Season Finale Episode 9: The Incident

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Present Day:

*Tape recording begins*

Tess: Man it is so quiet in here without Alleyway. She’s so loud. I miss her, but she had to go back to class this week so our fun had to come to an end. I officially put the finishing touches on my family history report, and it’s ready to be turned in bright and early next week. Not to toot my own horn… But it came out awesome. It better get me an A.. plus.

Regardless It’s going to be a little while before I can come back up to Los Alamos and sit in this amazing room of grandpas. I’m going to miss it. This room is so full of amazing history and I find it so peaceful. Not to mention I feel so close to Grandpa here. Knowing I’m sitting in the same chair he sat in, looking at the same room and documents. It’s been a real blessing to be here and have this during the mourning period. *sigh*

Anyway, I thought I would come one last time and spend the day here and make sure I have everything in order. Maybe read one last story. Which one to choose though…

*papers shuffling and Falling*

Dang it, not again. Freaking paper avalanches…

What the heck is this? There’s a…metal box here, its padlocked, what could be that secret?!  It has an old handwritten note taped to the top: Do Not Open Until June 14th, 2017. If he obeyed that then Grandpa never got to see it. He died with just months to spare. I have got to open this now.

*banging*

Ugh, that’s solid, I’m going to need help.Thank goodness, my boyfriend, Jeremy is coming into town tonight. It’s about time. He should have some tools.

*Tape Recorder Stops*

*Tape Recorder Starts*

Man: “Tess, Why do you have this brick of a recording device?”

Tess:” I told you, Jeremy. It was for my family history project at school.”

Jeremy: “I thought you finished that.”

Tess: “ I did”

Jeremy: “ Then why are you still using it?”

Tess: “for my own memory. I’ve gotten attached to it. Ok?”

Jeremy: “Whatever, Goof. So what did you need me to do?

Tess: “Break this for me, Please?”

Jeremy: “ What is it… A master lock? No problem. Next time give me a real challenge baby. “

*metal groaning*

Tess: “Wait, don’t damage the box!”

Jeremy: “It’s cool, hang on, let me run back to the truck and get something”

*Tape Recording Stops*

*Tape Recording Starts*

*Crack*

Jeremy: “There ya go, baby.”

Tess: ”Awesome! Thanks so much, Babe! You’re the best!”

Jeremy: “You’re welcome, what is this anyway, some kind of  time capsule?”

Tess: “Something like that… I’ll see you and mom and dads in an hour or so?

Jeremy: “Ok…sure you don’t want me to…”

Tess: “NO! I mean.. See you soon, okay?”

Jeremy: “Um ok…bye.”

*footsteps receding and door closing”

Tess: “ Now then, let’s crack into this thing… Wow! There are all kinds of newspaper clippings here about Roswell. Specifically like the UFO thing… No way that’s what this is about, that’s not even real. It just like a tourist thing…right? Wait…here’s a letter…

July 4th, 1982

Dearest Friend,

If you are reading this, either I am dead or it is finally the date on the front of the box. That is, of course, the date the “official government reports” are due to become declassified. Whichever the case, I hope you are sitting down.

My conscience would not let me take this information to the grave, so I sit here on this most auspicious day, the words patriot and traitor both swirling in my mind. I have greatly appreciated our friendship, and I knew that of anyone I know, you are the only person I could trust with this information.

As you know, I came to Los Alamos with the Manhattan project as a junior scientist. In those days, they were bringing all kinds of scientists, the top in their fields, from all different disciplines: math, physics, chemistry, you name it. With my degree in metallurgy, the letter that showed up at my desk in Detroit in 1944 was a surprise. I took the chance, and I came to this ‘secret city’  to work on The Bomb, although at that time I didn’t know what I was in for. My contributions were not all that many, but I did my part, and we ended World War II. At least, that’s how the history books remember us. All I remember is the image of burned, crying children in the streets of what used to be Hiroshima.

I digress. After the war ended I stayed on at the Lab despite my better judgment. I thought that with the resources here, I could maybe do some truly interesting work in my field. Well, I guess I got what I asked for in July 1947. Let me tell you what happened, Robert. Let me tell you the story of the incident that changed my life.

It was Wednesday, July 9th. I came into my “office” early in the morning. It was little more than four walls, a chair, and a desk. It was no wonder scientists were leaving in droves at that time. There was talk that the contract with the University of California was just about to be renewed but many thought the Lab would be soon to close.  I was just sitting down with my cup of coffee. God, it was hot that summer there at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, as it was known then… I had the fan on already, but it scarcely touched the stifling heat.

There was a firm, but polite knock at the door. You will never guess who came in: Mr. Norris Bradbury himself, the director of the lab. I think I may have spilled coffee on my shirt. Oh, sure, I had shaken his hand once before and knew the building his office was in.  

I stammered my way through a greeting thinking; why would the director be here? He said that he had received a phone call late the night before by some top brass in the Air Force, a general Ramey. There was a bus arriving in 30 minutes. The Air Force was calling for scientists in several fields to leave for an urgent mission of national security. He said that if I agreed to join this project, I would be given a check for $5000.00. This was when I dropped my coffee cup, which broke on impact.

Why me? I wondered and asked such.

“They are asking for a specialist in metals. You are the best in the field we have Martin, so, will you take it?” Mr. Bradbury said.

I couldn’t believe it as the words escaped my mouth, I agreed of course.

“Oh, there’s one catch,” he said. “You have to sign this.”

Bradbury presented me with a Non-disclosure agreement: I could not tell anyone anything about the project I was working on. My hand shook as I signed.

  A military bus arrived 24 minutes later, with the driver and one soldier. I had to use the restroom, and so when I arrived at the bus, there was already a line of my colleagues there. When I saw them entering the bus, I got the urge to run. Each scientist as they entered the bus, was blindfolded. It would only be a few minutes before it was my turn.

The ride was long and dark. We only made a few stops. Once I think was for fuel as I could smell it, the other stops were for nature. We were not allowed to remove the blindfold, only to fumble with our zippers.

After what seemed an eternity, the bus slowed and finally came to a final stop. The soldier gave permission to remove the blindfolds. Some had attempted peeks during the trip, these were categorically denied by an unfriendly man in a uniform. As we took off the blindfolds, we could tell it was near dusk, we exited and found a flat desert, even more so than I was accustomed to in Los Alamos. We were told to form a line facing an important man leaning over a table, examining some sort of documents.

    I did not serve my country in the War, in uniform that is. I was exempted due to my educational credentials. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in boot camp, being lined up in front of the bus that way, single file.

After many minutes in the hot fading sun. The important military man turned, faced us, and paused before he spoke:

“I am Colonel Blanchard. You civilians can call me Butch.” The way he said his name told us that he was not a man to be trifled with.

“You have been brought here on the basis of your professional knowledge of science, to assist the military of the United States of America. The defense of our country is dependant on your work. Tonight, you will be brought to tents where you can retire. First thing in the morning oh five thirty, you will be awoken to eat and then be taken to your assignment.” We were brought to spartan accommodation of army tents. Robert, I tell you, I did not sleep a wink that night. I could not shake the feeling of dread for what sort of trouble I must have gotten myself into.

The sound of a horn being blared with urgency brought me upright out of bed. We dressed and were brought to a mess hall tent. After a tasteless meal, we were again lined up in front of the bus and greeted by the friendly face of ‘Butch’

“Your job gentleman,” Butch said as we were handed notebooks and pens, “Is to document thoroughly with your professional and scientific knowledge, the crash site of a weather balloon which you will be brought to.” At last, the bulldog had a sense of humor. One man even laughed out loud. Butch just stared at us, a slow, lazy trail of smoke rising from his cigar. Not a sense of humor after all.

“Why us?” Another man asked.

“Because you, gentlemen are the best. The American people respect you. That’s why.”

 We were divided into teams and brought by Jeep to an open desert plain. Barbed wire fencing was visible suggesting a rural farm. Surrounded by an army cordon was a collection of debris on the dust of the desert floor. The morning sun reflected against numerous metallic pieces of debris. A closer inspection revealed wood and other smaller fragments of material. We were observed and constantly accompanied by men in uniform to keep us in line. I was assigned a larger piece of metallic material that appeared attached to some of the wood. After documenting my initial assessment, I was allowed to handle the material. The metal was torn easily and could be crumpled with ease. It’s not difficult to identify aluminum foil when you see it. Any housewife in America could do this. Why was I here? The wood, though I am not sure what kind, was very light and easy to break.. We worked for only 30 min or so before Butch brought the ‘science’ to an abrupt end.

“Gentleman, thank you for your assistance. However, your assignment isn’t quite over. You will now be returned to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory where further details will I’m sure, be explained to you.”

Just like that, I was in a blindfold and on the bus again. When we arrived back in Los Alamos that evening, I was immediately escorted by a soldier into Mr. Bradbury’s office. He looked harried and distraught. There was sweat on his brow.

“Look, Martin, they’re letting most of the scientists go back to work, but they are keeping a few of you on. You’re one of them. Just for God’s sake, do what they ask….”  This admittedly was not the reassurance I had been looking for. I felt like I was drowning, clearly, I was in way over my head. The “examination” of this so-called weather balloon crash was clearly a farce. It was insulting to be talked to by this Colonel Blanchard like a child. What did they want from me now?

 I found myself in my lab space. Usually, the warehouse had many of us working but today, there was only me. I was surrounded by the heavy equipment there: pneumatic drills, welding equipment, complete chemistry lab, you name it. My playground. As the far door opened my palms started to sweat. Three military men marched toward me seated at a lonely wooden desk. Their feet found immediate synch, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. One man carried a suitcase. My God, what was in it? I wondered. The men put the suitcase on the desk and gave me a letter. Then, they left, as disciplined as they had come.

The letter read: “Your assignment is to identify and categorize the metallic sample provided. You have 48 hours. You are not permitted to leave the building.”

As I read this I heard a chain being dragged across the door. I shook my head. There was no way out but to do as I was ordered. So I worked.

I opened the suitcase to find a roughly 3 by 3  by 0.2 cm square piece of metal. It was rough and appeared torn or otherwise damaged. The lighting in the warehouse was industrial, but, by God how that piece of metal shined…

Two days later I was brought into an unused office with a table and three chairs. I was dumbfounded to see there, with another officer I presume, Col Blanchard. Butch, with his equally charming friend who had the name ‘Ramey’ on his uniform, looking at me, with piercing eyes.

“So tell me, son, what did you find?” Butch said.

“Sir?” Was all I could muster.

“What did your experiments show?” he asked, already losing patience.

“Sir,” I paused.” Where did you find this?”

The two men showed no emotion and no sign that they would answer.

“Well,” I continued, “This metal is…well shall I say, not from this world…”

The men looked at each other, then back at me as if expecting more. “I mean…It’s not possible”

“What?” Butch asked flatly.

“I mean…it’s not possible with the technology I have available…” I trailed off.

“Continue..” Butch said.

“Where do I start? The metal you presented…. It’s strong” I stammered.” Strong doesn’t even begin to describe it. It has excellent mechanical strength, resistance to thermal creep like I’ve never seen before. It shows no deformation, phenomenal surface stability. It’s resistance to corrosion or oxidation is also well, remarkable. I put that metal through every stress test I have: drills, pneumatic presses, the blast furnace, acids. Not even a scratch… God, it actually broke one of the drills. Even with the new vacuum melting methods, you can’t make anything like this.”

“So what would you say it actually is?” Butch asked

“It’s a superalloy. But, like nothing I’ve ever seen. Its crystalline structure…look it’s amazing. And even more, I think it has a large percentage of Rhenium in it.”

“Rhenium?”

“It’s a transition metal, number 75 of the periodic table and one of the rarest. It has the third highest melting point of any element at 5903 degrees Kelvin…that’s over ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit. And this alloy is even stronger. That chip of metal is worth more than Fort Knox. Rhenium isn’t even being commercially produced anywhere in the world right now, it’s too expensive and…”

“Thank you, sir, for your work. You will be escorted back to your office.” Butch interjected.

“Hey, wait a second!” I said. “What is this all about? That scene in the desert you brought us to, that was all fake, wasn’t it? Tin foil and wood, it was a movie set! Where did you get this from?”

The door opened and two soldiers came in.

“These two boys will show you, everything you need to know,” he said.

I was led to a different building at the Lab and into an empty storage room. The soldiers locked the door.

   Robert, they beat me. They beat me with fists and clubs. I spat teeth out when they were done.

I never saw Butch Blanchard of the 509th Composite Group at the RAAF or his friend  8th Air Force General Roger Ramey again. Oh, Robert, there was a lot of talk in the Seventies about new eyewitnesses to this so-called Roswell Incident which I discovered later. I had certainly been a part of it. The military “debunked” the event, they began doing so the day after the crash of unknown origin on  Mr. Brazel’s farm down in Roswell and they are still at it. A “weather balloon” they say. That metal, what they really found, has no explanation.

You now understand Robert, my need to tell you this, to get the real story out. I trust you will continue to look into what really happened on July 8th, 1947.

 

Regards,

Martin.

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