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The Phoenix Gate

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That first chunk was pretty short. Hardly enough to pique your interest. So here's another piece...

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO - June 14, 1947.
Rancher SEGUNDO VASQUEZ is sitting on his porch admiring the quiet desert night. Something, something fast, streaks across his field of vision. A shooting star? He's not sure. He doesn't get a good look. He stands and scans the sky. Suddenly a fiery explosion lights up the night! Now Vasquez can see flaming debris crashing to the Earth a few miles away. Thinking an airplane has gone down, he makes a quick call to the Sheriff, then gets in his pick-up truck and heads out into the desert to see if he can find any survivors.

Roswell Sheriff JACK MCKAY and his Deputy JOSEPH TEN-SAMSONS arrive on the scene an hour after Vasquez. McKay immediately radios his dispatch and has them connect him to WALKER AIR FORCE BASE.

Air Force Captain WILL HAWKING is dispatched to the site of the crash, with a full platoon of men.

The next morning, June 15, the news services report that a U.F.O. has crash-landed on the Vasquez Ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. Captain Hawking is quoted, and he confirms the story later that day.

June 16. The Air Force releases a correction. Two-Star General WARREN BURDETTE explains that Captain Hawking was mistaken. What he took for a U.F.O. was actually a weather balloon. Hawking cannot be reached for comment. And the Vasquez Ranch is off-limits to all non-military personnel.

July 7. The U.S. Armed Forces finally pulls its last transport out of Roswell. On July 8, in a SANTA FE motel room, Captain Hawking speaks to wire service reporter TRISH AINSLEY. Hawking maintains his original story. He saw a "saucer-shaped" vehicle broken into two distinct pieces with assorted small debris. He saw one corpse and one badly injured survivor. But neither individual was human. Their skin was grey. Their heads were disproportionately large. So were their eyes. They had no ears or nose or teeth. They had two long fingers and a thumb on each hand. Neither was over five feet tall. There's no doubt in Hawking's mind that what he saw was extra-terrestrial. An ALIEN SPACECRAFT from another world that had crashed on our planet, killing one occupant and injuring the other. Hawking claims that the U.S. Military knows all of this and is covering it up. They have removed the bodies and every trace of debris from the Vasquez ranch. Ainsley tries to get Hawking to call the aliens "Martians". She tries to get him to speculate as to what the government has done with the craft and the bodies. Hawking refuses to take the bait. He saw what he saw. The rest is as much of a mystery to him as to anyone. That night, Ainsley turns in her story. But her employers -- calling it preposterous -- refuse to put it on the wire.

July 9. Seven hours after the story is rejected, Captain Hawking resigns his commission. He phones Ainsley and tells her the resignation was less than voluntary. Then, he disappears.

July 16. Ainsley contacts Segundo Vasquez. But he won't talk to her. Won't even let her on the property. She goes to the Sheriff's office and speaks to McKay. McKay confirms the official version. He had seen everything Hawking had seen. There were no bodies. And the shattered craft was a weather balloon. McKay's deputy sits silently and listens to his boss speak. When Ainsley turns to Ten-Samsons, he simply stares back at her. He won't confirm. He won't deny. He won't open his mouth at all. That night, she confronts him in a local bar. He's silent. She presses. Finally, he speaks: "Don't ask me to talk to you. I have a son that I love." He leaves the bar. Ainsley doesn't follow.

But Trish Ainsley continues to pursue the story, to the detriment of her legitimate career as a journalist. Years pass, but she tracks down every army grunt who had ever set foot in Roswell, New Mexico. Most won't talk to her, and the few who will won't say anything on the record. But she begins to piece it together.

March 10, 1955. Following up on an anonymous tip, Ainsley finds an Army Surgeon, MAJOR MICHAEL TYLER, who claims to have seen and worked on the two recovered aliens.

January 4, 1961. Joseph Ten-Samsons dies of cancer.

December 12, 1961, Segundo Vasquez is on his deathbed, another cancer victim. Trish Ainsley arrives and speaks to him before he passes away early in the morning of December 13.

1964. Dr. Tyler retires from the U.S. Army and then seems to vanish off the face of the Earth.

Then in July, 1971, Will Hawking resurfaces after over two decades in hiding. Together, Hawking and Ainsley write a book: THE ROSWELL CONSPIRACIES.

May 1, 1972. Two weeks before the book is scheduled to be published, Trish Ainsley dies in a car accident. Hawking disappears again.

May 18, 1972. Nevertheless, the book is published. It reiterates Hawking's original story and expands upon it, using material that Hawking gathered while underground, combined with interviews that Ainsley had conducted over the last twenty plus years. These interviews include a startling 1961 deathbed confession from Segundo Vasquez, confirming Hawking's version of events. Vasquez explained his previous silence by detailing numerous threats against and attempts upon his life. He also hinted that his cancer was the result of his exposure to the broken and glowing alien spaceship all those years ago. Finally, Ainsley also claimed that in his last moments, Segundo had given Ainsley a piece of twisted metal from that craft that was clearly extra-terrestrial in origin.

The book also included Dr. Tyler's description of the alien autopsy, as well as his attempts to resuscitate the second, injured, alien. When it seemed certain that those attempts were failing, Dr. Tyler had been instructed to place both the dead alien and his still-breathing companion in cryogenic stasis. As late as 1963 (the last time either Hawking or Ainsley had seen Tyler), both alien popsicles were still in the custody of the Joint Chiefs.

The Roswell Conspiracies causes a minor sensation. It is on the non-fiction best-seller list for four weeks, peeking at #7. Although few legitimate scientists take it seriously, the Air Force issues an immediate and all-encompassing denial on June 2.

June 14, 1972. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Roswell Crash, Sheriff McKay actually holds a (fairly well-attended) press conference to debunk the book's findings. He reiterates his own version of events: simply put, there was a fallen balloon and some high-tech military debris on the Vasquez Ranch. Although, McKay doesn't pretend he could identify every bit of it, there was certainly nothing alien in it's design. And he literally scoffs at the notion that there were any bodies (living, dead, alien or human). The idea that exposure to the downed craft was carcinogenic seems to be belied by his own robust good-health.

At the press conference, McKay is joined by MARIA VASQUEZ DIENER, Segundo's daughter. Maria confirms that Ainsley had spoken with her father the night before he died. But Maria claims that in his delirium, her father spoke only in Spanish. Ainsley had admitted at the time that her command of that language was limited at best, but she nevertheless insisted on speaking to Segundo alone. Thus no one else heard this so-called confession, and the book gives no indication as to what language Segundo was using when he spoke these "startling revelations".

Maria is questioned about the piece of "alien metal" that her father supposedly gave to Ainsley. She confirms that her father had kept a piece of wreckage from the crash as a souvenir. This was no secret to his friends or family. It had been sitting on his mantel for over a decade. The Air Force had allowed him to keep it, so it couldn't have been too startling in anyone's version of events. A few days after the funeral, Maria noticed that the relic was missing. She can now only assume that Ainsley stole it. McKay chimes in with an observation. He acknowledges that Ainsley's death is a tragedy, but since the chunk of metal was conveniently missing from her effects, legitimate science has been prevented from examining it to confirm (or dispute) her conclusions.

At this point, reporter NICK KATERAS asks McKay if the timing of Ainsley's death isn't extremely suspicious. McKay agrees that it is. He's checked into it. Ainsley's body was cremated within 48 hours of her death, and the only person who identified that body was the now missing Hawking. McKay can't help wondering if Ainsley is actually dead, of if the whole thing isn't a publicity stunt that doubles as a way for her to dodge some tough questions. After all, if there really was a conspiracy that wanted her dead, wouldn't she have been killed BEFORE she wrote the book, or at least before she had delivered the manuscript to her publisher?

June 16, 1972. Jack McKay issues an apology to Trish Ainsley's "friends and family." It was insensitive to imply even in jest that she could or would have faked her own death for the sake of book sales.

The book drops off the best seller list, though it remains in print. Royalties are held in trust for Hawking. Ainsley has no living relatives. She does not resurface.

August, 1980. Maria Vasquez Diener's husband ERICH DIENER abandons her and her two children. She struggles to maintain the ranch.

June 1, 1982. Retired Four-Star General Warren Burdette dies of cancer. He was 83 years old. To the end, he refuses to comment on Roswell.

June 14, 1982. Will Hawking resurfaces on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Roswell crash. He collects a substantial royalty check from his publisher and makes the rounds of all the morning talk shows. Jack McKay is a surprise guest on one of these, and Hawking and McKay engage in an intense and bitter debate on the air. Hawking is goaded into producing the "Roswell Fragment," the twisted piece of chrome-like metal that Ainsley either stole or received from Vasquez. Hawking insists that a battery of tests have already proven that the fragment is of extraterrestrial origins. McKay suggests that Hawking turn it over for independent testing, but Hawking refuses to let the evidence out of his sight.

December 13, 1986. Hawking uses his military pension and book royalties to buy the ranch adjacent to the old Vasquez place.

December 31, 1986. Jack McKay retires as Sheriff after 40 years in office. He purchases the old Vasquez place from Maria Vasquez Diener.

March 18, 1989. Maria Vasquez Diener dies of cancer. Her teen-age son ALEX DIENER claims that she lied about Segundo's last meeting with Trish Ainsley, because she was afraid of Jack McKay and his "friends."

June 14, 1992 - On the 45th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident, Jack McKay and Will Hawking once again do their point/counterpoint routine on television talk shows. They display hostility laced with humor and are a genuine success. Together, they are booked on lecture tours.

In 1995, after an investigation into the Roswell Incident intended to end the various rumors, the Air Force now maintains that the debris was part of Project Mogul, a formerly top secret operation using acoustic equipment on high altitude balloons in an effort to detect foreign atomic tests. When one of the Mogul balloons was downed in '47, the Air Force moved in to retrieve it before security could be further compromised.

The USAF also says that it conducted a variety of experiments in the same general area involving test dummies dropped from balloons and aircraft in order to measure the effects of falls from various altitudes. The dummies match the descriptions of the "aliens" reported by witnesses. The Air Force feels that the connection between the dummies and the balloon has been exaggerated over the years.

June 14, 1997. The 50th anniversary. Jack McKay now admits to having seen the dummies at the site. He claims he was asked not to mention them by the U.S. government, and he complied like any good patriot would. Hawking, his regular sparring partner, wonders aloud what else this patriot has lied about over the years. The debate that follows is lively, but it's clear that over the years Hawking and McKay have developed a strange little friendship. They actually like each other.

September, 1999. Roswell, New Mexico is both a serious tourist trap and a Mecca for true believers seeking knowledge about extra-terrestrials on this planet. Every Friday night, McKay and Hawking stage another debate about the Incident. Admission is a modest four dollars.

And by the way, almost none of the above is true.