Even in the relatively mild summer night, the trailer was a hot tin can. Her mother sweated on the couch in front of the blaring television tuned, as always, to the local FUS station. The reality show was going to a commercial as Reagan entered.
"You're home early," her mom greeted her. The woman on the couch was an older version of Reagan, with wavy auburn hair and green eyes. Ever since Reagan's dad left ten years before, when Reagan was eight, her mom had occupied that same couch, usually sleeping there with the television to keep her company. The disability check couldn't pay for cable, but her mom was able to make do with the over the air broadcast.
"Yeah, Vern closed early," Reagan used the commercial break to cross between her mother and the screen.
"Was there some sort of hubbub at the diner over those missing boys?" Reagan knew the local FUS station was filling every newscast with reports of flying saucers and the so far unsuccessful search for two of her former classmates.
"Nothing much," Reagan answered. The sound from the television shifted, virtually on cue.
"This is a FUS News break. The search continues for two local young men who have now been missing for twenty-four hours. Many locals continue to insist that the William Gillespie and Terrence Tippens were abducted by aliens. FUS News reporter Harry Krep has reported extensively on the implausibility of these alien abduction theories."
Reagan's mom oohed as the square jaw and grey eyes appeared on her screen. The ostensibly handsome face spoke. "There's absolutely no evidence to support these crazy alien theories. Until someone presents an alien on your television screen, no one should believe these unsupported claims."
The local new anchor's face returned to the screen, causing Reagan's mom to settle back into her couch, only to tug her out again with his words. "FUS News reporter Harry Krep will be visiting the area tomorrow, to investigate the claims of alien visitation and to report from the ground here. We'll have the latest news and an update from Harry at ten."
The woman on the couch very nearly leapt to her feet, but she couldn't quite overcome ten years of inertia. She settled for squealing with excitement from the edge of her seat. "This is exciting! Harry Krep! Here!"
Reagan looked at her mother with unconcealed disgust. "Yeah, that sure is something," she agreed before walking down the hallway to her room.
Once her door was closed, Reagan pulled the beat-up laptop she was able to talk her former principal out of from beneath her bed, then pointed a tin can out the window toward her old high school. Building the antenna from the can was easy using the instructions she had found on the internet. The harder part was creating the signal meter that blipped up suddenly on her screen when she got the can pointed right.
Writing the signal meter code wasn't the hardest part of getting internet access for Reagan. The hardest part was convincing Wade, the school janitor, to leave her transmitter alone where she hid it at the edge of the gymnasium roof. Eventually she had convinced him to turn a blind eye to her transmitter in exchange for a lesson in how to circumvent the school's internet filtering software, allowing him to watch all the porn he wanted during the slow bits of his shift. She had hacked the system to bypass the filters for her own purposes, not realizing at first that she could use Wade's prurient interests to her advantage.
Reagan began her evening by visiting each of the free online scifi magazines. Then she moved on to the writing boards, reading the work amateur writers had posted since had to leave for work in the morning. Once she had read all that she could find, she settled onto her bed to watch her shows, while the wall beside her bed reverberated with the sound of her mother's television.
Her computer screen swirled with cryptic graphics for a few moments of music. Then a somber faced bald man gestured expansively as he spoke. "We're supposed to believe that these mounds were built by people with a Stone Age level of technology? We're supposed to believe that people who had only barely discovered agriculture could some how align their structures with the constellations? That's beyond preposterous." The bald head lowered his gaze into Reagan's eyes. She intoned his next words with him. "This is, without a doubt, possible evidence that we may have been visited by Extraordinarily Old Extraterrestrials."
Ready for the next part? Here's Chapter 7(ish)
Need to catch up? Here's Chapter 5(ish)