Once in the bathroom, he took a deep breath, coughed again a few times, and walked over to the mirror, looking at his unshaven face. His piercing blue eyes were bloodshot. His slightly long, curly brown hair was unkempt. The brown stubble under his chin was slowly becoming almost beard-like, evidence of not having shaved in a week or so. There was just the suggestion of gray about the sideburns, though otherwise Ray's face was clean, smooth, barely marked by lines and creases of age; quite handsome in conveying an inner sense of character, though Ray never really considered himself to be particularly attractive. His physique was thin but muscular, the product of a regular and strenuous workout regimen.
Oh, great, now I'm starting to look like my father.
He tapped some cold water onto his face, but wasn't satisfied. In frustration, he just splashed it on in torrents. He wore the old, faded jeans and baggy T-shirt he put on the day before.
Ray slowly walked out of the bathroom and made his way to the front door. He undid a couple of security locks and opened it with a slight squeak. He bent down, picked up the newspaper, and closed the door.
He still felt very groggy, and he shook his head a few times to clear the cobwebs. Ray finally began to feel awake, but figured it would take a strong cup of coffee to make him fully alert. He entered the small kitchenette area located adjacent to the living room and sat down on a dark enameled metal chair. He reached across to a long shelf and turned on the coffee maker. As the morning beverage brewed, he opened the newspaper and glanced at the headlines.
Ray passed up the spicy details of the latest lurid political scandals and haphazardly turned pages until a single small headline atop page six caught his eye. He stared at it for a moment. Long-dormant memories poured into his mind.
"This is damned unbelievable," Ray murmured to himself, half in disbelief, half in near shock, as he began to read the article.
Government Denies Existence of Alien Bodies at Area 51:
The U.S. government has again denied a growing number of claims that it is harboring aliens from a spaceship that crashed on Earth more than fifty years ago.
On this subject, U.S. Air Force spokesman James W. Moseley argued, "Those tabloid papers and cult magazines have been raving about this stuff for years, and it's just not true!" Mr. Moseley emphasized the point by pounding his fist on a nearby table. "There is absolutely not the slightest chance that the Air Force is hiding alien bodies. The very idea is absurd. There are no gray aliens!"
Mr. Moseley, a public information officer for the Air Force intelligence group in Washington, was responding to the growing clamor for Congressional hearings into the activities of the military research establishment that has become known as Area 51.
Ignoring most reporters' questions, Mr. Moseley concluded, "There is just no reason to hold hearings on this stuff. There's nothing to it and enough government money has already been wasted on fantasies."
Some UFO scholars have long contended that the government captured beings from another planet many years ago and has kept them at the Area 51 facility for scientific research.
Kenneth J. Alpert of Atlanta, author of several well-known books on UFOs, claims to have evidence that extraterrestrials exist. He alleges that their bodies have been kept in a state of suspended animation at a top-secret laboratory inside Area 51, deep below the surface, in a chamber known as "Level S4."
Responding to Mr. Moseley's statement, Mr. Alpert said, "Of course they'll deny it. They've been doing that for fifty years. It's time Congress began to investigate to find out what they've been hiding from the people!"
Alpert added, "But I agree with them. There are no gray aliens. From what I can determine, these stories about gray-skinned, insect-like creatures are all just a smokescreen. The real aliens look almost like us, except for some minor genetic and physical differences."
The article was illustrated with an editorial cartoonist's rendering of an unearthly being in a dark uniform, with a distinctive emblem affixed to its left shoulder. The alien was the classic hairless gray-skinned, bug-eyed entity that one read about in all those UFO stories. The creature wore a striking uniform bearing an insignia that consisted of a bird-like creature with wings outstretched, surrounded by a large triangle. Underneath was a caption: "UFO researcher believes reports of aliens are based on government misinformation."
Ray put down the newspaper and tried to dismiss rising thoughts. He shook his head?the idea was outrageous, but those nasty dreams and the images they portended came back over and over again.
Ray looked at the rendition of the supposed alien creatures a couple of times and thought, absentmindedly, Gee, they didn't really get that face right at all. This alien looks nothing like the way she was in my dream.