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Fiction series
Chapter 7 recap
A WOWO talk show is flooded with calls from people debating the merits of the UFO sightings. The mayor announces he’ll have a town-hall meeting on the matter.

Summit City Lights - Chapter 8

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Photo and illustration by Lara Neel | The Journal Gazette
SUMMIT CITY LIGHTS

Chapter 8

Not everybody was alarmed about UFO sightings over Fort Wayne.

Bars and restaurants advertised alien specials on their signs. Radio DJs played the themes to “The X-Files” and “The Twilight Zone.” Readers at Northeast Indiana Radio Reading Service – which was fielding new complaints about static – began recording H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds,” Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” and Carl Sagan’s “Contact.”

Nobody had more fun with the reported sightings than the merchants along Wells Corridor northwest of downtown. Antennas sprouted from the heads of sidewalk statues – the mouse, the soldier and the American Indian brave. Tattoo shops featured ink drawings of E.T. and oblong-headed aliens in their front windows. The cityscape mural painted on the side of Hyde Brothers Booksellers was revised so that blue flying saucers floated above local landmarks.

Even the ITT engineer was tickled when, during a TinCaps baseball game at Parkview Field, the grounds crew raked the base paths while wearing masks of characters from “Star Wars” movies.

“This is all your fault,” Cindy told her ex-husband. “Why did you have to talk to that reporter?”

“If you hadn’t left me, I never would have moved to Ludwig Park and seen those lights,” Jake said.

Cindy winced.

“Let’s not go there,” she instructed. (She had once wrongly accused him of stalking her by moving so near her employer.)

They sat on the lawn overlooking the outfield at Parkview Field. Their daughter’s high school marching band had performed before the game, and Chelsea made her parents promise to attend and sit together.

Her dad was happy to be there. Chelsea knew he would be. She was pleasantly surprised that her mother agreed. But then Chelsea had not learned until tonight that her mom was investigating the lights and wanted to hear Jake’s account. Yet given that, Cindy was wearing her blue sundress, a favorite of Jake’s from several years back.

“Please tell me you won’t talk at the mayor’s town-hall meeting,” Cindy pleaded with Jake. “After all, I’m going to be one of the panelists.”

“Don’t worry,” Jake said, “I don’t plan on going. Somebody’s got to guard Smith Field in case the aliens come back.”

Chelsea approached. She had been sitting in the stands with the Northrop band, but she said she needed money for a snack. It was her way of checking up on her parents.

“You’re not the only one who can keep a secret,” she told her mother. “I saw the same lights Dad did, but on a different night. It creeped me out.”

Cindy grinned.

“I’m hearing a lot of that lately,” she said.

Cindy listened to Chelsea’s account for an inning, then announced she was heading home. She had to prepare for the town-hall meeting.

Jake walked her out of the ballpark. They had just left the main gate when thick ribbons of silver streaked across the southern sky, dissolving almost as fast as they appeared.

People froze on the sidewalk around Cindy and Jake. Somebody shrieked.

“Don’t worry,” Cindy told them. “That was just a meteorite shower. A good one, too.”

And then Cindy was facedown on the sidewalk. Jake kneeled over her as people raced out of Parkview Field, shoving their way along Brackenridge Street to get to the parking lots and their cars.

The TinCaps and the Peoria Chiefs played their last two innings before a mostly empty house. Only the Northrop marching band stayed until the end of the game.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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