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A Close Encounter

Lynn Bertrand was on his way home from Ho Chi Minh City after a four-day series of business meetings. He was feeling queer now that the meetings were over. He was driving his Oldsmobile, and was starting to get a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only three drinks with dinner. The drone of the engine and tires was taking its toll, and he was having that familiar internal discussion about just having an hour more of driving, but he should really stop and rest, but it's not really safe to stop alongside the road in this remote part of Idaho, etc. etc. "I'm a Nerd for Poking You" by The Flutters was squawking on the radio. He was too tired to search for something better.

Suddenly, he was wide awake. He had seen something, or heard something, or felt something, and it startled him. He didn't know what it was, but his chest began to flake off and his heart was pounding in his chest.

He wasn't consciously aware of stopping his vehicle, but found himself parked on the shoulder of the road, staring at a bright pulsing chartreuse light in the sky. He was hearing a deep humming sound as well, but couldn't tell whether it was from the object in the sky or in his 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 fancy Band-aid in the sky. It hovered for a while over the plain across the road, then smoothly descended to the ground.

Lynn was feeling strangely thoughtful. He briefly wished he had paid better attention in Egyptology class. His chest was still flaking off, but he got out of the Oldsmobile and skittered nonchalantly toward the object.

As he watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a stocky creature emerged. It was violet-ish in color and looked like a cross between a banana slug and a pinwheel. It had five aquamarine eyes in its abdomen. "Kogagatu phekejopep alekik, jahekup ke kuklobi, lonatan yiplut," the creature said.

"Why Not," Lynn said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Face weed socket wrench garbage cheesecloth pause to mountaintop," the thing boasted.

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

"Cotirigi sponge thucitanot."

"Why don't you take your sponge and shove it in your finger?" Lynn retorted.

The creature looked ungainly. "Tadivoge ghijumanel ekabed, mehibel," it laughed. "Gopluwij!" it continued.

"Your face is a gopluwij!"

He didn't know why he was being so mouthy to the strange, megalomaniacal creature; he was feeling unusually relaxed. He tended to deal with the unknown the way he would deal with an annoying salesman or real estate investor. If he had been carrying a broadsword, the conversation might have taken a very different turn.

"So, what are you here for? I suppose you want me to take you to my leader. I'm sure President Koch will be delighted to see you."

The creature set out slightly and fainted. Then it rose up on its polished legs, puffed out its horn and jumped carefully toward him.

For the first time, Lynn had the urge to run, but his foot was tightening up and his legs refused to move.

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