Justin parked the pickup, and everyone piled out. The lights were there again! Red, green, and blue, blinking one after the other in the same slow rhythm as they had done every night for a week.
Liv helped Mari carry the camp chairs while the boys brought the cooler. They set up the chairs in a semicircle around the cooler. Everybody grabbed a beer and a seat and stared up at the lights.
“They’re kinda peaceful, don’t you think?” Mari popped the top of her beer open.
“Peaceful?” Tyson snorted. “Until they probe you in your ass, sure.”
“Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.” Mari winked at him. Tyson gaped at her while everyone else chuckled.
“They might not be aliens.” Liv took a swig of beer. “I mean, it could be lots of things.”
“Yeah? Like what?” Justin’s tone made it clear he disagreed.
“I dunno.” Liv shrugged. “A government test ship or something.”
“Like our government could build anything that does this.” Justin waved a hand dismissively at the lights.
“Did I say it was our government?”
“Well if governments are testing space ships, I wanna know.” Justin jumped up and cupped his hands around his mouth. “Put me in space, you MIB jackasses! Gotta be better than this shithole town!”
“Christ, will you shut up?” Tyson lobbed a small stone at Justin.
“Afraid they’re gonna hear me and come over?” Justin grinned at Tyson. “What, you scared of going to space?”
“No, just tired of listening to you, you colossal jackass.”
Justin shoved Tyson in the shoulder as he sat back down.
“Seriously though, I’d go to space. Aliens, government, I don’t care. It would be cool,” Justin said.
“What if you never came back?” Liv dug the toes of her boots into the dirt beneath her chair. “Like, what if they just took you to some other planet and you never saw anybody from Earth ever again?”
“I dunno.” Justin smiled. “Be some adventure, wouldn’t it?”
Mari shook her head. “You’re crazy. They could turn you into one of those monster things like in Alien, just using you for experiments. ‘Kiiill meeeeeeeee!’”
“You mean Aliens, the second film, not Alien, the first one,” Justin corrected her. “Where they were incubating the chest busters inside humans.”
“Ugh, yeah, whatever.” Mari shuddered. “It was gross. And that could be you.”
“Nah.” Justin finished his beer. “I don’t think aliens would really be like that. They’d keep humans alive, maybe breed them. Make lots more incubators.”
“I feel sorry for whoever has to breed with you.” Tyson laughed at his own joke. Nobody else did.
Above them, the lights blinked off one by one.
“Looks like the show’s over.” Tyson stood up and folded his chair. “You sober enough to drive, Justin?”
“Shit, I only had one beer. Short show tonight.” Justin grabbed one end of the cooler while Tyson lifted the other.
Everyone was quiet on the drive home. Justin broke the silence. “I wish they’d do something besides just blink. Anything. Just to let us know what they are.”
A sudden shockwave knocked the truck clear off the road, and a sound like an explosion thundered from their left.
“What the fuck was that?” Tyson shouted.
The truck had been thrown sideways in the blast, and its headlights now shone into the field across the road. Visible in their paltry beams was a dull, metal hull containing a row of red, green, and blue lights, which were slowly blinking back to life.
“Looks like you got your wish,” Mari whispered.
Justin opened the door and stepped out. “Justin, what are you doing?” Liv grabbed his shirt. “Don’t go over there! Let’s just go home, please?”
“Are you kidding?” Justin pointed at the field. “A spaceship just crashed right in front of us, and you want to go home? This is, like, the biggest thing that has ever happened in the whole world!”
Justin shook Liv’s hand off his shoulder and trotted across the road. Up close, the ship seemed less ethereal than it had in the sky. Its hull looked like it was made of aluminum, or maybe titanium. The lights were just circles of LEDs, like traffic lights. He could hear the electric switch as they blinked on and off.
Justin walked around the ship. In the back was what appeared to be a hatch. A gasket lined the edge of it, and there was no visible handle.
As Justin stepped closer to it, the hatch swung outward. A light from inside the ship blinded him, and he squinted and threw an arm over his eyes to shield them.
A hand reached out from the ship, not grabbing him, just offering. Justin took a step closer. He still couldn’t see inside the ship, or even the rest of the person offering him a hand. But it looked human enough….
Justin grabbed the hand and hoisted himself into the ship.
“Jesus Christ,” Tyson muttered as the ship lifted away. “He did it. The bastard really did it. He went with the aliens.”
Three astonished faces watched as the blinking lights disappeared into the distance.