Unidentified: A Science-Fiction Thriller

I then explained that nothing all that noteworthy had happened in the years since 2021—just more of the same—and that I had basically come to the end of what I had hoped was a fairly comprehensive overview of the UFO situation. I had set the stage for a big reveal that I didn’t intend to deliver. I was Lucy pulling a football away from millions of Charlie Browns who wanted to kick it.

So I went through a very abbreviated version of my seven months of investigation, making it sound more consequential than it had been. And I salted in some bits of never before disclosed information I had learned, but nothing that was game-changing in any way.

I didn’t mention my partner in crime, Tessa Barrett, with whom I had fallen in love, because my life might depend on key members of the audience believing I was working alone.

And then, finally, I got to the moment of truth. Hopefully, I had supplied enough red meat that I wouldn’t get lynched, or my reputation destroyed.

“So that concludes what I’ll be disclosing today,” I said at last, trying not to wince.

Russell blinked at me in confusion. Was I kidding? his expression seemed to say.

I knew his confusion would soon turn to anger, so I quickly continued. “The truth is that I did find the answers I was searching for. All of them. The explanation for everything. Why the UFOs are here. Who sent them. What they’re doing. Why the government covered it up for so long, and why they’re revealing a little of it now.

“And if you think some of the information I’ve shared over the last hour was fascinating, you haven’t heard anything yet. But I have to apologize, Mark. I intended to reveal everything today. But something came up, which I’m not at liberty to disclose. Just before air time. Because of this I’m in a position to gather one last piece of evidence. Evidence that I believe will be robust enough to convince the most jaded skeptic of the truth of my story. So I need to stop here for now.”

“Are you saying you aren’t willing to share any of the answers you found?” asked Russell in disbelief.

“I’m really sorry, Mark. Like I said, a new development just before I came on your show changed the equation. The good news is that I’m certain I can get my hands on this evidence. And when I do, my revelations will be more earth-shattering than ever.”

“This is very disappointing, Jason,” the host said grimly. “If you knew you were going to hold back like this, why did you let me tease my audience that you’d be making historical revelations?”

I could tell he wanted to come at me with stronger language, possibly tear me a new orifice, but he was just able to moderate his ire. The show had been a hit as far as it went, after all, and we were live, so he managed to hide most of his justified anger.

I cringed, this time wanting everyone watching to see. “I really do apologize, Mark. I didn’t want for this to happen. But I expect to find what I’m after very soon. I’ll be at my rental home in San Diego for a few days finishing up some research critical to running down this last lead. I’ll then travel to a very exotic location for a week or so.

“When I do get this last piece of evidence, it will confirm everything I’ve learned in no uncertain terms. When I return in a week or two, I promise this show will get an exclusive on everything I have. And I guarantee I won’t hold back a second time.”

I could see the wheels spinning in Russell’s head. The show had gone well. I had given a comprehensive presentation the intricacies of which no one in his audience had known entirely, so even the most avid follower of UFO news had gotten something worthwhile out of it. And Russell had to be thinking that with a little word of mouth, a little paid promotion on his part, the show could go viral and attract scores of additional fans.

I had ended with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. If he played his cards right, he could milk the hell out of my next appearance, which would be an absolute must-see installment of his podcast. Scores of fans would be calling in sick to catch it live.

“Is there anything I can do to get you to tell us now?” asked Russell, but I sensed that he’d done the math and realized it would be better for him if I continued to refuse. “Can you at least give us a hint?”

“I’d love to, Mark, but I’m afraid I can’t. I’m confident that when I reveal the full story, you’ll understand.”

Russell held his miffed expression a little longer for the benefit of his audience. Finally, he sighed deeply and allowed his features to soften. “Well, in that case,” he said, “I’ll hold you to your promise of airing your findings on this podcast.”

“Absolutely,” I assured him. “I’m a big fan of your show, Mark, and your audience, which is smart, rational, and scientifically literate. It’s an audience I can only win over with robust data. If I can convince you—and them—I can convince anybody. Which is what I intend to do. And soon,” I added again for good measure.

“Then I guess this concludes today’s episode,” said Russell. “Thanks for joining me, Jason. You provided quite a tour de force, even without the revelations you promised to make. I can only imagine how epic your next appearance will be. My audience and I are waiting to find out with bated breath.”

“Thanks, Mark,” I said, hating myself. “I think you’ll find that the wait will be worth it.”


I pushed my office chair away from the computer and closed my eyes. I had officially crossed the Rubicon. I had leapt from the suspension bridge, and all I could do was hope that I had measured the bungee cords around my ankles correctly.

If not? Well, I’d make a big mess, and it would be the last measurement I ever made.

A striking, raven-haired beauty entered my office and eyed me carefully. I knew from experience that she could read my body language like a book. I wondered what my aura was telling her. My emotions were so mixed, I suspected it wasn’t telling her much.

“What did you think, Tessa?” I asked her, rising and planting a kiss on her exquisite lips.

And yes, Tessa Barrett and I were in the romantic stage of love. You know, the stage in which it’s impossible not to want to tear each other’s clothing off if certain stringent conditions are met. Like if we happened to be on the same continent.

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