Copyright 2022, John Manimas Medeiros
"Why does the government secretly study alien technology at Area 51?" "What is the deep, dark secret that they keep from us?" Questions that Matt Armstrong had heard repeatedly, not knowing that both would be answered for him before the end of the summer 2001. Answers that he was to treat as having the highest classification, meaning he was not supposed to disclose the information even to others who had the security clearance for "Top Secret."
November 22, 2000, a day Matt could not forget, not only because it was the 37th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but also because it was his 47th birthday. Of course he remembered where he had been when he heard the news, a ten-year-old whose world made his family and their neighbors the heroes of the fight against injustice and tyranny. He was in a stall in the boys' room of his school, trying to light a cigarette. While failing to get the paper match to ignite, he heard Bobby Campden say to whoever, "Hey, the President is dead." This year, it was the day before Thanksgiving. Happy Birthday. In 1963, Thanksgiving Day was November 28th, the last day in the month it could possibly be. From that day forward, he never again tried to light a cigarette.
This November 22nd, he received a birthday gift he could never have imagined. A memo. A memo that said he was summoned to attend a meeting to plan the disassembly and back engineering of an alien communications device, as small as a pack of cigarettes, but able to transmit and receive signals over millions of miles. As a sound engineer at Area 51, his work area was restricted to construction of devices in accordance with what all knew was experimental design, but experimental design borrowed from advanced aliens who had entered into an agreement with government and corporations that were determined to always have the most advanced weapons technology. Wars were won by weapons, not courage or bravery or determination. At least that was the prevailing viewpoint a conclusion based on experience. Science.
For example, the English won at Agincourt in October, 1415 because their longbows shot arrows the furthest with accuracy. In World War II, the American and British fighter planes won the sky over Germany, even against the faster revolutionary German jets, because the American planes had extremely powerful propeller engines and dramatic acrobatic maneuverability. Both sides learned a lesson: control trumped velocity. The Vietnamese booted the Americans out of their homeland in 1970, but what was the lesson learned there, where 50,000 Americans died, and three million Vietnamese combatants and civilians (60/1)? Matt understood, as did all the scientists at Area 51: we wish history taught us the good guys win, but history teaches us the best weapons win with fuel, food, and supplies. War is an economic activity.
At the beginning of World War II, the Germans' military technology was ahead of all others in all significant areas: faster, better armored tanks, better planes, thoroughly trained infantry, the best steel, the best photography, the best radio communications, the best submarines, the largest battleships, the most sophisticated secret coding. When the war was over, the American generals at the Pentagon said, "Never again." That's what Area 51 means: "Never again."
Matt felt butterflies or something vibrating in his stomach as he drove home to his wife Beth. He shared much with his wife, and he struggled with whether he should tell her that he was about to meet a special guest identified as an "advanced consultant." The scientists at Area 51 knew that "advanced consultant" was the code phrase for an intelligent being that was not from Earth. He was stopped at a red light when he heard the car horn behind him because the light had changed to green. He pressed on the gas pedal with a bit of anger and decided that he would tell Beth what was going on. He was losing interest in placing state secrets above his need to share his life with Beth.
"Hi, Love. Something is on your mind," Beth said, as Matt walked into their foyer.
"Do you remember how I have always wondered about Jesus saying, 'In my Father's House there are many mansions?' " Matt asked Beth.
"And in those days 'House' meant clan or tribe."
"Well," Matt said, " is anyone here? We are alone?"
"Yep. Just us."
"Well. I'm about to meet someone from another mansion."
"Scales? Claws? Poison tentacles?"
"No Dear. I don't think so. Most likely a humanoid. Maybe six fingers. But a being that can and does communicate with Earthians."
"Well then I hope he's nice. At least as nice as we are, us'an Earthians who work so hard to make better weapons."
"How's our turkey?" Matt asked.
"Still thawing. Looks great."
"Forty-two million," Matt said.
"Forty-two million what? Money?"
"No. Turkeys we killed for this Thanksgiving. Twenty more for Jesus."
Beth smiled, used to this: "You can think about that as you stir the gravy."
Monday December 4, 2000. Matt's seat was on the long side of the table, with the new AuthaGraph world map on the wall behind him. There were four empty seats to his right, with no name sign for the seat immediately to his right. He looked for it on the floor. When the special guest entered, Matt recognized him immediately as someone he had seen before, the large black Stetson and non-humanly pale white face, as though painted with chalk. Matt's back chilled as he watched the man walk around the table toward the four empty seats to his right. He did not think he would be at the "head" of the table. He felt a brief shock when the chalk man came all the way to him and sat next to him, the seat without the name tag.
Then Matt suddenly felt a deep calm.
Hello Matthew. Nice to see you again. We've met before. Do you remember?
Matt's eyes widened because the special guest was talking to him publicly, and at a meeting expected to be tightly controlled. Then Matt realized the chalk man was not talking in the usual sense. He was communicating with Matt telepathically, through silently spoken thought.
Matt remembered seeing this same man from a distance about a month ago, talking to a small group of engineers in a craft room.
Yes. I think so, Matt telespoke.
It's okay if you don't remember everything right now. You have a lot on your mind, including what you foresee. I am interested in you because you have second sight. You can do some very good work if you wish to teach other humans.
Okay, Matt telespoke. But he was distracted by the beginning of the meeting, and what happened next did not penetrate normally. He got his information about the content of the meeting from his notes, but he did not remember writing them.
The others started to rise and chalk man got up to leave, telespeaking to Matt: See you later. Matt actually laughed because the chalk man special guest said something so common and ordinary to him.
"Right," Matt said, out loud.
"What?" Ryan Comer, a radiowave expert, asked.
On the morning of Wednesday, December 20, 2000, Matt woke with a slight headache, and the odd feeling he had when he had one of those dreams that was so real he feared it wasn't a dream.
"Coffee's on," Beth called sweetly as she breezed by the open bedroom door.
"Don't you need to be on your way to the office?"
"Not today. I'm owed some extra hours that I can't get paid for."
"Okay. Nice. I guess I was out cold, although I had another vivid dream."
"Tell me, after your shower."
Matt turned on the shower and Beth brought his coffee into the bathroom.
"We have some late Christmas shopping to do, tonight or tomorrow."
"What? Are we gonna kill another turkey?"
"Not my choice. I thought we would whack a cow for this holiday, and maybe take out a pig for Easter."
"Sounds real. Celebrate."
At the breakfast table, brightly clean and clear headed, Matt's dream came back to him in full color.
"You know how occasionally I have a repeated dream, one that seems so vivid I am sure it is really happening and I thought I was awake?"
"Yes Dear. I know."
"Well this one was the falling buildings dream. I am in a big city surrounded by skyscrapers of gray stone and concrete and glass. And they brighten and turn into bright colors and break into pieces and crumble down into piles of rubble. There is no visible cause. No sound. Just the tumbling down into a pile of broken blocks."
"Does this have anything to do with your project? Are you afraid something is going to break, or the whole project fail?
"I don't think so. But it has become a little different for me because Chalk Man said I have second sight. He says I am clairvoyant. I cannot imagine what this dream image might mean, other than I ate a third slice of pizza."
"Have you seen Chalk Man lately? Could he be involved in your dreams somehow?"
"I don't think the dream is caused by him. But he says I can be helpful because I can see into the future. He said he is going to explain to me how it works."
"I can't wait. I mean, I really am interested in whether he has a credible explanation." Beth's eyes radiated sympathetic affection. Matt had at least two dreams that turned out to be similar to events that followed. Either it was Area 51 or Chalk Man or just the nature of Matt. Truth is stranger than dreams.
Late in January, Chalk Man called Matt on a special phone that made his voice sound like it was coming from outer space. Matt wondered if maybe it was coming from outer space. Chalk Man's Earth name was Mr. Voice, because his work focused on the ways in which spoken language could be transmitted over great distances. This was Matthew's assigned area of technology. Matthew was deeply philosophical about language. He would often say that sending voice millions of miles might be easier than sending it a few feet and having it be clearly understood.
Mr. Voice asked to meet with Matthew on Wednesday, February 21 in a quiet corner of the Level 5 cafeteria. Matthew felt a slight chill of fear but was also curious. He was not sure this meeting, arranged by the two persons themselves, an Earthian and a non-Earthian, was technically "legal." But he agreed, and thought about it a lot while the days slowly passed. On that day, Mr. Voice approached smiling like an old friend, sat down next to Matt in a state of excitement that was surprising to Matt, who thought aliens had only one emotional state.
"Hi Matthew. So glad you came to talk with me. There is something important I want to tell you."
"Okay. That's fine. Are we supposed to check with someone about this? Or make a report? Keep notes?"
"None of that is necessary, Matthew. I am authorized to meet with Earthians and share information on an individual basis as an act of friendship and personal trust. It is important communication, but not official business in the usual sense."
"Alright then. I'm honored, I think."
"Good. A sense of humor is essential for the long game of evolution."
Matthew just gazed ahead. It seemed a credible comment, but extremely serious.
"What I wanted to tell you Matthew, is the first great secret of life among intelligent species."
"Does that include us?" Matthew asked.
Mr. Voice paused, a touch of irritation in his eyes at being interrupted.
"Not yet. What the first great secret is Matthew is that some species of technological animals evolve rapidly in a strictly technological plane, acquiring scientific knowledge at great speed, while remaining more or less static on a moral and spiritual level. This process of technology without responsibility is tremendously dangerous and the species that do evolve morally as well as technologically, those who accept responsibility for life in the universe, endeavor to limit or eliminate those who do not grow spiritually while they develop greater capacity for destructive behavior. This is not a judgmental kind of regulation, Matthew. This is strictly a safey regulation."
"I see." Matthew's brain wheels spun at high speed. "I see. Uh. How are we doing? Are we growing on an even plane? Technology and spiritual wisdom together?"
"There is a frightening uncertainty about Earth. Earthians are charming as hell, and equally scary. Earthians often behave as though they do not learn from experience. Anyway, I wanted you to know, Matthew, this important truth. If Earthians do not begin to accelerate their moral evolution to keep pace with their technological power, a decision could be made to suspend the Earthian path of evolution and start over."
"Suspend?!" Matthew asked, slightly lifting his butt from his chair.
"I'm sorry I cannot explain further, Matthew. I'm sure you will understand. This is all the time I have for us today. Be good. Don't worry. Contemplate the stars."
As the calendar approached the Christian Holy Week Matthew became contemplative about the story of Christ. He had been steeped in the Roman Catholic religion, but methodically questioned institutional doctrines since childhood. He remembered the nightly internal dialogues between ancient dogma and his rational mind.
Jesus suffered lashes and humiliation, crucifixion and three days and three nights in hell for our sins.
How could that short period possibly be actual expiation for the immeasurable injustices visited on innocent people over the last 50,000 years? World War II alone would require astounding penitence and pain to compare with the harm caused by humanity to itself. It had to be metaphorical, and if partly metaphorical then which part was real. And of course he did not die on the cross. He had been a master guru in the Eastern arts of meditation and controlling bodily functions. He put himself into a self-induced trance. He was given vinegar and water to sustain him through his ordeal, a great challenge but possible. When poked in the side with a spear he bled little, and that was reported as none by the Roman soldier, an ally among many Romans who saw Jesus as a great healer with a just cause.
"Are you ready for another secular Easter?" Beth asked.
"I guess," Matthew responded, doubtful.
"We got through Y2K," Beth said. "We can reasonably expect the 21st century to be better than the 20th."
"Should be easy to be better than the 20th."
Matt went in on Monday to put his work in order but he and Beth planned to take the rest of Holy Week off, a holiday intended to be a kind of extended Sabbath to continue family tradition with the scientific editorials of their questioning minds.
Mr. Voice called.
"Hi Matt. Hope you are well. Can we meet on Wednesday?"
"Hello Mr. Voice," that felt so awkward. "I am well but will not be here Wednesday. My wife and I are taking some time off. We usually do during the Christian Holy Week, just because it is spring and all that."
"Okay. I see."
"Could you come to our home?" Matt offered.
Mr. Voice paused. "That is a very friendly invitation, but that would be bending protocol more than I want to risk. Sorry."
understand." Although Matt did not really understand.
"Well, I am going to be gone for a while but will be back in June," Mr. Voice said. "Could we meet in June?"
"Yes. We have plans for a late summer vacation. So I expect to be working all the month of June."
"Good, Matt. I am what you call a 'diplomat' or 'ambassador,' and I am permitted to share important information with selected friends."
Matt felt honored, embarrassed, afraid. He hesitated, unsure of his words. What am I getting into? Why me? Am I about to be used?
"Okay. That's great. I consider it an honor."
"It is. I want to tell you the second great secret. It is so terrifying to some people they lose all control and respond with violence."
"I'll see you in June, Matt."
Matthew held his phone like a Greek statue. He put it down and shivered with the thought that he was getting caught in some kind of a trap.
Days passed while Matthew continued to struggle with the little glass box that apparently was used on space craft for long distance communications, really long distance. Matthew knew as did others on the project that the device incorporated super thin membranes such as graphene comprised of a single layer of atoms. There also appeared to be semi-conductive circuits that were controlled by individual molecules. The detective work was exciting, but the puzzling over how to duplicate what the teams found was agonizing. Like the persistent blank of a forgotten name when one knows it is there inside the brain somewhere.
Mr. Voice called Matthew early in June and asked again to meet with him on a Wednesday, June 17th.
"Matthew, sorry it took me this long to get back to you. Hope you can see me next Wednesday. I have a lot of work to do and I expect to be reassigned soon. Is next Wednesday going to work for you."
"Sure. That's fine. I will make sure of it."
"I would like to explain to you how second sight works. You have it, but I don't think you understand why."
"I am interested in any knowledge you have to share, not just technology."
"Good. I know that, but it is good to hear you say it. See you next Wednesday. Same time, place?"
"That's good. I will call you if there is a problem."
"No need. I will know if there is a problem. See you soon."
Matthew said to the distant click.
On Wednesday June 17th Matthew sat at the table in the corner with a coffee just as Mr. Voice came in and walked toward Matt immediately.
"Would you like a coffee?"
"No thanks Matthew. Something came up and I am a little pressed for time. To get right to the point, second sight is just a calculation, a logical expectation of a possibility, or a likelihood, based on known processes and known people. You have a 'squiggle' in your brain that occasionally launches calculations about the probable outcome of current events. These calculations about causes and effects leading to subsequent effects occur subconsciously and automatically, but sometimes the expected outcomes are raised into consciousness and produce dream images, at nighttime or daytime, that represent the calculated outcomes. That is the process of second sight. It is really similar to the ordinary process of knowing what will be the outcome of making a sandwich or building a house. It's just that the automatic and subconscious second sight outcome is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. This impulsive kind of looking for the future can be improved with practice and specific exercises. But that requires a commitment and effort like any other mental discipline. Like changing a bad habit."
"So then, some people are really good at this, and can help find a person that is missing."
"Yes. That's right. Psychics do often help the police, but the police will not let that be public knowledge."
"I see. That's "
"Hold on, Matthew. There is something more important I want to share with you and this may be my last chance."
"Matthew, the second great secret of the universe is very difficult to accept, but I believe you will be able to understand it and cope with it --- though you may need some time to adjust."
"Okay. Is this
going to change my security clearance or something? Are you going to ask me to
"No. No. Nothing like that. I just have permission to share these things with a human who I trust. You may not know why, but I trust you. Even if you are not sure about me."
"Oh. It just seems, well, a bit of a surprise that I am worthy of such trust."
"Matthew, there is a clear division between technological animals and intelligent beings. For one, intelligent beings do not kill anything by accident or because of unintended consequences. That is technology without understanding, or technology without responsibility."
"I get that Mr. Voice. I think about that all the time."
"I know. Another element of the boundary between technological animals and intelligent beings is the shedding of hormonal emotions and strict reliance on reason and logic. The the essential change that is necessary, Matthew, absolutely required I find it hard to say it myself, because it might seem so frightening to you. The inescapable truth, Matthew, is that in order for a technological animal to make the transition to intelligent being the males must be eliminated."
Matthew's eyes grew as big as eggs.
This meant that "Mr. Voice" was "Ms Voice."
"I mean not eliminated one-hundred percent, but ninety-nine percent. This is because the technological animal has outgrown the niche in the animal world. The male hormones and instincts to acquire territory and mates and tools and weapons, and pursue control over people and power over things is useful in the animal world but becomes an unacceptably dangerous condition for an intelligent species. The male principle encompasses possession and exclusive defense, a blind selfishness and violence. The pattern of control through violence and the threat of violence, the persistent claiming of territory becomes impossibly dysfunctional. The wolf pisses on a rock, and the man pushes a flag into the ground to say 'this is mine.' When the technological animal becomes an intelligent being, there is no 'mine.' The universe belongs to itself, and claiming to own any part of it is emotional and violent theft. Logical behavior is the separator between intelligent beings and animals, regardless of what the animals can build. The intelligent species throughout the universe are something like beehives. There is no real divided sexuality, no genitals for males or females. The work comes first. I am female according to human biology, but non-sexual in universal terms. We are all females, except for a few individuals who carry useful complementary genes. You will not find female 'genitals' on any of us because we do not use our own bodies to reproduce. Creation of a bio-robotic womb is the final achievement of a technological animal ready to graduate and let go of the long history of scarcity, insecurity, and endless war. This is what humans will need to let go of in order to become acknowledged as intelligent beings."
Matthew's eyes narrowed, small beads of sweat glistened on his forehead.
"This is true?"
"Yes. Inescapable. Many of your own teachers have taught this, but it is missed by those who do not want to hear it."
"That's amazing. How ?"
Ms Voice leaned back, his lack of eyebrows almost comical, but Matthew would never laugh at this man woman? teacher, being.
"I must go now. Do not be afraid. Be good. Contemplate the stars."
He got up and left as Matthew watched, disconcerted, but respectful.
The second great secret of the universe.
Not a chance he would tell anyone. Wanted to continue to be a free man.
This secret could not be more secure.
The Nevada summer included some brutally hot days, and strangely cold nights. Beth planned for a trip east to visit her parents and their daughter Serena, who was working on a Master's thesis at Columbia. Serena's fiance worked for Green Western Investments. Their son Martin, who was building houses in Mississippi had agreed to join the family gathering. They had not seen Martin face to face in two years. Beth talked about the vacation plans nearly every day.
"I'm getting our tickets for after Labor Day. Dad said wait til after Labor Day. Better weather, better traffic."
"Sounds good. I love September. I have begun to forget the glories of New England. Will we drive around Connecticut?"
"I don't know. They are planning stuff for us, theatre tickets, museums, lounging around the community pool."
"Sounds more like a project than a vacation."
"We'll be fine. Just have to calm them down. It's nice to know your parents still want you around, at least for a week or two."
On Wednesday, August first, Beth got their tickets for Southwest Airlines.
"I got tickets for a week after Labor Day, Monday, September 10th. We'll be having breakfast Tuesday morning at the World Trade Center."
Back to: (Poems) by John Manimas or Short (Stories) by J.M. or (Time Works) or (Quick Directory) or (Welcome) page