“Come on,” Martin said, “we’re almost there.” Martin, along with his mom and dad made their way through the crowd of people. This was their first time at the park and Martin couldn’t wait to get to the viewing area. They had seen it on television hundreds of times, but to see it in person was Martin’s dream.
The car ride to the park took the Quaid’s three hours. Martin kept his head down most of the trip. He watched everything he could about the park and it’s eighty-six year history on his tablet. A heavy gate with security guards blocked the entrance. As they pulled forward, Martin’s mom handed his dad their tickets.
“Are you ready for this?” Henry Quaid asked.
“I’ve been ready.” Martin said. He was still surprised that his parents bought the tickets. His dad never showed any interest in coming. His mom, on the other hand, talked to Martin about the park every night before bed. She told him stories of her dad taking her to the park. How the experience changed her way of seeing the world.
As the Quaid family continued on through the people, Martin pulled his hand free from his mom’s and ran towards the viewing area. A plexiglass wall kept visitors far enough away from the center of the park, but still close enough to see the attraction. The reason they were there. The giant metal sphere.
Martin ran over to one of the many plaques attached to the wall. It gave a brief description of the sphere and the park. He ran his hand over it, feeling the raised lettering. He brought a piece of paper and charcoal to make a rubbing of it.
“Couldn’t you take a picture of it?” his dad asked.
“Oh I will.” Martin pulled a plastic bag out of his jacket pocket with the charcoal. His mom walked up next to him and held the paper as he rubbed the charcoal over it. He held it up to show his dad.
“That’s great, champ.” Henry said, giving him a thumbs up.
“You could sound a little more excited for your son.”
“Liz, We’re here. Martin’s happy. How much excitement should I be showing?” Henry kept an eye on Martin as he moved down the wall trying to get a better angle to take a picture of the sphere.
Martin put the tablet up to his face and an image of the sphere appeared on the screen. He slid his fingers over the screen enlarging the image. He tapped the red button and the screen flashed and the picture shrunk and moved to the corner of the screen. He ran back to his dad to show him what he did.
“Dad, you have to see this.” He held the tablet up to his dad. Henry glanced at it then snapped his head around to look at it again. There was something about that picture.
“Martin. Let me see that again.” He took the tablet from his son and took a close look at it. He enlarged the picture as big as it could go. He moved it around until he saw it. At first he thought it was a reflection. After he stared at it for a while he realized it wasn’t. It was exactly what he thought he saw. Liz came over to see the picture.
“Is everything alright?” she asked.
“Look at this,” he gave the tablet to Liz, “do you see anything wrong?”
“No. It’s a picture of…” Liz dropped the last part of the sentence and looked at Henry.
“So you see it too. I’m not crazy.”
“I see it. Why hasn’t anyone else seen it? It’s been here over eighty years. Are you telling me no one has seen this before?” Liz handed the tablet back to Henry and waved Martin over.
“What’s up?” Martin said.
“Let’s go. We have to leave.” Henry said.
“But we just got here.” Disappointment filled his voice. He looked back at the wall and the sphere beyond it. Other families were moving around the wall, snapping pictures and having a good time. He knew his dad didn’t want to be there, but this was unfair. “Why do we have to go now?” Henry leaned down and pulled Martin close so he could whisper to him.
“Do what I tell you,” he said “and don’t make a scene.” Liz came up behind Martin and put her hands on his shoulders. The three of them walked against the flow of people coming in. Martin was dragging his feet the whole way to the car. Once everyone was in he started the car and drove out of the park.
At the gate, he nodded to the guards posted there and drove away nice and easy. He wanted to look as casual as possible. Once Henry thought they were far enough away he stepped on the gas. He wanted to get as far from the park as soon as he could. Martin sat in the back seat with a dejected look on his face. Henry saw him in the rear view mirror.
“Martin, tell me everything you know about the sphere.” Martin looked up at his dad.
“Why? Everyone knows about it.”
“Indulge me. What do you know?”
“Eighty-six years ago, a sphere of unknown origins…”
“Not what the plaque says. In your own words.”
“Eighty-six years ago the sphere showed up.” Martin put his head back down and folded his arms.
“A little more detail, please.” Liz put her hand on Henry’s arm.
“Go easy on him.”
“I just want him to tell me what he knows.” Martin looked up again and slid as far forward in his seat as he could.
“It came from space,” Martin said. He had tears running down his face. “It flew around the earth a few times then it landed back there. It’s been there ever since.” He threw himself back against the seat and crossed his arms again. Henry nudged Liz and nodded down at the tablet then to Martin. Liz turned it on and brought up the picture he took. She handed it to her son and he took it.
“What?” he said.
“Has there been any activity since it landed?” Henry was watching Martin in the mirror. He watched him look down at the tablet.
“No. It just sits there. No one has ever seen anything come in or out. They’re not even sure it has a door. Scientists have done all kinds of tests on it and they haven’t found anything.”
“Then what’s that coming out of the bottom?” Liz asked. Martin looked at it again. He squinted his eyes to get a better look. Then he saw it. He dropped the tablet and pulled his feet up like it would hurt him to touch it. The image was small, but once you saw it you couldn’t not see it. Martin reached down and picked it up. He stared at it. Burning it into his memory. This was a once in a lifetime experience. On his tablet was the first known picture of an alien leaving the sphere. And they were the only ones who saw it.
“How come no one else has seen this?” Martin asked.
“We asked each other that same question.” Liz said.
“Do you think the government knows?” Martin asked as he handed the tablet back to his mom.
“I don’t know. The government has eyes on that thing twenty-four hours a day. There’s no way they missed it and we saw it with a hundred dollar tablet.” Henry stepped on the gas a little harder. The thought of having something like that in their possession worried him. If the government did have knowledge of aliens coming and going, why cover it up and not tell anyone. This could be evidence of something that the government doesn’t want the public to see.
“Should we delete it?” Liz asked.
“No,” Henry said, “we keep it. When we get home I’ll transfer it to a USB drive and keep it with me.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?”
“I’m not sure what the right thing is now? I have to believe the government knows about this and they’re keeping it a secret. Why? I don’t know, but for now we keep this to ourselves. Do you understand, Martin?”
“Yes, dad.” Martin understood. He was still a little mad. He dreamed of seeing the sphere in person for so long. Now a mistimed photo not only caused him to leave early, but it could also put their family at risk. There was no telling what would happen if the wrong person found out about this. They would keep quiet and pretend nothing like nothing happened. Then the wrong person did find out.