The Encounter, Ch. 5 - by Genna East and Mike Friedman

Updated on September 2, 2018

The Story Continues

Welcome to Chapter 5 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.

A link to Chapter 1 follows...

Chapter 5

Hank had been careful to park his Ford pickup in a commuter lot, far from the Whitney Building. It was spotted by a passerby who reported the sighting to the authorities. News of the discovery created a social media frenzy. Militarized police were summoned to control the growing crowd of onlookers gathering near his vehicle. Pandemonium erupted when several students were pulled from the bed of the truck, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. The campus went on lockdown as officers and vehicles belonging to SWAT Teams, the FBI, the DHS and the National Guard converged on Princeton. Moving like swarms of antibodies sent to neutralize an invading virus, they searched, building by building, closing in from different angles.

Katharine Arness knew it wouldn't take them long to reach the Whitney. Lowering her gun a few inches, she shifted her gaze to Hank, a man whose work she admired since hearing him speak at the Global Earth Day celebration in Boston.

"You okay, Doc?" she asked. "I had to make sure you weren't in any danger."

Stunned speechless, the trio of friends gaped at the attractive stranger in camouflage fatigues -- tense, owl-eyed, resolute. Noah slipped from Hank's arms to the floor as the Jatite took a few steps toward her. She raised her gun to meet his chest.

"I am called Ezra," he said. "What is your name please?"

The sergeant stared into his eyes; docile, gelatinous orbs with a deep intelligence and the purity of a child's internal life before the woundedness of humanity had touched his soul. Whatever malevolent images she may have harbored for the alien intruder vanished in the presence of the gentle creature standing before her.

"Ka, Kath...," she stuttered. "Kate...my name is Kate."

Marty sidled over to them, placed his hand over the muzzle of the gun and pressed it downward. "Right now, Kate, the only danger is you," he said quietly.

"I'm the least of your worries," replied the sergeant. "Right now there's a tsunami of trouble headed this way." Holstering her weapon, she told them what was taking place throughout the campus.

"Is there any way we can talk to them...reason with them?" asked Penny.

"They aren't scientists or diplomats, Ma'am. The ones on point will be military or SWAT, armed to the teeth and scared of whatever their fears of the unknown can conjure. Ezra's covert visit threatens an invasion of some kind. My guess is they'll react with the same response SEAL Team Six carried out when they hunted down Bin Laden. You need to get away from Princeton and fast," she said, motioning toward the elevators.

Hank shook his head. "We're not going down, Kate...we're going up -- to the roof. Can you help us?"

Startled, she looked at the alien, then smiled and nodded, knowing intuitively that what they had planned and the why of it was more than she needed to know. She also sensed in that singular moment of time, achievement of their goal was more than vital. It was profoundly irreplaceable.

Hank, Ezra and Kate retrieved four conference chairs from Penny's office and positioned them along the grooves in the sills of the opened elevator doors. Marty ran to the south stairwell, yanked a fire ax from the wall and wedged it into the door handle. Penny opened the door to the opposite stairwell where Noah stood guard -- his head and small, docked tail raised, his feet planted firmly in place.

"That elevator alarm will sound pretty quick," warned Kate. "When it does you've got about two minutes. It won't take 'em long to climb four flights."

Hank called to Noah as they pushed up the stairs and through the door to the roof with Ezra in the lead. The sergeant knew she had only seconds to begin her own escape and try to blend in with the uniforms swirling about the campus grounds. As she started down the stairwell, one of the elevator alarms went off with a single shriek that pierced the air. She froze, then took a few steps backwards when Noah raced past her and down the steps before she could stop him.

From the lower floors, Kate heard the sounds of fierce growling and men shouting, followed by two gunshots and Noah's sharp yelp of pain. Then silence. Pulling out her gun, she swore in anger at the concrete walls: "You bastards!" She fired blindly down the stairwell as a warning to slow the approaching assault team, then bolted up the stairs and through the steel door leading to the roof. She slammed it shut and locked it from the outside. Turning, Kate gasped. Her legs nearly collapsed beneath her.

The shuttle sent to deliver Ezra and his companions to the Jatite ship, an immense, oval-shaped pod, hovered above the roof's surface. Its skin, the color of elephant gray, glistened with a synthesis of infinite types of atoms that seemed to vibrate with a sentient energy. Partially hidden by giant evergreens, sections of the hull exposed to view changed colors with the skill of a chameleon to reflect the surrounding light. The sphere emitted a sudden whirring sound, causing a flush of birds to burst from the trees and flee into the sky.

Suspended beneath the pod, a wide platform stretched nearly the length of the shuttle where Ezra, Kelly and the Tellers stood, each knowing they had walked on the surface of the earth for the last time. Kate felt a rush of envy pulse thru her veins for the unimaginable shift in destiny that awaited them.

Hank leaned forward, his eyes searching for Noah. He shouted his name. Kate looked at Marty and shook her head. Hank cried out as Penny clung to him, fighting to control her tears. Ezra encircled his arms about them, gently pushed upward, and the three ascended, weightless, into the heart of the sphere.

The droning sound intensified. Feeling his body begin to rise, Marty dropped to his knees and gripped the webbed platform with one hand while extending the other to Kate. "The only thing waiting for you back there is a court-martial!" he yelled. Her eyes meeting his, she threw her pistol and cell phone to the roof, and grabbed hold. As he drew her toward him, the hull curved around and beneath them, enclosing the shuttle as though sealing off its passengers in a seamless embrace.

Chaos broke out on the ground below as members of the military, US Intel and the curious ran toward the building. Onlookers screamed when an explosion ripped the roof door from its hinges. The SWAT leader barely made it through the opening when he dropped his ballistic shield and stumbled to the ground. He watched in amazement as the giant pod tilted into a horizontal position, then thrust upward to cut through the sky, leaving a shimmering chasm in its wake.

As it left earth's atmosphere, NORAD and NASA tracked the shuttle -- a pin-sized streak of light across the eternal darkness of space. The Jatite mother ship appeared to absorb the pod, both travelling at immense speeds while evading pieces of debris that were once part of Chinese, Russian, and American satellites.

Probing eyes from the planet surface would see little else. Within an hour, the Jatite vessel had vanished from orbit.


To be continued...

Interstellar (1) (Hans Zimmer)

---------------- There is a brief pause before the music begins. -----------------

Interstellar (2) (Hans Zimmer)


A note on the two music videos: This was a difficult chapter for Mike and I to write in light of Noah's passing. (He will not be forgotten.) As such, I couldn't leave our readers with the dissonance of Interstellar (1) for an entire week. Interstellar (2): There is no sound in space; we cannot hear what follows in the shimmering wake of the Jatite ship as it hurtles into the past, leaving our readers to reflect on not only what happened in previous episodes, but of the possibilities yet to come.



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

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    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hello Peggy. Thanks for hanging there with the story. :-) And MIke and I both agree. Losing Noah was hard.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peggy Woods - This was a tough Chapter to get done because of the Noah issue. Neither of the writers wanted to write the scene. Thanks for staying with us.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Very sad about Noah but it will be exciting to see how this progresses.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Paula. It's such a pleasure to know that you appreciate this story.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      2 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Paula - As soon as Genna and I discovered the secret to time travel, we did speed up the story. Thanks for staying with us as we travel off to a distant planet. Up, up and away.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      G & M......I saw Chapter 6 showing in my thread and realized I missed this Chapter 5......Did you guys speed up when I wasn't looking?

      Story has been continually fascinating with music perfect for the tale. I'm glad I can go straight to the last chapter from here. I don't mind passing on the suspense this time. I want to know how they save earth. Paula

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Pamela; Verlie; Peg; Linda and Flourish: Good morning!

      Thank you for accompanying us on this voyage and for your thoughtful comments. This chapter was not an easy one for us to write, and took a couple of unexpected twists and turns. The Jatite ship now catapults through the universe with our brave citizens on board. The question remains, and has from the beginning: How do they plan to save Jate and the earth?

      Happy Sunday. :-)

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      FlourishAnyway - Good morning, thanks for staying with the story. We are taking you away from earth to Shangri-La. We hope you will enjoy your stay.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Linda - Nice of you to say. The story took a quick transition here in Chapter five. We hope all who have stayed with the story climbed into the pod with us and are braced for the unknown.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      This was an action-packed turn, and I look forward to the next installment. I'm looking forward to seeing what the setting for that will be as well as the plot.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm very much looking forward to the next chapter now that the story has entered a new phase. It will be very interesting to see how the humans and the Jatites interact!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - The issue with Noah was a nail biter for the writers. Neither of us was interested with writing that little piece. I guess there were a lot of tough choices to be made getting this chapter down on paper. Thanks for staying with the story.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      Brave, brave Noah. Sad beyond words that this happened. That must have been a difficult path to take in the story, but effectively showed his bravery and loyalty to his master. Thanks for not dragging out the details. You gave just enough to make it realistic. The story has really taken off into outer limits. And the music seems otherworldly as well. Nicely done.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Verlie - Thanks much. The music seems like it was made for this story. The Hans Zimmer title, "No Time for Caution" was a perfect fit. We appreciate you staying with the story.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Pamela - What a nice comment. We are so glad you have stayed with the story. A final chapter to go.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      3 months ago from Canada

      Stellar write Genna and Mike. Music is wondrous, as is your story. Thanks!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Pamela...

      Thank you for that comment and the thoughts about the craft. Coming up with an image of the shuttle pod was challenging. Mike and I kept in mind that although the Jatites are humanoid, they aren't human and their civilization is far more advanced than humanity. So the mystique with the pod had to something quite different -- similar to how the Jatites communicated with each other -- rather than run the risk of some familiar, human spacecraft. We appreciate your support and staying with us on this voyage.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      3 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This chapter was excellent, despite the loss of Noah. I loved the description of the craft's takeoff and Kate's quick decision.

      The music was perfect. I am looking forward to the next chapter.

      Hugs for two great authors.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      John; Ann; Maria; Bill

      Good morning, everyone. It's such a pleasure to see your comments; we are grateful to you all for staying with the story. Thank you.

      I think Mike's pretty much covered the bases here with his great comments. What happened to Noah actually brought me to near tears. The twist with Kate was important in that we needed her aboard that ship along with the three companions. As Maria wrote, she is indeed a woman of humanity and courage, as are Hank, Penny and Marty.

      I remember the convenience store thing, Mike. It was like, okay -- now what do we do? And we wanted to keep the Jatites causing any damage to, and fear among, private citizens minimal.

      And don't let Mike tease you, folks. He knows exactly what happens in Chapter 6. :-)

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Bill - Thank you. I expect to hear from the ASPCA and Human Society regarding this chapter. Not to mention Noah's agent who will point out that Noah had a 'run of the story' clause in his contract.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Mar - This chapter involved so much ground to be covered. We had the good guys who were the bad guys. We had the bad guys who are the good guys. There was violence, that we managed to avoid elsewhere. We had the human spirit on display. And we had the escape.

      Thanks for staying with the story.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bye Bye Noah! We barely knew thee, but your presence was memorable, as is this story. Genna, MIke, your talents are on display in a ticker-tape parade of finely-crafted images.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      This chapter took me all over the place...in the best of ways.

      I was so very relieved to see Kate's humanity / understanding emerge and equally dashed / angry at Noah's death.

      Interstellar (I) is a perfect accompaniment to digest these feelings, while Interstellar (2) allowed me to cry for Noah and be hopeful for the fate of these brave travelers.

      This episode was truly 'out of this world'. Hugs, Maria

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Ann - There was much dialogue between Genna and I regarding how to get our travelers onto the ship. Last night I had a thought to write a hub titled, 'Notes on The Encounter' where clips of whole different scenarios were tossed about. There was a scene where a convenience store and all its occupants were all lifted to the Orb but then after discussions it was determined that might make the story messy. Thanks for staying with the story.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello John - I bet you are wondering how we are going to wrap this up in just one more chapter. I know I am. Thanks for staying with our intergalactic yarn.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 months ago from SW England

      The pace quickens, the suspense is palpable! I'm enjoying this immensely, apart from poor Noah but he valiantly played his part.

      Ann

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I enjoyed this chapter Genna and Mike, the fact that they escaped in the ship a relief, though poor Noah. I guess sacrifices have to be made in stories...but damn! Still, great job. Can't wait for the finale.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      3 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Mike. Thank you. :-) The delay must vary, as it doesn't last that long when I click on the video. (Oh, the joys of technology.) Readers might want to play #1 after they read the episode, as the loud dissonance might be anticlimactic. I guess it depends on the reader. Have a great weekend, my friend. Hugs.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      3 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Genna - I see you are working at warp speed. I applaud the choreography, the music and your word play.

      Cooper: "We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt." Interstellar

      The brief pause before the music begins is almost 50 seconds. Turn your speakers on while you read.

      We hope you enjoyed this episode.

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