This story was sent to me by Robin from Oklahoma
My mom was working the late shift and called to ask me to pick up my 11-year-old brother, Jeff. Christmas was coming and Mom was trying to put in as much overtime as she could. I didn’t mind being Jeff’s chauffeur if it helped Mom.
“I should be home by the time you and Jeff are getting ready for school tomorrow,” she said. “Make sure he’s got his backpack with him when you pick him up, okay.”
“Sure, Mom.” I said. “See you tomorrow.”
I’d made plenty of trips to shuttle Jeff to and from movies or soccer practice. This cold evening, Jeff and a bunch of his friends had gone bowling.
As I drove the forty-five minutes from home to the bowling alley (why does everything have to be so far apart in Oklahoma?), I couldn’t help thinking of the prom, so many months away. I needed a lot more babysitting jobs if I was going to save up enough for the dress I wanted, not to mention the jewelry, tanning sessions, and shoes. As I started to make a mental budget, I got discouraged. As I drove along narrow two-lane roads lined on either side by high banks of snow, the strapless pink dress I hoped to wear come springtime felt a million dollars away.
When I arrived at the bowling alley Jeff and his friends were in the final frame of their last game. I hung out with a couple of my friends who worked at the snack bar. We gossiped a little and talked about the huge winter storm that was supposed to hit the next morning.
The kids soon finished bowling. My friends’ manager was hovering around the cash register, which meant they were going to get in trouble soon if we didn’t stop talking. Jeff and I each said our goodbyes and headed for home.
“How’d you do?” I asked once we were in the car.
Jeff shrugged. “I bowled a 110,” he said. “Pretty good. Two guys were ahead of me, though.”
Normally I don’t try to engage in conversation with Jeff. Since he’s six years my junior, we don’t have a whole lot to talk about. But I knew he liked bowling a lot.
“So you had fun, right?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Jeff replied. “Especially when Matt Peters threw three gutter balls in a row. You know, he’s Mr. Perfect Form.”
“Well that’s cool.” I said, finishing my sisterly duty for the night.
I turned on the radio and Jeff pulled out his PSP. Because everything is so far apart in Oklahoma you learn to entertain yourself in the car. When we were about halfway home, I glanced in my rear view mirror and spotted a red light that appeared to be trailing us. “Oh, man,” I said, thinking it was the cops. Following driver’s ed procedure, I started slowing down and began to pull over to the side of the road. That’s when I looked into the mirror again.
The red light was rising into the air.
“What the heck? That’s no police car,” I said, looking back over my shoulder.
The red light pulled up alongside our car. This is going to sound crazy, but the light was attached to a cigar-shaped metal craft which hovered beside us, keeping pace with the car.
“What is that?” Jeff shouted, the panic obvious in his voice. “Is that a UFO?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know!” I shouted back, desperately trying to find another—any other—explanation for what we were seeing.
The craft rose above the sightline of my window. Based on the eerie red glow bathing the road around us, it now seemed to be directly above our car. Suddenly a brilliant crimson light, many times brighter than the soft glow flooded the car. Total panic overtook me as I realized I could no longer see the road. I kept my foot on the gas, though. Maybe that was stupid, but I didn’t want to stop and be at the mercy of whoever was driving that ship.
“What’s happen—” Jeff started yelling before his voice was cut off suddenly.
“Jeff!” I shouted, stories of UFO abductions flashing through my mind. “Jeff! Are you all right?”
Jeff only stared straight ahead into the blinding red light coming through the windshield. His mouth hung open and his body appeared rigid, frozen in some kind of trance.
Just as I realized that there was something very wrong with my brother, I discovered that I couldn’t move. My limbs felt locked, my head forced by some outside power to turn and stare straight into the radiant scarlet light. Then a terrifying thought seized me.
If I can’t move, I can’t control the car! We’re going to crash! I felt the car drift over toward the shoulder of the road. I mentally braced for impact, certain we were about to smash into a tree or a road sign, wishing I could at least lean over to protect my little brother.
And then the car slowed down, coming to a gentle stop on the shoulder. The bright red light faded, replaced by a spinning circle of white light. As the white light flashed through the car, I became aware of a low humming sound which grew in intensity.
This is it! I thought. This is when they beam us up to their ship and we’re never heard from again. Or worse, they cut us open and experiment on us, then send us back, and we spend the rest of our lives completely traumatized and deformed!
But I was wrong.
Through the dull humming sound I began to hear a voice, faint at first, then growing louder. The voice was jerky, uneven, as if a foreign language were being translated into English by somebody who didn’t quite understand what he was saying.
Holding my breath, I listened as the words became clear. “Mother…in trouble,” the mechanical-sounding voice stuttered. “Mother…accident…Hiline Road…” Then it continued. “Mother…needs…your…help…Branson’s barn.”
The voice concluded with a single word: “Hurry.”
The humming stopped. The bright white light disappeared, and I watched through the windshield as the space craft drifted slowly upward, its red lights fading into the star-strewn sky.
I could move again, and I turned to Jeff, who was breathing hard. I was grateful to see he could also move and speak again.
“Did you hear that, Robin?” Jeff asked excitedly. “Do you think something’s wrong with Mom?”
Putting aside the fact that Jeff and I just lived through what I could only call a UFO encounter, I thought of Mom working the late shift. She always drove on Hiline Road, a back road, on her way home from work. But she wasn’t due home until tomorrow morning. She wouldn’t be on Hiline Road now.
“I don’t know,” I told Jeff, pulling back out onto the road. “Call Mom’s cell and find out.”
Jeff tried calling but there was no signal. “We’re in a dead zone, but I’ll keep trying,” he said.
As I drove, I tried sorting through the details of what had happened. Jeff was asking me a million questions, but I ignored him. I needed to think. If someone had told me that morning that I was going to come that close to a UFO, I would have thought they were crazy. I also expected to be more upset by the experience. Now it actually seemed sort of cool. For a moment I pictured myself becoming one of those wackos who hang out by the side of the road waiting for their alien friends to return.
But then I thought about the message. Was it true? Was Mom in some kind of danger? It made no sense--she was at work.
“You okay?” I asked, looking over at Jeff who had finally fallen silent.
He nodded. “A little freaked out,” he said. “Now I’m really worried about Mom.”
“Me, too,” I replied.
Driving quickly, I turned onto Hiline Road and sped toward Branson’s barn. “We’re getting close to the barn,” I said. “Roll down the window and look out your side.”
Jeff rolled down his window and stuck his head out into the darkness. Just past the barn, he spotted something.
“Robin!” he cried. “Stop!”
I slammed on the brakes and pulled over. Jeff and I scrambled from the car. I tried not to scream as I spotted a car that had slid into a ditch off the side of the road.
“It’s Mom!” I shouted, climbing down into the ditch.
The front end of the car was embedded in the far wall of the ditch. I flung open the front door and saw my mother slumped against the inflated airbag. Blood trickled down the side of her face. Groceries were scattered all over the car.
“MOM!” I screamed, hoping against hope that she was still alive.
I gently took her hand into mine. She stirred and moaned.
“She’s alive!” I called back to Jeff. “Try the cell phone again! Call 911!”
Jeff ran back to the car. “We’ve got a signal!” he yelled as he called for help.
I knew I shouldn’t move her, so Jeff and I just stayed by her side, holding her hand, whispering softly that everything was going to be all right. She moaned and managed to speak just a little. I pieced together the fact that her manager let everyone go home early because of the approaching storm.
A few minutes later the ambulance arrived. The paramedics carefully removed Mom from the car.
“It looks like cuts and bruises, and maybe a mild concussion, but no major injuries,” one of them said. “We’ll take her to the hospital for tests, but she should be fine.”
I nodded, tears or relief running down my face. I actually gave my brother a hug.
“Good thing you found her,” the paramedic said as they loaded Mom into the ambulance. “This is a pretty quiet road and she could have been lying there for hours, even days. With this cold and the storm coming in she would have froze to death. You kids saved her life.”
We had a little help, I thought as Jeff and I got back into the car to follow the ambulance to the hospital.