Investigating a Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind
I'm a ufologist—I study reports, any kind of footage, physical evidence, and any possible phenomena, like crop circles and abductions, possibly related to unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Those in academia consider ufology a pseudoscience, even a joke. However, the right discovery by someone like me could one day change all of that. A ufologist could someday solve one or maybe even all the mysteries of the universe. Meanwhile, I can use unconventional methods because science rejects what I do, anyway. In some ways, the rejection frees ufologists to be more open-minded.
In addition to my research, I write freelance articles about UFOs and exopolitics and post them to various fringe sites online to generate money from ad revenue. Admittedly, I cater to the crazies, but I must do my part to keep the lights on. Besides, one of these days, it may be one of the crazies who turns out to be right.
I've had other jobs over the years—too many. But this one is, by far, the most entertaining. And my work is home-based, which is excellent. I'm an introvert--an INFP if you will. Some months ago, with time on my hands after losing another call center job, I wrote an article about exopolitics. And that's when things really started to take off for me in this field.
I'm in my forties. My husband, Brett, has a degree in accounting but is working at a factory in Topeka after a previous layoff with a large, well-known corporation that makes and sells cereals and snack foods. Before that, he was a general manager at a popular neighborhood restaurant until they freaked out over the Affordable Care Act. But I digress. Brett and I have been married twenty-five years and have a son and daughter in college but living at home.
Breeze, our daughter, is almost twenty, and she spends several nights a week at her boyfriend's apartment. The two of them aspire to move in together soon, but those plans are currently on hold due to the global coronavirus pandemic. They're both out of work from their jobs waiting tables at present, but Bree works some hours handing out takeout orders and is busy with her online classes. Her boyfriend isn't in school, but I hear he is considering options for his future. Bree has always been our super-independent one and artsy. She has her own SoundCloud, where she uploads original music.
Our son, Cade, is in no hurry to move out even though he is the eldest. An engineering major, Cade is typically so buried in math that he, at times, forgets to eat and brush his teeth if I don't remind him. He has been lucky enough to only work summers so far and not during the academic year. Through a friend, Cade was able to get full-time summer work as a so-called "intern" at a local factory and made enough there to cover his expenses for the school year. He mostly made boxes to ship Christmas wrapping paper, but the title of "intern" looks good on his resume. And he worked with other young people his age—including girls. That's good because he is kind of always social distancing, not unlike a lot of other engineering majors.
No degree is required for the study of ufology. I do have an undergraduate degree, but it's in English. I suppose you could say my degree taught me how to be a close reader. And, these days, I read existing UFO reports instead of literature. Besides researching sightings and alleged encounters and abductions, I search the internet for new stories about possible extraterrestrial encounters and related phenomena. I do a great deal of armchair researching, but not today.
In ufology, when a person witnesses an unidentified flying object, this is referred to as a close encounter. J. Allen Hynek classified these encounters into kinds. Categories beyond Hynek's original types of encounters have since been added to the classification system but have not been universally accepted. Close encounters, according to Hynek and others, must be within about 500 feet to rule out misidentification of ordinary, known flying objects.
I live and work in the Kansas City area. And, last night, one of the regular contributors to a neighborhood watch group in Leavenworth claimed to have had a close encounter of the fifth kind. Luckily, I immediately spied the initial vague-booking statement about the alleged contact and suspected more posts were soon to follow. Via messaging, I convinced the witness to remove what he'd written. And I called him.
"I investigate alleged sightings and encounters with extraterrestrials," I said over a landline. "Meet me in an hour at the laundry mat near the library." I was pretty sure laundry mats were essential. To look like I needed to be there, I took some cash for quarters and Crash's dog bed to wash while Bob and I met.
The elderly witness was Bob Shudrowitz. He and my father-in-law had served together as city firemen for more than thirty years.
A close encounter of the fifth kind is an occurrence with an unidentified flying object—a UFO, involving communication between extraterrestrials and humans. Labeled by Steven M. Greer's Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI—pronounced "see-setty") group, the connection must be mutual, willing contact through conscious interaction between humans and extraterrestrial intelligence or beings.
Bob was over eighty-five years old, and I worried the laundry mat might be too loud for us to communicate well. I wondered whether he wore hearing aids as had my father-in-law. Working under blaring sirens for thirty years must have damaged his hearing.
"Hi," I said, smiling. "Let's follow social distancing guidelines and refrain from shaking," I suggested.
"Sure," Bob said. "It may be inevitable that I will catch this virus before it's all over, and, if it happens, I am aware the odds will not be in my favor. I have hypertension and endured hospitalization for pneumonia once already this year."
"I'm sorry, and I appreciate your willingness to risk meeting with me. Do you mind if I record our conversation?"
"Not at all, dear," he said. "Say, aren't you John Drake's daughter-in-law?"
"I am. Call me Stella. You and I last spoke at my in-laws' fiftieth wedding anniversary. The celebration was at the Riverfront Community Center a couple of years ago."
"Yes, that was a nice evening, wasn't it? If you and Brett make it to fifty, you need to have a big shindig, too. A lot of people aren't lucky enough to get there. Some won't make it through the next month." He looked about as if the virus were lingering in wait for both of us.
"So, Bob, let's get down to business. I will start with a few questions but feel free to elucidate as much as you like. First, where were you when communication with intelligent alien life occurred?" A dirty construction worker brought in a full hamper, and change jingled from the coin machine as he exchanged a twenty for quarters.
"I was in the park in front of the Guards Club at the West Gate entrance to Ft. Leavenworth around 11:45 pm last night."
"You were alone?"
"I was. Well, my dog was with me."
"You are in your eighties, Bob. Why were you in a park at that time of night during a global pandemic lockdown?"
"I'm ninety-three, dear, and I don't know. I had quarantine fever, so the dog and I took a short drive and stepped out for some air. He is a black and white border collie named 'Tux,'" Bob said.
"Very well, and what happened at 11:45 pm when you and Tux were at the park?" I hoped Bob wasn't about to prove that he had dementia, but he seemed fine, mentally.
"An elderly, female alien appeared in a one-passenger vehicle, not of this world. Tux growled gutturally at her but soon quieted himself. She was not at all threatening."
"Are you a follower of Dr. Steven M. Greer, CSETI, or of their Disclosure or Orion projects? Do you belong to any groups seeking to communicate with intelligent alien life?"
"I've never heard of Dr. Greer or the rest of what you asked."
"Okay. From where did this elderly, extraterrestrial being come? Did she materialize out of thin air, or did you see her descend from the heavens or something else entirely?"
"She materialized but in a quiet flying apparatus, which seemed to have a living operating system. She said it had traveled at 130,000 kph, inter-dimensionally."
"So, they use the metric system in her galaxy? Go on." I laughed.
Bob continued, "The occupant of the tiny spaceship was not more than forty-two inches or so in height and seemed aged, like me. But maybe she just looked that way. She spoke commands to her tiny spacecraft in Korean. And she said she was from the Pinwheel Galaxy."
"It is a spiral galaxy nearly twenty-one million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. You understand Korean? Why was the occupant of the UFO in the park with you last night?"
"I served in the Korean War and met my late wife over there. The occupant said a team of remote viewers on her planet saw Tux and me in that spot in time and space and sent her to give me a message about the future. She said she was from a planet called Pax.”
"How do you think she traveled so many light-years, and did she give you her name? What message did she need to convey?"
"She did not explain how she was able to cross from her galaxy into ours. Speaking English, she called herself Aster, and her message was that our planet faces a series of global pandemics over the next several decades. By and by, the viruses will change human DNA as we know it, but the changes will not be evident for several generations. Aster advised me to mention our encounter in the neighborhood watch group, where you would see the post. She seemed to know that you would meet with me. Moreover, Aster believed you would know what to do with the information she provided."
"Did she claim responsibility for the current pandemic or indicate what kind of changes would occur to human DNA?"
"No, she just seemed aware of it and of the future. She said the current pandemic included one of the viruses that would change human DNA. Aster also said she was from a future in which it would be our year 2097 if Earth still existed."
"You deleted the post and have not said anything else about it to anyone, correct?"
"Did you observe Aster leaving Earth?"
"She did not leave. Aster removed her helmet and suddenly disintegrated into a pile of ashes right in front of me. And then her small flying machine degenerated into metal dust. I scooped everything up separately into boxes lined with trash bags. They're still in my trunk."
"Did Aster's landing leave traces on the ground?"
"Yes. Seconds before she decomposed, we took pictures of everything. She said I should let you keep my phone. But we can go to the scene now if you like for more pictures."
"Absolutely. And thank you." I eagerly opened the gallery on Bob's phone. There was a photo of him with a humanoid extraterrestrial next to an unidentified flying object. Aster was, indeed, somewhere around three-and-a-half feet tall, wearing a transparent helmet. Through the helmet, she sported short, spiky white hair. Her eyes were large and silver, and her skin slate blue. She had a heart-shaped face with small ears, a tiny nose, and a narrow, lipless mouth. Her fingers appeared to be double-jointed and six in number on each hand.
I followed Bob over to the scene of his alleged close encounter of the fifth kind near the Guards Club, which was in sight of the U.S. Penitentiary. My mother-in-law retired from the Bureau of Prisons. At our wedding in 1994, Brett and I were able to borrow the Guards Club for our reception at no cost, which was great because we were a couple of broke kids. My relatives from Arkansas and Louisiana were amazed at the American buffalo that could be seen from the windows at the Guards Club. They had never seen any. “I thought buffalo were extinct,” my older brother had said, his mouth agape.
I took pictures of the alleged landing site and measured for radiation. I then took soil samples and wrote down the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity and looked up what each of those had been the night before.
"Do you feel normal and healthy?" I asked Bob.
"Sure," he said.
"And Tux seems fine?"
"I believe so," Bob said.
"And you have no idea why Aster or her planet singled you out?"
"None whatsoever, but she said she was not the first contact of this kind," he replied. And then Bob grabbed his chest, keeled over, and died. I called for help and administered CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The paramedics knew Bob's daughter, Rhonda, and called her to the scene. Rhonda was in her early sixties and dressed to the nines in quarantine lockdown. Her father's death was not a complete shock to her considering his age and recent health history.
I explained that Bob had been working with me on a sensitive investigative project and that he had provided his phone to share classified pictures. Surprised to hear this, she consented to let me keep the phone. Following up on that allowance, I offered to take in Tux.
"You are welcome to take the dog," she said. Clearly, this woman was not a dog person. "The sliding backdoor is probably unlocked at the house," she said. I provided her with my private investigator business card and asked that she email if she needed anything from Bob's phone or changed her mind about the dog.
"Private investigator?" she asked.
"Your father met with me this evening because he saw and experienced something he believed to be from another dimension, possibly. We can discuss it later if you wish. You have my contact information."
She scoffed. "Wait, did you charge him anything?" she asked.
"Not at all--it was my pleasure to hear what he had to say," I said.
Letting myself in Bob's seventy-five-year-old house in Leavenworth, I found Tux happy to see a visitor. He pointed out his leash and harness. While in the house, I snooped through everything, including the basement, but found nothing out of the ordinary. There were no indications Bob was obsessed with finding alien life or had ever even considered it.
Bob had been reading a biography of Harry S. Truman. His TV was set to record Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Inside his refrigerator, I found Chinese takeout from the grocery store and V8 juices. He had a DVD collection of old westerns. In his home office down in the basement, there were framed pictures from his fire-fighting days. My father-in-law was in some of them. Pulling up his internet history only revealed grocery pick up orders and golf supplies.
Thanks to the pictures on his cell phone, Bob's encounter of the fifth kind was the most credible evidence I had ever personally beheld regarding the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Unsure whether to notify government officials or private ones, I decided to first contact CSETI, which I did using Bob's laptop. As expected, I received a phone call from a top-level CSETI director within minutes. He said his name was Angosin.
"Have you said anything to anyone?" asked Angosin.
"His daughter knows I was meeting with her father because he experienced something that he believed was otherworldly. She didn't seem to take it seriously."
"Good. Don't speak to anyone else about it. I will let the coroner know we need an off-the-record autopsy with no questions asked. CSETI can pay Leavenworth whatever it takes to make that happen. Ideally, we should perform an autopsy on the dog, as well. What if one or more of the alleged novel viruses are in the dog or in you? Of course, if it is deemed Bob's death or, later, the dog's, were caused by this encounter, we may be looking at a close encounter of the sixth kind--a CE-6."
"I’m keeping the dog. You can perform labs on both of us for starters. Tux and I will quarantine away from my family and my own dog until we have more information."
"We'll have a team, including a medical doctor and a veterinarian, onsite within two hours," Angosin advised, expecting me to be available with Tux when CSETI arrived.
Waiting, I pondered how North Korea's Kim Jung Un had mentioned that he had a Christmas present for the United States. Further, I wondered why an extraterrestrial from a planet named Pax in the Pinwheel Galaxy would arrive from our year 2097 speaking Korean and English.