Monday, December 10, 2012

Roswell or Bust - Part 26 of 43

© 2008 by Henry Melton


B.O.L.O.
It was crowded in the Lexus. They kept Sam Five in the rear, wrapped in a blanket like a shroud. In Sam Five’s hibernation state, there was hardly a comfort issue, and he needed little air. The Bobs rode in the back seat with Fred Four.
Joe wondered privately how they had intended to bring along a ‘crate of sludge’. The crate must have been large enough to hold a Sam, but small enough to fit in the Lexus.
They called it SUV, a Sport Utility Vehicle, but Joe personally reserved that term for something substantial, like a Suburban. There was more ‘S’ than ‘U’ in this ‘V’.
Bob One was full of questions for Joe.
“I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. What is his occupation?”
Joe talked, although it hurt to bring up the death of his other grandfather, and his current fears. In many ways, his current outlandish trip had been an escape from family problems totally out of his control.
“The doctors think he’ll be okay, but Dad warned me that a heart attack often leaves a person with permanent weakness. Once I get back home, I hope I get to see him again. I’m sure going to argue for a family trip to Albuquerque.”
They reprogrammed the credit card and Joe filled up with gas, while Judith walked over to a fast food place with their cash. Joe and Judith had hamburgers. The Bobs had strawberry milkshakes, which they spit into and let set for half an hour before consuming. Fred Four had a dry salad, which he sat on.
Joe worried about the aliens in the back seat, but while he pumped the gas, he scrutinized the tinted glass. Unless the lighting was just perfect, it would be hard for anyone else on the road to see more than two round shapes in the back seat.
“With two escapes, they’ll beef up security for sure,” said Joe. He tapped on the map screen. “We can’t get to Kingman before nightfall. I can’t see how you’ll manage to get Sam Five into the place.”
“You’re right, Joe” said Bob One. “I suspect the best we can do is get Sam Four out.”
Judith waved her hands in exasperation. “I can’t do this! I never counted on a wholesale escape attempt. I’m a Trust kid! This goes against everything I’ve ever known. We need to go to Taos and find Daddy.”
“Judith,” said Bob Four gently. “What’s more important to you—keeping the Sams from dying, or following the Trust rules?”
“That’s not fair. You’re pushing my buttons so you can make your escape.”
“That’s true, and I don’t apologize for it. I’ve been living in a small room, imprisoned by aliens since 1947. I never agreed to be kept as a prisoner and a study animal, none of us have. Your father is one of the few people on this planet who has met with all of us. What do you think he would do? What choice would he make? Would he break the rules to save the Sams?”
They all knew he already had. Judith could do nothing but worry.
“Joe? What about you? You aren’t Trust. Will you help us?”
He had to think about it. It became clear that the aliens had been playing them since Rock Springs. The story of going to Santaquin for sludge was just a way to manipulate Judith. He was ignorant of so much of the Trust secrets. It had been easy for them to get him to do their bidding. But once he realized what they’d been up to, he’d been considering his own options.
“I’m here to help Judith.” That seemed to make her even more miserable. “But I can understand the Trust’s viewpoint. You can’t trust humans to do the right thing here. Most people love life. They love animals. It’s universal to have pets. But we’re deadly if we feel threatened. In spite of all the movies, and all the books, that’s just our own imagination—we don’t really know you. And it seems after decades of study, the Trust doesn’t know you either.”
“But what about you?” Bob One seemed honestly curious.
“I think you’re lucky to have a motel kid along. All my life I’ve been told to make the guest happy. I may not like the mess they leave sometimes, but I know what my job is. I’ve got a buddy who’s also a motel kid, a Hindu. They’ve got a saying, ‘The guest is god’. Well, I’m not a Hindu, but my own culture and my own religion are pretty strong on hospitality, too. I think I’m ready to entertain a few angels. And in my book, when a guest is ready to leave, you don’t stand in their way. I’ll help you try to escape. I just hope you have a plan for what you’re going to do once you’re all free.”
Judith didn’t try to argue. As much as he wished he could just read her mind, the talkie didn’t work that way. There had to be a desire for communication, at least at some level. Whatever her thoughts, she wasn’t in a talkative mood.
But, whatever the deep moral consequences of their escape plan might be, they were back on the road, and out of the city traffic.
Joe loved driving, but not the traffic. From what he could tell from the map, all he had to look forward to was trouble-free wide lanes and scenic vistas, at least until they reached Las Vegas. The other Las Vegas. The one in all the movies.
Judith wore a permanent worry frown. Joe suspected she had a lot on her mind. Did she feel betrayed by the aliens? It didn’t really bother him, but she, being Trust, might look at things differently.
As if on cue, her fingers flexed like she were doing exercises, but it was obviously finger-spell.
“I wish Daddy were here.”
She hadn’t looked his way, but was her comment a response to his leaking thoughts, or just a leak of her own?
In the back seat, the Bobs were chatting up a storm. It wasn’t escape planning either. Bob Four was telling about an argument between two individuals who’s names the talkie couldn’t translate, on some other un-named planet, long before the Earth expedition. It must have been a joke, because the talkie reported Bob One’s surprising laugh.
Aliens laughed. Who’d of thought it?
When they reached the intersection of I-15 and I-70, Joe noticed Judith looking at the road signs. He could imagine her thoughts. The fastest way back to Taos, and her father, would be to take I-70. But she made no sign that he should turn.
Some miles past the intersection, as they approached the town of Beaver, Utah, Joe looked up to see flashing lights in his rear view mirror. A surge of panic flashed through him. His hands gripped the steering wheel as if it would come free.
Oh, no. He’d never been stopped before.
“What now?” He looked at his alien passengers in the back seat. This could be very bad.
“Were you speeding?”
“I don’t think so. Not by much.”
“Slow down! Slow down. We can’t afford a car chase.”
Joe’s mind was churning. What would he say? What kind of story would he give the officer? The Bobs pulled the blanket over themselves. Fred didn’t try to hide; he looked more like a piece of furniture than a life form.
Joe pulled off onto the shoulder. He rolled down the window. The police car stopped behind them, and the uniformed man got out. From his angle, Joe couldn’t tell if it was a state cop or a local sheriff or what.
“What’s wrong, Officer?” Joe tried to sound as innocent and puzzled as he could.
The policeman barely had time to open his mouth, as he came even with the window, when a dart appeared in his neck, and he slumped against the car.
“Hey!” shouted Joe, startled.
Fred’s tentacle arms were a blur of motion. Dark living cables reached through the window and held the man from falling.
Judith arms were flying. “What did you do?”
Joe reached out to help hold the man upright, but his help wasn’t really needed. Fred was strong.
Bob One said, “Joe, Judith, it’s okay. He isn’t hurt. It’s just rollback. But you two have to get him back into his car.” Joe and Judith looked at each other, and then she opened her door.
Joe cautiously relaxed his grip. “We have to be careful. If anyone suspects the policeman is unconscious, we’ll be in big trouble.” He pulled the dart out of the man’s neck. It was small and sleek, never designed for a human hand. Nor probably for a Bob’s.
Joe rummaged through the dashboard and grabbed a piece of paper. He didn’t care what it was. He slipped out the passenger side after her.
“Okay, Judith, we have to get under his arms to carry his weight, while looking like we’re talking to him about this paper.”
Watching the oncoming traffic and only moving him when there was a break in the action, they walked him back to his car. Judith headed back to the Lexus, but Joe slipped into the police car.
Joe stared at the computer display on the policeman’s dashboard, next to the shotgun.

B.O.L.O. Ref: (x) LOCATE & NOTIFY
Information: Occupants of Silver Lexus SUV believed to have information about subject Joe Ferris, reported missing 6/23 from Las Vegas, NM. Vehicle and Ferris last reported seen in Rock Springs, WY. Vehicle appears to have been scraped and dented in an accident. If the vehicle is located, please Identify and FI the occupants.
Contact: Cal Lawrence, NMSP.

There were other numbers and warnings, as well as police jargon he didn’t understand.
But, the engine was still running. Joe wedged the unconscious officer to the side and turned off the flashing lights. Judith waved at him, but he was out of the thirty-foot range.
He had to move the car.
If this ever gets out, I’m going to be in so much trouble!
Careful of the traffic, he pulled out and found the perfect spot a mile down the road. There was a wide shoulder beneath an overpass. It was the kind of a place a policeman would wait for unwary speeders—out of the heat of the sun. No one would stop to investigate, or even look too closely, he hoped.
When Judith pulled the Lexus up behind him, Joe fumbled with the computer long enough to clear the BOLO report. He hoped the policeman hadn’t called it in before stopping them.
He almost opened the door when he realized that one of the gadgets on the dash was a camera, red light shining, recording video of everything. Everything they had done was recorded. Joe stopped it, and after a moment’s hesitation, twisted the setscrews that mounted the camera to the dash.
There was a break in the traffic. He settled the officer comfortably in his seat and dashed over to the SUV, video camera in hand. He jumped in the passenger side. Judith took off immediately.
“They are looking for this car. There’s a BOLO report for the Lexus. They’re definitely going to stop us again.”
“What’s a BOLO report?”
“Be On the Look Out. You know the APB’s in the television cop shows. It’s like that.”
Judith shook her head. “The Trust wouldn’t file a report like that. There’d be too much risk of outsiders seeing the aliens.”
“It’s my father. He must think I’m kidnapped or something. But, the owner of the Cottonwood Motel in Rock Springs must have called him. They have a good description of the car, including the dents and scrapes, and that’s the only way they could have gotten that information. If Dad had any reason to connect me with John Smith, then he’d even be able to supply the license tag number. It’s in our registration cards.
“I’ve been gone too long. He must be worried. I really need to call him and tell him I’m okay.”
“How can we avoid getting pulled over again?”
“Swap cars, I guess. How much credit do you have on that magic credit card?”
She shook her head, “No. What you said still holds. Any charge that big would have a lot of extra attention put on it, especially with no adult involved. There’s no pay at the pump for buying cars.”
Joe looked into the back seat. Even now, Fred Four looked like an innocuous piece of furniture. He was tempted to scold the footstool for shooting first, before he’d had the chance to talk their way out of it.
What else does he have hidden under that cushion? I hope he has enough rollback for next time.
They looked cozy. The Bobs were whispering to each other and he couldn’t make it out.
They want to release even more aliens. Where are we going to put them all?
Beaver Utah was passing them by, when Joe saw a tourist campground off in the distance. He looked at Judith with an appraising eye.
“What?” She finger-spelled with one hand.
“I’ve got an idea. Take the next exit.”

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