Chapter 5

The dog, Little Joe continued to whine, as he restlessly circled the back of the station wagon. Ben had nudged Baliey awake. He pointed out the strange object in the sky to his partner. Bailey rolled down the right side passenger window and squinted up at it.

"What is that? Looks kinda' weird, doesn't it?" Bailey looked at his partner, shaking his head in puzzlement.

Ben leaned over, looking through the windshield. He was unable to take his eyes off the light in the sky.

"I thought at first it was a star. Or maybe one of those things NASA is always sending up there. But now...I dunno'. It's way too low to be anything like that. Must be a private plane or something. That's all I can think of."

The mountain they were looking at was a good twenty-five miles away. Yet they both could see the strange object slowly moving at a parallel course from the car. Its path took it over the mountain, moving horizontally, just below the peak. They could see the light clearly against the darker backdrop of the trees.

"Oh my god. It's a UFO!" Bailey said excitedly. "Just like in the movies. How cool is that?"

"Oh come off it, Bailey. Maybe it's a search plane. Or a helicopter." Ben suggested. "Looking for a lost hiker or something."

"This time of year?" Bailey scoffed. "The tourists have been gone for a coupla' weeks, now."

"A lost hunter, then." Ben said firmly, as if this solved everything.

"Nah. Deer and moose season doesn't start till next week. I've been issuing enough permits at the store. I oughta' know." Bailey shook his head.

"Only for guns, Bailey." Ben asserted. "You forgot the bow hunters. And then there's the bear hunters, too. They're in season right now, aren't they?"

"Oh sure. Lots of folks out there shooting bear hunters." Bailey wisecracked. "Especially the one's from the city. Their heads make the best trophies. They're so goofy looking."

"Ha-ha-ha. Very funny, Bailey. I'm sure you'd be a big hit on the Johnny Carson show. Anyway, look how slow that thing is moving. That's gotta' be rangers or state police, looking for someone. I betcha' one a' them hunters got himself lost or hurt or something, and they're sending out search planes."

"This time of night?" Bailey wasn't buying it. "It's nearly eleven o'clock, Ben. How could they see anybody? Not in those woods. Too many trees."

"OK! So maybe it's a military plane. Out on night maneuvers or whatever." Ben said, refusing to give up on his theory."

"Military plane? How boring is that?"

Well, what else could it be?" Ben said, too loudly. "You tell me!"

"Alight, Alright. I give. Have it your way, honey. " Bailey, sensing that his partner was getting unsettled, put up his hands in mock surrender. Smiling, he leaned over and gave Ben a peck on the cheek. "It's a military plane. Though I still think my flying saucer theory is way more interesting. Anyway, now that that's settled, why don't you take Joe out for a walk? I think he's telling us he's gotta' take a leak."

"Me? Why me? I'm already doing all the driving." Ben protested.

"And I have allergies. Who knows what kind of weeds are out there. You really want to risk havin' me sneeze all over you the rest of the way home?" Bailey reasoned, hoping that walking the dog would take Ben's mind off the thing in the sky. "We're out of tissues. I'd have to use your sleeve."

"Ew. Why my sleeve? What's wrong with yours?"

"What? And mess up my new suede coat?" Bailey told him. "Do you know how hard it is, to get dried snot off of leather?"

"Oh, forget it!" Sighing dramatically, Ben gave in, grabbing the leash that was lying on the dashboard. "I could use a cigarette, anyway. God forbid I should smoke in the car."

"Can't help it, if it messes up my sinuses." Bailey shrugged. "You know smoke in confined spaces makes me all congested..."

"Yeah, yeah, Bailey. I know." Ben said patiently. "Now let's move on from discussing your boogers, huh?"

"Ummm, Ben." Bailey suddenly grabbed hold of Ben's arm, a hesitant tremor in his voice. "I think you should see this."

"Bailey, I swear. If this is about your snot, I am so going to kill you."

Ben had been preoccupied with tearing the cellophane off a packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes. On hearing the tone in Bailey's voice, he paused. Ben looked up and squinted through the windshield again. He took a sudden, deep intake of breath. His heart suddenly felt like it was pounding out of his chest.

The thing in the sky was closer now. Closer than ever before. And it had stopped. It was hovering, only a few miles off. And they could see much more of the object. The lights around the hull the craft—landing lights, he wondered? They were different colors, and winking, almost in a sort of sequence. They formed a vague outline of the ship. Ben gasped. It was huge! Bigger than any craft he'd ever seen.

As if it realized it were being observed, the ship abruptly sped off towards the north, moving out of sight behind another mountain. Ben swore under his breath. It had moved so fast, his eye could barely follow it. What sort of airplane moved with that kind of speed? He'd seen air force jets at an air show last year. Not even they could move like that. And it hadn't made a sound. That close in, they should have heard the roar of its jet engines. Yet, there was nothing. Only the silence of the New Hampshire forest on a frosty October night.

"What the hell? OK. That thing is just way too weird for my taste. The dog'll have to wait. We're outta' here!" Ben said. Putting the car into drive he tore out on to the pavement, spraying gravel as he went.

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