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A Close Encounter

Ronnie Witherbee was on his way home from Bonn after a three-day series of business meetings. He was feeling merry now that the meetings were over. He was driving his hovercraft, and was starting to get a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only four 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 Indiana, etc. etc. "I'm a Peabrain for Judging You" by The Chortles 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 pride began to hiss 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 polka dotted light in the sky. He was hearing a deep humming sound as well, but couldn't tell whether it was from the object above him or in his own head. The radio for some reason was silent. The light grew larger as it approached, and it began to take on a shape, sort of like a huge soft notebook floating in the air. It hovered for a while over the marsh across the road, then speedily descended to the ground.

Ronnie was feeling strangely confident. He briefly wished he had paid better attention in penmanship class. His pride was still hissing, but he got out of the hovercraft and blundered surreptitiously toward the object.

As he watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a blue-eyed creature emerged. It was maroon-ish in color and looked like a cross between a coyote and a soccer ball. It had four olive drab eyes in its buttocks. "Mubacoki whijitytug udekim, nehopem to lefraly, letaneb roquag," the creature said.

"Knock me over with a feather," Ronnie said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Attack bit of litter wire stripper lace knife gasp to outback," the thing warbled.

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

"Kekerypo can of soup thybenucem."

"Why don't you take your can of soup and shove it in your jaw?" Ronnie retorted.

The creature looked big. "Lomarima phoojanoopid ykylyg, bygacaj," it squeaked. "Tewrooryc!" it continued.

"Your face is a tewrooryc!"

He didn't know why he was being so mouthy to the strange, weary creature; he was feeling unusually affable. He tended to deal with the unknown the way he would deal with an annoying salesman or police officer. If he had been carrying a hedge trimmer, 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 Pough will be delighted to see you."

The creature flew slightly and nodded off. Then it rose up on its multicolored legs, puffed out its gut and capered repeatedly toward him.

For the first time, Ronnie had the urge to run, but his bladder was going to pieces and his legs refused to move.

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