Unidentified: A Science-Fiction Thriller

For most of my life I scoffed at the idea that UFOs were real. After all, there were a lot of crackpots in the world. And while I did believe intelligent life existed elsewhere in the universe, interstellar distances were incomprehensibly vast, and the speed of light, which could not be exceeded, was relatively plodding.

Yes, light traveled a distance of more than one hundred eighty-six thousand miles in a single second, but it would still take light four years to reach the nearest star.

Put another way, traveling at the speed of a 747 jet, a trip to our nearest stellar neighbor would take over five million years. Five million! And that’s if you didn’t count stops for refueling, which would take quite a while, as there was no jet fuel in outer space.

And the nearest alien intelligence was sure to be far more distant even than this.

Would extraordinarily advanced alien beings really traverse this unimaginable gulf just to blast patterns in our cornfields, mutilate our cows, and probe our anuses? Surely they’d have better things to do.

Besides, I had reasoned, governments were notoriously incompetent, and I’d believe squirrels were alien spies before I’d believe that every government on Earth was able to keep a secret of this monumental import.

But I had been wrong. Alien craft really were hanging out in our skies. It had become undeniable. Which made my brain explode on a daily basis. Because it was now absolutely clear to me that interstellar travel was possible, proof that other sentient life existed in our galaxy, a revelation to end all revelations. A mind-blowing indication that, despite our growing understanding of the laws of our universe, we were barely scratching the surface.

The clearer it became that these UFOs were real, the more obsessed I became with learning the truth. The more obsessed a lot of people became. Even Congress had entered the act.

I started obsessing on the subject through my work, with four out of my last five novels having something to do with alien visitors to Earth, or the discovery of super-technologies the aliens had left behind.

What I didn’t understand was why the entire world wasn’t stopping in its tracks, all eight billion of us, demanding to know what was going on. Yet people seemed to take this news in stride. Or they refused to believe it.

When the US government confessed that UFOs were quite real and shared video footage of numerous encounters in which mysterious vehicles were doing one impossible maneuver after another, many, like me, began a slow transformation from skeptic to believer. These UFOs had not only been observed by multiple people and technologies at the same time, but they had rubbed our faces in their total disregard for the laws of physics.

Wings? Heat signatures? Visible means of propulsion?

It turned out that none of these things were needed for a craft to hover, change direction instantly, accelerate with enough G-forces to turn us into paste, and travel at ludicrous speeds through space, air, and water.

But that was only the beginning. Because compelling evidence was coming out on a daily basis. This was soon backed up by outlets like the New York Times and 60 Minutes doing feature stories on the absolute reality of UFOs, and detailing numerous sightings. This was further backed up by Congress admitting to having received briefings on UFOs so compelling—so disturbing—they demanded a full report, which was delivered in 2021.

For most of my life, I questioned how anyone could possibly believe this nonsense. Now, I questioned how anyone could not.

Yet even now, a decade after this UFO report was delivered to Congress, when I brought up this earth-shattering new reality at parties, I was often met by unexpected, sometimes profound, skepticism. I still am. From highly intelligent people. People who looked at me as if I were the one drinking the Kool-Aid.

I soon came to realize that we now lived in a world in which no evidence would ever suffice. It’s a conspiracy when the government won’t admit to the reality of these impossible craft. And it’s a conspiracy when they do.

But why not? Given fake news and fake video, people are conditioned to disbelieve anything they don’t see or hear with their own eyes and ears. And it’s hard to blame them.

In my mind, though, it didn’t seem possible that all of the recent information was faked. So I finally decided to become proactive. To devote the rest of my life to learning the answers. I’d do whatever it took—even if it killed me. Which it might. Despite recent disclosures, it was possible there were parties willing to do anything to make sure certain remaining secrets never saw the light of day.

So I’d have to be bold, but also tread carefully.

“Before I get started,” I continued, “I should note a new pair of three-letter acronyms used to refer to UFOs. These are UAP and UAV. I rarely use UAP, even though it’s the more popular term. I tend to use either UFO or UAV.”

“Why is that?” asked the host.

“Well, Mark, everyone is familiar with the term UFO. So that’s my preference. But if I only used this term, those in the know would think I’m clueless.” I smiled. “Which isn’t the reputation I’m shooting for.”

Mark Russell smiled back.

“So let me address your first question first,” I said to the host and his audience of millions. “Are UAVs real? If even a fraction of the information that has come out over the past ten years is correct, this is no longer in question. There is absolutely no doubt they are real. None.

“Many of you have been following the UFO situation for some time. Still, I’d like to begin by providing a refresher course to put things into context. A thirty-thousand-foot holistic view of how we got to where we are, focusing mostly on modern times.”

“By all means,” said Mark Russell.

Douglas E. Richards's books