1966. I was living in a flop house with ten other hippies in Santa Cruz, California, with my brand new boyfriend, T, who would eventually father my children.

I woke up when the morning paper slammed to the porch. I went outside, picked it up, and read: ALIENS TO GET GREEN CARDS

The article went on at length about the controversy…

But I was halted in my tracks by the headline. Aliens? Get green cards? Wow! Amazing! For years, the gov doesn’t even tell us there ARE aliens, and now they’re issuing them green cards?

One more instance of how naive and totally unworldly I was. A New York transplant, new to living in California, I didn’t have any idea that the aliens they were talking about were Mexican nationals.

But you can see where my head was – I had not one shred of doubt that there were aliens and flying saucers and other UFOs, even though we were told time and again any instances reported were ‘just hoaxes.’

Fade left for a moment.

Just north of Santa Cruz is a strange place called The Mystery Spot. T and I had heard of it, but never visited. So one lovely afternoon, we made our way into the hills, parked, read the signs, telling us that the energy here was backwards, negatively charged, so things grew differently, and ‘normal’ things like walls and floors appeared counter to expectations. We scoffed, and walked in.

And stopped scoffing.

Spindly trees, dry, spiky, confused little saplings, pointed their skinny little skeletal fingers any which way, trunks gone helter-skelter. They looked like they’d been frozen in time as they’d been jerking left and right, as if some divine hand had been playing with the new growths like a child’s hand swooshing the long strands of seaweed in a tide pool.

Nothing we could think of that was man-made could do that, to our knowing.

Nervously grasping each others’ hand, we went to enter one of the small buildings nearby. We could hear too-loud laughter. Not ha-ha laughter, funny laughter. Nervous, uncomfortable laughter.

At the open doorway, we started to back off.

They called out, “No! Don’t leave! You have to see this!”

The guy, more than six feet tall, was in one back corner. The gal, who looked like she was about 5’2″ was in the other.

They smiled at us, and said, “Watch this!”

They switched places.

Now the guy was 5’2″ and the gal was more than six feet – huh? Wha’?

WE gawked, minds blown.

They walked towards us. As they did, they gradually attained their normal heights – 6′ and 5’3″.

We were speechless. How…? Wha’…?

They just grinned, strolled right past us, and left.

Well, you know we had to try it too, right? So we dutifully took our places in the corners, and sure enough, even though we were the ones who ‘changed,’ we could see it ourselves.

We switched places. Yup, still the weird heights.

There were other strange and perplexing things there, but you’ll have to visit yourself to see them. We were completely boggled by the time we left. Scoffing? Not any more. T was barely able to drive. We made it back to the house and went to bed. We couldn’t keep our eyes open.

Fade right again, now.

About a week later, our whole household was hanging out in the back yard, about to celebrate someone’s birthday or something – I don’t remember. We were grilling some food up, waiting for some folks who were late. There was no alcohol or smoking that night, as most had classes or work the next day.

Dusk started to climb up the sky. The horizon over the ocean turned a magnificent cerulean blue, as the cosmos above shaded darker and darker.

Sitting there relaxed and still, I saw the first star appear low, directly over the top of the mountains to the south, right on the horizon. I was about to turn away when I realized it was the only star that low in the sky.

And then it started moving. Hey! What? Moving?

I jolted upright, called to the others, just to see if what I was seeing was actually happening. We moved to the front yard, where there was nothing between us and the view. Against the still-light sky, we could plainly see the darkening hills behind the lights beginning to pop on in the small towns lying on the coast.

That ‘star’ wasn’t bright anymore – it was now brilliant. Way lower, and way brighter than the other pin pricks appearing scattered high across the heavens. A match compared to a spark. We estimated that it was right over the little town of Seaside.

It slowly slowly slid to the right, over the mountains and out to sea. It kept going horizontally for a few more seconds.

At this point, all of us had hands over mouths, some screaming, some exclaiming, some bug-eyed silent – all of us shocked. Some decried it – oh it’s just a plane, a helicopter – and started turning to go back to the grill.

But we hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet!

The ‘star’ hung out for a few second over the water.

The light kept expanding, like they’d hit the dimmer switch and ramped it up full tilt. It slowly climbed higher, higher, until we had to raise our heads to see it.

Suddenly, it started jetting right toward us.

As it came closer, its light faded. A dark shape seemed to emerge from the night. When it was right over us, we could see it was an enormous, cigar-shaped vessel. The light was on top, so we could no longer see it, just its glow as it silhouetted the ship.

You can say, oh silly, that was a helicopter! But I’m here to tellya, no helicopter I’d seen before or since was ever that big. It seemed to take up the entire bowl of the heavens above us.

There was no judging how big that thing was. We had no frame of reference. It could have been a mile long, for all we knew.

As if that wasn’t enough, small lights began to slip from its side. One after the other, they came out, gathered in threes, and shot north. We counted 30.

As we watched the little blips move, someone cried out, “they’re going to the Mystery Spot!”

We could see the black top of the mountain where we knew the Mystery Spot was located. It was plainly visible against the still-light horizon.

The little lights swirled together into a tight group. One by one, each of them descended into – what? – we didn’t know. They just slid down into – something- and went out.

All of them were gone! What were they doing? Recharging at the Mystery Spot? What? What? What?

We waited. Five minutes, ten, fif… – and all at once, every one of them shot up into the heavens again, all lit up. Together, they zipped back across the sky to the mother ship.

We realized it hadn’t moved. We’d been so focused on the baby ships we’d forgotten about her, looming huge above us.

Hands back over mouths, we watched as each baby ship took its turn, flying right up and into the behemoth.

As the last one’s light disappeared, we could see a door shut – a darker shade of dark sliding across the dark side of the ship. I’m betting it didn’t make a sound – we certainly didn’t hear a thing.

And it was gone.

Just – disappeared – from the air above us.

Stars appeared where they had been blocked.

As if that thing had never been there.

Our legs practically wet-spaghettied out from under us. We fell into the chairs in the back yard, too stunned to utter a single word. Grill forgotten.

Gradually, T and I were the only ones still outside, still gawking, still searching the horizons for other ‘stars’.

We never saw anything like it again, until our trip a year later, hiking up inside Haleakala on Maui.


text & image © Angela Treat Lyon 2022
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