Unidentified: A Science-Fiction Thriller

I cleared my throat once again and took a quick sip from a plastic bottle of spring water I had positioned out of sight of the camera. “We all know that UFOs have been in the global zeitgeist for upwards of seventy years. Possibly much, much longer. Cave drawings have been discovered in various locations around the world, dating back as far as twelve thousand years, depicting what look like humanoid aliens. Some believe that’s what they are. Others . . . not so much.”

I had spent many hours preparing for this, and while I was as low tech as it got, I had arranged to punctuate my presentation throughout with images and video snippets that supported my words. So when I mentioned cave drawings, I hit a key on my computer that allowed me to show the audience images of ancient cave art depicting what looked like tall, bug-eyed humanoids, a perfect flying saucer, and tiny humanoids with clear helmets.

“Some believe that certain biblical and mythological mentions of chariots in the sky and the like are really primitive human societies describing UFO sightings. Some believe that extraterrestrial fingerprints are all over the Pyramids of Giza, the seventy-ton heads of Easter Island, the fifty-ton monoliths at Stonehenge, and so on.”

Once again, images of the pyramids and such flashed onto the screen to add visual interest to my words.

“I won’t be weighing in on possible ancient extraterrestrial visitations today. There are hundreds of hours of wildly speculative television shows that cover any number of ancient mysteries that might be solved by invoking an alien presence. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to view them.

“But I’ll begin at the beginning of what I think of as the modern era, after humanity had mastered the power of flight. And then take a deeper dive into current events.”

I studied Mark Russell carefully, wondering if I was putting him to sleep, and giving him the chance to divert me from this course, but he looked to be enthusiastic about how I had chosen to begin.

“As early as 1941,” I continued, “a Polish merchant ship sailing in the Indian Ocean reported a strange globe, glowing with greenish light, that flitted about in the night sky. Other such sightings were soon reported from pilots and naval vessels. Sightings that all shared a number of commonalities. They were each made by sober, trained military personnel. The objects were more or less saucer-shaped. And the objects could hover, change directions more adroitly than a hummingbird, and dart off and disappear at fantastic speeds.

“The number of sightings increased dramatically in 1944, when pilots flying at night over Western Europe reported seeing fast-moving, glowing objects following their aircraft. Objects that seemed to be toying with them, showing off, making wild turns and then simply vanishing. Pilots and aircrews reported that these objects flew in formation with their aircraft and behaved as if they were under intelligent control, but they never attempted to attack.

These sightings became so widespread that the Supreme Allied Expeditionary Force in Paris issued a press release in 1944 acknowledging them. Follow-up stories in the New York Times, the British Daily Telegraph, and Time Magazine, called these mysterious objects Foo Fighters.”

As I mentioned these publications, images of the headlines from these stories flashed onto the screen.

“This name was given to them by one of the first members of the military to see one, and was even adopted by a rock band many decades later.”

Mark Russell looked intrigued. “What does foo stand for, anyway?” he asked, as if this question had plagued him his entire life. Not that I hadn’t wondered the same thing.

“It was taken from a popular comic strip from the forties,” I replied. “A character in the strip had the catchphrase, ‘where there’s foo, there’s fire.’”

I shook my head. “I have no idea why any character would ever say that, let alone repeatedly—and it still doesn’t explain what foo is—but there you have it.”

“You do have to admit, though,” commented the host of the show, “Foo Fighter is a catchy name for a UAV.”

“No doubt,” I agreed.

I paused and took another swig of water. “But let me fast-forward to 2017, the year that everything changed,” I continued. “At least for hardened skeptics like me. But before I do, I should mention that these World War II sightings led to the first US Air Force project to study the UAV phenomena, Project Sign in 1947. This was followed by Project Grudge in 1949, and the famous Project Blue Book in 1952.

“And the US wasn’t the only nation to investigate UAVs. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, the UK, and numerous other countries have all conducted their own investigations, and many of these are still active today.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Which brings me to 2017, which I consider the start of a new UFO era. The year the dam finally burst. The year that many hardened UFO skeptics, like me, began to change their stripes.

“Not because there were startling new sightings that year. Not because aliens landed on the White House lawn and held a press conference. But something even more incredible happened. The US military had a momentary burst of UFO honesty.”

Mark Russell laughed, which was a good sign. I was being seen by millions, yet could only gauge their reaction to what I was saying by looking at the cherubic face of the host.

“So what happened?” I continued. “A lot. But I’ll keep it as short and sweet as possible. Chris Mellon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under the Clinton and Bush administrations met an unnamed individual in a Pentagon parking lot. There he was given a package containing three videos of military UAV encounters, one occurring in 2004, and two in 2015. Mellon then provided these videos and background to the New York Times, and a front-page story was born.”

I paused for a moment so the audience could see the image of the paper, with the referenced headline, now on their screen.

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