“Luke, you have to come see this!” Ethan stood there dusty head to toe. He had a crazed looked in his eye. Luke wondered if his friend had started to taking meth again. He sat with the engine running. All he had to do was roll up the window and drive away, but Ethan was his friend. If he left him out in the desert at night, he might not survive. Luke shutoff his engine and turned on his emergency blinkers.
“Ethan, how did you get out here?”
Ethan grabbed Luke’s car door and began jerking on it. “Come on man! I’ll show you. The aliens brought me here.”
Luke grabbed Ethan by his wrists. “Stop it! You’re high, there aren’t any aliens.”
Ethan blinked and let go of Luke’s car. His crazed looked disappeared. He took long slow breaths and spoke slower. “Look, Luke. I know I sound crazy, and look crazy. You would too if you’ve been through what I have. Just do me a favor. Please get out of the car and come with me. I don’t know how long they will stay. They’ve already been walking around the middle of nowhere for the past hour.”
Luke could tell Ethan was not high, but something was wrong. He got out of his car, and Ethan led him across the two-lane desert road. They started heading towards a group of rocks when the sky lit brightly up behind it. The small hill cast a small eclipse in front of the light show behind it. As the light rose both men had to cover their eyes to avoid its brightness.
“Dang it, Luke. I told you. Come on!” both men ran towards the hill. Halfway there the light shot vertically into the sky and was no more than a star in a few seconds, and then it was gone. “I told you, Luke! Dang it, why weren’t you faster? Why did you have to screw around on the roadside?” Luke stood there dumbfounded. He looked over at Ethan, who was kicking the dust into the night air.
Luke finally spoke. “Ethan, can you take me where the ship was.” Ethan stopped stomping his feet and fussing to himself.
“Good idea, follow me.”
Both men walked over to the rocks. On the other side were a distinct set of four round prints. It reminded Luke of the old Apollo moon landers he saw on television when he was a kid. Both men looked at each other. Luke shook his head. “I don’t know what to say. I guess I owe you an apology.”
Ethan smiled, “It’s okay. Until you see it, you can’t understand.”
Luke walked past Ethan and stooped down. He examined the prints. Something looked strange, and then it hit him. There weren’t any pebbles. No small rocks. The ground was just sand, like a sand dune. Except, they weren’t near any sand dunes. He stood up and looked around. This sky is all wrong. The thought ran a chill down his spine. Ethan was leaning against a boulder near the hill watching him. Luke took a couple steps towards him.
“Do you have a theory on why they took you?”
Ethan gave Luke a knowing grin and said, “It’s funny you’d ask me that now. After we saw the ship, and not before you left your car. They told me they need to expand. Their population has outgrown their planet. They wanted to examine me and see if our biology was similar. Unfortunately, I would end up at least disabled, if not dead when they were done.”
“How did you get away?”
“Who said I did?”
Luke shook his head. He was right. “Why?”
“Well, Luke. Back when I was having my drug difficulties you called the law on me instead of trying to help me.”
Luke started to pace. “I did help you. You sobered up. That was the idea.”
“Yeah, and now I have a prison record. You ever try getting’ a job, a car, a home with a prison record?”
Luke stopped. He had never even thought about what would happen to Ethan after prison. Instead of helping his friend he had made things worse. “So, what now?” Luke asked.
Ethan stood up, walked over and gripped both of Luke’s shoulders. “Now, my friend, you stay here, and I go home.” He released his shoulders and walked back over to his rock.
“What are you going to do?”
Ethan laughed, and said, “Me, you shouldn’t worry about me. I’m going to be fine. These dudes have an amazing transport system. Those bright lights we were in, that was it. It took us, and this hill, up into their ship. That’s right, we are in space now. Pretty amazing huh?”
Luke looked around. The room was still dark so he could not tell its size, but it was large enough to hold a twenty-foot hill and both of them.
“I guess you’re beginning to realize how big this ship is. I was the same way the first beam-up. Anyway, they picked me up some cash. I’ll be heading back to earth with enough to live on. No need to worry about living expenses any longer.”
Luke shook his head. “You really didn’t think this through. People know you, they will want to know where you got the money.”
Ethan started walking away. “I did think it through. I’m not going back. They are dropping me off in the town of my choice.”
“Where?” Luke asked.
“You don’t need to worry about that. I’ll be seeing you, old friend” A bright light blinded Luke, and Ethan was gone.
Luke was trying to get his bearings when he heard a noise. On the other side of the hill a faint glow of light came streaming around the hill. A mechanical voice from the other side spoke. “Mr. Luke Chadwick, please come with us. It is time to begin.”