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Fiction series
Chapter 13 recap
People are either leaving town or flocking to churches and bars. Jake goes to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where the newspaper reporter finds him praying. Jake says he is thankful the mysterious lights have brought his family closer.

Chapter 14

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Photo by Jak Wonderly
Illustration by Lara Neel
Summit City Lights

Chapter 14

National Guardsmen surrounded the barn off U.S. 24 east of Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne and Allen County police squads gathered behind them with bomb-sniffing dogs and an explosives ordnance disposal robot. A firetruck parked along the road.

Two soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry Regiment broke down a door with a battering ram. Rifles were trained on the entrance.

The Homeland Security director walked inside the barn, which looked like it had been in a state of slow collapse for decades. Beams of sunshine peeked through holes in the sagging roof.

Workbenches lined one wall of the barn. Lathes, drills, saws and other machines crowded nearby. A card table and metal folding chairs sat in the middle of the dirt floor.

Blueprints, circuit boards, transistors and wires covered the table. One chair was empty. On another sat a toolbox. A third chair supported a stack of newspapers with stories about UFO sightings on their front pages. The Homeland Security director saw a picture of his face looking up at him from one of the newspapers.

Two black clamshells, each several feet in diameter, perched on the workbenches. Fiber-optic strands poked from the edge of either disc, forming a dotted-line ring of filament. Each object balanced on three tubes that the Homeland Security director knew were thruster devices. Scientists and law enforcement officials would have to take apart the saucers to determine what type of engines or motors powered them.

The clamshells were dented and scratched, and caked with patches of dried mud and grass. One appeared to be constructed from fiberglass; the other seemed made of aluminum.

Another workbench was bare except for clumps of soil. Police dogs sniffed around while explosives experts examined the benches, machinery, table and chairs.

Cindy didn't need to be told not to touch anything. She had, after all, led everybody here.

Cindy inspected one of the clamshells.

"So this is what put Fort Wayne in a state of panic the past two weeks," she said to the Homeland Security director.

"People really did see flying saucers," he said, "didn't they?"

"Yeah, but they came from a workshop in an old barn, not from another planet," Cindy said. "And this workshop isn't even mad-scientist eerie, either – it's too messy."

She noticed fast-food wrappers on the ground. A man's black hoodie sweatshirt was draped over the back of a folding chair, and a pair of mud-crusted boots rested on the dirt below it.

"This guy doesn't even dress like a mad scientist," Cindy said.

Two state police officers approached Cindy and the Homeland Security director.

"The couple in the house down the drive don't seem to know much," one trooper said. "They say they never come out to the barn."

"He's in a wheelchair, and his wife tends to him when she's not at work," the second trooper said. "They sold off most of the farm years ago. Their adult son still lives with them."

"They say he uses the barn to putter around in," the first trooper said. "His mom says he's an inventor, just like his granddad was."

Yes, he is that, Cindy thought. She wished her ex-husband and their daughter could be here to share in her discovery.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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