Return Engagements: Book Three (Part Four)

Roswell crossed my mind earlier in the day, but it didn’t last long. Navigating 1947 was intense, perhaps more intense than I’ve made it seem. Beyond being caught by the people I stole from (by far my most serious concern), getting stopped by the police for almost anything could have been a disaster. I might have bold-faced my way through it, but if not, I’d have absolutely no verifiable answers to their usual questions, especially, “Where’d you get all this money?”

These entries to old worlds are, as I noted earlier, draining in a unique way. They require a special kind of intensity, and it takes time to recover from them.

Still, there I was, discussing the very odd subject of Roswell with a very advanced being from God knows where. My energy output was elevated again.

Finally I answered him. “Yes,” I said, “I do know about that. I haven’t had much time for the mysteries of my era, but I enjoy them as I can, and what we call Roswell or The Roswell Incident was one of them.”

And Roswell was what?”

The nearest sizable town to the crash site.”

So, it remains a mystery?”

I answered, “Yes,” and explained the muddle of information surrounding it, including that I know much of what can be known. But I couldn’t help noticing his disappointment that it remained a mystery. It was fairly profound.

Were the probes recovered?”

Apparently so.” (After connecting Roswell to Renn’s probes I put the weather balloon theory to bed as a psy-op, and so I didn’t bother to mention it.) “But they seem to have thought they were manned spacecraft.”

That shocked Renn. “Manned? They thought we looked like that!?”

I’m sorry to say so. Lots of people still think of aliens… extra-terrestrial beings… as very strange creatures.”

Oh, that’s terrible,” he said, with surprisingly deep pathos. “I am so, so sorry about that.”

I looked inside myself for a proper response, but I couldn’t find one. After an uncomfortable few seconds, I said, “I’m sorry, Renn, but I’m not sure how to respond to that. My first reaction is to say something like, ‘I’m sure you didn’t do it on purpose,’ but I have no understanding to base anything else upon. I don’t even know why it was so bad.”

I watched as he grieved for a couple of minutes, apparently unable to reply. And the man… this massively advanced, future man… had tears running down his cheeks.

Finally he began wiping his tears and turned toward me. “The whole thing separated you from the rest of the universe. It taught generations that the rest of creation was foreign, frightening, even hostile.”

He looked at me carefully. “That’s true, isn’t it?”

Now I started to cry, and once I started, I couldn’t stop: I could feel something like hundreds of poorly-clad children, abandoned in a cold ravine through a long, menacing night… afraid that destruction could jump out at them at any time… stuck, helpless and without any hope of rescue.

Renn reached over and held my hand, draining some of the horror from me, then apologizing for letting it hit me all at once.

A few minutes later I was okay again, but please believe me when I tell you that advanced beings are creatures not just of intellectual and scientific advancement, but creatures of profound internal depth.

Why don’t you go to the bathroom, wash your face, and breathe a bit,” he said. “I’ll stay right here waiting.”

And so I did. And when I came back, I wordlessly leaned back and closed my eyes. Renn did too. Both of us slept soundly until the stewardess woke us when it was time to leave the plane in Las Vegas.

Both of us half-staggered out of the plane and into the old McCarran Field airport, somehow found a taxi, and told the driver to take us to the best hotel in town. I don’t know what time it was, but such things hardly mattered in Las Vegas, even in 1947.

We ended up at the Flamingo, took two adjoining rooms, didn’t bother closing the door between them, and crashed. We both slept into the next afternoon.

* * * * *

The probes sent by Renn’s people (as he explained to me later), had been making a huge orbit around our solar system, the nearby Centauri systems and several others. (They had been doing so for centuries.) Then they picked up an energetic burst. They had no idea whether it was a natural phenomenon or somehow produced by one of the primitive civilizations in the region, but after three escalating bursts, a couple of remote probes began making their way toward the wave source. They rallied outside the Kupier belt then went in to Earth.

Something obviously went wring with them, and they crashed en route to the White Sands testing site, where the first bomb had been detonated. (If you check this with a map, you’ll see that White Sands is less than 100 miles from Roswell and just 60 miles or so from the crash site.)

Renn’s people are very far from our world, and so the probes were operating on internal programming. (Prompt communication over vast distances is difficult or sometimes impossible, even for these people.) They don’t know why their probes crashed. It may have had something to do with our wandering magnetic field, or, mostly likely, some kind of malfunction… but no one really knew.

* * * * *

Upon waking up the next afternoon, Renn and I both cleaned up, then headed downstairs to a very nice restaurant. Without really saying anything, we agreed that taking a relaxed pace was necessary. For me it was for my recovery; I was still quite a way from normal. For Renn it was the same thing as always for my other-world companions: Our environment is too primitive and oppressive for them. We’re used to it (though I can feel a difference when bouncing back in time), but they come from far better environments, and for them it’s painful.

One thing Renn did on the way out of our rooms was to grab a pad of paper and a pen, and after ordering he pushed them across the table to me and asked if I’d make some notes on our discussion. I, of course, agreed.

I really don’t want to stay very long,” he said, “and by that I mean that I’d like to leave today.”

I understand,” I responded, “my other friends felt the same way.”

He nodded with something like gratitude in his eyes and went on. “But, if you think it’s the best idea, I’d like to come back in a few months and examine the wreckage with you.”

I know I brightened at the suggestion (for several reasons), but as soon as I did, he pulled back.

We need you to serve as the protector of your race,” he said. “We need you to be serious about it… to stand up to us.”

Okay…” slid slowly out of my mouth, as I was absorbing the concept. Protector of the human race?

We’re more advanced than you, but we don’t know your world. Defending it has to be your job… there’s no one else here to do it. I know you want to spend time with me… with us… it’s understandably attractive to you. But if your opinion of your past results holds, we are capable of serious damages… and what’s more, we already have been.”

I understand,” I said, this time with considerably more conviction.

Good. Then I’d like you to go back and consider this offer from that perspective.”

I smiled. “You may count upon it.” I clicked my pen and starting making notes.

Our food arrived and we ate, slowly and quietly. I sketched out a “recover the wreckage” scenario, asked him a few questions and just mulled it over for a while. I waited for an appropriate moment, then dropped into business mode:

Okay, my preliminary conclusion is that I want to do this. We’ll recover the wreckage, examine it, and then decide what else, if anything, should be done.”

He nodded his approval, more of my attitude than even the plan.

But, this is preliminary approval. I reserve the right to change my mind if I find cause to do so. I’ll apologize for wasting your time, but the answer will stand.”

Perfect. That’s precisely what I need from you.” We smiled, finished our meals and went back to our rooms.

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Paul Rosenberg