First Person

Should Friends Let Friends See UFOs?

Seward, Nebraska, October 1998

Rotating Lights Approaching from the East

I was lying on my back in a field in Nebraska when the alien ship flew by. I went out that night hoping to see a shooting star and saw a UFO instead.

The rotating lights approached from the east. They formed triangular patterns that seemed to spin in the sky.

What I saw was reality. I promise you I was sober as oatmeal, as alert as Christmas morning. Then the lights disappeared as quickly as they came.

What would you have done in this situation?

I told my closest friend, the only person who knew me well enough to believe I wasn’t pulling a prank. Surely she would understand, she would believe my close encounter.

She told me I was crazy. But she indulged me enough to accompany me to the spot of my UFO sighting. Maybe we would see it again.

Night fell and we walked to the field. We lay in the grass wondering if the ship would return. We passed the time talking, sharing our dreams, laughing. It was a friendship that came so easily, so simple, so innocent. After an hour or so we were rewarded.

There it is!

Where? I don’t see anything.

Watch the horizon. Over there.

Then she saw it.

What in the world is that?

Regions of the sky lit up as orange lights danced in random patterns on the edges of the horizon. It was beautiful.

We knew nobody would believe us, but for a little while we didn’t care. We just lay there watching something special, in awe of whatever it was we were witnessing.

Then the alien constellations changed course and headed in our direction!

That’s when the UFO illusion shattered.

When the orbs got closer the lights went out and were replaced by silhouettes. It was the honking sound that cracked my reality.

My flying saucer was revealed, not as a spaceship but as a flock of geese.

It was a trick of light. Somewhere beyond our view random lights pointed skyward. As the geese flew in formation their bellies glowed in reflection. The V-shape of their flight created the alien patterns.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Lessons Learned?

Occasionally I think back to that time in my life when I still believed the world could surprise me. Before I knew all the answers, before I could rationalize the movie in my head, before the weight of adulthood made it impossible to bond with another person without motives, before websites tallied every upward thumb, before friends escaped to feeds on a web page where they are always smiling, always primped, tiny avatars who can be trusted to check in occassionally with clever quips.

I have this fear that modern friendship is an illusion, like those UFOs.

The dazzling lights seem real, a convincing show of attention and interest. I can’t shake the feeling that at any moment the light will change and I will be fooled once again.




Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia

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Adrian Hanft

Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia

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