by Jack Foster Mancilla
It was early in the afternoon. I was a boy. We were living at 326-A Marine drive in the De Luz apartments on Camp Pendelton Marine Corps base near the gate of the U. S. Naval Ammunition Dump (Fallbrook, CA). About fifteen of us, kids were divided into a couple of scrawny softball teams. I was playing first base, because my mom said that a first baseman was a good thing to be. Someone hit a high pop-fly to the infield between 1st and second bases. As the second baseman and I went racing to be the hero, we watched the ball rising to the pinnacle of its arc; we both stopped. Our eyes were caught by the things behind the ball. Directly behind the ball and moving fast, dancing in formation as they flew eastwards out of the western sun was five saucer shaped UFOs. They were too high to see any definition, but they were close enough for us to know they were not planes or weather balloons or any other known anything. The baseball fell to the ground. The game was finished.
We all started running every which way looking for an adult to show them to. They were moving in the direction of the big hill behind where we were playing, and I did not want to lose them, while the others were still running in circles, I ran up the hill following the UFOs. As I reached the crest of the hill, I was all alone; my friends had run in the opposite direction. The UFOs slowed, descended, and danced in a different pattern.
That really freaked me out because it was almost as if they were watching me. As I stood there, they slowed and hovered over a small valley between the next set of hills. They descended a little more. I could not help myself. I had to see as much as possible. I took off in their direction as fast as my little feet would carry me down one hill and up the next, losing sight of them momentarily behind the hill I was climbing. They were still descending when I saw them again, and they were much closer. They were all white and pulsing with an almost lifelike rhythm. The ships were incredibly well controlled in their descent, so very slow and so very quiet and oh so very scary.
I could hear everything, the birds, the breeze through the sage, crickets. I could see everything. My senses were on fire. This was my territory; the hills of my youth many times traveled in search of my own place in the world. I knew the land like the back of my hand. I moved fast and hidden, closer to the descending craft. … then, they landed.
All five of them landed in a clearing behind some live oak trees. I ran to behind the trees and slowly peeked around the trunk. They were so small; their sizes ranged from about the size of a large car to a bus. I still could not define any real shape to them. They seemed smooth, and yet I could not see a surface. They still pulsed and vibrated. I went closer, slowly closer until finally, I could reach out and touch them. They were as far from me as my face was from my hands, and I could not really see them.
All by myself, a little boy. I reached out and touched a UFO. It was cool, wet. It swallowed my hand. With a flash of insight, pent up fears and knowledge all came cascading into my mind. They were no longer UFOs. I knew what they were. I could see them clearly and without fear. Their identities resolved themselves in front of my eyes to the touch of my hand. Foam. Foam! Giant gobs of soap foam made of bubbles so small; I could not see them. Soap foam dancing in the winds, making their wind choreographed movements in the air. Dancing foam that yanked our small childish brains around in lock step as the foam danced in the breeze filling us with awe and fright.
My friends never saw the truth. They still tell the story as “The UFOs We Saw.” They never looked farther than their belief of the truth. I learned a couple things by touching that UFO. … The child in me learned that it was fun to run around in giant gobs of foam, punching holes in the clouds of dreams. I learned that controlling your fear is a good thing. Things may not be what they seem. Beliefs based on partial information can stop you from continued searching and learning more. And as Mulder would say, I learned that, “The truth is out there.”