The Search Begins

I found the address on Orange Avenue and looked again at what I had scribbled. Sure enough, the address was correct, but the sign on the building said “Life Skills Institute.” This couldn’t be the right place. I stared at the building for a moment and considered my options as my fingers drummed the steering wheel.

I’d been duped, that much was for sure. But by whom? Who would write such a thing and go to all of the trouble of inventing a PR company to get it printed. A book about aliens? It’s never been a genre I’ve really gotten into. Whoever wrote it must not know me very well. Aliens. Somebody was trying to make a fool out of me.

Then a strange yet familiar sound echoed off of the oak trees surrounding the parking lot. I’d heard it before, and recently. I closed my eyes and listened.

Spinning lights darted across my eye lids and they popped open immediately as the sound came to an end. It was the sound I’d heard the night before when I saw whatever it was that I had seen.

I looked at the building once again. Aliens?

I’m not normally one to get spooked easily, and though I often pride myself on unabashed bravado, my instincts on this occasion had other plans. I turned the key to the ignition. Nothing happened. I turned it again to no avail.

I popped the hood and got out of the car to have a look. As I surveyed the maze of wires and metal, I wondered what exactly it was I was looking for. Even if whatever was malfunctioning was visible, I wouldn’t know what it looked like. Short of finding gremlins playing jump rope with the fan belt, I couldn’t offer any diagnosis.

I closed the hood and reached into my pocket for my cell phone only to find it empty. As I looked at the empty passenger seat, I realized that I’d forgotten it when I left the house in haste. I looked back to the building. If I was going to get someone to look at the car, I was going to have to use their phone. I smiled and shook my head. Aliens indeed.

I gathered my wits about me and walked toward the entrance. Each step seemed to echo off the trees, crunching fallen leaves underneath my feet, emitting a spine tingling sensation that had my hand shaking by the time I reached for the door knob.

I peeked my head inside. A large desk sat unoccupied in the center of the room. Cheap artwork decorated the walls, and the room smelled oddly sterile.

Stepping fully into the room, I called out. “Hello?”

Estralarian_IMAGEThis is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Order your copy now!

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at, and sometimes posts at Anything Arts, Sarasota Music Scene, and Elephant Journal, and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


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