It was obviously an aircraft, totally unlike any airplane Enoch had ever seen, very aerodynamic in a clunky sort of way. But what was so riveting were the people milling around on the ground. They were some kind of pygmies, maybe three or four feet tall, dressed in shiny uniforms and motorcycle helmets. At least that's what it looked like. The helmets looked oversize on their small bodies.
The term "little green men" flashed across his mind, but Enoch dismissed it immediately. Too much science fiction. Besides these weren't green. The blue light made it hard to tell what color they were, maybe silver, maybe blue, but hardly green. Maybe green uniforms look blue in blue light? Silly idea!
These were obviously foreigners, perhaps lost. There was some kind of strange symbols or lettering on the side of the plane, probably some African or East Asian language. Pygmies came from Africa, right? Suddenly one of them pointed at him, and they all scurried around behind the plane and disappeared. Probably inside, but he couldn't see the entrance.
That's funny, he thought, Most planes have their entrance doors on the left side, which was facing him, but there were only small windows, kind of like portholes, on this side.
Enoch just stood there at the crest of the hillock, looking at the quiet scene before him. The blue light came from lamps connected to the plane on long booms. It looked like they might fold into recesses in the hull. Three of them, one on each side, and one in the rear, mostly facing out to illuminate the whole gully. The one on this side was glaring in his eyes. It would be blinding if it weren't so blue.
It was more than blue. Enoch noticed that his shirt was glowing a bluish white, the way it does under black light. Those could be mercury vapor lights, producing a large quantity of ultra violet. Except mercury vapor light had a greenish tinge to it totally lacking here. Maybe it was filtered out, but why?
Enoch continued looking around. The plane didn't have normal landing gear wheels. It should have been dark under the plane, in a shadow cast by the plane itself blocking the light from the booms, but it wasn't. Maybe there were additional lights under the fuselage, but he didn't see any. The plane didn't have wheels at all, but more like snowboards. The ground is rough around here, but there was no sign of sliding. Under what might have been engine pods on the wings, the ground was scorched, maybe even a little melted. Hard telling in the bluish dark. This must be some kind of vertical take-off and landing plane, with weird jet engines. Or maybe rockets. There were no air scoops for jet engines. He was up too high to see the exhaust ports on the engines. He couldn't tell in this blue light if they pointed down or backwards. Maybe they swivel like Vertical Take-Off and Landing planes in the military.
But why here on his ranch in the middle of nowhere? Why in the middle of the night? Why pygmies? Why did they hide when they saw him? What language was that on the plane's markings? Why no tail number? Too many things just didn't add up.
Enoch considered walking down to the plane and knocking on the door -- if there was a door on the other side -- and asking them these questions. On the other hand, what if they were hostile? They were obviously afraid of him. What if they acted out their fears aggressively? Or what if they just decided to take off again, with that scorching jet blast roasting him like a turkey on a spit, just when he got too close to run away?
Not a good idea, he decided.
Just then the lights went out and the inky darkness closed in on him. He turned his flashlight back on, but the beam was not strong enough to show the plane. Maybe it was too far away.
It was still a couple hours before dawn, it wouldn't hurt to wait until daylight before investigating this further. He turned and walked back down the slope toward the comforting warm glow of his house. Blue is weird.
Behind him he heard three soft clicks in rapid succession. Maybe they were stowing the lights. Or maybe...
He broke into a dead run.
Think fast! Fight or flight?
Enoch is a programmer. Programmers don't think fast. Gamers think fast, but programming requires planning and attention to detail, which takes time. But he was thinking fast now.
Fact: When they saw him, they disappeared rather than behaving aggressively. They were probably more afraid of him than he was of them.
Fact: They landed near his house but out of sight from it. That seemed moderately defensive.
Fact: Enoch had not seen any weapons.
He resisted the urge to turn around, go back and look to see if the situation had changed. The water tower was still dark. They had not turned their lights back on. He probably couldn't see anything in the dark anyway. He could get his 4-wheel pickup out of the garage and drive up to the crest and shine his headlights down on them.
Or he could hole up in his house and wait for dawn.
Waiting is good. What was that joke? "Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow." That seemed like good advice right now.
He went into the house and turned on the TV. Maybe his visitor was on the news.
The news channel was boring. Another religious killing in the Middle East. More talking heads blathering on about the Chinese economy. A big 20-car pileup on the German autobahn during rush hour traffic this morning. Yeah, it must be already morning there.
But nothing about funny aircraft getting lost over the New Mexico desert.
He tried the internet, searching for pictures of aircraft. Nothing like the one in his backyard. He tried searching for strange alphabets, but nothing like the lettering on the plane's side. At least not what he remembered of it.
He tried searching for pygmy fliers or flight suits, but got no hits at all.
That wasn't too surprising, the search engines tend to bring up nothing at all about half the time anyway.
He went into the kitchen for a beer, then came back and slumped into his easy chair. He didn't know what to make of it, but it didn't seem too dangerous.
Suddenly he was very tired. Too tired. Small wonder, he'd been up and
on the highway for the better part of twenty hours. He set the beer down
on a coaster and promptly forgot about everything.
|<< prev||next >>|