What sort of an expression would be on your face if an alien spaceship beamed you up, put you in a big glass cage, and took you to a planet out amongst the stars? Well, no doubt you would look a bit like an owl that had just been nipped, and you would be pinching yourself to make sure you weren't dreaming. At least that's what happened to Tom, when they took him off to the Atocinau galaxy.
Tom was really rather a spectacle for the Atocinauts. The latter were round little beings, without eyes and ears, but with big mouths which were always smiling. Did we mention that the Atocinauts could also move at the speed of light, and had ridiculous lettuces on the tops of their heads?
Everyone there found Tom's eyes and ears most amusing, but what they liked most was banging him on the scruff of his neck while he was looking the other way. That made them die with laughter!
Tom soon learned that there was no way to catch an Atocinaut out. It was as though they had eyes and ears in their back, face, and everywhere. Tom ended up making friends with a little Atocinaut, and one day he told Tom a secret. That silly-looking lettuce on their heads was a hypersensor, and it enabled them to do lots of things, like see and hear in all directions, know the temperature of things without touching them, and even know when food was going to be tasty before tasting it! Now Tom understood how come they could move so fast without ever bumping into each other...
As time passed, Tom managed to leave his glass cage, but it was very difficult to move about in that world of breakneck speeds, where everyone else knew everything before Tom had even managed to hear or see it. More than once he got angry with some silly Atocinaut who wouldn't stop making fun of him, without the Atocinaut seeming to realise that Tom wasn't fortunate enough to possess a functioning hypersensory lettuce on his head.
Then, one day, just like they had taken him away, the Atocinauts brought Tom back to Earth again, and everything continued as if nothing had ever happened. Tom didn't dare tell anyone about his voyage, and no one suspected anything. No one, that is, except Clara - a blind classmate of Tom's, who noticed that he began to treat her with more attention and sensitivity. It was as though Tom knew just how she most wanted to be treated.
And when she asked him how come he had changed, Tom answered mysteriously and tantalisingly: "I changed because you don't have a lettuce on your head, and now I know exactly how that feels."