"Are these people nuts, or is there a flying saucer zipping around Fort Wayne?"
The WOWO talk show host expected a flood of calls. Radio listeners had had all day to mull over the "Summit City lights" story in the morning paper.
The flood began.
"That guy on Ludwig Road is making this up. He just wants to see his name in the paper."
"Other people saw the lights; total strangers couldn't be in on the same fabrication."
"They're testing drones up there at Smith Field again. You know the military secretly built wood drones there during World War II, don't you? They used them as guided missiles in the Pacific."
"ITT, Raytheon, the Air National Guard – the whole bunch, they're in cahoots."
"It's a hoax; remember the balloon boy out in Colorado?"
"Aliens are in Fort Wayne; they're flying around in a silver spaceship the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. I saw it myself."
"Whether it's aliens or the government, you'd better have your guns ready."
A couple of people who saw the lights while driving along Coldwater Road answered questions from the talk show host. Their accounts were similar: a circle of blue lights that seemed to spring up and down in the air south of Northrop High School. One witness said he took a picture with a cell phone, but the image was too dark and blurry to distinguish anything.
WOWO had found Jake and asked him to be on the broadcast. He declined, saying he didn't have anything to add that wasn't already in the newspaper.
Jake was at work. He didn't have a radio in his cubicle; he didn't need one. He'd heard all of this once already today when colleagues at the architectural firm teased him about the "Summit City lights" story, then debated the credibility of "Jake the flake," as one worker called him, and the other people quoted by the newspaper.
He could have talked about the blue lights his daughter had seen, but he wouldn't have done that to her. She hadn't even told her mother yet. As it was, Jake was second-guessing himself about speaking with the reporter, afraid he had embarrassed Chelsea even if she now knew he hadn't been hallucinating or imagining things.
"Talk to the Fox Island guy," Jake had suggested to WOWO. "It's not just the Smith Field area where lights have been spotted, you know."
And that's what the Indiana Tech student told the show when his call got through. Zach talked in detail about the blue lights he had reported earlier to the late-night radio program.
"Whatever it is, it is an engineering marvel," Zach said. "It's the most agile aircraft I've ever seen. But it's far too small for a human to fit inside."
Jake's co-workers gathered at a radio in one corner of the office and listened to their earlier debate repeated by other voices.
"It's a government cover-up," one caller insisted.
"It's a business promotion; everybody's got those LED signs now," another said.
"It's fireflies. They're turning blue from all the mosquito poison that's sprayed around this town."
"It's the jets from the 122nd Fighter Wing – they're shooting lasers these days."
"It's the heat."
"It's the humidity – this is an atmospheric phenomenon."
The mayor called the show.
"The time has come for a fact-finding mission," he announced.
The mayor had contacted Homeland Security, the defense contractors, the Air National Guard, Smith Field, Fort Wayne International Airport and others. He wanted to assemble their representatives for a town-hall meeting.
"Let's hear from them and from the public," he said. "Six o'clock Thursday night at Anthis Career Center."