“Wow!” said Betty. “Did you see that?”
“See what?” Barney asked.
“A shooting star. Only it's shooting upward. And it looks like it's getting closer. Stop the car so we can get a better look. Besides, I think the dog needs to pee.”
“Give me a second, Betty, there are bears around here. Let me get my gun.” He got the pistol and binoculars from the Chevy's trunk and handed a pair of the binoculars to Betty.
She said “It's... that's really funny looking. It went across the moon and it looked weird.” Both were looking through their binoculars at the sky, presumably no longer very worried about the bears.
“Airplane?” Barney surmised.
“Maybe it's a flying saucer,” Betty said. “My sister saw a UFO a few years ago.” Barney looked at it again. “That's no airplane! Lets get back in the car.”
They drove slowly for a while. “Look! It's right over the Old Man of the Mountain! It's twice as big and looks like it's rotating.”
It seemed that the object was playing cat and mouse with them, then headed straight for them, head-on. Barney slammed on the brakes.
It was maybe a hundred feet above the hills, and was huge. Barney got his gun from his pocket and stepped out of the car. A voice said “stay where you are and keep looking.” Red lights on what appeared to be bat-wing fins began to telescope out of the sides of the craft, and a long structure descended from the bottom.
He saw about a dozen weird looking, almost humanoid figures in a window through his binoculars, all but one moving away from the window. Barney panicked and ran back to the car.
“They're going to capture us!” he screamed, jumping back in the car and peeling out as fast as he could.
Betty rolled the window of their '57 Chevy down and looked out – the stars had disappeared.
Beeping or buzzing sounds seemed to bounce off the trunk of the car. It vibrated, and a tingling sensation passed through the Hills' bodies. Betty touched the metal on the passenger door, expecting to feel an electric shock, but felt only the vibration. They felt weird, their minds felt dulled.
A second series of code-like beeping or buzzing sounds returned the couple to full consciousness. They found that they had traveled nearly thirty five miles south but had only vague, spotty memories of this section of road. They recalled making a sudden unplanned turn, encountering a roadblock, and observing a fiery orb in the road.
“That was pretty cool, Rula,” said Rority. “I'm glad you talked us into coming. I thought you were really going to dissect them! Too bad they were so shook up about it, but I guess the samples were necessary.”
”Well,” Rula replied, “The samples are important, but it wasn't just the samples. This was documented. It had to happen, so it happened. I'm getting pretty good at math!” she said.
She looked at Rority sternly when she saw the relieved look on his face. “What, did you think I was going to cut his balls off, Rority? If the biologists are satisfied with the protohuman DNA we sampled, we won't need to do this again.” She added “We weren't going to dissect them, but we're going to butcher a cow before we go back to the present. And the samples from the protohumans look good.”
“What about the nobots that were all over the car?” Gumal asked. “Won't they be a problem?”
“They're dead; they were programmed to shut themselves off after we left and they had revived the protohumans. Who in 16 AB could program nobots? Nobody could turn them back on back then.”
Barney never could figure out why there were shiny concentric circles on the Bel Aire's trunk, or why if you put a compass near them, its needle spun.
“OK,” said Rority, “go over to Ireland before we go back. I want to pick up a few cases of beer.”
“Sure,” said Rula, “But then we're going dancing.”
Gumal groaned, and the friends he had invited along grumbled as well. “Damn, Rula, if we knew you were going dancing we wouldn't have come!” he said.
“Well, you guys were going to Zeta Reticuli, weren't you?” Rula said. “It really is really nice in this timeframe, and will be until the supernova ruins the pretty scenery in that part of the galaxy.
“All the college kids go on Spring break there now and I hear it's pretty wild, you'll have a blast. I'd go along if I hadn’t planned the dance lessons. Just pick us up on your way back.
“Did you bring your stratodoober, Rority? I want a hit!”
24 - Earthian War
26 - Martian Catastrophe