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The Encounter, Ch. 2 - by Genna East and Mike Friedman


The Story Continues

Welcome to Chapter 2 of the continuing story in response to "The Encounter, a Writing Challenge."

Mike (Mckbirdbks) and I teamed together and have written a fast-paced, six-part story in answer to that challenge. Installments were published weekly, every Sunday.

The music videos accompanying each chapter convey elements of the story. Links to subsequent chapters appear at the end of each installment.

We hope you enjoy the journey.

The link to Chapter 1 follows...

Chapter 2

Ezra gazed fondly at the spaniel still snuggled on his lap. A soft trilling sound purred from his mouth. Although curious to learn how the professor had penetrated his disguise so quickly, the Jatite needed to first reassure him that he was in no danger. "I am traveling alone, Dr. Kelly," he said. "I...we....mean you no harm. You need not have any fear." He looked up, tipped his head oddly to the side and asked, "Do I not look human?"

Hank's jaw slacked. He glanced over at the shotgun on the counter. Suspicion was one thing. It was quite another to experience the serene bluntness of an alien life form sitting calmly on his living room couch. Several seconds passed before he could find his voice, before curiosity took charge over emotion.

"Yes, you look human. Yet your sensitivity to cold is telling. Your choice of clothing is all wrong for our summer heat and humidity. Trying to grasp that glass of iced tea caused you pain. You're no hiker, Ezra. Your gait is as purposeful and measured as your use of our language. But your speech is flat-pitched, with gentle but oddly enunciated words devoid of any accent, slang or abbreviation. And your eyes -- they hold much but have the innocence of a child. By the way, had you intended me any harm, Noah would have gone for your gullet before you got within three feet of me."

Hank fell silent and stared at the Jatite with the frank, tight-lipped question Ezra was waiting for.

"You want to know why we have come."

"I'd say that's a good place to begin...and why you sought me out," replied his host, clearing his throat.

At the alien's request, Hank followed him into the kitchen, cleared the table in the center of the room and stepped back. Ezra took from his jacket a device the size of a smart phone, set it on the table and emitted a high-pitched clicking sound. Sculptures of light radiated across the hard surface, displaying a hologram of a location like none the professor had ever witnessed. Male and female Jatites, over seven feet tall, gathered proteous fruit the size of cannonballs from the bark of trees. Four-legged beasts with long, spiraling necks crouched alongside them and picked the same pods, devouring the delicacies as they went. The lush foliage of their strange rain forests looked cool and inviting.

Neither beast nor Jatite seemed disturbed by the other's presence. The humanoid creatures tossed their harvest into baskets suspended from floating air drones. Once full, the drones delivered the containers of produce to their cities -- a labyrinth of layered mesas and domes carved from volcanic rock by a finite mastery of laser technology.

“This was our planet,” Ezra confided.

Awestruck by the tranquil beauty of the Jatite world, Hank managed to look up. "Was...?"

"Yes. This is our planet now."

Jate 22c

Jate 22c

The clicking noise sounded again, and the light fields grayed into a terrestrial epitaph. The Eden that had once been Jate resembled a necropolis. Over time, the Jatites' C02 emissions had reached critical mass. Their remaining cities were swarmed by giant sea walls. Oceans became so acidic, marine life was destroyed, giving way to smaller, poisonous creatures that fed on massive beds of burnish ocean algae throughout the natural selection process. Slowly, rain forests took hold in frigid zones as new species of trees evolved before decomposing on a rapidly dying world. Natural food sources became scarce; synthetic alternatives were no longer capable of sustaining life. Jatite skin -- once caramel-colored and sleek -- evolved into a dense, scale-like casing as protection against the excessive heat.

Feeling a sudden weakness in his knees, Hank slid onto a kitchen chair and stared at the images, vaguely aware that Noah had stood up on his hind legs and pawed at the table to get a closer view. "Our METI signals," he muttered. "They brought you to our planet."

Hank knew the intricate METI ciphers sent into space utilized a combination of mathematical and scientific concepts to create signals of greetings that revealed life on earth and its inhabitants. Included were samplings of contributions by some of the leading scientists and their respective fields. He was among those chosen.

“I have a lifetime of questions to discuss with you,” he said to the visitor.

Over the next several hours and a hastily prepared brunch of fruit, salmon and warm tea, both human and Jatite developed a rapport bolstered by mutual trust and respect. The professor learned that over the centuries, the Jatites reached a sociological plateau -- an enlightenment wherein aggression between all living things was overcome. Their species had also developed a telepathy that took the form of a collective hive consciousness.

Discoveries in physics and technology accelerated beyond imagination. In their flight from Jate, by using exotic matter they were able to alter the speed of light surrounding the spacecraft, thereby avoiding light-speed barriers. What they didn't anticipate was stumbling upon a way to manipulate the single fabric of the space-time continuum. In fear of such power falling into the unpredictable hands of humanity, it was decided to send only one envoy to earth, to impose upon man as little as possible.

Astonished, Hank said, "I can't believe I'm asking this, but why haven't you returned to your planet in an earlier point in its history to warn of what was coming?"

"Would they believe? Listen? Have mankind listened? We need more proof...what you call 'evidence'."

The irony in Ezra's words stunned the professor. "I understand the desperation behind the escape from your planet. I get its honesty and the courage it took to leave everything behind. But aside from our bio-fingerprint, why drop anchor here on earth? Given your existence, it's not exactly taking a giant leap into the unknown to assume other civilizations are out there."

"There are, Hannaford -- highly sentient beings but savage. You are a loud species. Your scientists must use discretion in sending out your METI voices. Humanity is regarded as bacteria to certain life forms."

"So Stephen Hawking was right about the possibility of attracting the wrong kind of attention. I'm curious, Ezra -- why me? Why not, instead, make initial contact with someone like Hawking? But you couldn't have known that we lost Stephen several years ago."

The alien explained how the entourage involved in the physicist's daily care would have made a discreet visit impossible. "There is more," he said, fixing his crystalline eyes on Hank's. "He would not have survived the journey home."

"Journey." Kelly felt his muscles slip into gridlock. His heart rate quickened. "Jesus. You want me to go with you. I'm part of that proof you need."

The Jatite smiled. "Yes. If all things continue as planned, we believe we can save our planet. And your earth as well."

Army Sgt. Katharine Arness was working night duty as a volunteer at one of the Kittatinny observation towers when she thought she witnessed something metallic streak toward a large tract of privately-owned land. Using her binoculars, she marked the downward trajectory.

Rather than report the incident, on impulse she set out to investigate when her replacement arrived at 8:00 am. She climbed into her jeep and drove in the direction of the landing site. Turning onto an old timber road, she followed the trail until it ended in a wall of trees, then proceeded on foot. It was mid-morning before she stumbled upon the oblong pod resting on the bank of a stream.

Shaken by the discovery, Arness pulled out her sidearm and wondered what good it would be against an alien invasion. She knelt down at the base of the pod and spotted a set of large footprints leading away from the capsule. Taking a deep breath, she placed the pistol on the ground to wipe the perspiration from her forehead. Exhaling, she emptied the first chamber, then gripped the gun with both hands and began to follow the strange imprints the interstellar traveler had left behind.

Cathedral (Thomas Newman)

The Link to Chapter 3 ...

Written by Genna Eastman and Mike Friedman. All rights reserved.


Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on March 22, 2019:

Great writing, you two. And a unique take on an alien "Invasion".

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 02, 2019:

This is good stuff! Off to #3!

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on October 13, 2018:

Hi Nell. Thank you. I think Mike nailed it with his comment. Good to see you, and we're happy that you are enjoying the story.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 13, 2018:

Hello Neil - Thank you for such a kind comment. Glad to have you along on the journey. Teaming up on this project was both a challenge and a pleasure.

Nell Rose from England on October 13, 2018:

Okay, you have got me hooked now! I have read up till the next chapter! love it!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 02, 2018:

Thanks Genna. :)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 02, 2018:

Hey Paula... Good to see you. Fred and Ginger; now that's cool, even tho I'm not the best dancer on the block. :-) Thank you. And, again, welcome aboard The Encounter.

Mike, if you are referring to your installment series, I'd hardly call the Emerald Wells Cafe (and so much more), "shoveling," my very talented friend. You are a very disciplined writer.

It's almost TGIF! :-)

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 02, 2018:

Hello Paula - What a nice thing to say. Thank you. We are so glad that you find our creative presentation interesting. This writing style is different than what I usually shovel onto HP. A more disciplined approach was taken. Gather your boarding pass as we prepare for the galaxy.

Suzie from Carson City on August 01, 2018:

Genna & Mike.....You 2 are to are to intriguing stories, what Fred & Ginger were to the dance floor!! Amazing! LOL. I'm lovin this so far, my friends. Tonight, I thank you for my bedtime tale! Beats the hell out of late night TV!! Bring on #3~! Night-night.......Paula

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 01, 2018:

Hello Peggy: We are now traveling with a 6'4" alien, so it this is officially a tall tale. Thanks for accompanying us.

Hi Genna, I always pictured a Lorne Greene type, as The Carriage Driver.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on August 01, 2018:

Hello Peggy. Thank you. We're so pleased you're enjoying the story. There is much to learn from the Jatites and their culture...and vice versa. :-) Look forward to seeing you at the next installment.

Mike: Bruce as the model for the action figure for Griffin? I can't quite picture that some how. (Lol.)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2018:

This is really getting interesting! I cannot wait for the next chapter to unfold. Love the music video at the end. It sounds as though earthlings can learn much from the Jatites.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 31, 2018:

Hello Genna - Bruce was not so polite when he called me. We are now in contract discussion regard his likeness as The Carriage Driver action figure. Have a good week.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 31, 2018:


Hello dear Maria. I think Mike is being generous in his comment about music. The selections he chooses for his series and articles are always so good. Thanks for hanging in there with us on this journey. We are enjoying the company of everyone here. Mike, Bruce just called. He's annoyed at not being considered for the role. I told him, "next time." :-)

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 31, 2018:

Hello Maria - Thanks for that nice compliment. As we continue we will meet a couple more characters, but no Bruce Willis types. Between you and Genna, my knowledge of music has grown. So, thank you both. I just thought, in a sense, that Hank and Ezra are long distance, pen pals.

Thanks for the well wishes. It has been a busy week so far.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 31, 2018:

Dear Genna and Mike,

I enjoyed getting to know some of the back story that got Hank and Ezra together.

I look forward to getting to know Army Sgt. Katharine Arness better as well.

The partnership of your writing is seamless. Once again, the song choice is hauntingly gorgeous.

Hope you are having a great week. Hugs, Maria

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 30, 2018:


Hello Pam. Thanks for the comments and encouragement about the plot. And I couldn't agree and with you and Mike more --- wouldn't that be nice? Jate, here I come. :-)


Thank you. The back-story is important to include without getting into a novella as opposed to a 6-installment story. So it was especially nice to read your comment. Both Mike and I look forward to seeing you at the next installment.


We so appreciate your staying with us for the journey, Linda. Good seeing you and reading your comment. Thank you!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 30, 2018:

Your story continues to be gripping and interesting, Genna and Mike. I'm looking forward to the next chapter very much.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 30, 2018:

Hi Peg - This chapter sets the stage. We build from here with new characters and places. Glad you have stayed with the journey.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 30, 2018:

Wonderful weaving of back story and foreshadowing into this chapter. Looking forward to the next release to see what happens.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 29, 2018:

Hello Pamela - I think that both Genna and I agree completely on the suggestion that, "aggression between all living things was overcome" is a great goal to set for ourselves. Thank you for returning to part two as this adventure continues.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 29, 2018:

This story has an excellent plot that makes you want to know what is next.I am enjoying this story.

One phrase caught my attention as it relates to today's world, "aggression between all living things was overcome". Wouldn't that be nice?

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 29, 2018:


We are so pleased that the story still has you hooked. (And I agree with you about Bruce. :-) Look forward to seeing you next chapter.


Hi there. Thank you. If it weren't for my family, if I were the professor, I just might want to go. Talk about an adventure. Again we are thrilled that Dottie is home. Hope you are enjoying your Sunday.


I love the continuing chef analogy from your comment in Ch. 1. That is cool. Thanks so much for the visit and good thoughts.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 29, 2018:

Hello Bill - Thanks for continuing the journey. We are in for some acceleration. About this time in the story I was sure it would take us 48,000 words to get to the end. But Genna knew a shortcut.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 29, 2018:

Hello Shy - Thanks for continuing the ride. We have added a character and outlined the issues. Now what? - hey, that is exactly what we said!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 29, 2018:

The plot thickens, like a hearty stew on a cold winter's day. This is like cracking open an oyster, convinced there will be a pearl waiting...there surely will be with you two writing.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 29, 2018:

Genna/Mike, this is getting more interesting line by line. If I were the professor I don't think I would want to go to Jate. Of course one mortal/morsel wouldn't be worth the trip to earth. I am enjoying the story.

Thank you both for your wishes/hopes for Dottie's return.

Blessings to you both.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 29, 2018:

Hello Ann - I am also glad we left out a place for Bruce Willis. All those offers for the rights to the screenplay would be such a nuisance. The fame, the fortune, the notoriety - who needs that? (OK maybe I should stop joking here in the comment section.)

Thank you for joining us.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 29, 2018:

Hello FlourishAnyway - Thanks for staying with the story. We hope you enjoy the adventure as much as we did.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 29, 2018:

This still has me hooked. Lots of interesting hypotheses too. Itching to read the next chapter!

BTW, glad you left out Bruce Willis...!


Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 29, 2018:


Hi Mike. Isn't Thomas Newman amazing? He's a favorite composer. I don't know where Cathedral is from originally, but Newman often has an ethereal signature to his music that is totally his own. Happy Sunday! :-)

@Verlie Burrows

Hello Verlie. What a nice comment, thank you. We had to make sure Ezra and Hank had some nourishment...all I can say is that they're in for a very eventful day ahead, and that's putting it mildly.

@John Hansen

Good morning, John. Thanks so much for staying with the story and for those kind words. We look forward to seeing you with the next installment. And thank you for pointing out that typo. I hate them - they're like a scar or tear on the page. I fixed it the nanosecond I read your comment. I'd much prefer to hear this from our friends rather than the BOT police at Hubpages.

#@Flourish Anyway

Hi. Thanks so much for that encouraging comment. Chapter 3 will be published next Sunday (or late Saturday). We hope you continue to enjoy the journey.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 29, 2018:

This is excellent. I hope the next installment quickly follows. Great writing and story.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 28, 2018:

Hello John - Thank you. Science fiction has its own special problems to solve. With two sets of eyes, the problems are more easily identified. Then the solutions have to be hammered out. Genna did an excellent job of keeping me away from SiFi clichés. And this is a little joke also, I was always looking for a way to write Bruce Willis into the script. The story remained taut.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 28, 2018:

Hello Verlie - Time for lunch! There is always time for lunch! So glad that you stopped by for some tea. This was a fun chapter, we had to go into the Matrix to gather all the details. (A little joke.) Thanks for staying with the story.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 28, 2018:

As the other commenters have already said, this is a wonderfully well-written and gripping story. The music accompaniment, perfect.

(In the first paragraph of the story it says "tipped (is) head..."(should read "his")

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on July 28, 2018:

Wow! This is good, really good. You guys write like dueling banjos. Very intriguing, I'm in for the pod ride to Jate 22c. Thomas Newman 'Cathedra'l is perfect soundtrack to heighten the ethereal quality of this encounter between Man and Alien. Nice work Genna and Mike. I love that they took time out for a brunch of fruit and salmon and warm tea. Yum.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 28, 2018:

Hello Genna - I have listened to Thomas Newman's Cathedral three times now. It almost sounds like he made it to fit this story.

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