July 10

The Original Roswell Crash Site (Part 3)

[…continued from July 9 entry…]

 

Maxwell considered the opening in the rock, thinking of what might lie within the dark hole.  He imagined a glass bottle discarded there, shards of glass broken inside.  He thought of creatures that might make a nest there — snakes, rodents, spiders — all poised to attack an intruder’s hand.

“I can’t,” Maxwell said, standing up from his kneeling position.  “I can’t do it.”

“It’s what you came here for,” the guide said.  “No refunds.”

He began to feel even more foolish.  The guide wasn’t going to kill him, but had simply scammed him.  If Maxwell didn’t follow the instructions, he couldn’t fairly ask for his money back.  The idea was almost enough to get him to reach inside the opening…if the whole situation weren’t so illogical.

“This isn’t the original crash site.”  Maxwell became the angry customer at the Returns Counter, waving his jug of expired milk or a defective blender.  “I heard about the reports of fire in the sky, a huge saucer passing overhead.”

“It was a trick of perspective,” the guide said.  “The saucer wasn’t large, but it was dense, and it left an exaggerated flame trail.  Some of these trees lost branches or were scarred along their trunks, but that was seventy years ago.  The trees healed up over time.  The rock didn’t.”

The guide pointed again at the opening in the slate rock.  The edges were jagged, but didn’t seem the kind of damage that could be caused by an earthquake or natural erosion.  Maxwell was no expert, but he began to believe this could actually be an impact crater.

“You’re saying part of the ship crashed through here?”

The guide shook his head.  “Not part of the ship.  The whole thing.  It’s the size of a grapefruit, and you can feel it if you reach in there.”

Was it possible?  Maxwell wanted so badly to believe he hadn’t been scammed, wanted so badly to have his own direct connection to an alien artifact.  He began to rationalize the story’s plausibility:  if the ship were this small, it could easily hide in plain sight.  That explained why casual tourists didn’t know about this location.

Maxwell took a deep breath, summoning courage.  He kneeled again, then reached into the opening in the rock.

He stretched further, grasping.  Sharp points of rock tore part of his shirt sleeve, and he felt scratches along his forearm.

A grapefruit, the guide had said.  But there’s nothing here like a grape–

And his fingers touched a strange, textured surface.  Dome-like and with pock marks on it, as might have happened to a craft that traveled many light years, battered by space debris and a planet’s atmospheric force.

Or, maybe an actual grapefruit, the skin intact but the fruit rotting inside.  Possibly a leather softball, with stitchings adding a ridged texture.  He couldn’t be sure without seeing it.  The object felt strange, but it didn’t feel alien.

That’s when the rounded surface began to vibrate.  A gyroscopic tremble carried up the length of his arm, and it seemed to him that the object was intending to rise under its own revived power.

Points of rock scratched deeper into his arm, and a clammy wetness oozed over Maxwell’s grasping hand — as if he’d reached inside a mouth, and an alien tongue glided over his palm and drooled between his fingers.

He finally identified the pocked texture of the tiny spacecraft.  He was running his fingertips over rough, wet tastebuds.

The vibrations radiated through his arm and up his shoulders and into his head.  You’ll see what you came here to see, the guide had promised, and Maxwell felt like the man was going to sneak up behind him and whack his skull with a club, and then his head continued to vibrate until his vision settled on a mysterious landscape of jagged rocks, a line of spherical machines aimed toward an alien sky, and creatures with tastebuds over their skins climbed aboard each craft with thoughts of conquering other worlds, one gullible victim at a time.