The Story

A Chance Encounter…
by RC Militello

Dr. Bellinger sighed as a slow trickle of sweat dripped into his right eye.  It was going to be a long day.  He loved his job, but sometimes it was in hot, uncomfortable regions of the world.  In this case, he was following up on a report of a possible new moss that was located near a waterfall in Chile. 

“Hello,” he said.  Finally, he was getting close as he moved toward the pool.  As always his discomfort faded with the realization of a new discovery—this is what made him tick.   Bellinger waded ankle high into the water and began to turn over the protruding rocks, his breath labored as the damp heat took its toll. 

That was when he saw it.  A brief flash, movement on the edge of his peripheral vision so rapid that he thought it was his imagination.  He wiped his eyes again, the sound of his laugh dying underneath the massive roar of the waterfall.

"I must be losing it,” he said.  Bellinger sat down on a large rock and began to scrape samples into plastic containers.   For an hour he labored, but knowing he needed time to get back to base camp, he started packing up.  Quickly he radioed the rest of his team; they too, were already headed back to their tents after a long, difficult day. 
As Bellinger gathered his pack, he saw it again.  In the dim light, the creature wiggled its ears and pulled them straight back.  He wasn’t sure, but he believed the creature was staring at him.  The doctor moved carefully toward it, but in a white flash, the little thing darted under the waterfall. 
Science took over then, and Bellinger followed in, only to be confronted by a feeling of disorientation, like he was being pulled through a garden hose.   He awoke, soaking wet and dizzy.  It was dark, but the darkness had a green tinge to it—almost phosphorescent.    A feeling of dread crept over the doctor as realization set in.

He was looking into the sky—a clear sky, only to discover that there was no moon. 

Bellinger feinted. 

A New World…He wanted to open his eyes, but he was afraid.  Only the fact that he was soaking wet and shivering, gave him pause.  Survival kicked in, as Bellinger knew he would die if he didn’t warm up somehow.  Slowly, he peeled his eyelids open; darkness, still green tinged and an acrid odor enveloped his senses.  He forced his body to move and rolled to his knees.  He was on a soft, grassy substance, the botanist in him guessing this was the origin of the acrid smell.  

He hugged himself, in a vain attempt at getting warm.  Dr. Bellinger started to walk in circles, and as his eyes adjusted, he could make out that he had been prone at the foot of some kind of stairway.   The doctor moved back up the stairs, instinctive hope driving him in the direction of home.
It was then, halfway up the stairs, that he heard a sound, almost like a squirrel or small rodent.  He spun, facing the sound.  After a moment, more sounds, similar but in different pitches, began to converge on him.  Shapes, some small, some taller started to appear in the dim light, but it was as if his eyes could not take them in correctly, like they were shifting.

The doctor put his hands up, knowing this very moment could be his last.  The sound suddenly intensified, growing in strength, but beautifully alien at the same time. For the second time that day, Bellinger feinted.  As he lost consciousness, he was sure that something was looking down at him, smiling.

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