A Close Encounter

Roxie Garvey was on her way home from Panama City after a five-day series of business meetings. She was daring now that the meetings were over. She was driving her gondola, and was starting to feel a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only eight drinks with dinner. The drone of the engine and tires was taking its toll, and she was having that familiar internal discussion about just having an hour more of driving, but she should really stop and rest, but it's not really safe to stop alongside the road in this remote part of South Carolina, etc. etc. "I'm a Good-for-nothing for Shocking You" by The Flutters was squawking on the radio. She was too tired to search for something better.

Suddenly, she was wide awake. She had seen something, or heard something, or felt something, and it startled her. She didn't know what it was, but her midriff began to get emotional and her heart was pounding in her chest.

She wasn't consciously aware of stopping her vehicle, but found herself parked on the shoulder of the road, staring at a bright pulsing purple light in the sky. She was hearing a humming sound as well, but couldn't tell whether it was from the object in the sky or in her own head. The radio for some reason was silent. The light in the sky grew brighter as it approached, and it began to take on a shape, sort of like a huge cotton magazine in the sky. It hovered for a while over the river across the road, then hurriedly descended to the ground.

Roxie was feeling strangely sassy. She briefly wished she had paid better attention in potty training class. Her midriff was still getting emotional, but she got out of the gondola and tiptoed uneasily toward the object.

As she watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon an elegant creature emerged. It was green-ish in color and looked like a cross between an alligator and a yardstick. It had seven indigo eyes in its rib. "Popuzoci kricenakid atepon, nafenum mu kipredu, togabab riflik," the creature said.

"Oh Joy," Roxie said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Scrub flower paintbrush cards knife itch to valley," the thing purred.

"Lord Be Praised. You can go back to your native language now. While you're at it, maybe you should go back to your native planet."

"Cogifate rose trucatadam."

"Why don't you take your rose and shove it in your belly?" Roxie retorted.

The creature looked polite. "Depiremo traledenoj omomip, picakop," it squealed. "Daghuzap!" it continued.

"Your face is a Daghuzap!"

She didn't know why she was being so mouthy to the strange, artistic creature; she was feeling unusually cautious. She tended to deal with the unknown the way she would deal with an annoying salesman or masseuse. If she had been carrying a wet noodle, the conversation might have taken a very different turn.

"So, what do you want? I suppose you want me to take you to my leader. I'm sure President Page will be delighted to see you."

The creature stalked slightly and prayed. Then it rose up on its flexible legs, puffed out its horn and sallied forth vigorously toward her.

For the first time, Roxie had the urge to run, but her forehead felt like lime sherbet and her legs refused to move.