Astronaut clutched the controls tightly, as beads of sweat began to drip down his tiny alien forehead. His ship had begun groaning very loudly and he gasped as he looked up and saw flames starting to lick though the vent above his head. “Damage sustained!” he shrieked to mission control back on his home planet. 

He thought about how well everything had been going until that pesky meteor had to knock him off course! He’d spent the last few minutes hurtling toward an orange planet in the distance. The planet was getting closer and closer and Astronaut braced for impact. He was tough, after all!

SMASH! BOOM! BAM! An almighty crunching sound awoke Astronaut. Everything felt a little fuzzy, but he managed to summon a gleeful “I’m alive!” before spotting an unfamiliar pair of furry blue feet through one of the smashed windows. Cautiously crawling over to the window, he looked up to see the biggest blue monster he’d ever seen smiling down at him. 

“Hello, can you be my friend?” said the monster in a funny gravelly voice. “Give me a hand here first,” squeaked Astronaut, who was a little unsure if he could trust the monster. The monster reached his enormous blue arm through the window and Astronaut found himself being pulled haphazardly out of the ship.

“I thought you would be scared of me like everyone else,” said the monster. Astronaut studied the monster, who was huge but gangly at the same time. “Well I don’t think you’re scary,” he said confidently. The monster grinned. “Do you need help fixing your ship,” he said. “Yes please!” said Astronaut, who was relieved at the offering of help. The monster reached out with his giant arms and amazingly was able to turn Astronaut’s twisted ship the right way up. It was in that moment that the pair heard a faint “ook ook ah!” sound in the distance. “That would be Ape,” said the monster, laughing. “Ape is a real nerd, in fact she…oh wow, what’s she carrying!?” he exclaimed.

“I think it’s a calculator,” said Astronaut, perplexed. Ape looked scared and was darting around erratically. “She’s always been frightened of me,” said the monster sadly. Ape was clearly interested in Astronaut’s broken up ship and began rustling around the debris.  

“Do you think she could help me fix it?” asked Astronaut optimistically. He reached down and picked up a warped circuit board which he tossed over to Ape. “Do you know what that is?” he called over to her. Ape, who didn’t seem to be able to talk, replied with an enthusiastic “ook ook” which was all the encouragement Astronaut needed.

Days soon turned into nights on the planet and Ape proved to be a dab hand at repairing the circuitry on the ship and using her calculator to run numbers. She had also become a lot more comfortable around the monster, who was helping to fix the ship too. Everything was going swimmingly, until one day a zebra appeared out of the scrub charging towards them.

“Help me!” shrieked the zebra, who was clumsily tripping over himself as a double-headed lion chased after him in quick pursuit. The monster, who possessed a natural protective instinct, stood up and roared at the double-headed lion, which quickly darted back into the scrub. “I hope it didn’t scratch my beautiful face!” said the zebra, who had collapsed in a heap and was carefully inspecting himself in the reflection of a nearby puddle.

Later that evening, the zebra, whose name was Zeus, confided in the group that his stripes made him a target as he didn’t blend in very well. “I’d feel safer if I could stay with you guys,” he grinned. The group agreed that he could stay with them for a while if he helped to repair Astronaut’s ship.

The sun was just beginning to set and the new friends were admiring it when a gust of wind sent a flurry of orange sand up in the air! For a split second, the figure of a man appeared in the sand, before disappearing again as fast as it had appeared. The friends all looked at each other...was that an invisible man...?

It wasn’t until the following day that Ape let out her signature “ook ook ah” and pointed to a suit floating around in the distance. It was for sure the invisible man from yesterday, but he appeared to have put some clothes on this time!

Astronaut went over and introduced himself to the invisible man, who told him his name was Jack. Astronaut brought Jack over to meet the rest of the friends who were mostly polite except for the zebra, Zeus who couldn’t help himself. “So why can’t we see you?” said Zeus. Jack sighed, “It’s a long story, but someone put a spell on me a long time ago”. “Oh..” said Zeus, who looked like he had been hoping for something a little juicer than that.

It didn’t take long for Jack to become a part of the furniture as the friends worked away at Astronaut’s ship. Jack’s invisibility proved to be useful as he was good at catching the metal eating bugs that accumulated around the ship. It had been a rather uneventful few days, until Ape’s calculator was snatched out of her hands by a ninja who seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Ape ran towards the ninja but it…

Ape ran towards the ninja but it darted away out of sight. Knowing how important Ape’s calculator was to her, the friends all grouped together and followed in the ninja’s direction. Stumbling through bushes and brush, it seemed like they were never going to find the naughty ninja. After searching for some time, it was the monster who heard a faint giggling coming from behind a nearby tree. Approaching the tree cautiously, he was surprised to see the ninja spring out from behind it. “You can’t catch me!” said the ninja, giggling.

“Who are you?” said the monster angrily, “And why did you snatch that?” he said, pointing at the calculator in the ninja’s hand. “I’m Nigel,” said the Ninja, “And I didn’t snatch it, I borrowed it!”. The monster thought for a second. “What would you need a calculator for?” he said. “Oh…that’s what you call it?” said the ninja, tossing it to the monster. The monster, who was pleased with himself for getting Ape’s calculator back so easily, was just about to take Nigel to meet the friends when a wispy white shape whipped past him. “Was that a ghost?” said an alarmed Nigel.

“I think it may have been,” said the monster, who had not actually ever seen a ghost before. “I think we’d better get out of here,” said the monster, scanning the area for any further sign of the ghost. “Follow me,” he said to Nigel, who did as he was told and started walking closely behind the monster. Nigel and the monster were almost out of the scrub when they heard a “booo booo!” sound above them. Looking up tentatively, the pair could make out a squiggly white figure, almost like a cloud. “Hello!” said the ghost, “I haven’t seen you around here before”.

Nigel and the monster studied the ghost, who was significantly smaller than they had expected, especially considering how loud and echoey her “booo booo!” sounds had been. The monster introduced himself and Nigel to the ghost, whose name was Gertrude. After establishing that Gertrude wasn’t overly keen on haunting people, the monster brought his two new friends, Nigel and Gertrude, to meet the ever-growing group. It was quickly decided that Gertrude and Nigel could hang around, if Gertrude agreed to help Jack to scare away the metal eating bugs and if Nigel used his super-fast reflexes to organise the remaining parts of Astronaut’s ship that were spread around the place.

Weeks went by on the funny orange planet and the seven friends worked hard to make the final repairs to Astronaut’s ship. They had turned out to be a great team, with the monster’s super strength, Ape’s intelligence and Zeus’ ability to make everyone laugh. The invisible man, Jack was doing an incredible job of scaring away the metal eating bugs, as was his new sidekick, Gertrude who was small but could be scary when she needed to be! The ninja, Nigel had proved to be a bit of a handful in the beginning, but had undeniably done his bit to help get Astronaut on his way.

The ship was almost finished now and Astronaut and the friends gathered for one last evening together on the warm sand beside the now gleaming ship. Astronaut felt a lump in his throat as he reminisced about the time he had spent with the friends he never would have known had he not crashed his ship here. As the sun began to set, the friends sat side-by-side and thought about the truly AMAZING experience they had all been through together.