THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHAY FIELDS by Colt Leasure
 
1
 
Hobbs, New Mexico
 
Andrew Kurtz sat in his bedroom and read an on-line article about the disappearance of a girl he had known for years. Shay Fields had not been seen in forty eight hours. He received news of her vanishing by word of mouth around school, and was determined to find out what happened.
 
According to eyewitness sources, Shay was last been seen with Jason Mitchell. They were on a date and went to an abandoned railway station.
 
Andrew was familiar with it, knowing it to be a hangout spot for people wanting to skateboard and listen to music in the shade on sweltering days. There were urban legends about there being an underground tunnel which led to Area 51, but they were campfire stories which were never proven.
 
Shay did not have a strained relationship with her parents and had not spoken of plans to run away. She was popular at school with a reputation for being a valued and talented runner on the track team.
 
The article’s ending stated authorities were going to continue to search for answers, and offered monetary rewards in exchange for the community’s help with any leads.
 
After finishing the news piece, he stretched out on his bed and reflected on his past encounters with Jason Mitchell.
 
Mitchell was a loner who wore a lot of black clothing and had an interest in painters like Goya, being a dedicated illustrator with dreams of going to art school after senior year ended. Mitchell was known for spending most of his time buried in a sketchbook. Andrew suspected Mitchell had to know more than he was letting on.
 
A knock on his door brought him away from his thinking.
 
Wes Keller stood in the threshold and donned a long white lab coat with a variety of colours staining its fabric. Keller’s laboratory was at the end of the hallway, a room which was off limits. The only rule of Keller’s household was not to enter his working space. The chemist was hired by the government and did exclusive work for the military, the details of which Andrew was seldom given, despite being Keller’s adopted son a year prior to the scientist’s divorce from a Florida based lawyer who took half of everything he owned when Andrew was still a child.
 
“Happy Friday,” Keller said. “Sorry I’ve been so busy. I didn’t even get to ask you how your day was. How’d you do on your Biology test?”
 
“Well,” Andrew said, knowing he was exaggerating his own confidence. News of Shay’s vanishing had thrown him out of balance and limited his focus when the time for taking the exam had arrived.
 
“Great. Listen, I’m going to sleep now, but we’ll see a movie over the weekend, okay?”
 
After Keller closed the door, Andrew fetched his phone and called his best friend Russell Bayard.
 
“I’ve been waiting on your call,” Russell’s tired voice said. “I’m guessing you’ve heard about Shay.”
 
“Of course I have. Mitchell’s been cleared as a suspect. How stupid are the cops in this town? He’s one of the weirdest guys at our school, and they believe he’s innocent.”
 
“He could be. You ever considered how she could have witnessed cartel activity walking around the desert? I hear about it all the time, people going missing on their commute from work or a drive from the bar. They could have been doing drugs, she fell into a ditch and found a place not meant to be discovered. You can’t rule anything out.”
 
“Your mind’s going all over the place. You believe Shay was the type to do something illegal? Caffeine was too hard for her. Sugar kept her awake for days. How many times have you seen her drinking coffee, let alone even contemplate doing something like acid or pot?”
 
“Okay, good point.”
 
“I need your help. Come over tonight. You’re the best hacker I’ve ever met.”
 
“Don’t say it over the phone, man. Someone in your house works for the government.”
 
“Visit me.”
 
Russell was at his door in half an hour. They walked upstairs to his room. The two spoke in hushed tones as they went upstairs to his room.
 
“Wes told me a year ago he was working on a formula intended for use by the government on hard-core criminals, and those who posed a threat to our nation’s safety.”
 
“Why would he tell you this? Why share it and implicate me? I don’t want to get in trouble.”
 
“It was at dinner, he was celebrating with a glass of whiskey. His tongue was a little loose. I asked a lot of questions, about the development of what he called a truth serum. He said we’d be in danger if he told me too much. He said the drink was a lot more sophisticated than the sodium pentothal described in movies and spy novels. When I pressed him to let me have some, he flipped the table over and made me swear not to tell anyone. We can use it for a good cause if we get our hands on it.”
 
“Fine, but how does it involve me?”
 
“He has the serum in his office. It has to be completed by now. We steal it, slip it into Mitchell’s food or beverage, and confront him for the answers on where he last saw Shay. I know he’s not telling the cops everything. We can save our friend if she’s still alive. I need you to help me. You’ll black out the surveillance camera and override the code on the front of the door. I need you to crack the numerical safety net.”
 
“Isn’t he in the laboratory right now?”
 
Andrew stood, crept out into the hallway, and walked a dozen feet to the right, nearing the entrance to the master bedroom. He cracked the door open a notch and peered inside, not seeing Keller in bed.
 
He cursed under his breath and went back to his room.
 
“He’s been working overtime,” Andrew said. “He’s sleeping in the laboratory.”
 
“So it’s a no go for tonight.”
 
“Here’s my idea. Tomorrow, Wes and I will grab a bite to eat. You can follow through on the plan when we’re out. I’ll give you my house key and notify you with a text.”
 
“Shay’s lucky we like her so much.”
 
Russell went home and Andrew slipped into bed. He pulled the covers over his head and stared at the ceiling. He was lost in reveries about what the next step would be. A mounting anxiety rose in him, but he managed to suppress it before falling into slumber.
 
Andrew went downstairs to grab a can of something caffeinated after he awoke. He found a post-it note on the counter with unmistakable and blocky handwriting belonging to Wes.
 
It read WENT TO CANNON. DON’T KNOW WHEN I’ll BE BACK, TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE.
 
Andrew knew he was talking about Cannon Air Force base. The circumstances around why were confidential and would remain so, whether it was in regards to a national crisis, an advancement of a top secret project, or a geopolitical calamity. Either way, Andrew knew it was his opportunity to get the serum.
 
He went back upstairs after grabbing a can from the refrigerator and called Russell.
 
“Now’s our chance,” Andrew said.
 
“I’ll be right over.”
 
2
 
Andrew stood in front of the laboratory door in the hallway, guessing which numbered buttons to press on the pad.
 
“Stop,” Russell said with a frustrated sigh as he pulled out a black briefcase and placed it at his feet. “You have to outsmart the system or it’ll lock you out as an intruder. I’ll override the administrator code with a break in one, but I swear to God Andrew, you better forget my name if you’re ever brought to a windowless room and asked about this, got it?”
 
“Of course, man. What’s in the case?”
 
Russell opened the leather container. Odd and unfamiliar devices were inside, along with black gloves. He handed a set over and Andrew slipped them on. Russell pulled out a tablet and touched the screen, his eyes focused on the data before him which scrolled across the surface in bright lettering.
 
A noise similar to a valve coming undone filled the space, and the door in front of them loosened. It cracked open half an inch.
 
Andrew was close to opening the door before Russell put a hand on his shoulder.
 
“Wait,” Russell said, pulling out one of the devices which resembled a divining rod from a bygone and superstitious age. “I need to burst the circuit board of the surveillance camera inside the lab.”
 
Andrew kept back for a few minutes. The sound of an electronic appliance shorting out, like a guitar amplifier dropped in a puddle, was audible to both of them.
 
They walked inside. The laboratory consisted of shelves filled with beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks, test tubes, tongs, racks, watch glasses, crucibles, and funnels, all of which were kept fluorescent with light poles in the ceiling. The place had a smell of acetone, burnt rubber, scorched straws and chlorine.
 
“How are you going to know where the serum is?” Russell asked.
 
“Easy,” Andrew said, going near a drawer and pulling out a row of files. “I follow the diagrams.”
 
“You know how to read those?”
 
“I know how Wes writes. He doesn’t use any kind of cryptic language, because it would confuse him too much. He might be a genius, but trust me, he’s a simple one.”
 
“I hope you’re right. Even if Mitchell’s implicated, we don’t want to kill him by poisoning. Not yet, anyways.”
 
Andrew glared at him.
 
“I was kidding.”
 
Andrew rummaged around for minutes on end through paperwork, coming across blueprints, flow charts, and equations.
 
“Over here,” Russell said, pulling out a piece of paper the size of an average movie poster. On it was a square of fine print. Over the top of it was a bold heading which read CANDOR.
 
“It describes the serum as reddish orange,” Russell said.
 
Andrew gazed at the drawing and saw it hinted at being in a closet. He searched the perimeter before finding an unmarked door with a crack on its front.
 
“You don’t happen to have a crowbar in your bag, do you?”
 
Russell exited the room to search through his pack, and walked back in with a baton which had a forked end. They pried the hidden access open.
 
They stood before a desk propped against the wall of the closet’s interior. It a row of potions stacked to resemble the shape of the pyramid, and at the top of it was a pomegranate coloured liquid in a vial with a cork. Below it was a note in Keller’s unmistakable and blocky handwriting. It read CANDOR.
 
“This has to be the serum,” Andrew said as he lifted the vial it from its makeshift stand.
 
Alarms went off in the house.
 
“How can we kill the noise?” Andrew asked.
 
“I’ll have to access the mainframe. Give me a minute.”
 
Russell went out into the hall and tapped the screen of his tablet. Watching Russell crack the system reminded him of video games where you had to sync correct patterns with the right numbers in order to complete a mission, a type of playing style Russell was far better at than he was.
 
The blaring stopped. A dead silence followed, and the two stared at each other with relief.
 
A loud knock on the first level’s front door caused them to jump.
 
Andrew peered out the hallway window onto the street below and saw a dark blue uniformed police officer on the porch. The man’s hand was on the hilt of his gun. A street lamp at the end of the walkway made his badge shine.
 
“I’ll talk to him,” Andrew said.
 
“What are you going to tell him?”
 
“I tripped the system on accident. Hide.”
 
Andrew walked down the steps, straightened out his shirt and answered the door.
 
“Hello, officer.”
 
“Do you live here? Where are your parents?”
 
“I do, and they’re dead.”
 
“Excuse me?”
 
“Oh, I mean they didn’t die tonight or anything. They’ve been dead for a long time. My adoptive father is a man named Wes Keller, but he’s out of town right now on a business trip, so he left the house to me.”
 
“I know Wes Keller,” the Officer said, folding his arms. “I see him at community meetings every now and again. Tell me, how did the alarms go off?”
 
“I locked myself out of the house. I got back from the theatre with my friends, and when I figured out I left my key in my room, I broke in.”
 
“I don’t see any signs of forced entry.”
 
“I picked the lock.”
 
“Good skill to have. I doubt Wes taught you.”
 
“You can learn almost anything on You Tube nowadays, and I was close enough to use the Wi-Fi on my phone. All it took was a paper clip and a pocket knife.”
 
“Huh. What’s in your hand? You’re not old enough to drink booze, kid.”
 
Andrew was still holding the red coloured serum. The cop’s flashlight beam struck it, making it radiant.
 
“Energy shot,” Andrew said. “From a gas station a few blocks from here.”
 
“You might want to quit those. They’re not healthy.”
 
“It’s organic. I made it myself.”
 
“All right,” the cop said after putting his flashlight back in its holster. “I’ll be moving on. You can guess some of the neighbours were concerned when they heard the alarms going off. Nice meeting you, tell Wes I said hi when you see him. Have a great evening.”
 
The cop went to his patrol vehicle and drove away.
 
As Andrew was about to close the door, he saw a figure standing near the street light. The stranger wore a black suit and puffed on a cigarette. The man stepped into a black SUV and sped off.
 
3
 
Andrew and Russell sat in a red leather booth in the back of the Wilder café, a diner across the street from the Baymont hotel. Night had arrived, and they had a view of headlights passing by outside near the restaurant’s neon sign. They ordered burgers, onion rings, and cherry colas as a celebratory way of acknowledging their successful last minute heist.
 
Andrew patted the vial in his pocket and contemplated how much power he had at his disposal.
 
“What if the man was an agent?” Russell asked while dipping a French fry into a side of thousand-island dressing.
 
“Could be, but he didn’t approach us, so we know he doesn’t have a case. He would have talked to us by now if he did. He could be watching us.”
 
“Him stalking us doesn’t bother you?”
 
“Of course it does, but we did this to find out what happened to Shay. Minor setbacks can’t stop us.”
 
“Being under surveillance by the government is a minor setback?”
 
“Everybody’s under surveillance all the time.”
 
“Fair. We should have considered this earlier, but when Wes gets back, how are you going to explain the damaged camera to him?”
 
“He won’t know we did it. Cameras malfunction. I’ll have to organize his lab tonight so he won’t know about anybody messing around in there. I’ll fill his vial with cranberry juice and return it before he gets back. Let’s focus on getting Mitchell to take the serum.”
 
Russell took another bite of his food and leaned back in the booth, folding his arms and staring at Andrew.
 
“I’m anxious. Sorry if I’m snappy.”
 
“I’m used to you being moody,” Russell said as he pulled out a folded piece of paper and slid it across the table.
 
“What’s this?”
 
“Jason Mitchell’s route after he’s done with school. He rides his skateboard from campus to his house on this path every single day, except for the rare occasions he’ll bum a ride. He buys an Alpine Thunder lime soda at the Solar Goods gift shop every evening like clockwork. We slip it into the pop behind the clerks back, and we approach him after he leaves. We ask him questions he’ll be left with no other choice but to answer.”
 
“Are there surveillance cameras?”
 
“They only have one, and it’s on the cash register.”
 
“Let me buy you a couple root beer floats,” Andrew said with a smile.
 
 
 
It was a sun scorched Monday afternoon when the two went into the Solar Goods gift shop. The place was a single story building with a jade roof on a town block with nothing but a car wash, a motel, and a deli.
 
The store made its living off of two kinds of customers, the first being conspiracy theorists who were deep in studying the Roswell incident, and the second being the locals who wanted to buy liquor.
 
Andrew had been in the shop before, but forgot how much alien-related paraphernalia there was on sale. Glow-in-the-dark glass figurines of green ETs lined the shelves, their bulbous heads and wide black cavernous eyes peering at him, resembling pictures he had seen of modernized Miller brand alien toys of the 1950s. It reminded him of nights when he would spend time studying Ufology by watching interviews with people like Dr. Steven Greer and Bob Lazar.
 
He peered over at the front counter. The clerk went into the back and plucked new items to re-stock parts of the place. When the employee was out of sight, he turned to Russell.
 
“You’re positive this is the only kind of soda he buys?”
 
“I’ve never seen him buy another brand at school.”
 
“Here it goes.”
 
Andrew neared the refrigerated partition filled with cans of fizzy carbonation. He got his hands an Alpine Thunder plastic bottle. Its liquid resembled melted radioactive emeralds. He undid the cap and poured some of the serum in and re-twisted the covering back on, before placing it in its original spot.
 
In order to avoid suspicion and leave Mitchell with no other choice, they both purchased the remaining Alpine Thunders.
 
They walked across the street and stood in an alleyway next to a vacant building, keeping their sight on Solar Goods, waiting for their intended target to walk inside.
 
Jason Mitchell skated to the front of the store before stepping on the tail of his board, kicking it upwards and tucking it under his arm before entering the establishment.
 
Russell dropped the grocery bag full of soda on the concrete and uncapped them.
 
“We’re never going to finish all these,” Andrew said.
 
“Don’t dare me,” Russell shot back before he guzzled the first one. “How long will it take before the serum kicks in?”
 
“I don’t know. It should be instantaneous. We’ll find out.”
 
They hid in the alleyway behind a dumpster.
 
Mitchell was sipping on the soda when he exited. The bottle was half consumed.
 
They jumped out and ran across the street before he could get on his board again. They stood on both sides of him.
 
Andrew gripped Mitchell by the lapels and pushed him into the alleyway between the gift shop and the car wash. Russell acted as the lookout, peering around the corner for any passing witnesses.
 
“What happened to Shay Fields? I need to know where you last saw her and what she was doing.”
 
“It was at the empty train station,” Mitchell said while raising his arms, the soda still in the grip of his right hand and the board in the other. “She went onto the flying disk we found in the desert near the tracks.”
 
Mitchell’s eyes bulged in terror, surprised at the words escaping his mouth. He retaliated and swung his skateboard at Andrew. They both hit the ground. The Alpine Thunder soda fizzed out onto the concrete after having been knocked from Mitchell’s grip.
 
The liquid sopped onto Andrew’s hands. Andrew tried to control his opponent by bending Mitchell’s fingers before an elbow struck him on the cheek.
 
Russell came over and flattened Mitchell out, wrapping his arms around Mitchell’s torso to try and maintain control with a grapple.
 
“Why didn’t you tell the cops about the flying disk?” Andrew said. He ran hand over his face to see if any blood was leaking out before he found it was dry.
 
“I did,” he said. “The feds told me to stay quiet about it. She walked into the beam of light coming from the disk, and seemed happier than I’d ever seen her before. I couldn’t stop her. There was nothing I could do to make her come back.”
 
The alleyway darkened after the sun was blocked out by an SUV parking at the end of the lane. Men in suits hopped out.
 
What happened next was a blur. Mitchell had his hands folded behind his back after getting tackled, and was pushed against one of the brick walls and told to not move. Andrew was placed on his side before his hands were locked in cuffs. Russell escaped the alleyway, although Andrew was concerned with the distance he achieved.
 
“You’re coming with me,” one of the suits said, lifting Andrew and taking him to the black vehicle.
 
4
 
They drove from the highway to a military hangar and tarmac air strip on the outskirts of the town. When they approached the facility, the car parked at the side of the road before one of the men came around and put a blindfold on him.
 
The vehicle sped for another few blocks before it came to a standstill. The muzzle of a gun poked in his side as he heard a door open.
 
“Step out. Do as we say and you won’t get hurt. No sudden movements.”
 
Andrew kicked his feet out before stepping onto the pavement as the acrid stench of diesel fuel bombarded his nostrils. Following their instructions, he walked with them. The breeze coming off the mountains was no longer noticeable to his senses after a half hour, which caused him to believe he was indoors.
 
The clanging of a metal door sounded like the crashing of a drum cymbal as he was pushed through another threshold. His arm banged against the frame.
 
Two hands landed on his shoulders and repositioned him. A pat down was performed, searching for weapons or something illicit. He knew they would find the vial, which was taken away from him a half minute later.
 
“Should we take his cuffs off?”
 
“Sure, he’s not going anywhere.”
 
The restraints were removed.
 
“Sit,” a gruff voice said.
 
He was led a few steps before a chair hit the back of his legs.
 
Andrew’s blindfold was slipped off as he was forced to take a seat. He was in a colourless room. There was a metal table, a pitcher of water with two half-filled glasses on both sides of the slab, and a grey ceiling fan covered in dust. The walls had a bluish tinge.
 
“I am agent Phillips with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the man said, sitting down while he sipped from a Styrofoam cup of coffee. “Don’t try anything stupid, because there will be consequences. Don’t fight me, spit on me, or get smart with me. Understood?”
 
“Yes sir.”
 
The agent focused on the vial and placed it between them. “What’s in there?”
 
“I don’t know.”
 
The agent glared at him like a predator does its meal, and signalled at the two other agents to leave the room.
 
While Phillips’s back was turned and the other suits exited, Andrew dipped his finger in the glass furthest away from him, hoping the sticky residue of Alpine Thunder would dissipate in the liquid. He brought his fingers out of the glass and folded his arms on the table.
 
The agent turned around again to gaze at his subject, and stared into Andrew’s eyes.
 
“Listen, young man, you come from an unusual household. I know what your guardian does for a living. We’ve all met him. He’s a significant contributor to our cause. My Dad was a lead CIA Security Officer, so I can relate to you. Men like the ones who raised us are often introverted, but the information they have can slip. If you know about something you shouldn’t, now is the time to say so, otherwise deceit will put you in a worse situation.”
 
The agent drank from the water glass.
 
“Am I under arrest or am I being detained, agent Phillips?” Andrew asked.
 
“You’re detained. Our probable cause is thin. We wanted to get you for juvenile disorderly conduct to make it seem as though our actions in regards to holding you were for the sake of delinquency prevention, but there was zero chance of it sticking since the street fight was mutual combat at best, and Jason Mitchell is not wishing to press charges at this time. Since you’re not an adult, any misdemeanour we try to slap on you has a small survival rate.”
 
Phillips’s reaction to the words escaping his lips were akin to Mitchell’s earlier, complete shock and horror at his own lack of inner censorship.
 
“Do you have irrefutable evidence I’ve broken the law?”
 
“I know you have, but I can’t prove it without a confession, which is why we’re here.”
 
“If I were to leave right now on the promise I won’t hire a lawyer and charge you with false imprisonment of a minor, would any harm come to me?”
 
“No, although we will continue to survey and monitor you, waiting for a slip or to engage in any suspicious activity we can construe as treason.”
 
“I’ll be going. By the way, the disappearance of Shay Fields at the abandoned train station outside of Hobbs, did it involve extra-terrestrials, and if so, why?”
 
A frantic shuffling of footsteps puttered outside the room. Andrew knew his time was limited.
 
“She was abducted,” Phillips said while wiping sweat from his brow, “but she’s happier with them than she was on earth. The aliens extract adrenaline from the human body to further their own experimentations in regards to improving hyper athleticism. Their bodies need adrenaline, but their foreign anatomical forms can’t produce it the way ours does. They like to take their subjects from isolated locations. This is why they study the Olympics, because they view those events as a feast.”
 
An agent walked into the room and pulled Phillips out by the collar.
 
Another agent with a much bigger physical stature walked in, wearing a soft wool Italian luxury suit. His clothes were accompanied by a glinting watch made of dark tinted glass shimmering in the dim light of the room.
 
“You’re fortunate your fake Dad is who he is,” the stranger said. “We will allow you to leave this place, albeit blindfolded. If you quote any of what happened here today on a blog, social media, or even hint at it in a private email, you will disappear. We’re being generous to you and Mr. Keller at this point. Is that clear?”
 
“Nothing happened,” Andrew said.
 
They blindfolded him again, placed his wrists in handcuffs, and led him back to the SUV.
 
 
 
Later the next day, Andrew got on his bike and rode out to the desert, passing by arid mesas and climbing the high plains as his clothes were covered in dust blown by the relentless winds.
 
He pulled out his cell phone and called Russell.
 
“Are you okay?”
 
“I was worried about you, man. Who were those people?”
 
“It’s a long story. Meet me tonight at the abandoned train station. Also, what happened to Mitchell?”
 
“I saw him today at school. He was fine but a little rattled when I ran into him. He didn’t want to talk to me.”
 
“At least he’s not in a secret prison somewhere. See you soon.”
 
He pedalled on a path lined on both sides with cherry tinged flower cacti. The outline of the station was in the distance.
 
When he neared it, he rode inside and parked his bike near what used to be a ticket selling booth. The train station resembled the interior of a cathedral without glass, its circular ceilings curving in a crescent shape like a half moon towards the ground level. The tracks were diminished with rust.
 
It was an hour before Russell arrived.
 
“Follow me,” Andrew said, walking out towards the back of the building, where there was nothing but rolling mounds of dirt with pinyon-juniper woodlands beyond it.
 
Andrew told Russell about his experiences with the G-men.
 
“You sound like a crazy person,” Russell said.
 
“Oh, so I’m imagining it?”
 
“No, I don’t believe that. I wish I could.”
 
“If what the big boss said about the extra-terrestrials needing our adrenaline is true, it explains all those drug addicts who report abductions. Meth users weren’t lying or hallucinating. Their heart was racing when they summoned the space travellers without meaning to, and the aliens made contact knowing their abductees would be called unstable when they recounted their story. I want them to come to us.”
 
“How do you aim to achieve this? I’m not using drugs.”
 
“There’s a safer way of getting adrenaline going.”
 
“I’m also not doing any crazy jump stunts, man. You’re not turning me into Johnny Knoxville.”
 
“What if Shay is still out there somewhere?” Andrew asked while pointing at the lowering sun. “We can summon her. Let’s fight each other to bring them here.”
 
“What? Now you’re off the deep end.”
 
Andrew struck Russell in the face.
 
The hacker took a few steps back and pivoted when Andrew went for a second punch. They ended on the ground, rolling around on the desert earth.
 
Andrew moved off after a kick impacted the back of his leg, deciding it was safer to reset and attempt a standing fight.
 
As he regained his footing, Russell stood and stared at him. The two circled each other with their fists up, and Andrew landed a hard right jab on Russell’s temple before his friend performed an uppercut beneath his jaw.
 
Before the momentum of the fist could send Andrew stumbling backwards, he hooked his knuckles into Russell’s nose. A couple streams of scarlet stained the dirt between them.
 
Russell lifted his leg and performed a kick at Andrew’s stomach, which made him double over. He felt an elbow crash down at the top of his skull. He clawed the earth in an attempt to get up, when Russell’s sneaker swung in his right peripheral. Andrew put up his forearm to block it, and gripped Russell’s ankle with his other hand, twisting as hard as he could until he went down, a cloud of dirt swirling around both.
 
“It’s not working,” Russell said while he swung his arm around Andrew’s neck and accomplished a headlock.
 
A green radiating luminosity surrounded them. The stones and pebbles on the ground aligned in unusual shapes, as if they were telekinetically forming tetrahedrons by the hands of an invisible deity. The firmament above resembled a solarium with dissipated metallic clouds.
 
Andrew’s body lifted, as if a giant marionette’s strength were guiding him by string pulling.
 
He was surrounded by flashing lights, consoles, and cylindrical corridors made of steel and obsidian.
 
At the end of the large space was a girl in a silver dress, smiling at them with open arms.
 
“Shay?” Andrew asked, before he ran towards her. He said her name again even louder.
 
“I’m never going back,” she said with a feathery voice.
 
The place crumbled around them like blocks of simulated text dropping from a computer screen, and the two were back in the high plains, lying on the ground surrounded by rocks.
 
“Never again please,” Russell said after spitting out blood into thistle.
 
“I whooped you bad.”
 
“Keep dreaming. I’m not the one with a bump on his forehead. I snuck you with a hard elbow.”
 
Andrew ran his fingers over the rough abrasion above his eyes and knew it would be sore for weeks. He stood and helped Russell to his feet.
 
The two stared out at the rolling hills of cacti and brush, the empty transit spot, and the rocks arranged into witchy glyphs.
 
“We’re never getting her back,” Andrew said, staring at his shoes.
 
Russell’s hand went on his shoulder. “It’s what she wants. Forcing her to come back would only make her mad at us.”
 
The sun lowered as both of them walked towards their bikes, the stars above a phosphorescent blanket of unlimited reminders that others lived in the cosmos.
 
 
 
Andrew walked to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee the next morning, rubbing his eyes after a night of decent rest.
 
Wes Keller sat on the couch in front of their seventy inch flat screen TV, and turned around.
 
“What happened?”
 
“I got into a fight on my way to buy a soda,” Andrew lied.
 
“Who was it?”
 
“I don’t know. I said something to provoke it. I’m fine.”
 
Keller’s face gave away how he did not believe the story despite wanting it to be true.
 
“It’s good to be home,” Wes said, flipping through the channels until he landed on the news. “I’m glad you’re alright. By the way, you might want to see this.”
 
The executive of the Department of Defence was having a press conference. Reporters filled the room like a jury wanting to hear a judge’s final decision. The public was stunned at the recent sightings of UFOs in the sky, in places like New Mexico, Arizona, and the Sierra Nevada’s, and journalists were there to get answers.
 
Andrew recognized him right away as the boss he had met in the interrogation room.
 
“I was with Greg Dumont over the weekend,” Wes said. “I’m sick of all the secrecy.”
 
Wes scanned the room, as if someone could have been there stalking them.
 
“I gave an extra strong version of the truth serum I told you about a while ago to Dumont on my last day at Cannon Air Force base,” Keller continued. “I doused his cigars in the formula. He has one every morning. We might have to leave the country as whistle blowers soon. Any question he’s about to be asked by the press? He’ll have no other choice but to answer.”
 
Andrew’s legs grew weak as he continued to watch the television screen.
 
A journalist grabbed the microphone.
 
“Are they fighter jets with the capacity to move through the air at impossible speeds, or are they extra-terrestrials?”
 
“I know for a fact they are aliens,” Dumont said.
 
Cameras flashed and a wave of shouting washed over the conference room.
 
THE END

 

 
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