To The Stars...Chapter 1

"Hey Barney, this is the life, ain't it?"

Barney glanced over at his childhood friend, Pedro, who was reclining next to him on the hood of his battered old pickup truck. The night was dark, the sky sprinkled liberally with a dusting of stars, and they could hear the gentle lapping of waves on the sandy shore of Groom Lake, a mere stone's throw from where they had parked.

Sighing with contentment, Barney laced his hands behind his head and grinned. "Yeah man. Nothing beats this."

They settled into silence, listening to the night sounds, eyes drowsily searching the heavens overhead for any anomally. They had been searching the night skies like this since their childhood, camped out in the backyard in Pedro's faded green pup-tent, camera's and junk food at hand. And now that they were older, both with jobs and responsibilities, they still made it a point to come out here at least once a month together to search for any alien lifeforms that may choose to suddenly introduce themselves to these transplanted Nevadans.

Although, techinically speaking, they were trespassing on government property, the siren call of Area 51 was far too powerful to resist. So as usual, they chose a spot far enough away to avoid detection, but still close enough to feel the raw energy of a spot rumored to be the point of contact with their alien visitors.

Barney sighed again, his eyelids growing heavier by the minute, as the distant thrum of the cicada's lulled him into sleep.

He was rudely jolted awake by Pedro's frantic push on his shoulder and whispered, "Hombre! Look over there!"

Following his friend's pointed finger, his eyes widened in excitement and surprise. In the distance, what looked like a comet streaked through the night sky, it's fiery brilliance lighting it's mad descent to the earth below. To their amazement, just as it looked as if it were going to smash into the ground in a brilliant show of power, it suddenly stopped and hovered for a moment, hanging in the air like a golden globe. It seemed to struggle against gravity for a moment, and they watched, hang jawed, as it appeared to float effortlessly to the ground before it's light winked out, leaving them in darkness again.

Stupidly, mouths still open in surprise, they swung their eyes back on each other. Then suddenly they were off the truck whooping and slapping each other on the back at their good fortune. Of course, they couldn't prove it, after all, it had been too far away to be sure that it was anything but a comet falling to the earth, but deep inside they knew it had to be what they were waiting for.

Eagerly they clambored back up onto their perches and devoured the night sky for another hour or so, hoping for the strange occurence to repeat itself. Pedro, now clutching his camera, felt like kicking himself for forgetting to take pictures. But eventually they decided it wasn't going to happen again, and still high from their experience, they decided to call it a night. Barney watched his friend climb into his own car, a dilapidated Ford Pinto, and waved him off.

Tired now, Barney swung into the pickup and turned the key. Nothing happened. He tried it again. Again, nothing happened. Slightly irritated, he threw open the door to his truck and stomped up to the front, reaching to lift the hood. He realized he would need light, and he groaned to himself, turning to look toward the far cluster of buildings that dotted the horizon. Out here, in the darkness of the desert, his headlights would be a beacon call to the military officials who were no doubt still scanning the area for the...whatever it was that had split the night sky just an hour ago. Rubbing the muscle that was jerking on the back of his neck, Barney knew he had no choice. He really didn't want to spend the night in his truck.

He reached in and turned the switch.

He was leaning over the cold engine, fiddling with the spark plugs, when the first sound reached him. At first, he thought nothing of it, and continued to stew over the puzzle of why his truck wasn't working. But when it sounded again it registered fully in his mind and stilled his hands. Sudden, and unexpected fear reared up and choked off his breath.

Licking his lips, Barney listened intently to the suddenly quiet night surrounding him.

The noise came again. A sort of wet, squishy sound. The kind of sound from a boy's nightmare, the kind that would send most men running, screaming into the night. But not me, he told himself, clenching his jaw. Aww, who was he kidding? He'd be the first one to run.

Barney swallowed the bile that rose in his throat. He would need to face this. After all, he was stranded. Alone. In the desert. At night. Alone. Stomach clenching, heart frozen in dread, he forced himself to act quickly. He whirled around, and....

Written & Illustrated by Kathy Wereb

2103 - KJWereb

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Hey there! So glad to get a message from you. Just give me a minute to look it over before posting it. Thanks so much for understanding.

Blessings, Kathy