Authors: Whitley Strieber
Tags: #UFOs & Extraterrestrials, #Unidentified Flying Objects, #Body; Mind & Spirit, #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Space Vehicles, #Suspense, #Life on Other Planets, #General, #Media Tie-In
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK
I would like to acknowledge the kind assistance of Stanton Friedman, William L. Moore, Jaime Shandera, Walter Haut, Dr Jessie Marcel, Jr., and Anne M. Strieber for their advice in the preparation of this novel.
It is a work of fiction that is based on fact. I have used the names of historical figures, and invented all others.
Newspaper stories quoted are entirely authentic except for the use of this convention. Insofar as it reflects the truth, this book is the outcome of the patience of those who have helped me. Any errors are my own.
This book is dedicated to the memory of Colonel Jesse Marcel, an unknown hero.
Through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe that unidentified flying objects are nonsense. To hide the facts the Air Force has silenced its personnel.
- Admiral Hoscok H. Hillenkoetter,
First Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
New York Times,
February 28, 1960
It was my misfortune to have some really good luck.
If I'd had the good sense to go along with it, I would have left this story alone. It's the scoop of the century, but it has almost certainly ruined my career. And I was about to escape my job with a dreary suburban weekly and go to work for a semiofficial urban daily. Now I'll never report for the Washington Post. I'll never enter the fabled halls of the New York Times, unless it is with somebody else's sandwiches in my hands.
So what is this thing that has ruined me?
I won't hide the fact that I was researching an April Fool's piece for my paper - or rather, my former paper - the Bethesda Express. We were going to get a good laugh out of an obvious absurdity that is believed by at least half the population.
I wasn't fired because I failed to turn in this story. That wasn't exactly it. What got me canned was that I found out it was all true. What I wrote struck my editor as being a joke on him.
He did not think this was funny.
Like the whole community of journalists, he was convinced that the subject is nonsense.
I have met the man who did this to us. Insofar as it is about any one person, this book is about that man.
His name is Wilfred Stone and he lives here in Bethesda, along with a few thousand other Washington retirees. For most of the past year he's been sitting in his backyard quietly dying of lung cancer. During the last six months he and I have been collaborators. As much as I can stand to be his friend, I am that.
At first Will was almost ashamed to tell his story. Secrets like his are their own very ugly pornography, and it was terribly painful to him to reveal them.
But he got used to it, finally became passionate about it. What started as sparse muttering ended in a torrent of searing human anguish, a howl for forgiveness from the edge of the grave.
I have viewed my role in our collaboration as that of facilitator. This book is Will Stone's confession. My job has been to support his effort, to fill in backgrounds, to do what legwork was necessary, and to provide my vision of this desperately troubled man.
I met Will because he sent the Express a response to a nasty review I'd published. I trashed a book written by what I assumed to be an obvious charlatan.
This is not a big town, and his letter was the only response in support of the professional liar.
In my own defense I can only repeat that I was also one of Will's victims.
When it came time to do the April Fool's story and I needed a sucker, he looked like a strong contender.
Will acted like he'd been waiting for a call from someone like me - which I suppose he had. Everything he does is structured in terms of bait and hook.
He is a subtle man, too subtle to just walk into my office with an armload of the most extraordinary and terrible secrets that the United States of America possesses.
Considering just how much he has wanted to tell his story, and how little time he has, waiting for me to take the bait must have been very hard.
He lives in a dark old house on a street that was fashionable thirty years ago. I went there to connect with my victim.
And became his.
He sounded like an old freight train as he huffed slowly down the hall to answer my knock at his door. After he opened it he leaned against the jamb to catch his breath. Then he straightened up and a huge, complex smile came into his face. I say complex because it was not a smile like yours or mine.
It was the saddest expression I have ever seen.
He took me into his grim living room with its grim furniture and thick, silent carpet. The curtains alone added cheer. They were odd - white oilcloth or parchment with yellow flowers pressed between the layers.
We sat down. I didn't know what to expect, even what sort of questions to ask.
He pushed his big, wobbly face into mine and said without preamble, "The damn thing is real and I can prove it." I thought, oh boy, paydirt.
"What damn thing?"
"The whole damn thing." He pulled himself to his feet and rolled out of the room. A moment later he was back with a cardboard box full of documents, photographs and cans of movie film.
At first I thought it would be the usual sort of junk, fake pictures, news clippings, nutty tracts.
The first thing I saw was a clear color photograph of what appeared to be a dead alien. It was attached to the autopsy reports that appear later in this book.
The authenticity of the photo was so obvious that it affected me like a blow on the head. The blood drained from my face; I literally reeled.
Every tiny detail seemed true, the pale skin, the injuries, the oozing fluid, the black, sunken eyes.
The documents went on for pages and pages. I have reproduced the most critical ones in this book. But there were thousands of others, and God knows how many more are hidden even from Wilfred Stone.
I sat there in that dim room reading, looking at picture after picture, all of it stamped with things like CLASSIFIED - ULTRA and TOP SECRET - MAJIC.
It became clear to me that nobody could have faked this, not all of this, not with the detail and perfection of it.
For me the world crumbled. Everything I believed was called into question. All my expectations, my understanding of the way things were, all of it was shattered.
When he heard a droplet of sweat snap against the memo I was reading he put his hand on my shoulder. "I want to get the story out before I die."
I just looked at him. I could only think that I'd been living in a false world with a false history.
Everything important was secret. I looked down at the documents spread around me on the floor. They were terrifying, both for their contents and for their ominous-looking secrecy stamps. I was seeing levels of classification I hadn't known existed.
His possession of these documents was clearly illegal. If I assisted him in any way I was headed for jail.
This was when good sense and good luck came into conflict. This story had things like joblessness and jail and disgrace written all over it.
"People have a right to know. They had a right to know forty years ago."
He sat there, the slightest of smiles on his face. Was he trying to look pleasant, to win me over? Will does not smile well. This time words like "snake" came to mind.
But, dammit, I couldn't take my eyes off the stuff he was showing me! The most incredible story in history.
And it was literally lying in my lap.
The truth was in the hands of a sick, helpless old man.
And he was putting himself in mine.
Overnight I thought about what was obviously an offer.
To publish this story would be mad.
And yet .... At about four in the morning I decided the hell with it and finally went to sleep.
When I got up I grabbed the phone and called an old friend of mine, Jeb Strode. We'd roomed together two years at American University. He went on to law. I bought a cheap Sony tape recorder and became a reporter.
Now he pulled down a couple of hundred thousand a year keeping lobbyists out of jail. I figured he could afford the ten minutes it would take to answer my question.
"I'm crazy," I said. "I slept on this and decided to forget all about it."
"So you called a lawyer while he was still under a pile of housecats with his eyes closed."
"How could I reveal highly classified information and stay out of Danbury?"
"Danbury is the nice federal jail. That isn't where they would put you. I see lots of steel doors and guards with Gila monster eyes."
"What's a Gila monster?"
"Something unpleasant. Don't even think about it, Nicky."
"I have to."
"We never had this conversation. But if you really want to do this, your only hope is to publish your book as fiction. They'll figure if they hit you, it'll tell the world it's all true. You might make it."
So this is fiction. Everything in it - all the documents, the briefing papers, the interviews - is fiction. The story is fiction. Will is fiction and so am I.
Only the newspaper stories and Admiral Hillenkoetter's statement are real. You can easily check them, so what's the point?
Even if I don't go to jail, I have become a martyr to my issue. My career is dead.
But it's worth it, because the issue is enormous: what is at stake is the whole future of mankind. The coming of the visitors is as pivotal an event as the original spawning of the human race.
It is incredible that this event has been kept secret.
As director of the Majestic Agency for nearly forty years, Wilfred Stone is the man most responsible for that secrecy.
Let him try to explain himself. I cannot. And I thank God that I don't have to face his conscience in the night, or when he goes to his dying.
- Nicholas A. Duke March 15, 1989
Foreword by Wilfred Stone
I was among the architects of one of the worst mistakes that has ever been made, and this is my final throw, my magic bullet, my effort to make it right.
In the end it is going to be up to you; my generation has already cast itself upon the rocks. We who fought World War Two and the Communist menace have only one legacy beyond the armed and furious world we have given you.
In 1947 somebody from outside this world attempted to form a relationship with mankind. First contact fell to the United States government. Fresh from victory and full of pride, our generation failed the test. We made a horrible mess of it. We did not understand the subtle and terrifying - the magnificent - thing that they were.
We made the simplistic assumption that they were something like us - but from another planet. We failed to see the truth. Failed utterly.
If I may, let me begin with an explanation.
Do you know the word empath? It is the invention of a writer, but it is a true word, a fine word. An empath is somebody who so completely identifies with the nature of another that they assume that nature. If you met a perfect empath, or a whole city or nation of perfect empaths, and you introduced them to a vicious psychopath, the empaths would become monsters.
Because they lack experience, children are empaths. They are blank and clean. At my age it is clear that the whole of adulthood is an attempt to recover that innocence. History is also such a journey, an attempt to return to the forest.
These others - who appeared to us as aliens - are empaths, but not because they lack experience. They have returned to the forest; they are not men, they are beyond that. Like very young children, they are empty of knowledge: they have become conscious animals. And that is a beautiful thing. In the sight of God they are almost angels.
They came here to help us find our own version of this wise innocence. We who faced them did not even begin to understand. We did not understand the awesome portent of Walt Whitman's lines: There was a child went forth everyday,
And the first object he looked upon,
that object he became . . .
And so when we called them terrible, that is what they became. "Be as little children." What did He mean?
Why did He say it? We have become lost on our long journey back to the woods. When we detonated atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki we distorted history, setting ourselves on a path that leads not to the forest but to extinction.
We achieved absolute terror, a darkness so deep it could not be penetrated, not even by light so bright that it vaporized the eyes. Wise innocents that they are, the others saw our predicament and came to rescue us.
"Regard the lilies of the field," He said. Why, we who are naked in the rain? If we surrender to the wind and the rain they will be our saviors; the flowers will be our deliverance. We do not need economies, nations, churches. We need only one another - and the ability to give and bear true love.
This is the message of the others. They thus represent absolute and total change, the collapse of economic civilization and the end of days. They are freedom; the soul in the open sky. Because they stand for such radical change we in the government saw them as a threat to the United States.