Additive, Responsive Shape

In the summer of 1988, I’d come back home to Bellevue following my junior year in college and met up with my high school friend Eric and his girlfriend Leigh. We were going to the movies. The film was “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and was playing at the Crossroads Cinema. With Eric driving and Leigh in the front passenger seat, I sat alone in the back. Along the way, we’d parked the car in a field about a mile from the theater to smoke some grass before driving the rest of the way in, so we were kind of high as we approached the cinema. As we drove through the suburban traffic, my eyes stayed fixed on an orange shape low in the sky, almost directly above where we were going. I don’t remember that anything seemed all that strange to me about it – it was simply an orange circle in the sky, more or less moon-sized – but one of us mentioned it, and another said, “Oh, what, that? The moon?” “Not the moon… it has a flashing light under it.” I looked at the shape again and saw the flashing light, which was at the end of a long, silver pole that hung from its underside, and that I could swear had not been there before. But now that it had been mentioned, I saw it clearly. Eric, I believe, then added, “What, the oval-shaped thing?” Oval-shaped? I’d been looking straight at it and seen it as circular, but now that Eric had said this, the thing was unmistakably an oval. (My memory of these particulars of who said what, and what first, about what qualities, is very blurry – but the salient point being that each of us saw some different feature about it, some feature that the others hadn’t, and as we each described that particular thing, it became not only visible but obvious). As we neared the theater, we also got closer toward it. It hung maybe one hundred feet above and just across the street from where we were going. Now, close up, as Eric parked the car in the lot, I could see a great deal more about this object.

It glowed a luminous, saturated orange-red all throughout its Madeleine-shaped* body, nowhere any dimmer nor any brighter along its structure, but evenly and brilliantly, though not brightly, lit. The shape was, horizontally, teardrop-like, and with a rounded top that tapered down evenly in proportion to its width, while the bottom was, overall, flatter, though with a pronounced domelike bump at the center. Circling around the midpoint of this bottom dome was a red spot, more intense than its lighted surrounds. It’s motion was machinelike and absolutely perfect. This struck me as an eye, and though nothing more than a red dot, it seemed yet to express something very complex about what was inside or behind this thing, an exquisite and bizarre intelligence that was at once a machine, a plasma, and/or something organic. The metal pole with the flashing light projected straight down from this bulge, and the whole craft seemed perhaps 30 feet long. It simply floated there, above what was maybe an apartment complex, and it made no sound. The busy suburban shopping mall and its surrounds, at 7 or 8 o’clock on a summer’s evening, did not seem the least affected by the presence of this object: people went on about their business while traffic moved steadily underneath the it along the crowded thoroughfare.

I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I got out from the car first as Leigh and Eric lingered over something. I couldn’t tell what was holding them up, but it gave me some time to watch the object closely, to observe how it moved in a slow, controlled drift forward. It seemed I had a telepathic connection to the object, and I remember thinking that that was how it should work. Had I read about this somewhere before? But as I thought toward the object, move to the left, or, now turn right, it would do so, and very suddenly, yet still in very slight, little movements. My friends by now had gone to stand in line to buy tickets, and so I went to join them, yet still I kept my eye on the object, which they seemed to have no further interest in at all. Finally, I said out loud, though more to myself than anyone else, “What is that thing?” Somebody in the line ahead overheard me and turned around, took a look up and down at me, and said belligerently, “Don’t you know the Goodyear blimp when you see it!?” It struck me though as particularly odd how angry he was. I didn’t respond – I couldn’t think of how to respond, because obviously this wasn't that, no matter how stoned I was.

We went into the movie, and nothing more was said about it. When some time later, after a year or two had passed, I happened to run into Eric and Leigh again on the street in Seattle. We’d not been in touch for a while, and there was a bit of an awkward chill between us by then, likely from simply growing apart. I asked Eric if he remembered seeing that thing that one night. He either didn’t remember or didn’t think it worth considering, but evaded the question. He even seemed to have a hint of contempt toward me for bringing it up at all.**

*The reference to a Madeleine cookie only occurred to me some few years later when, standing at the check out line at a Starbucks at that same mall, I saw on a point-of-purchase display these neat little cellophane packages with single cookies inside, hung from the wire rack, and I thought excitedly, that’s exactly what it looked like! I learned the name of the cookie because it was printed on the package. The only major difference in shape between them was that the cookie had ridges running along the gently-sloping side, whereas the top of the object had been completely smooth.

**At the time that I first wrote this account, which was about a year ago, this latter encounter with my friends in Seattle seemed perfectly clear. Now, as I’m reading through and editing this entry, I don’t remember asking Eric about the object at all. I don’t think I’ve simply made this part of it up (as in, to make a better story of it), yet at the same time I can’t entirely rule that out either. But why would I? The point of writing these journals was not to impress anybody, and I did not at the time intend to publish them. It is as if that specific memory has been altered or removed in the act of recounting it.