The young man and Stephen are staying at the night at the Hatfields’ house. MC is the young man’s age, and Japheth is Stephen’s age. The young man is the teachers quorum president at church, and MC is the counselor in their presidency. Stephen and Japheth played on a baseball team together and often hang out to play Nintendo.
The Hatfields live in the old part of town in a small, old, three-bedroom home. There is no central A/C–just swamp coolers in the various rooms, so MC and Japheth often go shirtless. Their father is a mechanic, and their mother, Anna, is in the Army reserve with a tour of duty in Kuwait during Desert Storm under her belt.
They are playing Axis & Allies; Anna loves games, and last time they were over, they played Risk. Anna has told them, “Help yourself to anything in the fridge. There’s not tons there, but you can have whatever you want.” So periodically, the young man goes to the fridge and grabs packages of ham and a jar of pickles. They have soft, fresh bread in a cabinet, and the young man makes ham, mayonnaise, and pickle sandwiches that, for some reason, are some of the best he’s ever had.
They’re partway through the game, and the hour is late. Anna asks, “MC wasn’t there last Sunday. What was the lesson about?”
The young man plots his next move, but looks up for a moment. “The three degrees of glory. Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.”
Anna smacks MC. “I told you that you should have gotten out of bed. That section is awesome.”
MC rolls his eyes. “I can read it whenever I want.”
Anna looks at the young man. “So what did you think of the section?”
“I mean, it’s cool. Like, it’s cool that there’s not just heaven and hell.”
She looks at Stephen. “You?”
“Yeah. Like what Gordon said.”
The young man attacks a territory, and he and Japheth take turns rolling dice to see what tanks and troops die. When that is over, Anna says, “Here’s my favorite part. That section, the Lord says that he has created worlds without number.”
“Right,” says the young man. “I remember that.”
“So let me ask you,” she says. “Do you think any of them have people on them? Or other forms of life?”
“I believe that,” says Stephen. “We talk about that sometimes at home. I think there’s even some scriptures about life on other planets.”
“What about you?” says the young man.
Anna smiles. “There’s definitely life on other planets.”
“Think so?” Stephen says.
“I know so.”
All eyes turn to her, and the game is momentarily forgotten. “So check this out. I probably haven’t told this to ten people in my life. And I promise you, every word is true.”
“Okay,” says the young man.
“And you all know me. I’m not some crackpot.”
“Right,” says Stephen.
Anna leans forward. “Okay, so this was back when I was on active duty. Back before I got married and had kids and stuff. I was stationed in San Antonio, and I went with a couple of army buddies down here to Corpus to go to the beach for a weekend. We just did stuff like surfing and whatever. We weren’t wild or anything. So the second night we were down here, we had finished up dinner, and we go for a walk on the beach, right? It’s all dark, the stars are all out. No moon that night. We’re just walking along at the edge of the water, right? And then we all get this creepy feeling, like goose pimples and our hair standing on end. And I show my arm to my buddies, and I said, ‘Y’all see that?’ And they were both like, ‘Yeah, we got it, too.'”
“What do goose pimples have to do with it, Mom?” MC says.
She rolls her eyes. “Just listen.” She runs her hand through her hair. “Well, we turn around, and in the sky, maybe one hundred yards up in the air is a gigantic floating disk. Made of something shiny like metal but like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
“No ways,” says Stephen.
“Swear to God,” says Anna. “I told you, I don’t lie and you all know me.”
“What did you do?” says Japheth.
“We hauled ass. We start sprinting down the beach, but when we each look back, we realize it’s following us at our exact speed. And it’s not making any noise. There’s no engine or nothing.”
“Woah,” says Stephen.
“So we just gave up. No point running if it can match our speed.”
“Right,” says the young man. “So what did it do?”
“Well, now, we just start walking. And the ship or whatever it is just keeps following, but now at precisely our walking pace.”
“You think it was from the military?” says Japheth.
Anna shakes her head. “Never seen anything like it on any military base I’ve been on or in any combat zone.”
“So what did you finally do?”
She smiles. “And that’s the wild part. After a while, we’ve been walking so far that we’re pretty far from our hotel, and I’m like, ‘Guys, we should really head back.’ And the guys are like, ‘Yeah, but the thing above us.’ And I’m like, ‘It ain’t vaporized us yet, so why would it if we walk the other way?’ They agree. So we turn around, and we take two steps back toward it and suddenly, whoosh! It shoots straight up into the sky without a sound and it’s gone. There’s like a huge gush of wind, like it just sucked a bunch of air out around us, and then everything is back to normal. And I promise you, I have never seen a military craft do that.”
The young man looks down at his arm.
“You have goose pimples now, huh?” Anna says.
“Yeah,” he says.
She extends her arm. “Me too. I get em every time I think about this.”
“So what did you do then?” says Stephen.
“Well, I look at both my buddies, and I’m holding a beer. I wasn’t a member of the church yet. And I’m like, ‘Okay, guys. I’m not drunk. I had one and a half beers. And I just saw a flying saucer follow us on the beach and then fly straight up in the air and disappear. You all saw that too?’ And they are both like, ‘Yeah, we both saw it and we’re not drunk either.’ And we promise each other that we will always remember it and always back each other up if we ever have to talk about it.”
“That is sooo crazy,” says the young man. “What do you think it was here for? And like, where was it from?”
Anna smiles at them both. “Ok, so back to D&C 76. I think there are millions and billions of worlds. And I think there are forms of life on those worlds, and I think they are keeping an eye on us. And whatever they’re doing, we can’t detect it. Their technology is way better than ours.”
“Why would they be keeping an eye on us?” says Stephen.
“I don’t know,” she says. “Maybe cuz Jesus came to our world and there will be a Second Coming. He’s the Savior of the whole universe. So maybe they keep their eyes on things.” Anna stands up. “I’m gonna get some lemonade. Y’all want any?”
“Sure,” says Stephen.