Travelogues of the Damned: ECETI Ranch, Part 2

Framed photographs of colorful, splotchlike orbs taken at night in the field covered the walls of the guesthouse living room, and one, a blur of spectral colors, which had been described to me definitively by my admitting host as a faery, it in particular caught my attention – it even had defined “wings” and something resembling a skirt or tail, hanging in the night air above a small cluster of people, who all looked up toward it. It reminded me distantly of the Marian apparitions photographed around the Coptic Church in Cairo, between 1968 and 1971. As the evening wore on, there gathered in the guesthouse perhaps half a dozen of us altogether who were not with the ranch itself, but there to encounter what might be encountered. I was a little surprised to find myself relatively at ease with this small and unfamiliar group, as conversation came untroubled and informal comfort seemed the order of things. After a time, the same woman who’d first admitted me and shown me to my room put her head in the door again in to announce to us that James had received acknowledgement that they were here now… that it was time to come to the field if we wanted to see them. A wave of anticipation rushed over us as we hurriedly gathered up our jackets and cameras, following after.

It was a short walk through darkness and beyond the main building to the field, where James and the others were waiting. As I walked out amongst the scattered deck chairs in the chill, open air, I started to notice colorful blotches of light popping in the peripheries of my vision, greens and reds. They wiggled and disappeared as quickly as they’d arrived. It seemed an interior, perceptual thing, though very physical, and not quite like anything I’d experienced before, so I said out loud, yet still mostly to myself, “What are these colors I’m seeing in the corners of my eyes?” James replied, surprising me that he’d even heard my soft voice, “Those are the beings that live out here.” We looked up.

It was some moments before anything started to happen, but then one of us said something to the effect of, “Oh, there’s one…” Above us, in the sky, one of the many dots moved laterally against the darkness. A satellite? James pointed a laser at it, for the benefit of anyone who’d not caught it yet. In the wake of anticipation, I wondered if this could auger something more to come. I’d heard stories from my new friend back at the house of spectacular behaviors of lighted objects that had convinced her to come to live at the ranch. But of what I saw now, this in itself it didn’t seem like much. Then a second dot of light was noticed, moving in a different direction. The laser beam called this one out as well, and infrared goggles started being passed around. In time, more and more of these dots appeared, moving always in continuous lines. “Let me see if I can get them to power up,” James said, confidently, following one with his pointer, flashing the beam on and off. Sure enough, as though reluctant to perform, yet badgered into it by the laserbeam, the dot did flash back at us. People cheered. This was repeated a few times, by a few different dots – as several of them appeared over the hour and a half that we were out there in the field, under the clearing in the skies.

When the infrared binoculars were passed over to me, I took a swing with them around the green-lit star field. Nothing. Even as more dots were sighted, cheered on by the others, and I tried chasing after them, I just couldn’t seem to catch up with anything. When I said as much, somebody – I couldn’t tell who in the darkness – suggested that I train the binoculars toward one particular spot and wait, so I tried this tack, holding steady, looking directly to an area chosen at random, and waited. I began to get a sinking feeling, a sadness altogether too familiar, as if even in this feakazoid behavior, I just wasn’t somehow good enough to get it, a lonely child again who would never quite fit in. As I sank into this old despair, through the goggles, in the center of a dark patch, there was a sudden, bright flare-up and just-as-quick disappearance. My animator’s time-sense calculated: at 24 frames per second of film, it would have been over with in 3; one eighth of a second. Nobody else commented, as no one seemed to see it but me. But I had very definitely seen it, at just exactly the moment that I’d given up and felt most entirely alone.

When James called it good, deciding that this performance was over for the night and we should go in, one of the staff tallied that we’d seen 22 such little moving dots of light in the 90 minutes that we’d been watching. I’d heard in James’s interviews about the “Heavens Above” satellite-tracking software they employed to check what hardware was actually accounted for in the sky at a given time, but hadn’t seen or heard any numbers for that time span that evening, but even given the mostly unexceptional nature of what we did see, moving-spot-wise (and not accounting for my more subjective experiences) the numbers seem, at the very least, a little weird. That’s a lot of satellites, some of which seemed happy to blip at us more or less on command. Yet it was all so distant, diminished, unspectacular, and to the skeptic, unconvincing – while to those inclined toward belief, it seemed yet more ready proof. One visitor, a young man who’d come in a group with two others, was visibly annoyed at the willingness of the rest to accept this as in any way significant. He’d seen a few satellites and nothing more. I couldn’t exactly blame him for feeling this way, but I’d had the experience of something reaching me – and only me – at the moment when I needed it the most. And I’d had the feathery little blob-colors touching me, as I could almost more feel than see them, brushing quickly, playfully up against the flanks of my soul, as I’d first stepped out into the field. But it was so subtle and subjective, so easy to dismiss, and in that sense, exactly like most of the experiences I’ve had of this sort.

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