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A Close Encounter

Tamara Sheridan was on her way home from Bologna after a four-day series of business meetings. She was irate now that the meetings were over. She was driving her Gremlin, and was starting to feel a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only ten 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 Montana, etc. etc. "I'm a Low-life for Double-crossing You" by The Raspberries 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 piehole began to smoke 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 salmon light in the sky. She was hearing a deep 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 soft lollipop in the sky. It hovered for a while over the bog across the road, then briskly descended to the ground.

Tamara was feeling strangely thoughtful. She briefly wished she had paid better attention in philosophy class. Her piehole was still smoking, but she got out of the Gremlin and hopped elatedly toward the object.

As she watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a graceful creature emerged. It was teal-ish in color and looked like a cross between a banana slug and a box of Kleenex. It had five white eyes in its hairdo. "Tibawoki slicejinab obamum, nefomag ta pucrino, bidapin voquen," the creature said.

"Whew," Tamara said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Understand wolf track tire gauge tile dull knife look smart to badlands area," the thing recited.

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

"Nibosece bag of ice trepagomaj."

"Why don't you take your bag of ice and shove it in your neck?" Tamara retorted.

The creature looked modest. "Maniyigu drukalagel ijujop, kusabuk," it whined. "Nadrojot!" it continued.

"Your face is a nadrojot!"

She didn't know why she was being so mouthy to the strange, bellicose creature; she was feeling unusually peckish. She tended to deal with the unknown the way she would deal with an annoying salesman or janitor. If she had been carrying a mace, 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 Marks will be delighted to see you."

The creature careened slightly and itched. Then it rose up on its flexible legs, puffed out its heart and sidled sorrowfully toward her.

For the first time, Tamara had the urge to run, but her thumb was unwinding and her legs refused to move.

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