Massachusetts – December 2, 2021 – 6:17 PM
Observing the approach of twilight, Tony smiled. He was an avid, amateur astronomer.
Ah, nothing better than stargazing on a clear, moonless winter night.
Yet, unbeknownst to Tony, something even better was about to happen.
Cold air stung his lungs as he stepped outside. He wished he had remembered to bring a hat. Road salt crunched beneath his feet. Buttoning his coat tightly, hands deep in his pockets, he began his nightly walk around the block.
Rounding the bend, Venus blazed brilliantly, low in the western sky.
Hey there, Gorgeous!
Tony settled into a modest pace.
The twinkling lights from neighborhood windows paled in comparison to nature’s display above. Craning his neck, he greeted each constellation like an old friend.
Glorious! Simply glorious!
On his return, Tony noticed his next-door neighbor peering out suspiciously. Every night the older woman sat sentinel on her porch. Her presence always made him feel like an intruder. He imagined her scolding.
Don’t step on my lawn! Pick up your dog’s poop! Drive carefully! Don’t speed! Whose car is that? Who is this stranger? Why is that man looking at me?
Hoping to convey he was stargazing, Tony scanned the sky with exaggerated gestures like a man playing charades.
No interloper here, Gisele. No one is peering into windows.
Turning his back to his neighbor, Tony looked up across the street. An unfamiliar sight immediately caught his attention.
A long chain of blinking lights stretched across a sizable length of the sky.
What is that?
The lights resembled airplane headlights. Tony figured there were at least forty moving in close formation. But they weren’t moving toward Tony. Instead, they sidled slowly across the sky like a train.
It can’t be airplanes! Those lights are moving together as one object! I need someone else to see this!
Tony fumbled for his phone and called his daughter. Waiting for her to answer, he watched, mesmerized as the leading lights faded. One by one, the lights vanished like the portholes of a turning ocean liner.
“No! No! No! No! Come on! Wait!”
His daughter answered.
“Why are you yelling?”
“Isabel, come out here! Quick! Something’s in the sky. You need to see this!”
“Ok, ok! Give me a second. I’m in my pajamas.”
Isabel didn’t make it outside in time.
“They’re gone,” Tony said.
“What happened? What’s gone?”
Tony explained what he saw.
“Do you think it was a UFO?” Isabel asked.
“I don’t know. It sure wasn’t a plane. It was way too long!”
“How long was it?”
“It was as long as that house’s roof, but far away, up in the sky.”
“Yeah. I wish you or someone else had seen it.” Tony said dejectedly.
“Wait. Look online to see if anyone else saw it.” Isabel offered.
“Nothing is going to be online yet,” Tony said. “Oh! Maybe, I could ask Mrs. Boulanger if she saw anything? She’s sitting on her porch as usual.”
“No, Dad. That’s a bad idea. You’ll frighten her. I’ll get my phone and google it.”
His daughter ran inside. Tony remained outside, hoping the lights would reappear. A few minutes later, she hurried back.
“Is this what you saw?”
He studied the video clip on the screen.
“Yes! That’s it!”
“Dad, you saw a string of satellites.”
“SpaceX launched forty-eight Starlink satellites today.”
Tony was disappointed.
“Satellites? Guess that’s pretty cool, but it would have been even better if it was a UFO.”
Later that evening, sitting by the fire, Tony reflected. Forty years ago, before the advent of the internet, he would have wholly believed those lights were extraterrestrial.
December 2, 2021: The Pentagon, Washington D.C. – 10:48 PM
“Quick thinking, Colonel.”
“Yes, well, we sure as hell can’t have the whole nation panicking. Damn ETs!”
“Perhaps, tonight’s visitors were new? They certainly didn’t follow the protocols for a visitation. Should I place a call to the galactic ambassador?”
“Should I file a complaint?”
“No. Don’t need to ruffle any alien feathers or scales. Politely remind them they need to prevent rogue excursions into the atmosphere. We still need to figure out how to disclose contact officially. In the meantime, we need the lead time to concoct a plausible excuse the public will buy.”
“Yes, sir. Good night, sir.”
“Good night, Lieutenant.”
Word Count: 726
Written in response to the prompt: Even Better.
Check out all of the other great writing prompts at The Twiglets.
Thank you for inspiring me!