"Come on Trip," Malcolm said.
They were still hidden behind a market stall, hoping that any zombies nearby would be smelling rotten fruit instead of human flesh.
"I'm really tryin'," Trip said, honestly sounding embarrassed about his imagination.
"Well now," Malcolm said, trying to distract his friend from thinking about the flesh-eating living dead that were probably nearly right on top of them. "It's a very nice evening, despite everything else- it reminds me of campfires in the Eagle Scouts and roasting marshmallows telling each other ghost stories."
That instantly caught Trip's attention. "Yeah, I remember that sort of thing with my family- dad would take us all out and it was great fun- the annual Tucker camp-out. I remember the best stories that dad used to tell. We'd always try to one-up each other with the scariest things." Trip's sentence fizzled out as he sat back, quite relaxed, thinking about good times back on Earth, just as Malcolm had intended.
Malcolm stuck his head out over the stall thinking intensely about the stars and what he could see in them. He wanted to see the shuttlepod, but he didn't want a phantom shuttlepod appearing either.
"Shall we have a look around?" he said, looking down at Trip and offering a hand to help him up.
The market place was blissfully quiet and serene again, which they were very glad about. They walked towards the beach down the now empty road, thinking intensely about camp fires and marshmallows and stories being told in jest to try and scare each other but always for the fun of it.
"I remember always having to share the tent with Lizzie after those stories," Trip said suddenly, laughing slightly at how nervous she would be even though she'd taken full delight when the campfire was roaring and everyone was enjoying themselves. "But the quiet of the night afterwards would change all that." Trip gave a big guffaw. "'Course, what I never told her was that I sure was glad she was there too!"
Malcolm laughed. "In the Eagle Scouts, that would probably have been frowned upon! But I'm sure we were all secretly glad that we had three to a tent anyway."
Trip smiled at the thought of a troop of little Malcolms being all brave to save face. While thinking about that and nearly at the beach, he thought he saw something from the corner of his eye.
Suddenly wondering if his imagination had got the better of him again, he turned quickly to try and catch whatever it was but there was nothing there.
He took a few steps in the direction of the doorway that he'd seen it in.
"Where are you going Trip?" Malcolm asked, frowning.
"Er, nowhere. Just thought I saw something there," Trip replied, pointing to the doorway. Trip looked again, but seeing nothing,he then carried on with Malcolm down the road.
The street opened out on to the beach area.
There was a sound of the shuttlepod up overhead, which both of them looked up to see. The landing lights glowed above them, and they settled themselves right in the middle of the beach to make the best of the open space for whomever was piloting to land.
The shuttlepod landed and the hatch opened up to reveal the grinning face of Travis.
"Heard you guys needed some help getting home?"
Both Trip and Malcolm grinned at the young man and headed forwards but not before seeing a host of ethereal forms headed quickly towards them.
"What the-?" Trip began.
"Ghosts!" Malcolm replied, pushing Trip through the hatch, making him stumble through the door quite ungracefully. "Get us up Travis!"
"Yes Sir!" Travis said, his superstitious self not needing anymore encouragement from anyone.
The shuttlepod took off very quickly, not as smoothly as Travis would normally do it, but no one on that craft would take note of it- they all wanted to disappear from that planet as soon as possible.
Trip and Malcolm sat back in their seats, breathing a sigh of relief.
"We're clear of the planet Sirs," Travis said with a relieved laugh which the other two echoed.
Trip looked over at Malcolm.
"Seriously Malcolm- ghosts?" Trip almost repeating Malcolm from earlier.
"Well," Malcolm admitted, looking sheepish, "at least they're slightly more believable than zombies!"