Welcome to The Book of Bones, a weekly adventure story. If you’re just joining the story, click here for Chapter 1.
No one was about when Bones slipped out of his motel room and headed down the street. He kept to the darkest shadows, which wasn’t difficult since there were no streetlights—at least, none that worked. The dim glow of the neon light in window of the Blue Corn Grill cast a pool of light on the ground, and Bones found himself longing for the cool, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. That or the giant swimming pool at Mandalay Bay. He wasn’t particular.
High above, a dusting of stars twinkled in the clear night sky. The Milky Way lay just above the horizon. Quemadura might be a hole in the wall, but the night sky was spectacular. You didn’t see skies like this back east. Humming the Eagles’ song, “Peaceful, Easy Feeling”, Bones crossed the street and struck out across the open desert.
When he was well clear of town, he turned on his phone and started reading one of the articles he had found on Halcón Rock. It was a piece from the Santa Fe Sun. He did a double-take when he saw the name of the author of the piece.
“Amanda Shores. What are the odds?” Smiling at pleasant memories, he began to read.
For more than half century, New Mexico and aliens have gone hand-in hand in the national consciousness. From stories of battles at secret alien bases to perhaps the most notorious story of them all, the Roswell Incident, when someone thinks of aliens, their thoughts almost always turn to New Mexico.
Roswell, New Mexico has, understandably, received the most attention in this regard. From the well-known museum, to the space-themed cafes, all the way down to the streetlamps shaped like the heads of visitors from beyond, the city had cultivated the alien connection and parlayed it into a modest but respectable tourist trade, drawing both the casual visitor and the dedicated researcher. Roswell, however, is far from the first community in this state to be associated with alien contact.
While so-called UFO experts focus their attentions on the most recent and renowned stories, reports of alien contact in the region date back to the indigenous peoples who made their homes here long before contact with European explorers. Reports of strange lights in the sky, artistic representations of strange beings and crafts, and even direct contact with extraterrestrials are common to the lore of tribes of the Southwest and beyond.
One such story survives in Apache lore. According to the legend, a group of warriors were descended upon during the night by a handful of alien-looking beings. The men were short, with lean, gray bodies and bulbous heads and carried “flashing spears full of fire.”
Though Apache are widely regarded as the finest warriors among the Southwestern tribes, masters of camouflage and ambush, the dozen or more warriors were helpless against the handful of strange beings. Only two of the original party managed to escape.
While most people would consider this nothing more than a story, one elder claims to have in his possession proof of the encounter. According to his account, one surviving warriors fought hand-to-hand with one of his attackers, managed to wound it with his knife, and came away holding something that belonged to the strange visitor. This artifact has allegedly been handed down for hundreds of years and has never been shown to the public. Whether it exists at all, who can say?
An interesting wrinkle to the story of this incident, which allegedly took place at the foot of Halcón Rock near Quemadura, is that the aliens came, not from the sky, but up from beneath the earth. The Apache saw neither lights in the sky nor strange crafts of any kind. Depending on which version of the story one believes, the aliens either descended from the top of the rock formation, or came up from somewhere underneath it.
Few, if any, researchers have investigated the story. Those who have tried report being turned away by members of the local Sheriff’s Department. A Santa Fe Sun reporter received similar treatment when attempting to visit Halcón Rock, despite the monument’s location on public land. The deputy at the scene cited safety concerns, but otherwise declined to comment.
Quemadura-based author and self-described UFO skeptic Matthew Jameson dismissed the legend as mere fancy.
“The locals don’t take the story seriously,” said Jameson. “I promise you, no one has seen any aliens wandering around here. Spreading this sort of story is nothing more than an excuse to set up a t-shirt stand. We’ll leave that to our friends in Roswell.”
Did aliens once live beneath the red rocks of eastern New Mexico? Do they live there still? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Bones closed the browser window and turned off his phone to preserve the battery. There wasn’t much there to go on, but Matthew Jameson was obviously the same Matthew he’d encountered earlier. Mari’s boyfriend. The man had some sort of interest in Halcón Rock, and if Bones didn’t miss his guess, the man believed there was something there, and Matthew wanted to be the first to find it. Add in the fact that the local authorities consistently patrolled and chased away visitors from a location that wasn’t strictly theirs to control access to, and the whole thing stank like a men’s locker room.
Eager to see what he could find, Bones set out a steady jog. Soon, the dark shape of the rock formation loomed against the starlit horizon. Bones grinned. This time he would make it to the top and see what Matthew was hiding up there.