By the time we arrived at the far shore, it was already late in the morning. Surprisingly, it did not take us much longer to get under way, since the mountain path began at the lake shore. The slow climb up the path was gradual and easy at this end, but soon it would become a little steeper and would eventually be work for us until we got to the top. What a beautiful day for walking even if our pace eventually settled into more of a climb. At least we were able to talk about the future of this expedition and ask more questions concerning the main priorities of the trip. There wasn’t much more that the Professor could add, especially concerning the strange connections with the local fauna. But he did continue to talk about his theory, soon to be fact, as he saw it, about the alien part in the Great Disaster. But some of us wondered if the aliens were out to destroy us, or at least decrease our population. Otherwise, why go to all the bother to preserve so much of the ancients’ technology? It almost seemed, especially of the last hundred years or more, that we were being led in an ever increasing complex technology that would disclose more and more of the cosmos, rather than of ourselves and of the planet. Many thought what else could there be to discover or even to invent. Yet we were still clueless as to what really caused the Great Disaster.
“It almost seemed that the part of our history that would tell it all is still completely missing. Where is it?” I wondered.
“Better yet, why was it hidden from us?” said Sarah. “We have a right to know so that we do not make the same mistakes the next time.”
“And that is why I believe there is an alien connection,” the Professor said, “especially with the CETI Re-Initiative program. Too many important facts are missing or hidden. But I also believe that this expedition will bring us closer to the answers.”
“So you think that CETI may have been indirectly responsible for calling attention to our planet to outside aliens,” Michael asked?
“…and this time, they answered,” Sarah added.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “And I also believe that they may still be here, but hidden and waiting for the same reason that we were waiting; for the radiation levels to drop low enough and safe enough to start or continue with their projects.”
“This expedition is starting to sound a little more risky than what I was first led to believe,” said Sarah.
“That is why I am being honest and frank with all of you now,” the Professor stated. “If you want to leave now, you may, and I will not be offended. But if you stay, who knows what we will discover.”
“I think we all want to stay, Professor,” I said. “Who would want to pass up such an exciting expedition?”
“Several have, I am sorry to say,” he said. “Many would never believe my explanation anyway. So I had to keep reasons for the expedition general. That may explain why only a few responded, like yourselves, who know me, and also know that I will speak openly concerning the aliens once we are on our way. Whether you believe me or not, I still have to present my view, my opinion. If it is true, this could be quite a fantastic journey.”
“And filled with adventure and danger,” said Sarah. “But also an unlimited chance to exercise my own specialty; alien communication, verbal and non-verbal.”
By late afternoon, we reached the summit of the pass, since this part of the mountain range was not very high in altitude. The group discussed whether to camp here or continue. I suggested that we continue to at least the tree line where it would be warmer at night and we would have a shelter near to or in the trees and out of the wind. The rest were in favor of that since we were still in good shape from the last expedition. Unfortunately, the view was blocked by late afternoon clouds, but we could still see well from where we came from, almost down to the lake. Our view was also blocked occasionally by the trees. After a short rest we started off again and made good time, since we were descending down the mountain and could easily reach the tree line there in the far distance with time to make camp. The wind was a little chilly here, but our pace kept us comfortably warm. When we reached our first camp site, we all seemed to know what to do from other expeditions, and started in right away preparing camp and supper. By the time the food was ready we had a nice fire going and our camp set up. We would have a little time for sharing tonight before turning in for the evening, since the next day we would need to reach the bottom of the mountain. It all depended on what we could see of the Great Disaster area when we descended the mountain.
As we all settled down for an evening cup of tea and coffee, Sarah called my attention to the butterflies all around us that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Their coloration was light lavender and their wings about the size of a teaspoon. When they fluttered together, their number seemed to make a large cloud of the same color. The phenomenon was quite spectacular, like a lavender cloud floating around our heads. It was then that I saw them, peeking out from the forest, watching us with those bright yellow-green eyes that seemed to glow in the dark. The professor saw them also.
“Looks like we have visitors,” said the Professor. “They seem a little shy, but hopefully friendly.”
“Their eyes are a peculiar color,” Sarah pointed out, “almost like they glow in the dark.”
“Maybe it’s something they ate,” responded the Professor.
“Or the effects of the radiation?” I asked.
We all realized that the butterflies had suddenly vanished into thin air, so distracted were we from our first encounter with the wolves. As we turned our attention back to the wolves, they also had vanished. Oh well, so much for our first encounter with the fauna. We were all feeling wide awake now and a little giddy, like we had been drinking.
“Wow! What an encounter. I feel like staying up all night. We need to process that!” Sarah exclaimed.
“Not much happened,” Michael said. “There were butterflies and then wolves. I liked the butterflies though.”
“I wonder if there is any connection,” I added, “between the butterflies and the wolves?”
“Actually, that is a good observation, Nicholas,” the Professor said. “I believe there is a connection. What it is, I am not sure yet.”
“It is interesting that they both showed up at the same time,” Sarah mentioned. “I almost felt the wolves wanted to communicate with us; like I could sense their minds.”
“Or read their minds?” Michael added.
“Well, I am sure there will be other encounters,” the Professor interjected, “because this is the first experience that the other expeditions reported. I can say this now without prejudicing your observations, and even if I do, you need to be alert for future encounters.”
“This is great stuff, Professor,” Sarah said. “I am looking forward to what we might find, no matter what you decide to tell us. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight.”
“Well, I am not surprised. The second experience the other groups reported was a strong euphoria upon the initial contact,” he said. “I guess I don’t have to encourage all of you to be aware of these events, especially when they are happening, so we can make accurate reports and add these to our future studies.”
“So, Professor, this is sort of an academic field trip thrown in?” I said.
“Yes, one could say that. Fortunately for us, these are not firsthand experiences, but follow-up. That will make it easier for us to report, especially academically, so that there will not be any initial underlying doubt that may come from first hand reports. I feel this is the most important study that we will come across in a long time, but that we need to address now.”
“Professor,” Michael called his attention, “Are you connecting this with your previous theory of the alien connection?”
“Yes! That is where you will be coming in with your specialty,” he said, “Alien communication and non-verbal communication.”
“I am not like Sarah,” said Michael. “I do not think I can wait for each and every experience to happen before you explain them. Please, at least give us a clue. Besides, I feel like we are being used as guinea pigs.”
“Alright,” the Professor offered. “I am sure by the next experience you will soon know or will at least be able to figure out for yourself the answers. Again, I cannot yet give you any more clues until this particular experience happens. But once it does, I promise you, I will fill you in completely with the rest of the information concerning our present expedition.”
We were all very excited and wondered what that particular experience could be. It was very difficult to get to sleep that night, and the Professor had to remind us that we do need our sleep for the next day. So we reluctantly retired to our tents and to our own thoughts about the next day. I was pleased to see that our relationships had continued to grow and that we were bonding quite well among each other. Michael and I had always been close to each other, but I felt that our friendship was now reaching out to include others in ways that had never happened before. Usually we felt that anyone else who entered our own personal life would either be competition, or “the” person, or the “special” person, or the “other half”, the “life-long” companion, mate, whatever. And we would just work that out like everything else in our lives. Never before had I thought beyond the fact that our relationship might be a special one. Anyway, what brought on all these thoughts now was that we were all excited about the day’s experiences, and maybe that was amplifying our emotions and thoughts.