The whole way there she thought about what the office would be like and she imagined there would be signs for miles ahead. Signs that said, “UFO’s are REAL!” and “Believe! We Are Not Alone!”
She imagined there would be a giant banner outside with little saucer silhouettes all over it and something about visiting Area 51. As serious as she took the whole thing she still thought with each passing mile about how this could be a dead end. A lost lead from a crazy man. Over the twelve hours drive she thought a lot of things, not least among them that she was crazy too. That maybe Brian just went away and she imagined the abduction thing.
No. She only imagined that in the darker moments, the times between stops on the long interstate to Arizona.
Those were the same times when she wondered why she was driving most of the way across the country to follow up on a lead given by such a strange man as “Greg Smith.” But those were not all the times along the way.
Other times she thought of what Brenda might be like. How odd she must be, probably a crazy old cat lady with a tin foil hat and an old SUV covered in nutty bumper stickers. That would be her, the woman with the strangely lilting voice who refused to speak over the phone, who said she had to come in person. That same woman who didn’t bat an eye when Megan said she was half a day’s drive away.
Of course it turned out when the GPS finally led her to the address in Pheonix she was at a tiny little strip of nondescript offices with no signs out front for anything more than Brenda Vanzetti, Investigator.
Just a strange little strip of doors and signs off a major intersection with nothing to set them apart but the generic 90’s architecture and the slightly weathered parking lot baking in the hot south western sun. Parking, she sure enough saw an old Jeep Cherokee with a bunch of bumper stickers on the back parked in the lot and some of those little stickers people have now of family members on the back window. This one was a woman stick figure, an alien, three cats and two little saucer shapes.
Megan’s heart fell when she saw that and it was a few moments before she realized she’s stopped, staring at it with tears running down her cheeks. Crying until she saw some angry old woman get in the thing with a huff, turning the key three times before it started. For a brief moment she locked eyes with Megan as she pulled out and said through the open window, “If you’re here to see that charlatan Vanzetti, don’t waster your time. She’s crazy!”
Wondering if the implications were for good or ill Megan walked on down the little strip of offices until she saw the little board with Brenda’s name on it, hanging down like all the others. The one right before it was for a Planned Parenthood. She took some bizarre comfort in that, like all the controversial offices were clustered about one another and somehow no one cared. They were just as anonymous as the State Farm agent down the way.
Except you didn’t have to ring a bell and wait for someone to pull the dead lock at a State Farm agent. Here you did but the secretary who opened the door was no less young, chipper, and generic than the one at the insurance office as she asked your name and showed you the waiting room. “Brenda will be right with you.”
And she was, at that. Brenda Vanzetti, investigator. Not frazzled, old and crazy but prim and fairly young. Megan had a hard time telling her age but most women are like that when their hair is pulled tight and they’re wearing a vaguely business like skirt and blouse. Her handshake was oddly strong and for the briefest instant Megan’s heart spiked with hope again, for the first time since the man at the library sent her here. Perhaps she would find Brian after all.
She looked at the woman closely again before sitting, wondering if she could see in her eyes the sincerity she hoped would be found there. “Yes. We spoke briefly on the phone. I’ve just driven in from Portland . . . I was hoping you could help me.”
Brenda coughed gently before looking behind Megan at the door and the shuffling some papers on her desk. “Yes. His name was Brian?”
And at the sound of his name she could feel the tears start to well out onto her cheeks before drying up in the hardness of her resolve to find him. To find them. The ones who took him from the beach, the lights shining on them in the night.
“Why couldn’t we speak over the phone?”
“I’m sorry, I’ll explain later. For now–”
“Please!” Suddenly her temper crested and she had to have the answers now. “Just tell me what you know about these aliens or whatever they–”
“Stop.” Looking at Brenda, her eyes as hard and dark as fresh formed steel, Megan’s words died in her throat and she fell silent.
“They aren’t aliens.”