(prelude - Roswell 1947)
David Simmons stepped out of the protection of the 46-story office building he worked in and into the dark, stormy weather outside. He struggled to open his umbrella as torrents of rain attacked his face and clothing. Finally he managed to get it open, but not before his hair was soaked through and his brown trenchcoat had darkened with wetness. Pausing a moment to gather his bearings, Dave then headed off down the street toward his parked car. The rain had been pouring down for over an hour now, and already rivers were forming along the gutters. A thin stream of water glided over the sidewalk, and David’s shoes splashed droplets onto his pant legs in his hurry to the safety of his vehicle. He was only parked half a block away, but it seemed much farther as he struggled through the turbulent rainstorm. As he neared the gray sedan, David tucked his briefcase under one arm, then reached into his pocket with his free hand. He struggled to pull the keys out of the drenched pocket. With a final tug, his hand and the keys cleared the fabric. But the keys then went sailing out of his hand and hit the soaked pavement a few feet away. Cursing under his breath, David knelt over to grab up the keys, then fumbled as he tried to insert the right key into the car door lock. After almost breaking the key in half trying to turn it in the lock, David succeeded in opening his car door, only to let his leather briefcase slip from his grasp. Muttering an oath, David folded his umbrella, grabbed up the briefcase, tossed them both into the car, then climbed in after them. Once he was inside with the door shut and safely out of the weather, David heaved a big sigh of relief. He hated rain. Moving more slowly and patiently, David started the engine and turned on the window wipers. He peered ahead of him out at the dark street. There were fewer cars traveling now, since it was so late. In an effort to impress his boss, David had stayed late working on an important project, despite the strong objections from his wife. He only hoped it paid off. He was tired, wet, hungry, and about to return home to an angry spouse. As he peered out at the storm, he wondered which was worse. With another weary sigh, David turned on the heater in his car, hoping to rid himself of the chill he’d acquired. His coat was almost soaked through, and his skin was feeling a little clammy. He held his hands up to the vent, but only cold air came out. It took a few minutes for the heat in his car to actually get going. With an exasperated grunt, David gave up, then turned his headlights on and put his car in gear. He looked up. Then he screamed. Something was standing right in front of his car, blocking his view. It was huge, twice the size of a man. But it didn’t resemble a man, not even a little. It was entirely black, including its large, oval-shaped eyes. There was no doubt it was a monster. The nightmarish figure had four appendages jutting out from its upper body, each ending in a set of long, sharp claws. Its head was large and elongated, with no visible ears or nose, and a very large, wide maw than hung open, revealing its black, razor-sharp teeth. And its entire body seemed to be covered in glistening, scaly body armor. David stopped screaming, only because he was out of breath. The monster outside his window stared down at him, unmoving. Panicked, David moved his feet and pressed down on the gas pedal, hard. The car’s tires squealed, spun, then propelled the vehicle forward, right into the beast. But the horrific figure did not yield to the car. In fact, it didn’t budge an inch. The car tires continued to turn and squeal as David’s foot froze on the gas pedal. The beast glared down at him, its eyes angry. Then it let out an ear-piercing screech. David screamed again. Moments later, his screaming suddenly stopped.
Max rested his head against the window as he stared out at the passing scenery. It was all starting to become more and more familiar to him, and the more it did, the more his excitement level rose. They had been on the road for almost two hours. But now they were almost home. Roswell was only minutes away.And that meant Liz was only minutes away. Max readjusted himself in his seat, running a hand through his dark hair. His fidgety state was not unnoticed by the passenger sitting next to him. Isabel glanced over at her brother, noticed his edginess, then glanced out the window. As soon as she realized how close they were to home, she smiled knowingly. Isabel removed the headphones from her ears and stopped her portable CD player. "Looks like the vacation from hell is almost over," she muttered to him. Max grinned, looking up at his parents in the front seat. They had just spent two weeks visiting their grandparents in Florida. Neither Max nor Isabel had really been all that hyped about going. Not because they didn’t love their grandma and grandpa. But spending the last two weeks of vacation with two seventy-something-year-olds doing senior activities was not their idea of fun. Especially when their friends, not to mention Liz and Alex, were hundreds of miles away. Max had missed Liz terribly, and was excited about seeing her again. "Looks, kids!" their mother spoke up, "We’re home!" Max and Isabel looked out the window to see the passing "Welcome to Roswell" sign. A faded green alien grinned and waved at them as they passed. Soon buildings and traffic instead of desert and sagebrushes were surrounding them. Max instantly sat up in his seat, willing his father to drive faster. The sooner they got home, the sooner he could go see Liz. "So what are you two going to do for your last two days of vacation?" their mom asked. Isabel grinned. "I know what Max is going to do," she spoke up. Max gave her a look. The family fell into silence as they all gazed out the windows, watching as Roswell passed by. The sound of the radio became the only sound in the car, besides the engine and the muffled traffic noises coming from outside. "…gruesome murder that took place in Albuquerque late last night. The body of David Simmons was found in an alley near his work early this morning. The 34-year-old man had been brutally murdered, his head severed and his chest ripped open. Police believe that some internal organs may be missing. Simmons’ car, only a few feet away, had been left running and appeared to have struck something solid…" Mrs. Evans reached forward and turned off the radio, shaking her head. "Some people are just so sickening," she said. Ten minutes seemed like two hours as they made their way through Roswell. When they finally pulled into their driveway early that afternoon, Max wasted no time. He hopped out of the car, stretched, and waited for his dad to open the trunk so he could grab his bag. Isabel smiled at his as he snatched up his luggage and hurried into the house. He took only a few seconds to toss his bag onto his bed before leaving his room and heading back outside. At the front door, his mom caught him before he could leave. "Max, where are you going in such a hurry?" she asked him, "We just got home." Isabel grinned broadly, walking in behind her mother. "I think Max is looking for a place to eat," she said, "Maybe someplace with an other-worldly theme?" Diane Evans glanced from her daughter to her son in puzzlement. "I promised Liz I’d stop in to see her as soon as we got back," he explained. His mother nodded. "Oh," she said, "Well, then I guess you better hurry." He smiled, then disappeared out the door. His mother smiled after him. "Table two, order up!" Liz wiped her brow as she set the dishtowel down and went over to pick up her order. She balanced the three plates in her arms and made her way through the packed restaurant to table two. "Here you go," she said, "Two Cosmic Meltdowns, and one Spaghetti and Spaceballs." She placed the plates on the table, then turned and headed to the rear of the restaurant. On her way, a burly truck driver-type turned and stopped her. "Hey, miss," he said, "Can I get a refill here?" "Of course," she told him, "Just one minute." She made her way behind the counter to the coffee machine. When she lifted the coffeepot, she found it empty. "Louise!" she called over to the other waitress on duty, "I thought you were going to make a fresh pot?" Louise glanced over and shrugged helplessly. "Got busy," she said. Liz sighed, then turned to begin making a new pot of coffee. Just as she was halfway through, Jose’s voice caught her attention. "Table six, order up!" Setting the coffeepot unceremoniously back on the counter, Liz hurried over to pick up her order and deliver it to the young twenty-something couple in the far corner. "One Solar Smash and one Orion’s Belt," she said mechanically as she delivered the orders. She was about to turn and leave when the male half of the couple stopped her. "Can we get a bottle of ketchup with that?" he asked, holding up the empty one that had been sitting at their table. "Sure," she said, taking the empty ketchup bottle. Liz turned and headed back the way she came. "Hey, alien-girl!" Liz turned at the voice. The truck driver was waving his empty coffee mug at her. "Could I get that refill today?" he said. Liz nodded. "I’ll be right with you," she promised. Liz deposited the empty ketchup bottle behind the counter and went back to the coffeepot to finish getting it started. A minute later a fresh pot of coffee was in the making. Liz turned and wiped her hands on a towel. Louise walked up behind her. "I think table six wants their ketchup," she told her. Mentally chastising herself, Liz grabbed a full container of ketchup and hurried it over to table six. "Sorry for the wait," she apologized. The couple remained wordless as they took the ketchup. Liz turned to go back to work. As she passed by a table of four, one of them spoke up to get her attention. "Um, excuse-me," a man spoke up, "We haven’t ordered yet." Liz turned to look down at them. All four men and women wore business suits and had briefcases sitting under their seats. She grabbed her pen and notepad from the front pocket of her uniform. "I’m sorry," she said, "What can I get you?" As the foursome placed their orders, Liz heard the restaurant doors open behind her. She groaned inwardly. The Crashdown was full enough as it was. All she needed was one more person to add to the fray. She didn’t turn to look at who had entered. And she didn’t notice that person walking up behind her. When the four business-type people finished their orders, Liz immediately turned and bumped right into the newest customer. "Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see…" Her voice trailed off as she looked up to see whom she’d run into. He harried expression was replaced by a wide smile. "Max," she said in surprise and pleasure. He greeted her smile with one of his own. "Hey," he said. She immediately moved in to wrap her arms around him. He returned the hug easily. "When did you get back?" she asked. "Just a little while ago," he told her. She stepped back to look up at him. "How did your…?" "Is that refill coming anytime this century!" Liz frowned and glanced behind her, then back at Max. "I’m, um, kind of busy," she told him. "I can see that," he said, "Can I pick you up, after work?" She smiled. "I get off at ten," she told him. He smiled. "I’ll see you at ten," he said. She nodded. He grasped her hand for a moment before he back away to leave. Liz watched him go. "Miss!" Her smile instantly turned to a frown, as Liz turned and went back to work. Max was emptying the contents of his dufflebag onto his bed when he heard a knock at his window. He didn’t even look up at the noise. "Come in, Michael!" The window opened and Max’s best friend climbed into the room. Michael went over and leaned against the desk. "So how was the trip?" he asked. "Same as always," Max replied. "That bad, huh?" Max reached into the pile of clothing on his bed and pulled out a folded black T-shirt. He tossed it to Michael, who caught it with one hand. "My parents got you that," he explained. Michael opened the shirt. The lettering read "Question Authority". "Cool," he said, throwing the shirt over his shoulder without bothering to refold it. "You have anything to drink?" he asked. "Sure." Max abandoned his crumpled pile of clothes to lead the way out to the kitchen. His parents were in their room, taking a nap. Max reached into the fridge and tossed Michael a soda. He took one out for himself. Both teenagers chugged back on the carbonated drinks. Michael let out a loud belch just as Isabel walked into the room. She made a disgusted face. "Please, Michael," she said, "Not in the house." "Sorry, Izzy," he said, though he didn’t sound very apologetic. Isabel leaned against the counter with a glass of iced tea and regarded him. "So what took you so long?" she asked, "It’s been almost two hours since we got home. Usually you’re here within twenty minutes." Michael shrugged. "I had things to do," he said. "Or people to see?" she asked, a suspicious grin forming on her mouth. Michael took another swig of soda without comment. "So how’s Maria?" Isabel asked, "I mean, you just came from her place, right? I’m sure you know exactly how she’s doing." Michael rolled his eyes. Max grinned, but remained silent. "Maria is doing just fine," Michael finally answered. Isabel turned to Max. "And how is Liz doing?" she asked. Max’s grin faded, and his expression turned a bit sheepish. "Good," he said. Isabel smiled smugly. "And how’s Alex?" Michael asked her. "I don’t know," she admitted, "I haven’t called him yet." "Typical Isabel," Michael muttered. He set his empty soda can on the counter and turned to them. "So what are we doing tonight?" he asked them, "Hang out here, maybe watch a couple of movies?" Max frowned and looked from him to Isabel and back. "Uh, actually," he said, "I kind of made plans." "A romantic evening for two, perhaps?" Isabel asked. Max ignored her knowing gaze. Michael glanced from him to Isabel. "So it’s just the four of us," he said. "Four of us?" she asked. "Well, yeah," he said, "I mean, I already told Maria that we’d probably, you know, do something. And you can invite Alex." Grinning and shaking her head at both of them, Isabel turned and left the room. Michael turned to Max. "So was that a yes?" he asked. Max grinned and turned to go back to his room. Michael watched him leave, then shrugged and went to the phone to call Maria. It was almost eleven that night by the time they drove out to the desert and found a nice spot to gaze up at the stars. Liz and Max laid out the blanket she’d brought along on the floor of dirt at their feet. Once done, they both climbed down onto it and sat close together. They both sat in silence for a few moments, gazing up at the cloudless, starry night sky. "So," Liz spoke up, "How did your visit go?" "It went OK," he said. "Just OK?" she asked, "Not fun?" He looked at her. "Playing bingo and shuffleboard for two weeks wasn’t my idea of fun," he told her. "Oh," she said, "So I guess nothing exciting happened." "Well," he said, "On our way to karaoke night, Isabel and I had a flat tire. We got pretty excited about that." Liz laughed, and he smiled at her. "What about you?" he asked, "Anything exciting happen in Roswell while we were away?" "Exciting? Roswell?" she asked, then shrugged. "I spent most of the time hanging out with Maria, Alex and Michael and starting on this year’s reading assignments." "Don’t you ever stop working?" he asked. She looked up at him. "I’m not working now," she said. He returned her gaze, then lowered his head to rest his forehead against hers. "I missed you," he told her softly. "I missed you too," she said. He put a hand on her waist, then leaned down to press his lips against hers. She returned the kiss with equal enthusiasm, wrapped her arms around his neck and pulling him closer. The kiss grew deeper, as they made up for lost time. Max lowered her down onto the blanket, lying halfway on top of her, pressing their bodies close together. She ran her hands over his back. Their kissing grew more intense, until Liz let out a sensual moan. Max slowly weaned his lips away from her mouth, then ran them over her skin, going over every inch of her face, down her throat, all the way to her collarbone. Liz ran her hands through his hair as he went, her eyes closed. Max hesitated at the collar of her shirt, running his tongue over her skin. Slowly he let his hand move from her waist , under her shirt, and up over her stomach. Liz made no move to stop him. Growing bolder, Max moved his hand up to her side, just under her arm. He felt the fabric of her bra under his fingers, and his heart started beating uncontrollably. He pressed himself closer to her, yearning for more contact. Liz held him closer, leaning her head back so he had more room. Her eyes opened slightly as Max moved his hand. Then they widened. "Max!" Liz suddenly pushed him off her and sat up. Max instantly backed away, his face flushed. "Sorry," he said guiltily. "Max, look!" She pointed toward the sky, ignoring his apology. Max frowned in puzzlement, then followed her direction. His eyes then went wide with surprise. He scrambled to his feet, pulling her up with him. Together they stared up at the sky. Something was up there. A speck of bright blue light stood out among the stars and the moon. It was the size of a golf ball, but it seemed to be growing. Soon it was the size of a basketball. Then they realized that whatever it was, it was heading for earth. "Max," Liz asked in a slightly perturbed voice, "What is that?" He shook his head. "I don’t know," he said. The object grew larger, and soon they could see it better. It seemed to be a ball of blue fire, almost like a falling meteorite. Except both Liz and Max knew that it was no meteorite. It seemed to be heading right for them. Literally. As the falling ball of fire neared the planet’s surface, Max gripped Liz’s arm protectively. He started pulling her away. "Wait," she said, stopping him, "It’s not coming at us." Max hesitated. They watched as the object entered earth’s atmosphere and hurtled down toward them. Though it would be close, Max could tell it wasn’t going to land right on top of them. Instead it descended rapidly toward a cluster of boulders less than half a mile away. Max and Liz tensed themselves, expecting a crash as the fireball landed. But there was absolutely no noise as it disappeared behind the boulders and hit the earth. As they watched, the blue light that had surrounded the object suddenly flickered out. The next moment, all they could see was darkness. They waited a few moments, staring at the dim silhouette of the boulder cluster in the distance. When nothing else happened, Liz spoke up. "Maybe we should go see what it is," she suggested. Max nodded. "I’ll go," he said, "You wait here." "No, Max," she told him firmly, "I’m going with you." He turned to argue with her, noted her expression, then acceded. He took her hand, and together they made their way to the landing site of the UFO. They made the hike in record time, and made their way around the cluster of boulders. They slowed down as they approached the landing site, and Max made sure Liz stayed behind him. They didn’t know what to expect. Or, maybe, who to expect. More darkness awaited them on the other side of the boulders, lit dimly by the pale moonlight. But even in the faint light, they could tell that the area in which the UFO had landed was completely empty. Liz and Max both frowned, stepping forward. "Where did it go?" Max asked aloud. Liz stepped forward, gazing down at the ground. Max followed her, not wanting her to get too far away. They still weren’t sure what was going on. Abruptly Liz stopped and knelt down to look at the ground. "Max," she said, "Can you make a light?" Max nodded, quickly cupping his hands together and focusing his power on making the light. When he finished, he knelt down next to her, following his gaze to the ground. His mouth parted slightly in surprise at what they saw. It seemed to be an impact zone, about fifteen feet in diameter and only an inch or so deep. "Max look," Liz told him, pointing to the center of the circle. Max followed her gaze. In the very middle of the impact circle, there was a set of footprints standing side-by-side. They were sunken into the earth about a centimeter. More footprints led away from the original, not quite so sunken in. The footprints headed off into the desert, toward Roswell. Liz and Max looked at one another in something less than shock. "Are you thinking what I’m thinking?" she asked him. He glanced back at the footprints, then stood. She followed suite. "I’m thinking we have to get back and tell the others," he said. He grabbed her hand, and together they ran back toward his jeep. Michael popped another cheese puff into his mouth and chewed contentedly. He had one hand resting behind his head, propping it up so he could see the TV. The other remained in close proximity to the bag of cheese puffs resting on his belly. His legs were lying on Maria’s lap. His girlfriend was sitting at the other end of the couch, resting her elbows on his shins, eyes locked on the TV set. "Can this movie be any lamer?" he asked, his mouth full of artificially flavored cholesterol-packed munchies. "No one’s forcing you to stay," Maria reminded him without even glancing his way. "I’m with Michael," Alex spoke up from the sofa, "I mean, this movie makes absolutely no sense." "It’s not supposed to make sense," Isabel said from her perch atop her father’s Lay-Z-Boy. "That’s because it’s a chick movie," Michael supplied. Isabel looked at him. "Why don’t you just do what we all know you want to do," Isabel said, glancing pointedly at Maria. Michael shrugged, unmoved. "I’ve had my quota for the day," he said. "Ditto," Maria spoke up. Alex looked over at Isabel. "How about you?" he asked, "Anything you’d rather be doing?" Isabel grinned. "Yeah," she said, "Lying on a beach on a tropical island somewhere being served ice cold drinks by male models in Speedo’s." "Ditto," Maria agreed. Alex and Michael exchanged glances. Before either of them could retort, they all heard a car engine just outside. A set of headlights invaded the living room. Isabel leaned over to the window and pulled back the curtain to peer out. "That’s strange," she said, "It’s Max and Liz. I didn’t think they’d be back from their date so soon." "Maybe they got into a fight," Michael suggested. Isabel, Maria and Alex all gave him disbelieving looks. Michael shrugged. A moment later, Max and Liz came in the front door and walked right into the living room. They both wore pensive expressions. "What’s up?" Alex asked, "You decided you’d much rather be with a group of your bestest friends than spend quality time alone?" Both Max and Liz ignored the comment. "Something happened in the desert," Max told them. Instantly he had their attention. Isabel sat up in her chair and looked up at them, her expression now serious. Alex shut off the TV. Michael also sat up, placing his feet on the floor. "What happened, Max?" she asked. Max and Liz sat down on the sofa with Alex. They glanced at each other before speaking. "We saw something land in the desert," he told them. "Say that again?" Maria asked. "We’re not sure what it was," Max said, "but it landed just a few miles outside of Roswell." "Was it a ship?" Michael asked. Liz shook her head. "It was like this ball of blue light," she told them, "It didn’t make any noise when it landed. Then it just disappeared." "When we went to go what it was," Max told them, "all we saw was a shallow impact crater, only about an inch deep. In the middle was a set of footprints." "Footprints?" Isabel asked. "Yeah," Liz said, "They were right in the middle of the landing area. Who, um, whoever it was, they headed for Roswell." Alex looked at them. "So what you’re saying is that someone just flew out of the sky, landed in the desert and started walking in this direction?" Alex asked. Max and Liz hesitated. "Basically," he said. "So that means it’s an alien," Maria said. "Do you think whoever it was came to rescue us?" Michael asked. Liz and Maria exchanged glances. "Think about it, Michael," Isabel told him, "If someone were going to rescue us, they would have done it 50 years ago." "Are you sure it wasn’t a ship?" Maria asked, "I mean, people just don’t fall from the sky." "Yeah. Maybe it’s just cloaked or something," Michael suggested, "I mean, who knows what kind of technology they have." "If it was a ship, it was pretty small," Max told them. "Maybe he was beamed down," Alex suggested. "Wait," Maria spoke up, "How do we know it was even a ‘he’? I mean, there’s bound to be a lot of ‘she’ aliens out there too." Isabel shook her head. "Guys, I don’t think any of that matters," she said, "What matters is that someone who’s probably not from earth just landed outside of town and they’re probably already here." "Question is, what is he doing here?" Liz said. "Isabel and Liz are right," Max said, "We should be worrying about why he’s here, not how he got here." "In order to find out why, we have to find out who," Alex spoke up. "How do we do that?" Maria asked, "Walk around with a big sign saying ‘Welcome to Earth’?" A noise from the back hallway interrupted them. They heard one of Max and Isabel’s parents go into the bathroom. Max turned to his friends. "We can’t talk about this now," he told them, "Let’s meet up at the Crashdown tomorrow. And in the meantime, try to figure out what we’re going to do." "Sounds like a plan," Alex agreed. They all sat in silence for a moment, until finally Liz stood. "Well, we should go," she said, glancing at Maria, "Maria and I have to work in the morning." Alex stood. "I’ll be moseying on too," he said. Maria turned to Michael. "You need a ride?" she asked. He hesitated, then shook his head. "Nah," he said, "If it’s OK with Max, I’ll just crash here tonight." "Fine with me," Max said. Maria stood and followed Liz and Alex to the front door. Max joined them. While the other two left, Liz stayed behind for a moment and turned to Max. "I guess I’ll see you in the morning," she said. "Yeah," he agreed. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. She smiled at him, then turned and left. She climbed into the passenger seat of Maria’s VW and fastened her seat belt. A moment later they were on the street heading toward Liz’s house. "So," Maria spoke up after a moment of silence. "So," Liz replied, gazing out the window. "So, wow," Maria said, "Kind of freaky." "Yeah." Maria hesitated, then glanced over at her best friend. "Liz?" "Uh huh." "You don’t…you don’t think that alien came here to take back Max, Isabel and Michael, do you?" Liz turned slowly to look at Maria. Her expression mirrored Maria’s. She shook her head. "I don’t know," she said, wishing she knew the answer. "That would kind of suck," Maria said quietly. Liz nodded. "Yeah," she agreed, "It would." After another silent moment, Liz turned back to Maria. "Maybe you should stay over at my place tonight," she suggested, "I mean, we have to work early in the morning. And it’s the last sleepover-night before school starts." Maria grinned and looked over at her friend. "I think that’s a good idea," she agreed. And with the turn of the wheel, Maria changed directions and headed for her place to grab some clothes.
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