James L. Cowles

© Copyright 2019 by James L. Cowles

Photo of man in snow storm.

Winter Storm Goliath had lived up to its name, bringing a huge swath of snow and ice from the West through a large portion of the Plains from Dec. 24 and continuing through Dec. 29th.  Within that area, a historic blizzard buried the southern Plains in heavy snow, whipped by wind gusts as high as 80 mph. This was rare weather for Roswell, New Mexico and a record 18 inches of snow and drifts 10 to 20 feet high made it impossible for most to get out of their houses, but on Christmas Eve, Bryan Richards was not one of them.

He was born and raised in Georgetown, Colorado, which has the most snowfall of any other U.S. city in recorded history.  He had debated on whether to bring his snow equipment when he moved there, but in the end decided to load it on his truck; now he was glad he had done so.  He had installed chains many times and decided to take a few minutes to prepare his Explorer for the upcoming storm.  When he looked out his window Christmas eve morning, he thought the promised snowdrifts were quite impressive, but 18 inches of snow was nothing he hadn’t seen many times.  It was early when he opened his garage door and attached his snowplow to the front of his Explorer and after cleaning his own driveway, he began clearing neighbor’s driveways up and down the street.  The wind howled menacingly and most of his neighbors just waved from the warmth of their homes.  He had yet to meet a a single person in his new community, but after clearing all twelve driveways on his block, he decided to clear the street as well.  “There’s nothing like making a good first impression,” he thought.

Everything was closed and the only ones venturing out were children, making snowmen of course, or looking for a hill to sled down, but when the temperature dropped to 8 degrees, most of them headed back to their homes.  Bryan couldn’t blame his neighbors for wanting to stay inside, but for him, he was more the adventurous type; besides, with his wife Helen and two kids, Zack and Rebecca still back in Georgetown, he hated sitting in an empty house, all alone.  They had planned to arrive today and looked forward to spending Christmas in their new home, but it appeared the family would have to spend their very first Christmas apart.  It was impractical to travel on the highways in this kind of weather and airports across the Southern Plains were closed.  Bryan would just spend a lot of time on the phone with his wife and kids; that was going to be as close as he could get to his loved ones for the holidays.

It was still early in the day when he decided he’d drive around the area, thinking to help anyone who was stuck; perhaps, he would clear a driveway or two, or maybe parking lot of a hospital, or drugstore.  He was feeling benevolent this holiday and was thinking it was an opportunity to help others in his new community and of course, a good way to meet people as well; after all, few if any in this town had the kind of equipment he had.  

He circled downtown several times and saw not a soul moving anywhere; it was about noon when he decided it might be a good idea to head out toward some of the farm-land to see if anyone was stranded on the highway.  He took his time and drove slowly and could feel the strong wind shaking his Explorer as he left the urban area, headed down Highway 285, going north toward the more open farmland.  The road was hilly and curvy in spots and looked quite dangerous and he could imagine someone slipping off and going over a hill.   He remembered reading about the 1947 incident when so many claimed a UFO had landed on a farm about 60 miles or so from town and he made a mental note to look into taking his family out to the exact site in the future; he was sure the kids would love that.  As he drove slowly down the highway, he watched closely to see if he could see any suspicious car tracks, thinking someone could have slipped off the road and be covered by a snowdrift; he remembered a person dying a few years back in Colorado under the same circumstance.   After going about 60 miles without seeing another vehicle, he was starting to daydream a bit and for safety’s sake, thought he should turn back toward home.  As he began turning around, he wasn’t sure, but thought he caught a glimpse of taillights of a car down in a small ravine, there in a snowdrift.  He looked for car tracks but couldn't spot any and knew the snowstorm could have covered them.  The light was fading as he passed once again, but this time much more slowly, thinking his eyes might be playing tricks on him.  It was then he decided to turn around and park near where he thought he had seen the lights and again he thought he saw lights through what had become a raging blizzard.  The wind was beginning to shake his vehicle even more and he didn’t really want to get out of the car; but he knew if someone had gone over that twenty-foot embankment, they could be badly injured, even dead, or might surely die in this frigid weather.  

No one had ever accused Bryan of being unprepared; that trait probably came from his father, who had practically crammed that lesson into his head.   Now that he had his degree in Engineering and had just landed a lucrative government job near Roswell, he was rather grateful for his father‘s insistence on preparation.  That lesson had got him through some pretty tough classes in high school and college and now that he sported a degree, so many job opportunities had opened for him.  After several years working in a small firm in Georgetown, he chose to move to a government job because he loved airplanes.  During the interview they told him if he was willing to move to Roswell, not only would he receive a nice raise, he would also be working on some of the newest and fastest aircraft in the world.  When they said “newest and fastest,” they didn’t know it, but they had him; he was beyond excited and was thinking how lucky he was.   Bryan contemplated his next move, opening his window slightly to see if he heard another car engine, or perhaps a horn, but the wind was howling so loudly he couldn’t have heard either.  

The snow was falling more heavily now and after a few minutes, he zipped and snapped his Mackinaw, pulled his hood up over his head and tied it tightly, then pulled his scarf around his head, covering his mouth.  He had no choice; he had to check to see if someone was in trouble.  His gloves were right where he had left them and he slipped them on.   There’s nothing worse than snow blindness, so he kept several pair of darker lensed glasses in his truck for himself and guests for exactly that kind of situation; the fading light made them unnecessary. He glanced out his window once more, then swung his  door open, the wind catching it and abruptly sending it back violently against his leg.  He cried  out in pain, unable to even hear his own scream.

Finally, he pushed the door open once again, stood and sunk into the deep snow.  There it was again; he was sure he saw what appeared to be a car, or truck tail light, but the only way to be sure was to slide down the steep embankment and check.  The wind raged as he opened the rear of his vehicle and reached for his snow shovel, pondering whether he should take anything else with him.  A first-aid kit came to mind and he reached into a rear panel of his explorer and put one in his jacket pocket.  ”Water,” he thought.  It doesn’t matter how cold it is, a person needs to stay hydrated and he always carried several bottles with him.  Then he thought of hunger and reached for a pack of peanut butter crackers from another panel, where he had them stored with several other edibles.  “One more thing,” he thought and as he grabbed a blanket; now he was ready.

Using the snow shovel to keep his balance, he slid down the embankment and within seconds was at the bottom, almost up to his waste in snow.  Yes, there certainly was a vehicle there, completely covered, but apparently sitting upright and still running.  Bryan immediately thought of carbon monoxide poisoning and shivered at the thought of finding a dead occupant.  He knew it would take several minutes to get the snow cleared from the driver’s door and decided to clear the window first, to see if someone was inside and hopefully, still alive.  When he got the driver-side window cleared, he peered inside and saw an older gentleman lying in the front seat with his head slumped to the passenger side.  The nerve racking thought of finding a dead person sent a chill up his spine and not knowing what to expect, he rapped on the window with the handle of the shovel causing a startled man to sit up and scream, before realizing he had been found.  He smiled and waved as Bryan motioned to him that it would take several more minutes before he could clear the door sufficiently to open it; the only good news was the wind was not quite as hostile down in the gully and what wind there was might actually help push the door open once it was clear.I

It wasn’t long before the door was free and it opened with little effort and just as Bryan had thought, the wind actually was a positive factor this time.  He motioned for the gentleman to turn off the ignition, then slowly helped him out of the vehicle.  When he stood, Bryan immediately saw he did not have on boots; instead, he was wearing a shiny pair of loafers, which would surely fill with snow as they traversed the embankment.  The man's coat was lying in the front passenger seat, where it had been serving as a pillow and he had to retrieve it; he donned it in what surely was a 40 or 50mph wind, with snow  pelting him throughout.  It turned into a brief ordeal, but he finally got it on and Bryan said a silent thank you to his father for his years of training.  It was obvious this gentleman had never experienced the need for winter gear and when they reached the top of the embankment, Bryan helped his rescue into the passenger side of the Explorer, handed him a bottle of water and a pack of peanut butter crackers and said, "Hi, I'm Bryan."  The man smiled and drank half the water before Bryan even reached the driver’s side of the Explorer. 

Now that they were both safe inside the vehicle and the man introduced himself as Randall Cotton;  he couldn’t thank Bryan enough for coming "down that embankment" to help him, especially after realizing his car was practically invisible from the highway.  “How long have you been down there, Randall,” Bryan asked?  “Well, I was headed up to see my uncle last night and I guess I slipped off the shoulder as I was goin’ up this here hill: the next thing I knew, I was headed down that there embankment,” Randall replied, grinning.  “I spent the night down there, ‘cause I couldn’t get either of them damn doors open; I’m just thankful my car was full of gas, so I could stay warm.”  Bryan was tempted to give Randall a brief lesson in preparedness and warn him about carbon monoxide poisoning, but thought better of it.  “Have you had anything else to eat,” he asked?  “No, I sure haven’t,” Randall replied; “this here pack a crackers sure hits the spot.”  "There are some more things right behind you there in the seat, candy bars and such, if you want ‘em; right now I’m gonna get you back to my place, but it’s gonna take us quite a bit of time.  How does a hot bowl of clam chowder sound to you, Randall,” Bryan asked?  “Me, oh my, that sounds pretty darn good to me,“  Randall said, licking his lips.  “Well, buckle up and we’ll head on into town,” Bryan said.  “Let’s hope we can get there without ending up at the bottom of another steep hill.” 

“Bryan, my Cousin’s house is just a piece up the road, there on the right, if you care to go there instead,” Randall offered.  “He’s the son of that farmer that found the UFO back in ’47 and he’s quite a character.”  “How far did you say it was, Randall,” Bryan asked?  “Oh, it ain’t more than a couple of hundred yards on up over that hill, yonder,” Randall replied.  “I think you’d like him a lot, too.”  “Why, you were almost there, weren’t you,” Bryan said, grinning.  “You bet I was and I’d a been there if I coulda got my door open last night; by the way, just call me Randy if you like. I think we know each other well enough to be on a first name basis, don’t you” Randy said, with a chuckle?  “Well, you’ve sparked my interest with the UFO thing,” Bryan said.  “That’s one of the things I’d like to do with my whole family; I’m sure interested in seeing where that thing, you know, that Flying Saucer  supposedly landed.”  “Well, I heard the my Uncle talk about it and I have to tell you, I believe ever bit of it,” Randy replied.  “He said he saw those little men and one of ‘em was still alive and he told me the Airforce hauled them things away; he was sure the live one was the pilot.  He said he could see its chest a movin’ up and down and he knew the little guy was still a breathin.’  He said he was a little bitty short fellar, with big black eyes and grayish color skin.” “Well, okay then, Bryan said.  “I’ll just have to turn around here and hopefully we can pull into your Cousin’s driveway.”  “Oh, it ain't what I’d really call a driveway, Bryan,” Randy replied, “why, it’s a danged road.  It goes all the way back to his place, maybe a mile or two back in there to the farmhouse, but I ain’t sure.  Never measured it!”  “Okay,” replied Bryan, “we may not be able to get up that road, but we can at least give it a look see.  You might be lucky you couldn’t get out of your car last night, Randy; you could have frozen to death trying to walk to your Cousin’s place.  Would you like to call him?  My cell phone is right there in the cup holder.”  “No, no, that wouldn’t do no good, Bryan,” Randy said.  “He don’t have no phone; says he don’t need or even want one.  Can you imagine that?  He said if a body wants to talk to another body, he might ought to do it face to face.”  “Well, he does have a point there I suppose,” Bryan replied, smiling.  “One of the things we humans really fail at is communication.”  Bryan remembered that he needed to call his family, but he thought he still had a little extra time and if nothing else, he could call on his cell phone.  

“If I think we can make it down there, we’ll go,” he said.  “I am pretty prepared, you know, with the chains and a 4-wheel drive vehicle, plus my snow plow.”  “Yeah, it’s a lot better than my car, that’s for dang sure,” Randy said, with a look of disgust as he patted his chest.  “My dad taught me to be prepared, Randy; he mentioned it every day of my life when I was growing up,” Bryan said, laughing.  “I hated it then, but now, well I’m just thankful for it.  It sure has helped me in my life.”

“Go real slow here, Bryan,” Randy said, as they neared his Cousin’s place.  “His road is somewhere right along here.  Let’s see; there it is, there’s the top of his mailbox!”  Bryan pulled to the side of the road to survey the situation.  “Give me a minute,” he said and exited the truck, trudging down the slight dip in the farm road. When he got back, he was shaking his head, “Randy, I can see the drifts are way too high down there; I don’t think there’s any way we can make it.”  “Well, I understand, Bryan,” Randy replied.  “We don’t want to end up like I did last night.  It ain’t worth it.”  Can we see where that Saucer landed from here,” Bryan asked?  “No, I doubt it, not quite, anyway,” Randy replied.  “Well, pull on up just a little bit and let me look at it.  That’s it; that’s good enough.  Yeah, it was right over that there hill by that clump of trees.  See, right in that area,” he said, pointing the best he could.  They sat several minutes just looking to see if they saw any sign of Randy’s Cousin’s place.  It was dusk and getting darker quickly and they could barely make out what appeared to be a trail of smoke, probably coming from the farmhouse. “James is one like you,” Randy said.  “He’s prepared for most anything.  I’m pretty sure they’ve got enough wood to keep him and Molly warm for the winter.” “Well, I bet he didn’t expect this kind of winter, eh, Randy,” Bryan said, kiddingly.  “I bet you’re right about that; this ain’t right for these parts,” Randy replied. 

“So, that thing landed right over there near that clump of trees, huh,” Bryan asked?  “Yep; you see that big tree, that there highest one,” Randy said, pointing out the window of the vehicle?  “Yeah, I see it; I get the picture.  Hey, wait,” Bryan said, in an excited voice.  “What the hell is that?  “What are you lookin’ at, Bryan,” Randy asked?  “Right there man; see it,” Bryan said, squinting? “See the outline?”  “Yeah, I sure as hell do; I do now,” Randy replied.  “What the hell is that?”  “It’s white like the snow, but it’s there, isn’t it,” Bryan said, asking for reassurance that he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing?  “The damn thing is round; it’s a damned UFO, Randy and it’s white, like the snow.”  “It sure as hell is; it sure as hell is,” Randy repeated excitedly.  “Oh shit, it sure as hell is,” he repeated again, unable to truly phanthom what he was seeing.  “Look, there’s a light a comin’ out of that son-of-bitch, Randy said,” now able to finally grasp what's in his vision.  “Shit,” he said.  “Oh, shit!”  “Look, somethin's coming down out of that dang thing, but it’s almost snowin’ too heavy to see it.  What the hell is it,” Bryan asked, excitedly?  “I can’t tell,” Randy replied; “should we go outside where we can see it a little better?”  “Okay with me, Randy, but I’m turning my lights off; don’t wave at that thing when we get out, now,” Bryan instructed.  “I don’t want that thing to notice us.” 

“What is it that thing it's sending down through that light,” Bryan asked, quizzically?  “I don’t know, but it’s pretty dang big, ain’t it,” replied Randy?  “Why, it looks like a great big long pole of some kind; it’s smaller at the top, then tapers down to a larger base.  It looks like a great big ‘ol totem pole, Bryan.”  “Well, it doesn’t make any difference right now,” Bryan said.  “We can’t go down there anyway; besides, I don’t think we should go down there until that thing is long gone.”  “Are you afraid of being abducted,” Randy asked, laughing out loud.  “Laugh if you want to, my friend, but I’ve read too much about abduction cases and I don’t want to tempt fate.  I mean, we’re seeing that damn thing, dude, aren’t we,” Bryan asked rhetorically?  “I've heard of people seeing a UFO, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one; how about you?  “Yeah, hell yes, me too,” Randy replied.  “I’m with you; let’s turn off them lights and sit here a minute like you said and if it’s still there, let’s get out and have a closer look-see.”  “The lights are off, Randy, including the interior lights,” Bryan said;” I hope like hell they haven’t seen us.”  “Nah, looks like theys way too busy doin’ whatever they’sa doin,’ Randy said, staring intently at the UFO.  “That thing that’s goin’ down is sure goin’ slow, ain’t it?  It’s like they’sa bein’ real careful like not to drop it.”  “Yeah, I think you might be right,” Bryan said; “Look at all those lights floating slowly around it.  Red, green and Blue; they’re making some sort of pattern.  Here’s my binoculars, roll your window down a little and see if you can get a better look”  “Don’t you think it’s been long enough for us to get out now,” Randy asked?  “Yeah, I suppose so,“ Bryan replied.  “Might as well chance it; let’s go!”

The wind had died down a bit, but the snowfall seemed to have picked up in intensity.  The two men stood at the end of what they thought was a road and didn’t say a word as they watched the show; not a sound of any kind was coming from the crafts, the large one and now several smaller ones circling.  “That big one’s the size of two or three football fields, or maybe bigger,” Bryan said.  It was bitter cold and both men were hunching over, with their arms folded across their chest.  The colored lights were impressive and so beautiful and they appeared to be coming mostly from the smaller ships circling the long, cylindrical object; they moved it slowly downward, obviously protecting, or watching over something of great value to them.” They stood watching for a while, then Randy said, “Look there, Bryan.  I think we could walk on down there a little ways and get closer, if you wanna.”  “Shhh,” Bryan said, whispering, “let’s talk softly; the wind has calmed down a bit and our voices might carry a long way with all the snow on the ground.  You don’t have boots on, Randy; you’ll get frost bite for sure if you walk down there in all that snow.”  “Do you think you could see well enough to drive your truck a little ways on down there, Randy asked?  "Your plow would help us make a good path, you know.”  “Yeah, I probably could, but not without making a lot of noise,” Bryan said, whispering even more quietly.  “There’s quite a drift down there, about a hundred yards in and I don’t think I could get through that; besides, I’m thinking we would be more easily noticed and we sure as hell can’t get very close without making a hell of a lot of noise.  I don’t think I’d want to do it without my lights, anyway.  No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.  I’ve got my boots on and long johns under these jeans; why don’t you get in the car and I’ll sneak on down there a little ways and try to get a few pictures with my phone?”  “Okay, I guess you’re right,” Randy said, obviously disappointed.  “Go ahead and get in, Randy, and hand me my phone,” Bryan suggested, motioning toward the Explorer.

Bryan began slowly walking through the snow, phone in hand, being careful at every step; he was hoping they had not already been spotted.   “Man, I don’t want to step in a hole or something and break a leg,” he thought, as he moved quietly, with the snow up to his knees and at times even higher.  He wished he had his snowshoes, the one thing he didn’t have in his vehicle.  “Sorry, dad,” he whispered, as he moved cautiously along, trying to keep his balance.  The UFO had been there a long time and he was concerned it might leave abruptly. He surmised that whatever is going on, the inhabitants of these ships were using the cover of the snow storm.  He decided to take about 4 steps, snap a picture and keep repeating that process each time he got nearer the object.  He felt safe, because he was still quite a ways from it and had no intention of trying to get very close.  It would have been easy going with those snowshoes; he made a mental note to throw them in the back of the Explorer when he got home.  Every few steps he took a picture and he was getting some excellent shots, as the snow had let up substantially; He knew phone shots in these conditions were iffy, but he had to try.  He thought, “Look at them; what a beautiful array of colors and the pattern those smaller ships are making is astonishingly lovely; I think I recognize the pattern.  Something like a flyover,” he thought.  A wide pattern, but in this case, the ships were moving slowly, almost reverently, around this very tall and what appeared to be a beautiful black object, which he could see slowly descending to earth.  He finally arrived at a clump of trees, where the snow was not quite as deep and he could move more quickly now; it provided him cover and the opportunity to get a bit closer to the show.  When he reached the edge of the woods he decided he was close enough to get a video of the whole thing.  He knew his phone was getting low on power and he could only shoot for several more minutes before it needed a charge; he was thinking of some of the articles he’d read about UFOs and thought, "I've heard that when these things appear, everything loses power, but that’s not true, at least with these ships.  The Explorer never stopped running and my phone is working fine.  Maybe they aren’t trying to disrupt anything this time.”

He remembered it was Christmas Eve and his wife and kids would be expecting that call from him shortly.  Boy, would he ever have a story to tell them.  Although he had no proof, as he trudged back toward his vehicle he was thinking, "It's a monument."  They set it right where that UFO crashed back in ‘47.  I don't know how I know, but I know exactly why they came.   It's a marker of some kind and its marking the site of the crash; that just makes sense.  It has been almost 70 years since the crash in 1947.  They are exactly like us; they are honoring their soldiers, their warriors, those in the service of their planet, universe, or whatever.  That’s a comforting thought.  It's almost like they communicated that to me; they told me why they were here.  “It took us about the same amount of time to build the WWII Memorial,” he thought.  “Somehow, I know they're more like us than I thought they would be; they must also have to get the funding from somewhere for their memorial, who knows?   Oh my God; how do I know all of this?!“  He shivered as he trudged back to his car.

As he reached his vehicle, he turned to observe the action one more time, but except for the snow, which was falling even more heavily, the sky was empty.  The ships, those “space crafts,” had left without making a sound.  When he opened his door, Randy awoke, startled by his entry into the vehicle and the cold air that came with him.  “Well,” he said?  “Well, you and I are going to visit your Cousin’s place as soon as this snow melts.  I want to get a close look at whatever they left behind,” Bryan replied.  "No, man, I mean, where the hell have you been?  You've been gone two hours!," Randy said, seemingly alarmed at Bryan's nonchalant manner.  “What happened, Bryan,” Randy asked?  Bryan had a puzzled look on his face as he turned the Explorer around and headed toward town.  He could see that his gas gauge read a quarter tank and he remembered it was almost a half tank when he left the car; a wave of shock came over him as he looked at his clock. He had missed calling his family as promised; he quickly glanced at his phone, fearing he only had a few minutes charge left on it and was surprised to see it was fully charged.  How could that be? His mind was racing now; he wasn't sure how, but he was certain he knew exactly why that UFO had come.  Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Randy was staring at him.  Best to keep some of his thoughts to himself right now; perhaps he would learn more later, but right now he had to think.  They had gone a few miles before he said in a quiet voice, “Monument. "  "It’s a Monument to their fallen comrades, Randy." "How do you know that," Randy asked?  "I have to make a phone call right now; we'll talk more later, man,” Bryan said, a puzzled look on his face.  "Nothing," he said.  "I don't remember anything."

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