Monday, July 26

Ellen Ripley … Eat’Cher Heart Out!

In the honorable tradition  of Edward Snowden, I now undertake to disclose to you, loyal readers of your ever-vigilant Skeptic-In-Residence, certain facts that, thanks to indefatigable and painstaking minutes of web-surfing research, I became privy to concerning a clandestine space project directed by NASA, the Defense Department, the CIA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CalTech, the National Examiner, National Enquirer, Star, Sun, Fate magazines, and similarly venerable  print media-of-record, with indispensable assistance from their counterparts in Canada.  The intent of the project was to send an unmanned craft to rendezvous with, explore, and even return a sample or a small asteroid with which the earth had a near encounter in early 2013. Despite the cloak of official secrecy that has been drawn around this event, it is time the following was made public because (a) it concerns nothing less than the discovery of intelligent life that is both extraterrestrial in origin and hostile in disposition … or, at least, hostile to the United States … and (b) because the domestic situation is calm … no mass shootings --  the news out of Washington, DC, would make watching paint dry look like a Quentin Tarantino movie by comparison ...  right? -- so nothing in this country that is of any interest to anyone has been happening lately … right? Well, kindly allow me to alleviate your catalepsy-inducing boredom … no need to thank me.

Like any responsible journalist, I am not at liberty to reveal my sources for the following, other than to say that those sources involve many long conversations with my bartender-friend Rick, consultation with mystic crystals on the part of his wife, and the imbibing of somewhat immoderate quantities of Maker’s Mark bourbon … chilled, but no ice … “straight up” … and the smoking of primo-quality green, leafy herbs, the latter undertaken to refine and to accelerate even my normally razor-keen thought processes. The story, which I have painstakingly assembled from its myriad constituent fragments with assistance from Rick, Mrs. Rick, et al., and by recourse to such pharmacological assistance, begins in mid-February of 2013, in the skies over the Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, with the blindingly-bright streak of a great meteor across the sky:  the famed Chelyabinsk meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere – fortunately at a very shallow angle – and exploding several miles aloft in a deafening detonation that shattered windows, resulting in superficial injuries to a few dozen people on the ground. But, despite the spectacle, to concentrate on the Chelyabinsk event would be to allow the tail to wag the dog.

Fireball of Chelyabinsk meteor
Track of Chelyabinsk meteor

For the real story turns out to be the other asteroid – asteroid D-14 or sometimes DA-14 – that quite coincidentally accompanied the Chelyabinsk meteor. The D-14 asteroid missed earth by a mere 18,000 miles, i.e., about 7,000 miles inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites. What has not been known – until now – outside the most secret councils of the US government is that the automated robotic sampling probe launched by NASA succeeded. But not in the way any party to the project intended. The first hint of trouble began when the retrieval capsule landed on earth, not in the North Pacific, just south of the Aleutians, to be picked up by a quarantine ship, as originally intended, but near Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC -- in fact, in Lafayette Park just across from the White House. (At first it appeared that the retrieval capsule had indeed landed in the vicinity of the Aleutians, but this turned out to be an optical … “Aleutian” … ) The Presidential Protection Detail sprang into action, hustling President Obama and the rest of the First Family to Marine One, already waiting on the South Lawn of the White House, for transfer to classified locations. Other Secret Service details swept other key officials of the Executive Branch, including Vice President and Dr. Biden, to safety. Ditto the congressional leadership and Supreme Court Justices. Continuity of Government was assured. All this was either completed or was well under way within 10 minutes of the crash of the retrieval vehicle in Lafayette Park. Now, you may want to pause here to imbibe your own quantity of an adult beverage – yes, I recommend Maker’s Mark – and / or to inhale the beneficent fumes of your own green, leafy herbs, because what occurred next almost beggars description.

You have seen War of the Worlds, right? -- either version, Gene Barry or Tom Cruise -- where the alien machines emerge from below ground. Well, some cognate of this is apparently what happened with the crashed retrieval vessel, except that in this case, the aliens themselves emerged from the ship, stood up, and began to stagger in an ungainly and graceless lumber toward the White House. Witnesses, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity supplemented by several cases of Maker’s Mark and front-row tickets to Hamilton, averred that the alien party comprised six beings quite strongly reminiscent of, in fact, virtually identical to, the vicious, acid-blooded aliens encountered by hapless astronauts in the Alien / Aliens movie franchise -- in both of which Sigourney Weaver played the intrepid astronaut and alien-slayer Ellen Ripley -- even including a simulacrum of the 20-foot-tall chief / mother alien from the latter movie, who was obviously the leader of the party, as evidenced by his insistence of walking far in front even of the alien who seemed to be his mate, despite her (?) rebuff of his attempt to hold claws. His (?) status as leader was also marked by the stupendous blonde- / marmalade-colored mullet or comb-over crowning his enormous and grotesque head. They apparently spoke to one another as they walked, but the aliens’ language seemed to comprise only one word, which, as of this date, has still not been decrypted / translated:  COVFEFE! COVFEFE! COVFEFE!

"The Muller" (in civilian clothes)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The party of six reeled precariously down Pennsylvania Ave., south and east toward the Capitol, always squawking COVFEFE! COVFEFE! to each other, pausing at 7th and Pennsylvania Ave., then due south on 7th, toward the National Archives building on the northwest corner of 7th and Constitution -- in quest of just what, no one at the time of these events dared hazard a guess. By now, quite a crowd had gathered along the aliens’ direction of march west on Constitution toward the Archives tourist-queue entrance – including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who feared – quite correctly, as it turned out – that the aliens’ ultimate destination was the repository of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda of the Archives building. Thither she hastened without delay.

Hurrying inside past the queued tourists and ahead of the alien party by leveraging her privileges as a Senator and her name- and face-recognition, she and her brave staffer I will only call “Bill” hurried into the Rotunda, assumed a defensive position in front of the three great Documents of the Founding – thereby placing their very bodies in harm’s way – and awaited the arrival of the six-alien party. Only a couple seconds after her arrival, Sen. Warren was joined by a purple-caped-and-leotarded crusader known in the District only by his professional pseudonym “The Muller”, with a great red-white-and-blue “M” emblazoned on the chest of his tights, who is renowned for his ability to … well … to mull … i.e., to brood searchingly and long and deeply and relentlessly on any given topic, and who always carries his formidable “Subpoena-Tron” slung on a strap over his back, a deadly weapon that looks like a cross between a bazooka and a recoil-less rifle. The three – Sen. Warren, The Muller, and Bill – greeted one another hastily, just before the party of six aliens stumbled drunkenly into the Rotunda and – incessantly braying COVFEFE! COVFEFE! COVFEFE! at each other -- headed for the 3 great Documents in their steel-brass-and-thick-glass cases.

Stalwart staffer Bill

Upon seeing the six teratologically deformed beasts looming inside the Archives, even the stalwart Bill, turning sheer white from the neck up, screamed “That's it, man! Game over, man! Game over!”  “Steady there, Bill,” muttered Sen. Warren, stepping forward while remaining between the aliens and the Documents.  Craning her neck to look the blondish-orange-crowned chief alien in the face, she unblinkingly shouted Get away from here, you bitch! Whereupon, The Muller, unslinging the Subpoena-Tron and taking lethal aim at the aliens, shouted “Ah! Still need some convincing, eh? Well this should do the trick!” He pulled the trigger of the Subpoena-Tron, spraying all 6 aliens with blindingly bright, blue-white bolts of pure ravening energy. All 6 aliens, screaming COVFEFE! one final time, instantly disintegrated into a veritable blizzard of … Form 1040 IRS documents and associated ancillary IRS tax-calculation schedules, all of which, upon being shoveled up from the floor of the Archive Rotunda and subsequently examined by IRS analysts, turned out to be gravely and feloniously falsified in a myriad ways.

“Pretty good day’s work, Liz!” exclaimed The Muller, ignoring the residual reek of ozone in the air and re-shouldering the mighty Subpoena-Tron.

“Not over yet,” responded Sen. Warren, still steely-eyed. “We still have to check on the White House. So we ‘Moscow Russian’ over there right now!”

“Bad pun, Liz … “

“Yeah … I know ‘M’ … best I could do on short notice … “

By then, the Capitol cops had shown up, together with a dozen or so semis to haul away the tax forms, and the Nation gratefully turned away to watch the cable-TV recap  of the previous season’s Game of Thrones, about brutal and violent nations practicing brutal and violent politics.

GAWD! Concentrating on fiction was such a relief!



Subsequent analysis of the telemetry transmitted from the retrieval spacecraft on its way back to earth revealed the reason the craft landed in Lafayette Park instead of near the Aleutian Islands. Shortly before it began re-entering the earth’s atmosphere, surveillance by American Aquacade / Rhyolite SIGINT satellites indicates that the retrieval craft was intercepted by an extremely powerful and intricately encrypted radio beacon that took control and re-directed the craft from the North Pacific to its eventual location near the White House. Triangulation and signal analysis of these records at Fort Huachuca (a.k.a. "Fort We-Gotcha") revealed that, while the precise location remains uncertain, the origin of the “pirate” signal was certainly somewhere in Russia a little west of the Urals. As of this writing, the investigation is proceeding. Even preliminary results are quite highly classified.

James R. Cowles

PS -- I trust that my inclusion of "Bill" as one of the three defending the Constitution will be taken as intended:  as gentle humor, not ridicule. Bill Paxton's life was all too short, but he was a hellaciously talented actor, and, shortly before his untimely death, the chief driving force behind what I consider one of the 2 or 3 best and most hard-charging cop series on TV, Training Day, driven by the character of the brash, aggressively iconoclastic, refreshingly go-to-hell but utterly incorruptible character of Detective Frank Roark of the LAPD, to say nothing of his roles in Twister and Aliens, from the latter of which his now-becoming-classic line is taken: “That's it, man! Game over, man! Game over!” We miss you ... hell, I miss you. Rest in peace, Bill!

Image credits

Robert S. Mueller III ... FBI ... Public domain
Sen. Elizabeth Warren ... US Senate ... Public domain
Bill Paxton ... Gage Skidmore ... CC by SA 3.0
Alien 1 ... Christo ... CC by SA 4.0
Chelyabinsk meteor trace ... Alex Alishevskikh ... CC by SA 2.0
Chelyabinsk fireball ... Aleksandr Ivanov ... CC by SA 3.0

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