The October Abduction of Thomas Martin!

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Bloodline

The October Abduction of Thomas Martin

Bloodline

By Becky Blanton
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Other Books in The October Abduction Series

Christmas Lights Roswell Mr. President The Buffet Line Spiders Tick Tock Happy Birthday Becky Blue Moon Dolphin Moon An Inconvenient Truth Life Blood Dragon’s Daughter Shape Shifter

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The October Abduction of Thomas Martin

Bloodlines
By Becky Blanton

RSBPublishing http://octoberabduction.com

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First Printing 2011

Copyright (c) Becky Blanton, RSBPublishing 2010 All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. becky@octoberabductionseries.com Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Cover design and story by Becky Blanton First Published in 2011 by RSBPublishing Published as a paperback book under ISBN-13:978-1460907368 and ISBN-10:1460907361

Becky Blanton First Edition

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To: Pat and Catherine,

Who first believed me and believed in me. Thank you.

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Bloodline: blood·line/ˈbləәdˌlīn/Noun
1. An animal's set of ancestors or pedigree. 2. A set of ancestors or descendants of one person. 3. A story about beginnings.

Bloodlines are the threads that tie us to origins, to family, to history, to the future. Bloodlines ensure the horror survives even if the monster dies. They also ensure heroes rise from the most unlikely places and persist in spite of the odds against them. Bloodlines guarantee that as long as progeny survives, so does possibility and potential, whether for good or for evil. In other words, bloodlines are story. And this is the story about my bloodline, my beginnings, and my past. It’s a story about, the story.

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“You gonna take the case?” “It’s not a case. It's a missing person. Sort of.” “You’re gonna have a devil of a time finding him if it was aliens,” Grandma said.
Janet Evanovich (High Five)

Preface

The events and stories relayed in The October Abduction of Thomas Martin are based on true stories – many of which happened before, during and after my 23+ years as a writer, police cadet, and journalist. I loosely based the main character on myself, and on the experiences I’ve had over the past 55 years of my life – including my own abduction(s) and UFO sightings. The historical facts re: UFOs, cattle mutilations and other events all occurred, or were believed to occurred and in many instances were reported on in print by mainstream media such as the Associated Press, scientific reports and investigations, or through societies such as MUFON – the Mutual UFO Network. Most, if not all of those references can be found online through hundreds of various UFO related sites. What I haven’t observed personally was told to me by various people who did witness things first-hand. Almost without exception none of the people I’ve interviewed over the years want to be associated with UFOs or events they were part of. Knowing what I know now, I don’t blame them. I have taken generous literary license with the conversations, the story line, and the characters and events to make this series a good read, and a good story.

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Don’t bother trying to sort out exact factual details vs. literary license. I wanted to tell a story - a story that no government in the world has been ready to tell, or willing to even allude to until recently. At its core conspiracy theory is just this – the blurring and blending of rumor, gossip, fact, personal experience, fears, fantasy and self-talk into stories which we pass along to family and friends. What fascinates me is that the human mind creates its own reality, builds castles in the air, and then moves in and lives in them; or remains grounded, dwelling in a hovel if the person so chooses. We do create our lives just as every leader, mystic, motivational speaker or wise man/woman has said since recorded history began. It’s not a matter so much of finding “the truth” as it is recognizing what we have created. We are either a world of savages mesmerized by the natural world of science, or the wonder of the universe is indeed part of our DNA and our consciousness. There are either aliens intent on cannibalizing and killing us or a government willing to perpetuate that disinformation to cover up their own projects, biological warfare and plans for mankind, or a God and a Devil battling for the spoils of eternity. Which explanation you choose to believe, or what combination of answers you’re most comfortable with is up to you. For me? I choose wonder and curiosity.

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Part One
In the Beginning

“Geesh Becca, where do you get this stuff?”

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Chapter One
“It is wonderful that five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and we are still undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.”
Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson

In July of 1947 the Roswell Record reported that a UFO had crashed in the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico. By the next edition of the paper, the story had changed. There was no alien ship, no alien bodies. It was a weather balloon. Nothing to see here folks. Move along. In the now infamous quote from Star Wars the movie, “These are not the droids we’re looking for.” Sixty-four years after Roswell the government cover-up about an alien space-ship has begun to recede as a new book and more evidence about Project Paperclip emerges. The newest theory? It really wasn’t aliens in the desert. It was Nazi scientists and a new, very “this worldly” aircraft being tested as part of the US/Nazi agenda of mind control. After news of how people responded to the radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” in which a fictional radio show about Martians landing on earth sent some people into a tizzy over aliens, the government became intrigued by the possibility of mass mind control.

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The US, having been complicit in bringing in Nazi scientists fresh from their research in human experimentation in the prison camps of Nazi Germany, did not want news of their partnership leaking to the world. Letting news of “an alien saucer” leak, then attempting to cover it up, gave the story real “legs,” – meaning to this day it’s as popular and talked about story as the day it happened. Years before Carl Bernstein would ever say, “Our news organizations and our reporters should be going after the best obtainable truth, not the sensational, on-the-surface truth ... But instead of going after the truth, we look through the lens of how much it will cost and of those who would like us not to tell the truth.” the media backed off of a horrific truth – that UFOs are real. Or are they? Badgered, threatened and intimidated by members of the military, the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, witnesses to the truth shut-up. And the lie, the doubts and the confusion lives on. For centuries select members of worldwide government, religious and military agencies have known that earth has been home to and a destination site for aliens, or extra-terrestrial creatures of some kind. But earth has also been home to resident evil - sociopaths, mad scientists and narcissists who thrive in the global political arena. Using superstition, fear and intimidation, misinformation and Hollywood special effects, the military industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about has managed to create enough confusion about reality that most of us don’t know what is hype, mind control and mental manipulation and what is science, fact or reality. Journalists who usually quick to jump on new stories shun the alien story like Muslims shun pork. Why? All conspiracy theory needs to survive is a nugget or two of fact, some science or pseudoscience and a paranoid or fearful population willing to perpetuate a story. The thing is, that’s all legitimate media coverage needs as well. So how do you tell the difference? It’s hard. Damn hard. As the year 2012 approaches, and with it the end of the Mayan calendar and predictions of the end of the world, people are more prone to listen to their most base survival instincts. They are beginning to search for answers in powers and phenomena outside themselves – magic, religion, the paranormal, aliens, demons and angels. 11

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As a journalist I know what my experience has been. I know how people react and why. And I know that whether it’s a true conspiracy or not, the tendency of mankind is to allow structure and traditional systems to triumph, even when good people are part of evil things. After all, that’s what conspiracy theory is all about, determining who has the power, means and methods to enact evil and malevolence upon society. Is the government? Is it the military? Is it a small group of men called the Illuminati? Or is it Satan, who drives it all? Me? I’m a story teller, a journalist, an observer, a writer. I’m willing to bet my chips on the God vs Satan angle with the sub-characters of demons, angels, forces, powers, UFOs and messengers making up the vital archetypal characters of history. Archetypal characters play an important dramatic function -- a function that is common and vital to most stories. I believe we’re not only living in the greatest story ever told, we’re living at the climax of the story. I’m willing to share it in the context of both fact and story. Maybe that perpetuates conspiracy theory, or maybe it is just the best way I know to have a voice that cuts through the confusion and the din that is UFO research today. It’s your call. Will you believe? Can you believe? I’m not asking you to do either. I’m just asking you to suspend disbelief and consider what I’m telling you.

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Chapter Two
“The past is not dead. It isn't even past.”
William Faulkner, 1897-1962

VIRGINIA. 1981 – Fluvanna County farmer Nick Edwards reported two of his cattle were killed over the weekend. Edwards said the two deaths were the third in a series of attacks on his livestock. “We had a calf killed last week and a donkey two weeks before that,” Edwards said. Sheriff’s deputies report an unknown predator or predators probably pulled the cow down or attacked it while it lay injured on the ground. “We’ve had problems with coyotes, packs of wild dogs and attacks on livestock in the area for a while now, but this is the first instance of any deaths,” Fluvanna County Deputy Sheriff Franklin Smith said. “We’re advising farmers in the area to report any coyotes or bear they may see to either the Sheriff or the Virginia State Wildlife Commission, and to make sure not to leave small pets or children unattended.” ###

Predator attacks on livestock are nothing new. Farmers and ranchers around the world have always had to protect their animals against wolves, bear, lions, coyotes, tigers and jackals. In the USA the top livestock predators are man, coyotes, cougar, bear and wild dogs. They all leave distinctive calling cards next to their dead prey: footprints, blood, tufts of fur, ground that is torn up with signs of the struggle, and a carcass that is chewed, often dragged along the ground, and

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entrails that spill out in the battle. Any farmer who has lost an animal to a predator quickly learns the signs and can identify what most likely killed his livestock. It is the absence of the traditional predator signs and the presence of non-traditional predator signs that strike fear in the heart of ranchers and law enforcement alike. It was that non-traditional predator that walked into my life in 1980 and has never walked out since. In 1980 I was a shiny new newspaper reporter. I had never even heard of or seen an actual crop circle or a cow mutilation. Two years prior however, I was exploring a career as a cop. I was in a 12week police academy and the topic of the day was an FBI seminar on Satanic sacrifices and mutilations. On the way out to Nick’s farm to see what he described as a cattle mutilation, I struggled to remember what the FBI instructor had said about mutilations in rural areas. “If you’re working in a rural area you’re going to go on calls where there are animals and sometime people that have been killed and then dismembered or mutilated,” the instructor said matter-of-factly. He’d obviously encountered a lot of these mutilations. “People are going to tell you these are Satanic sacrifices or aliens, or demons or voo doo ceremonies. They are not. There are no such things as aliens. There are no such things as demons. There are no such things as ghosts. These people or animals are most likely the victims of drug dealers trying to scare people into staying away from their crops or their drug house or stash. When you encounter these things you’re just better off not even talking about Satanic stuff because it gets the media all riled up, it gets people all riled up and it creates a lot of paperwork for you. The minute someone says Satan, or voo doo, you say it’s a drug dealer.” I distinctly remember knowing in some part of myself that the instructor was a lying son-of-abitch who was hiding something or some knowledge of Satan worship and sacrifices. Not only was he hiding something, he was scared. He wanted to believe what he was saying, but you could tell he didn’t. “The drug dealers come from Mexico and third world countries where religion and sacrifice is a big deal. So yes, they will write some words in blood, put some candles and decapitated chickens and other crap around the scene to make it look like a sacrifice, but it’s just drugs,” he said. I felt like we were being brainwashed.

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“Cadet, you have a question,” he said, glaring at me. My face has always given me away. It’s impossible to hide what I’m thinking or feeling and obviously he knew I wasn’t buying it. “Sir, do these things happen often?” He continued to glare. I could see the gears turning in his head as he contemplated his response. “They only happen once or twice in a career, but you need to know how to respond then they happen.” “Yes sir.” That ended my questioning about mutilations, but not my curiosity. Admittedly my career as a police officer was too short-lived to encounter a mutilation, but it seemed my career as a journalist was beginning with one. If there were at least two careers, three counting the farmer or rancher, where these things happened, were there others? By then I’d arrived at the farm, gotten out of my pick-up truck and walked towards Nick Edwards, who I’d met when his donkey was killed, and a stranger standing beside him and the two dead cattle at his feet. “Stinks doesn’t it.” I was already holding my nose, anticipating the stench. The tall man dressed all in black and standing by Nick laughed at me and then inhaled deeply. “No smell here,” he said. I let go of my nose and tentatively sniffed. He was right. There was no stench of rotting flesh, only an odd chemical smell. I pulled my notebook out and fumbled for a pen. My world was about to change and I didn’t even know it. “Hi Nick,” I nodded. “Becca Lamb,” I said, holding out one hand to the man in black. “I’m with the Virginia Monitor. Nick called me.” “Jackson Black. People call me the preacher,” he said, ignoring my hand, crossing his arms and tucking his hands into his armpits as he continued to look at the dead cattle at our feet. “Hi Becca.” Nick was unsmiling, but still friendly enough to extend a hand. I shook it. “Thanks for coming out.”

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“No problem Nick. Sorry to hear about your animals.” I pointed to the cows. “What do you think’s been killing your cows? Coyotes?” “It wasn’t coyotes. It was aliens,” Jackson interrupted. Nick nodded quickly as if to agree. Up until that precise moment, when someone said “aliens,” I thought they meant the illegal immigrants who worked the tobacco fields. Without them Virginia agriculture would be in the toilet, so most people looked the other way and pretended not to care too much about legal status until someone committed a crime. “Why would migrant workers kill cattle?” Jackson laughed long and loud and Nick blushed. “Aliens honey, like extraterrestrials.” Jackson said. This was all prior to the Internet so you didn’t get a lot of talk about aliens, UFOs and paranormal creatures. Hard to imagine, but if you didn’t read it in a newspaper or watch it on television, there was a lot of the world or the weird and paranormal that got by you without you noticing it. Cattle mutilations and aliens had gotten by me. All that changed that one mild October afternoon. “You’re not serious.” It was my turn to laugh and I did. “C’mon. Aliens? Please.” Jackson walked over to a woodpile on the fence line behind the cattle and picked up a stick. “Cattle mutilation 101,” he said, returning with his pointer. “A mutilated cow usually has a hole carved out of its eye or rectum,” he pointed to the head and then tail of both cows, both missing eyes and with obviously cored out rectums. “There are various body organs removed, usually the reproductive organs, heart, eyes, tongue, udder and so on. The teats on the cow are cut out, and usually so is a strip of flesh that exposes the mandible,” he droned on like a lecturing professor as he moved around the two dead cows pointing out the various signs of alleged alien activity. “The removal of body parts and organs, and all the cuts in the flesh appear to be done with surgical tools and then cauterized. Sometimes the cattle are covered with a fine white powder that people mistake for dust. There’s generally no typical rotting odor, but there is a chemical smell around the animal. Other predators won’t touch it - meaning if coyotes had brought these cattle

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down they’d have chewed on them, or wild dog packs would have chewed on them. Vultures would have been all over them this morning too, but there weren’t even any crows around, were there Nick.” Nick shook his head no as Jackson kept talking. I watched Nick as Jackson droned on. He’d obviously heard the speech before and didn’t look at all surprised and nodded his head vigorously at certain points in the talk. “Oh, and the most significant indication it wasn’t predators,” Jackson said with a flourish of his stick. “No blood.” I looked closer. He was right. There was no blood anywhere around the animal. About that time the sheriff pulled up. “Boys, what have we got?” he said, waddling up the slight incline to us. Franklin Smith was 18 months away from retirement if he didn’t drop dead of a heart attack first. His huge stomach swayed in front of him as he walked and I could already tell he didn’t want to get anywhere near those cattle since he stopped well short of them and didn’t seem curious about them at all. “Coyotes eh?” he said, holding his nose as I had. “Aliens, Sheriff,” Jackson said. Frank laughed loud and long and then stopped when he saw Nick’s face. He suddenly got very serious and very professional. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said, looking at Jackson. I knew that tone. Jackson had just been moved to the top of Frank’s shit list and probably didn’t even know it. I stepped back to distance myself from Jackson so I didn’t catch any of the fallout when the proverbial cow poop hit the fan. “Jackson Black, sheriff. I’m a cattle mutilation researcher from Colorado.” “That right,” Frank said in a bored tone, digging in his shirt pocket for a notebook and pen. Finding them he scribbled down Jackson’s name. “You got an address?” “I’m staying with Nick.” “That right Nick?” Nick looked up, startled at the question. He looked at Jackson and then back at Frank. 17

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“Yes, yes that’s right. The preacher’s staying with me.” He turned and waved towards a pickup truck with a brand new camper in the truck bed sporting Colorado plates. Frank’s eyes narrowed. I could tell already he didn’t like Jackson, and he sure didn’t trust him. “Colorado? Long way from home aren’t you?” “Nick and I met in Denver at the stock show last year,” Jackson volunteered. “He called and asked me to come out when his donkey was killed last month.” “Huh,” Frank grunted, looking at them both with serious doubt on his face. I kept my mouth shut, taking mental notes as I watched the posturing for dominance between the two men. Thanks to Frank’s persistent and pointed questioning over the next 15 minutes I found out that Jackson wasn’t a real preacher; at least he hadn’t graduated from any Bible school that would admit to having admitted him. He had a fondness for the Bible and could quote scripture at length, in a way that made me think the verses were more than just words to him. His nickname came from the testimonial about his religious conversion he gave after every mutilation he investigated. I hadn’t heard it yet, but I was suddenly curious about what he might have to say. Anyone who could tie cattle mutilations to aliens, God and salvation got my attention. That sort of “come to Jesus” story wasn’t the traditional fare of any tent revival I’d ever attended. I confess, I also had ulterior motives. The man was handsome, not hard on the eyes at all. He was arrogant and obnoxious, but in a James Dean, dark angel kind of way. He was also about 10 years older and a foot taller than me, his jet-black hair turning salt and pepper about a decade earlier than I’m sure he hoped it would. He wore his jeans tight in the thighs, a bit baggy in the butt and drooped over a pair of well-worn cowboy boots with scuffed heels and metal tips on the toes. I learned later Jackson always wore black; usually mock turtleneck tee shirts with a white rectangle sewn on the front so it looked like he was wearing a clerical, tabbed-collar shirt. He insisted “preacher” was his nickname and everyone who knew him obliged him by calling him that – except Frank. “Well Mr. Black, I can’t say as I agree with you on the alien thing. Looks like coyotes to me.” I was expecting an argument from Jackson, but he simply shut his mouth firmly, crossed and uncrossed his arms and nodded. 18

The October Abduction of Thomas Martin! “Sheriff, I can see how you might think that.”

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“Nothing to think about,” Frank said evenly. “I know it.” Nick looked at Jackson, then back at Frank. If Jackson claimed aliens had abducted and mutilated his cattle Jackson was who he was going to believe. The sheriff and I were just witnesses to the crime after the fact so he wasn’t the only one claiming to see what he was seeing. Jackson had been at the farm for an hour or more before Frank and I had pulled up. He’d hadn’t had to work hard to convince Nick that the two dead cattle with their teats cut off and their tongues missing were the work of little green men and a fleet of DNA snatching UFOs. He’d seen the photos Nick had of the calf and the donkey who had suffered similar fates. No matter what Frank said now, Nick had already seen the light and been baptized into whatever religion the preacher was pushing. A staunch Baptist myself, I vowed to remain an alien agnostic, at least until I had a chance to ask Nick more questions. “They’re grey, not green,” Jackson said, looking over my shoulder at the notes I was taking as I talked to Nick. Frank continued to circle the dead cows, scribbling in his notebook as well. “Yep,” he said loudly to no one in particular. “Coyotes.” It was Jackson’s turn to ignore him and he did, focusing on my notes. “Sorry, little grey men,” I said, making the notation in the notebook. That better?” I rolled my eyes. I was just wasting my time here. There was no way my editor was going to let me write about cattle abducting aliens and UFOs if the sheriff was saying “coyotes.” He’d laugh me out of the newsroom. It didn’t matter that the newsroom was just the back office with three battered wooden desks, three typewriters and a coffeepot. We all took the news seriously, whether it was the competition to see who had the biggest pumpkin at the state fair, or a fatality on Route 616. There were only the three of us, me, Eddie Decker the editor, and Robert Smith the sports writer, but it didn’t matter. I’d never hear the end of it. Still, I took notes. “Coyotes. Is that your official conclusion Frank?” I sighed. “It is indeed,” Frank said, scribbling in his notebook. “Coyotes it is then,” I said, closing my notebook and tucking my pen and pad back into my bag.

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Jackson chewed absentmindedly on a piece of straw and looked off into the distance, scouting I guessed for the return of any flying saucers. “And what makes you an expert preacher?” I asked, noticing his profile made him even more handsome than a frontal view. I could hang around and look at that for a few more minutes, even if I did have to listen to his alien talk. His eyes narrowed as he hitched up his black jeans, crossed one leg up over the other to pick at mud stuck in the heel of his boots. He glanced up at me and spit the straw out of his mouth. His left hand rubbed a remarkably flat belly for a middle-aged man, before he hooked his thumb behind his belt buckle, an oval piece of metal the size of a salad plate and etched with the words, “Rodeo Champion, 1960.” “I’ve seen more than a hundred of them in the last ten years.” “That right? Around here?” “Colorado, Utah, Montana mostly.” “All cattle?” “Cattle, horses, a couple of pigs and …” he hesitated. “And two humans.” “Humans?” Disbelief dripped from both syllables and puddled at my feet as I uttered the word. There was no mistaking my disbelief. I bit my tongue to keep from laughing. Frank looked up sharply from his notebook. Dead cattle were one thing, dead people were another. “I’m going to need to see your driver’s license Mr. Black.” The mention of mutilated bodies upped Frank’s discomfort and distrust level by a factor of at least five hundred. “You see these mutilations yourself did you?” he said in that casual way police officers do when they think the person they’re talking to is their prime suspect and likely to bolt at any minute. They stay casual so they don’t spook them. It’s kind of a hypnosis they do to lull the suspect into feeling like they’re not a suspect. I recognized the tactic and was impressed with how well Frank carried it off. I almost believed it myself and it was obvious Jackson did by the way he suddenly warmed up to the Sheriff. 20

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“Yes sir,” he said, nodding and digging for his wallet. “Cored out at the anus and genitals and drained of blood just like the cattle.” He produced the license with a flourish and handed it to Frank. Nick Edwards looked at the ground, then picked up a rock and took a sudden and intense interest in every facet of it as the deputy studied Jackson’s license, writing down whatever information it contained that he’d need to run it. The preacher looked at Frank calmly as Frank scribbled. If he was a murderer he was one cool, calm son-of-a-gun. “Got a copy of the report and photos of the body in the truck,” he said. “I bet you do. I’d like to see that,” Frank said. “I’ll walk over with you so you can get it.” Once the two men walked away Nick sighed. “No body but Jackson believes me,” he said. In the 80’s men didn’t cry, but Nick hadn’t gotten that memo yet because tears started streaming from his eyes as he talked. “Those cows were ready to go to market,” he said. “I can’t afford that kind of loss.” I didn’t know what to tell him, so I just listened while I kept sneaking glances at Jackson and the sheriff. The two men spent a long time standing and talking at Jackson’s truck swapping photos and papers back and forth. Eventually the two men shook hands and came back to the dead cattle. “Nick,” Frank said. “I think you’ve got yourself a coyote problem here. Mr. Black here’s welcome to believe what he wants to believe, but my official report is going to say coyotes. You okay with that?” Nick looked at the preacher and shrugged. Jackson nodded his head once. “Sure Frank. I’m okay with that.” The deputy sheriff nodded, all business again. He filled out a form, had Nick sign it and then headed back towards his patrol car. He stopped and turned around one last time. “You can bury ‘em. Won’t be needing anything else,” he said, hitching up his pants and reaching down to rearrange how his stomach lapped over his utility belt. One hand rested lightly on the butt of his revolver as he looked at the cattle and then the preacher as if he were studying the face and committing it to memory. I could tell he thought he’d see Jackson again.

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Frank waddled on, got in his car and called in something on his radio, before starting the engine and putting the car in gear. As the patrol car was backing up in the driveway I turned to Jackson. “You’ve really seen aliens steal…” “Abduct. They abduct the cattle,” he interrupted. “Tractor beam, tentacle or some such thing most likely.” “Abduct the cattle. And you’ve seen these aliens abduct and mutilate them?” “No m’am. I just see them after they’ve been mutilated.” “You obviously don’t agree with the deputy. So how do you know it’s aliens, not coyotes or bear, or predators?” “Predators chew and rip. Aliens cut. Surgical precision. Seriously. Look at the mouth of that cow. Does that look ripped or torn or chewed or excised with an alien laser to you?” I glanced over at the cow. I puke when I have to dump the bag of organs out of a processed Thanksgiving turkey. There was no way I was going to lean down and look in the mouth of a dead, ripe and rotting cow no matter what it smelled like, to see if the tongue and mouth looked ripped or torn. True, there was no blood. One eyeball was missing and a long strip of jawbone was exposed, the hide cut cleanly and as straight as an x-acto knife and a metal ruler might have done. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen an alien laser. Never even seen a regular laser.” “Course you wouldn’t know,” he spit on the ground in the direction of the cow. Jackson’s eyes narrowed and he started to speak. Thankfully Nick interrupted. He recounted once again how he’d found the cows, and what happened the night before. When we had talked about his donkey he had been much less open or talkative and aliens never came up. Why not? “I wasn’t sure then. I never saw anything like it personally so I didn’t want to say,” he said. “I met Jackson at the stock show in Denver last year and we was talking about it then. He showed me some photos, asked if I’d ever lost any cattle that looked like that. I said no. He told me,

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told a bunch of us, if we did to give him a call. I forgot about it until the donkey looked like those pictures. I called him after I called you and he came out.” I nodded. That made sense. I wouldn’t have said anything until I knew either. Even then I’m not sure I’d have said anything. I pulled my notebook back out and took more notes. And while I did I noticed again that Jackson Black was a very confident, self-deluded, if not all together attractive, jerk. “So that’s about it then?” Nick nodded. “Sheriff says it’s coyotes, I guess it’s coyotes.” Jackson took Nick’s nod to mean it was his turn to dominate the conversation. He took up where Nick’s story ended and began to spin his own. I listened, but I sighed after he ended his long rambling monologue about planetary systems, Pleadians, Orion, and human and bovine DNA. I repeated my question. “So, that’s about it then, visitors with the technology to get across star systems, but who need earth cow anal glands, blood, eyeballs and tongues to build new creatures?” He looked at me and snorted. “No,” he said. “That’s not just about it.” I cocked my head to one side and looked at him, rolling my eyes. “And…?” “There’s this.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a black leather bag and opened it up, tipping it towards me. Inside was what looked like a keychain with a withered appendage looking thing kind of like a hairless rabbit’s foot or some sort of good-luck charm on one end, and a strip of metal that might have been a key, on the other. He reached in, grabbed the key and pulled the whole thing out of the bag. He held the key, the long finger dangling on the other end about chest high. I looked at it and started to reach for it. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said.

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I frowned and did anyway. As my hand got to within three or four inches of the finger it suddenly came to life and began to curl and whip around, reaching out for me as though it were alive. I did what any reporter, any sane person would do in the same situation. I screamed bloody murder. “What the hell is that?!” “He smiled and tucked it back into the bag and into his pocket. “An alien finger m’am. It came from the crash of a UFO in Roswell, New Mexico about 1947. It was one of the few things the government didn’t recover when they shot down that weather balloon.” Nick snickered, “Weather balloon. Right.” “But it’s alive!” I stared at the bulge in his pocket. “Maybe,” he said. “Maybe?! Are you freaking insane!? It moved when I tried to touch it!” “I warned you.” “You didn’t say it was alive.” “I told you I wouldn’t do that.” “Did that, that whatever it is…” “Finger.” “Did that finger come from an alien? A cattle mutilating alien?” “It came from an alien. I don’t know that he ever mutilated any cattle, but it sure makes everything I just told you a little more palatable now doesn’t it?” What the preacher and Nick didn’t tell me that day was what aliens did with the organs they harvested. I wouldn’t have believed them then and I’m kind of glad they didn’t tell me everything they knew. What I did learn did sound like a good story to me though. It didn’t to Eddie. I sort of lost a lot of credibility with my editor for even believing the whole line of alien crap. You have to remember. This was way before the movie, Men In Black, came out, or before the Internet when you could stay up all night watching YouTube videos of UFOs around the world. 24

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In 1981 if you didn’t know someone, read it in a book, or find an expert willing to share their hard-earned wisdom with you, you didn’t have a story. You literally spent your days on the telephone, not a cell phone, or in the library tracking down leads. The preacher wasn’t from around here and the Sheriff said it was coyotes. Eddie went with coyotes and assigned me lead on a story about the next school board meeting. And so the story about the Fluvanna County cattle mutilation of 1981 never made it to the pages of The Virginia-Monitor as a cattle mutilation, but as a simple predator attack by coyotes. Years later I half-way considered repitching the story to the C’Ville Review, a popular alternative paper that started up in 1989 in Charlottesville. I still didn’t have enough information to make a story out of it, but it could’ve been fun if the editor had ever contacted me. She didn’t, so I assumed she and Eddie shared the same view of aliens - that they didn’t make good copy. Just before I left, Nick’s wife showed up at that point with a large brown paper grocery bag, rolled down from the top. She glared at me, then at the preacher and then handed Nick the bag. He unrolled it without so much as thanking her as she turned and walked away. He dug one hand down into the bag and pulled out a fistful of garlic. I grinned. “Seriously Nick? Garlic?!” He nodded, breaking open the heads in half and moving off to spread the cloves around the farm. “I thought you thought it was aliens, not vampires that killed your cow,” I pointed out. “They sucked the blood right out of it. Vampires of all kinds like blood. I don’t suspect they rightly care where it comes from,” he said, hanging a long string of garlic on a rusty nail on the vertical beam of the pasture’s split-rail fence. He had a point. If I were foolish enough to buy the UFO angle, I suppose I could believe in vampires too. I laughed again, only to myself this time. I also went over my notes again, trying to figure out where, pre-internet, one even went to find material on UFOs and aliens. Something about the preacher’s story rang true, but I couldn’t figure out what part exactly. My intuition told me he was right, but my logic told me he was wrong. 25

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I couldn’t settle down. He had rocked my little world with the most bizarre story and nothing felt right afterwards. That was unusual. I heard a lot of crazy things from a lot of normal people and they went in one ear and out the other. But this one stuck. Why? Time in the police academy prior to being a journalist, years of interacting with people in interviews and in crisis situations taught me that if people believe a lie, they will act, sound and project the same kind of energy and body language they would if what they were talking about was true. To understand whether or not a person is lying, I learned you don’t let your own judgment of the story come into play. You simply watch for the signs or “tells” that the person you’re interviewing gives off. Do they believe what they’re telling you or not? When a politician believes what his staffers tell him an experienced journalist picks up only on whether or not the politician is telling the truth about what he knows, not about whether it’s true or not. That’s why a lot of staffers don’t tell their boss everything that’s going on, and more importantly, it’s why a lot of politicians don’t want to know what’s really going on. If you don’t know you’re lying it’s much easier to appear to be telling the truth. As I stood there thinking about this and chewing on my pen I heard the rattle of a paper bag. “You don’t believe in UFOs.” It was more of an assessment from Nick than a question. He was walking towards me, rolling up the empty bag, his garlic now all distributed around the corral and the driveway. “I’m a journalist Nick. I report facts.” I didn’t look up from my notes, but kept scribbling as I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He nodded, rubbing one rough hand slowly across the denim chest of his loosely fitting overalls while fingering the last half-a-head of garlic. “I don’t suppose you believe in ghosts either?” “Well,” I hesitated. “I sort of do. But believing in them is a lot different than being able to report on them. I can believe in ghosts. That doesn’t mean I’m able to write about them as real. I have to have an expert

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say they’re real. Readers won’t take my word for it and that’s not news. I’m supposed to report the news, not make it.” I stopped writing and looked up at him over my notebook. “Even if you saw a ghost?” One bushy black eyebrow rose up as he studied me. “I could report I saw or experienced something that I thought might be a ghost, but probably only at Halloween and probably not in any serious way,” I explained. “But if ghosts and UFOs and aliens are real, and the experts say they’re real why aren’t newspapers reporting it?” I shrugged. We both looked down at the cow one more time. “Guess I’d better get the witch,” he said. “Witch?” “Ditch Witch, to dig a hole for her,” he said, nodding his head towards the barn where a trenching machine sat next to a tractor. He put the garlic in his pocket. “Gotta bury her before she really starts stinking. Good thing we’re laying pipe for the new milking barn this week I guess,” he said as he moved off towards the machine. He seemed genuinely sad – whether over the death of his cow, or at the turn of events, at the sheriff’s pronouncement of coyotes, or at my disbelief, I couldn’t tell. I flipped back through my notebook and stopped on the sketch I’d made of the cow. I wished I’d brought the camera, but Robert was using it for a football game in an hour and sports trumped dead cows any day of the week. Unless I could guarantee a little alien standing or kneeling next to the cow like a deer hunter striking a pose, there was no way I was getting the camera and no way Eddie was going to pay for developing the pictures. Remember, this was life before digital cameras. The film budget for each issue of a small weekly newspaper back then rarely exceeded the cost of a round of Big Macs, fries and cokes for the staff. I looked around for the preacher and found him poking around a tree off to the side of the cow.

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“You seriously believe this was done by aliens?” I asked him pointedly. “Yes.” I was stumped. He wasn’t lying. He did believe it. Like a good cop, a good reporter gets the facts first, or as many facts as he can given the circumstances. Then he talks to the people involved. When you know the facts you’re in a better position to tell when people are lying because you have a base line. You can generally follow the trail of who knew what and when they knew it. Jackson believed in UFOs, no doubt about that. But did he know the facts about what was really behind the mutilations? I wasn’t so sure. When it comes to conspiracy theory, that’s what makes the stories so fascinating and so hard for newcomers to understand. How do you separate fact from fiction when no one really knows which is which? You either end up tossing the baby out with the bathwater or you get sucked into some sort of fantasy that makes you a laughing stock. Looking back now, decades later, if I’d been able to tell Eddie, “There’s a cattle mutilation researcher named Charles Oliphant who thinks these mutilations are covert government research into emerging cattle diseases that could be transmitted to humans;” or, “You know, what if drug companies are just testing some pharmaceuticals they don’t want farmers to know about, or if there is some sort of highly infectious disease like mad cow, that they don’t want to draw attention to, so government agents are sneaking onto farms and stealing cattle to test them?” he might have thought twice about Nick and the dead cow. He still would have said “No,” to the story, but he wouldn’t have laughed at me. Government experiments on people without their consent, and cattle mutilations are the kind of sensationalist story that kills your credibility as a small town newspaper. Readers want to know why you’ve got time to spend on alien cattle abductions, but not enough time to spend grilling the school board about tax increases in property taxes to build a new school. About the only paper that could break a story like that and be appreciated is The National Enquirer. Over time they have broken sensational stories about anything from alien babies to presidential affairs and more. What’s so interesting is not how ludicrous the stories are, but how 28

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often they are true. They’re one of the few papers that could get away with it. I wasn’t writing for The National Enquirer though. Aliens, unless they’re invading the county and eating people or their pets, starting a football team or reducing taxes, aren’t news to the majority of news organizations. The Virginia Monitor was no exception. Anyway, I would have been almost two decades off on my timing. Oliphant didn’t publish his report, “Dead Cows I Have Known,” and talk about the Reston Ebola virus until 1997, giving serious credence to the theory that the abductions were somehow military, not extraterrestrial, in nature. I learned later that a rash of mutilations out west had happened about the same time as the sightings of a rash of black helicopters, including one who apparently fired on a rancher checking on his cattle. Were the helicopters involved somehow, or were they investigating the mutilations after the fact and trying to stay off the radar themselves? Oliphant may not have believed in UFOs, but like me, he was interested in the reason and the people behind them. That curiosity led him to write about something closer to home, an incident in which plain clothes military officers, traveling in unmarked vehicles, entered a research facility in Reston, Virginia in 1989. According to Oliphant, they secretly retrieved and destroyed animals contaminated with a highly infectious, level-4 disease. But none of that had happened in 1981, at least not that I was aware of or would have been able to track down at the time. It’s always after the fact, not during it, that reporters seem to hear of things – not that a whistleblower would bother a reporter south of the D.C. Beltway any way. Was there testing going on prior to the official discovery of the rash of mutilations found in the 60s and 70s? Who knows? All Eddie knew was that he wasn’t going to let me write about UFOs and aliens, not unless they were able to sway the county’s decision on a tax increase one way or the other. I don’t blame him, but I admit, covering the annual volunteer fire department’s all-youcan-eat-pancakes and sausage breakfast during fall hunting season couldn’t hold a candle to 29

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seeing that finger twist and jump at the end of the preacher’s key ring; or thinking about tractor beams and cattle who smelled like the inside of the medical examiner’s office. Nick’s dead cows made the paper only because we needed a filler for a hole above the weekly grocery store sale on hamburger. The irony of the placement didn’t escape me, but I kept my mouth shut. By the next week I’d even forgotten it, convinced by a friend that Jackson’s dancing finger was a sleight-of-hand trick designed to make me swallow his UFO story hook, line and sinker. “I bit, but I didn’t swallow it,” I pouted. “Close enough,” he laughed. And then it was over. No more UFOs, no more cattle mutilations. No little green or gray men or ghosts. I could move on to school board issues, board of supervisors meetings and taxes, and the state fair and upcoming elections. Life as usual. And that was it. My life and my career should have gone on as usual, but it didn’t. Nick’s cow and the preacher was about all the weirdness I ever encountered that year. I’m not saying it was the last of the weirdness, it was just the beginning of it. Even though that one incident only temporarily unsettled my world, it did open up some possibilities I hadn’t considered much before. Hearing Jackson talk about Colorado, Utah and Montana, I got the itch to travel, to find another paper, another world, and another community. In the immortal words of Horace Greeley, I wanted to “Head west!” So I did. By 1983 I’d found a job as a newspaper stringer in Tennessee, working for Gannett at The Knoxville Journal – then a daily paper, and now defunct, even though the name has been sold to a small weekly and they carry on reporting on a much smaller, less frequent scale. It wasn’t Colorado, but it was west. Like families who experience a haunting in one house and move, only to find the spirit has followed them; it never occurred to me that evil or paranormal events or cattle mutilations would follow me from one state to another, but somehow it did. I wouldn’t actually see another cattle mutilation until 1990 when a rancher in Point Dominion named Thomas Martin called me out to his ranch. It was almost six years to the day of 30

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Nick’s cattle mutilation. Thomas disappeared shortly after that and his body was never found. The following year, there was another incident, then another and another. Something just sort of snowballed in my life after Thomas disappeared. I became a “UFOand-weird-shit-magnet.” It was like the universe suddenly noticed me and anything X-file, alien, freaky or strange, found me. It didn’t matter where I was, what I was doing or how much I tried to ignore it. Stuff just showed up and demanded to have its story told. But I couldn’t tell it. I just took notes, and pictures and waited for the right time. At the time I had no idea that the Fluvanna County cattle mutilation might be more than just an odd, one-time event. It would be years before I realized there were darker forces than aliens behind the death of Nick Edward’s cow, and that Nick’s cattle had been part of a state-wide rash of mutilations that year, including some more unexplainable disappearances of cattle from government labs. Looking back it would have been nice to have known all I know now. But if I had, I’d have run far and fast and never looked back. Seeing things happen one at a time, over time is like boiling a frog. Do it slow and they get used to the water as it gets warmer and warmer. By the time it hits the boiling mark it’s too late for the frog to realize the danger he’s in and he boils. Some days I have the feeling the water’s about to boil. Sometimes it feels like it already has and I have to pinch myself to wake up to the fact it hasn’t.

Hot water or not, UFOs or not, freaky or not, I wouldn’t see or talk to the preacher for another decade. But by the time I did see Jackson Black again I had already decided I’d believe anything he had to tell me, even if he told me he’d been living on Mars since we last met.

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What you’ve just read is the first chapter of the first book in the series, “The October Abduction of Thomas Martin. Book One - Bloodline.”

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