, with the thought of food making his gums dribble, he headed into Smith's.

He couldn’t see any images like the ones he'd recalled, but there were lots of legs and arms to bite, and within a few minutes he'd snapped and bitten his way from one end of Smith's to the other.

Very enjoyable, delicious even, he said to himself ... maybe that's why I remember it?

As he went back out onto the concourse he could see that it was almost empty, except for one man who was standing there calmly holding a large pole with a black bag of some sort on the end, and another man holding a rifle.

Colin was surprised that he knew what the men were holding, searched around his brain again (it only took 7 seconds as it was an exceedingly small brain) and realised that his alligator instincts were telling him the men were dangerous to him.

He charged (well, waddled quickly) at the men, snapping his jaws at them, but then felt a sharp pain in his head and slowly, trying as hard as he could to keep going, slowly slid to a halt ... and everything went black (well a sort of muddy brown, which is what alligators see when they become unconscious).

Colin didn't know how long he'd been unconscious, but when he opened his eyes the first thing he noticed was that his long nose had disappeared .. and, lifting the sheets and looking down at his body, he could see, even though the pyjamas were a horrible colour, and had spots for heaven's sake .. that he had a human body again.

A face appeared at the side of the bed .. and he recognised Michelle, who hugged him and said ... Welcome back, Colin!

But, said Colin, I thought they'd shot me and killed me?

No, said Michelle, it was a tranquiliser .. and then they put you in the net and brought you here to recover.

Here? Where's here? said Colin.

Euston Station .. said Michelle .. this is the All Change Recovery Ward .. it's a secret hospital that treats those people who actually do All Change when the announcement is made.

When I raised the alarm at the station they told me that if they could catch you within 24 hours they might be able to cure you .. and I guessed that if you made it to Victoria you’d definitely go into Smith’s - so that’s where they waited for you.

Colin was quiet for a moment, and then asked ... So, does that mean I'm not an alligator any longer?

Yes, said Michelle, but ... you must never - ever - listen to that announcement again, because if you do - if you change into an alligator again, then there is no cure .. you can only be made human again once, not twice.

I see, said Colin .. well .... thank you - thank you .... very much .... well ... for saving me.


Three months later, as the Birmingham train approached Euston, Colin sat quietly in his seat.

He'd missed being an alligator ... it had been one of the best times of his life ... all that snapping and snarling had been quite enjoyable ... he missed biting peoples' bits off, well, even sometimes eating some of those bits … and life had seemed pretty boring since.

Strangely, he missed it most when he was in WH Smith's, looking at the magazines.

He closed his eyes and waited ... then heard the announcement start.

he smiled, then concentrated ... really hard..... and said to himself ...

I am an alligator ... I am an alligator ...