The incessant buzz forced me out of a comfortable reverie under the aircraft’s wing. I hated being disturbed but there was always the possibility some errant rattlesnake had crawled out of the New Mexico desert. Glancing around in all directions I saw nothing. But the buzz persisted so I crawled out into the 120 ° sun.
Alone in a remote area of Holloman AFB, it was just the F-22 Raptor and me. The sleek fighter was out here for an engine test. All the others had returned to the main base to pick up a part, and no doubt cold drinks, leaving me to baby-sit the plane.
Without the protection of the Raptor’s shade, the white heat bore down but that buzzing continued. Searching around in a 360 ° circle I still couldn’t determine its source — until I glanced at the plane and was startled by an object hovering near the open cockpit.
Careful not to touch the hot surface of the wing and lose the skin off my hands, I moved closer. It appeared to be a dragonfly! What the heck was a dragonfly doing out here? Did they even live in the desert?
Climbing up a rung on the crew ladder, I edged closer. It was about four or five inches long — large for a dragonfly, its wings moving in a blur. As I stared, the thing flew into the cockpit, so I climbed a few more rungs for a better view. It suddenly landed on the pilot’s seat and remained perfectly still. Like a kid I briefly considered capturing it to show my buddies, but before the thought could resolve into action the dragonfly made a whirring sound. Climbing to the top rung I swung my head in closer still, before almost falling back down.
Despite the desert heat, a chill iced its way down my spine as I watched three tiny figures emerge from the dragonfly. Thinking they were some form of parasite, I leaned in and now could discern that the ‘dragonfly’ was mechanical. Without a magnifying glass all I could do was squint to make out that the creatures were like lizards — but these walked on two legs.
Two of three climbed up to the side console of the fighter using the webbing of the seat harness, as the third stood by, seemingly guarding its craft. Fascinated, I observed the creatures make it up to the IEE1394 Maintenance Port near the rear of the console, and pry off the plastic cap plug to reveal silver electrical contacts. That made me uneasy and I was about to swipe them away when the third lizard began pulling a strand of gold from the dragonfly craft and handed it up to the others.
The creatures began probing the contacts of the connector with the gold strand and I thought, ‘Yeah, this is really going to work.’ Then the cockpit powered on, all the instruments lit up and the central display screen glowed. As I watched, stunned, the display cleared and instead of normal navigation and fire control graphics, it wavered into vague pixels and then a blank screen.
Once again I determined to clear out these creatures but as I moved my hand toward the dragonfly, its wings buzzed angrily. Involuntarily I jerked back as shapes began to form on the main display screen.
At first they were indecipherable but as I watched, the shapes became sharper and arranged themselves into a word:
‘What the hell?’ I thought. Another word formed.
Without thinking I leaned over and, using the pilot’s flight computer keypad, typed:
I AM HERE
The display cleared and new words appeared:
HELLO PLEASE COMMUNICATE
Maybe they didn’t understand. I pressed the keys again:
I AM HERE
WHO ARE YOU?
The screen blanked then random shapes swirled over it. Another message appeared:
‘Go away?’ I thought they were trying to communicate. Creatures from who knows where are telling me to go away? I typed:
I AM RESPONDING
WHO ARE YOU?
A series of intersecting circles swept over the display followed by:
WE ARE NOT COMMUNICATING WITH SERVICE ANIMAL
WE WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH MASTER
‘A service animal?’ Now I was getting irritated. I responded:
I AM MASTER
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
The cockpit erupted in various warning sounds from all the systems at once, driving me back a few inches. More letters appeared:
WE ARE HERE TO COMMUNICATE WITH THIS BEING
YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A LOWLY SERVICE ANIMAL
GO AWAY AND LEAVE US TO OUR MISSION
This was too much. I pounded the keys:
I AM THE MASTER THIS IS A MACHINE
COMMUNICATE WITH ME
The stall warning horn sounded and the digitized female voice said softly, ‘Pull up, pull up.’ Then the display showed:
THIS CREATURE IS OBVIOUSLY MORE ADVANCED THAN A MERE ANIMAL AS YOU
WE WILL COMMUNICATE WITH THIS BEING AND YOU WILL BE PUNISHED FOR INTERFERING
Again, I typed:
I AM MASTER THIS IS A MACHINE
YOU MUST COMMUNICATE WITH ME
IF YOU DO NOT COOPERATE
WE WILL BURY YOU
THIS IS WAR
THIS IS AN INVASION
The lizards pulled out the gold wire and climbed down to their craft. Hearing a sound off in the distance, I glanced through the clear canopy and saw a dust cloud. The guys were returning. Looking back inside, the creatures had reentered their ship.
The USAF blue Dodge Ram Quad Cab pulled up a few yards away and three airmen emerged. The crew chief, Sergeant Scotty Johnston, took his time. As they approached the F-22 Raptor, I reached inside and grabbed the dragonfly. The wings were surprisingly strong but I got my hand around them and they folded back. The sergeant walked over, holding out a cold bottle of water. “Hey Smitty, were you bored while we were gone?”
Slipping the dragonfly into my uniform pocket, I answered, “Yeah Sarge, absolutely nothing going on here. What took you guys so long?”
Invasion my ass, I thought.
Ed Morawski is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served eight years in various locations from Virginia to California and Vietnam. He grew up in Cincinnati and presently resides with his family in Southern California where he is an expert in electronic security systems.