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The Encounter - by Genna East and Mike Friedman


The Encounter Challenge

The following story refers to my original hub, "The Encounter ... A Writing Challenge" ...

For decades, alien visitors to our planet have captured the imaginations of readers and film audiences, causing them to reflect on real-world crises and what they reveal about humanity. These stories are often a product of the times in which they were created.

Certain questions inevitably come to mind when crafting such a story about encountering extraterrestrials visiting earth: Would their intent be peace, discovery and enlightenment, or conquest and annihilation? How would we attempt to interact with them? Was the late physicist, Stephen Hawking, correct in his predictions that the METI project (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) could have dire consequences? Could these signals sent into space actually endanger humanity?

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.

Introduction (Culled from the original Encounter challenge.)

The year on earth is 2023. METI has been sending unsolicited messages to other worlds for nearly two years. The launch of the powerful James Webb Space Telescope signaled an enormous leap forward in the quest to gaze far enough back in time to better understand the Universe and the very origins of humanity. Scientists across the globe were stunned with the giant observatory's discovery of a super earth located three light years from earth's solar system. Rather than a lifeless rock or something resembling the fiery gates of hell, Jate 22c is an exo-planet that appears to have a similar terrestrial atmosphere, gravity, water, and earth-like temperatures, but with unpredictable, massive shifts.

What was not known is that the mega-civilization of bipedal humanoids inhabiting Jate were facing a crisis of survival. In desperation, the Jatites launched an interstellar craft to seek out potentially habitable planets beyond their own system by following the origins of earth's METI signals. Their ark-like vessel now orbits earth.

The spacecraft is immense in size, measuring over two miles in diameter. The world is in panic mode with defense systems on full alert. Every military observation unit had eyes on the giant spacecraft as it maintained a low orbit opposite the path of the International Space Station in a frightening game of hide n' seek with the six-person crew aboard the satellite. All attempts to communicate with the alien travelers have failed.

Fear that they were a prying, super-race intensified when a needle-like object dropped from the ship's massive underbelly. Although the initial downward spiral was spotted, the composite material of the craft evaded tracking by conventional radar. The pod utilized gravitational algorithms to chart its course. A honeycombed, friction-compression system enabled a soundless landing on the planet below. Several minutes passed before a portal opened and an alien emerged to take his first steps on earth in a heavily wooded section of the northeastern region of the United States.

Chapter 1

"Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.” --- Stanislaw Lem

Twilight had descended several hours before. Grateful for the cover of darkness, the lone Jatite gulped water from a woodland stream. The taste of the fluid was sweet, causing rivulets of bitter saliva to seep from the corners of his mouth. He continued to drink until a cast of moonlight caught his reflection. The pale image looking up from the rippled surface was human, but alien to him. Staring at the strange figure in the water, he lifted a hand to his face. On the spacecraft, a laser immersion had removed layers of his normally coarse skin and reshaped the flared angles of his nose to his mouth. Eyelids, once hooded and thick, were now slender bands of flesh, setting off a pair of startling, almond-shaped eyes.

Hearing a noise in the brush, his head twitched to the side. Enriched levels of oxygen in the atmosphere had a dizzying effect when he tried to stand. The rustling sounds in the brush grew louder when a rabbit darted through an opening. It scurried across his feet, then retreated back into hiding. Emitting a whistling trill from the back of his throat, the Jatite leaned against a tree to marvel at the unexpected beauty surrounding him. He sniffed the strong smells of the earth as he listened to the summer whistlings of male thrushes, the pulsating clicks of cicadas, and a squirrel's high-pitched chirps as it skittered across the bark of the tree. A sudden breeze caused him to shiver. He drew the bulky, earth-style clothing closer about his arms and chest. Looking up, he watched the stars and thought of home.

Fatigue soon caused the alien to slump into a sitting position beneath the tree. Gradually, night shadows faded into day. The morning sun of mid-summer was warm and generous. He rose to his feet and began to walk uphill. Considered short for his species, the Jatite stood at six feet, four inches tall with a lean and graceful frame. His movements were measured and slow at first. With each new step, he used the fertile air to feed the energy he needed without looking conspicuous. He found his pace, and the inclined hike progressed through a striking sunrise.

The Kittatinny

The Kittatinny

An hour passed before the alien spotted the large, L-shaped ranch house he was sent to find atop the Kittatinny Mountain range of northwestern New Jersey. A flagstone patio rimmed the back of the house -- the ideal perch from which one could view the Wallpack Valley nestled below. The mountains of Pennsylvania formed a swath of pale blue smudge on the horizon bordering the valley on the western side.

The Jatite had barely reached the patio when the owner of the home, Dr. Hannaford Kelly, emerged from the back door. In his mid-sixties, his tough, sun-weathered features set off a generous thatch of graying hair pulled back into a squat ponytail. In his hands, pointed at the Jatite was a double-barreled shotgun. A Brittany spaniel followed on his heels. Growling, he positioned himself between his master and the trespasser, who calmly held up his hand to assure them he posed no threat.

"Good morning," he said. " My name is Ezra. Please forgive this intrusion. I am lost."

Kelly lowered the gun to his side as the dog's growl changed quickly to whimpers of greeting. Known as Hank to his friends, the research biologist taught graduate students at Princeton University before retiring that spring. When fate made him a widower the year before, his dog, Noah, became his constant companion. He and his late wife never had any children. He listened intently as the Jatite explained that he had been hiking and lost his direction.

The spaniel darted toward the stranger, his stumpy tail wagging in friendship. The professor studied him for a few moments more and said, "My name is Hank...Hank Kelly. You must be thirsty and tired. Would you like to come into the house for some iced tea? It's fresh made. And I can give you directions on how to return to the main road."

"Iced tea. Yes. Thank you."

When they entered the house, Hank released the latch hinge of the shotgun and placed it on the waist-high counter separating the kitchen from the living room. He then filled a glass with iced, lemon tea from a pitcher.

Ezra sat on the living room couch -- his posture, ironing-board straight. Noah jumped up alongside him to lay his muzzle on his new friend's lap. The Jatite stroked the dog's silky forehead as he gazed through one of the large picture windows. "Your view. It is beautiful, Doctor."

With a side-long glance, the professor nodded in silence and handed him the tea. The alien gave off a faint wince before placing the cold glass on the coffee table.

Hank seated himself on the edge of a chair opposite the couch. His kind and probing eyes grew serious as he leaned toward the stranger. "I must warn you, Ezra. Everything about you is wrong. And you knew who I was before you ever set foot on my property. So tell me...are you traveling alone or have you brought others with you from your space vessel?"

Earth Time Lapse View From the International Space Station (Hans Zimmer - Inception)


The Link to Chapter 2 ...

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


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

Genna, greetings from Nashua, NH while I am working a contract job in nearby Lowell, MA. I read this part when you first put it out. I don't see a comment from me so I must have been completely overwhelmed. I should have been. Off to part tow.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 02, 2019:

Wow! Off to chapter 2.

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

Hi Paula. I'm glad we pulled you in...we couldn't ask for more. :-) Thank you for that encouraging comment. Happy Sunday.

Suzie from Carson City on July 28, 2018:

Combine the amazing talent & creative imagination of two superb writers and what do we have? A Sci-Fi tale guaranteed to pique the reader's curiosity and steady our nerves for what may come.

Not normally a fan of this genre, I must tell you, you have managed to pull me in.

Genna & Mike, you have my attention. I look forward to the continuation of this surreal journey. (accompanying music, perfect)

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 28, 2018:

HI Shyron! Good to see you...I was so happy to learn that Dottie had been returned, by the way. Chapter 2 has been published, We hope you enjoy the ride. :-)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 28, 2018:

Genna, I am hooked, I want more. I hope the Jatite does not harm the doctor, but I know this will be an exciting read.

Blessings my friend

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 28, 2018:


Hi Elena...thanks so much for the visit and comment. It's good to see you. Have a great weekend.

@Flourish Anyway

What a nice comment - thank you. We didn't want to go with an alien portrait of some grotesque acid dripping xenomorph, cephalopod, etc. That's all been done before. We hope you enjoy the ride.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 27, 2018:

I’m usually not a fan of sci-fi but this is terrific, well written and makes me want to read the continuation. I very much enjoyed it!

elenatomichka on July 27, 2018:

Hi Genna, I really enjoyed the beginning of the story. Science fictions were my favorite in childhood.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 25, 2018:

@Peggy Woods

Hi Peg. Thanks so much for the visit and comment. As Mike stated, the devil's in the details with this story. We welcome your input in future installments.

@Pamela Ogelsby

Good morning, Pam. Thank you. The music video shows the time accelerated ISS view of earth as it rounds our planet. It normally travels at immense speeds -- 5 miles per second -- and ties in with the hide' n seek game with the Jatite ship. Zimmer's score ala "Inception" also ties in. (Christopher Nolan has always been fascinated with time which plays an important role in this story.)

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 24, 2018:

Hello Pamela - Thank you what a nice thing to say. So far we have a handsome doctor, a giant space craft and an alien creature. And great music. What a combination.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 24, 2018:

I reallt enjoyed the Chapter 1 and the music too. I will look forward to reading the other chapters. I was hooked after just a couple of paragraphs.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 24, 2018:

Hello Peggy Woods - Thank you. We did enjoy working out so many details to make the story work. We appreciate your comment and hope you stay with us on this journey.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2018:

I enjoy reading science fiction and this introduction to your six-part story did not disappoint. Looking forward to the next chapters with eager anticipation. The two of you make a good writing team!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 24, 2018:

Hi Verlie - An extraterrestrial experience, that is exactly right. There is a joke in here somewhere with the words, 'far out' in it. Thanks for climbing aboard, I think you will like the characters.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 24, 2018:

@Peg Cole

Hi Peg. Welcome to The Encounter. The Kittatinny was chosen for a few reasons, which will be more evident as the story progresses. Thank you for that very thoughtful comment. We hope you enjoy the ride.

@Maria Jordan

Thank you, dear Maria. I asked Mike what he thought of each music selection, and a couple of them I changed. We didn't want to do anything that was derivative, and that was tricky. The music videos had to convey elements of the story in different ways -- some subtle, some not so subtle. And we didn't want to give away what would happen next. Hugs.

@John Hansen

Good morning. :-) Thank you for joining us on this journey. Mike was spot on in that this story took on different directions...there are so many ways of telling it -- almost as boundless as the universe. We look forward to your comments on the subsequent chapters.

@Verlie Burroughs

Hi there. We hope you enjoy the extraterrestrial experience. A couple of questions that are present as the story unfolds is, who is having the encounter with whom, and how "all things exist in relationship." Have a great week. :-)

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on July 23, 2018:

Mike/Genna collaboration! I think I've already figured out who's who, but I ain't tellin'. This is so exciting. An extraterrestrial experience, exactly what I needed, how did you know?

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello John - Genna felt there was so much more to the story than the first iteration. Many accepted the challenge to add a perspective. As this collaboration grew, it expanded in many directions. It taught me a lot about my writing. We hope those that begin the journey will continue on.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Maria - I read it a second time with the Hans Zimmer music. I highly recommend that approach. You likely guessed that Genna was responsible for all the music. My brilliant contribution is knowing when to step aside.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 23, 2018:

Hi Genna and Mike, I remember the original hub and challenge and actually responded to that. It is great that you decided to develop the story, and if this first instalment was any indication it will be certainly worth the read. I look forward to chapter two.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on July 23, 2018:

Dear Genna and Mike,

This story piqued my interest - I read it twice... the second time with Hans Zimmer in the background - what a superb musical accompaniment.

With two brilliant writers like you, I'll be eagerly awaiting the next set of Sundays. Hugs, Maria

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Peg - It never hurts to add a dog to a story - Oh, who am I telling that to? We hope you enjoy reading our contribution to Science Fiction.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 23, 2018:

This is an intriguing start to a thrilling and thought-provoking encounter of the third kind. I'm eager to see what lies in store for the good doctor and his trusting dog. With that beautiful overview of the mountain range and the foreshadowing, " Fear that its occupants were a prying, alien super-race intensified when a needle-like object dropped from the ship's massive underbelly," I believe the readers will be in for a ride. Nicely done to both of you.

Genna East (author) from Massachusetts, USA on July 23, 2018:

@Ann Carr

Hi Ann. Thank you for taking the time to join us in the journey. There are some hints in the chapter that explain a little of why Hank said what he did in the closing paragraph. Good to see you, and we so look forward to your input in the subsequent chapters. Happy to hear about "the hook." It's what we hoped for.


Thank you, thank you, Mike. I don't think it's a secret that I am one of your #1 fans. There are many of us. :-) I loved your "creating another world is labor intensive." Lol. So true. But we can't say any more lest we give things away. Hugs, my talented friend and co-author.

@Bill Holland

Hi Bill. Oh my. We only hope that we don't disappoint you in the chapters that are still yet to come. You are one of our favorite writers. We are sincerely grateful for that generous analogy. Thank you, dear friend. :-)

@Linda Crampton

Thank you. I think Mike said it all in that we hope your interest continues. :-)

@Louise Powles

Thanks, Louise. Mike and I are taking turns responding to comments. Look forward to seeing you at the next installment.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Louise - I am fielding comments this morning. Thanks for your interest. This story builds as the journey continues. Glad to see you here.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Linda - Thank you. We think the story will keep your interest. We are going to find out.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 23, 2018:

I really enjoyed reading your story, Genna. I look forward to the next instalment. =)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 23, 2018:

This is an enjoyable and interesting introduction to your story, Genna and Mike. I'm looking forward to the second chapter very much.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hi Bill – I like your analogy. Thanks for the compliment. Genna has long been on my list of favorite writers. We hope you enjoy the journey and the story. I can see it on the big screen. Genna’s imagination is that good.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2018:

What great fun! Two of my favorite writers teaming up to produce a six-part extravaganza, a word feast by two excellent chefs. I am beyond happy and excited for this undertaking, and Part 1 did not disappoint at all. Bravo you two!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Ann - You arrived so quickly. Ezra's appearance on earth lights the fuse on the events to follow. I do hope you and others join in the story as it unfolds.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on July 23, 2018:

Hello Genna – Creating a world is labor intensive. You can quote me on that. As this journey begins, I’d like to say what an interesting experience it has been to be part of a writing team. One thing I am sure of is that my writing has never sounded better. Dr. Hannaford Kelly is a character that will be long remembered.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 23, 2018:

This draws in the reader from the start. Ezra's character seems purposeful, accepting, yet a little fearful. The last paragraph took me by surprise - a great 'hook' to the next chapter!

I'm thoroughly intrigued and looking forward to reading more.


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