“All right, man, just tell us where it is. We haven’t got all night.”
“I told you, we never found any gold in that cave,” Tyler said.
“Junior says different, he saw you carrying something out of there in boxes.”
Tyler groaned, straining at the ropes which bound him to the chair. “I’ll tell you again, they were alien artifacts. Some little red cubes which were heavy as hell. There was no gold in the cave, but we weren’t looking for that anyway.”
The big hulk of a man slapped him across the face once again. This had been going on for hours and he had been hit dozens of times. Tyler could see through a slit in the drapes that it was starting to get dark outside but he couldn’t see how that was going to help in this situation.
Jerry was probably long gone by now, leaving him to face the music, the bastard. The hulk turned to his partner, Junior, a weasel of a man with a face so ugly he would scare just about anyone. The man stood in the front hallway eating candy from the bowl by the door and watched as Tyler got slapped around.
These two criminals had kicked in the kitchen door, guns drawn and grabbed Tyler who was sitting at the table having breakfast. Jerry was in the bedroom and must have heard all the shouting. But by the time the hulk searched the house Tyler’s partner was gone, probably out the bedroom window.
The house was small and the driveway short because there was no garage. That meant Jerry’s car had to be parked on the street. But the trunk still held the objects they had discovered over the weekend because Jerry was going to take them to the university for analysis.
Alien artifacts, Tyler had no doubts by now, but it had taken him a while to come around to that conclusion. He had met Jerry at the Comic-Con convention three years ago and they had hit it off. Both of them were alien junkies which brought them together, and they were both gay which kept them together.
Dr. Leibowitz in the Applied Sciences department at the school gave lectures about Area 51 and the secret government installations in and around the state. All that was a little weird but he claimed that aliens had visited them many times. Tyler thought that was speculation until…
Leibowitz would not tell them where he had come by the notes or the sketches of these pint sized humanoids. They were no bigger than six year old children, but even that wasn’t enough to convince Tyler they really existed.
On the other hand, Jerry had accepted the Professor’s explanation. He had the more vivid imagination and loved to speculate about alien invasions. He had poured over the notes which had been written in a shaky hand and declared them genuine.
“Whoever wrote these was scared to death by what he saw,” Jerry surmised, holding up the notes. “He saw two tiny alien creatures in their spacesuits carrying these cubes up the hillside. I wonder what those things are.”
“Fuel…food? He didn’t see a spacecraft, where could that go?” Tyler said. “Maybe they were dropped off out in the desert.”
“You see that rock formation sketched in the distance? I know that shape, but I can’t remember where I’ve seen it before.”
The puzzle kept them at bay until the middle of September when Jerry had his eureka moment.
“Dead Horse Point, that formation is in the park. I remember now, don’t you?” Jerry said.
“That was two years ago on our trip through Utah,” Tyler reminded him. “I remember that long drive to the ranger station and little else. But that canyon was thousands of feet deep. The Colorado River looked like a stream down there.”
“It wasn’t that far from Moab, maybe fifty miles. But there are all kinds of small dirt roads down in that canyon and we could go looking on weekends. At least it’s cooler down there this time of the year.”
“I’m afraid to say this, but we don’t even know if this material is real, it could all be a hoax.”
“Could be…but what if it isn’t?”
Tyler sighed. “It’s still about six hours from Denver and we’d have to get a motel or sleep in the back of the truck.”
“So….we’ve done that before. We can leave Friday after class,” Jerry said. And they did.
Hundreds of dollars’ worth of gas, the wear and tear on Tyler’s truck, and five weekends driving around on dusty back roads looking for the rock formations Jerry thought were familiar in that sketch. Leibowitz had encouraged their search…of course he would, he didn’t have to put up with the inconvenience.
There was hardly a soul living out there or traveling on any of those roads, just the occasional park service truck or some local on a motorcycle spewing dust in the air. But just as the final weekend in October rolled around they found the perfect location.
“See that rock formation…this is the place,” Jerry said, comparing the distant piles of rock to the sketch in his hand. “Now where would these creatures run off to from here?”
“How about up there,” Tyler said, pointing at what appeared to be an overhang in the rock wall. “Let’s go see.”
The loose scree of dirt and rocks slid under their feet as they made their way up a slope towards the overhang, and there it was, a void looming at them under the shelter of the overhang.
“It’s a cave, we’ll need flashlights,” Jerry said.
Tyler was tired so Jerry went for the lights while he continued to look into the darkness. He turned to look back at the surrounding area and saw Jerry down at the road by the truck. But there in the distance was another plume of dust proving someone else was out there.
Tyler ducked his head and ventured into the opening. All I need now is to step into a nest of rattlesnakes, he thought, so he paused and waited for Jerry to return. The beams of the two powerful lights showed that the cave wasn’t shallow at all. It seemed to go on and on as they both became a little nervous about falling down a pit or fissure in the rock floor.
There were scrape marks here and there as if something heavy had been dragged across the floor, and then Jerry saw something red in a niche off to their left.
“What’s that?” Tyler asked.
“Those are the cubes we read about…look how many of them there are,” Jerry said.
“There must be hundreds and…whoa, look at that green thing.”
“Two green things…I think we found their spacesuits.”
“Yeah…but where did the aliens go?”
They dumped all their possessions and tools out of the four wooden crates that had been rattling around in the back of the truck, and then carried the empty boxes up to the cave. The red cubes were heavy as hell in the crates, weighing about fifty pounds apiece. Because of that it took the two of them to carry each container and that became exhausting.
“So that’s it, we got them all,” Jerry said.
“What about the suits?” Tyler asked.
“The suits don’t weigh much. I’ll go get them while you rest up.”
They managed to reach State Road 191 before dark and headed north towards Interstate 70. By midnight they were back in Denver.
“We can’t leave this stuff out in the back of your truck, what if someone sees it?” Jerry said.
“We’ll put it in the trunk of your car until we can get it over to the Professor tomorrow,” Tyler said.
“Yeah, tomorrow…hey, that’s Halloween.”
“So we won’t answer the door if any little green men show up looking for their suits.”
“Funny,” Jerry said.
But Tyler was up at dawn while Jerry slept in and then just before noon the door was kicked in. Jerry was gone, hopefully for the cops, but as the day wore on Tyler didn’t think they were coming to the rescue.
“So where’s the stuff?”
“Jerry took it to the university this morning. Believe me, it isn’t gold, just some tiny spacesuits and some red cubes.”
“What kind of cubes?”
“We don’t know…maybe it’s the kind of food the aliens eat.”
The doorbell rang and Junior reacted. “You expecting someone?”
“It’s Halloween…lots of kids will be coming by,” Tyler said.
The doorbell rang again. “Go answer it,” the hulk said.
Junior opened the door to the sound of “Trick or Treat.” He grabbed a handful of candy from the bowl and thrust it at the kids before slamming the door. Tyler could not turn to see the door from where he was tied up, but by looking in the mirror over the fireplace he got a glimpse of the front hallway in the reflection.
“Just kids?” the hulk asked.
“Some brats dressed up like Harry Potter,” Junior said.
“So these cubes, did they look valuable?”
“Probably to the right person,” Tyler said. “I imagine they will have to be analyzed in the physics lab…but I still don’t know what they are.”
The doorbell rang and Junior answered it, handing out more candy. He stepped outside and then quickly returned.
“There’s more of those little monsters all over the street,” he said.
“If you run out of candy there’s another bag on the kitchen counter,” Tyler said.
“So you’re sticking to this aliens story,” the hulk said.
“I didn’t believe it at first…I mean, aliens…come on. But those tiny spacesuits looked so real.”
“I don’t know nothing about aliens,” the hulk said, and then he turned to Junior. “You were wrong about the gold.”
“I swear, that old guy told me these boys were looking for gold buried in those caves.”
“What old guy?” Tyler asked.
“Some guy over in Moab at a gas station. He was sitting in a pickup truck kinda like yours only he had three weird little kids in the cab with him. I stopped to fill up my motorcycle and he just out and asked me if I had seen you, described that truck in the driveway.”
“He just asked you?”
“Sure did. So I found you again and watched you load the truck. Then I followed you here and called Bob along the way.”
“Did the old guy mention aliens? What did he look like?” Tyler asked.
“Fella had white hair and big bushy eyebrows. He was wearing a suit coat and a bow tie which looked strange to me.”
Leibowitz, Tyler thought…so he had followed them, too. The Professor had said nothing about gold in any of their conversations. So he had been out there with three little kids…no, wait…it couldn’t be.
Doorbell rang. “This is getting old,” Junior said going for the door.
“Trick or treat,” a deep resonant voice said.
“What the hell,” Junior said and Tyler looked up as a weird electronic sound filled the doorway. Junior dropped to the floor like a stone and Bob the hulk reacted, pulling a pistol from his waistband. Again that weird sound and this time Bob dropped to the floor at Tyler’s feet.
“Help,” Tyler called out.
“Save it, Tyler…we’re here to rescue you,” Jerry said.
Tyler heard the door slam shut and then Leibowitz was standing before him as Jerry began to untie the ropes. The professor picked up Junior’s pistol and opened it.
“Just as I thought…no bullets…these guys are all bluff. Hello, Tyler.”
“Where the hell did you go,” Tyler said. “They have been torturing me for hours.”
His complaints came to a sudden halt as he noticed a strange looking device in Leibowitz’s hand.
“What have you got there, Professor?”
“Oh this, it’s a stasis generator. Nice weapon, see what it did to these guys? Look, I have a lot to explain to you…” The doorbell rang once again.
“More trick or treat kids,” Tyler guessed.
Jerry opened the door to a child dressed in a small green spacesuit who marched right in.
“Uh…is that…?” Tyler asked.
“Tyler, meet the Eveti…at least that’s what they call themselves,” Leibowitz said. “Their translator device seems to have become slightly damaged after they landed so their language seems a bit scrambled.”
Tyler gazed at the Eveti and he stared back. The creature was less than four feet tall and yet his head seemed large. The face that looked out through the window in the helmet did seem childlike, but the eyes were twice the size of a human’s.
“Hello,” Tyler said.
The creature touched a small round cylinder on his chest and Tyler heard a tinny high pitched voice. “Greetings, earth person.”
“Oh…isn’t he cute.”
Leibowitz cleared his throat. “This is not a child, Tyler, in fact these Eveti are each hundreds of years old…warriors from another galaxy.”
“You seem to know a lot about them, Professor. How’s about you explain that to me before I freak out.”
The doorbell rang and Jerry answered it. Two Harry Potters, a Superman, and another Eveti in a spacesuit carrying a paper bag. The kids were given candy and the alien marched into the house where he proceeded to show his fellow alien the contents of the bag.
“Isn’t there another one?” Tyler asked. “You had three of them in your truck, Professor.”
“Oh, he’s probably out collecting candy,” Jerry said. “They seem to like our Halloween traditions.”
“So, Professor…my explanation?”
“I first met the Eveti about forty years ago,” Leibowitz said. “I was just an undergrad doing field work at the time when I stumbled upon the cave. Inside I found these two strange aliens but they were barely alive.
“One of them pointed this weapon at me but it seems he didn’t have the strength, or perhaps the desire to shoot me. The poor things were dying and I didn’t know what to do until he touched this translator on his chest and spoke to me.
“Water,” was the word I heard and I gave them both sips from my canteen. As best the lead alien could explain their scouting craft had crashed leaving them stranded. They had hundreds of the red cubes you saw, but little food and no water.
“He said others would come looking for them eventually…and as you see they did. It seems the suits have a built in homing beacon, but it still took them decades to arrive. I buried the first two but left the suits and cubes in the cave…well, almost all of them.”
“So you already knew the cubes were fuel cells for their spacecraft…you’ve tested them before,” Tyler said.
Leibowitz nodded and then smiled. “I did…and do you know why they are so heavy?”
The doorbell rang and Jerry opened the door. The last of the candy went to a princess and a pirate on the front porch before a third Eveti stumbled inside. The window of his helmet was covered in a pink goo and the little guy struggled to see where he was going.
The third Eveti managed to remove his helmet and Tyler saw the pink goo all over his face as well, and then his jaws started to make chewing motions.
“I believe the little fellow has been chewing bubble gum. I wonder where he learned to do that,” Jerry said.
“Can he survive without that helmet?” Tyler asked.
“Yes, they can breathe in our atmosphere,” Leibowitz said. “But they seem to like our candy.”
The Eveti all went to work trying to remove the gum from the helmet, and then Tyler realized Leibowitz had not answered his question. “The fuel cells, Professor?”
“Oh yes, it seems they are a composite of gold and several other very unusual metals.”
“They burn gold for fuel?” Tyler asked.
“Not exactly,” Jerry said. “Their spacecraft is constructed of these cubes, don’t they look familiar? Think Legos if you will…I think that’s so cool.”
“So the red cubes form their spacecraft and provide fuel,” Tyler said. “So if they have everything they need then why are they still here?”
“These three have their own craft and were sent to find the missing crew,” Leibowitz said. “The first thing they homed in on was the four cubes I have in my lab. It was just by chance that I caught them trying to get the cubes back…it was tense situation for a while.
“But I offered my story about finding their lost crew and they believed me. The only issue is that I could not for the life of me remember where that cave was situated.”
“So you sent us looking for it,” Tyler said. “Why didn’t you just tell us all this in the first place?”
“Because you wouldn’t have believed me, and you didn’t until you found that cave.”
“I guess I can accept that, so what happens now?”
Leibowitz nodded towards the Eveti. “They will reassemble both ships and fly out of here, that’s why they brought the extra pilot.”
Jerry looked down at Junior and Bob. “What happens to these two clowns?”
“They are pretty useless criminals, aren’t they,” Leibowitz said. “Fortunately they won’t remember seeing any aliens…they may not even remember us. I think we should drag them out of here, put the weapons back in their pockets and leave them somewhere in the park down the street where the police will find them.”
He looked over at the three little creatures who had managed to pry most of the bubble gum out of the helmet.
“I will miss these little guys. No matter that my students laugh at me behind my back when I speak of alien encounters because I know they are real. Perhaps someday they will feel confident enough to openly approach the human race. They are a brave and intelligent species who seem to wander the galaxy at their leisure.”
“Earlier you said they were warriors…do you know their history?” Tyler asked.
“A little, we’ve spent some weeks together while you went looking for that cave. I regret that their translator isn’t in perfect working order, but I understood a good deal of what they told me. Suffice to say we are not alone in the galaxy, but just be glad we are in that sector patrolled by the Eveti. They watch out for us because there are also some not so nice creatures out there.”
The three Eveti had finally manager to remove all the pink goo from inside the helmet and the little guy started to put it back on. One of the others jabbered something at him and although Tyler could not understand the words the intent was quite clear.
The little guy looked embarrassed and stopped chewing, spitting the gum out of his mouth. Tyler laughed and the little guy stuck out his tongue. It seems at least they had some things in common with humans. Once the helmet was in place the three Eveti stood in a line, placed a hand over their chests and bowed.
“We tank you, earth people. All good things be yours. Fessor has told us you are his studens, he is good teacher.”
Leibowitz smiled. “We will miss your company, but I hope you will come visit us again soon. I guess you should go while it is still dark outside.”
“Where is their spacecraft?” Tyler asked.
“Both of them are in the backyard,” Jerry said.
They all trooped out the broken kitchen door and Tyler saw two stacks of red cubes sitting in the grass.
“Just watch,” Leibowitz said.
One of the Eveti shone a beam of light over the cubes and they started moving, quickly
morphing into a smooth oblong sphere with a golden surface. There’s the gold, Tyler thought as a hatch opened in the top of the craft.
The Eveti gave a final salute and two climbed into one craft and the last man into the other. He looked at Tyler before he closed the hatch and stuck out his tongue. Tyler smiled and waved goodbye. The craft began to levitate and then in the blink of an eye they soared silently into the night sky.
“Wow,” Jerry said. “What do you think of that, Tyler?”
“Some things defy definition, don’t they, Professor?”
“They do indeed…so, let’s go remove those thugs from your hallway. The stasis only lasts a few hours,” Leibowitz said.
“Um, by the way, thank you, Professor.”
“You enjoyed the experience?”
Tyler smiled. “I did, but now I have the knowledge of something I can never tell anyone about.”
“Oh, you could tell them…I’ve been lecturing about aliens for years, but you know how well that goes over.”
“Jerry and I believe you now,” Tyler said. “That ought to be worth a few points towards a good grade.”
Leibowitz smiled. “I’d have to agree with you.”
“Cool, “Jerry said. “Hey, have we got any candy left…it’s still Halloween.”