Area 61 [part one]

 [message interception successful]
[begin decryption…3…2..1…channel opened
….reading data….
source_language
-type{unknown} && location{home}
channel.begin{character_matching_algorithm}
….employing_matching_sequence
….apply_allocation_algorithm_103
….extract_real-time_translation….]

[decryption  successful:
read.message{“if his suspicions lead to awkward lines of enquiry, terminate. pro-vega 3 election successful for peruvian gov. stage C approaching completion. Illinois the final key for 7-18. campaign proceeds as planned.}
…………
end of message]

 

Rick sat back in his chair with eyes wide and mistrustful. The closed basement allowed no wind and there was an uncanny stillness about the room: a tranquillity away from the humming of computers or the whirring coffee machine in the corner. There was a large bulletin board replete with pictures, clippings, translations of obscure languages into English, conspiracy forum printouts and more, all interlinked and supported by the detective’s greatest allay – yarn and drawing pins.

The soft glow from the monitor cast Rick in a pale, unfavourable light. His piercing green eyes bore into the computer screen and continued to stare, transfixed at the pop-out window on screen. A fully intercepted message. The fruit of an entire adulthood of labours.

A quick search for “Illinois” was enough to find the rally the message spoke of, on July 18th – only four days from today. Ironic really, he thought morosely, a rally. Back where it all began. He booked a flight. The intervening days would be spent decoding the rest of the message and – all going well – uncovering the sender. All that however after a long, well-earned rest.

***

Some years previous

Holdberry Farm was not a happy place. It had an air of neglect and indifference, like the pile of last year’s Christmas presents gathering dust in the wake of this year’s haul. Weeds, ivies and vines entombed the house and the nigh-abandoned farm was a shadow of the proud, healthy allotments which surrounded it.

Holdberry was just one of many homes to feel the unrequited hostility and brutal apathy of alcoholism. Jerry Martinez was just another bulbous red pimple on the pockmarked face of modern America. In his honest moments he would summon a kindness: a new toy, a double ice-cream and such trifles.

On such a midsummer day he took his family – doting, miserable wife and cautious son – out to the presidential campaign rally in their area. It was an average day filled with cheering, clapping and laughing at all the right moments: to an adult it was the perfect example of political savvy, to a child an indescribable bore.

Jerry’s son wandered off exploring and – quite by chance – made his way into the candidate’s rehearsal room inside. The soft patter of footsteps approached with unsettling quickness and he stuffed himself – with a distinct lack of grace – inside the shuttered wardrobe. What he saw next would mar the next decade of his existence…

***

Present day

The skin bubbled like simmering water then turned transparent, revealing insides devoid of blood, tissue or organs. It was a myriad of light: all colours, bending, shifting, warping and dancing as its shape – initially human – moulded to become plump and near-formless, like a rotten pear. When it spoke the series of high-pitched whistles and clicks made his hair stand on end. Its eyes…

Rick woke in a blistering sweat, pulse racing. 13 years and still as vivid. Here he was, after all that time and finally he had proof. A scrap of it. A single decoded message. It was enough. He’d make it so. It was time to confront the world. Confront the inescapable truth that the human race was not alone, not even on our own planet. Not even in the very highest offices of the most powerful leaders in the world…

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