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The Cesium Flash
Alfred Nordeen is an astronomer at the Fritz Randolph Observatory at Princeton. Alfred stepped outside the airport security area and spotted Susanna holding a sign, “Alfred Nordeen”. Susanna had on a white blouse, blue jeans, and hiking boots. Her online pictures didn’t do her justice. She was gorgeous.
“Yes, glad to meet you Alfred, or should I say ‘Watcher167’?”
Alfred chuckled, “Alfred, please.”
Susanna’s smile broadened, “OK provided you avoid saying ‘Oh, Susanna’.”
Susanna excitedly asked, “How do you know where –“
Alfred cut her off, “Not until we get out of the terminal.”
“Oh, yes, right.”
They made small talk until they got into Susanna’s pick-up truck. Susanna pulled out of her parking space then asked Alfred, “How do you know where this space ship will land?”
“There is a signature it leaves before it lands. It apparently targets its landing site.”
“You mean it’s like the radars on airplanes?”
“That’s as good an analogy as any.”
They drove to a wooded area. Susanna parked her pick-up. Alfred took his video camera and handheld GPS device out of his bag and they walked towards the predicted landing site. Susanna seemed more agitated as they walked deeper into the woods.
They reached the edge of a meadow. Alfred stepped a few feet away from Susanna in the hope this would make her less apprehensive. She walked next to Alfred. He concluded it was the UFO and not him that made her apprehensive.
The space ship came into view and Alfred videoed the craft.
Susanna screamed; “We have to get out of here! We have to get out of here!”
“Susanna calm down.”
“The plan is to kill you, just as they did to Jay Lyons in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.”
Alfred turned white with fear. Jay Lyons was one of his blog followers who went looking for a UFO landing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and disappeared. Alfred hesitated then ran in the direction of the pick-up truck.
Susanna yelled, “Wait!” She caught up with Alfred. “Give me your camera!” He reflexively handed her his video camera. She threw it in the direction of her vehicle.
“They’ll expect us to go to the vehicle. That will confirm their expectation. Come this way!” She ran perpendicular to the direction of the car. Alfred hesitated for a moment then ran after Susanna. He caught up with her. Alfred took out his cell phone and took a series of photos of the flying saucer as he ran. Susanna exhorted Alfred, “Hurry! This is no time to take pictures!” Alfred puts his cell phone in his pocket and runs faster. He glanced back and saw he was outpacing Susanna. He slowed down to let Susanna catch up to him. He put his right arm around Susanna and they ran together.
They ran through heavy underbrush then came to a relative clearing. There standing on their left stood a woman in gray coveralls. She was a thin woman with short black hair. She had a mannish face and a stern look. She had a wand in her left hand.
She had a blank look. She aimed her wand. A bush turned to black ash flakes. The flakes slowly floated to the ground.
She curtly stated, “I’ll tell them that was you.”
She spoke a few staccato sounds to Susanna.
Susanna told her, “Utalk, only speak what he can understand. I’m not leaving him. Even if I wanted to I can’t. If I go back with you they will kill me.”
Utalk shifted her head from side to side. Then she destroyed another bush. “That one is for you. Now, both of you go.”
“Utalk, they will debrief you. In that process they will learn the truth from you. It would be best for all of us if you stay with us. Understand?”
Utalk gave a reluctant nod of agreement.
Susanna put her hand out. “Utalk, give me the weapon.”
Utalk handed the weapon to Susanna. Susanna took the weapon, hesitated for a moment then fired the weapon.
Another bush turned to black ash flakes. “They will think there was a struggle and we killed each other. Now let’s get away from here. No wait! Give me your cell phone.”
Alfred without thinking handed her his cell phone. She tossed the cell phone near the dual ash pile. She explained, “Evidence of a struggle. Now let’s get away from here!”
The three of them ran through the woods. After a couple of hours they made it to a road.
“Susanna, why did you save me? Why did you throw in with us, Utalk?”
Susanna took a deep breath, “They call us ‘erratics’. We don’t have a good control over our emotions. We are sentimental, overly animated, and have a bunch of other psychological problems. The result is we are unpredictable.”
“You didn’t let them kill me because you were sentimental?”
“Yes, you could say that. Just killing someone, I couldn’t bring myself to let them kill you. I’m not making much sense am I?”
“I’m grateful for what you did. Believe me I’m grateful. They didn’t know you were an erratic?”
“They knew. There aren’t too many of us. For generations they have tried to cure us. Drugs that can control us also make us too lethargic to be of any use.”
“Why did they trust you on such a mission?”
“They want to see if we could be of any use. They probably figured my highly emotional behavior would make me less suspicious to you. That is probably why they gave Utalk a weapon and sent her out.”
Alfred turned to Utalk. “Do you know why they gave you a weapon and sent you after us?”
Utalk answered in a low, stoic tone. “They gave me no explanation. They handed me the weapon told me the direction to take and said if I see you I should kill you both.”
Susanna explained, “They neither explain nor question orders. They just give and follow them.”
A short time later a car stopped and gave them a ride to a gas station.
Alfred said to Susanna, “We’ll take a cab to the airport and fly back to New York.”
“We always have plans within plans. They would probably send people to the airport, in case they didn’t find or completely believe the ashes. Keep in mind we never completely believe anything.”
“What about taking the train?”
Susanna thought for a moment. “The train is good. I don’t think they would consider a train or a bus as a possibility. You’re smart.”
On the train Alfred and Susanna spoke to each other in whispers even though there was no one nearby to hear them.
“It might be difficult to demonstrate that wand. A skeptic would think it’s some kind of trick. Anyone who isn’t a military expert probably wouldn’t be considered credible. Maybe if a doctor examines you two. Then we have an expert witness who would refer to other expert witnesses.”
Susanna gave a broad smile and suppressed a laugh. “Alfred, this isn’t a mask. There is no plastic surgery. There are no anatomical differences between us.” She let out a laugh, “Except the differences a doctor would normally find between a man and a woman.”
“How is it possible?”
“The acceptable theory is evolution, as with a chemical reaction, will eventually lead to a similar end regardless of where in the universe the reaction started.”
“What do you mean by acceptable theory?”
“There is a forbidden theory. It is similar to the one in your book of Genesis. That we were made in the image and likeness of the Primary Entity.”
The concept struck Alfred like a brick. As a scientist he should dismiss the forbidden theory out of hand but it somehow made more sense given the circumstances.
“Susanna, there are no differences between us?”
“There are none that could be found with your current technology.”
“So there are differences.”
“We have artificial anti-bodies and similar medical treatments. With your current technology they wouldn’t look any different than what is normally in a human body.”
Alfred glanced at Utalk, “Her clothes.”
“We thought of that. Similar materials and weaves as in clothing on Earth.”
“What is your real name?”
Susanna smiled, “I really prefer Susanna.”
Somewhere in the Carolinas Susanna drifted off to sleep. Alfred glanced at Utalk. He couldn’t tell if she was sleeping. She was supposed to be like Susanna, emotional, but she showed no emotions. During the train ride she had that stoic stare.
When they arrived at Alfred’s apartment Susanna suggested they clean themselves up. Alfred viewed it as a chance to show chivalry wasn’t dead and suggested Susanna and Utalk get cleaned up first. Susanna eagerly agreed. Utalk showed no reaction.
While Susanna was in the bathroom Alfred turned on his computer. Utalk stood by the bathroom door with towels in her arms. Alfred pulled out two pairs of sweat pants and two sweat shirts. He handed them to Utalk.
“You and Susanna might want to change into something else. I suppose one of the first orders of business is to buy some women’s clothes.”
Utalk nodded. Alfred walked to his computer and brought up his contact list. When Susanna stepped out of the bathroom Alfred waved for her to join him at his computer. Alfred showed her his list of contacts. He explained to her about the cesium flash and the electronic pulse. It was these phenomena that made it possible for him to know where and when the UFOs would land.
Susanna casually walked towards the kitchen. When she was a few paces from Alfred she turned around as she took out the weapon. She pointed the weapon at Alfred.
“If there is anything you have to say to forestall your demise now is the time.”
“Why didn’t you kill me in Georgia?”
“We wanted to test an erratic to see if, despite their emotions, they would in the end follow orders. Utalk failed. That question answered the protocol called for me to learn all you know.”
“You willingly walked into a death trap?”
“Orders are to be obeyed.”
Utalk stepped out of the bathroom. She quietly stepped into the kitchen nook.
“Do you think I would have everything here?”
“I have a duplicate of this in a safety deposit box.”
Utalk slowly took a knife out of the block.
“You aren’t that clever.”
Utalk stabbed Susanna in the back. Susanna dropped the weapon. She turned to Utalk. Susanna threw herself on the weapon. Utalk jumped back. Alfred ran towards Susanna. He stopped short when Susanna turned into black ash flakes.
Utlak quivered. Alfred looked at the ashes on the floor that was Susanna. Then he looked at the frightened Utalk.
Alfred badly shaken blurted out, “Thank you. You saved my life.”
Utalk meekly uttered, “She was going to kill us both.”
Alfred nervously nodded and answered, “Yes.”
Utalk’s eyes widened, “She probably had tracking fluid in her. We have to get out of here. They’ll know she’s gone. They’ll come for us.”
“OK, how much time do we have?”
Alfred rushed to his computer.
Utalk frantically answered, “I don’t know, I don’t know, they can come anytime.”
Alfred undocked his laptop. He closed his laptop and put it in his computer bag. He took his computer bag and ordered, “Go into the bedroom and grab an armful of clothes.”
Alfred grabbed his address book and his DVD tower. Utalk came out of the bedroom with her arms full of clothes. Alfred shouted, “Let’s go.”
They rushed out of the room. They rushed to Alfred’s car. They put everything they brought with them on the back seats. They got into the car and drove away.
Alfred tried to think ahead.
“Money, we’ll need money.”
Utalk nervously said, “I have no money.”
“I know. I’m going to turn off and find an ATM machine. On second thought, I’m going to go onto the New Jersey Turnpike. The rest stops have ATM machines.”
He withdrew $500 from an ATM machine at the first rest stop. Then he got off the New Jersey Turnpike at the next exit and drove towards the New Jersey shore. Alfred took a quick glance at Utalk.
“Did they put tracking fluid in you?”
“No. I don’t know that they did.”
“Could they have done it without your knowledge?”
“Yes. They could have done it while I was asleep, or put something in my food.”
“Would you feel anything? Any signs at all?”
“I don’t know.” Utalk closed her eyes. “You will have to put me out of the car. If they did this they know exactly where you are as long as you’re with me.”
“I can’t just leave you alone.”
Utalk broke into a cry, “If they have tracking fluid in me they will catch us and kill us both.”
“What if they didn’t do that?”
“We have no way of knowing.”
“Is there anything that can neutralize or block this tracking fluid?”
“I don’t know anything about it except that tracking fluid exists and is used to track people on missions.”
Alfred drove to the New Jersey shore. He knew he has no choice but to leave Utalk.
“If I leave you here, how long before -” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.
Utalk shook her head, “I don’t know.”
“Here, take this.” He handed her $500. “I will come back in a couple of days.”
“Thank you, in a couple of days.”
As Utlak climbed out of the car Alfred wanted to tell her to sit back down. The sound of the passenger door closing reverberated in Alfred’s head. He watched as she stood on the sidewalk. He knew he could be leaving her there to be killed. He looked down at his foot on the brake. He glanced at Utalk then looked ahead. He closed his eyes. He opened his eyes and moved his foot from the brake to the gas pedal. He slowly drove away and kept glancing at Utalk in his rear view mirror until she was out of sight. He wanted to turn around but the car kept moving forward.
On The Beach
Utalk watched as Alfred’s car drove out of sight. The smell of cooked food attracted her attention. She followed the scent to a nearby restaurant. After slowly eating at the restaurant she walked to the beach. She walked along the beach until dusk. Then she sat and watched the ocean.
In the dark she thought about when the space ship she was in landed. She was going about her post landing duties when she got the order to exit the ship. Outside the space ship the weapons controller presented her a weapon. Erratics were never trusted with weapons. She stood there confused until the weapons controller ordered her to take it. Then he told her in which direction she should walk. He told her Susanna has sympathized with an indigenous and if she sees them she should kill them both.
She walked through the forest feeling sorry for Susanna. Susanna was with her on Utalk’s previous flight to earth. Utalk and Susanna had long talks and could display their emotions to each other without being chastised. Utalk didn’t consider she would find Susanna and the indigenous since she was sent in a different direction from the hunting force. Then she found herself face to face with her friend and an indigenous. She quickly devised a plan. She would pretend to have killed the indigenous and tell Susanna to come back with her. They might spare her life. Susanna pointed out how poorly conceived Utalk’s plan was.
Utalk spent the night sitting on the beach and looking at the ocean. As she watched the rising sun she realized she never expected to live to see the sun rise. An elderly couple walked along the beach. They turned and walked towards Utalk. She feared these will be her assassins. Utalk knew if they came to kill her escape would be futile. She could not outrun tracking fluid if it was in her body.
The woman has a smile on her face but concern in her voice.
“Are you alright dear?”
“Yes, I am well.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
The couple walked two steps away from Utalk when the woman turned around.
“No man is worth that.”
Then the couple walked away. Utalk looked at the sun and felt relief.
She heard Alfred’s voice, “Utalk.”
She turned her head and stood, “You said 2 days.”
“If they haven’t closed in yet you don’t have the tracking fluid. I shouldn’t have left you alone this long. Come on let’s go.”
Alfred led Utalk to his car. They drove off. Two men watched from the top of a parking garage. One remarked to the other. “Sentimentality will be their undoing.”