14 Harry Hogan - Halloween UFO
Harry Hogan balanced on one foot just long enough to give the bottom of the office door a swift kick. "Hey, Blackett! Open the door."
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He heard her quick footsteps and then the door swung open. "Hogan, I..." She stared at him for all of five seconds. "What...?"
He put one foot forward. "Stand aside, woman. There's more than Styrofoam in these boxes."
Bertie's eyebrows scrunched into a frown. "What on earth have you picked up now?"
"One minute." Harry laid the two boxes on the floor, straightened up, and took a deep breath. "Are you ready to set up your own work station?"
"What are you...?" She paused and shook her head. "Hogan, you didn't."
He grinned. "Nope. I got it from a friend of a friend who just installed a new one with all the latest bells and whistles for gaming. This one just needed a new home. All the old gaming stuff was removed and it's been updated for normal office work and research."
"But... you don't need two computers for a one-man operation. And I'm just a volunteer... not an employee."
Hogan laughed. "Since we only charge enough to cover expenses, basically we're both volunteers. And two computers look more professional - especially with two desks."
"I suppose so, but the desk you brought in for me last week was enough."
"That was a salvage job, the owner was throwing it out," he replied, rubbing his chin. "I just refinished it."
"That's true," she agreed
"Look at it this way," he said. "I like solving minor problems for others, things that don't require police intervention. You also enjoy helping others, especially with research. Am I right?"
She nodded, wondering where this was leading.
"We're providing a community service... and, with you here, we can expand on what we do."
"What do you mean - expand?"
"Apart from the little mysteries we solve, there's also a need for research services, something completely out of my league."
Bertie frowned. "What kind of research? I'm not exactly an expert."
"Genealogy," Harry said. "It's a big thing these days and I know you've helped a lot of people get started. Now you can do it on office time... for a nominal fee"
She looked at him, head cocked to one side. "it would be nice not to have people coming to the house at all hours. I'd have evenings for my own projects."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. "Care to share?"
Much to Bertie's relief, their conversation was interrupted by the door opening.
A man came in, of medium height, slightly chubby: his face and head cleanly shaven. He looked at Harry. "Are you Mr. Hogan?"
"That's me," Harry said, "and this is my associate, Ms Blackett."
"Nice to meet you both," the man replied. "I'm Logan, Hugh Logan."
"What can we do for you, Mr. Logan?"
"I... I know this will sound crazy but... I swear it's the truth."
"We're here to help if we can, Mr. Logan, not to judge," Bertie said, as she proceeded to unpack and set up the computer on her recently refurbished desk.
Harry pointed to the visitor chairs. "Have a seat and tell us what's on your mind."
Mr. Logan took a deep breath. "I saw... that is, I THINK I saw a UFO last night."
"Time and place?" Harry prompted.
"I was coming back from the city, just after midnight. Looked to me like it was over the multi-purpose field, the one where the kids play all sorts of games and things."
Harry nodded. "We know the place. Can you describe what you saw?"
"Lights... green lights... not real bright, kind of dull... like, I don't know... kind of like the lights were turned down so as not to attract attention. They were hovering and then... they just vanished."
Harry rubbed his chin. "Did you go check out the field?
Logan nodded. "Last night, but I couldn't see anything in the darkness. I went back this morning but I didn't see any signs of disturbance - no scorched grass, no strange holes in the ground - nothing."
There was a full minute of silence before Harry spoke again. "So, what do you want us to do, Mr. Logan?"
"I'm not sure," Logan said, with a shrug. "I guess I was hoping to find an explanation, as much as anything."
Harry looked at Bertie. "Have you seen any mention of UFO sightings on social media?"
She shook her head. "None, but some people would hesitate to mention it, for fear of being mocked."
"Keep a close eye on things for the rest of the day," he said, "and keep me informed."
Bertie nodded and Harry faced their visitor again. "Mr. Logan, I want you to keep this quiet for now. Don't tell anyone else about it."
Logan got quickly to his feet. "You don't believe me. I'm not surprised. I'm sorry to bother you."
"Mr. Logan," Harry said quietly. "Please sit down." Logan sat and Harry continued. "I don't think you saw an alien craft, but I do believe you saw something. What concerns me is that it could be a person - or persons - up to no good. The dull lights you saw could have been a reflection of something that was happening on the ground."
Logan stared at him. "But, if someone is planning something criminal, wouldn't that be a job for the police?"
Harry nodded. "It would... IF we knew that's what it was. However, we need more information. That's why I want you to keep it to yourself, at least for now. We don't want whoever was responsible to know their lights were seen. Okay?"
A smile crossed Logan's face as he nodded. "I haven't even told my wife. She was asleep when I got in last night and ready to leave when I got up this morning... some all-day retreat for church ladies in the area. She probably would have said I need my eyes checked and thought no more of it anyway."
"I'll check out the area for myself," Harry said. "And I want you to keep an eye out for a re-appearance. If you see the lights again, call me right away." He handed Logan a card with his cell number.
Logan put the card in the top pocket of his red plaid shirt. "I'll do that. Thanks for believing me. And now, I have a load of wood to be sawed and stored for the fireplace this winter."
As the door closed behind Logan, Bertie turned to Harry. "Do you really think he saw a UFO?"
Harry chuckled. "No little green men with big eyes, but I do think he saw something."
"It's possible that someone could be planning an illegal fireworks display, which would be dangerous with everything so dry." He grinned. "Halloween is just a week away and what better time for a prank?"
"Perfect timing," she agreed. "I want in on this one, if he sees the lights again."
"I thought you might," he said. "Keep scanning the social media. I'll go check the field. Have to start somewhere."
"Hang on a minute," Bertie said. Harry paused with his hand on the doorknob. "I might have something," she added.
Harry crossed the room and sat on the corner of his desk. "Let's hear it."
"I just found a conversation between Norman and Casey. They appear to have seen the same lights, just after midnight. But, that's not all. Stanley just added a comment and... he says he missed the lights, but a couple nights ago, he saw what looked like a small flying object, silver coloured, shiny, no lights. It didn’t seem to be too high up. Close to one AM because he had just finished cleaning and locking up the Club after Bingo.” Bertie looked from the computer to Harry. “It looks like something is happening... but what?"
"That's Stanley Hackett," Harry said. "I've never known him to be dishonest about anything. I'll go talk to him before I go to the field. Keep looking." He stood up. "If those three saw something, it's a good bet that others did too. Can you copy those comments?"
Bertie nodded. "Sure. I'll try to get contact information for Norman and Casey too. We can review what we have at the end of the day."
"Sounds good to me."
Stanley Hackett was mowing the lawn when Harry pulled into his driveway and got out of the truck. "Detective Hogan. It's been a long time."
Harry chuckled. "I get that a lot from people since I retired. Guess I'm not as visible anymore."
"Could be," Stanley said, with a nod. "What can I do for you?"
"Tell me about the UFO you saw a few nights ago."
Stanley shook his head and laughed. "UFO? I don't know if that's what I'd call it. More like something a bit unusual, but yeah, I did see something."
"Can you describe it?"
"I only saw it from a distance but I think it was round, slightly dome-shaped on top, silver-coloured, kind of like aluminum foil, no lights, and either it was flat-bottomed or the bottom was too dark to see." He shrugged. "Nothing exciting, but that's what I saw."
"Would you let me know if you see that - or anything else - again?"
"No problem. You think it means something?"
"It might." Harry rubbed his chin. "Let's just say I'll be on the alert for anything unusual."
Stanley grinned and nodded. "You can count on me."
"I knew I could. Thanks, Stanley." Harry got back in his truck and drove away. His next destination was the multi-purpose field, with a stop at Tim's to pick up coffee on the way.
Later that day, Harry and Bertie discussed her social media findings, which amounted a lot of comments that basically said the same thing. She had printed two copies of her notes.
"This doesn't tell us much," she said. "But I did manage to contact Norman and Casey and got verbal reports from both of them... and they both agreed to let us know if they see anything else."
"Norman Lockyer and Casey Michaels... I don't know either of them," Harry said, looking at the paper in his hand. "We need another sighting and we need to get there while it's happening, not the day after. Whatever is going on, no visible traces are being left behind."
"All we can do is wait and hope," Bertie said, as she pulled on her jacket.
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Two days passed with no further reported sightings of lights or anything else out of the ordinary. Just after 11:30 on the third night, Harry and Bertie both received calls saying the UFO was back over the multi-purpose field again. Harry called Bertie as he was leaving the house and she said she'd be waiting at the bottom of her driveway. He stopped just long enough for her to climb into the cab.
On the way to the field, they shared the information they had been given. A somewhat flat, circular object with a slightly raised dome at the centre; narrow glowing neon lights extending from the dome out to the perimeter on both top and bottom; and the object itself was silver coloured... two reports said 'dull' silver, kind of like aluminum paint.
Driving towards the field, Harry and Bertie sometimes caught glimpses of something that could match what was reported, and the closer they got the better it could be seen. It appeared to be fairly small and fairly close to the ground.
"Definitely not an alien spaceship coming in for a landing," Harry said.
"Not unless it's manned by an ant-sized crew," Bertie added and they both laughed.
When they neared the field, Harry cut the lights, hoping not to alarm whoever was out there. He eased the truck slowly into the parking lot and cut the engine. They eased the doors open carefully and pushed them to instead of slamming them. One other vehicle was already parked there, a small SUV.
As they stood at the edge of the field entrance, they could see someone close to the centre of the field, and the object - just as it had been described - was hovering above him. While they watched, the object began to descend, as if by remote control. When the man had the object in his hands, Harry and Bertie walk out to where he was standing.
"Remote control?" Harry asked when they reached him. Up close, the thing wasn't as flat as it had looked in the air but, certainly nothing to pose a threat of any kind. The guy didn't appear nervous over being caught so maybe it was just a harmless hobby of some sort.
"Nothing that fancy, I'm afraid." He was a young man, of slight build, with straight blond halr falling beneath his Blue Jays cap and reaching his shoulders.
"How does it stay afloat?" Bertie asked.
"Helium balloons," he replied. "The frame is plastic straws and tin foil to keep the weight to a minimum. The neon lights are just thin strips of glow-in-the-dark paint. I had the thing under very bright lights for 24 hours to achieve maximum light absorption. By the way, I'm Gary Brown, and I know who you are."
"What's the purpose behind this, some kind of competition for unusual kites, or something?" Harry asked.
Brown laughed. "I plan to turn the front lawn into a UFO landing site this year, complete with aliens. My wife thinks I'm nuts, but I think the kids will get a kick out of it."
"Oh, they will love it," Bertie said. "I'd like to see that myself. Where do you live?" He named the street and she thanked him. "I'm looking forward to seeing the display."
"Don't you think it's a bit over the top," Hogan said as they walked back to the truck.
She shrugged. "Not many would take the time and effort but if he enjoys doing it... I say, more power to him."
When Harry stopped the truck in Bertie's driveway, he turned to look at her. "Are you ready to tell me about those personal projects you mentioned just before all this started?"
"Your curiosity knows no bounds, does it?" She laughed lightly. "Very well, but no one else knows about it, so keep it to yourself." He nodded. "I've decided to try my hand at writing children's books. It's something I've always wanted to do... but I don't know if I can... and I won't know if I don't try, will I?"
Harry reached out and lightly squeezed her arm. "Bertie, stop babbling. I think it's great and I know you can do it."
"I do. But I'll miss you at the office when you become a big success."
"Oh, I'm enjoying this too much to give it up. I'll do the writing at night and... sometimes on weekends."
"And feel free to bring it to the office with you anytime."
Harry yawned and Bertie smothered a giggle as she reached for the door handle. "Good night, Hogan."
"Good night, Blackett."
© Fay Herridge
Published in Story Quilt, October 2021
Harry Hogan Series
© Fayzworld & Sugarwolf Designs, All rights Reserved.