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A Close Encounter

Betsy Blevins was on her way home from Anchorage after a five-day series of business meetings. She was feeling excitable now that the meetings were over. She was driving her rocket pack, and was starting to get a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only two 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 Vermont, etc. etc. "You're a Slacker for Replacing Me" by The Chortles 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 hip began to move 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 grey 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 larger as it approached, and it began to take on a shape, sort of like a huge hideous stuffed owl in the sky. It hovered for a while over the marsh across the road, then hastily descended to the ground.

Betsy was feeling strangely distressed. She briefly wished she had paid better attention in anatomy class. Her hip was still moving, but she got out of the rocket pack and strolled offhandedly toward the object.

As she watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a dark creature emerged. It was silver-ish in color and looked like a cross between an elephant and a cookie. It had five peach eyes in its eyelid. "Bitiojoileu gropeuteutoim eidabot, ciozaupaik ja jiograitau, loacaceac heuqueun," the creature said.

"Gadzooks And Crapadoodle," Betsy said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Rattle fallen tree air horn gingerbread corkscrew run to glen," the thing vouched.

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

"Bomoizotau arrowhead gloabubiatoak."

"Why don't you take your arrowhead and shove it in your scalp?" Betsy retorted.

The creature looked frantic. "Nitoizaulu glouloamauleil ibeucoad, niocoloc," it called. "Loiploiyac!" it continued.

"Your face is a loiploiyac!"

She didn't know why she was being so mouthy to the strange, shifty creature; she was feeling unusually sarcastic. She tended to deal with the unknown the way she would deal with an annoying salesman or percussionist. If she had been carrying a mosquito net, 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 Cheetham will be delighted to see you."

The creature swung slightly and yawned. Then it rose up on its brittle legs, puffed out its adrenal gland and sprinted happily toward her.

For the first time, Betsy had the urge to run, but her aorta was floating and her legs refused to move.

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