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It started at the age of six. I dragged my parents to the movie theater to see the much anticipated new release, E.T. I remember from an early age being just completely amazed by Martians and UFOs, but seeing that movie sparked an obsession to learn everything I possibly could about extra-terrestrial life forms, carrying on well into adulthood.

“For the majority of my life, I’ve been surrounded by negativity from non-believers, much like a Christian would be shunned by a group of Atheists. I’ve been told to ‘grow up’ my entire life, called crazy, weird, half-baked… you name it. And there were times when I’d been so completely discouraged by it all, that I wished I could just turn off the switch in my brain that controlled that fascination, times where I began to wonder if I wasn’t crazy like everyone said I was. And then I remembered that I wasn’t (well, not entirely anyways!)… and that they were the ones who were foolish- to believe that in the entirety of this universe, we, piteous Earthlings are the only inhabitants.”

Pausing to take a sip of water from a small glass on the podium, he glanced up. “C’mon people… how many times do I have to ask you to turn off your cell-phones?!”

From the rear of the class he heard someone remark, “Apparently one more time…” and the students erupted into laughter.

Sighing as he continued, “Whatever- you there, third row… is it Miss Stevenson? Your Facebook updates can wait.” The girl looked up, embarrassed, as he smirked, “Unless of course, you’re saying how intelligent, or incredibly sexy your instructor is!” His reply was followed by another outburst of laughter.

“Anyway, where was I?” he thought aloud as he turned back to the draft he’d written. He cleared his throat before he started reading again, “So now, revered world-wide as a ‘leading expert’ as I write this introduction for my third book, Homecoming, I’m reminded of why I persevered… why I continue my search for an understanding outside the realm of information that is considered to be truth- regardless of the amount of evidence that ultimately discounts that so-called truth. Because a recent discovery has been made, which will prove without doubt, that in this colossal galaxy, there is an existence other than our own.”

As he stopped reading, and checked his watch, he looked back up from his manuscript to the crowd before him, the entire assembly staring back, hanging on every word. “You didn’t think I was going to give it all away today, did you?” he said with a smile. Several of the students began booing and shouting. “I’m sorry… and no, I don’t suck,” he replied to one of the students. “It’s insurance that you’ll all come to class on Friday.” Laughter and cheers echoed off the wooden panel-lined walls of the auditorium. He tried to control the growing smile on his face, and leaned forward to the microphone, in his best Elvis impersonation, “Thank you… Thank you very much.” He chuckled, “Class is dismissed.”

He watched for a moment as his students gathered their things, and began making their way to the exits in the rear corners of the room, then looked back down at the paper. Waiting patiently as the last of his pupils stepped outside, then as the room fell silent again, he finished skimming back through the last few lines of his introduction.

Suddenly, he heard someone clear their throat from the back of the auditorium, jerking his attention up from his small podium. He noticed three men seated together in the last row, all dressed in black business suits. Leaning again to the microphone, he spoke in a soft tone, “Is there something I can help you gentlemen with?”

The three men rose slowly, and split up, making their way to separate sides of the room, and then down the steps towards the front stage. His eyes nervously glanced from the two men approaching from his left, to the other, heading to the right side of the stage, then back again. Shuffling the papers on his podium together, he then quickly reached down to shove them into his attache case.

Two of the men, now about fifteen feet from the front of the stage, stopped and the third took another couple of steps, then finally spoke, “Mr. Gibson, we’ll need you to come with us.”

He glanced at the men one last time as sweat began trickling down his forehead, then anxiously scooping up his case, he turned to the back of the stage and darted towards a door in the far corner. He could hear them jump up onto the stage, following behind him, as he ran to the exit. He glanced back one last time, just as he was reaching for the doorknob, but the door swung open at the last second, and he collided with another large man in a black suit, stopping him dead in his tracks.

The three others surrounded him as the man in the doorway stepped forward, and the professor caught a glimpse of the taser in his right hand. “Should’ve just kept your mouth shut!” the man said, before jamming the taser into his chest.

The spot on his chest where the taser made contact was now covered by an incredibly sore, dark purple bruise. He stretched out on the stiff cot, groaning as he cracked his eyes open and the light above his bed momentarily blinded him. He couldn’t recall if he’d been in the room for a few hours, or for weeks. He guessed that they were pumping some sort of gas through the ventilation ducts to keep him disoriented.

Not long after he awoke, he heard heavy steps moving through the hallway just outside the door to his cell. Sitting up on the edge of the small bed, he glared nervously at the white door, where the footsteps had stopped just outside. There was a moment of silence, before a loud clicking sound echoed off the concrete walls of the small room, and the door swung open, slamming back against the wall. They’re just trying to intimidate you, he thought to himself, as he continued to wait for his eyes to focus in the brightly lit room.

“Gibson?” he heard from a deep voice at the door.

His response was only slightly more audible than a grunt- his mouth and throat so dry he could only imagine the sound of the words that he mouthed.

“I don’t care much for repeating myself Mister Gibson, so please do cooperate.”

He stared at the man before him, as he now came into focus. A tall, balding, pale skinned man, wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit, with sunglasses hiding his eyes. Howard Gibson took a deep breath as he nodded.

“Very well then,” the man in the suit continued, “how do you know Irwin Lowery?”

“I, uh…” Howard stammered. “We just, he and I spoke one evening, after he attended one of my lectures.”


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