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Authors: Neal Wooten

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BOOK: Pit Bulls vs Aliens
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“It is in English. Exactly what part don’t you understand?”

Senator Biddle clarified. “This part about being ‘irreversible.’ This reads like it’s a scare tactic to solicit more funding.”

“You do not control my funding, senators, so why would I lie to you?”

Senator Butler from Georgia chimed in. “It’s just that we’ve been hearing about this threat since the year 2000, or before, Doctor. It might have taken a while for everyone to acknowledge that global warming was real, but this is 2050. I think we’ve done a lot to reduce greenhouse gases in the last half century. There are more regulations on factories and at least thirty percent of the cars on the road today are electric. Plus, that new chemical is supposed to be eating away the greenhouse gases. Are you still trying to tell us we’re not doing enough?”

Dr. McNair looked at the five-person panel. “It is true that GHR1101, which was introduced a decade ago, is working. It doesn’t ‘eat’ greenhouse gases, but it slowly converts them into an ionized gas allowing it to filter through the stratosphere and into space. Current estimates put the accumulation of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere at ten percent of where they were ten years ago. So in theory, we should be going through a global cooling period, but that’s not happening. As my report proves, we’re headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Sea levels have already risen over three inches in the last twenty years. If this trend continues, that will accelerate exponentially.”

Senator Butler raised his hands beside him in a grand gesture and repeated his question. “Again, are we not doing enough? What should we be doing?”

Dr. McNair shook his head. “I’m telling you it doesn’t matter what you do from this point forward; it cannot be stopped. The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, not just from the surface air rising, but from the ocean water temps rising as well. If you could somehow stop all the carbon and methane emissions tomorrow, it would not stop what’s happening.”

“It’s hard to believe, Doctor,” Senator Weingold said, “that with today’s technology, you’re saying we can’t make a difference.”

“What technology are you referring to, Senator?” Dr. McNair looked around the room. “Would you try to drop ice cubes in the ocean or try to cool all the air in our atmosphere with air conditioners? There is no technology to stop this and certainly none to reverse it.”

“What do you expect us to do with a report like this?” Senator Butler asked.

“I can only report the facts to you. What you decide to do is up to you.” Dr. McNair began stuffing his papers back into his briefcase.

“How long, Doctor?”

Dr. McNair looked up at the female senator from North Dakota, the one who seldom got involved with the fray. “How long for what, Senator Malcolm?” he asked.

The senator cleared her throat. “How long before the melting ice changes the face of Earth forever? How long before the temperatures on Earth are unsuitable for humans?”

Dr. McNair continued to put away his papers without looking up. “Five years. Ten tops.”

Before he could leave, Senator Biddle had one last question. “What would you suggest, Doctor?”

Dr. McNair paused only briefly before turning to leave. “I’d start building a really big boat.” He walked out of the room and through the dimly lit corridor and back out into the sunshine. He paused to take a deep breath of air as if he had just crawled out of a deep cavern. He walked toward his car. Looking at the bright sunny sky, he debated whether to even return to work. Although it was only noon, he didn’t relish going back to his office, but there was nothing for him at home either.

“Hey.”

Dr. McNair turned to see who was behind him. “Oh, hey there. Mrs. Eagle, right?”

“It’s
Miss
Eagle.”

“Oh, in that case,” Dr. McNair joked, holding out his hand, “I’m Stephen.”

She shook his hand and smiled. “It was very nice of you to let me go first in there.”

“Well, it wasn’t really about being polite,” Dr. McNair said with a smile. “You scare me.”

Glenda laughed. “Let me make it up to you. My flight isn’t for a couple of hours. Can I buy you lunch?”

“That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time.”

“Great,” Glenda said. “While we eat you can tell me when the world is going to end.”

“Pfftttt.”
Dr. McNair smirked. “Boring. I want to hear more about your pit bulls.”

Chapter Seven

“How can this be the right way?” Darren glanced over to his boss, Dr. De Luca, and then back to the SETI director, Dr. Natalie Zimmerman.

“We can’t go to the president or secretary of defense without evidence,” Dr. Zimmerman snapped. “And we will not be creating a worldwide panic when we don’t know what this signal is. It could be directed at Earth accidentally.”

Natalie Zimmerman wore a suit as well as any man, but she was much more masculine than most men were. Her blonde hair was spiked upward with enough mousse to make concrete out of Jell-O. Not a trace of makeup or jewelry to be seen. She was barely over five feet tall and as wide as she was tall. When she walked, her shoulders stayed perfectly perpendicular to the direction she was going, and the swift short movements of her legs made her mimic the movements of a tank or bulldozer. In fact, “Dozer” was the name everyone called her when she wasn’t around.

Dr. De Luca stood with Darren. “Director, the signal is real and not of this world. And it’s getting closer. I agree with Darren on this. The worst-case scenario is that we go public, inform the White House, and nothing ever comes from it and we look stupid. Or the other worst-case scenario could be we keep it a secret, and something does come from it and we look incompetent.”

Dr. Zimmerman wouldn’t budge. “It’s not a matter of appearances. As long as I’m in charge, we follow protocol.” She looked at Darren. “I want you to head up this investigation from the Washington office. You’ll have everything you need and get to put together your own team. This is still your baby. Don’t make me regret that decision.”

“Thank you.” Darren was glad to be in charge of that at least. “When do I leave?”

“About noon tomorrow.”

Darren stayed up late that night going over tons of data. Although the signal had now been verified by every SETI lab in the world, they still knew nothing about the signal, like what it was saying or why it was directed at the oceans.

His two bosses slept in a rented RV while he and Roscoe had the lab to themselves.

“What do you think?” Darren asked of Roscoe. “You’re the real one who discovered the signal. It should be called the ‘Roscoe Signal’ instead of the ‘Mitchell Signal.’”

Roscoe yawned. Apparently he had no opinion at all.

Darren finally got to bed around 2:00 a.m. but couldn’t sleep. This was, after all, the biggest thing that had ever happened to him, perhaps to anyone. He finally got up at six and continued packing his stuff.

An hour later, Dr. De Luca and Dr. Zimmerman returned and helped him finish getting ready before they said their good-byes.

After they left the lab, Darren took a look around. He hadn’t been here long enough to grow attached to anything and was glad to be leaving, but one thing had happened that he couldn’t forget. He decided to make one last trip into town, this time in the truck.

As he drove around with Roscoe in the passenger side, he searched for the Chevrolet Impala, hoping to find Francisco before running into the other bunch. Finally he saw him standing beside his car on what would most likely be called the main street in town. He was talking to a beautiful Mexican girl. As the girl walked away, Darren pulled the truck up beside him.

“Hey, Roscoe.” Francisco walked around to the passenger side and started petting Roscoe through the window. “Sorry, man, I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m Darren.”

“So what’s going on out there?” Francisco asked while still playing with Roscoe. “I saw the big fancy travel lodge. You guys discover life on Mars finally?”

“No, just a new star.”

Francisco looked skeptical. “That fancy RV showed up for a star.” He shook his head in disbelief.

Darren didn’t try to sell the lie. “I’m leaving this morning, so I wanted to come find you and thank you again and give you this.” He held out a small object.

Francisco looked puzzled but took the object and looked at it. It appeared to be a stone in the shape of a tooth on a leather string. “What is it ?”

“It’s a fossilized tooth from a prehistoric canine. I found it in Nevada.”

Francisco smiled. “That’s very neat. You didn’t have to do that, but I appreciate it. So you’re leaving, huh? Are you coming back?”

“I don’t think so. They’re sending me to the office in Washington, DC.”

“Of course,” Francisco said and chuckled, “to study this new star.”

Darren smiled.

Francisco rubbed Roscoe on both sides of his head. “You take care of this boy, you hear?”

“I will,” Darren said.

“I was talking to Roscoe.”

Darren smiled and stuck out his hand. “Take care.”

“You too, amigo.” Francisco shook his hand.

As Francisco watched Darren drive away, he continued to his destination. He walked up to a small house and knocked on the door. A woman opened the door and smiled.


Hola
, Mama.”

Rosita Escamilla opened her arms and hugged her son. “I haven’t seen you in weeks. How can that be in a town this small? Why don’t you come see your mama more?”

“I’ve been busy working.”

“Work, huh?” His mama scoffed.



, work.” Francisco took out a small stack of cash and handed it to his mama.

“Where did you get this?”

Francisco shook his head. “I told you—work. Now please get a refill on your medication. Please.”

“Hey, Frankie.”

Francisco smiled as his pretty ten-year-old sister ran into his arms, her long black hair shining in the light. He caught her in his arms and lifted her as high as he could. “How’s my Chiquita?”

“Call me Maria. I’m not that small anymore,” she said.

He stood her up and held his hand above her head. “

, you’re growing like a weed, Chiquita.”

“Can you stay for lunch?” Ms. Escamilla asked.

“Absolutely.”

Maria giggled. “Tell me a story, Frankie.”

His mama went to finish cooking as he sat on the couch with his little sister. He took out his new gift from Darren and showed it to her.

“Do you see this?”

Maria’s eyes were wide open as she ran her little fingers over the fossilized tooth. “What is it?”

“I was walking through the desert last week,” Francisco began, “when this huge dog started to chase me. It was like a dinosaur it was so big. It chased me and tried to eat me.” He grabbed Maria under each arm and tickled until she begged for mercy.

“What did you do?” she asked when she finished laughing.

“What do you think I did? I ran as fast as I could. Then it chased me up a big tree and stayed at the bottom waiting for me to come down. I stayed high in the tree until night came. I couldn’t wait to get away so I could tell everyone about the ferocious beast. But I knew they wouldn’t believe me, so when the monster dog was sleeping, I climbed back down the tree and took my knife and cut out his tooth.”

“What did he do?” Maria asked.

“He yelled, ‘Ouch!’ and tried harder to get me.”

Francisco continued to spin a yarn of immense proportions, much to the delight of his little sister. Finally their mama called them to eat. They each went to the bathroom to wash their hands and joined their mama at the small Formica kitchen table.

“Will you say grace, Francisco?” his mama asked.

Francisco nodded. He asked the blessing, and they dined on homemade tamales and drank real lemonade until they were full. Afterward, they sat around the table and chatted for a long time. It was like they were a family again all under the same roof. They had a good time being together, until Francisco’s cell phone rang. His mama watched suspiciously.


Hola?
Yes, I can come by. I’ll be there soon.”

“More
work
?” his mama asked sarcastically.

Francisco smiled. “No, Mama. That was Ms. Rhonda at the shelter. They have a new dog and need some help.”

His mama dropped her head. “I’m sorry. Go help them. You know I worry about you.”

“And I worry about you. Please get a refill. Okay?”

Maria came up and hugged him around the waist.

“And get Chiquita here some vitamins so she can finally grow.”

His mama nodded as he left the house.

Thirty minutes later, Francisco pulled his car up to the dog shelter outside of town. It was an old vegetable processing plant from years ago, but now it was just a large, rickety old shed that Ms. Rhonda, an old American woman, had converted into the only shelter for many towns around. No one knew where Ms. Rhonda came from. She just showed up one day about eight years ago with the deed to this property and a carload of pit bulls.

It was hard to tell her age, because her skin was wrinkled more than normal due to hard work and the desert sun. She always wore a huge sombrero to protect herself from the harsh rays. She seemed to wear the same faded jeans and flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off every day. She was very short and thin and appeared very frail, but everyone knew better. Many times the citizens of El Triunfo had seen her carrying fifty-pound bags of dog food and more than once had witnessed her carrying a full-grown pit bull over her shoulders to bring to the doctor in town.

She had paid someone to drag an old pop-up camper out here and it now represented her living quarters, although she spent much more time under the shed with the dogs. Word got around fast, and for many towns around if people found a stray or couldn’t take care of their own pit bulls, they brought them to Ms. Rhonda.

Ms. Rhonda and her two volunteers met him at his car.

“Where is he?” Francisco asked.

“He’s back here,” Ms. Rhonda said and led him inside.

They passed about fifteen stalls with unwanted or stray pits until they got to the last stall. Inside was a very large, very dirty, very scarred, and very angry pit bull. He was a unique color, white with feathered spots and a large circle that wrapped around his back like a saddle, which was a brindled brown with black stripes. Half of his huge head was the same brindled color. The rest was white with the little speckles. He wore a muzzle to keep him from biting anyone. He lunged at the gate as Francisco walked up.

BOOK: Pit Bulls vs Aliens
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