The conversation that started it all
By 1997 I had attempted over a dozen drafts of ideas for a Science Fiction series but all fell short. I’d get a few pages typed and wind up staring at the next blank page on the computer screen. I continued struggling until March of that year.
I was in San Diego on the second day of the ConDor Science Fiction Convention. I found my attention drawn to an amusing conversation between a group of five — self-roclaimed — alien hunters. They were in the midst of a heated debate about what if anything is hidden at Area 51. The supposed aliens bodies at Wright-Patterson, the Dulce Papers and the granddaddy of all the alien conspiracies, Roswell. I listened until someone behind me said,
“They all sound a bit off-center, wouldn’t cha say?”
Right away his brogue caught my attention. I turned and stared at an elderly man. The first thing I noticed about the old gent was his stature. Just a wee bit shorter and I would have thought I was being addressed by a leprechaun. His eyes were a mischievous, luminous green, his smile merry and infectious. He wore a gray wool tweed suit (Circa the fifties) and a matching fedora. He carried a walking staff as tall as himself. I had no doubt if needed it would double as a fine shillelagh if needed. His full head of dark red hair made me jealous and yearn for my youth.
I shrugged. “Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.”
“What are your thoughts about visitors from outer space?”
I glanced over my shoulder and chuckled. “I have a far different idea about life beyond this world.”
He winked, pointed, and said, “I overheard ya speakin’ ta that man earlier about human life on other worlds.”
I winced. “I thought I’d kept my comments low key.”
“Not so you’d notice.” He chuckled. “And me age hasn’t affected me hearin’ none.”
His laugh put me at ease. He stuck out his hand. “Me names is Cian McCallum.”
I shook his hand and introduced myself. We fell into a conversation that turned rather lengthy. I have to tell you, the brogue of the Emerald Isle has always fascinated me. Shakespeare may have written English masterfully, but it took the Irish to make it fun and musical. After an hour of listening to this man’s stories, he came round to his point.
“If you’ll be stoppin’ by the house me grandson and I are rentin’ ‘til the end o’ the week, I’ll be sharing with ya some records of people from outside this world. I promise you ‘tis a worth while trip for a tale worthy o’retellin’.”
“What’s the catch?" I snickered. “How much will it cost me to see these records.”
The old man gave me a patient smile, no doubt developed over time dealing with other belligerent skeptics such as myself. He pulled out a business card and wrote an address on the back. “I’ve approached three other well known authors and been laughed at in the same manner. ‘Tis the chance of a lifetime lad. You’ve ‘til Friday next and then we’re gone.” He rose and I watched him cross the room, turn a corner, and disappear.
Something in the old gent’s story rang true. I grabbed my laptop. At the front desk the clerk gave me a map of the area. I pinpointed the address, drove like a madman, and stood waiting in the street outside his rental when the elderly gent and his grandson arrived home. A smile spread across the old man’s face.
“‘Tis glad I am ya decided ta come.”
He invited me in and showed me to a bedroom set up as an office. A Sight to Behold
Across one wall, a bank of ten IBM computers squatted on metal baker’s racks. The machines whirled, lights blinked and the CRTs were all busy. In the far corner sat a old, large, upright steamer trunk, hinged down the center.
“Let Liam check the computers’ progress, then we’ll be sharin’ the records with ya.”
After the grandson checked the machines’ progression, he stepped over to the trunk and pulled the two halves apart. I stared, open-mouthed upon at their treasure trove of scrolls, journals and one very unusual book.