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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2315044
Are UFOs from outer space? Gracy & Garvin Goodbody certainly believe so!
Gracy and Garvin Goodbody were out soon after dark on the 28th of February 2024. Keen believers in life on other planets, and that aliens had been living amongst us for centuries, the newly married couple were spending their honeymoon hunting down reports of strange lights in the sky over the Glen Hartwell to Willamby region of the Victorian countryside since a week or so before Christmas 2023.

"Occam's Razor says that alien visitors are the most likely explanation for the lights in the air," insisted Garvin. A tall gangly man of twenty-eight, who looked more like eighteen, a fact helped by his freckled face, and shoulder-length Archie-Andrews-red hair.

"That's true," said Gracy, a dumpy brunette with salt-and-pepper hair, aged twenty-six, but looking more like thirty.

Of course, they both ignored the fact that Occam's Razor also selected magical giant green elves, werewolves, or vampires over the more logical explanations for most occasions. And in the case of ships vanishing in the Bermuda Triangle, Occam's Razor suggests a magical wormhole in space that transports vessels or their crews to far off Yuggoth, Talos IV, or Beta Centauri.

They also discounted claims by scientists that the lights were vast swarms of fireflies which explained their ability to twist and turn in ways no Earth-built flying craft could do. And also explained their ability to suddenly vanish (not silently upwards into outer space, as the Goodbodys believed), but scattering out of formations into thousands of separate directions.

"The news networks might want us to believe they're fireflies, but Occam says otherwise," said Garvin.

"It's a media conspiracy to silence our voice of reason," said Gracy.

"No doubt about it," agreed Garvin: "Big Brother is not only watching over us but is lying to us as well."

"The news media, the government, the secret police agencies are all the same," insisted Gracy.

They were still extolling the merits of Occam's misguided Razor ten minutes later when they suddenly sighted a glowing yellow light in the distance perhaps ten kilometres away. In the wrong direction and far too large to be the moon.

"Fireflies indeed," said the freckle-faced redhead.

He started the ignition of the rented yellow and rust-coated Range Rover they sat in and started through the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest outside Glen Hartwell. And started across the country toward the bright light.

"It looks perfectly round," said Gracy: "Just like all of the most credible U.F.O. reports."

"Yes indeed," agreed Garvin.

Not wasting time explaining what made some reports 'credible' when it had never been proven that life existed elsewhere in the universe. Let alone that alien craft or beings had ever visited the planet Earth. And, of course, ignoring the fact that the U.S. government had attempted to build 'flying saucers' for test purposes in the 1970s. In every case, they had refused to take off or had crashed soon after takeoff, due to Earth having a heavy gravity (1G) and a heavy atmosphere. Which meant to leave the Earth's atmosphere you need a rocket-shaped or guided vehicle. And to fly on Earth you need a plane/shuttle-shaped object with wings and a tail. Something like Star Trek's enterprise with a saucer section, but also a rear stabilising section might be able to fly in Earth's atmosphere. But not a perfect saucer shape with no stabilising attachments.

"Don't let it get away," said Gracy.

However, Garvin already had the yellow and rust-coated Range Rover at maximum speed. About fifty kilometres an hour. Also, the yellowish light was moving toward them, through the evening sky, so it was unlikely to get away. Unless it suddenly whooshed straight up into the air silently and out into space -- or broke apart to scatter in a thousand different directions if it was a swarm of thousands of fireflies.

'Wait until Gerda and Bertha back at Werribee H.Q. hear about this," said Gracy almost glowing with excitement.

"They'll be spewing," agreed Garvin as the bright light continued toward them. Not only increasing in magnitude but also suddenly warming the coolish night air over the forest land.

"As if fireflies could generate that kind of luminosity," said Gracy.

"Or temperature," added Garvin: "You'd need engines powerful enough to take you through the void of deep space to encounter that kind of temperature."

"Perhaps we'd better put on the 500+ sunscreen," suggested Gracy.

The Goodbodys liked to believe that, just like scouts, they always came prepared. She applied a generous helping to her face and limbs, then did the same for her husband as he continued driving the Range Rover.

Over at the Yellow House at Rochester Road, Merridale (or the Lemon House as its owner Deidre Morton insisted upon calling it), Deidre and her boarders were settling down at the dining table for their dinner. Knowing better now than to ask why the whole house, inside and out, was coloured yellow, as was most of the furniture, the boarders instead concentrated on local news events.

"So what do you think about the yellow lights seen in the sky around here recently?" asked Tommy Turner. A short obese recent retiree with shoulder-length blond hair.

"Personally, I go for the scientific suggestion that it's swarms of fireflies," suggested Freddy Kingston. Another retiree, he was tall, a little podgy, and bald, other than a Larry-Fine-style ruff of curly black hair around the back and sides of his head.

"That explains their ability to suddenly disappear," agreed Natasha Lipzing. A tall grey-haired seventy-year-old, who had spent the second half of her life at the Yellow House: "In a way no Earth-built craft can do."

"And which even comets and meteorites can't do," added Sheila Bennett. A Goth chick with orange-and-black-striped hair, who was the Chief Constable and therefore second-top cop in the Glen Hartwell area.

"Although ice comets can give it a mighty good go," said Colin Klein. A redheaded former London crime reporter, now working for the Glen Hartwell Police, and boyfriend/lover of Terri Scott: "They use a form of jet-propulsion created by the sun shooting steam off whichever side is closest to it, which shoots the comet away. Then another part is closer to the sun, so the same thing happens again and again, each time shooting the comet off in a different direction."

"Hey, so I'm living with a science geek," teased Terri Scott. A beautiful ash blonde, who at thirty-five was Senior Sergeant, therefore top cop of the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area. She had been dating Colin for a few months, before they moved in together, after he had come to Australia, on his long service leave at age forty-eight.

"How dare you, my love," teased back Colin.

"Yes," said Deidre Morton. A short, dumpy sixty-something brunette, whose cooking skills put most Michelin-Star chefs to shame: "He might be a science geek ... but he's still a damn good catch."

"Thank you, Mrs. M. ... I think," said Colin.

Out in the forest outside Glen Hartwell, Garvin Goodbody had stopped the yellow and rust-coated Range Rover. Garvin and Gracy were now standing upon the forest floor of pine needles and gum leaves, beside their vehicle, as the large yellow object approached them. It hovered over them for a few moments, then crept back a hundred metres or so ...

Before whooshing to a landing not far away.

At that distance the yellow light was blinding, but the Goodbodys had come prepared with pairs of Polaroid sunglasses. Which they quickly donned.

"It's not a perfect circle," said Garvin, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice. No matter what NASA had 'proven', he refused to believe that perfectly circular craft could not fly in Earth's atmosphere. After all, he knew what he knew!

However, this craft was circular at the front but had two long conical sections projecting outwards from the rear of the circle with the two 'boom' sections joined by a bridging tail section. Like on twin-boom aircraft popular on Earth since World War Two.

"It's still from outer space though," insisted Gracy, trying to cheer up her slightly crestfallen husband.

As she spoke, with a soft whirring, a large hatch opened at the side of the craft. Unleashing even brighter light onto the Goodbodys. Then three creatures, perhaps a metre-and-a-half tall, started down a ramp which now led out of the spacecraft.

"We are friends," called Garvin. Struggling to speak, he thought at first from nervous excitement. Then his whole body started to heat up. Like he was suffering from all-over hot flushes, but a hundred times worse than should have been possible.

"Why am I so hot?" said Gracy. Her body was also hot-flushing all over and seemed to be sunburning. She suddenly realised: "We're too close to the craft! Our bodies can't withstand whatever is causing the light."

She started to back away. However, Garvin had not moved and looked close to passing out. So the brunette forced herself to move into the blinding light, to try to drag her husband to safety.

But as she reached him, Gavin suddenly collapsed to his knees upon the forest floor.

"Gavin!" she cried, trying to pull him back to his feet.

Then Gavin started crawling, inching away from the deadly glow irradiating from the craft, and from the creatures of fire and light which had stepped from it.

Trying to follow him away, Gracy collapsed onto the dried pine needles and died of radiation poisoning. So she did not notice, when the dried pine needles and gum leaves around her began to burn.

Not even noticing that he had left Gracy to die, Garvin crawled back to the yellow and rust-coated Range Rover. He managed to open the door of the vehicle, without being able to rise from his knees. Then with difficulty, he managed to open the glove compartment to take out his mobile phone, to ring Triple-Zero...

Before collapsing onto the pine needles.

Not certain what had happened, the fire and light beings stepped down onto the floor of pine needles and dried gum leaves, and walked across to Gracy, to see if they could help her. Unaware that what it was planning would kill her - if she had not already died - one of the creatures held out its short arms toward the deceased brunette, and white light shot from them, bathing the fallen woman in yellow and white. What the creatures thought of as healing light.

Unaware that some beings could not survive their levels of radiation.

Until Gracy burst into flames making the creatures run around excitedly, shrilling in horror at what they had done.

Deciding not to risk trying to heal Garvin, the three beings returned to their spacecraft and closed the door. Then took off after the metal ramp had disappeared back into the craft. Which took off with a whoosh, straight up into the air, until in only seconds it was out of sight of anyone on Earth.

Wendy Pearson, an attractive honey blonde, just turned forty-five in early February, was on the evening shift at the Mitchell Street Police Station in Glen Hartwell, when she got a call from Garvin Goodbody's mobile phone. A pro rata policewoman she had been called to duty to help out while Paul Bell was on holiday, and Stanlee Dempsey was sick with what might be covid-19.

"Mitchell Street Police, how can I help you?" asked the blonde, who looked more like a model than a policewoman: "Hello?"

When she received no reply, Wendy used a tracking app. to find the location of the caller. Then phoned Donald Esk, and Jessie Baker, two local police sergeants to go investigate.

"Okay," said Don Esk. Not happy, since he and his live-in girlfriend Lisa Williams had planned to go to bed early for a marathon love-making session.

Hanging up, Wendy then rung through to the Yellow House.

"That was delish as always, Mrs. M.," said Sheila Bennett.

"Superb," agreed Natasha Lipzing.

"Why thank..." began Deidre Morton, stopping as the hall phone began to ring: "I'd better get that."

"Well, at least we got to finish our dinner first, this time," said Terri. Like Colin and Sheila, she was getting sick of being called out on emergencies just as they sat down to eat.

"Thank God," said Colin, stopping as Deidre returned from the corridor.

"That was Wendy Pearson, she just received a triple-oh call from a mobile phone, but no one answered. She's tracked it and sent Donald and Jessie out to investigate."

"Geez Don'll be pissed," said Sheila: "He and Lisa were planning on getting in some serious bonking tonight."

"Sheila!" chided Deidre: "You used to be such a good girl."

"I still am a good girl," she insisted: "Sometimes."

"I think Tommy's manners are rubbing off onto her," said Freddy.

"Okay, let's go, Sheils, Colin," said Terri Scott as the three of them stood to head for the front door.

However, they had only reached the hallway, when the phone rang again.

"Jessie?" asked Terri into the receiver: "Speak up, I can barely hear you."

Hanging up, she said: "We need to get some radiation suits from Mitchell Street lockup first. I think he said they're all ill with radiation sickness."

"Shit!" said Colin as they raced toward the front door.

Forty minutes or so later they arrived at the location where the saucer had landed, decked out in off-white radiation suits.

Jessie Baker, a huge redheaded man, and Don Esk, a bull of a man with short brown hair and a large scar down the left side of his face had managed to pull Garvin Goodbody clear of the danger area. But had not been able to revive him. The two big men were looking a bit green under the gills themselves.

"Here, put these on," said Terri. And between them, they managed to get the two cops into radiation suits, and then Garvin.

"What about the woman?" asked Sheila, pointing at Gracy Goodbody.

"She's deceased," said Jessie: "We went out to check on her, then became too weak to carry her back with us."

Another twenty minutes later four ambulances arrived at the scene.

"Leo, Strong Arm, Chezza, Topes," said Sheila by way of greeting four of the staff who alighted from the vehicles.

Nurses: Topaz Moseley, a gorgeous platinum blonde in her early thirties and Leo Laxman a tall muscular male nurse of West Indian origin. Paramedics: Derek Armstrong, and Cheryl Pritchard. Both of them were close friends of Sheila, whom they often spent their Saturdays with at the Muscle Up Gym in Glen Hartwell.

"Let's get them into the backs of the ambulances and get them to the hospital as quickly as possible so that Jesus, Elvis, and Tilly can check them over."

"The sooner the better," said Colin Klein: "This site is radioactive."

"That explains your costumes," teased Leo, as he helped Garvin Goodbody to an ambulance: "I thought you must have been going on to a fancy-dress party afterwards."

"Ha-ha, it is to laugh," said Sheila. Before she and Colin risked going into the danger zone to get the body of Gracy Goodbody.

Forty minutes later they were all standing outside a sideward at the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital, as Jesus Costello (pronounced 'Hee-Zeus'), and Tilly Lombstrom examined Garvin Goodbody, Jessie Baker, and Donald Esk. Jesus, a tall strong man, was the chief surgeon and chief administrator at the hospital. Tilly, a tall attractive fifty-something brunette was his second in command.

"Well, there's no doubt it's radiation sickness," said Jesus.

"We'll do what we can to stabilise them here for a day or three. Then send them by air ambulance to Melbourne," said Tilly.

"Does this mean a couple more of the pro-rata girls are on the salary again?" asked Sheila Bennett.

"Yes, Sheils," said Terri: "If they don't mind waiting till July for payment."

"Wacko," said Sheila: "They'll be so chuffed. So who hasn't been on paid duty the longest."

"Hilly and Greta," said Terri: "I'll give them both a call."

"Then we'd better go see how Elvis is getting on," said Colin. Referring to the local coroner, Jerry 'Elvis' Green. Nicknamed due to his long black sideburns and worshipping of Elvis Presley.

"No doubt about it," said Elvis, wearing a radiation suit: "Definitely radiation poisoning. And in a massive dose to kill so quickly."

"That's what Tils and Jesus said," confirmed Terri Scott.

"So what now?" asked Colin as they headed outside, still dressed in radiation suits.

"Firstly we get out of these things," said Terri, taking off her suit: "Then we go home for tea. Before going to bed."

"Ho-ho," said Sheila.

Ignoring the Goth policewoman, Terri said: "Then tomorrow, along with Hilly and Greta we check out the radiation site. It's too dark tonight."

The next morning, straight after breakfast Terri and co., dressed in radiation suits and carrying a Geiger counter, were at the site where they had left the Goodbodys' clapped-out banger. Along with:

Hilly (Hildegarde) Hindmarsh: A tall, buxom, blonde, aged fifty-six. Of German ancestry, family name von Hindmarshe. She had never gone through police academe. But was a trained nurse and from age sixteen to twenty-eight had worked at the Glen Hartwell Hospital.

Greta Goddard: Was a tall, shapely silver-blonde. She had never worked full-time as a cop. Having graduated from Melbourne Police Academy in 1980; just before her husband Geoff had been transferred to Lenoak. Greta retired before starting service to stay with Geoff. Then was approached by Lawrie Grimes, sergeant of police in Lenoak in 1980 to be a pro rata cop. At age sixty-nine in 2024, Greta was still fit and worked pro rata when needed.

Looking at her Geiger counter, Greta said: "Radiation level is high, but not as high as you'd expect if it killed her so quickly last night."

Over past the Goodbodys' yellow and rust-coated Range Rover, they could see a large black circle burnt into the pine needles and gum leaves that lined the forest floor.

"Whoa, Nellie, this part is through the roof," said Hilly having wandered across to the burnt patch with a Geiger counter.

"Then we'd better put up warning signs,' said Terri: "The Department of Works should have radiation warning signs."

"Or can make them up for us," added Colin Klein.

By the end of the day, they had collected readings and samples from the burnt patch. They had also placed around the site yellow metal signs with the word 'radioactive' in red on them.

"That ought to..." began Sheila, as they heard the sound of a car approaching.

"Who the Hell can that be?" asked Greta Goddard.

They turned to watch and saw a garish orange Volkswagen Beetle approaching slowly through the forest.

"I repeat...?" said Greta.

The Beetle pulled up about fifty metres short of them and out stepped two obese brunettes, both fifty-something. One dressed all in gaudy green, the other in an orange sweater and pink slacks.

"And who might you be?" asked Terri, as the women started toward them. Ignoring the radiation warnings.

"Gerda Muggins," said the all-green woman: "This is my twin sister, Bertha."

"We're from the Werribee to Willamby Alien Investigation Bureau," said Bertha.

"That covers quite an area?" said Sheila Bennett.

"Alien activity has been widespread in Australia for over thirty years now," insisted Gerda.

"Or the Yanks have been spying on us with SR-71s for a third of a century now?" suggested the Goth policewoman.

"We've heard about our fallen colleagues," said Bertha.

"You mean the Goodbodys?" asked Colin. Then when they nodded: "Only Gracy has passed away. Garvin still has a chance."

Pointing at the burnt circle, Gerda asked: "Is that the landing site?"

"Landing site?" asked Greta Goddard.

"Of the U.F.O.," explained Bertha.

"What U.F.O.?" demanded Terri: "There's been some kind of radiation leak in the area."

"Which explains the burnt area," said Colin.

"Ordinary people have trouble accepting extraordinary concepts!" insisted Greta: "The truth is out there somewhere!"

"That sounds like a rip from the Z-Files," pointed out Sheila.

"It's still true!" insisted Bertha.

"We know what we know!" claimed Greta: "The Man might try to bully us into believing fireflies can irradiate people, and incinerated a circle of leaves in the death zone... But we know better."

"What do you mean 'the Man'?" asked Colin: "I'm the only man here; amongst six women."

"We know what we know!" repeated Greta.

"You're seriously starting to creep us all out now," said Sheila.

"We do what we have to do!" insisted Bertha.

"Right, we are all officially creeped out now," agreed Hilly Hindmarsh.

"I hope you aren't planning to stay here any time?" asked Terri: "This is a radioactive site, you know."

"And we don't want to spend the night here, babysitting you," said Sheila.

"We need no babysitting," insisted Gerda: "Do we look like babies?"

Sheila was tempted to say, 'Heavily obese babies, maybe?' but wisely kept her mouth shut.

"At least let us lend you some radiation suits," offered Colin.

"No need, we have our own," said Bertha.

The two sisters went to the front of the Beetle, opened the bonnet and took out two shiny silvery suits, that looked as though they were made out of aluminium foil. They then placed motorbike crash helmets, covered in aluminium foil, upon their heads.

"You don't seriously think those will protect you?" asked Terri.

"We know what we know!" said the two Muggins sisters.

"Does this mean we have to stay here the whole night with these two idiots?" asked Hilly Hindmarsh.

"Small minds have small ideas," said Gerda, as though that explained everything.

"We don't need watching," insisted Bertha.

"Okay, Hilly, you and Sheils can take the first watch," said Terri: "Then I'll send out Alice Walker and Drew Braidwood to replace you in a few hours."

"Oh, but Mrs. M. is making duck a L'orange for tea tonight," protested Sheila: "My favourite."

"I'll send Greta back with a share for you and Hilly, so you won't starve."

"Fair enough."

"We don't need watching!" protested the Muggins twins.

For the next three nights, they took turns watching after Gerda and Bertha without any sign of U.F.O.s, or fireflies.

On the fourth night, a little before midnight, Greta Goddard and Drew Braidwood (a tall gangly blonde constable) were watching after the Muggins sisters. When from about fifteen kilometres away they spotted a round luminescent ball in the sky.

"Is that the moon?" asked Greta.

"Nah, it can't be," said Drew: "It's in the wrong position, and it's a full circle. The moon's only about eight percent full at the moment."

He pointed to the waning gibbous moon behind them.

"Then what the Hell is it?"

"They're back!" said Bertha Muggins: "The aliens!"

"Aliens smaliens," said Drew.

"We know what we know!" insisted Gerda.

"The truth is out there somewhere," added Bertha.

"Well, whatever the truth is, we won't know it," said Drew: "It's setting like the sun."

As he spoke, the bright light started descending until it was out of sight.

"Not setting, landing," said Gerda. She and Bertha raced across to their orange Beetle to chase after it.

"Here we go," said Greta Goddard, as she and Drew headed toward the police-blue Land Rover. Greta with better night vision that Drew got behind the wheel, with Drew as her passenger.

The Rover had been equipped with a floodlight, which could be switched on from inside. Drew flipped the switch, as Greta started the Rover.

"Turn that off!" shouted Bertha: "It'll scare off the aliens."

"Aliens smaliens," repeated Drew as they took off through the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest.

Although the light had only been about fifteen kilometres away, through the forest, being careful not to collide with pine or gum trees, it took them nearly forty minutes to reach the spot where the light, up close undoubtedly a spacecraft, had landed.

"What the fuck?" asked Drew as the four people stood outside their cars perhaps a hundred metres from the huge circular object, which shined a bright yellowy-white.

"Aliens smaliens!" teased Bertha Muggins.

"We still haven't seen any aliens..." said Greta Goddard.

Then with more of a whisper than a whoosh, the door opened in the craft, revealing only blinding light inside. Then a shining yellowy ramp slid down to allow the inhabitants to come forth.

For a moment nothing happened. Then three creatures, perhaps a metre-and-a-half tall, started down the ramp. They were shining like miniature walking suns.

"Well, I'll be buggered with a Jack Hammer!" said Drew, staring through his Polaroids. Which, despite not believing in flying saucers, he and Greta Goddard had agreed to wear.

To the Muggins twins, Greta said: "I think it might be time for you two to put on proper radiation suits, instead of those tinfoil fancy-dress costumes."

"We know what we're doing," insisted Gerda. Before breaking out into unintelligible gibberish.

"What the Hell?" asked Drew.

"She's speaking in Mathematico," explained Bertha: "An international language based upon mathematics as the universal constant."

Gerda continued to speak in gibberish. At first, the small aliens ignored her, then finally they turned to look at each other. Obviously puzzled.

"She's not with us," called out Drew Braidwood. Signalling himself and Greta as he said it.

"Don't be facetious," called Bertha: "We know what we're doing."

"We wish to God, we did," said Greta.

Starting to chant together in Mathematico, the Muggins twins started slowly walking toward the aliens. Who backed away a few centimetres up the ramp to their ship.

"They're scaring them off," observed Greta Goddard.

"You can't blame the aliens," said Drew: "They're creeping me out too."

Still chanting in Mathematico the Muggins twins continued slowly forward toward the U.F.O., then suddenly stopped.

Bertha started to projectile vomit, which drove the aliens quickly back toward their saucer.

Then as Gerda started choking, unable to breathe, Drew and Greta Goddard raced forward to pull her back out of range of the strong radiation. Before going back for Bertha, who had finished vomiting up the contents of her stomach and soon threw up what looked like tripe.

But in fact was one of her lungs.

After struggling to get the Muggins twins into the rear of the Land Rover, the two cops turned it around to head back to the Glen Hartwell and Daley Community Hospital. Not daring to await the arrival of ambulances.

"Can't breathe," whispered Bertha, despite Drew's best attempts to keep her alive.

Behind them, unnoticed by the Mugginses or the two cops, the three glowing aliens re-entered their craft. Which closed up, then took off straight upwards.

By the time they reached the hospital, they had radioed through to Topaz Moseley and Derek Armstrong, who were waiting with stretchers to race the Muggins sisters up to an emergency ward on the second storey.

"This one's already dead," said Drew, pointing to Bertha.

"We'll take them both up anyway," said Cheryl Pritchard: "So the doctors can confirm that."

Leo and Cheryl took one stretcher, while Topaz and Derek took the other. Leaving Drew and Greta, still in their radiation suits, to race on to hold an elevator for them.

Up in the sideward Jesus and Tilly quickly confirmed that Bertha was dead.

"But this one has at least a slim chance," said Jesus as he performed a tracheotomy upon Gerda, placing a breathing tube into her neck.

"We're expecting an air ambulance any minute to land on the roof to take Garvin, Don, and Jessie to Melbourne," said Tilly Lombstrom: "Hopefully they can take the surviving Muggins twin as well."

"If they can't?" asked Greta Goddard.

"Don or Jessie will have to wait for the next one," said Drew: "Civilians get precedent over on-duty cops. Even if they are UFOlaloonies!"

"Which one?" asked Greta.

"Jessie," said Jesus: "He's recuperating better than Don."

Hearing the ambulance land with a thump on the roof, Tilly said: "Okay, let's get them up there."

They took Don Esk and Gerda first, since they were the two most serious cases, and were relieved to find that the chopper could take four passengers. Although with only one nurse aboard, Topaz Moseley went along also.

As the chopper was taking off Terri Scott, Sheila Bennett, and Colin Klein arrived at the hospital.

"We've just seen Don, Jessie, Garvin Goodbody and one of the Muggins twins off in an air ambulance," said Drew Braidwood.

"And...?" asked Terri.

"And..." hesitated Drew.

"Unless we suffered from some form of radiation madness," said Greta Goddard: "It was definitely a flying saucer."

"With little green men?" teased Sheila.

"No, with little shining yellow-white beings of indeterminate gender," said Drew: "I think they could be as radioactive as their spaceship."

"So what's the plan, Tezza?" asked Sheila.

"Firstly, you can stop calling me Tezza. Secondly, I've got no choice but to ring through to Russell Street to see if they can get the R-Double-A F to send us an SR-71 to hunt for the U.F.O."

"Firstly, they're up to the SR-72 this year," teased Sheila: "Secondly, can I have your job after Melbourne fires you for being whacky backy?"

"Absolutely not," said Terri reaching for her mobile phone: "I'll make certain to recommend Colin over you."

"Wow one month he's on long service leave as a crime reporter, the next he's the top cop of the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area."

"I haven't been fired yet!" insisted Terri.

As they drove back to Deidre Morton's Yellow House, Terri talked on the phone to Russell Street, who in turn did a fair bit of shouting back at her. Finally, she disconnected.

"We should get the SR-72, Sheils was right, by tomorrow evening," explained Terri as they returned to the boarding house in Merridale.

"Wacko," said Sheila: "It'll be great to see Jenny and Babs again." Referring to two R.A.A.F. pilots they were friends with: Jennifer Eckles, a thirty-year veteran and her daughter and co-pilot Barbara.

Straight after breakfast the next morning, Terri, Colin, Sheila, and Greta Goddard headed out to the agreed landing site just outside Glen Hartwell. After ninety minutes or so, they heard the roaring whoosh of the Black Bird approaching.

"Here come Jenny and Babs," said Sheila.

However, when the Lockheed Martin SR-72 landed, it had U.S. flags painted on it, and out stepped two tall men.

"Howdy," said one of the men in a broad U.S. Midwest accent.

"Hello," said Terri: "We were expecting Jennifer and Barbara Eckles?"

"Russell Street wisely decided the U.S. Air Force has more experience at handling this sort of thing," said the mission commander.

"The people in Milborn told us to give you this," said the pilot, handing Terri a sheet of paper.

"What's it say?" asked Colin.

"Effectively they're in charge of the operation now," said Terri: "And there's a p.s. 'Do what you're told for a change!'"

"What the Hell do they mean by that?" demanded Sheila.

"You've gotta be kidding," said Colin: "You two take so many liberties that they even named a statue after you: the Statue of Liberties!"

"How dare you?" said Terri and Sheila as one.

"Sir, we Americans don't appreciate jokes about our national monuments," drawled the mission commander.

"Actually the French built it," said Greta Goddess.

"Which explains why it's still standing," said Sheila: "If the Yanks had built it, it would've fallen over yonks ago!"

"Sir, I think we should start the search now," said the pilot.

"Good idea," said the mission commander.

"So far it has only appeared at night," pointed out Greta.

"Nonetheless we'll start searching immediately," said the commander as he and the pilot returned to the stealth bomber.

"Can you carry passengers?" asked Terri.

"May I refer you, ma'am, to the p.s.," said the pilot as he boarded the Black Bird.

"'Do what you're told for a change!'" Colin reminded them.

"Very funny, lover boy," said Terri.

Her words were drowned out by the whooshing roar of the bomber starting off along the makeshift runway they had hastily cleared the night before.

Over the next week, the Black Bird flew day and night around the BeauLarkin to Willamby area, hunting for the mysterious aliens.

Watching from the 'death zone' on the seventh night, as a bright light approached them, Sheila said:

"You know the Yanks are only going to send the UFOlaloonies off into a frenzy when pictures of the Black Bird flying at night get circulated."

"That's true," said Terri: "But you only need a plague of fireflies to send those idiots off."

"That's right," said Colin Klein, puzzled as the bright light came closer: "Ah, I don't think that's the stealth bomber?"

"What?" asked Terri:

The bright light hurriedly approached. Silently, unlike the roaring whoosh of the Black Bird.

As it approached the saucer-shaped front section became clear through their Polaroids. Followed by the two long conical sections projecting outwards from the rear of the circle with the two 'boom' sections, as the U.F.O. passed overhead, heading toward Glen Hartwell township.

"Shit!" said Terri reaching for her mobile phone.

However, before she could ring the American pilots, the Lockheed Martin SR-72 Black Bird whooshed over them, zooming after the U.F.O.

"Go get 'em cowboys!" shouted Sheila, although her words went unheard over the sound of the Black Bird.

"Do you think they'll get them?" asked Terri.

"Well, if the Yanks are as good at chasing U.F.O.s are they are at most things," said Colin: "I'd say ... not a hope in Hell!"

Over the next few hours, the Black Bird SR-72 and the U.F.O. zoomed back and forth back and forth across Glen Hartwell, Merridale, Willamby, and towns as far south as Sale, with no sign of the U.F.O. losing the Black Bird. Or of the Black Bird forcing down the U.F.O.

"If this goes on much longer," said Colin Klein: "We'll be invaded by media parasites again tomorrow."

"Is that a reference to your old girlfriend?" teased Sheila Bennett.

"If you mean the gorgeous, but ruthlessly amoral Lisa Nowland, she was never my girlfriend!" protested Colin.

"But you do think she's gorgeous?" teased Terri.

"So are you, babe," assured the former reporter.

"What about me?" asked Sheila.

"You're presentable," teased Colin: "But I'd never take you home to meet my parents."

"What, at your age, your parents are still alive?" teased the Goth policewoman: "Who are they? Methuselah and his missus?"

At that moment the U.F.O. zoomed overhead followed by the Black Bird, drowning out Colin's answer.

For most of the night, the dog fight continued until finally the Black Bird had to land to refuel. And the U.F.O. zoomed vertically straight upwards. Soon vanishing out of sight.

"Wow, it's moving!" said Sheila, watching it through night binoculars: "We'd need an observatory to be certain ... but I think it's left Earth's atmosphere."

"Pity the Black Bird isn't a space plane," said the mission commander as they refuelled.

"What, so that you bastards could capture them and keep them locked up in Area 51 for the next five hundred years?" asked Terri Scott.

"May I remind you of the p.s. on Milborn's missive, marm?"

"It said we had to do as we're told," said Sheila: "It never said we had to like you."

"They did kill Orstralians," said the pilot.

"Only by accident," countered Colin Klein: "They had no way of knowing that their radiation would hurt human beings."

"Accidental manslaughter is still a gaolable offence."

"But not for five hundred years," countered Terri.

Pretending not to have heard her the two Americans continued to refuel, then took off again to spend the next seven days hunting the night skies for the U.F.O., without it returning to the Glen Hartwell to Willamby area.

"So how do you think the aliens were able to get here?" asked Sheila: "Shouldn't the great void of space make that impossible?"

"Yeah," agreed Terri: "The fastest space vehicle made on Earth, the rocket that launched Apollo 14, fifty years ago, could travel at just under one percent of the speed of light. So wouldn't it take thousands of years for it to get here from the nearest habitable planet?"

"Twenty thousand years from the nearest possibly habitable planet to ours," agreed Colin: "But if these creatures and their craft were made entirely out of light, they could possibly travel at the speed of light. Reducing the journey to a mere two hundred years."

"That's still more than two lifetimes," pointed out Sheila Bennett.

"Two lifetimes for us, with our frail mammalian bodies. But if they are beings of light, getting their sustenance straight from sunlight ... theoretically they could live for millennia ... or possibly forever."

"But what about the Dalek Effect?" asked Terri: "After less than five months in space without gravity your bones start to deteriorate. Until you end up like a dalek, a small squishy blob, needing to be housed inside a mobile life-support system."

"Except that if they're made up entirely of fire and light, they have no bones to deteriorate," pointed out Colin: "And that would rule out the need for cryonic freezing, even if it were possible to cryonically unfreeze people ... which as far as we know, it isn't."

"Who's a clever boy then," teased Sheila.

"That's why I put up with him, despite him being so ugly," teased Terri. Yelping as Colin pinched her behind. Then rubbing her backside she added: "And despite him doing that sometimes."

The next day, when they reached the Mitchell Street Police Station in Glen Hartwell, they found the outside of the white weatherboard building aswarm with journalists and news vans.

"Mr. Klein! Mr. Klein!" called the gorgeous figure of platinum-blonde reporter Lisa Nowland. Who had become the scourge of Glen Hartwell over the last few months, since the number of odd occurrences in the area had suddenly shot up.

"Hello Lisa," said Colin, trying to keep the frustration out of his voice: "What can I do for you."

"You can tell me about the U.F.O. that's been sighted for the last fortnight in Glen Hartwell."

"U.F.O.s? There ain't no sich animal!" said Colin, quoting from an old Jerry Lewis movie. Before pushing his way through the crowd to get inside the police station.

"But what about the glowing lights sighted all the way from Sale to Willamby last night?"

"Just a vast plague of fireflies," said Terri following her lover into the station.

"Fireflies!" said Lisa: "Just how stupid do you think I am?"

"That's for you to know, Lisa, and us to wonder about," said Sheila, following the others into the station.

"How dare you?" demanded Lisa as her fellow journalists chortled at her expense. Blushing red she shouted: "Aw shut up, you jackals!"

"I think that's a pot and kettle situation," shouted one of the journalists, causing more riotous laughter.

© Copyright 2024 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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