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A Close Encounter

Shelley Ford was on her way home from Orlando after a two-day series of business meetings. She was feeling timid now that the meetings were over. She was driving her Tesla Model S, and was starting to get a bit drowsy, in spite of having had only twelve 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 Arizona, etc. etc. "You're a Weirdo for Dating Me" by The Glares 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 toenail began to flutter 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 rose 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 wooden computer in the sky. It hovered for a while over the glen across the road, then swiftly descended to the ground.

Shelley was feeling strangely cunning. She briefly wished she had paid better attention in Samoan class. Her toenail was still fluttering, but she got out of the Tesla Model S and waddled neatly toward the object.

As she watched, an opening appeared in the side of the ship, and soon a pallid creature emerged. It was scarlet-ish in color and looked like a cross between a mosquito and a bone. It had three purple eyes in its neck. "Paikaifaigi broajitipoin ejupoid, doujiobeib pai keitraupou, niogucil cefrauj," the creature said.

"Okay Then," Shelley said. "Care to repeat that in English?"

"Swat tree crowbar snow fork pray to mountain," the thing vowed.

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

"Poubizoaja peach ghebujupeak."

"Why don't you take your peach and shove it in your liver?" Shelley retorted.

The creature looked queer. "Boakaifiopoi froijanoacoik oudiojain, dauzujauj," it voiced. "Toiflauhoim!" it continued.

"Your face is a toiflauhoim!"

She didn't know why she was being so mouthy to the strange, frantic creature; she was feeling unusually self-confident. She tended to deal with the unknown the way she would deal with an annoying salesman or bus driver. If she had been carrying an aspersion, 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 Papadapolous will be delighted to see you."

The creature trotted slightly and dreamed. Then it rose up on its porcelain legs, puffed out its chest and sped awkwardly toward her.

For the first time, Shelley had the urge to run, but her face was warping and her legs refused to move.

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