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Trinity, Part Two
A Four Visitors Story
Start at the beginning of the Four Visitors series
"Gone? What the hell do you mean?" Nick stood beside Tina in the parking lot of the church out on Norwich Road. Nick still had his tux on, and the girls were all in their prom dresses. Tina had chosen to accessorize with a tire iron, which wasn't attracting even a bit of attention at the moment.
"Bright light. None of us could see. And then?" Becca looked to Maddie for help. Maddie helpfully pointed up.
And the lightshow in the sky started again.
It was off to the north this time, indistinct blobs of white light moving along the horizon. Nick counted silently. Nine. Ten. Eleven.
"That clicker's starting up again," Tina observed.
"What?" Becca asked.
Tina nodded toward the van parked in the back lot of the church and signed for silence. The clicks coming from the van were increasing in tempo rapidly.
"Geiger counter," Tina said. She looked over at Nick, but he had his attention on the sky again.
More lights, from the east this time. But these were accompanied by a roar of jet engines, and they were closing in fast.
For a minute, the noise of the jets made conversation impossible. They passed low and fast, two of them. They swung north and made for the horizon and the noise faded.
"This is insane." Maddie looked at the other faces in the group, daring to contradict her. No one did.
Nick went into explanations instead. "Combat air patrol. F-15s. We've been flying them since 9/11. Air National Guard out of Cape Cod."
"You couldn't even see them," Tina said.
Nick nodded. "Yeah. It's just what's most likely. Look, we're kinda exposed out here, huh?"
"Yeah." Tina was already making for the side door of the church.
"Hey, what about Lindsey?" Becca asked.
"We'll figure it out. Kev and Mandy, too." Nick reminded the group that they were actually dealing with three missing persons. The whole mess had started when they found Kev's car abandoned just inside the church driveway.
Tina broke the glass door to the church with her tire iron. The place was new construction, cheap and efficient. Glass doors and electric lights and stain-proof carpet. An alarm box next to the door was dark, and the breaking of the glass brought only silence from within.
"No power. And probably no backup power either," Nick observed as Tina reached in and gave the panic bar on the emergency exit door a good pull to unlatch it.
"Shouldn't we be out searching?" Becca still needed convincing.
"We will. Just need to regroup. Come in. Like Nick said, we'll figure this out."
Tina walked back and took Becca by the hand, leading her through the door behind Maddie. Nick held the door and passed his mag light to Tina.
Tina held the light and entered the main church last. She dipped her finger in holy water and made the sign of the cross with the unconscious ease of old habit.
They ended up sitting on the steps of the sanctuary.
"No phones, no working car. Probably an hour's walk until we get to anyplace that's open." Nick rattled off what they were all well aware of.
"Might clear up if we get away from the transformer station," Tina offered.
"So, what do we do? Just start walking up the road? What if those UFOs come back?" Becca finally brought up the topic that Nick and Tina had been avoiding.
Then Maddie took it to the next level.
"Hey, what if it's not just here?"
"What?" Tina and Nick spoke simultaneously.
"We're cut off, right? What if it's?you know?an invasion. What if we're just seeing a piece of it?" Maddie looked ready to latch onto the idea of an apocalyptic event, and she latched onto Becca's arm, probably with a head full of science fiction movie scenes of New York or Los Angeles reduced to rubble.
Nick looked at Tina, unsure how to proceed. He didn't think that there was some kind of alien invasion happening, or at least he figured he'd need to see more than a few weird lights in the sky to come to that conclusion, but Maddie looked terrified, and Nick couldn't find words to reassure her.
He didn't get the chance to. Tina heard the movement first and she was on her feet with the tire iron in her hands before anyone else realized something was happening.
They shut up and they all heard the clicking on the lock mechanism.
"You and Maddie get up by the front doors. There's three different ways out up there. If there's trouble, run and don't stop." Nick didn't wait for Becca and Maddie to go along with the plan. He pulled a heavy bronze candlestick off the altar and positioned himself next to Tina in view of the side door.
They both managed to relax a little when they heard the clear sound of their friend Kev's voice from the other side. Kev walked in with his girlfriend, followed by a man wearing a dark green windbreaker jacket.
Nick relaxed a little. Kev and Mandy didn't look scared or threatened by the man, who was probably in his late sixties or early seventies.
"Ah, more visitors seeking shelter from the storm," the man announced. He slipped off the jacket to reveal a wool sweater and a priest's collar.
Kev and Mandy exchanged greetings and made introductions. There wasn't much to tell.
"The car stalled out and then those weird lights started up. We ran. Stupid, I know. Just headed down the road and then down into the valley when one of those things flew too close overhead. Father Salzi tracked us down out there and found us after the third or fourth time those lights flew overhead."
Tina looked at the priest.
"That's your equipment out in the van." She wasn't asking. "You knew this was coming."
The older man nodded, an Italian accent slipping into his speech. "I'm a Vatican astronomer. We've been pretty active in seeking out knowledge of the Universe. Guilt over that whole Galileo affair, I suppose. I keep hearing from Americans that we are a religion of guilt, so this is probably just another example."
"You're investigating UFOs?" Nick asked.
"I'm investigating atmospheric phenomena for the Vatican. What you call UFOs is a personal interest. Fortunately my position allows for some intersection of the personal and the professional."
"And you're here because?" Tina continued.
Tina waited for an explanation.
Father Salzi paused a moment, but proceeded to give one. "It's an annual meteor shower in the constellations of Aries and Perseus. Those constellations are close to the sun, so it's difficult to observe them with the naked eye. The Vatican astronomers sent people out to observation stations around the planet with some new high-sensitivity video recording gear."
"And you just happened to be assigned to this spot?" Tina continued the interrogation.
"Well, it's easier to do it on Church property. We've got a decent view of the sky here."
"Yeah, we noticed. But I meant Danforth. The Pope sent you to this town of all the possible places in the world?"
Father Salzi was smiling now. He was enjoying the question-and-answer game with Tina. "I would love to tell you that I get my marching orders directly from Pope Benedict, but I doubt he even knows about this project."
"So who assigned you to Danforth?"
"I chose it. I had some other business here. I figured it would be a nice quiet spot with nothing going on. That worked out well, didn't it?"
"Okay, enough games!" Nick jumped in. "What is going on out there? Our friends are worried we're being invaded or something."
The priest nodded. "All right. But I don't know everything. I do know that what you're seeing is not an invasion, and those lights aren't ships from another planet."
"You got anything to back that up?" Nick asked.
"Personal experience. I'm what you could call a contactee. They don't mean any harm. But the things they need to do are pretty energy intensive. Thus the power lines, the radiation spikes and the disruptions to the electronics. They're doing something a little bit like?well, like time travel I guess is the best way to describe it."
"What do they want?" Tina asked.
"To come home, near as I can tell. They're not from another world. They're from here. They got lost."
"Got lost? Something they did?"
Father Salvi met Tina's eyes and then shook his head. "Something that was done to them."
Tina thought for a moment, trying to choose her next question.
The windows lit up on one side of the church, the stained glass throwing splashes of color up and down the center aisle.
Maddie screamed. Becca held her. Kev held Mandy's hand and Tina's hand found the tire iron. She'd been keeping it close by.
The lights started flashing. Then the church's burglar alarm went off.
"The hell? There was no power!" Nick spun toward the other side as a new set of lights bombarded the windows.
Father Salvi just nodded.
Maddie covered her ears, crying.
"We've still got a friend out there!" Nick yelled to the priest over the screech of the alarm.
The window latches began to rattle.
"I know. They needed to speak with her."
"What?" Tina turned toward the priest and strode across the aisle to him. She was done playing his games.
"She's fine. But she may need help. It's disorienting. Trust me. I know."
Tina hesitated inches from the priest, but Nick was already heading for the door. She turned on her heel and ran to catch up.
Nick had left the candlestick on the altar. He looked at the tire iron in Tina's hand.
"I don't think that's gonna help," he said as they reached the back of the church. Blinding white light streamed through all three entrances.
Tina looked at the tire iron, considered it for a second, then looked back at Nick. "Makes me feel better. Are we really gonna do this?"
Nick smiled. "If not us, then who?"
They stepped into the light.
TO BE CONTINUED
Story and image by Rick Silva, Copyright 2010