Hiking Down Memory Lane

As teenagers, my brother and I spent a lot of time playing in the woods.  We went hiking, fishing, and swimming in the creek.

We also built a makeshift fort and took some of my mom’s old lawn furniture down there.  Mom never did figure out what happened to her chairs.

We spray-painted graffiti under the bridge.  We wrote our names, the names of our dogs, and noted each year we were there.

Basically, the two of us ran wild through those woods and we were having a blast.

That was 26 years ago.  Aaron passed away three years ago and his birthday is on Monday.  I decided to take his daughter (Gwen) out there.  She heard various stories over the years, but never got a chance to see the area.  It seemed like a good way to honor Aaron’s memory.

I was surprised to see a lot of our graffiti is still there.  Each step I took, felt like I was going back in time.  Even though the terrain has changed some over the years, I could still recognize different sections and areas.  I still remembered my way around those woods.

Memories of those days flooded my mind.  It was a surreal feeling.  I could almost see us and our dogs running wild.  I was excited to see it all again.  However, I felt the grief of my brother’s death.

I was hiking down memory lane and my heart was overflowing with mixed emotions.

 

My Extra-Terrestrial Friend (A Short Story)

My name is Dr. Haley Armstrong and I have an extra-terrestrial friend.

It all started in 2147, while I was working at the Mars Research Laboratory (Site A).  The lab was old and rarely used, so I was alone that day.  A massive storm was raging on the planet, so all I could see was clouds of red dust swirling around the facility.  That’s why I never noticed the small spacecraft approaching the launch bay.

The first time I actually got a glimpse of Triad was on the security camera.  I am not ashamed to say, I almost fainted.  Triad walked down the corridor and bypassed the security code on each door, as if it was child’s play.  He was tall and slender.  His skin had a distinctive greenish tint, but the funniest thing about him was his attire.  He was dressed like a 20th century hippy.

Triad reached the door outside my room and looked into the camera.  He asked if he could come inside the room to talk to me.  It’s not like he needed my permission.  There was nothing I could do to stop him.

My body was trembling with fear and I wanted to hide.  However, I also longed to meet this strange individual at my door.  After a few tense moments, Triad smiled and said, “I understand.  I will wait out here until you are ready to talk to me.”

He seemed so polite and didn’t look threatening at all.  I opened the door, even though my brain was screaming for me to stop.

Triad introduced himself.  He was an anthropology student and specialized in galactic studies.  He was working on a research project and was given strict instructions to never make contact with any Earthlings, because we are irrational and have violent tendencies.

For some reason, Triad sensed I was different.  He was taking a great risk by coming to meet me.  If he was captured by unscrupulous scientist, he would probably be killed and dissected for the purpose of scientific research.

If his existence became public knowledge, it would lead to wide spread panic and destruction.  However, Triad believed in my peaceful nature and in my ability to keep our friendship a secret.

I just stared at him.  I was completely at a loss for words.  My mind was spinning, as if a tornado was jumbling up each thought and I couldn’t even manage to say my own name.

Triad paused for a second and laughed.  He said, “I know my appearance is rather shocking.”

After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to introduce myself.  There was a gleam of happiness in Triad’s eyes.  He extended his hand saying, “I believe your people grasp each other’s hand as a sign of friendship.  Is that correct?”

I was finally starting to relax, so I reached out and took his hand.  His skin was warm and silky smooth.

We talked for hours.  He told me all about his planet and his people.  They are a peaceful bunch.  There hasn’t been a war in just over 5 millennium.  Their life span is on average 250 years.

Triad was 82, but still was not old enough to teach at the educational centers.  He recently completed his mandatory studies and would spend the next 15 to 20 years conducting field research.

I asked Triad about intergalactic space travel.  He tried to explain it to me, but it was way beyond my comprehension.

I told Triad about my family and my future aspirations.  We talked about life on Earth and what it was like to work at the Mars research laboratory.  It was a great privilege; only the best scientist are allowed to work on Mars.  We spend one year on Mars and then return to Earth for at least two years.

Triad decided to try some of the food I had with me, but it literally made him vomit.  He was so embarrassed and apologized profusely.  Now, it was my turn to laugh.

The storm was starting to clear and Triad said he must leave.  He didn’t want anyone in the other laboratories  to see him or his spacecraft.

I stammered a few words that didn’t make much sense, even to me.  I desperately wanted to continue talking to Triad.  He looked at me with understanding and said he would also like to communicate with me in the future.

Triad handed me a black device, about the size of my thumb.  The front of the device had three red lights and each side had a button.  The back of the device was covered in tiny writing that looked like some kind of crazy mathematical equation.

Triad asked me, “Do you know Morse code?”

I looked at him with astonishment.  I told him, “It’s an antiquated form of communication.  Nobody uses it.”

Triad learned Morse code as part of his studies.  He created a cheatsheet for me, so I could learn it too.  Then he taught me how to use the device.  I could use it to send Triad messages in Morse code and he would respond back in kind.

If someone accidentally found the device, it would look like random light impulses that can be used for relaxation or meditation.  I would be the only person able to understand the messages created by the flashing lights.

As Triad turned to leave, I screamed “Wait!”  I rushed over to him and grabbed him in an embrace.  Tears were pouring down my face.  Between each sobbing breath, I managed to tell Triad how grateful I was for his trust and how much I looked forward to communicating with him in the future.

Triad was surprised by my display of emotions.  He responded by saying, “Now I know, I have a true Earth friend.  I hope one day, I will be able to see you in person once again.”

Triad left and I haven’t seen him since that day.  However, we send messages to each other frequently.  Triad is my extra-terrestrial pen-pal and a true (all be it strange) friend.

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We All Bleed Red – Ronnie Dunn

It’s easy to judge others.  It’s harder to put ourselves in their shoes, view the world as they see it, and offer forgiveness.  However, there will come a time when we are the one’s in need of forgiveness.  We all do things of which we are not proud.  We all feel pain and emotional distress.  We all bleed red.