by Phillip H. Krapf

from TheChallengeOfContact Website

recovered through WayBackMachine Website
 

 

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Publisherís Preface to the Second Edition

Just before the terrorist attacks 9/11  -  and only a few months after the first edition of this book was released  -  Phillip Krapf was given permission to release history-making news:

The hundreds of human VIPs involved in the human/alien coalition about which he had been reporting since 1997 were now prepared to go public.

What had been presented as a mere possibility in the earlier edition had now suddenly been authorized to proceed  -  to my amazement.

As Philís publisher, I thought it best to focus our publicity efforts for this momentous announcement on a single event. Toward that end, we were able to schedule a keynote talk at a major UFO conference, and this speech was to be delivered on September 16. In the meantime, the good news was pre-announced in an August 23 release to leaders and journalists in the UFO movement who can confirm it as a fact.

Of course, this historic communication became obsolete on September 11, as you will learn in this book. Because of this tragic news, and in order to fully update our readers on the effect of 9/11 on the human/alien contact mission, Phil and I have decided to bring out this new edition of The Challenge of Contact. The book is extensively revised, featuring new front matter, a lengthy new chapter, and new appendices. Its main contents remain the story of Krapfís second visit to the alien ship, which was first presented in the earlier edition.

We thus welcome you to yet another phase in Phillip Krapfís courageous reporting on the vicissitudes of interspecies diplomacy.

 - Byron Belitsos
Publisher, Origin Press

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Preface

It is unspeakably strange to be a mainstream journalist who has encountered extraterrestrial creatures  -  all the more so given that I was recruited to literally speak on behalf of an alien race called the Verdants, to act as their designated reporter regarding their ongoing agenda for contact with Earth that involves an extensive program of interplanetary diplomacy. This book continues my reporting on my latest contacts with the Verdants, and provides an update as of March 2001 on their unfolding plans for imminent contact with the peoples of Earth.

When I first went public with this story in The Contact Has Begun in 1998, many of my friends and most of my former colleagues at the Los Angeles Times began  -  not surprisingly  -  to distance themselves from me. Simultaneously, I came into contact with a whole new group of people, researchers into the UFO phenomenon who have remained quite out of the mainstream eye, in my estimation, for much too long. This relatively small community  -  many of whom strike me as credible, sincere, and courageous  -  grapples almost daily with a story of cosmic proportions. As the mainstream press stands by almost oblivious, a historic controversy now rages as to how to interpret the UFO/ET-abduction phenomenon. Arguably the most important issue of the last half century, perhaps of all time, still remains a largely underground phenomenon.

Among those who follow this story, there seems to be three or four schools of thought  -  usually at odds  -  on the reasons behind extraterrestrial contact. The first considers ETs to simply be ill intentioned, seeking to intervene in our affairs and our individual lives for their own benefit, without concern for the welfare of Earth or its peoples. The second group takes the opposite tack, contending that an organized federation of benign civilizations from other planets is here to share their more advanced technologies and ideas of peaceful living with a world that desperately needs them  -  when that world is ready.

 

A third, smaller group adds another layer, pointing to the possibility of an extra-dimensional presence, wise but neutral angelic observers who are watching and waiting to see how events unfold, sometimes providing celestial guidance as the occasion requires. Finally there are those who give the whole affair a political spin, arguing that itís not the aliens we have to fear, but rogue elements in our own government, acting in concert with "deep black" figures in the military and private industry to manipulate the human population with advanced systems of mind control and manipulation  -  perhaps even deploying ET technologies that have been captured  -  and motivated  -  by some sinister human agenda.

Naturally, I have been inundated by all sorts of theories, postulations, conjectures and so on regarding what "really" happened in the case of my abduction by the Verdants in 1997. Many of those who have written me, including established UFO researchers, have offered a variety of interpretations for my experience, unwilling to accept at face value the way I have described it. Iíll admit that I have not closed my mind completely to some of these alternative explanations. But until someone can convince me otherwise, I must continue to believe what my sensory impressions tell me  -  that my encounters were real and happened in the way I remembered and reported on them in my first book.

Nevertheless, I have been tireless in trying to retain my objectivity. After all, being a natural skeptic, and a career news reporter and editor, I believe I have an open mind, and I still at times consider the possibility that others are right and I am wrong about the nature of my experience, that perhaps I was duped by unscrupulous ETs or it didnít really happen the way I remember it or that it didnít even happen at all.

Indeed, during those periods when I am alone with my thoughts, when the house is quiet and my mood pensive, when I am nagged by self-doubt, I begin to wonder if even the memories of what I had for lunch the day before can be trusted. Is it possible that memories that we are so sure of, that are so real, that actually help to define who we are, could be counterfeit? Can they be invented or even implanted by an outside source, by aliens with sinister motives or nefarious humans  -  government agents or otherwise  -  with secret technologies that are unknown to the general population?

To shake me from these spirals of despair, from losing faith in my own perceived reality and beliefs, I need only return to my mailbag of letters and e-mail or to recall the many conversations Iíve had with others to remind myself that I am not alone.

I am not alone. There is so much comfort in that thought. Many readers have thanked me for telling my story, for in doing so I have given confirmation to their own personal experiences, have helped excise self-doubts about their own states of mind, and have reassured them that there are others like them  -  many others. Indeed, there hardly remains any middle ground: Either these hundreds and even thousands of contacts and sightings are really happening, or the world is witnessing an outbreak of delusions on a pandemic scale, making it one of the biggest, virtually unreported sociological and medical stories of the millennium.

 

Frankly, I find that scenario even more fantastic to contemplate than the fact that we may not be the only inhabited planet in the universe. And while I am still trying to come to terms with my own experience, I do believe that the ET/abduction phenomenon is real, and further, I find it deplorable that so few outside the community of those directly affected are taking it seriously.

Perhaps the best way I can put it comes from a scene in Carl Saganís novel Contact. The character played by Jodie Foster in the movie version says after her space travel adventure:

"I had an experience. I canít prove it. I canít even explain it. But everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am, tells me that it was real."

I too had an experience. I canít prove. I canít explain it. All I can do is report it, and allow you too to grapple  -  as I have  -  with the challenge of contact.

 -  Phillip H. Krapf
Southern California
March 2001


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Chapter 1 - A Walk in the Park

On April 2, 1999, a Good Friday - some 22 months after my first encounter with the Verdant race - I awoke about 6:30 a.m. in a very odd state of mind. I could feel myself lying in bed in my physical body, yet I knew that I was inhabiting another plane of existence beyond my normal senses. Strangely enough, this was a place where I felt completely at home, as if I truly belonged there. My mind was crystal clear, and in that clarity I understood with a purity of thought unlike anything Iíd experienced before that I was in an exotic space, pulled over from my ordinary state of consciousness by some unknown force.

I didnít sense any spoken words. I donít believe that I even cognitively thought of the idea on my own. A specific thought was just suddenly there in my mind:

"Seek out the angel and you will be sought in return."

I knew instinctively, perhaps even intellectually - certainly emotionally - that I had received a message, and its meaning mystified me. But a series of events soon occurred that convinced me I had a mission to perform, a mission that would lead me on a strange and enigmatic journey. It would take me the very next day to the San Francisco Bay Area - for an encounter with an angel and an Ambassador - and eventually back into outer space aboard an extraterrestrial starship.

Almost instinctively - at least it felt instinctive - I knew what I had to do. I telephoned my wife at work and told her that we would be driving up to San Francisco for the Easter weekend.

"Well, thatís pretty sudden," she said. "What brought this on?"

"Just an impulse," I responded.

In fact I was possessed by an urgent beckoning telling me I was supposed to be there. It came from that same unknown force that had invaded my consciousness with thoughts that needed no words to direct me.

On Saturday morning we were on the road by 7 a.m. During the drive, she barraged me with questions over this sudden impulse. I was noncommittal, saying only that I thought it would be nice for us to get away for a few days. Secretly I was seeking out the angel, though I didnít know where I was going or what I would do once I got there - if I ever did. I just obeyed my instincts, sensing that some vague but powerful force was guiding me.

Five hours later we swung across the Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco, met a friend downtown, and spent an enjoyable afternoon talking, lunching, driving and walking.

Suddenly, as we were driving around the city, a word popped into my mind, seemingly unattached to any existing train of thought - "pinhole."

I didnít have a clue as to its meaning.

Catching the eye of our friend in the rearview mirror, I asked,

"What does ípinholeí refer to?"

"Manhole?"

"No, pinhole," I repeated. "Is there an area of the city known as pinhole?"

"Pinhole. Pinhole. No, thatís a new one on me."

"Isnít there a Presidio?" my wife asked.

"No, thatís not what I was thinking of. I donít think so, anyway."

Our friend then rattled off a slew of districts in the city: Noe Valley, the Castro, the Haight, the Marina, Pacific Heights, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, North Beach, Cole Valley, the Tenderloin. None of them struck a chord, so I decided to drop the subject. I wasnít getting anywhere and it was just frustrating me.

After a moment, though, she casually mentioned that there is a town on the East Bay called Pinole.

Eureka! That felt right, that was the place I wanted to go. But the day was late, so I forced myself to wait until morning.

The next day, after dropping my wife off at her friendís house, I headed north, and by 11a.m. I was in the town of Pinole. I found a municipal parking lot, got out of my car, and started walking.

It was Easter morning, not an especially important day to an atheist, but at this stage, having come in contact with aliens - and ones who spoke of God, of all things - I wasnít sure what I believed anymore. In fact, I can say honestly that deep in my soul - whose existence I was now willing to consider - I realized that I had changed. I knew that I would never look upon the universe, and my own place in it, in the same way again. I had been so sure of my place in the world and now I was filled with doubts, with questions for which I had no easy answers.

Almost overnight I had gone from being an outspoken skeptic on matters of UFOs and alien abductions to becoming not only a believer in such phenomena but an actual participant in an extraterrestrial adventure. And thatís on top of having my belief system - or, nonbelief, to be more precise - shaken to the core with respect to things metaphysical. I longed to find some structure, some purpose, some meaning that would explain the extraordinary events of the last two years.

Pinole felt virtually deserted, perhaps because of the religious holiday. Most of the shops I saw appeared closed. Iím sure the churches were full. At first, Pinole struck me as a blue-collar town, but as I looked deeper while driving around I realized that while many of the houses appeared old, they were not neglected. I thought that because of its superb location and enviable weather, many commuters with upscale jobs in the bigger Bay Area cities would find it an attractive place of refuge.

I roamed aimlessly for awhile, then returned to my car and drove around. Still seeking out the angel, I passed a number of parks and finally pulled the car to a curb and walked into one, taking a seat on a bench in the shade of a tree. I donít know why I picked this particular park; it just felt right to me. There were a handful of people, some of them with small children. I sat back and enjoyed the cool serenity and sylvan peacefulness. The pace was just right - slow and relaxing. Five minutes passed.

At first, I took little notice of the man who approached and sat down next to me. When he spoke, I was startled and reflexively flinched.

"Beautiful day," he said.

Terrific," I responded.

He was dressed casually in jeans, with a plaid shirt under his windbreaker and white athletic shoes. Although he looked vaguely familiar, I was pretty sure we had never met. He looked to be in his forties, with a chiseled face and a full head of brown hair that stirred in the breeze. His eyes were an undistinguished, everyday blue.

"How was your drive?" he asked.

"Not bad," I answered before giving any thought to the question.

Then suddenly I turned to look at him. I was certain at that moment that my quest had been fulfilled. I stared mutely and waited for him to speak further.

"Another person will join us shortly." He lowered his voice as a young couple strolled by hand-in-hand. "I should fill you in on him. Heís an Ambassador and he has information for you."

"And you are . . . ?" I asked, my voice trailing off.

"I go by the name of Paul." He reached out his hand, which I shook firmly.

I didnít see any point in mincing words. I wanted solid, understandable, uncomplicated answers. I had been operating for two days on feelings, hunches, and irresolute beckonings. Suddenly feeling feisty, the words spilled out of me in a torrent. I wanted to know who he was and what his purpose was for meeting me. I asked if I had received some sort of telepathic communication that had steered me to this place hundreds of miles from my home and, if so, for what reason. I went on and on, and it wasnít until I had finished, as I reflected upon my outburst, that I realized I had been acting like a whiny schoolchild.

Naturally, I wasnít taking notes, so I canít quote extensively. But I do remember proclaiming at various points that "I hate being jacked around," and "Iím getting tired of the games." At one point I also complained in frustration that "sometimes I wish that I had never gotten mixed up in this business," or words very similar to that.

Mixed into the equation, I have to admit, is an inherent and abiding dislike of getting the runaround by people from whom I am trying to extract information. That goes back to my reporting days when I was trying to sniff out a story and had to constantly battle to cut through the evasions, the temporizing, the half-truths, and the misinformation that the spin doctors tried to feed me. Actually, I got pretty good at cutting through the rubbish - in the interest of civility, I wonít use the scatological vulgarity that is commonly used in such cases - that some interviewees throw at reporters. I learned to recognize the snow job, blow it off, and ask the kind of penetrating questions that yielded the hard information that I was after.

Paul bided his time while I vented my frustration. When he spoke, his tone was understanding, and at one point he put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder while he talked. At the same time, he made it very clear that, yes, he was there for a purpose, I was there for a purpose, he would decide what information I was to receive, and no amount of adolescent petulance on my part was going to change that.

Despite all of my probing questions, he supplied me with only the scantiest personal information, referring to himself as only "an intermediary." I never did figure out in this meeting if he was an Ambassador himself or what other role he might be playing in this cosmic drama. During our time together, though, it was clear that he was well versed in the area of spirituality. If I had to guess about his vocation, I would have said that he was a man of the cloth or perhaps a religious scholar.

I had an urge to ask him for proof of his connection with the Verdants. I didnít know who he was or whether I was being manipulated or tricked into talking to someone I shouldnít be and revealing confidential information. Then I realized how absurd this idea was. It would be impossible for an impostor to know where to find me, to know so much about me, and to be aware of the forces that had led me to this place. After all, he had approached me right out of the blue.

No, he was authentic, all right. He was also a mystery. Yet despite his refusal to answer many of my questions, I couldnít help feeling - not thinking, but feeling - that he was a most remarkable and fascinating individual. He radiated a quality that I couldnít quite put my finger on: a certain exceptional presence.

Paul talked and I listened. I learned that every effort was being made to keep all Ambassadors and Deputy Envoys posted on developments that had a direct bearing on their roles. In my case, this briefing was apparently a matter of courtesy to keep me apprised in general on the progress of the plan, or so I thought at the time.

Paul did confirm that I had been contacted telepathically and led to this park. When I asked him why the message and the process had been so cloaked in ambiguity, he said something to the effect that telepathic messages sometimes do not translate as literally as they are transmitted, especially when being received by those with little or no experience with that medium. The messages are often received by the intended recipient in the form of metaphors and symbols, such as those that are found in dreams. The ability to translate them varies with the individual.

He touched on a dozen topics during a discourse that went on for several hours, waxing at times philosophical about the condition of the world and humankindís future. The turn of the century was just around the corner and he made several predictions that in hindsight turned out to be true. There would be no Second Coming, no Rapture, no Armageddon, and no Y2K calamity, he declared. At one point, after musing about rumors of planned mass suicides when the clock ticked 2000, he clasped his hands behind his head, stretched out his long legs, and as though he were discussing nothing more important than the weather, said, "The ways of humans are so very strange."

It wasnít the meaning behind the words that struck me but rather his detached manner in saying them. It was as though he were speaking as a mere observer of the human race, not as a part of it. It was an intensely eerie feeling.

Eventually, a man whom I had noticed walking in the park earlier stopped in front of us. He was wearing a suit and tie, certainly appropriate attire for an Easter Sunday. Paul and I stood up.

"This is John," he said to me, and the man extended a hand.

"Let me guess. John Doe," I said.

"Or Smith, or Jones, but you can call me Chip if you prefer," the man said as we exchanged a handshake.

"And youíre an Ambassador," I said.

I studied his face carefully, and although he did look slightly familiar, I couldnít place it with any of the pictures that I had seen in the ambassadorial roster. That didnít surprise me; there were only a handful of faces that I could conjure up from the roster, and that was only because I had been familiar with them prior to my journey to the starship.

"Iíll leave you two to talk," Paul said as Chip took his place on the bench. "Weíll meet another time at another place." He began to walk away.

"Wait a minute," I called after him. He turned and waved, but kept walking. I had a million more questions for him. I looked helplessly at Chip, who beckoned me to sit down.

I took off my glasses and rubbed a palm across my closed eyes, massaging my temples as well. I donít see much without my specs. The world turns into a fuzzy, unfocused kaleidoscope of shapes, forms, and smears of colors. I donít even have depth perception and have never experienced that phenomenon; my left eye is crossed and both eyes donít work together to form a stereoscopic image. I have had this condition for a lifetime.

But suddenly, as I watched Paul walk away, the scene in front of me sharpened into crystal clear focus. I was experiencing depth perception for the first time in all of its breathtaking glory! The image was nothing short of miraculous. Looking out upon this simple earthly landscape - seeing the image as three-dimensional in which objects projected themselves into space so that I could judge size, thickness, form, and distance - was mesmerizing. My world normally passes before me as a flat field, much as one would see life on a movie screen. But to see the images jump out of that screen was more breathtaking than I could ever have imagined.

 

The experience stirred in me emotions that were every bit as strong and moving as those I felt when I first gazed upon the full grandeur of the universe from the observation bubble of the Verdant ship. My knees had literally buckled when I was confronted by the billions of stars and galaxies that studded the infinite blackness of space like gemstones. They would have given way now as well if I werenít sitting down.

And then, just as suddenly, my vision returned to normal - blurry, flat, unfocused. I put my glasses back on. Mysteriously, Paul had disappeared from sight. Yet I should have been able to see him: He still had some way to go before the path took him out of view. I was totally bewildered. The event had occurred so suddenly and unexpectedly and was over so quickly - no more than three to five seconds - that I thought I might have been hallucinating.

I became annoyed with myself: always the rational mind, always seeking a logical explanation for the unexplainable. But this was no hallucination.

This was nothing short of a miracle.

It was Easter Sunday, and I had literally seen the light. I canít say that I "got religion." It was more like a spiritual awakening to some of the wonders that had been missing from my life. I wasnít resurrected, but I was convinced that I had been touched, by . . . something.

I wanted to talk about the incident to Chip, but I found myself incapable of doing so. If any experience called for sharing, this one certainly had to qualify. And yet, though reeling psychologically and emotionally from the impact, I was overwhelmed with the conviction that to analyze what happened would somehow violate the sacredness of it. So I kept it to myself.

Chip and I spent hours together, occasionally getting up to stroll leisurely through the park. He did most of the talking, although he was more inclined to address my questions than Paul had been, and slightly more willing to reveal personal information about himself. He also delved into areas that had a significant, and even worrisome, bearing on me in my capacity as a minor spokesman, of sorts, for the Verdants. That is, even though I am merely a secondary player in the program, I had stuck my neck out while the major players still remained shrouded in the security blanket of anonymity.

While there was nothing specifically said that I could point to as reasons for my moments of unease, there was a tone that had me on edge at times. Perhaps I was overreacting.

Chip told me he was an official at a Silicon Valley computer firm (I am trying to say as little about him as possible) and was deeply engrossed in projects that essentially commanded his full attention. He didnít come right out and say so, but I got the impression that he was recruited for his professional expertise and his respectable standing in the field of science and technology.

 

Thatís why I believed him when he informed me that, thanks to briefings of key Ambassadors by the Verdants, human scientists and technicians had been provided the necessary information to forestall most major disruptions as a result of the so-called Y2K problem. And indeed, the remarkably anticlimactic turn of the century, especially following the urgent warnings of potential chaos that preceded it, suggests such plausibility.

Over the next several hours, our dialogue touched on a host of subjects, including reincarnation, telepathy, crop circles, and cattle mutilations. Paul claimed that the cattle mutilations are the handiwork of humans and that the authorities would soon reveal incontrovertible evidence to that effect; there may even be some arrests, he said.

During the afternoon I also learned that some opponents of the contact, both foreign and domestic, have compiled enemies lists containing the names of many prominent UFO activists, and that I have the dubious honor of being included on some of those rosters. Ironically, some of those who oppose the contact actually belong to UFO groups, he told me. He called them infiltrators, whose purpose is to cause disruption within the community. This revelation led me to remember several incidents of people at conferences who pressed too hard, who seemed motivated by more than curiosity to extract information from me. Could some of them have been so-called plants?

Somewhere along the line, Chip mentioned X and asked if he and I were still in contact. I replied that I hadnít seen or heard from him since April 1998.

In The Contact Has Begun, I mentioned that a person from the Los Angeles Times who had been chosen as an Ambassador had been instrumental in persuading the Verdants to recruit me to write the white paper publicly announcing their presence in Earthís neighborhood. In addition, I also mentioned that I had met aboard the ship another human, a very important figure, whom I recognized immediately as we both were taking a tour of the craft during an informal period. I also wrote that I had been shown a roster of many of the important people who had been recruited as Ambassadors, which was a virtual Whoís Who of the World.

After I returned from the ship, the Ambassador from the Times, whom I referred to as X, contacted me to arrange a luncheon meeting and compare notes. This occurred in September 1997. I also had several other conversations with X subsequent to that. Let me pause here and relate the most important of these.
 

 


 


In mid-April of 1998, I answered the doorbell one morning and found myself facing X along with another man.

 

This was unusual because our previous meetings had all been arranged beforehand. There was a sense of urgency about his manner as I invited him in. He introduced me to "John," and we exchanged handshakes. I put on the kettle for tea, and soon we were seated at the kitchen table.

"John what?" I asked casually, taking note of the nervousness that was evident in a slight trembling of his hand that rattled the teacup against the saucer as he drank.

Before he could answer, X replied. "John Doe."

"Ah, a mystery," I said with a good-natured smile. X eyed me with a slight smile of his own. John, whom I am not at liberty to describe other than to say he is not American, was quiet while X and I chatted amiably about nothing consequential. Then he got around to the reason for their visit, and his demeanor took a more serious turn.

"It is imperative," X said in a firm voice, "that you recognize how important it is for you to exercise extreme caution when discussing me, the Ambassador you met on the ship, the ambassadorial roster, and the timetable."

The words came across almost as a warning, and caught me totally off guard. He said I could talk only on those subjects about which I had already written, but that I was not to elaborate or expand upon them.

I asked him timidly if I had done something wrong, spoken out of turn, broken any confidences, or revealed any secrets. He softened his tone and assured me that I had committed no violations of protocol and that the purpose of his visit was preemptive. Nevertheless, while X appeared reasonably calm, John was less so, certainly nervous, possibly even agitated.

X told me that John was - or, at least had been - an Ambassador. I had already guessed that; indeed, I couldnít imagine his being here talking so frankly and openly with someone who was not intimately involved in the adventure. The primary message, repeated by X and boiled down to its essentials, was simply to reinforce the need to be discreet and avoid revealing certain material that was still considered confidential, which I thought I had been doing all along.

X sipped his tea and eyed me over the rim of the cup.

"We just wanted to make sure you understood," he said. "Have you had any strange visitors, noticed anybody watching you or following you? Anything suspicious going on like late-night phone calls, anonymous mail, strangers approaching you to strike up conversations, people pumping you for information?"

"Nothing out of the ordinary that Iím aware of," I said tentatively. "You mean like íMen in Blackí?"

My attempt at frivolity was met with grim looks; they werenít in a whimsical mood. Actually, there had been a few minor incidents and communications that caused me some concern at the time, such as vague warnings that no one could be trusted. But no problems ever developed as a result, so I didnít bother mentioning them.

"Why? Should I be expecting something? Whatís going on?" I wasnít really alarmed, but a slight edge had crept into my voice.

"Oh, thereís a lot going on, much more than you realize," X replied. "If I had a couple of days, I still couldnít fill you in completely. And even I donít know everything thatís happening."

It turned out that the two men were part of a network of small teams who were calling on a select number of recruits to assess, advise, and update, on a need-to-know basis, developments surrounding the program and the rate at which the plan was going forward. I learned that some emissaries had been harassed and had run into other unspecified problems. I was strongly advised to be cautious when picking up mail from my post office box, to make sure I wasnít being watched. The bottom-line message I was getting was to be vigilant, and I vowed to be more careful, although at that moment I couldnít imagine why anyone would want to tail me.

I really got the point, though, when X told me that John, in his own country, was nearly forced into a car that had pulled up beside him on the street. Fortunately, he was able to make a run for it and escape. Certainly the incident could be viewed as an attempted kidnapping, but John couldnít imagine what the purpose was or what the end result would have been. Perhaps he was merely going to be questioned, but he also had to consider the possibility that he might never have been heard from again.

This revelation disturbed me. When I pressed them for details, my questions were brushed off. What they did volunteer was that word about Johnís association with the Verdants had gotten out. John admitted that it probably was his own fault; his tongue had become loose one evening with a close friend over drinks. Two weeks later the kidnapping attempt was made.

John believed that he had been "outed." The attempt to force him into the car, he said, was not merely a random street crime. He felt he had lost his effectiveness to continue serving as an Ambassador and decided to go into hiding.

"There arenít many nations where at least one copy of your book isnít available," John said. "Any government leader who wished to see it could easily get hold of it. There are some very powerful forces who do not want this contact to take place, and they will resort to extreme measures to stop it."

Major opposition to contact comes from, among others, leaders of rogue nations who see it as a threat to their power base.

 

But there also are domestic groups and individuals, X said, who donít welcome the idea of extraterrestrial contact. Some are conspiracy theorists who see secret agents under every bed. There are others who believe that the aliens are intent on setting up a one-world government whose human leaders would do the bidding of their alien puppet masters. Other resistance comes from more "mainstream" people who have certain religious, economic, or political agendas and beliefs that would be threatened by an extraterrestrial presence and all it implied.

Still others arenít convinced that the aliens have the best interests of humans at heart, or they simply have reservations - very real personal concerns - that motivate them to proceed with extreme caution. And there are those who are firmly convinced that the aliens are in fact diabolical. These people could be described as planetary isolationists who fear contact of any kind and who want no part of it. In fact, I was told, this group actually poses more of a threat than the former because it is highly effective at working within the system to achieve its ends.

I asked if I was in any danger, but both men assured me that they had no knowledge of any plot against me. They emphasized that the primary purpose of their visit was simply to let me know that loose talk on my part, while not necessarily putting me in danger, could compromise the missions of others, particularly foreigners, and possibly even put those people in jeopardy. I assured my guests again that I would be a model of discretion in my talks and interviews, and would be constantly on the alert for suspicious activity.

But what in the world do I know about questionable activity, I wondered. Should I be suspicious if a new postal carrier begins delivering my mail? And what should I do if I do notice such a change? Call the FBI or the CIA? File a police report? Go into hiding whenever the mail truck comes up the street? Despite the gravity of the situation, there was a part of me that saw the whole thing as a third-rate Hollywood melodrama.

Both men rose, and it was clear that our meeting had ended - amicably, I had thought. But as I walked them to the door, I casually asked X why I had to be so careful in talking about the timetable.

His demeanor suddenly shifted, and a kind of cold-bloodedness entered his eyes. He responded with a forced calm that it was no accident that I had come away from the ship with only a hazy notion of the timetable leading up to contact.

"You got the timetable from me," he said. "Thereís nothing that can be done about that. Just do me a favor and try to avoid talking about it."

I was confused. There was no rational reason for his sudden turn in mood.

"How can I do that?" I asked. "Itís in the book, itís no secret."

"Humor me." He stared silently at me for several seconds, appearing to fight for control.

"This isnít about you," he went on in a measured tone. "There are some very important people who have more on the line than you do. Some of them are already confiding in colleagues and government officials. A few others will be going public in the months and years to come. They will be staking their reputations on this enterprise and they have a lot to lose if things donít go forward as expected."

I asked him if I could at least explain to audiences why I had to tiptoe around these certain subjects.

"No!" he snapped. "How can you? You donít know the reason because I havenít told you."

"No, you misunderstand," I said lamely. "I know I donít know why, but, I mean, is it okay to tell people that Iíve been told not to talk?"

"Someday. Not now. I need at least a year. Just generalize. Iím sure youíll figure something out."

I was completely mystified by his reaction. Obviously I had touched a nerve. I felt as though I should apologize, but I didnít know for what. Even so, I made a half-hearted attempt, but he quickly brushed off my effort. I didnít want to make an enemy of him, and I didnít want him to leave on this sour note. But he strode toward his car with John on his heels, and then they were gone.
 

 


 


I had been silent for several moments as I thought about the dramatic last conversation I had had with X, but I was brought back to the present as Chipís voice broke through to my consciousness.

"Weíre having a little bit of a problem with X," Chip explained. "To be brutally frank, there are complications as well with several other key Ambassadors."

His answer piqued my interest. Apparently X was suffering from a condition common to journalists who are relentlessly exposed to a diet of bleak events that expose the darker side of the human character. The symptoms can take several forms. Sometimes the journalists simply burn out and quit the business. Other times they become calloused and cynical, encasing themselves in a protective shell that prevents them from feeling anything.

 

Some become so over-sensitized to the daily barrage of cruel events that they turn moody, angry, cynical, or despondent. Chip confirmed that this latter condition described X, who felt certain that he had witnessed more evil and human stupidity in the last several years than at any other time during his career. "He has lost the ability to maintain the necessary detachment," Chip said.

Chip then recited a litany of major news events in the last several years that reflected serious problems facing the world. They ranged from bloody terrorism in the name of many causes to economic terrorism in the pursuit of wealth, among others. He said he shared Xís concerns about many of these "missteps," as he called them. Other Ambassadors concurred with Chip that these missteps - what I inferred were the unfortunate results of the behaviors of that notorious 20 percent - could actually affect the timetable.

That statement certainly shocked me, but when he told me that X was actually lobbying the Verdants to delay the event, I was absolutely stunned.

When the Cold War ended early in the last decade, it appeared that humanity had arrived at a point where the possibility and dream of world peace was finally within reach. The Verdants and many humans shared this feeling, Chip said. The Verdantsí optimism played a key role in their decision to go ahead with the planned contact and thus begin the recruitment program. Sure, Earth was still a troubled place, but the future looked promising. It was anticipated that problems would be resolved at an escalating rate and that humankind would march into the 21st century to the beat of a different drummer.

But the headlines since then have told a different story, a tale of opportunities lost and hopes unfulfilled.

"Is it possible that the human race simply is incapable of getting along?" he asked rhetorically. "Will the ancient tribal mentalities always predominate? Itís almost as if there were an organized, deliberate attempt to create worldwide turmoil, to put our worst foot forward, as though this insanity is being orchestrated."

There was more. He said that some government leaders had already been briefed by Ambassadors and that one or more of them may secretly oppose the contact because of hidden personal agendas. Creating international strife, opening old wounds, instigating economic and social turmoil would be acceptable tactics that could have the desired effect of disrupting the plan, he said.

I brought the conversation back to X. Chip said that X was furious over what he perceived as a societal relapse and wanted a postponement because he believed that humans had failed to live up to expectations of the Verdants. He was very vocal in his opposition, and - because he also wielded considerable influence in certain quarters - he had gained some support from other Ambassadors.

"What we have is a small rebellion on our hands," Chip said.

That single statement alarmed me more than any other I had heard since I returned from the ship. I questioned him about the implications, about its possible effect upon the timetable. He assured me that nothing had substantially changed, although the Verdants had been listening very closely to X and reevaluating world conditions.

In my view this opposition in and of itself wasnít enough to scuttle the program, and I believe Chip tended to agree with me. But he did add the caveat ". . . if we donít blow ourselves up first. It would be a tragedy of unparalleled proportions to miss such a golden opportunity," he said wistfully.

"So if we donít blow ourselves up, theyíll be coming according to plan, according to the timetable?"

He paused and gave me a tired smile.

"What do you think?" he asked sincerely.

I was optimistic and told him so.

"So whatís the bottom line?" I asked.

"The bottom line? Pray," he answered simply.

The hour was getting late, the sun was beginning to settle low in the west, and it seemed like a good time to end our conversation.

"Will I be seeing you again?" I asked.

"Letís hope that all goes according to plan, and if it does, we can share a toast sometime soon in the company of the many dedicated men and women who believe in the future," he replied. "Perhaps it will be in Genesis."

He extended his hand to me. "Goodbye, my friend." And with that he walked away.

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Chapter 2 - Surprise Visitor

One morning, about nine months later, I was in the middle of taking a couple of loaves of banana nut bread out of the oven when the doorbell rang. It never seems to fail, I thought. I put the pans on a rack, then pulled off the hot-pad mittens and tossed them onto the counter. It was 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 12, 2000.

At the door was a young woman, perhaps in her early 30s, attractive in a girl-next-door kind of way. She was neatly dressed in a skirt and blouse that I would guess probably came from the racks of Sears rather than Sachs. Her shoes were simple brown pumps. Her auburn hair fell in soft waves to about shoulder length, and she wore just a touch of makeup on her eyes and lips. She flashed a beguiling smile of straight, white teeth.

At first I figured her for a religious proselytizer.

"Hello," she said. She wrinkled her button nose and leaned into the doorway. "Something smells awfully good," she said.

"Yeah, Iím doing a little baking," I replied.

Several seconds passed and we merely stared at each other. The radiant smile remained on her cute face while her deep green eyes sparkled. Finally, when it seemed that she wasnít going to say anything further, I asked, "Can I help you?"

"Oh, I was just in the neighborhood and thought Iíd drop by to say hi, to see how things are going," she said.

I ran her face through all of the memory banks that I could access at the moment, but drew a blank. A neighbor? A forgotten acquaintance? A friend of my wife? I simply could not place her. Perhaps she was mistaken and had come to the wrong house. I knew I wasnít going to bluff my way out - I was going to have to ask her who she was. I also knew that I probably was going to feel foolish when she told me.

"Iím afraid you have me at a disadvantage," I said cheerfully. "I donít recognize you." I hoped my squirming would go unnoticed.

"Well, Iíve changed a bit since we last saw each other," she said with a coy grin. "You havenít changed, of course, except that youíre dressed now. The last time I saw you, you were in your underwear. Youíve also picked up a few pounds."

She mischievously poked a finger into the little roll around my midsection.

I stared blankly at her. Brain circuits opened and closed as I searched for some familiar landmark. A pretty young woman, me in my underwear. It was a rather improbable link, but apparently there was a connection. I had recently seen a female doctor, but this certainly wasnít her.

Suddenly a light went on.

"Gina?" I asked in a husky whisper.

My God, was it really her? I was just about to throw my arms around her when my cautious nature urged me to slow down. It may be just an ordinary human female who had read my book and was engaged in a prank, I told myself. I had to think of something, some information that we had exchanged that was not in the book. But what?

Then it hit me - her real name, her Verdant name. She had told me what it was, but I had never used it. Therefore, no reader - no one on Earth, as far as I knew - had that information. And I remembered it easily for several reasons. First, it didnít contain any of those unpronounceable sounds that peppered the Verdant language. Second, it was quite a pretty name, one that I considered lyrical: Gretcheenyal (a phonetic spelling of the sound that I heard). And third, the human female name "Gina" sounded like it could be an appropriate nickname for it.

"Whatís your name," I asked, perhaps a little too distantly, too suspiciously.

"Iím really Gina," she replied in a sprightly voice, giving me a look of assurance.

I stared at her again. I had never really appreciated the range of expressions capable in the human face before meeting the Verdants. Whereas it took intense study and observation to finally begin to recognize the minuscule fluctuations in the facial muscles that express Verdant moods and emotions, the human face is like an open book. And right now, a look of questioning and incomprehension played across the womanís features. Then her face brightened.

"Oh, of course," she said. "Iím Gretcheenyal."

Spontaneously, I grabbed her and clutched her in a bear hug. She giggled as I planted a big kiss on her cheek. I broke away and took both of her hands in mine.

"Come in," I said, drawing her into the living room, closing the door behind her. "What are . . . how did . . . what happened . . . why are you . . . ?"

This was more than a surprise; it was sheer amazement. After my visit to the ship in 1997 and the events that followed, I really believed I had lost my capacity for being amazed.

I was wrong.

"Whoa. Hold on. Slow down," she said, laughing.

She was delighted by my reaction. It was written all over her expressive human face.

 

I took her into the kitchen, sat her down at the table, and put two enormous slices of the freshly baked and still warm bread onto plates. I set out two forks, poured us each a cup of herbal tea, then slathered each slab of bread with a generous portion of fresh creamery butter.

Between bites and sips of the tea, she told me that she had been genetically altered and beamed down only seconds before she rang the doorbell. Since I live on a cul-de-sac, which is generally quiet and deserted during the day, there was no problem in her arriving unnoticed. Besides, my "front" door is actually on the side of the house and is largely hidden from street view.

(I recall Gina saying upon her arrival that she had been genetically altered, but my notes are not crystal clear about this. Iím going to assume she was, as I was directly told on my first visit to the ship in 1997 that the Verdants had mastered this process. It has been suggested to me that her appearance might have been a mental or holographic projection of some sort, which I would not rule out. However, this seems unlikely because, as you will now see, she maintained her form during our stroll through a local mall, and in fact was noticed by others there as we walked and talked.)

As I gazed fondly at her delicate features, I was suddenly overcome with a sense of deja vu. The memory of a dream came rushing back to my consciousness, and I excitedly shared with her my recollection.

"Címon, fess up, now," she said. "Youíve had many revealing and insightful dreams, havenít you? That certainly wasnít the only one."

She was right, of course. I had started to dream in volumes, and they began taking on such form and substance that I wondered if they were more than mere nighttime fantasies, if they might possibly have been some form of communication. There was an interesting pattern in the way they played out, almost like one of the old movie serials of yore. In the first installment, Gina visited me in human form and told me that I would return to the ship. After three or four such dreams, it became obvious that they were all part of a continuing saga; each one picked up where the preceding one left off. It was like a story falling into place, and I began looking forward to sleeping each night and to whatever new surprises and revelations the next installment might bring.

The nocturnal sagas continued sporadically over a period of months until I had a complete story, with a very definite beginning in which I was prepared for a return to the ship, a middle in which I was back among the aliens and was continuing my education, and an end in which I bade farewell to my hosts and returned to my home.

I finally asked her if the Verdants had been contacting me while I slept.

"This bread is wonderful," she said as she washed the last of it down with a gulp of tea. "I wouldnít be able to eat it in my Verdant form, though."

She must have had a good reason to avoid my question so I decided to play along. But I was absolutely determined that I was going to get some answers before she left the house.

"Why not?" I asked. "Thereís no meat in it."

"I know, but Verdants canít digest butter or any other animal by-products," she replied. "Our bodies arenít equipped to process anything but plant matter. Itís just a matter of simple physiology."

I mentioned that the bread also contained eggs and milk, but she said that was no problem in her human form. Even meat could be digested in her present biological configuration, but consuming flesh would not be considered because of moral objections. Even if the Verdants had the digestive systems to process meat, they would never do so.

"Anyway," I said, "I know you didnít travel 250,000 miles to compliment me on my cooking. First, Iíd like you to answer my question about the dreams. Then I want to know why youíre here. Do you have good news for me?"

To me, good news would be that I would be going back to the Goodwill. While the events being played out now were not identical to the dream that I had along these lines, there were striking similarities in some areas.

"OK, the dreams. Yes, we were in contact with your subconscious mind for reasons that you wouldnít understand even if I explained them to you. Letís just say that we have our methodologies, our procedures, our agendas. They serve a purpose for us, but you shouldnít put too much stock in them. Certainly you shouldnít interpret them literally. Thatís the best advice I can give you," she said.

She picked at the few remaining crumbs on her plate, wetting a finger to snag them and then licking it. I offered her another slice, but she declined.

"Itís very good, but Iím stuffed," she said. After a pause, she continued. "Yes, I have good news for you, if you consider an invitation to return to the ship as good news."

I could not restrain my excitement. It was something that I had been hoping for and that had occupied my mind for much of the previous two years. I beamed a broad, elated smile, jumped up from my chair in a moment of unbridled enthusiasm, grabbed one of her hands in both of mine and shook it enthusiastically.

What the heck, I thought. In a moment of sheer joy in which I threw decorum to the wind, I pulled her to me and hugged her. Her hair had a wonderfully clean smell. This figure before me was for the moment not an alien but a lovely human woman, and as I held her tightly to me, feeling the shapely waist beneath the arm that I had wrapped tightly around it, I suddenly experienced a reaction that went beyond mere friendship.

I turned her loose and quickly stepped back. An embrace that began as an expression of delight and enthusiasm had quickly escalated into something inappropriate.

Gina gave me a coquettish grin and took her chair again.

"My, my. Were you being naughty?" she asked.

I actually blushed. Even at my grandfatherly age, I could feel the heat of my reddening cheeks as though I were some awkward schoolboy.

"Iím sorry," I whispered. "That took me totally by surprise, and I meant no disrespect."

Gina chuckled and waved off my uneasy apology with a flip of her arm that said I was making too much of it.
 

 


 


Odd as it may sound, Gina and I had had a previous "sexual history." On my first visit to the alien spacecraft in 1997, Gina and I found ourselves alone in a lounge area during one of the informal periods in which she was showing me around the ship. She had been asking very pointed questions about the mating habits of humans, a subject that made me somewhat uncomfortable, and I kept trying to steer the conversation in other directions.

But she had persisted, and eventually exposed her naked body to me and suggested a sexual encounter, which I immediately spurned. It was obvious to me at the time that she was not driven by any particular passion for me but rather by simple curiosity. The Verdants have a healthy open attitude about sex and do not burden the subject with the kind of moral, spiritual, and emotional baggage with which some humans tend to overload it.

She had not been offended by my rejection, and that was the end of the matter. I wrote about that incident - and one other with heavy religious and spiritual overtones - in detail in The Contact Has Begun, although my initial inclination was to omit both. The sexual episode was embarrassing to me and I felt awkward and uneasy about relating it. (Was this an example of the emotional "baggage" that we humans attach to the subject of sex - in this case prudery?) My report about the spiritual incident was also extremely controversial, and to compound the difficulty, I felt inadequate about writing on this subject because of my woeful lack of knowledge about even the fundamentals of religion.

Since neither incident was integral to the construction of the white paper, I felt justified in leaving them out. But after much agonizing, I felt that I should include them as a matter of accurately recording all events in order to give the complete story of what had occurred during my three days aboard the ship. It was a decision that was destined to get me into a bit of hot water, as you will see later in this book.
 

 


 

"Come on, weíve got some work to do," Gina said to me in my kitchen.

And so we settled back down to business.

"I said there was good news," Gina continued. "And while there is no conversely bad news as such, I do want you to be aware that there is a serious side to the purpose of the invitation. In other words, your return will not be a mere lark but involves matters of genuine concern with sobering implications."

What in the world did that mean? She explained that all Ambassadors were being recalled for short work sessions and mini-conferences to iron out some difficulties that had arisen and to address some deep questions that had surfaced over the previous year. Most of the Ambassadors had already been debriefed, some were currently in the process of being so, and a very small number still had yet to be recalled. Only a very select few of the Deputy Envoys - of which I was one - would actually make the return trip to the ship. The remainder would be briefed in other ways.

Her face and voice had taken on a more serious bearing. I asked her if anything was wrong.

"Nothing to become overly alarmed about." She put a cheerful look on her face. "Letís leave it at that for the time being."

"Can we take a tour?" she asked. "Iíd like to see your neighborhood. Iíve never been on Earth before."

"Sure," I said. "Do you want to walk or take a drive?"

"Letís drive," she replied.

Making sure she was buckled up, I backed the car out of the garage and took her to the grocery store down the street. At the store she wandered the aisles in fascination for about half an hour. Undoubtedly, the store was primitive by her standards, but even we humans can find enchantment in poking around in the ruins of ancient civilizations. Then we headed for the local mall, and it was immediately obvious from the moment we set foot inside that she could be there until closing time. She was enthralled as we roamed each store in consecutive order.

We talked as we walked. It was simple chitchat, nothing at all to do with momentous events of the past or those still to come. Instead of asking the price of various items that caught her eye, she asked me how many hours or days an average person would have to work to pay for them. There was no easy answer because such questions then led us into discussions about the distribution of wealth under our system. I had to explain that a doctor might have to work only an hour or so to buy a sport coat or a fancy tie, while a bank teller or a laborer might have to work several days to earn the price of the same item.

At one point we stopped at the food court. I purchased an order of rice for her from a Chinese fast-food outlet, and for myself chose a slice of plain cheese pizza from another restaurant. I had deliberately selected the rice in an effort to avoid anything containing animal products.

She took one taste of the rice and immediately spit it out. The look of distress on her face shocked me. Apparently it had been prepared with a small amount of chicken stock, which she immediately detected. I tasted it myself and just couldnít tell. We continued our tour, and so the day went.

"When can I go back?" I eventually asked.

"Weíve made arrangements for Saturday afternoon. Monday is a holiday in much of your nation so weíll have a few others there also. Itís a good time for them to get away."

I stopped on the spot and turned to face her. A couple behind me almost ran into us. The man muttered something under his breath as they passed.

"You bet," I said. "Iíll be ready. Itís a date."

I then told her of a dream I had had in the middle of one week in which I was told that I would go back to the ship on the following Saturday. This dream had occurred during a period when I was attempting to make telepathic communication with the Verdants and had entertained the seemingly bizarre notion that they might be communicating with me in my dreams. After I awoke that morning, I wasnít sure whether my dream was just a common, ordinary nocturnal fantasy or whether they had actually contacted me in my sleep. Nevertheless, I counted down the days to the weekend.

The eagerly anticipated Saturday came and went uneventfully, I told her.

Gina smiled and winked at me.

We roamed the mall for another couple of hours and then headed back to the house. It was nearly 6 p.m., and my wife would soon be getting home from work. Gina said that my wife was welcome to accompany me and that she would like to meet her. I promised to pass along the invitation.

I parked the car, closed the garage door with the remote, and invited her back into the house. She declined and said she needed to leave but that she would see me on Saturday.

"If your wife decides to come along, just hold her hand at that time and weíll know," she said.

She pulled a small device from the pocket of her skirt, and almost instantly the inside of the garage - including me - was bathed in the familiar bluish-white light.

The light narrowed into a beam focused upon her.

"Until Saturday, then," she said, and disappeared along with the light.

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Drawings and Charts

Image of the Verdant starship by John Kramar based on Phil Krapfís descriptions in "The Contact has Begun"

 

 


 

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