[Cue in the X-File theme song.]
“Alex, I didn’t think you could fix a computer from horseback. Are you riding over to the church?” Walter asked as he watched Alex saddle up his grey gelding.
“I hadn’t planned on it,” Alex replied matter-of-factly.
“Sooo, why do I see a saddle on your horse?”
It was mid morning on a fine Montana Spring day. Walter was working on some FBI correspondence. Even though Walter had retired years ago, he was still consulted regarding new recruits and on particularly unusual cases. Alex was supposed to be working on debugging the local church’s computer system. Alex had the ability to remotely access the computer and therefore make the necessary repairs and upgrades without leaving the ranch.
“I thought I saw something strange go by.”
“Strange? As in UFO strange?”
“Well, yes,” Alex nodded and blushed with embarrassment.
“Far be it from me to criticize, love, but I thought you were beyond that.”
“I thought I was too, then something compelled me to look outside.”
“I don’t see anything,” Walter said as he shielded the sun from his eyes then scanned the air.
“Neither did I at first.” Alex handed Walter a small pair of high powered binoculars. Walter took another look. “What is that?” He handed the glasses back to Alex.
“Looks like a bunch of Leprechauns stuck in a tree,” Alex commented nonchalantly as if that was an everyday occurrence.
“So I take it you’re planning to ride out there to get a better look.”
“Seems that way.”
“Want company?” Alex smiled beatifically at his lover and waited while Walter saddled up his big brown mare.
They were out riding across the meadow for over an hour when a large shadow darkened the skies above them.
“Were we expecting an eclipse, Walter?” Alex asked as he cautiously looked up.
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“More strange than Leprechauns in the tree?”
“The eclipse appears to be following us,” Alex whispered.
“Why do I have the urge to shout out for Mulder?”
“Because he has made a career of occurrences like this while you and I have tried to avoid them.”
“That may be true but it doesn’t make me feel any better.”
The lovers road on silently for about another hour, seemingly not getting any closer to the alleged Leprechauns stuck in the trees.
“Walter, we’ve been out here for hours. You and I both know the forest line is less than an hour away from the ranch and the eclipse is still following us. What is going on here?” Alex said with a slight tone of concern.
“I have no clue but...”
Walter became quiet as the eclipse vanished and the horses came to a halt. The tree line loomed before them.
“So much for Leprechauns,” Alex grumbled as he dismounted then examined the tree for hand and foot holds.
“You’re not planning on climbing that thing, are you?”
“Yes, I am,” Alex said as he jumped to snag the lowest branch then hoisted himself up.
“Please be careful. If you fall and break something, it’ll be hours before help could reach us.”
“I’ll be careful, Walter,” Alex promised as he continued his upward climb with cat-like grace.
“Why did we ever call you Rat Bastard? We should have called you the Cat,” said Walter.
“As I recall, I think it was Mulder who may have coined that phrase.” Alex was nearing his quarry. “Gotcha!” Alex cried in triumph, his hand wrapped around the end of his prey.
Securing the tails to his belt, Alex began the climb down to Mother Earth.
“Now that you have them, what do you plan on doing with them?” Walter asked, guarding their prisoners as Alex got back up onto his horse.
“Haven’t the foggiest,” Alex replied.
“Speaking about fog, our eclipse is back,” Walter griped, as the sky darkened above them. The horses snorted nervously.
“Hello!” a disembodied voice called to them.
“Hello?” Walter answered in his baritone voice. Alex merely shrugged.
“Would you mind releasing them? We need them.”
“Releasing who?” Alex asked.
“The aliens?” Walter asked the eclipse.
“Yes, the aliens, the little green men. The balloons!” the voice from the beyond explained in frustration.
“Ooohhh!” Alex and Walter said as one. They exchanged looks then set the bunch of alien-shaped balloons free.
“Got them!” several voices shouted from above. And then a rousing cheer was heard.
“Excuse me,” Walter said looking up at the eclipse when the cheering died down a little. “Would you mind explaining what this is all about?”
“No problem,” a spokesman from the eclipse began. “We’re all members of a hot air ballooning club. We’re on our annual scavenger hunt. Each team is given a list of items to retrieve. Our last item was this bunch of balloon aliens but as you saw, it got stuck in the tree. We were following its trail for miles before it got stuck. We were trying to decide a good place to set down when you came along and freed them. We’re very grateful!”
“Glad we could help,” Walter said as the eclipse began to pull away. Walter and Alex could now see the brightly colored hot air balloon in total.
“What do you get if you win first prize?” Alex shouted before they could float out of range.
“An all expense paid trip to Roswell!” The eclipse enthusiastically shouted back. “Bye!”
“Bye!” Alex and Walter shouted as they waved.
An hour later Walter was in his office emailing the current AD of the FBI. Alex was at his computer cleaning up the corrupt files for Our Lady of Loreto Church when the phone rang.
“Hello, you Rat.”
“Fox, long time no hear.”
“I'm informed you’ve been out chasing aliens.”
“Where’d you hear that?”
“A little birdie told me.”
“Fox, I’m busy, is there a point to all of this?”
“Just checking the accuracy of my informants.”
“Well, they’re wrong.”
“Fine. Don’t believe. But, Alex, all Leprechauns are not alike. Good bye, you Rat Bastard.”
“And don’t call me....” Alex slammed down the phone then scowled at the thing.
“Alex, love, who was on the phone?”
“What did he want?”
“To annoy me.”
“Ah. I believe he succeeded.”
“I believe too.”
[Cue X-File theme song.]
Feedback for Sabina
or email to email@example.com
Return to Balloon Challenge