Betty took off like a lighting bolt. She ran and ran, not caring who
would follow her. She just kept on running. Finally her lungs gave out
on her and she stopped. oh God, oh God, oh God, this isn’t
happening. Betty took a deep breath. In through the nostrils,
for as long as she could, then exhaling as slowly as possible. She still
didn’t open her eyes, she didn’t want to, she just didn’t want to see the
impossible that surrounded her. maybe this is all a bad dream, maybe
I’m at home in bed . But part of her knew that that was just wishful
thinking. She opened her eyes ready to look into the face of madness.
Yet what she saw took her completely by surprise; she was alone in a
corridor of the VLA. She looked about, but no one had followed her. She
felt relieved at first, then anxious. why didn't they follow? were
they really there at all?!!? These thoughts did not sit well with
her, so she slowly began to walk back to the lobby. When she got there
the whole of the lobby was empty except for a mustached man looking at
some informational brochures.
Betty Ragan composed herself and walked to the exit doors. The last rays of the summer sun poked through the great glass panels. She looked at her watch; 8:03 p.m. She left the lobby and walked out to the parking lot, she just wanted to walk away from the whole thing, from the strange people that she had come here with, from the strange ideas that she had heard as well. The air outside was still quite warm, it would take a while for the Southwestern heat to slip away into the open night skies. She headed to the few parked cars but didn’t see her own.
where is my car?
Then she remembered, she had come here with the Hollywood actors . Without thinking she put her hand into her pocket and sure enough, felt the edges of keys within. She pulled out the keys of a rental car, the grey sedan that was parked to her left, the same one she remembered being driven by the Hollywood actors.
She got in, started the ignition and pulled away. She drove the way back to Socorro in silence, wondering the whole while about what had really happened. She got home, entered, and filled her bath with hot water. She soaked for over an hour, then she went to bed.
In the morning she showered, dried, and got dressed. She didn’t see her own car outside so took the rental to work. New Mexico Tech looked as it always did, as did her usual parking spot. She walked to the Array Operations Center, entered, gave a ‘good morning’ to Felicita the receptionist. "Any messages for me this morning?"
"No, Ms. Ragan."
She headed to her office wondering about that and shaking her head. By the time she sat in her plushy chair she had ridden herself of that slimy what-the-hell-happened-to-me-last-night feeling that she had only once gotten before when she went out on a night of dancing up in Santa Fe and had too many tequila shots.
That day was not very productive, though. Too many questions still bounced within her skull. When it was lunch time she went for the change in her purse – all she wanted was a box of red hot juju beans from the vending machine. Instead, her hand grabbed a slip of paper. Pulling it out, she saw that it was the rental agreement for the car. It had Wednesdays date and it had her signature! Her mind swooned, images from the day before flooded her cerebral cortex like the thousands of gallons of water rushing down the village road on the Universal Studios tour ride. She began to run, she didn’t know why, she didn’t know where, all she knew is that she needed to run. When she caught her breath she found herself at the front lobby next to Felicita the receptionist.
“Why, hello Ms. Ragan,” said Felicita.
Betty collected her scrambled thoughts and asked what she hoped wouldn’t sound like a weird question. “What was my schedule like in the past two days?”
Felicita the receptionist smiled an impish smile and replied: “You know better than I.”
what the hell does that mean?!!? “No, really, can I see my appointment schedule.”
Felicita grabbed a brown entry-book and handed it to Betty.
12/30/2000 9:03:28 AM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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