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A Close Encounter

Samuel Rinfield was on his way home from Cairo after a five-day series of business meetings. He was feeling puzzled now that the meetings were over. He was driving his mail truck, 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 Missouri, etc. etc. "You're a Hog for Biting Me" by The Shrugs 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 scalp began to blister 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 carrot-orange 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 musty Lego set floating in the air. It hovered for a while over the river across the road, then heavily descended to the ground.

Samuel was feeling strangely angry. He briefly wished he had paid better attention in veterinary medicine class. His scalp was still blistering, but he got out of the mail truck and walked daintily toward the object.

As he watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a filthy creature emerged. It was emerald green-ish in color and looked like a cross between a dodo bird and a Rubik's cube. It had two sea green eyes in its brain. "Nanysanoo wroopoojocym ygepig, kurodul by boowheke, koocoolad wughep," the creature said.

"Gads," Samuel said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Rotate pine cone X-Acto knife slate corkscrew meow to hayfield," the thing worried.

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

"Cypoogemy computer chiloomipoog."

"Why don't you take your computer and shove it in your waist?" Samuel retorted.

The creature looked melancholic. "Kygoowybe drypynonuk oocujam, nifupoob," it spouted. "Coodrohut!" it continued.

"Your face is a coodrohut!"

He didn't know why he was being so mouthy to the strange, solitary creature; he was feeling unusually disagreeable. He tended to deal with the unknown the way he would deal with an annoying salesman or referee. If he had been carrying a parlor trick, 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 Doe will be delighted to see you."

The creature set out slightly and smiled. Then it rose up on its woven legs, puffed out its palm and set out automatically toward him.

For the first time, Samuel had the urge to run, but his abdomen was bulging and his legs refused to move.

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