By Susan Nidle
Da Plane, Boss, Da Plane
(This is about something that happened two years ago this summer, while I was visiting my brother, who then still lived in California.)
When Stella came out of the restaurant bathroom in Santa Cruz, she was smiling like a cheshire cat. “They have a surprise for us, they told me,” she said to Helene and me. (Cut to slightly skeptical Susan rolling her eyes.) “Sure, whatever,” I say. Helene laughs, puzzled.
Later that night, as we travel from Santa Cruz back down 101 to Half Moon Bay, we turn a corner and suddenly the ocean is there on our left, effervescent, magical, crashing. As we slow the car to take it in, Stella yells, “Wait, over there, do you see the lights?” Helene and I look over. Helene yells, “Slow down, what is it?” I just decide the hell with it and pull over to the shoulder of the road. The car is a rented beautiful white thing. We forget to lock it as we get out and stand beside it, mesmerized by the lights. We are transfixed. “Let’s go!” Stella says and leaps across the road, running for the beach in the darkness. Helene and I follow.
We all stand together at the hill which forms the beginning of the sandy part of the beach. Three huge bright, day-glo green lights are shining to our right, way out in the water, perhaps 5 miles from shore. “Are they buoy lights, what the hell...,” I mutter, at a loss. “There’s nothing out there, just the wide ocean. We’re facing out to the ocean,” Stella says in a whisper. She lives about 20 miles down the road and is very familiar with the area. We turn around to see a car with bright headlights passing on the road behind us. We can see our white car parked across the street, illuminated on the side of the dark road, shining. Strangely, it is under a street light. There are no other lights on the road. I look at Stella. She laughs. “You seem to have parked under a street light. Good protection for the car, huh?” She winks at me.
We turn around again to confront the growing spectacle in front of us. The lights hover above the ocean. Perspective is lost. Are they 10 feet above? 5 feet? 20 feet? Soon they are brighter. Bright enough to reflect upon the water beneath them. Suddenly, three more lights of the same color and size appear to the left of the first three.
We are in what appears to be a sort of cove and the first three lights fill the right. Now, these new ones fill the left, in a symmetrical lineup. I look behind us, trying to get my bearings. What is going on? It is beginning to feel as if we are somewhere “else”. I nudge Helene, who is 14 but surprisingly level-headed. We look together. Everything behind us is dark.
“Where are we, it’s all dark, where’s the car!” She moves closer to me, shivering a little. She always seems able to verbalize that which leaves me speechless.
Gathering myself, I manage to say, “Don’t be afraid, everything is all right”. I try to keep my voice even. “Just keep a positive attitude. No fear.” There is only blackness behind us, no lights, no noise except that of the gently waving ocean.
Stella runs ahead of us onto the soft, light sandy beach and drops down on her knees, sobbing a little. Things are getting intense. I hear her murmuring something about ascending, about “take me away, take me...”
My childhood comes to me suddenly and I realize how much of it had the quality of a dream, or a drug-induced hallucination. But now just as then, I am awake and physically present. Childhood was not a dream, and what’s more, I even have a witness to corroborate the strange reality. My brother.
I feel the familiar deep longing, the awe and happiness of years long gone by. Here They are again. Present. I remember feelings put aside, forgotten or judged as inexplicable and inadmissible to waking consciousness.
The lights are brighter and beginning to change colors. Each big light splits into three small ones, giving the impression that each cluster of three lights is actually one ship. Their reflections are clearly seen in the waters below each ship. More begin to appear, in some sort of formation, until Stella and I count 11, or is it 13? They are moving, so it is difficult to count them accurately. And it is difficult to think logically. The left brain is definitely taking a back seat.
All of a sudden, I feel as if someone pushes me forward. It reminds me of being in a play, and the moment has arrived for me to make my entrance and I have last-minute stage fright, am reluctant to move. The stage manager gives me a gentle nudge to get me going so as not to hold anything up. I am propelled ahead and run forward, Helene and Stella now at my side, slightly behind me. If I am going, so are they! We stop just before the water’s edge, on the white sand. The ocean is lazily rolling in front of us. I look up and the lights are very bright, illuminating our faces. I feel like waving happily, but then I feel almost frightened and in perfect awe. What is in store? Are they going to come out and greet us, extending their hands? Will they whisk us away? Fantastical scenarios fly by in my head. I look far into the ocean, straining to make out any shapes in the distance that is illuminated by the light of the ships.
I notice the water; something has changed. Helene whispers, “Look at the water, the ocean stopped. Look at it.” She stares open-mouthed and points. The water is folding over upon itself as if in slow motion. Like a wave breaking but in a slow motion film. I stare at it, overcome. Everything is thicker somehow. I drop to my knees, feeling suddenly weak. I have to feel the wet sand, the earth, to ground me. I may float away. The urge to genuflect arises in me, but wait, I’m not a Catholic, I am supposed to be Jewish, sort of. I laugh. I pray out loud. I say, “I’m sorry Stella, I have to say these things.” She looks at me and nods. “Go ahead.” An old invocation escapes my lips, an invocation and prayer to the Earth. The beauty of the green Earth and the white moon among the stars. Stella, her voice rising, says, “They’re going to take us. I know they are.”
Suddenly, I know. “No, they’re not. They’re just working on something. It’s okay. We’re not going anywhere, just be calm.” Stella kneels beside me, on my right. Helene drops down and sits cross-legged, next to me, her right shoulder touching my left. I smile at her and say to Stella, “I think we’re someplace else now. We are not in the same place.” She nods, calmer somehow. I turn to Helene. “Are you ok?” She nods at me. She is ok. Probably more ok than either of us, the adults. Stella on the edge of hysteria, me at times confused and dreamlike. It seems to me that if the beings in those ships came down to greet us, Helene would be the first to run forward to greet them, even before me. She is much more in tune and accepting than I ever have given her credit for.
I am more worried about Stella. She had frequently verbalized an understanding of other dimensions and was familiar with my brother and his writings, but had never had a first-hand physical experience of the others, the guys upstairs. (My description of them.) But maybe she is fine at her core. The reaction to the great mysteries of life is so personal. And besides, she heard the voice in the bathroom!
We sit on the sand for a long time. For the wink of an eye. It is chilly, I suppose, but we barely notice. The ships move back and forth in front of us, working, working, intent on whatever they are doing. I blurt out, “I feel like they know we’re here, don’t you?” Stella nods. “Oh, they know, they know...” We are all of us transfixed, unable to move.
Suddenly, directly in front of us, but far, far, out on the ocean, a huge wave forms. It rises and rises very high in the sky, phenomenally high, then all of a sudden, it parts. And in the space where the wave had been, there is a cluster of new lights, formed in the shape of a huge upright triangle, with many rows of lights. It reminds me of a Tibetan temple. “Look, do you see? I can see it, it’s a clear outline of a triangle.” Stella and Helene both say they only see rows of lights, arranged in triangular formation. The huge ship rises up higher in the sky, still directly in front of us. We are somehow lined up exactly with the middle of this triangular ship. The other ships, now 6 on each side, are smaller lights now, and arranged symmetrically.
Something happens as we watch this spectacle, but I don’t know what. Suddenly, the sky is black. We sit there in the dark, stunned.
Car lights suddenly appear behind us, and the ocean roars in our ears. We jump up clumsily, stiffly. The show is over. We walk in the darkness back towards the road and our car, now visible from the beach in the street light. We stumble up the road, walking uncertainly. Helene looks up, and points to the sky, to the left of our parked car, now just across the road. “Look!” she is laughing and jumping up and down. I look to see a huge silvery crescent of a moon suspended in the sky above us. All of a sudden it disappears and the sky is dark. “They were winking at you, Helene!” Stella says. I laugh. “Those jokers,” I say, incredulously. Helene is ecstatic after the ending of our experience. I laugh again, remembering the silly acrobatics they would pull on my brother and me as children. Bobbing up and down at right angles, disappearing and winking and reappearing, sort of waving at us! “Jeez, I haven’t seen that since I was little..” I stand in the road, forgetting myself, looking upward. Stella grabs me and drags me across the road to the car. Helene is already in the car.
“Can you drive?” Stella asks. We both laugh. “Sure, why not? Just another one of those intergalactic experiences! Holy Toledo, do you think anyone else saw that?” I pull the car onto the deserted highway and gun it. Just as we approach the next beach cove, a 4X4 pulls out and drives wildly, erratically, in front of us.
Stella says, “Do you suppose those guys saw what we saw? I bet they did and they’re freaked out!” A large car suddenly looms up in back of me, tailgating our car, and I pick up speed as the 4X4 pulls over to the side of the road. I decide to just keep going. We would never know, maybe they saw what we saw. We are really too full of our own dreams to worry about theirs.
We return to my brother’s house at midnight, almost overcome with adrenaline, babbling. We figured we had been on the beach about an hour and a half. He takes one look and laughs. “What happened to you guys?” All three of us start to burble and blather out our story to him. He smiles in his quirky way. “Oh, you guys, they’ve been out there almost every night now for the past few months, working on the water, and the grids, that’s all.” I look at him incredulously. He smiles back at me, smirky. “You know how people in Seattle take their relatives to the Space Needle? Well...” He yawns at me and laughs a little. What a guy. A laugh a minute.