Buddyâ€™s eyes were big with surprise. â€śReally? You really think aliens made them?â€ť
Jim reached over to put his hand on Buddyâ€™s shoulder. â€śLetâ€™s just say that Earth is one little planet circling around our sun. Scientists believe there are millions of suns in our galaxy. Lots of those stars or suns could have planets. And those planets could be populated by beings who have way more knowledge than we do.â€ť Jim looked across the table at his dad and Mason. â€śSo yes, Buddy, I think aliens, or EBEs, made those snow stars. I think theyâ€™re trying to tell us something.â€ť
Mason turned to Pat. â€śWhat do you think?â€ť
â€śSure, Iâ€™ve believed in them for a long time,â€ť Pat said. â€śThere are records of people seeing spaceships through the last several centuries, especially during the last fifty years. Most of those sightings have a scientific explanation. But at least 5 percent of them donâ€™t.â€ť
Jim glanced at his dad and took a deep breath. â€śWe went to a lecture by a famous scientist from France. He believes. Heâ€™s been researching sightings for over thirty years.â€ť
â€śYes. The French government takes UAPs very seriously,â€ť Pat stated.
Nell seemed surprised. â€śAre other countries as interested in UFOs as the French?â€ť
Jim nodded. â€śYes, Mom, lots of countries. The British Minister of Defense has released their UFO files to the public. Peru, Brazil, Japan, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Russiaâ€”all have government agencies looking into UAPs. Right, Pat?â€ť
â€śOf course. Our government does, too, although they wonâ€™t admit it. Guess theyâ€™re afraid of what will happen if they tell us what theyâ€™ve found out.â€ť
â€śWhat do these other governments say?â€ť Grandma Betty looked concerned. â€śWhere do they think the UFOs come from?â€ť
Buddy answered before Jim or Pat had a chance. â€śGod made the aliens. God makes everyone.â€ť
â€śGood answer, Buddy,â€ť Jim said. He turned to Mason. â€śWho do you think put those star shapes on all the campuses?â€ť
â€śI didnâ€™t see any star shapes,â€ť Mason answered. â€śDid you, Janell?â€ť
Janell caught Jimâ€™s eye for a second, then stared at her half-eaten food. â€śI didnâ€™t,â€ť she mumbled.
Jim looked at Mason. Surely, they were joking. â€śOh, come on now! Iâ€™m sure you heard about them. You, of all people, should have heard something. If aliens made them, it could be a matter of national defense.â€ť
Masonâ€™s smile vanished, and his expression grew grave. â€śWhat I meant is that you neednâ€™t concern yourself with them, Jim. After all, youâ€™re just a student.â€ť
Janell put her fork down and glared at Jim. He knew she didnâ€™t want him to ask Mason about the stars. Anger boiled up inside him. Did they still think he was a little kid?
His dad ate his last bite of chicken, then intervened. â€śJim and Pat may know more than you think,â€ť he said. His eyes met Masonâ€™s with a look that demanded he listen.
Mason pushed his empty plate to the side and settled back in his chair. A half smile curled his lips. â€śTell me what you know, Jim.â€ť
Oh, Mason was so smug. Jim had a hard time keeping his cool. â€śDad and Mom got me a telescope for Christmas. Pat and I took it out to the field last night. We were looking at the moon â€¦ and we saw something.â€ť
Mason leaned across the table toward Jim and Pat. â€śSomething on the moon? What did you see?â€ť
â€śA spaceship,â€ť Pat answered. â€śLike this.â€ť He reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a piece of paper, and handed it to Mason. â€śIâ€™m not the best artist, but this is pretty close.â€ť Pat pointed to his drawing. â€śLook at the shape. Itâ€™s long and rectangular. From what we could tell, probably over 500 feet long. NASA doesnâ€™t build ships like this. Look at the lights running down the side here. There must be at least 50. And then here, in the front, rows of huge lights that blinked alternately.â€ť
Mason studied the picture intently for over a minute and then handed it back to Pat. â€śI think this is a prototype. Many companies are working on prototypes that might travel to the moon,â€ť he stated. â€śThis is probably a prototype that is being tested.â€ť
For a while, no one said anything. Janell stared at the table. James kept glancing from Mason to Jim to Pat. Nell and Betty got up and started putting dirty dishes in the sink.
Jimâ€™s head was spinning. What Mason said didnâ€™t even make sense. â€śSorry, Mason, but I donâ€™t think so!â€ť he said with conviction.
Mason stood. He leaned over and put his face two inches from Jimâ€™s. â€śOh? And why not?â€ť
Jim took the picture from Pat and pointed to it. â€śWhat we saw â€¦ this thing is way too big to be a prototype. I donâ€™t think any of our aerospace companies would be able to have something this huge sailing around the moon without the rest of us knowing about it.â€ť
Pat drained the last of his iced tea from his glass, then stood to face Mason. â€śJim and I have researched all NASA launches since the end of the space shuttle era,â€ť he said. â€śWe never launched anything that looked like this. Never.â€ť