John Eric Ellison, Descending Circles, Ascending Earth
Descending Circles, Ascending Earth
Date: March 30, 2020
Length: 271 pp.
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[Author’s note] The excerpt begins at the end of chapter 5 and continues to the end of chapter 6.
Mel took advantage of a slight break in the conversation. He glanced back at Carmen and remembered her mental promise to tell him her own story if he asked. Carmen caught his stare and read his mind. As far as she was concerned, he just “asked.” She leaned toward him and responded to his thoughts. Her face was so close to his ear that he could feel her breath. He knew she got a kick out of the effect she had on him. Marla was amused more than anything else. Some women enjoy a little friendly competition.
Carmen spoke right into his ear, “That’s right, I did promise, didn’t I?” Mel smiled and agreed. She sat back and said, “OK, then. It was about one week before you met Jenny in Seattle, about a year ago, that some friends and I were chasing a UFO down over the North Cascades Mountain Range.”
Chapter 6: Snow Circles...
[Author’s note] This chapter is the beginning of Carmen’s four-part story, told to the main character, Mel, during a covert mission trip into the Rainier National Forest, Washington state, USA.
Carmen described the majestic beauty of the Cascades as seen from a military helicopter, from a high altitude. Covered in thick evergreen forests they were the snow-capped backbones of the Great Northwest, looming near the coastline, and extending through the states of Washington and Oregon. Carmen’s mind drifted back to the previous year-as if it were just happening.
It was an exciting month for UFO activity. During the first week of summer, there were at least a dozen UFOs reported in the skies over Washington state. Carmen and helicopter pilot Captain Nolan Philips headed a team of four to track one of these as far as possible. The Cascades had long been reported to conceal secret military operations that some believed were responsible for numerous sightings of mysterious phenomena. However, this definitely was not a classified U.S. government craft.
They passed through another patch of scattered clouds. The sun was in their favor. It shone like a beacon over the silvery surface of the saucer-shaped craft. This one was acting strangely, even for one of these things. It slowed to a one-hundred-mile-an-hour crawl, as though baiting them to pursue. There seemed to be no reason to ignore the invitation, so they followed.
Carmen had a particular interest in UFOs and possessed an uncanny skill at locating these craft. She saw events and engagements in her mind well before they appeared on any intelligence systems. Consequently, she headed this team regularly.
Nolan was the oldest member of the team and pushing retirement. He led the others by rank and experience. He was of average build, kind in the face, clean-shaven, and wore his gray hair in a crew cut. The crew cut was his wife’s idea. She liked how it felt when they made love. His mild temperament was a counterpoint to the other two men on the team, Vincent Teil and Ferris Gibbs.
Teil was short and bald with a policeman’s style mustache, which he dyed black. He shaved off his eyebrows for reasons of his own. It set off the fact that his left eye was the color of an unclouded sky, while the other was a light brown. This unnerving aspect caused anxiety in anyone staring at him. He knew this and enjoyed it.
Gibbs was tall and muscular with short red hair. He too had an unpleasant demeanor, but this was due to a disagreeable personality and not his appearance. His face was freckled but otherwise unremarkable and clean- shaven.
Teil and Gibbs remained close to each other like twin brothers. They had been friends since high school, and they served together as special ops in the Middle East. Few would suggest there were any improprieties implied by their close proximity to one another, and those few that said anything like that found trouble. One such person felt the need to call them “sissy freaks” during a night incursion into Lebanon. Vince and Ferris have long memories. Eventually, military police found this unfortunate person in the garbage dump behind a mess tent, unconscious and badly bruised.
The moment of his unlucky statement to Teil and Gibbs was long passed, so nobody connected the dots back to them. When the guy finally regained consciousness, he was so intimidated by the attack that there was no way he’d identify either Teil or Gibbs as his attackers.
All four members of the Blackhawk team wore loose-fitting black jumpsuits. They also wore wide belts carrying small pieces of equipment and one handgun each. Individual preference decided their choice in weapons. They all wore darkened glasses against the glare of sunlight and its blinding reflection off the gleaming surface of the craft they were chasing.
Despite his glasses, Teil held a hand up to temporarily shield his eyes. He shook his head and complained.
“Damn, that thing is bright, and there it goes into another dive. Where does it think it’s going? Weird the way this one’s not trying to shake us, as usual.”
Gibbs echoed his friend.
“I don’t like it. We’re being suckered.”
The craft was roughly the size of a small house, and like others of its kind, moved without regard for known aerodynamics or laws of gravity. It dipped under a cloudbank when only a second before it looked as though it would sail up and over the top of it. Was this acceptable to modern physicists? That depended upon which ones you asked.
Nolan made a few speed and altitude adjustments. He said, “Someone is wearing an awful deodorant, or we have an electrical fire somewhere. Gibbs, check it out.”
“You got it, Cap.”
Nolan squinted through the windows, and then double-checked the instruments. The craft became visible again just below the helicopter and above their line of acuity. It must have doubled back while in a brief cloud cover. What was going on?
Nolan turned to Carmen.
“It’s slowing down again. Gibbs may be right, and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s smelled a rat. There’s a high valley in the mountaintops ahead. Looks like it’s heading that way. What do you get, Carmen?”
Carmen closed her eyes. Several moments later she told them that the craft was indeed heading for the valley. She also saw three beings aboard, and they were not of alien origin. In her mind, they looked human. This caused both Nolan and Teil to start talking at once. The upshot was disbelief.
“If not alien, then what?” demanded Teil. “Is that one of our experimental ships? If so, man, we’re wasting our time. Let’s get the hell out of here and chase down some beer.”
Carmen kept her eyes closed and shook her head. “No, this is not one of ours. I think we should pursue it.”
Gibbs overheard everything and shouted his agreement to continue the pursuit.
“I say we cruise the strip as long as there’s gas in the tank!”
They continued straight on course for the valley, which was a mile wide cleft in the mountain ridge. It was dotted with short evergreens, broad patches of snow, and assorted groundcover. Gibbs reported his findings.
“You’re right about the electrical. Nothing is shorted out, yet, but we’ve gotta land. I want a better look.”
Teil said, “I think you’re about to get that chance. Looks like our pigeon is going to roost.”
The saucer slowed to a standstill and hovered motionless in the air one- quarter mile into the valley. There was a flat area under and around it, and three times its size. One other detail caught their eyes as they quickly closed the distance between themselves and the craft. Two small figures were standing close to each other, watching the saucer. They wore large packs and carried walking sticks. They were dangerously close to the alien craft. Hikers.
Nolan rolled his eyes. “Can you believe this? We’ve got spectators.”
Just then, the saucer began to change. Bright colors rotated around the rim, and it began to blur. The air around the saucer took on an agitated quality, as though it was held on a vibrating plate, suspended in transparent jelly. The disturbance then extended to the ground beneath it. A large round patch of snow and underbrush directly below the craft transformed into a spinning whirlpool of debris.
There must have been considerable seismic activity as well because everyone in the helicopter could plainly recognize that the hikers were having trouble keeping their feet. Snow appeared to be shaking off from tree branches as far as visibility allowed them to see. The hikers still had difficulty standing as the Blackhawk roared to landing several yards behind them. The faces of the man and woman were masks of terror. Nolan waited to put down until the trees stopped shaking. The Blackhawk had barely settled down before the first three UFO chasers jumped out followed by Nolan. A steady wind blew powdered surface snow into their faces, and there was a loud, high-pitched musical clamor, which competed with the dying chop from the Blackhawk’s propeller blades. That sound was coming from the UFO.
The couple had been watching the helicopter land, but now they turned back to view the saucer as the four UFO chasers ran up beside them. They all watched in dumbfounded disbelief as the alien vessel abruptly dropped into the earth, seemingly swallowed up, with only settling snow and grass to indicate its ever having been there at all.
They all stood motionless and staring. Only the wind disturbed the silence. All rumbling and harmonic racket had ceased. The six onlookers scanned the ground for any sign of the craft’s return. They searched the sky as well. There was always the possibility that others might be close by. After seeing what had become of this one, nobody wanted to be anywhere near if another one landed. Moreover, God forbid if one ever came up from underneath you.
Carmen was the first to break the quiet.
“You two are either at the wrong place at the wrong time or very lucky. I guess that depends on how you’re taking this.”
The hikers were severely shaken. The man said, “I’ve heard there’s radiation around those things. Is that true?” He was pointing at the area where the craft had descended into the earth. Nolan, Teil, and Gibbs were inspecting that area now. The spot was marked by a classic circle formation. Carmen shook her head as she thought about what all the crop circle fanatics would think about this one. She picked up on what was said about radiation.
“I don’t know, but let’s get you two away from it, just in case.”
Then she noticed something in the way the woman acted and how the man glanced at her midsection. It didn’t take unique gifts to know that they were worried for more than their safety. She gently touched the woman’s arm.
“You’re pregnant.” She did not state this as a question. The woman merely nodded. She was very interested in taking Carmen’s advice as quickly as possible. Carmen led them back to the helicopter and got them inside. It was starting to snow.
After they closed the doors, the couple slumped against a wall and sat down. At first glance, they were young and earthy. Carmen always thought that these Generation Xers more or less resembled kids from the sixties. She introduced herself, and they did the same. Her name was Nell, and he was Tony. They felt guilty for hiking while she was pregnant, but she had insisted on going. Besides, with the baby coming soon, this was likely to be the last time that they’d be able to go on a trip like this for a long time. Carmen agreed. It was the possibility of radiation that mattered right now.
Carmen knelt down to talk with them and then raised herself up to look through the windows at the crew. They were still examining the circle. When she returned, she looked confident.
“They don’t seem to be in any hurry, and Teil is using a hand-held device for monitoring all sorts of energy fields. I’d say we aren’t in any real danger here.”
Comforted, the couple looked relieved. They asked a lot of questions and received quick answers. Carmen could not reveal much without direct orders to do so. The answer to “What was that thing?” came quickly. That was obvious, and so was Carmen’s answer: “a flying saucer.” Wide-eyed, what could the couple do now but nod and stare up at the window. Tony asked for a lift down the mountain. At that moment, Gibbs opened the bay door.
“Something’s up. We need you out here. Can you leave them?”
She said the hikers were “fine,” then went into the cockpit. She came back and explained that she started the audio beacon. Teil knew this would transmit their status, coordinates, and flight information back to headquarters.
The couple seemed calmed for the moment, so Carmen jumped out and followed Teil into the circle. The blustery weather had really picked up. She had to raise her voice a little to be heard above the wind in their ears.
“What’s up?” Nolan explained.
“We’re getting some anomalous readings, coming from beneath us. Can you scan anything?”
Carmen dropped to the ground and felt the oddly flattened and mutated debris under her hands. She closed her eyes and concentrated. A few moments later, she stood up. She looked frightened.
“Yes, vibration, colors, and five men. I think something’s coming. We need to get the hell out of here!”
They wasted no time, but as they started to run for the helicopter, they were thrown off their feet by a jolt from the earth. The shaking had started again in earnest, accompanied by the strangely musical harmonics. It was nearly deafening. Gibbs was shouting.
“Mother of God! It’s coming up right under our feet!”
They still had several yards to go before they could reach the Blackhawk. There was not enough time. Vertigo overtook them, and the air swam in circular colorful, waves. Carmen noticed that the couple was staring at them from the helicopter windows. They were horrified.
The UFO chasers expected to be swept up and destroyed, on the top of a flying saucer. Suddenly most of the sound and vibration abruptly ceased, except for an area just behind them. They all turned to see what appeared to be five phone booth-sized vortexes erupting from the ground, in the same manner as the saucer had descended into it fifteen minutes before. Colored lights were pulsing within each torrent, and each held a vaguely human-like plasma form at their center.
The chasers flattened themselves to the ground and watched as best they could. Their eyes stung from flying dirt, and they were being pelted with small rocks thrown from the ground. Within less than a minute, the plasma forms solidified into five uniformed men standing within five smaller circle formations under their feet. These men wore semitransparent facemasks that covered their entire head. Their suits were similar in fashion to the UFO chasers, except that their uniforms were gray, and they wore more substantial belts.
On each belt, they carried two identical triangular-shaped devices and spare facemasks that matched the ones they wore. These were also partially transparent and fitted with some kind of breathing apparatus. It appeared that their heads were shaved. They were all moderately muscular in stature. Teil and Gibbs were ready for action. Gibbs reached for his gun. At that move, the one in front of their triangular formation lifted a restraining hand in warning. His voice was low and distorted by the mask. It was difficult to hear through the wind; however, his menace was easy to interpret.
“If you do that again, I will enjoy killing you.”
Gibbs still had the weapon in his hand, although he had not pointed it at any of them. He remained defiant.
“Yeah?” he asked. “And how are you going to stop me? As far as I can see, you have no weapons, and I sure as hell won’t let you take mine.”
The spokesman removed his mask by pulling it off over his head. He was bald and had no facial hair. It looked as though he had none to grow, and yet, he appeared to be close to Gibbs’s age of twenty-eight. The man was smiling malevolently.
“Would you believe me if I say I do not need a weapon?”
“Fat chance, asswipe,” spat Gibbs.
The man rolled his eyes, smirked, and turned to the individuals standing behind him. He raised his hands in a “can you believe this” gesture. They still wore their headgear, but it was plain from their body language that they found the situation amusing. The apparent leader turned back and raised his hands, palms forward, disarmingly. He said, “Perhaps I can placate you a little by introducing myself. I am called Taker. It is more a title than a name, but that is the way we do things down below.”
At this moment, Carmen suddenly grabbed Gibbs’s gun from out of his hands with astonishing speed and strength.
Carmen spoke to Gibbs in a calming tone, although Gibbs was anything but calm.
“He is not what he appears to be, Ferris. I don’t know what he is, but let it alone.”
Gibbs looked into the man’s smug face and saw red.
Taker raised his bald eyebrows, and sarcastically said, “That is good advice, Ferris.” He shifted a little and carefully regarded Carmen. “Well, it seems the little lady conceals a surprising secret. Esha was right, and I should have sensed it. A Changeling, I believe.”
Carmen lowered her guard a moment and looked confused by what Taker had just said. That was enough for Gibbs. Angry and humiliated, he retrieved his gun away from Carmen and pointed it at Taker. He stepped forward with an aggressive posture. Taker only laughed and clapped his hands as though this was some hilarious new joke. He then pointed the palms of his hands back at Gibbs in a pushing gesture. Instantly Gibbs froze. Confusion crossed Gibbs’s face, followed by a shock of pain. His face muscles began to visibly knot, and his eyes bulged.
Ferris Gibbs was in unspecified agony. His body shuddered violently. His jaws flew open, and he screamed aloud and awful sound, cut off in a moment by a gurgle in his throat. Watery blood began to stream from the corners of his eyes, and to the horror of his companions, he vomited thick gouts of fresh blood. Just as suddenly as this began, it stopped. Gibbs dropped to the ground. His eyes were squinted shut and gummy from new blood.
The team ran to his side, but they found that he was already dead. When they looked up, they saw Taker looking up into the clouds with his mouth open in ecstasy, and his fists clenched. When he looked down at them again, his eyes were literally glowing a bright blue. He cocked his head to one side, and he stopped smiling. The light in his eyes dimmed and extinguished. He asked, “Believe me now?”
Teil’s eyes were as disquieting to watch as Taker’s. The two men stared at each other for a long moment of understanding. Teil’s eyes vowed that he would eventually kill Taker. That much was certain. Taker did not find Teil’s gaze in the least bit entertaining. He demanded that the remaining chasers stand and move away from the body.
Taker gestured to his group behind him. They removed the extra masks from their belts and threw them to the chasers. Nodding at the masks, he ordered them to put them on. Three of the interlopers walked around Taker and approached the chasers. They hooked one of the triangular objects to each of the chaser’s jumpsuits. Taker told them not to touch the objects. He told everyone to keep a distance of at least two feet between each other. He positioned everyone to make sure that Gibbs’s body was included in the group, although it remained on the ground.
A sound emanated from Taker’s facemask that now hung loosely on his chest. He pulled the mask over his head. The noise in the mask was a communications device. He responded loudly enough to be overheard.
“Eight, and one body.” He listened and then again responded. “There are two more, and one child, inside the copter. You’ll have to dispatch someone for them. We’re coming down now.”
Returning his attention to the group, he told the chasers that the body would be left halfway down. Whatever that implied.
Taker chuckled in jest. He said, “No doubt buddy Ferris’s corpse will give some future anthropologist a woody. Happens all the time.”
Within a few moments, there were nine more small circle formations in the earth, or fifteen in total-if you included the biggest one. Wind and snow would soon obscure them all, then more grass would grow, and the circles would vanish.
Tony and Nell were watching from the helicopter the entire time although they stood back away from the window hoping not to be noticed. After the lights disappeared into the ground, they scrambled around looking for radio controls. They nearly jumped out of their skins when the radio chirped to life, and they struggled to figure out how to respond.
The novel is also available in Kindle and Audible audio-book versions. There are five editions that begin in 2002. Changes made at each edition include editing and updates to include discoveries in “known” science.
Copyright © 2020 by John Eric Ellison